Five Years Since the Vision - Three Years Since the Start...

Well this blog is probably 3 years past due, but I have been sort of (ok, maybe very) resistant to the blog thing because I personally do not read them very much at all.  I feel that blogs exist just to satisfy the soul of those who feel the need to overly express themselves a lot.  I do not want to utilize this for this purpose.  I do this verbally without the physical exertion on my hands and fingers every Sunday and most Fridays to our congregation...that was a bad joke, although true.

Anyway, I really write today because I would like to give God praise, much praise.  This past Sunday night was a new beginning for our church because we finally launched on Sundays.   We have been meeting on Friday evenings for the past 3 years. We have had the awesome pleasure of using the front aerobics room at the YMCA-Aquatic Center FOR FREE.  They have been so good to us and we could never repay them for the things they have done for us.  

We knew that in order to better serve the spiritual needs of the International Drive area we needed to find a place where we could launch a Sunday service because the YMCA is closed on Sundays.  For three years I have been searching and searching for a place we could sub-lease once per week that would enable us to launch on Sundays, but because we are in a heavy tourist zone all businesses are open 9am - 9pm and  7 days per week.  Our only other option would be to rent out a storefront space, but at $25-$35 per square foot we would be looking at $5000 a month in rent.  We would have been broke the third week of worship.  So I kept looking and looking.

About a year and a half ago I thought I had found the right place, the old Goodings grocery store, which I had been eye-balling for three years.  We talked with them and it seemed as if it was a go, but then I received a call from the YMCA asking us that if they were to open on Sundays would we be interested in starting a Sunday morning service.  We stopped in our tracks...hmmmm let's see...pay $300 a week at the Goodings, or pay nothing at the YMCA...hmmmm - The choice was obvious, so we backtracked and the YMCA let us celebrate Easter Sunday in 2010.  During this period we also had our Annual Spring Retreat and it was there that the Lord revealed to me that we would be opening up a childcare on International Drive and offer affordable childcare to the single mothers who work on International Drive.

We waited, and waited to hear from the Y about this opportunity, and we even submitted a proposal offering to remodel the bigger room they were offering to us, but we have not yet heard from them till today.  Since then, the Goodlings store also had pulled the plug on renting us the space. So by the end of Summer of 2010 we were right back where we began, serving on Friday nights, and I began to look again, and again, and again. 

While some urged me to push through on the YMCA, I felt the spirit of the LORD tell me not to push things through at the Y but to let God work.  Then in January of 2011 the Lord led me to Republic Square.  I had already called the property manager a year ago and they informed me that they could not allow any church establishments on their property.  This time it was different, because I took the time to get out of the car and to walk through the strip mall.  During this walk I saw a few things that really began to tickle my heart.  For one; I discovered an old abandoned movie theater.  I got really excited because in the back of my mind I have thought many times "If only there was an old movie theater that could be changed and transformed into a church..." 

The Lord led me to call them back anyway, so I did.  God is so good, because the real estate agent was new and he did not have any hesitation to show me the available offices.  Republic Square is not right on International Drive but it is at the intersection of Carrier Drive and Universal Blvd and has one night club at one end of the "L" shaped mall, and it had another shady night club at the other end, which is now closed.  And the restaurant which is at the corner of the parking lot was a restaurant/bar that was shut down for carrying out "Swinging" activities.  Needless to say, Republic Square is not one of the most righteous malls in the area, but I have a strong feeling that God is in the process of changing that.

So by the grace of God I discovered a company called Palm Construction School which has the last four store front units of the mall, of which the last three office spaces are used as a class room, and they agreed to rent us that space for Sunday Nights.  God enlightened me with the idea to permanently install lighting, curtains and audio riggings therefore enhancing the meeting room; and Palm Construction agreed to allow us to market the meeting room to the hotels up and down I-Drive and split the profits with them.  We estimate that we might be able to cover all of our rent expenses and even obtain more church revenue for ministry.  We also signed a lease on an office space of our own which we will use for Kiddie LIFE (our new name for childcare), for Administration and for storage.  

God is certainly moving us on up and He will get all the glory.  We will continue meeting for free at the YMCA on Friday nights, we continue to meet at different homes on Tuesday nights, and now we begin meeting on Sunday nights at our new home.  To think that a little over three years ago a friend of mine and I were sitting in a small conference room measuring about 200 square feet in the YMCA trying to think how we could arrange seating for 12-15 people.  Now we have room for up to 87 people, and if we need more chairs the room can seat up to 120 with over 1700 Square feet of space for worship and 800 square feet for childcare.

Bottom Line is that "GOD IS GOOD - ALL THE TIME & ALL THE TIME - GOD IS GOOD!!!"