The God Who Goes Before – John Stumbo Video Blog No. 103

John describes the many ways God went before The Alliance in its decision to relocate the National Office to Reynoldsburg, Ohio, while challenging us to take faith-filled risks to see our ministry dreams fulfilled.

– [John Stumbo] Is there a dream, a passion, a vision stirring within you for which you’re afraid to trust God?

– [Men and Women say “Welcome to the National Office” in different languages]

– [Man] Welcome to the National Office.

– [John Stumbo] Yes, this is the new, temporary, transitionary, National Office of The Christian and Missionary Alliance. We’re very excited about what God has done, and it’s a clear expression of a faith-filled risk that we’re still right in the middle of.

You know that one of our Alliance values is that that God’s purposes advance as people take these faith-filled risks, which always involve change. Risk and change may not be our two favorite words but let me bring you back into the story that you may have already heard about the relocation of the Christian and Missionary Alliance National Office and then give you some behind-the-scenes insight that you haven’t yet heard.

It was July 2019 when I was meeting with some senior leaders at a retreat, and one afternoon in this prayerful planning time, I said, “Do you have the energy for one topic that’s not on the agenda?” They took a little gasp and said, “Okay, what do you got?” And I asked the irritating question, “Are we officed in the right way?” Every denomination that I know, and every Christian organization that I know is officed just like The Christian and Missionary Alliance had been. We build or rent a building, and we put our office staff inside, and then we lock that door 40 hours a week, ensuring that those who oversee the mission don’t have to be on the mission as they go to work. And that began to trouble us as we discussed that. That who are we becoming by what we’re repeatedly doing? And as we come to work day after day, year after year, and never have to engage with the public as part of a 40-hour week—how does that shape us? What are we modeling? And so, we began to dream of a kind of office where we would have natural staff engagement with the community in a mixed-use kind of facility.

Then, the conversation shifted: “Well, if we’re not officed in the right manner, are we officed in the right place? Wouldn’t it be nice to be in a city with a better airport? Wouldn’t it be nice to be closer in proximity to a greater percentage of the Alliance family? Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be in a region that had greater ethnic diversity? Wouldn’t it be good to have a lower cost of living?” So, we had all these conversations that then led us to this process of doing some research and having conversations with the full president’s cabinet, with the executive committee of the board of directors, with the full board of directors, and then ultimately, making announcements to the broader Alliance family.

But a long process began that has now led us to this moment in time where we just opened up this building, and we’re excited about this transitionary step as we’re now the owners of 10 acres of prime real estate and asking you today to pray for us for four more acres that would finish out this phase of property acquisition.

But what I haven’t told you is what was happening behind-the-scenes unknown to us. See, for us, this was a huge faith-filled risk, the largest that I had ever personally taken as a leader, to disrupt so many families in Colorado Springs, to ask God for such a large amount of money that we would need for the relocation, to ask for the sale of the 8595 Explorer Drive property there in Colorado, to ask for such a great transition all in the midst of a very difficult moment of time—this felt big.

Unknown to us, that as we are in these initial dreaming stages, a nine-year-old donor had no knowledge of this, was writing out a $25,000 check and put in the memo, “Dream.” He specifically stated that, this time, he didn’t want the money to go straight to the Great Commission Fund. He wanted it to be for something that we were dreaming about. He didn’t know we’d had our meeting. Unknown to us, there was a city in Ohio that had a vacant Kmart sitting on it, which was a prime intersection in their city, and that the mayor was leading his team through a major re-zoning process so that all the mixed-use dreams that we had in our meeting, he was making possible with permitting and all of the things that are involved in zoning. All of that was already being prepared for us. Unknown to us, the owners of the Kmart had made the conscious decision to not accept offers that they had for the Kmart that would have put them into some contention with the city’s zoning but were willing to wait for somebody who would come and buy the property for a mixed-use purpose. Unknown to us, the economic developer of the city was filling out an application for a JobsOhio grant that would receive funds if he was able to bring in jobs from out of state to redevelop this property. He had the grant filled out—just didn’t have any name to put in the blank. Unknown to us, there were local Christians coming to the property and praying that God would give this property for Kingdom purposes. They didn’t even know of The Christian and Missionary Alliance at all, but they were praying for God to use this property. And unknown to us, that right in the backyard of the property, another building was being vacated because of COVID and would become the perfect site, literally in the backyard of the Kmart, for us to look over onto the new development that will be happening, and so, that’s where I stand today—in that parcel that became available during COVID.

And as we’ve stepped back and looked at the whole of what God was doing, we took our step of faith without funding, without location, without contacts. We just believed that God was stirring something within us, and the whole time He was going before us. So today, this all has been paid for by cash, thanks to the generosity of some early adopters within the Alliance family. And I’m not asking anything of you today rather than to rejoice with us at the sweetness of God’s provision and to pray with us for those additional four acres. But I wanna shift from our vision to your vision. See, in our vision, I believe that this faith-filled risk is essential for mission fulfillment and that as we get this officing fully repositioned, that it’s gonna shape who The Alliance becomes for decades to come in a far more missional manner. I’m utterly convinced of that.

I know the temptation and tendency, especially at this moment in time, for those of us in leaders to pull back, to take a “wait and see” approach, to play it safe—waiting to see what happens with the economy, waiting to see what happens with COVID, waiting to –. Friends, if something is stirring within us, maybe God is already making it happen, but the leader needs to take that faith-filled risk. If fear is the only thing holding you back, I challenge you, Alliance leader, to go back to your knees, and go to your team, and it might feel awkward to you at first, but to ask some hard questions, because if something is being stirred, it might be for a reason—God might be calling you to take a step at a time when so many people are pulling back, waiting.

Our mission is so essential, and the gospel is so beautiful, and the need is so great. Let’s not live with a “wait and see.” My heart is hopeful that you and I would be the kind of leaders who would not let fear win the day. There is a missional moment that we must not miss. Let’s step forward. I know what it takes in the human heart to go to a group of leaders and say, “I’ve been wondering ‘this.’ What do you think?” I know that opposition comes and the obstacles arise, but when you feel in community that you’ve heard from God, let’s be a community of people who step forward, believing that Kingdom advance does take place as God’s people step out in faith. As a Christ-centered, Acts 1:8 family focused on Jesus, empowered by the Spirit, sent to every people on the planet and doing so together in community, we’re on mission—one of God’s end times families that he’s raised up to complete the Great Commission.

And I remind us today of one of our core values—that this often requires faith-filled risk. So, could we lift up our shields of faith today? Could we step into conversations with our leadership team, responding to the stirrings within our heart and say, “Lord, I know it’s an awkward moment in time. I know it’s a moment in time when many people are pulling back, but what is it—for the sake of the advance of the gospel, for the sake of the building of the Church—that you’re calling us to be and to do?” Let’s not let fear hold us back, but let’s step forward in the faith that God provides because it’s quite likely that you’ll discover that God has already gone before you.