Thankful for Lives Changed

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The girl in the center of this picture is Amber. The two friends beside her are Heather and John. Heather and John were faithful to invest in Amber’s life through softball, and thanks to their faithfulness to God’s call, Amber is now our sister in Christ. Amber is a single mom who has had to deal with a lot in a short amount of time, but God provided  friends in times of trouble. Growing up, Amber was never encouraged to seek the things of God or to attend any church, but God used Heather and John in her life. They invited her to Vintage Church, and they supported her as she pursued God.

Megan and I got to meet her and her daughter one Sunday and began investing in her life, too. One day, we invited her over for dinner and talked about following God. She had lots of questions, yet she had a heart of faith and was ready to follow Jesus anyway. It was clear God was working in her heart, and that night we prayed with Amber to surrender to Jesus.

There is nothing in this world I enjoy more than a good baptism. Its encompasses everything great about the church–evangelism, discipleship, obedience, joy, transformation, and church community. Amber was baptized in front of family and friends, proclaiming her faith to the world. Since her salvation, Amber has jumped right in, serving with our SEND Relief Center at church.

Thank you for praying along with us for Amber since the last blog. God clearly is answering our prayers to see people saved and transformed by the gospel. His will is that none of the people He created would die in rebellion. May that be our passion as well.

This is why we are here in Pittsburgh. We are a little more than halfway to full support for the 2020 year. If you are led by God to support the Kingdom work in Pittsburgh, would you consider giving to the cause? I have been amazed at how God is using people all over the country to give so generously to us, and it truly humbles us to know we cannot do this without you. God cannot help but get all the glory! Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

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Hear This!

Many of you have been praying for hearing aids for Greg, who lost 96% of the hearing on his right side last year. The cost of hearing aids is high, and we needed God to provide a way to afford them. After a year of praying, we can finally inform everyone that God has answered those prayers, and Greg has hearing aids!IMG_20190913_151811_01

God provided these aids through the Office of Vocational Rehab here in Pittsburgh. It is not easy to qualify for hearing aids through this service. We had to prove we couldn’t afford them, prove Greg was indeed deaf, and prove that he needed them as a critical part of his job. God used many of you to encourage us through that process. Some of you even offered to pay for the hearing aids outright if OVR didn’t work out. Your encouragement brought us to tears more than once. And in the way that He does, God went above and beyond, even providing an amazing friend from church to serve as our audiologist and help us through the process to acquire the top of the line hearing aids.

We just want to say thank you again to all those who encouraged us, did research with us, and prayed for us through this year-long journey. Even with the aids, Greg’s hearing will never be whole again apart from a miracle (which God could still do if He so chooses), but the miracles He has already worked on our behalf need to be celebrated! If God had chosen to let Greg continue in his deafness, He still has provided true healing for us all in Christ. We are grateful for this extra blessing while we are here on earth.

One of the things I (Greg) have been learning through this hearing loss is our ultimate need to hear God. Hearing is crucial to believing, obeying, and stepping out in faith. As critical as it was for me to hear, it is far more crucial for those far from God to hear the good news of Jesus. That is why we are here in Pittsburgh, and God has been answering that prayer as well. We have had new visitors to church every week, including some who have never been to church before. One young single mother in particular has been coming to church for a few weeks. She was invited by her softball coach, who happens to be a member at Vintage. She didn’t grow up in church, and her family even discouraged her from going the times she considered it. She has been soaking in the truth of the gospel for weeks now and recently informed us she is thinking about baptism. Would you pray that she will hear and believe the gospel? Pray that in the next blog we can celebrate another saved life, another person who found hope in Jesus!

From the bottom of our hearts, thank you, Church. God is on the move!

Moving Forward

“And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. O him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.” 1 Peter 5:10-11

Over the last few months, you have been faithful to pray for us as we sought God’s will for our family and ministry. God sustained us through His power and your prayers, and we are excited to tell you that He has given us direction in answer to those prayers. At the end of July, I officially accepted a pastoral role at the City campus of Vintage Church. We covet your continued prayers as the church and our family continue in a time of transition, but we are in awe of what God has done and is doing to reach people in Pittsburgh. The Lord has greatly answered many prayers that have been offered up both for our family and for the church in this city.

66429942_2831557770193389_216507609174245376_nI will serve alongside lead pastor Rob Wilton by helping him guide the people of the city campus toward accomplishing Vintage’s mission to live the gospel, serve the city, and be the church. I will continue to serve as a shepherding pastor to the people of the city campus on Mt. Washington, responsible for oversight of discipleship ministries such as small groups, children’s ministry, and guest connections.

Just this summer, we have seen the need for a staff member uniquely dedicated to serving the people of the city campus. Courtney and Joanne from last month’s blog are perfect examples of the type of people we are getting to serve. Baptism is great, but soon after she was baptized, Joanne started to go through some trials. The christian life only intensifies once we decide to follow him. We were able to be there when she needed medication for worsening brain aneurysms, we were there when Jackson needed a ride to church after his brother died, and we were there to connect Courtney with seasoned believers to help guide her in her walk. This is the kind of “on the ground” ministry you support when you pray for us!

67354596_2842918425723990_8744864971583651840_nSince Vintage is still a church plant, they cannot logistically afford to pay a large number of staff members. In order for me to serve full-time in this role, I will have to secure outside funding for my salary. I would like to ask you to prayerfully consider joining the Lord’s work in Pittsburgh by committing to support us through prayer and financially in 2020. Currently, I work part-time at Vintage and part-time as a warehouse chaplain. Megan also works part-time to supplement our family’s income. Our goal, however, is for me to be able to step aside from chaplain work and devote a full-time schedule to the people of Pittsburgh and Vintage City. If you are interested in partnering with us financially, please feel free to call or email me! (gregsoutheastern@gmail.com, 609-802-6895)

Summer Immersion

The summer has just started, but its been full of big events. We hosted the Super Summer Sports Camp again this year with great success. We had an average of 80 kids in Crafton coming out to play sports and learn about Jesus each day of camp. We wanted to try hosting this same camp on Mt. Washington, as well, in order to minister in the area closer to the Pittsburgh City campus. That camp started with about 6 kids. God graciously held off the rain each day even though it has felt like monsoon season in Pittsburgh for the last month. 62470048_2764370550245445_268360577540161536_n

Two of the biggest events, though, were our baptism services on pentecost Sunday. Between the two Vintage campuses, we baptized three sisters in Christ! In the weeks leading up to the baptisms, I had the privilege of sitting down with two of the ladies to hear their stories and help them understand what it means to follow Jesus.

Their testimonies broke my heart, and I heard again the tragic stories that sin writes in all of us.62391357_2764370660245434_5176587927110549504_n.jpg But then I got to rejoice with them as I heard them each recount the new birth that Jesus had given them–the same new birth He gives all who trust Him. Both ladies had struggled and run from God, but now they proclaim Him to everyone they know. Both of their lives were broken, but now they are being made whole. They are now plugged into our church and seeking Jesus with their new family.

Stories like theirs are why we do what we do. We are still seeking the Lord to see if we will continue to do this work in Pittsburgh or if He is calling us elsewhere. Your prayers and your support helped make this moment happen, and they are strengthening us to continue working in spite of so many unknowns for our family. Thank You!

You can check the baptism video below.

Transition: change, transform, adapt, adjust

VCPitt_headshots-0022.jpgAs I re-read our last post, this stands out to me: “God has been behind every victory on the journey so far, and He will be the fuel for the journey ahead. Thank you for fueling the mission here in Pittsburgh with your support and prayers.”

You may not be aware of it, but your prayers have been fueling us through yet another transition here in the ‘Burgh. As Megan and I settled in at The Well Church, God was working behind the scenes to orchestrate yet another big change in our lives. In a mighty answer to prayer, Pastor Adam was offered a job with the Send Relief arm of NAMB. His new role, however, meant the need to pursue the best way forward for The Well. Through much prayer and deliberation, leaders around Pittsburgh agreed that both The Well and another church you may remember hearing about, Vintage Church, would be “better together.” Thus, at the end of March, just three weeks after my whirlwind trip to NC, we were informed that The Well would be merging with Vintage Church–the same church that merged with LFCC back in August.

Questions arose, from us and from our partners: Why would God lead us to The Well just to have Vintage Church follow so closely behind? If we were supposed to join with Vintage, wouldn’t we have done so the first time? What does this mean for the Lawrence family? But God has allowed us to see how beautiful it is that we are at The Well during this time–now the Pittsburgh City campus of Vintage Church. We have already walked through a transition exactly like this one. We have seen God work, and we have processed the emotions that come along with sudden change. We have been able to take what we learned through the first merger and truly support Adam and Ashley and the members of the Pittsburgh City campus as they navigate what the merger means for them each on a personal level and for the church as a whole.

57840070_10162222892215112_4145495656640806912_nThe Well officially launched as the Pittsburgh City campus of Vintage Church on Easter Sunday, but there is much transition to come in the next few months. In each and every step, we are seeking the Lord and His plans for our family. Right now, we know that God has us at this campus through August, when the merger should be finalized. Greg will be serving as the Connect Director, working to connect visitors, new believers, and growing Christians to Christ and to one another. He is also keeping his hands open to whatever the Lord may bring, even if it means moving on to another opportunity.

57504679_2677479652267869_3697612726097412096_nDuring this time, we covet your continued prayers. We know that God’s power shown through your support is what brought us through the last few months of change, and we want to continue to glorify Him no matter where He leads. If you have any further questions, please feel free to reach out to me. We will continue to seek the Lord and keep you updated as we know more. Lives have been changed because of your prayers and will continue to be changed because of the foundation you helped us lay. And please keep praying for this city; God is on the move in Pittsburgh!

Fuel for the Journey

 

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At the very beginning of the month, I (Greg) had the privilege of taking a trip down to North Carolina to visit friends and supporters of what God is doing here in Pittsburgh. I stayed with a different family every night for five days of travel. I am so thankful for the love and care I received on this trip. If your are one of the many people who met with me or let me stay at your place, thank you very much! Pretty much every hour was filled with seeing old friends or making new ones. I was reminded of God’s goodness in hard times through friends at Arlington Baptist church. As a part of Bay Leaf Baptist’s annual Mission Sunday, I had a chance to share what God is doing in Pittsburgh and encourage many people to join a mission team that will be traveling to the city this year. And at Pleasant Garden Baptist Church, we dreamed of what God is going to do next through the leadership both there and in the Burgh.

IMG_5731Though it was a whiplash inducing trip, it was exactly what we needed. In each region of NC, people reminded me of something I needed. Whether it was, “God is faithful in the hard times,”  “We want to support you and Pittsburgh,” or “We are praying for you,” I was reminded that God has been behind every victory on the journey so far, and He will be the fuel for the journey ahead. Thank you for fueling the mission here in Pittsburgh with your support and prayers.

img-5629In the meantime, God has continued to move at The Well Church. As Discipleship Pastor, I have been getting to know our community groups and praying that God will multiply our leaders. Megan and I hosted two dinners, each with rising leaders in our church who voiced strong interest in leading such a group. God is answering our desire to multiply so that we can make His name great in all of our neighborhoods. Pray that we will follow God and to do His work.

I also had the chance to preach twice this month. If you’d like to give the sermons a listen, you can find them here: http://thewellpgh.org/resources/sermons. I preached the messages entitled “Rooted in Community” and “Rooted in Prayer.”

Love you guys!

-Greg

“Well” On Our Way

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As I officially stepped into the role of Associate Pastor of Discipleship at The Well Church this month, the Lawrence family hit the ground running to kick off 2019. Like many things in church planting, there is both excitement and trepidation as to how the year will go. But God knows our worries, and He has already given us a sweet reminder that He is still orchestrating things here.

Almost exactly two years ago, I was asked to preach a four-week series at The Well Church. The church had just started meeting in the Mt. Washington community center, and the sermon series focused on getting a fresh start with God. I loved filling in for Adam, and I was excited to preach a whole series. After the service on the fourth and final Sunday, a visitor approached to shake my hand and pull me aside. His name was Frank, and he is very tall and intimidating (think mob-boss level intimidation here). At first, I was afraid I had said something to upset him. But when he looked down at me and simply said, “I think you’re right; I need a fresh start with God,” I was blown away. God had already been moving in Frank’s heart, and I was thrilled to get to be a part of his story. Immediately, Austin–the worship leader at The Well–followed up with Frank and his family. A few months later, Frank was later baptized and joined the church.

Fast forward to the present day–January of 2019. I’m anxiously starting this new role wondering if I’ll make a kingdom difference this year. Then, on January 6th, The Well had a chance to celebrate the ordinance of baptism as a church body, and God used it to place the picture of His power in front of me again. Since last year, Frank has been growing in the Lord and inviting his coworkers to church constantly. One of those coworkers is a man named Josh, and his baptism was the one we were celebrating. Josh has been changed by Jesus thanks to Frank’s obedience to share God’s love with his friends and coworkers.

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As I stood there taking this picture, God reminded me that He changed the world through a chain of discipleship just like this one. His plan for the redemption of the world is simply a matter of each believer obeying God by passing on the hope of Jesus to the next guy. As I start the year as a discipleship pastor in this amazing church plant, please pray that God will use not just me, but each and every believer at The Well to make disciples who make disciples. We want it to go so far beyond “Greg-to-Frank-to-Josh” as we pray to reach Mt. Washington, Crafton, and all of Pittsburgh with the love of Christ.