MILAN, MI – Four years ago my wife Debbie and I moved to this beautiful state of Michigan. We knew nothing about Michigan before we moved here. I had a wonderful pastorate in downstate Illinois, but through a mission trip in Wisconsin with a friend who God was using to plant a SBC church there, God spoke to me and called me to leave the pastorate and follow His call to become a Church Planting Catalyst with the North American Mission Board. Within two weeks of that call, I was being invited by Tim Patterson to serve in central Michigan as a NAMB CPC.
We sensed a confirmation from the Lord on this call, so I resigned my pastorate and we made preparations to move to Michigan. As I said, initially my region to work in was central Michigan. So we started looking for a house near Lansing. My direct supervisor, Dr. Tony Lynn suggested that we look for something closer to Ann Arbor. Boy, that proved to be providential! We couldn’t afford to live in Ann Arbor (like most of the rest of Michigan, ha!) so God led us to a house in Milan, south of Ann Arbor. I asked the Lord to provide us a place near major highways that intersected major highways. He honored that request and off to Milan we headed.
I knew what Church Planting Catalysts did, or thought I did, but in all honesty, I didn’t know how they did it. Most of the CPC’s in Michigan were green at that time, so for us rookies it was a journey of faith and discovery. Church planting in Michigan had just begun to really pick up during that time, but it was still slow compared to what it is now. God graciously taught me how to wait on Him for planters, pray for planters, and methods to discover planters. It was all new, but God was faithful. Over time, my region was expanded to include metro Detroit and Windsor, Ontario in addition to regions including and east of Lansing. God began to answer prayers and church planting in Michigan has grown exponentially.
From what felt like meager beginnings four years ago, My fellow church planting catalysts and I have seen God do an amazing work right here in Michigan! We have planters who have moved thousands of miles to Michigan to plant churches because God called them to reach lost people with the gospel and make disciples. We have planters who have dedicated their lives to planting churches on college campuses so that after those new believing college students have been discipled, they will graduate, move all over the world, and make disciples of Jesus there.
We have planters who have left their foreign homelands and moved to Michigan because the people of their homeland have moved here. Those people are far from God, so planters moved here to reach them with the gospel. We have planters who left their long-standing affiliations to join us here in Michigan to plant churches to reach the lost. Those decisions cost them life-long friendships because they didn't understand. Every year we are seeing more and more raised up, called, and sent to plant churches to, as Tim Patterson states, “punch holes in the darkness” right here in Michigan. It is happening, more and more, because God is doing something great here. I am so happy I get to be a part of it.
Shameless plug: We are taking a tour to Israel in February of 2021. Contact me if you are interested.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Tim Shrader is a church planting catalyst with Send Network of the North American Mission Board. He serves in Send Detroit and southeast Michigan. He has been happily married to Debbie Shrader for almost 40 years. They will celebrate their anniversary in August. He is originally from St. Louis, MO. Tim and Debbie have three married children and one outstanding grandson. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.