Some of you know that Heather and I have felt like God, the creator of the cosmos — the God of chapter 1, verses 19-20 in the book of Romans — is leading us through a sequential, undeniable series of events in our lives to be a part of a church plant in Iceland (in whatever small way we can help).
Why plant… in Iceland?
A question we routinely hear is “why Iceland”, specifically, and also maybe closely related: “why a church plant” and “what do you mean by planting a church”?
So, right out of the gate, let’s just observe that there are already churches in Iceland. It’s not like ‘church’ is a completely foreign concept over there. They even have their own translation of the Bible, in Icelandic.
What you currently don’t see a lot of in Iceland, though, is an execution of the mission and vision of the church, capital C, as it’s outlined in the New Testament. At least not a lot. There just aren’t many smaller churches that emphasize discipleship as we see it encouraged in the New Testament.
What you do see a lot of are larger, state-run Lutheran churches. These churches provide unique opportunities to worship a God that deserves and desires worship. They also offer opportunities to seek out God through religious tradition and procedure.
There’s certainly a lot of good to be found in what already exists.
Again, though, there are additional opportunities for Icelanders to experience a creator God that we see in the Bible — and there are even opportunities for Icelanders to raise questions about that God of the Bible. He’s infinitely complex and, in my opinion, deserves exploration. (Those opportunities maybe just aren’t as plentiful or even as obvious through the strict religious tradition and procedure I just mentioned.)
The mission of Redeemer City Church of Reykjavik, the church we’d be helping to plant with Logan and Carla Douglas, is to lead everyday people in the region to know a triune God (in the form of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit), to grow to love this triune God, and then to abide by Christ’s commission for us all.
And we’ll be up there to do whatever we can to help the planters, Logan and Carla, and the mission of Redeemer City.
I think it’s also important to specify that we’re not just helping to plant a Sunday service with teaching and music — the thing that you see on every street here in the southeastern US.
(Of course, worship through the Word and through song is certainly a part of it, as we see throughout God’s Word.)
We’re also not there to help plant worship “personalities” or human idols, a building with a foundation of debt, or a budget based mostly on salaries.
Nor are we, simply put, heading there to just help transplant the Bible Belt over in Iceland.
What we’re emphatically there to do is demonstrate that which we see in the New Testament. (See Acts 2:42-47 for an example.)
So that’s the Iceland part of it.
Another question we’ve not necessarily heard a lot — but one that definitely echoes throughout our own heads every single day now: why me? why us?
Trust us, we can come up with a TON of reasons why we’re not the right people to help with a church plant. Off the top of our heads, for example, we’re not theologians. We’re not perfect human beings. And we have moments of major, near-crippling self doubt. And we feel like that’s just skimming the surface.
We do, however, acknowledge God and his love for his creation. We’re awestruck by, mystified by, and have a deep love FOR the ways that God has interacted with — and inspired — his creation throughout history, as we see in the Bible, and as we see through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ.
We also possess — through, we might add, the inspiration of the Holy Spirit — a willingness to make a major life change like moving our family to a different country. And, believe us, God has worked in specific and blatantly obvious ways in our lives to enable us to make that change. That includes things like an internal calling — an imprint on our very souls — but also ways like working in my (Jason’s) career and introducing us to specific people, things like that.
For those of you that are feeling a similar calling or have felt a similar imprint, so to speak, you probably know that a journey such as this — a journey of adhering to what you feel is the very will of God in your life — isn’t always without mysterious complication.
Case in point: we’ve had people in our life — albeit a very low percentage, like 1% — that have told us in no uncertain terms that we’re essentially moving to Iceland for, let’s say, an extended vacation.
Again, to anyone experiencing a similar imprint and/or similar feedback, you of course know that it would be infinitely easier to ignore a calling altogether; way easier to not have to leave our friends, family, and loved ones for however long; so much simpler to not have to give up routine in-person catching up with close friends; far less effort to not have to sell our house or reliable cars; much less complicated than sorting through, donating, and selling the rest of our possessions; less emotionally impactful for us to not have to shake up our daughters’ routine; and less chaotic to not have to adapt to a new, foreign, cold-climate culture, etc.
And if we’re being entirely honest and transparent about this whole situation, there are parts of us that would love to, instead, just donate whatever amount of money we could to the extremely small number of biblical, organizational endeavors in the country that are operating with the same mission that’s been laid on our souls. Can we just do that? Can we just give some cash?
We mention all that because, when God clearly and, again, blatantly positions you to do something in an effort to obey the commission we talked about, we feel as though you shouldn’t ignore it.
We feel like we’ve ignored a lot of what God has done in our lives and we’re both pretty tired of doing that.
Whether or not you’d think any of what I’ve talked about thus far renders us qualified to help with a church plant, we have no idea — but God has left us without doubt, only assurances. So, we’ll act on those assurances, pursue God’s will for our lives, and pursue the proclamation of God’s love in Iceland, specifically in and around Reykjavík — for however long he’d have us do that.
Speaking of “however long,” another question we get a lot is timing. What’s the timeline? When are you leaving? Why won’t you just leave already? (jk)
Our initial goal was the beginning of October (in the year we came to know and love as 2020). Then, it was January 2021. Next up: March of 2021. Finally, our latest goal is the end of June 2021… and I think we’re just about all set.
Ways to help.
And then the last question we get a lot is how can we help?
And really there’s just one answer there: prayer.
Just pray, in your own quiet time, for the efficacy of the mission of Redeemer City. Ultimately, that gets broken down into several smaller, more specific prayer requests:
Prayer for our parents. If you can just take one moment now or later to offer up a prayer to the God of the cosmos for the care of our parents, that would be incredible.
The area that has consumed 90% or more of our worry has revolved around our parents. Luckily we have family in the area and our small group has consistently offered to help them in whatever ways they can while we’re gone. Like many of you, we just want to make sure our parents are taken care of, not taken advantage of, things like that. For the most part, we’ve received a lot of support from family in this endeavor.
And again for those of you in similar situations: if there’s something that occupies 90% of your concern about pursuing God’s call in your life, a spiritual enemy will actively work in your life to emphasize and underline that one area. That enemy will work through things, places, situations, and people — all in an effort to cement doubt in your soul and prevent you personally from adhering to the great commission. It’s the craziest thing I’ve ever experienced in my life. The last 15 months of our lives have been the craziest… and not just ‘cause 2020 was the most jank year ever for human society; we’re talking about personal stuff, personal attacks, all surrounding that one thing that’s consuming 90% of our worry. But, again, to those of you in similar situations, don’t waver. Just pray. And continue reflecting on God’s will.
So, yeah, just a quick prayer for the care and well-being of our parents and family.
And then regarding the mission of Redeemer City, just be praying that we’ll be able to create opportunities for genuine, deep love for — and worship of — God. That is, as I can attest to, the most transformational thing we’ll ever encounter in our lives.
That’s pretty much it for now. We’ve both got countdowns running on our phone for the end of June and it’s getting pretty close now. We’re feeling nervous and intimidated but mostly excited about what our God is willing to do through us in Iceland.
Message us if you have any questions about what we’re doing.
Jason + Heather