I have never done this through the platform of Search of Kings. However, I thought it would, in some way, be a welcome change from the standard fare:
We are 9 months since being in Portland and, already, we have seen incredible things done in our children, the church-plant, and in so many other aspects of our lives. It has been the greatest step of faith we have ever taken. Why? To respond to the call of God to “launch out into the deep.” 9 months ago (Memorial Day), we had driven into Portland for our first visit. We had never been to Portland once in our lifetime but I had felt an inexorable pull to the city and a burden for the Metro. We didn’t know where we would actually go, but we had a general idea. We didn’t know a single person there. We didn’t have any grand visions of angels ascending and descending. No, early in the morning while visiting that first time God began to lay out a blueprint for the “foundation” of a purpose in Portland.
We sold our trucker, trailer, and quite a few other things and began our cross-country trip (U-Haul and Minivan) to Portland the last week of August of 2016. Our first three months were a whirlwind of getting settled. Learning the metro, getting housing situation, and settling into the community and school for our children. It has amazed us, that in such a short amount of time while getting established “personally” that we had (by December 2016), finalized our three-year olds first Cochlear Implant and had the next scheduled for early 2017. Looking back, we have realized that one of the first things God sought to accomplish was the answering of many prayers we had prayed in regards to our children. Like a divine series of dominos, each request began to fall under fulfillment.
As for the church-plant? Well, we couldn’t find anywhere, except for a community center that you only had the ability to rent 2 hours every Sunday. It was out of the way and impossible to come to by transit. How do we know? Well, before we really should have attempted it, we tried! Yes, less than two-months in the Metro., we attempted to start a Sunday service. Wow! While we did manage to attract attention and had one visitor, it was no-go from the start.
I wish you could have been there, our lone visitor sitting in the vacuum of the empty conference room. My wife, after playing a few songs, now sat with the one-year old in a stroller who, by-the-way, was screaming to get out. Concurrent with that, my 3-year old (deaf at the time) was running around the room like a marathon runner, and my oldest, sitting at a far back table, was role-playing being a great scholar of God’s word. Then, to my surprise, I began to hear the slight sound of snoring coming from our guest, Marcus*. Yes, we found out he was homeless, and that he didn’t get any sleep the night before. I laughed…we laughed, and we realized, God would have to unfold this rose (see the bottom of article for a note about Marcus).
You see, this is something nobody can be afraid to acknowledge when doing the work of God. We learned through that experience. We learned some crucial lessons those few weekends we gathered together. Oh, but did we learn! But, once again, we proved that we were not afraid of a challenge. That we were not afraid to just dive off into the unknown and “give it a shot.” No excuses! Hearing-Impaired first-born, deaf second- born, and fussy, normal baby…just do it! Is it easy? Absolutely not…but its right! Now, back to the story!
Realizing the community center wouldn’t work and that we had put the “cart-before-the-horse” and were not ready, we began to focus on the Bible Studies that God had opened up for us. We began to focus on building relationships! Already, we were deeply encouraged by the many relationships God was allowing us to build. Parents at the school, teachers, and people in the community. Then, come January 2017, we felt we needed to find somewhere to gather. We needed a place that wasn’t “just” available for 2 hours a week. So we kept looking…
Finally, in February we found a spot that could become our little spot for beginnings. Not the prettiest building, nor was the suite ideal (being on the second floor and only with steps). However, it was what we needed. It was a consistent place that we could call our own. We began to prepare. Flyers, cards, chairs we found on craigslist (which we couldn’t pick up until the last weekend of Feburary), a keyboard and monitor that had been given to us before we had moved to Portland, and several other key items we were blessed with from a church in Canada. We painted and prepped the place…it was ready.
Amazingly, just days before our first service, we baptized Cory Echavarria in Jesus Name and watched him come out of the water, speaking with other tongues as the Spirit gave him the utterance. He is, and continues to be, a miraculous testimony to the mercy and saving reach of Gods hand. I look forward to sharing his testimony one of these days.
March 5,2017 would mark our first church service, (we had 2 show up!). We were NOT disappointed! A lot of men like to call stuff “soft-launches” until they feel the crowd aligns with their idea of “success.” Nah, we launched…and we launched deep! Since then, we have watched as God has drawn and pulled on so many people. God has opened tremendous doors for group Bible-Studies during the week, Monday’s and Wednesday mornings, as well as other Bible Studies during the week. We still continue, reaching individuals- one-by-one- trying to pull them all together on a Sunday to worship, fellowship, and share God’s word.
Thankfully, in three months, we have never shown up to an empty church service. In this fledgling process of building a foundation and digging deep for roots to endure, we have been thankful for new faces, new phone calls, and a consistently upward progress of visitors. Sure, I could focus on the greatest-percentage of non-religious affiliation that Portland is known for. I could focus on the EXTREME tolerance of sin and wickedness in the city. I could focus on the pervasive blindness that has captured so many people that, when the light of truth shines in their eyes, their spiritual pupils don’t even dilate or seem to recognize that light is shining. But hey, isn’t this what brings Jesus? Isn’t this where grace abounds?
Have we faced immeasurable spiritual-attack? Sure! Have we, at times, scratched our head and said (perhaps more screamed), “WHAT ARE WE DOING?” Absolutely! Have we lamented at times over the cost-of-living? OH YEAH! Have we lost ground? I don’t think so. Are we learning…oh, yes we are learning. But we have seen, every single day, the power of God manifest in our lives. So many people and churches have blessed us with prayer, fasting, and financial support. Men and women, like beacons of light in the darkness, have blessed us in moments that it was crucial. Moments were we needed to ensure the church lease was paid, utilities were paid, and so many expenses were covered.
We do not consider ourselves “home-missionaries.” We really do not. We consider ourselves missionaries…just that, missionaries. No, we may not be in a foreign world surrounded by exotic things or third-world lack of advancement, but come spend a little time with us and you will see…it’s a missionary field. This weekend, June 4th, I will begin to focus on preaching the Supernatural. Yes, we need the supernatural. We need signs, wonders, and miracles to impact the hungry, hurting, and dying. We need Jesus to visit our city and we need Him to come with the host of heaven at his side.
Thank you, each and everyone, that continues to support us, pray for us, and fast for us. We are praying for a home nearby our community that the church is in. We are praying for a storefront just down the road from our current location that has unbelievable potential and exposure. We are praying for laborers to help reap this harvest. We are praying for so much, but our prayers and progress are made so much easier by the prayers and support of each one of you.
There is a momentum building. Corrigan has been so thrilled that his class-mate has been coming to church for the past three weeks. So many are expressing interest, doors are opening, and the spiritual undercurrent is moving with tremendous expectancy. God is doing a work in the Portland Metro!
Timothy C. Hadden, Pastor
*A side-note about Marcus: I would work extensively to try and help Marcus, meeting up with him in Portland to buy him a meal, be a friend, and try to reach him after I left other Bible Studies in the area. Sadly, he disappeared and, knowing the degree of his congenital heart-failure, I fear if he is even alive today.