During my freshman year at Georgia College, I (Billy) met Mary. We started dating, began leading worship together, and in the summer of 2014 decided to intern together at a church in Ft. Worth. Just before our drive out to Texas I had lunch with one of my old youth pastors, Randall Tonini.
He asked us if we would pray about planting a church with him in San Diego, California.
After the excitement faded (mainly about the potential to live somewhere without humidity), we started praying about getting married and moving to the west coast. Over the next several months we felt like that was exactly what God was calling us to do. So, after dinner one night, I asked Mary’s parents if I could marry their daughter. They said yes. We celebrated for a few minutes, and then I asked them if I could move their daughter across the country. By God’s grace, they said yes again. Their answer was a surprisingly quick confirmation of where we felt God was calling us.
When we told people we were going to be missionaries in San Diego, we were mainly met with “Wow, that’s going be so rough for you,” and “I hear the weather is terrible!” Sarcasm aside, we knew it was going to be the most difficult thing we've ever done. We were married last August and moved from Georgia to California three days after our honeymoon.
The move hasn't been the easiest.
Although we’ve experienced culture shock and homesickness, we’ve learned that, more than anything, we have to depend on God to provide for us. When I’m (Mary) deeply missing my family and friends, God is reminding me that my security is in Jesus. When I’m (Billy) stressing about financial support, God is reminding me that He is my provider. We’ve seen Him provide exactly what we need at exactly the right time, and it’s been through the difficulty and struggle that we’ve seen God do incredible work in the church he’s called us to.
We launched Grace City Church in October of 2015 and have already witness six baptisms and multiple people gain knowledge of the Gospel. While our job is to lead worship, we’ve learned that God didn’t just call us to San Diego to lead a band on Sunday mornings—He called us to be faithful and tell people about the goodness of God in Christ Jesus everyday.
The most rewarding thing about being part of Grace City has been seeing honest expressions of worship in our church family. We get to see God’s grace and the Holy Spirit’s comfort in people’s lives when they honestly sing to Him—even in painful or uncertain situations. There have been several Sunday mornings where someone at Grace City is grieving the death of a close family member, or doesn’t know if they will have a job the next week. It is a great joy to be able to know that person’s story and hear them sing truth in the midst of uncertainty.
We may gather to sing songs about God’s character, mercy, grace, and forgiveness on Sunday, but our hope is that those songs will remind us that God is still loving and faithful on Monday.
He’s loving and faithful when you’re in a place of insecurity, when you’re in a place of uncertainty, and when, out of nowhere, you’re in a place across the country.