My wife Lindsey and I were leading a new college group at our church in Texas when I discovered the Summit podcast. I had recently learned about Pastor J.D. and the Summit, and we immediately fell in love with the teaching and all of the pastoral staff who spoke during the Year of the Bible series.
During this time, Lindsey and I had to face the reality of financial struggles. I have worked with my parents’ small business in Texas since 2003, and we had seen phenomenal provision by the Lord’s hand in starting and maintaining the business, but for the first time, things were moving in the wrong direction. I took a second job, and we were taken care of, but I began to pray and seek the Lord on why things were changing. I really felt more change was coming, but we weren’t sure what.
Our anniversary was coming up, and I thought I would enjoy nothing more than visiting the Summit rather than a traditional weekend getaway. After we decided to come visit, I had a very detailed dream where I felt the Lord was pushing me to trust in him and look for the “next step”—not the entire plan, just the next step. We asked a few couples in our church to pray that while we took the next step of visiting the Summit that the Lord would clearly speak to us regarding our future steps, and we asked one of our college students, Ethan, and my sister to come with us.
On Saturday, we attended the North Raleigh campus, and Daniel Simmons was speaking on Jeremiah 17. He said that some of us who were listening had been experiencing a year of drought (our financial difficulties had begun almost a year ago to the date), and we have been like a plant in the desert that needs to be replanted in a new location by streams of living water. I knew in that moment the Holy Spirit was speaking directly to me through this message. We left the service and headed to the Blue Ridge campus, where we met a man named Derrick. He was asking us questions because he saw our Texas license plate. We told him a bit of our story and that we were in Raleigh for the weekend to seek the Lord and our next steps. He told me to look up, and above my head was a huge banner that said “Next Steps.” He smiled and said, “I think you found them.”
The next morning, we attended the Brier Creek campus and at the end of the service, I noticed a man standing up front and felt the need to ask him to pray with me and Lindsey, so we made our way up front. Pastor Chuck Reed prayed a beautiful prayer over us that spoke so deeply to us and where we were at that moment, and tears were rolling down my face. At the end, he hugged me and said, “Welcome home.”
We left that service to drive back to Texas because I had to work on Monday. On the way home, I asked everyone in the car what they thought about the whole trip. My sister said, “You guys are crazy if you don’t move. It’s where you are supposed to be!” Ethan said when Derrick pointed to the Next Steps sign, he knew that he needed to prepare for us to move to the Summit, and my wife said she knew it when I brought up the idea of taking the trip.
When we got back to Texas, we listed our home for sale, began packing up the house, and after six weeks had a buyer. Before we signed the paperwork, Hurricane Harvey hit our small town, and we received more than 20 inches of water throughout our home and lost a lot of our possessions. We moved into my parents’ house at the end of August. Our plans were on hold, but we knew God had a plan. After resolving everything with FEMA, we were able to sell our home on Dec. 1, and we began to plan the move to Raleigh.
We quickly discovered that moving to Raleigh without jobs was going to make it a little more difficult, so we prayed. I was told by a real estate agent there was no way anyone would rent to me with no job. We had no idea where we would live, work, or go to school, but we trusted the Lord. After several leads fell apart at the last minute, we finally had a home secured in Fuquay-Varina and were ready to go. We got a phone call on Dec. 19 that the home was no longer available; our moving truck was booked for Dec. 26.
Within 15 minutes of receiving that phone call, we got a call from Cathy, who told us to call Rosie, a member of her small group who had been praying for us since we first came to the Summit in July. She had specifically been praying that we would move into the house across the street from her, and a moving truck had just shown up across the street. We made a couple of phone calls and then moved into that house on Dec. 28 with no deposit and no lease agreement—just a verbal agreement with a stranger, our non-believing landlord, who told us we would “just figure it out when you get here, because something just feels right about it.”
God is so faithful to us in our journey. My family prayed for friends for our kids, and Rosie’s family across the street has six kids, including two about the same age as mine. They play together every day and love it. Lindsey has always wanted to live on a cul-de-sac, and of course we live on a cul-de-sac. Lindsey has also been praying for a friend, and at Starting Point, a lovely couple who are almost the same age as us sat at our table and invited us to their small group. We have everything we need and continue to see the faithfulness of God daily.
Right now, we don’t know the specific reason we are here, but we realized while listening to all those messages that we have a heart for the Summit and their vision for the Triangle, and we are here to help shoulder the vision. We are still in prayer daily for jobs and to make the right connections so we can be right where the Lord wants us to accomplish his purposes.
By Jared Ferree