We started a church in NYC with $330 — An update: one year later

Exactly one year ago, we stepped out to do what God had asked us to do, all while lacking – pretty much everything – we needed to do it.

Maybe you can relate.

 

“We’d like to start a business account for the church we’re starting in New York City,” we told the bank teller, one year ago in Anderson SC (where we were living at the time.)

“Sure, how much would you like to transfer?” the woman behind the desk inquired of our ‘growing’ church plant fund.

Three hundred and thirty dollars… my husband replied.

I held back a giggle. (I giggle when I’m nervous.)

And I was nervous for good reason… $330 is all we had to start a church in NYC.

Yep. God had asked us to start a church in one of the most expensive zip codes in the country, with absolutely no team and no funding. Not only that, we didn’t even have any income coming in or jobs lined up in NYC!

All we had was the two of us, three hundred dollars from a failed GoFundMe, and this selfie.

bank-pictureThis selfie… taken upon exiting the bank that day, to chronicle all the fear and expectancy we were feeling yet didn’t have the words to describe. To forever document this moment in time, when we were stepping out to do what God had asked us to do, all while lacking flipping everything we needed to do it.

Maybe you can relate.

Maybe you too, have been asked by God to step into the unknown, with no back up plans or safety nets (when like me, backup plans and safety nets are your LOVE LANGUAGE.) And you too, receive glazed-over, we’re-concerned-for-your-mental-health looks of confusion anytime you share with others what God is asking you to do.

And with every uncertain step you take, in spite of every answer you don’t have, you’re left feeling painfully ill-equipped and pathetically ordinary… and because of it, up against the impossible. (Been there.)

— But what if that’s exactly how God planned it?

What if every reason you’re coming up short today was predestined by a God, who not only knows what He’s doing, but whose inviting you to see His power with your own eyes? His power that can miraculously multiply the little you have beyond your comprehension.

What if God is creating a deficit so unnerving in your life, so that maybe – for the first time – His deliverance can be so undeniable in your life?

That’s exactly how it was for a man named Gideon in the Bible (and it’s exactly how its been for me and my family this last year.)

In Judges 7, we find the nation of Israel in shambles. An army so massive had come in droves and stripped the nation of everything they had. It seemed no one could stand up to an enemy of this magnitude, but God had a plan and He hand-selected an ordinary man named Gideon to defy the impossible.

And if that wasn’t already hopeless enough, God then sent nearly all of Gideon’s soldiers home — reducing his army from 32,000 men to a measly three hundred! (Coincidently, the exact amount we started our church planting fund with last year.)

“You have too many soldiers,” God said, “…that would be too easy of a victory.”

I want all the credit for the miracle that is about to unfold in your life, God is saying.

I’ve often wondered how Gideon felt that day, if he felt the same way we do when stepping out in faith. Expectant. Foolish. Terrified… So terrified.

I wonder if while sending the thousands of soldiers – God said He didn’t need – home, if Gideon worried, even for just a fleeting moment, what might happen if God didn’t come through like He promised?

It’s not enough, God…

I wonder if he took a selfie.

But then scripture says Gideon did something profound, and it’s the same thing God is asking you and I to do today, no matter how much we are coming up short.

In Judges 7:8 MSG, it says, ‘[Gideon] took up his position with the three hundred.’

Don’t miss this, Gideon took up his position with the little he had and declared, maybe only in the faintest whisper, I believe you, God.

I believe You will use me…

I believe You will go to great lengths to provide for me…

I believe that You will miraculously multiply the little I have and provide for everything You have planned…

…and that’s exactly what my husband and I did upon leaving the bank, a year ago.

We acknowledged how scared we were, foolish even. We told God, I don’t know how on earth You’re going to do this. It’s impossible really, but…We believe You.

…And we took a blurry selfie in the middle of a Wells Fargo to prove it.

I look back at that selfie taken on that day, exactly one year ago, when we were jobless and teamless, and with only $330 and no fathomable way to NYC… and I smile to myself.

In just a year, God has not only provided a way to NYC…

But that $330 we started with? Yeah, about that…

Since taking that selfie just over a year ago, God has allowed us to give over SIX TIMES that amount to other local church plants and organizations in the NYC area, in just the last three months!

(Yeah, you heard that right…a church plant that hasn’t even planted yet, is giving money to other church plants in the exact same area… God writes the coolest stories, doesn’t He?)

Not only that, since the day we had only $330 and literally ZERO job prospects or income coming in, God has provided $159, 850 to date!!!! (God even provided a free 5 week trip to 5 different countries for me and my family, but that’s another story for another time.)

Nearly $160,000 — not made up of thousands upon thousands of dollars given by important people with two names, or shnazzy and shiny mega churches or church planting networks. (Like Gideon, that would be too easy.) But instead, often in tiny, almost unnoticeable increments given by families, small church plants, even by some of you, my most amazing blog readers and friends. Some, we’ve never had the honor to meet in person!

We haven’t applied for a single job we’ve received. We haven’t asked anyone for a cent. We haven’t even needed to take – one dollar – out of our church planting money to live off of — THIS IS A MIRACLE!  (And all the pastor’s around the world said, amennnnnn.)

God has provided for every. single. thing. He has planned. Even down to the smallest and silliest of things.

…like a computer.

(This is a side-story but a good one, I promise…) When we were leaving South Carolina to move to NYC we had to turn in the laptop that had been provided by my husband’s job. Knowing (at the very least) we’d need a computer as we went on to plant a church, we had looked into buying one that was being sold at a discounted price by a church in the area.

Funny story… actually, NOT AT ALL funny at the time… this church would go on to, rather unkindly, refuse to sell us any of the laptops they were selling at a discounted price.

And to be honest, as silly and small as that was in the scheme of things, I clearly remember it being a breaking point for me. I mean, reeeeeeally God? YOU CANT EVEN GIVE US A DISCOUNT ON A LAPTOP? Wth?

But God... Guys… HE DOESN’T MISS A DETAIL!! Looking back on the last year, not only has God provided us with $160,000 (and counting) He has given us not one, but two of the exact same laptops we were trying to buy that day — and not for a discounted price like we were originally hoping for, but FOR FREE!

You can’t make this stuff up…

Believe it, friends. God will provide for everything He has planned in your life. And when He does,  He doesn’t need anything you’ve lost to bless you *

That job, those relationships… the damn laptop. He doesn’t need your money or that connection, He doesn’t need your best back up plans or your strongest warriors. God only needs your obedience — your borderline foolish obedience, to step up to the plate in spite of how ordinary you feel, and to take up your position with the ‘not enough’ and wait for God to do what (only) He can do.

God promises to do incomprehensibly big things with the little we have.

And when He does, I speak from experience when I say, we’ll have more than just three hundred dollars, a selfie, and a secondhand lap top to prove it.

image

Krista Ortiz

 

 

 

T.D. Jakes*

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6 thoughts on “We started a church in NYC with $330 — An update: one year later”

  1. Gah!! A year already!! I remember that selfie and the blog that went with it. So amazed, yet not because God always does more than we can ask or imagine. GO META! GO GOD!

    Like

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