Plans and Purposes: the door opens to adventure
God has plans and purposes for each of us. Revealed always in His perfect timing, giving us what we can handle, and not more. Claire and I have been on a journey calling us to church planting. This is about that journey, and the next exciting chapter.
When we came to JCC in September 2015, we’d already heard from God that we were being called to church planting. For a season we were heavily involved in the starting days of the New Ground Brussels plant. Indeed, we felt that the move to East Grinstead, out of the church in Crawley was a ‘loosening of the roots’ in readiness to go. But as we pressed in to follow God’s leading, it suddenly seemed that doors that we thought were flung wide were closing. We had to stay firm in faith that this involvement was only for a short season, not a permanent move. And we did not go. God reminded us to be rooted in the Community in which we worshiped. So we pressed in and served.
We did explore other opportunities, but no doors were opened, and family responsibilities kept us rooted. We played a ‘sending team’ role for others, awaiting our own ‘push in the back’ to be sent. Prophetic words of our chairs being moved in readiness to the edge of the circle as the church met, and of the tent cords being loosened and the wind blowing through the side walls sat well upon us.
When we were able to give up full-time employment in 2020, we felt a new stirring, God calling us deeper into His kingdom work. We talked with others, and with leaders about adventure, a new season, and we got involved in new ministries in JCC. Of course, this coincided with the start of the pandemic, and at the time we felt we were following what God was calling us to. It felt OK.
Early in 2022, some health problems meant taking a Sabbatical from our roles. In this time of challenge, God, working all things for good for those who love Him, continued speaking. The Sabbatical gave us the space to hear clearly from Him, to hear once more that Still Quiet Voice.
Like Abraham in Genesis 12, we were being called to GO, but like Abraham, we were not being told where to! We started searching. However, between us we had very different ideas of where to go! Trusting in God, eventually and intentionally, we drew an outline on a map, roughly the whole of Sussex (even this was a compromise!) and prayed that God would reveal where He would lead us.
Since our map included East Grinstead, we looked there first. However, of the houses we were drawn to, when we went to visit, all three had ‘sold’ signs outside, despite being ‘for sale’ online. God’s ‘closed doors’ confronted us again, but in a positive way, given where we’d previously been prophetically led. It felt like confirmation; God folding His arms, shaking His head. NO! Not here!
Gradually we began to sense a call to Crowborough. Not on either of our radars at the outset, and so not somewhere we felt called to, but as we prayed, signs appeared. Crowborough lies directly on the A26 between three of our children in Sussex and Kent, and a direct link to the fourth in London. We already knew of the existence of the New Frontiers church, and I had dreams and pictures of worshiping there. Houses that we might want to buy appeared for us to consider. And out of the most curious circumstances, in the space of two or three weeks, with us having no connection with Crowborough at all, suddenly the name of the town came into conversations over and over again -without any prompting from us! On one particular prayer walk in the vicinity, asking specifically if this is Your will Lord, God melted our hearts AND revealed His plan, purpose, and His promise. The house we found had all our ‘must-haves’, including space for hospitality and small group meetings, and many other features we considered desirable, and even a few we’d jokingly said in the past that we would love to have, then forgotten about -but God provided! The owners were considering an offer. We prayed and asked for God to direct us in our offer and situation. And our offer was accepted.
But it was when we visited the New Frontiers church in the town that we had the sense that God had, in this time and this place, called us to our new home. Not a ‘new’ plant as such, and not a whole change of country and culture, but a small church, planted some years ago out of Uckfield, and desiring resource and outreach. And there also we found a church family full of faith, the Holy Spirit, and the love of Jesus. We felt God say to us that this is what He is calling us to. To come and to be, and crucially to be used for His plans and purposes. There is always work to be done in the mission field, the harvest will always be plentiful, and the workers few. We are excited to see how God will call us to serve there. It is easy to feel a bit like Moses, and ask if we have the skills, but we know that, like Moses, we go in God’s strength, not ours, because He is with us.
We are trusting in God’s will for all the practicalities of the move. He will make a way. We are sad to leave our JCC family, but we are all part of the Kingdom of God, so we press on in faith to follow His call.
In His, in our Adventure.
Ian and Claire Watt