One of the first questions we get when we tell people we are moving to Perth, Australia to plant a church is, “why Perth?”. I begin to answer them that according to Australian Business Week more than 1500 people are moving to Perth every week. While 65% of Australians may claim to be Christians only 3 to 6% attends services in a church. .That new churches are the best way for God’s people to reach those who don’t know they are God’s yet. We are co-laboring in planting a new church with the Westminster Presbyterian Churches that have been shining the Gospel of Jesus since 1972. As I watch them politely nod their heads as I give them an information download I realize that is not the real question. The real question is, “why Perth, why did you choose Perth?”
The easy answer is that we did not choose Perth; it chose us. More deeply, our lives had been on a track to start a church in a town we loved, with a body of believers we loved. We thought we were planting a church in Indianapolis out of Redeemer, the church we had attended for 10 years and served in for just about as many in lay leadership and paid staff roles. These are the people that God had knitted us to in the depths of His amazing love. They have walked with us as God formed us into who we are today. We didn’t realize that God was building us together in order to have them send us on our way to plant a church on the other side of the world.
We always loved missionaries we just didn’t realize that we were missionaries. As an aside, every believer is a missionary placed by God in time and space for specific things that He is calling us to do in order to bring glory to His name. What I mean is a missionary as a person who leaves those they love, family and friends, church and community, behind to go to another place in the world where they are not from and do not understand all the culture around them in order to proclaim the love of Jesus Christ and the Glory of God’s covenant story for them.
Meeting Stephen and Berenice Rarig in March and April of 2013 where Berenice was part of Redeemer’s Global Arts Exchange in partnership with The Harrison Center of the Arts as she presented her show, Contents May Have Shifted, shifted the contents of our lives. Being challenged by the need for church planters and the stories of how God was working in Perth Shannon and I began to pray about what it would mean for us to move to Perth. We had just been recommended by Mission to North America to plant a church in North America and now we saw God leading us to submit to a new round of assessments and training with Mission to the World. In December 2013 we made our first trip to Perth. Our minds were challenged by the beauty and brokenness found there. After much prayer and seeking counsel from friends and family, God confirmed our call. We have been able to complete all the steps of assessment and training in 9 months which further confirmed our call to Perth. We know God has chosen Perth for us and us for Perth.