This is my friend Darren Larson. Darren is a pastor and a church planter.
I’ve known Darren for 17 years. That dates back to when he was a single guy in college, volunteering as a ministry intern at our church. 17 years later, he is married to Kelly and has two beautiful kids. Less than two years ago, Darren and Kelly planted a new church in Woodinville, WA – Imprint Church.
Last Sunday I spoke at Imprint church on behalf of a ministry in Rwanda called Africa New Life. There was an amazing response and over 40 kids in Bugesera, Rwanda received ongoing sponsorship by members of Darren’s congregation. I don’t have time to unpack everything that means right now, but I can tell you that it’s absolutely life changing and world changing. And there’s only one reason why that life-changing, world-changing Sunday took place at Imprint Church last week.
It’s because Darren didn’t quit when others might have.
I visited Darren several years ago on a Sunday morning at another church. I’ll let the church remain anonymous and simply refer to it as – “The Death Star.” This was a church that struggled to survive for many years and went through a whole series of pastors with dismal results. That’s when they invited Darren, fresh out of seminary, to come and turn it all around. Darren called me for advice; asked me if it was a good idea to become the pastor of this struggling church. I said, “Yes, of course, how bad can it be? It’s not like Lord Vader is wandering the halls!” But the reality was worse than I could imagine. I was there for a visit. I saw it in person; felt it in person. I know people can be mean, even church people, but this was ridiculous. I can’t go into details. Suffice it to say, I felt like punching people and quitting the ministry after one day at that church. How pathetic is that! But Darren and Kelly were there for a year.
Lots of people would have quit the ministry after that and never looked back. Not Darren and Kelly. God opened another door of ministry for them and they went through it. They just kept moving forward, trusting Jesus, through all the pain and difficulty.
That’s called PERSERVERANCE. The Bible is big on this quality.
Want to make a difference in a broken world? You might have to take an emotional beating from some really mean people – even church people – and then just keep on going. You can’t stop. Don’t throw in the towel. Yes, you can cry, pray, struggle, hang tough, and keep your eyes on Jesus; but don’t quit.
As I got up to speak at Darren’s church last Sunday all of this was playing out in my mind. I knew God was going to do something big. I was blown away by the eager response of the congregation. But in my heart, I was secretly marveling at the faithful perseverance that allowed that moment to happen.
Thank you, Darren and Kelly, for not quitting. The children of Rwanda thank you. The church of Jesus Christ is rich because of your willingness to push forward through pain.
And what about the rest of us? What about our struggles and challenges in following Christ in a broken world? Let’s do this: Read Romans 5:1-5, say a prayer, and keep going.
You can learn more about Imprint Church Here.