WHAT I HAVE LEARNED WHILE BEING IN D.C.
James: I am really thankful and grateful that God put us here in D.C. for the last four years and, in particular, with the McDonnell’s this past year and a Half. I have learned so many lessons that God has used to refine me into a better disciple! The first thing is follow-through and organization. I have a personal saying that “Consistency is Radical”. Through Richie’s leadership I have learned how radical it is to follow through with what I say I am going to do. Acts 20:24 “However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the lord Jesus has given me- the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.”
I have a tendency to say that I will do something and forget to do it and never think of it again. Not only on a personal level but following through with helping other people with personal and spiritual problems. What I have learned is to make a list and keep referring to the list until the issue, task, or goal is completed. As you complete and make new lists, you transfer incomplete task till your goal is complete. I know it sounds simple. But what makes it ‘radical’ is when you consistently have a list that you are working on. When you speak with people about a conversation that you had 2-3 weeks ago and you remember the issues that they were going through, the people they were reaching out to and the goals that they are trying to achieve, you will impact their hearts. When you really look at this, it is extremely loving to take the time to keep up with all the commitments, conversations and promises that we make. I am really glad to have learned this from Richie.
The second thing that I have learned is how I view prayer. I understand the praying is when we speak with God. We have the ability to communicate our feelings, thoughts, concerns and wants to God. What I didn’t realize is how privileged we are to have this luxury, especially when you consider we can ask God for forgiveness every time we come to Him!
When the Israelites would sin under the 1st covenant, they would have to wait for the priest one time a year to enter the Most Holy Place to get their sins forgiven. Hebrews 9:7 “But only the high priest entered the inner room, and that only once a year, and never without blood, which he offered for himself and for the sins the people had committed in ignorance.”
Now when we pray we have the opportunity to enter the “Most Holy Place” every time that we pray. Hebrews 9:15 “For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance — now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.”
If you told me that I could speak with God one time per year, how much would I cherish that time. I would probably mark it on the calendar, I would look forward to it, and there is no way that I would be late! Now since I have the Luxury and access of speaking to Jesus My “mediator” I don’t really view prayer as sacred as it is; I take it for granted. Now when I pray, I understand that I am going into the Inner room, or Most Holy Place. I am so grateful that I have learned this since I have been here In DC.
In addition to the learning from the personal discipling I have received, I have greatly benefited from the lessons taught to the congregation by Richie. Two of the most profound lessons he taught were: The 7 Steps to an Outstanding Quiet Time, and the detailed lesson about Why We Give Special Missions. These were both lifechanging lessons for me.
I believe God orchestrates our lives in such a way as to give us the teachers we need at the time we need them. My advice to you, DC Church, is don’t waste a single lesson that God allows you to learn from His chosen instruments so that you will be prepared to the next place the Spirit decides to send you!
This has been a week full of Thanksgiving with time to reflect on what we are truly thankful for; in particular, as our family gets ready to embark on a new journey, to take time to reflect on the things that we are grateful for regarding our time in DC.
Jennifer: I am originally from Mt. Vernon, IL, a small town of approx. 17,000 people in southern IL. In 2003 we moved to Vancouver, WA just across the river from Portland, OR. This is where we became disciples and joined God’s newest movement. My heart was always to get closer to my hometown, so anytime there was a church planting closer to home I would be excited and consider asking to be on the mission team. But when I learned about the projected planting of DC, I thought to myself “I am not sure about DC, I don’t see myself as a DC person”, whatever that means. A few years later we were on our way to DC and it was nothing like I thought it would be. Through the years we have joked and learned to never to say you won’t go here or there, because God will send you wherever he needs you to go and if your heart is sold out to his plan and surrendered to what he wants for your life, then you may end up in places you never thought you would be. I never thought I would live in the Pacific NW (honestly I didn’t even know anything about it) and I definitely never dreamt that we would be here in DC!
I am so grateful for God’s love and that He knows exactly what I need. I needed DC. I have learned so much while living here and am grateful for so many of you as literally everyone in the DC Church has had an impact on my life. I have learned to love deeper, persevere with people, deepen my patience, and most importantly, to learn what it truly means to persevere in the Lord.
God has taught me to love the hurt while being in DC and to have compassion on those whose dreams have been choked out by life’s trials, and to help others rekindle their dreams. The way that God has taught me how to help others in this way is by allowing me to be hurt and to have my own dreams taken from me. While here, in DC, I began to question what God’s plan was for me or did He even have a great plan for my life. As a young girl and woman I always had great vision for my life that I would make an impact on this world. But as I hit 40, I felt as if life was passing by and that my dreams were no longer valid because I was getting older and there was much less time to fulfill those dreams. My kids were getting older and not needing me as much, I began to feel as if I was not needed questioning my purpose and wondering what was next in my life. The dreams that I had for my life were not being fulfilled. I became afraid, self-focused, and full of selfish ambition; I even started fighting with God. God, in His mercy, allowed me to be bruised, but not crushed and as a result of my suffering, I turned back and refocused on my God. No matter what happens in life, God is in control and either makes it happen or allows it to happen. Through this experience, I have learned to have more compassion for those who are hurting. One of my favorite scriptures is:
2 Corinthians 1:3-4 “Praise be to God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ the Father of all compassion and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort those we ourselves have received from God.”
Being in DC has also taught be to be a better wife. I have always despised the idea of being submissive in anyway, but especially as a wife. It takes a lot of strength and courage to be the type of wife that the Bible calls me to be. I have been a wife who is competitive and selfish in what I wanted instead of trusting the roles that God has designed allowing myself to give to my husband. Being his helper and holding his arms up instead of trying to do things better than him has brought me closer to my husband and gives me peace in my marriage knowing that God has designed the order of family and all I have to do is trust him in it. Genesis 2:18 “The Lord God said, ‘It is not good for man to be alone, I will make a helper suitable for him.’” God has designed me to be a suitable helper for James and I am more grateful than ever for that.
These are just a couple of examples of the things that God has taught me while in DC. I have certainly not mastered any of it, but my goal and desire is to get better at it each day as I strive to follow God’s word. In addition to this, I have had many women in my life here who have helped me to grow in these areas. I would love to go through each woman and how she has helped me, but the article would be too long.
There have been many fond memories and fun and inspirational times over the last four years, watching the DC Church send out the Denver Church planting, seeing many of you give your life over to God making him your Lord, and many of you stepping up to lead God’s people. I will cherish the times I have had and the things I have learned here in DC. I am excited about the journey that God is taking my family on and excited to hear all the good news from DC and watch each of you do amazing things for the Lord.
1 Thessalonians 1:2-3 “We [the Haynes family] always thank God for all of you [the DC church] mentioning you in our prayers. We [the Haynes family] continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.” THANK YOU DC CHURCH!!!
With much Love, James & Jennifer Haynes