Saying “yes” to Colorado
My husband, Kelly, and I lived in Granbury, Texas, and life was really great. We had four kids, and we were happy. Kelly worked in the oil and gas industry, and I taught a Bible study. We were both actively involved in our church, and God began to work in us. The only way I can really describe it was a holy discontent. As I continued to pray, God laid two words on my heart: “Yes, Lord.” And so we began to teach our children that we’re going to pray, “Yes, Lord.” We prayed a lot. We laid our hopes, dreams and any ideas of our future on the table and said, “God, what are your plans?”
We prayed “Yes, Lord” for 12 months without even knowing what we were saying “yes” to. During this season, I often turned to Isaiah 43:19, “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” Soon, God opened our eyes to church planting. We understood that our yes meant that we would become church planters.
We asked God to make us brave as we started to go through the process of discovering where He wanted us to plant. Kelly and I both understood we would abandon this calling if our eyes were on the things of the world, but if we longed to follow Him. With His help, we could do anything.
We made a list of 19 cities and put it in every single room in our house. We bought a children’s atlas that we used to study each of those places with our kids. One by one, God would take them off the list—sometimes even through our kids. We wanted our kids to be involved in the process and see what God would do. We wanted their faith to be their own; we wanted them to choose Jesus and see His power and presence in their own lives.
The land we prayed for
Through fasting and prayer, we narrowed the list down to Fort Collins, Colorado. We loved Colorado, but who would have thought God would bring us to a place we loved? We visited Fort Collins, and when we were driving through a neighborhood, I saw a mom walking down a street. She had a baby in a pack, a toddler in a stroller and a toddler on a tricycle. I began to weep when I saw her because I’m that mom. I could relate to her struggles. There was a day when I was walking down the sidewalk in Texas with a baby in a pack, a toddler in a stroller and a toddler on a tricycle. I knew that stage of life was hard. Statistics told me that she was doing her life and this stage without Jesus. I did it with Him. Something in my heart felt compelled to reach her. I wanted to say, “Can I walk this sidewalk with you? I am certain I have something that could make what you’re doing a little bit easier.”
We continued to pray and fast as we drove around Fort Collins, then we went back to Texas. We had prayed, “Lord, allow us to see with our eyes; not just make a decision based on what we like or our heart.” We wanted Him to give us a sign with our eyes to match His Word, so we would know that we were following in step with Him in our, “Yes, Lord.” Two days after returning to Texas, Kelly called me from work and said, “I need you to open your Bible to Joshua.” I began to weep and said, “I’m already in Joshua.” God had taken us both to the same Scripture that morning. It read, “God gave them the land that they prayed for—Timnath.” We knew at that moment that Fort Collins was our promised land, and Timnath, which is right outside of Fort Collins, is where He wanted us to serve. I’ll never forget that day.
After the move, at first, the youth ministry, office and church all took place in our home. It was busy and hard, but also freeing. I decided I would not fight to always have a perfect house. We love that our home is a gathering place. We have worked hard to make it a safe haven not for only our family, but for others as well.
We started inviting people to a Bible study in our home. God allowed love for the people to quickly fill my heart: They are not the people; they are my people. They are my people that God sent me to love well. It didn’t take long for us to begin to see that lives were going to change because of our obedience to God.
Some of the greatest struggles as a church planter’s wife have been loneliness and feeling forgotten. I have struggled with figuring out my capacity at times—what I can do and when to say no, even if the opportunity is a good thing. I have had to take on things I thought I could not handle, but my understanding of the bigger picture and desire for salvation of hearts has made this role doable. God has broken my heart for this place and the people in it. I do my best to love well. I have learned to hold tightly to the vision God has given us. “Yes” is a small word with huge meaning. I’m so glad Christ said yes to dying for me. I want my yes to help others experience His faithfulness and love.
Living Rock Church is an SBC church plant in Fort Collins, Colorado. The Parrish family continues to be faithful to God’s calling on their life as they serve the people of Fort Collins. For more information about Living Rock Church and the Parrish family, visit anniearmstrong.com.