Big Changes. Bigger God.
Following Jesus never promised to be clean and orderly, nor without changes. When the Israelites were in the wilderness for forty years, the Lord put over them a cloud by day, and a pillar of fire by night. It was to remind them that they weren’t alone, but it was also there so they knew where God was moving them. When the cloud or fire would move, they would pack up camp and move with Him. God tends to do that in life; move you, change things up, throw a wrench in your plan.
The philosopher turned theologian, Jean Vanier says this about change: “It is fear, ironically, that prevents us from being most human, that is, it prevents us from growing and changing. Fear wants nothing to change; fear demands status quo.” This is especially true when Jesus invites you into the unknown like He is doing once again in Amy and I’s life. The cloud by day has moved, and Jesus has asked us to hand Kineo over to Him, to surrender all of the years of labor over to Him, to die to our plans. This has not been an easy decision. We have shed lots of tears and healthy grieving is taking place, but we trust that God is moving not to hurt, but to heal and to make room for more fruit. Fear has kept me (Jeff) from agreeing with Jesus for a while, but I’m giving in. He knows best.
Over the last five years, we have had joys unspeakable, and pains unbearable. God has done great things at Kineo, and her story isn’t over yet. Kineo is a vibrant and diverse church body full of young and old, broken and healing people who live intentionally on mission at their jobs, in their homes and neighborhoods, and in the marketplace. Much ministry has been birthed out of Kineo, and fruit from the last five years will go on to produce fruit for God’s kingdom for many years, but the status quo must always be disrupted. On January 11th, 2009, we held our first service as Kineo Church, and on February 2nd, 2014, Kineo will have their first service as Redemption Church Alhambra Village.
It is clear that this move is what’s best for our people and Alhambra Village, the neighborhood we love and live in. Kineo is joining the church family of Redemption Church Alhambra Village and Pastor Aaron Dailey is going to be the lead pastor of these two, beautiful, multi-ethnic congregations. Redemption Church has been a partner church of ours over the last few years, and we share the same theology, mission, and vision. We believe that this partnership of churches will be a wonderful display of the gospel, and will better serve and minister to our hood. Change is never easy, and it is almost always uncomfortable, but change means God is going to revel Himself in a fresh new way, and for that, we are excited!
Amy and I are going to be urban missionaries in Phoenix and are raising financial and prayer support to have a more integral part in neighborhood development, urban theological education, a city research project and other city networking projects that will bless local churches. Please pray for us and with us as our family makes this transition. If you would like to financially support our family in this endeavor, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will give you details as to how to give tax-deductible donations.
As we close out this update, we want to leave you with these three thoughts:
1) We believe God has ordained this.
We did not come to this conclusion by charting plans out on a white board and scheming out the next big plan for our church. God led us here over months of prayer, asking God to lead us into what we should do next to shepherd His people well. God moved the cloud, opened up doors, and clearly led us here.
2) We believe we are better together.
The church has never been a lone ranger type of organization; it is no place for individual platforms. It is built around the person of Jesus, and was meant to fulfill the task of displaying the beauty and worth of Jesus to the watching world. God gives diverse gifts, callings, and abilities to people, and together we can use our gifts to better serve the mission of God in Alhambra Village. We also believe that this is a beautiful display of unity and togetherness which is a beautiful display of the gospel.
3) We believe more people will meet Jesus.
As we work together in discipleship and neighborhood development, we feel we are better equipped to reach more people for Christ, not just by proclaiming the gospel in word, but by proclaiming it in deed. There are many social, political, and relational needs in Alhambra Village that need attention from God’s people, and this union will afford us more opportunities to partner with the marginalized and the powers that be, to help shape a more ‘just’ society for our friends in the hood.
We hope you can join us in prayer as we need God’s grace for this transition.
With Deep Love and Affection,
Jeff and Amy Skeens