In 2015 Cayla and I began to name a deep stirring and restlessness down deep in our souls. After many prayers, tears, conversations, doubts, and affirmations- here we are three years later just a few days away from moving across the country to call Denver 'home,' believing that God is able to do more than we could ever ask for or imagine.
A prayer I have been praying- even before we knew a city or had any 'vision or strategy' language down on paper or had even fully surrendered to 'go'- was for God to be faithful to raise up people to join us; specifically for deep relationships to form and for leaders who share a burden to help people know, enjoy, and follow Jesus. Cay and I are always floored when people approach us telling us they are praying about relocating their lives to be first members of The Oaks and 'live sent' to the neighborhoods of Denver and the nations of the world with us.
Throughout 2018 I want to introduce you to our team as they move in to the city.
Our first family to relocate to Denver is The Hutchisons.
I'm excited to share their story with you!
Meet The Hutchisons
My name is Ben Hutchison, and with my wife Kate and two kids, Eli and Emma, we have been on the pursuit of abundant life and rich fellowship with the Lord. In our pursuit for the abundant, Spirit-filled life, we’ve been brought into alignment with the vision and mission of the Oaks Community Church. We are by grace, in faith, learning to leverage our lives, every decision and opportunity, for the sake of Kingdom love and growth.
You should know, I am a man who views the world through a lens of reason. I find safety in intellect, and I typically don’t make a move without a well thought through plan. So you can imagine what a humbling, fumbling path of submission this journey to embrace the abundant life of fellowship with the Lord has been for me. You can also imagine my wife’s surprise way back in 2015 when I brought our youth group home from summer camp with a hesitant yet confident proclamation that God was telling me to have faith. To have faith in what? I didn’t know. To do what? I didn’t know.
By faith I was brought into the family of God as a kid, but through sanctification I was being moved away from a predictable and manageable faith into a functional position of surrender. I was being invited to let go of my control over this life.
So my wife and I prayed for the reckless faith that it would take for us to step wherever the Lord led, to follow Him in hope and confidence. This call to faithfulness fell on the uninhibited and adventurous ears of my wife – yes, it’s true, opposites attract. And so we began eagerly praying. This was followed by months of pruning, searching through doubts, engaging in difficult discernment, and waiting in anticipation.
I was serving as a youth minister in Mississippi at the time, and the Lord had begun igniting a desire deep within my heart. My wife and I would almost whisper when we seldom brought up this seemingly unrealistic, definitely unreasonable, desire to serve internationals in the West and to be a part of the multiplication of churches through the urban church planting model. If I talked too loudly, the voice of reason would rise up and bring reality crashing down on us. What about my dream to teach? How will we afford living in the city? How could we raise our children so far from their grandparents?
In January of 2018 as I sit here in Colorado, a church planting team member and affiliate professor at Colorado Christian University, I see how reasonable the Lord’s path has been for my preparation and equipping to bring glory to his name. But in the Fall of 2015, accepting the invitation of the Lord to hold fast in faith to the vision he rooted in our souls felt absurd on the good days and down right irresponsible on the bad days.
In faith, I followed the Lord as he led my family away from a secure, fruitful ministry in the spring of 2016. We re-rooted in New Orleans, a city we thought we’d never live in again. We both started seminary at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary in 2010 as newlyweds. In 2013 we moved away for a full time ministry opportunity and a chance to grow our family closer to our parents. We love New Orleans, its rich culture, diversity, and hospitality, but the city signified a place of financial struggle, uncertainty, and grueling scholarship. In His goodness, through these difficulties we were reintroduced to, God provided. Most importantly, he provided a partnership with an established church plant in the city where I was mentored and introduced to the realities of urban church planting.
During this time I pursued ministry opportunities in California. How much further West could we go? I pushed on doors, many doors, and the Lord kept them closed. In May 2017, my wife and I decided to plan a trip to California in October, praying that God would direct our steps as we planned the details. Show us the churches and seminaries to visit, the people to meet, the city to go to. Within the week of us committing this “unreasonable” plan to the Lord, I was talking to a former youth student of ours who attends Tri-Cities Baptist Church in Tennessee. Listening to the story of God’s leading in our lives, James felt compelled to share about one of his pastors who was leaving Tennessee to plant a church in the West. In God’s providence, I was connected with Derick Sherfey, the pastor of the Oaks Community Church. A few conversations with him, a few stubborn, failed attempts at more “reasonable” ministry opportunities, and I became confident and humbled in the Lord’s leadership as it became apparent The Oaks Community Church would be the fulfillment of the vision we felt rising up in our souls back in 2015.
In my pursuit for abundant life and rich fellowship with the Lord, God has redefined my idea of what qualifies as reasonable. He has baptized me in his truth and sanctified me in his wisdom. In 2015, my son Eli was 2 and he began asking us to sing “Trust and Obey” at bedtime. We’ve sung it every single night since, and every single night I sing with the conviction that these children don’t need to be protected by my sense of reason. They need to be guided into Kingdom minded living, forsaking this world for the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus as their Lord. I am reminded night after night of the simple assurance of trusting in God’s goodness and obeying his guidance. I fight against the rationality of this world every day and ask your prayers for strength of mind and focused intentionality as we seek to love our neighbors here in Denver, learn their needs, and humbly offer the love of Christ through our words and deeds.