Sometimes we quote Bible verses and agree with them but perhaps don’t really believe them because we haven’t seen God at work in the way the verse says.
Let me tell you a story about this verse:
‘God can do anything, you know - far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams!’ (Ephesians 3:20)
It’s a long story, so grab yourself a coffee, sit in a comfortable chair and get ready to see what God can do!
I have been running online art challenge blogs for a while and then started to host online creative Bible Studies. Since I started these challenges I had wanted to do an Advent one but it probably took me 12 months of thinking about it before I could see how it could work. In 2010 I came across Diane Marra in an online Christian community and she shared an Advent Study. It was one of those projects that I started and didn’t finish.
I started to follow Diane’s blog and one day she wrote about how she was moving to Palm Bay in Florida. That’s Palm Bay, not Palm Beach! And not so many people have heard of Palm Bay. But over here in the UK, I had. Because my daughter-in-law’s parents are Pastors of a church there and I go to visit them regularly even though my son and d-i-l live in Australia.
At the beginning of 2014 I contacted Diane to see what she thought about collaborating with me for the Advent blog – her study and my ideas for an Advent calendar. In the April I went to stay in Palm Bay and was able to spend the day with Diane. We talked about the ideas for Advent and worked on it over the following months and it launched on November 1st 2014.
Whilst I was with Diane she talked about how she wanted to set up a year long, weekly devotional for creative people and left me to think about it and how we could make it work. We had both done the Documented Life Project and I was really stuck as how we could develop something that wasn’t a faith-based copy of that. I thought about it on and off from April to August and then one day as I was out walking I asked God about it.
Of course I know other people would have asked God earlier in the thinking process but hey ho I’m not one of those people.
And immediately I knew what we were supposed to do. Now this wasn’t the audible word of God, or a sign in the sky or a ‘thus sayeth the Lord’ moment – it was a thought that germinated and grew and that I felt a peace about. It was that rather than just a faith based project we should set up a faith-based online Christian Community run by a team of people not just Diane and I. Whoa!
This was way beyond anything I could imagine or ask for but nevertheless I continued to think and pray. I started by contacting a few ladies whose blogs I have followed for quite a while about their church backgrounds and ran the community idea past Diane. She encouraged me to send an email giving a brief outline and asking these people if they were interested. I was amazed by the responses I got. God had got there before me and they were excited by the prospect.
Diane invited another two ladies to the ‘table’ and emails were flying about the States, Canada and the UK discussing Statements of Faith, the structure of the group, how we would host it etc etc. I didn’t want to rush people into things so I was taking it quite slowly but then Diane and Shonna ‘caught fire’ and with my blessing they started to plan the Ning site – we actually took over Shonna’s existing Ning site.
Meanwhile Diane & I were still planning the Advent blog which we planned to run from November 1st. And then it was decided that His Kingdom Come would be launched on the same day.
The Foundation Team has eventually settled down to a small team of people who are building relationships together and we are planning to get together in April. We are currently reassigning roles amongst us but we would be nowhere without those who work in the background – often unsung! Merri works with Shonna on keeping the Ning website going and she sends out the newsletter and the emails. Communication is so important in building a community! Mary is looking after the weekly devotionals and making sure our theology is sound. She keeps us on the straight and narrow. We all have more roles but I don't want you to drop off before I get to the end.
We knew however that we would need lots more people to help us run the groups on the site. Part of the vision had been to have all sorts of different groups for different types of media. Currently we have groups for Photography, Textiles, Mixed Media, Art Journaling, Digital Art Journaling, Bible Journaling, Scrapbooking and Creative Writing. I’m hoping at some point we will have a group for songwriters. And so we started recruiting Moderators or Hosts for the groups and they have definitely been a gift to us from God.
Our plan was always to host both free and fee-based online courses within the community and we are just beginning to see that happen. On January 2nd we launched the project that had started all this – Take Me Deeper – 52 weeks of devotionals.
In order for the site to receive money Diane & Shonna set up an LLC which will deal with the tax situation in the States. I would never have thought of that. Admittedly at the moment I don’t think we’re going to trouble the IRS too much as currently the site is running at a loss. Ning is quite expensive to run and setting up an LLC isn’t cheap. However God has it in hand.
My vision was for a small community – cosy and manageable! But that wasn’t God’s plan and here we are only 12 weeks since the launch and we have nearly 1550 members in our His Kingdom Come community. And he has put together a team of people to run it who have complementary skills.
So let’s return to this: ‘God can do anything, you know - far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams!’ God has done something amazing beyond my wildest dreams and we are praying that He will continue to move the community forward. We want to see a grace-filled community where Christians can encourage, share, and learn about Christianity and explore the God-given creativity that he has put in us all. And we believe that is His plan.
Well done if you've made it this far!
Now for the giveaway.
Leave a comment below for the opportunity to win this aluminium 'angel' wing pendant with a chain. The winner can choose a name or a word to be added to the wing to personalise it and also choose the length of the chain. You can choose from a 16", 18" or 20" chain. The pendant comes from Jo's Handmade Jewellery. I'm happy to post to anywhere in the world.
I will announce the winner on Sunday 25th January.
Update: This giveaway is now closed. Click here to find out the winner.
Thanks for stopping by.