It is not simply that we share with each other a common humanity, but that individually we have no humanity without each other.
- Sara Maitland
Today's guest blogger is Annie B. Garman, a pastor's wife, runner, gardener, and mother of four girls who writes about her life at www.anniebrogan.com.
God is using our small church to do something huge for military families.
It all started when a family in our church decided to plant a new church. This wasn’t terribly surprising. Our church, Pillar Church, was passionate about church planting and had already planted three new churches. Every week we prayed for our church planters and encouraged all our church members to pray how they could be used in the work.
This family, the O’Days, began to sense God calling them to plant. There was only one catch. They were about to PCS (permanent change of station) to Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, NC.
Ah, yes. This was the constant struggle of our church. Situated only two miles from Marine Corps Base Quantico, "crossroads of the Marine Corps," we had been through this scenario before.
Right as people began to mature in their understanding of the gospel and desire to spread the gospel, they would leave us for another duty station.
And that’s when an idea began–what if we planted a healthy, gospel-centered church near every major Marine Corps base around the world? This would begin with 15 strategic installations, growing to more than 25 sites as we continued to reach out.
(There are four major Marine Corps bases in the US and one in Japan. But because of the population of each base–a small city of 40,000 or more–it's possible to plant more than one church at each base.)
The O’Days were moving to Jacksonville, NC, but what if they planted another Pillar church with likeminded theology and practice there? And what if that church planted other churches and those churches planted churches? The vision was really starting to take shape.
In 2013, the O’Day family was sent out from Pillar Church to start a new church. Because of their decision, there is now a Pillar Jacksonville. Not only that, but two members of Pillar Jacksonville left this year to start Pillar Oceanside, just down the road from Camp Pendleton.
As I type this, we have a team of people preparing to plant Pillar Washington, DC, near the Marine Corps base at 8th and I streets. Pillar Stafford, near the back gate of MCB Quantico and formed in 2011, is now a thriving community that is pregnant and preparing to plant again this year.
The dream is on its way to becoming a reality!
This church planting initiative, The Praetorian Project, is named after the Praetorian Guard that stood guard outside of Paul’s prison cell. Through Paul’s faithful witness, many of these military men became Christians and were sent throughout the Roman Empire where they carried the hope of the gospel.
As the Praetorian Guard was used 2000 years ago to advance the gospel, we believe that God wants to use our church to advance the gospel near these Marine Corps bases.
Our prayer is that our network of churches will provide a stable church family for these military families whose lives are full of instability, to provide a community within a community that is easy to connect to as they move from place to place.
Will you help us do this? Watch the video, respond, and spread the word!
Edie Melson is a leading professional in the publishing industry. She also knows what it’s like to send a loved one off to war. Her oldest son went from high school graduation, to Marine Corp boot camp, to Iraq; where he served two tours fighting on the front lines as an infantry Marine. Fighting Fear: Winning the War at Home When Your Soldier Leaves for Battle, is Edie’s heart project. Look for her two newest books for military families debuting in 2014: While My Son Serves and While My Husband Serves. You can also connect with Edie on Twitter and Facebook.