This past Sunday, Wellspring Alliance Church was commissioned as a church. Wellspring
comes about from the merge of the fifty year history of Blanchard Alliance Church and the history of Living Water’s roots in the immigrant church to release the hope of Jesus Christ in a fresh way in our area. This past Sunday, I was formally installed as its senior pastor.
Pastors from our past blessed us to propel us into the future. As we launch our second year as Wellspring, I want to take a moment to reflect on a few areas from the past that are propelling us into our future.
The power of the church is seen in its members. This Sunday we honored Gunther Kamphausen. He was a pioneering missionary with the Alliance to Indonesia for decades,
sharing the gospel in the jungles and establishing the church there and leading the church in that nation. When the Soviet Union opened up, he moved from Indonesia to Russia to open up that field, pioneering a new strategy to reach that nation in a critical time. Upon retirement he returned to Blanchard to serve the church. After such an illustrious career in missions, he filled the baptismal, cared for the sump pumps and took out the trash. Yet his dedication to God’s work did not waver, whether opening up a new mission field in Russia or opening up a faucet to fill a baptismal in Wheaton. This type of dedication is the strength of a church.
When we send out people to mission, it feels like we lose our best leaders, but we actually
may be raising our best leaders for the future. Ray and Cheryl Waterman were one of Blanchard’s first missionaries, sent out as teachers at Faith Academy in the Philippines. One year, they had a young seventh grade girl from Korea, struggling with English and insecure in her identity. Mrs. Waterman took a risk on this young girl, giving her a chance at a solo at a concert. That solo gave this struggling young girl the boost of confidence she needed to move forward. And that young woman is now my wife, Eunsil.
Not only do we have a passion for global mission, but we also have a rich legacy of local outreach. One day a few members of the church went out into the community to knock on doors and share Christ’s love with our neighbors. They knocked on the door of one young woman, facing an unwanted divorce. She prayed to receive Christ that day, began coming to the church. Today she is one of our deacons, Kathy Williams. She raised her children in the church, and her son Ben is now a missionary with us in the Ukraine.
We also have a rich history of creativity in worship. This was on full display throughout
our commissioning service — the powerful dances that were performed, the exce
beautiful music, the
decorations for the tables, and the visuals in the sanctuary. Each one of these were an expression of the creativity of our God who makes caterpillars furry and sunsets auburn.
Finally, we have a legacy of powerful engagement with God. Throughout the morning, I sensed the weight of God’s presence in powerful ways — at the 9 AM, at the 11 AM and throughout the 4 PM commissioning. One particular example highlighted this at the 11 AM. After I introducedPastor Ron Gifford, I had one of the most awkward moments from the pulpit in my ministry. He did not come out after my introduction. I
went to find him in a back room praying. I brought him to the podium, and he asked me, “So what am I supposed to do now?” He began to speak of old t-shirts and the fact that he did not have a biblical text, telling stories from these past. I was, to put it mildly, a bit concerned. Slowly, though, each of these stories painted a picture of the rich way that God had formed a creative, authentic, praying, Word-based and globally minded church from the past. He concluded by reciting passages of Isaiah from memory to bless and commission us. After he concluded, I got up to serve communion and was struck by the weight of God’s presence in the room in an overwhelming way.
I could say so much more. But for now, I want to give simple praise to God for his undeserved grace.