This week is Thanksgiving and I have been thinking about the men and women in my life that God has used to shape me into the Christian man that I am. So for several posts, I am going to share with you who I am thankful for. I encourage you to practice this same exercise as we enter into the season of Thanksgiving.
I met Todd and Debbie Hunter in 2000. Todd had recently left his position as the national director of Vineyard churches and he and his wife had started a missional community in Placentia, California (www.toddhunter.org) . During that time he was also coaching dozens of guys/gals for church planting nationwide. I thought I wanted to be a church planter and so I visited The Community (the name for their missional community) and instantly fell in love. It was fresh, unique and would help shape me as a Christian and as a leader.
Todd and Debbie were kind enough to allow me to come in close to their lives and walk with them for over two years. In those two years I learned so much. I learned that Christ loves his church and no matter how broken she may be, she is worth fighting for. I learned that it is not enough to be against something, Christian leaders provide a positive, alternative future; to be a leader means to be for something. I learned the nature of Christian leadership–glorifying Christ through humble service to others. I was exposed to Dallas Willard through them and have been challenged and encouraged by him ever since. I also learned that unity matters and that we ought not fight with our brothers and sisters in Christ unless primary issues are involved.
The most important thing Todd and Debbie gave me was an enlarged imagination for gospel mission. In 2000, a group from The Community went to Church of the Savior in Washington, D.C.. This small, eclectic faith community had, for 50 years, served the urban poor in and around their Washington D.C. church. This group of a 100 had started a drug rehab, a retirement home, a day care facility, and a leaders’ institute. There are many things that I might quibble with them over but their willingness to be the hands and feet of Jesus is not one of them. That week changed my life. From that point on I knew what my life was to be about: It would be about the gospel–proclaiming it with my mouth and living it with my hands and feet.
Todd and Debbie are the real deal. They are a blessing to me and have profoundly shaped my ability to minister the gospel. This Thanksgiving, I am thankful!