Have you ever had a prayer answered just at the right time in just the right way? That happened to me in November 1991 when I least expected it. I had married in May of 1990. We had our first son a year later in May 1991 and in November of 1991 I was already pregnant again with our second child and was clearly in a failing marriage. My husband was alcoholic and on a regular basis did not even bother to come home. I was providing all the income, he was drinking what ever income he made. I didn't know what to do, because really everything I said or did just seemed to backfire.
It was real clear in my mind what I wanted. I wanted to have a complete family, I wanted my children to know their father, I wanted to have a husband who was present and I wanted to get back to church. I grew up going to church but in my adult life I had let my career trump everything and distanced myself from church. Now with a budding family I wanted my children to know the comfort and feel the security of a church family, as well as learn the many teachings of the Bible. I just didn't know how to get back, as I had been gone so long (almost 20 years). I wondered if I would be judged. I wondered if I could catch up with all the years I missed. In some ways I felt like the prodigal daughter.
Funny how things happen and the Lord works out the details. I met with several of my relatives for dinner in that November of 1991. I brought my infant son and had no idea where my husband even was that evening. I was just glad to be having dinner with family. We met at the Galleria in Dallas, ate at El Fenix, sitting right by the ice rink. I remember it so well. The occasion was my cousin and her husband had just moved into the mid-cities area and her parents were in East Texas and they had other relatives in from Tennessee. We couldn't miss an opportunity for all of us to visit. As we were eating we started discussing the reason for my cousin's move to the area. Nancy and her husband, Sam, a Baptist minister, had decided to start a new church. Not just any church, but a church for seekers, a church for the unchurched, a perfect place for me to begin again!! A plàce to bring my family.
They told me their plans. I knew it would be quite a trek over to the mid-cities from Garland but that didn't matter to me. They invited me to be part of the core group and help them start the church. In on the planning...how I loved that idea. And, what a journey it was. I learned so much, felt so loved and accepted and was thrilled my boys were learning the Bible and had the delight of being surrounded by fellow Christians. I've got to hand it to Nancy and Sam, they had a vision, a mission, if you will, and they made it happen with the Lord guiding them the whole way. Now just over twenty years later Nancy and Sam have written a book. The name is Bear Valley and Me - Married To A Church Planter by Nancy & Samuel W. Carmack, Ph.D.
What made this church so different is the way it welcomed seekers. People knowing they wanted more in their life but unsure how to approach the church. The long established churches quite often seem cliquish, more like a country club environment....how does someone break into that? How about the human condition...how does someone feel welcome when they have been through so much life, not always doing what a church goer might do? What if they don't know anything about the Bible and its teachings, would they be ostracized? Those are all things that were taken into consideration when forming this new church.
The book is written from Nancy's perspective as she kept copious journals throughout the experience. She shares with us her trepidations, her personal growth, her lowest moments and her greatest moments. This book is written with so much authenticity and intimacy I just wanted to go running to my cousin and give her the biggest hug for giving me something to read that I could relate to in all areas of my life. To top it off, Pastor Sam made comments and provided us with additional learnings throughout the book. So, we have the journey from a husband and wife perspective, what a rare insight they have provided for us.
I am not going to tell you anything else...go get the book and see what you think and how it relates to your own life... it's available on Amazon. It reads like a letter from your best friend. If you have ever read any of Nancy's blogs you will know just what I mean! Then come back and tell me what you think. I am open for discussion and would encourage it. If there were more churches like Bear Valley, we would have a different world. I believe that.