by Tony Lynn
PLYMOUTH, MI – I see resurrection power every day of my life in the Send Network and in the state convention.
The resurrection is about One life given so that many others may receive eternal live, and I get to experience that multiplication of life, Every. Single. Day. In my role with the Send Network of the North American Mission Board (NAMB) and the Baptist State Convention of Michigan (BSCM), I see individuals and congregations sacrifice a lot to bring eternal life to those living in Michigan. That is one reason why celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ on April 17 is one of this year’s sacred days for me. Let me add some depth to my feelings describing a typical day.
On Sunday, March 20, a new church plant, during their “Vision Casting Sunday,” was joined by previous church planters and an-up-and-coming church planter. Everyone was connected to the Send Network. I was there along with my wife.
I can testify to the actions as well as the emotions accompanying the day. It started out very well that sunny morning in March. As I slipped out of my truck, the driver in the next vehicle slipped out of his SUV. I greeted him and asked, “Is this your first time at Convergent Church?” He replied, “Yes” and offered that he was a friend of Dan Dameron, one of the church’s leaders. I replied, “Let’s go find Dan and I will introduce you to the other members of the team. You’re in the right place looking at a good church. I hope you’ll like it.” We entered and started mingling with everyone.
Josh Tovey, a veteran church planter with RedemptionMI.org in the Greater Grand Rapids area, was there to support Jamison Bebiak, one of our newest church planters with ConvergentOwosso.com. Tovey was also given the task of teaching that Sunday morning, unveiling a message from Romans 8 on adoption and becoming heirs of the Lord in glory and suffering. Bebiak is one of four church planters that has been given the chance at a healthy church start through a residency or training time connected with Redemption Church and Josh Tovey.
For the sake of this story, you can think of Tovey as a father-figure to the other men in this story. Though Tovey has a young look and an enjoyable sense of humor, everyone senses his wisdom when it comes to church planting.
Other men, like Bebiak, impacted by the life-giving ministry of Redemption Church are Seth Springs, Nathan Sharpe, and the newest one approaching assessment is named Charles. The loyalty these men have with one another is mind-boggling. Nothing will ever break the bond of love and concern these men have for each other.
When we snapped a picture of these men in the middle of M-21, a highway that splits the north and south of Owosso, as a symbol of taking the city for Christ, I could sense a stronger, lasting bond between these men that does not exist among the men and women who recently played elimination basketball games during March Madness. These men aren’t competitors, they’re one team serving Christ.
It was startling to hear Josh Tovey convey the idea, from Romans 8, that following the Lord’s calling is not a guarantee that everything will be easy or agreeable. He was not painting a bleak picture; Tovey was covering the blank canvas of a future with reality. Tovey, through very personal disclosure, explained the previous years of surgery, treatments, and waiting as his wife, Stephanie, battled a stubborn cancer while they planted Redemption Church. Her cancer returned four times. Each time the cancer raised itself to steal life and hope from the Tovey family, and each time they fought back with the power of the resurrection.
My favorite moment that weekend was when the worship space went silent upon seeing an image that Tovey shared. The silence was followed by gasps throughout the worship space when Tovey showed the image of the three children Stephanie and he adopted exactly three years ago to the day he was preaching that March Sunday morning message. Tovey asked, “Could it be that our years of suffering and battling cancer prepared us to adopt these three siblings who had suffered early in their lives?”
He added, “Now that these three are adopted, despite all that they previously suffered they will forever be part of the Tovey family and they will inherit all that they can from us. We will be there to celebrate their successes and to catch them when they fail.” Tovey’s deep, intimate, and personal story illustrated the immeasurable inheritance that awaits all of those who come to know the resurrection power.
Years ago, as a pastor, I deliberately replaced any reference to the annual celebration of the resurrection of Christ from the word Easter to the phrase “Resurrection Sunday.” I know there will be jelly beans, baskets, and phony-grass, I’m not an Easter-Grinch; but I want to remind myself when I speak of the annual event that changes everything that I feature the One and the act that changes everything.
He is risen! Christ is risen! I love seeing resurrection power every day of my life . . . and I do because it is there. I hope you see it, sense it, and know it.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr. Tony L. Lynn is the State Director of Missions for the Baptist State Convention of Michigan. Before coming on staff at the BSCM, Tony served as lead pastor for more than six years at Crosspoint Church in Monroe, Michigan. He and his wife, Jamie, also served with the International Mission Board in Africa and in Europe.