Richard R. Gerber
Amid the excitement was sadness and concern. Anna McNeill, the two-year-old daughter of organizing pastor Brett and his wife Jen, was undergoing treatment for a potentially life-threatening cancer.
In the following weeks, other families also experienced difficulty. One received a cancer diagnosis; the angina of another worsened; another had serious thyroid treatment; another was entering her last month of a difficult pregnancy.
But amid the hardships, joy and hope were realized.
Two years earlier, two families of Emmanuel OPC in Kent, an hour away from Olympia, had expressed an interest in having a church closer to home. With the session's blessing, a Bible study was begun in the home of John and Lori Buma.
As months passed, the Lord added other families to the group. Two local families joined it, as did two OP families who moved into the area.
In April 2004, evening worship services began in Olympia. New people attended, but none became part of the body. But when Brett McNeill was called as the organizing pastor at the end of 2004, it was decided to move to morning worship.
With this new beginning, God began to grow Reformation OPC. Visitors came to worship almost every Sunday. Many returned.
Olympia, the state capital, is a post-hippie, politically liberal community. Baby boomers are much in evidence. The age demographic of the mission work reflects the community. Most adults are in their late thirties to fifties.
God has used hardships to knit together the hearts of the people in Reformation OPC. They love one another deeply and are excited to be caring for each other. God is helping them to pursue their goal: "To learn the Truth. To love the Truth. To worship God in Spirit and Truth."
Praise the Lord for his mercy amid many trials, and pray for the families with health problems. Pray that Brett would be a wise steward of God's Word. Thank God for the many visitors, and pray that some will become members.
The author is the associate general secretary for the Committee on Home Missions and Church Extension. Reprinted from New Horizons, July 2005.