I never really ever set out to help plant a Church. In fact I didn’t even enjoy planting trees or plants growing up, but rather lived life with a skateboard, guitar, or football in my hand. A new “Campus” reminded me of school, and being in a classroom was my least favorite place to be. But honestly I love those moments when you are able to look back and see where God has taken you and how he has prepared you for his next step for your life.
When I was 12 years old, I remember being at a Youth Retreat (ahh yes the ever popular youth camp experience) and sitting in a room in Alabama hearing God tugging at my heart. I remember feeling him beginning to speak to me saying, “Sam your going to do something huge in my name. Trust me”. Honestly as a 12 year old I had no idea what this meant and would have rather focused on the “chicks” in the room. But as the years passed things began to make a little more sense. I picked up a guitar years later and my future was set into motion.
I arrived at Huntingdon College as a Freshman, I sat in an old Chapel (circa 1896), which honestly resembles Hogwarts a bit, and tried my hardest to resist Gods calling on my life. I wanted to take the “normal” freshman direction and declare a business major which seemed to be every students first idea since no one really knows what they want to do with their future until it becomes your present. After much persuasion from my Mom (Thanks Mom!) I decided on a Religion major and faced my reality. Over the course of the next 5 years, what I experienced was a complete transformation of leadership, spirituality, and responsibility.
I was put in charge of various things around campus like playing and leading worship in our college ministry, eventually being put in charge of leading the services and all the planning that went into them. We were portable and so setting up and tearing down became a weekly way of life. While doing so I was also on staff at a local Methodist Church working with the Student Ministry. It was there where I lead worship for the first time. And I never looked back.
Upon graduating I felt a strong urge to move back to Panama City. I wasn’t sure why, because my real dream was to move to Australia and attend Hillsong Leadership College. It seemed like the biggest thing I could do in order to get trained as a worship leader. Instead, while I was halfway around the world attempting to discern my future, God was creating an opportunity for me in the East Bay area of Panama City, Florida. I realized something after accepting the task God has given me. This is without a doubt the biggest thing I could ever be a part of right now. Why would I ever need to fly around the world to see that there are people who need the message of Jesus Christ? God has prepared our Church to take the message and hope of Jesus Christ to his people. When you plant something, its roots go deep into the soil and are made strong over time. All Redwood trees weren’t giants when they were planted. It takes someone being willing to tend to the tree over a period of time or else it will die. We are much the same, we all have to start somewhere. My final question is this: Are we willing to care for the community over in East Bay so that the whole world may know the name of Jesus and it can be made strong for years to come? Join with us. The Time Has Come.