A New Journey for the Fletcher Family
It was seven years ago the Fletcher Family made contact with Conway. The first few months were a whirlwind for the family as we sought our bearings for a short period of time in the anticipation of returning to the US Army. Well needless to say, we are still here.
I remember from May to July 2007, three days a week I would preach on the corner across the street from Mike’s Place and the post office. I didn't know the faces. I didn't know the town. I didn't know that God was preparing me. He was preparing me to let go of the Army. He was preparing me to be bold. He was preparing me and my family to simply go.
Well as many of you know, we went into a trailer park. Planted a church. Started a nonprofit. Seven years later God once again is calling us to go.
Over the next year and a half, I will be looking forward to giving leadership fully to others and pouring Gospel work into a new wineskin. It is a beautiful thought and a process I look forward to immersing myself and family in for the glory of God and the love of neighbor.
So what is on the horizon?
In 2016, CoHO will begin its first ever transition out of a community and hand over the primary ministry responsibilities to an existing local church. We believe this is keeping with the overall vision of CoHO to introduce neighborly love and see that work grow in the hands of men and women who love the Church, the Gospel, and Christ. In fact, Paul declares in his epistle to the Ephesian believers that the Gospel of Jesus Christ and its manifold wisdom would be made known through the Church. CoHO desires to use all of its available resources and influence to see such an endeavor become a reality in each of its Hope Communities. The community of Oakwood represents the center of gravity for this organization and we discern the time has come to shift the existing efforts to the Church at Oakwood. The benefit to the local church includes being able to use its existing people and talents to influence Oakwood in new ways. Additionally, a transition of this sort frees up resources to serve our younger Hope Communities Brookside and South Ash, support the growth of new leadership, and continues to advance the vision of renewal in low-income communities throughout Central-Arkansas.
Church at Oakwood
This beautiful local church and the myriads of people who have been in connection with her have been a sweet aroma to me and my family since September 2007. Till this very day, I remember Nicolle, the kids, and I loading up chairs in our van, going into Oakwood, and just hoping one person would show up. In cold weather, hot weather, sprinkling rain, and a gentle breeze, our Sundays have been marked by worship under a tree. She’s been called, “TP Church,” “Trailer Park Church,” “That’s a cool thing you do,” and my all-time favorite, “cult.” Regardless of the names, this church, this beautiful community of college students, poor people, alcoholics, well off people, and whoever else, represent the powerful grace of God to welcome men, women, and children in the most unlikely of places. I have married and buried friends from Oakwood. My wife has cried with women and wrestled with rescuing women from abuse. I have watched my kids grow and lead people in the park. I rejoice that what we leave behind is a strong local church with strong leadership, strong families, and single people, who love Jesus and the community of Oakwood. God has done his beautiful work through our family and he is now calling us to go and begin a new community of faith in a tough area of Conway.
Lord willing in September 2015 the Fletcher family will start Advocate Community Church to be a community of faith which seeks to discover what it means to be human in the worship of God and loving people. I want this to be a church that speaks directly to the personal and systemic sins which prevail in our society. I have an increasing burden to see a space in which people can openly voice their doubts about the Christian faith and still know the seed of faith given by the holy God is being nurtured by his Spirit. Our family want to know at this point in our lives what it means for the Church to be a friend of sinners.
There are two things that I know; 1) God never does the same thing twice. This time there will be no tree or trailers. This time our family will not step into a community without friends. This time Nicolle said “Yes!” 2) God is good and he is faithful to accomplish this future work because he has shown himself good and faithful these past seven years.
How You Can Pray.
Pray that God would grant the Fletcher Family continual wisdom and patience. Pray for the Church at Oakwood and the beautiful people of Oakwood. Pray for the communities of Brookside and South Ash as we strengthen our CoHO efforts in those places. Above all, pray that God would be glorified in all our efforts and that in the presence of our great God and Savior, his name would saturate the lives and communities of Conway.