Thursday, January 20, 2011

Overwhelming Underwhelmed


It has been two days since my trip to Graceville to visit the Baptist College of Florida and I have been able to finally sift through my thoughts and emotions in regards to the experience.  First let me say that I went up there based on the counsel of my friends and mentors. In honesty I was going there to eliminate Bible College as a possible direction in my life because I just didn’t necessarily feel like it was the direction I/We wanted to go.

I took the ride with my friend Zeb who is a graduate from BCF and is now a pastor. The long ride was made quite enjoyable as we talked a lot about ministry, sacrifice and reward.   Finally we arrived, and I will confess I was quite underwhelmed. Living close to Gainesville and near to colleges such as UF, Santa Fe, and Central Florida College had not realistically prepared my mind for what this school was going to be like.  First of all, the campus is quite small. Most of the school is visible from the parking spot in front of the administration building.  Aside from being small, most of the structures at the school look quite old. There are some very nice revisions to the interior of some of buildings but the campus as a whole looks fairly dated.  None the less, I was committed to having an open mind throughout the tour.

I checked in with administration and was shown around to the different buildings and classrooms and met and handful of staff and professors. All were extremely friendly and helpful.  I was able to meet with the Registrar and she quickly looked over my community college transcripts and promptly checked off several courses that would transfer should I decide to attend there. After seeing the campus, we strolled over to visit the Married Housing Complex to view a unit. On the way over, the admissions counselor giving the tour gave me the disclaimer that the units were quite small and old. SHE WAS RIGHT.  Not much I can say about those little cottages except that it is certainly different than what we are living in now.

After the tour was complete we were treated to a free lunch at the “Caf”. During lunch I was having thoughts about how pretty much nothing about the school appealed to me. I mean sure, the curriculum is solid and the staff is nice, but there are plenty of Bible Colleges all over with good curriculum and instructors…colleges in amazing locations with cutting edge technologies and activities. And that housing… no way is my wife going to go for that! If Bible College was going to be for us, I think we might choose another one and if God somehow did lead us to this one, we may decide on off-campus housing.

After lunch we were about to head out when one of Zeb’s friends called his cell phone. It was a guy named Tim who lives over in the Married Housing Complex with his family. Tim invited us to come by for a few minutes so we headed back over there for a visit.

After catching up with Zeb, Tim asked me about my thoughts in regards to the school and I shared with him all of the same thoughts I just shared with you.  It was at this point, that the Spirit started to move as Tim and his wife shared their story with me. The similarities between our family and Tim’s are astonishing. Tim is the same age as I am. They have kids around the same age as Tyler and Kaylee. They are from Lake City, Florida which is not far from here, and like us they lived in a 4-bedroom brick house that they gave up for this little old cottage in the Married Housing Complex at BCF in Graceville, Florida.

At first Tim and his wife shared the same thoughts and concerns about the school and the housing as did I. However, just as he was sharing his experiences with me, someone shared with him and they were moved to sacrifice and bring their family to BCF in order to experience a time of preparation and relationship building in order that they may go out and serve God in the most productive way possible.  It was here in Tim’s house that I started understanding that I was looking at this college in the wrong perspective. Were we considering going to Bible College for fancy living and wildly distractions or was the true purpose to have focus on the things of God and build strong, meaningful and lifelong relationships? In an instant I started seeing this school and its humble surroundings in a different light.

What a benefit to have to give up some luxuries to come and study and live here.  What a good trade to be a little cramped for a couple of years so that our children can run and play and build friendships all with kids who are pastor’s kids, missionary’s kids, etc. A neighborhood where the kids can run safely knowing that there are 50 other parents who love and care for your kids like their own.

In this brief 15 minute meeting not only did my perspective change, but the Spirit of God moved in a mighty way.  Tim reminded me that sometimes, as did he before answering the call to go to BCF, that we can be like the rich young ruler in Matthew 19. The rich young ruler came to Jesus and says teacher what do I need to do in order to inherit eternal life. And Jesus replies, “keep the commandments”, to which the young man replies, “I have”. Jesus then says, go sell what you possess and come follow me. When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

I left the school that afternoon feeling quite different than when I had first arrived there. I’m not quite ready to say that I am 100% certain that we need to go, but I do feel good enough about it that after I shared my thoughts with the family, we all feel like we need to go up and take a second look together.

I know that there are some of you reading this that just do not understand the logic in this consideration. To uproot our family and subject ourselves to sacrifice. The only thing I can say is that if you believe in the same God as we do, you must realize that God’s blessings far out way anything we can create ourselves outside of His will. There are a good many people who by the world’s standards are “successful” in the things of life, yet they are miserable with their circumstance. 

We know that if we neglect God’s call on our life that we could not be peaceful or happy no matter how comfortable of a house we live in, how many things of comfort we collect, or how much we can be proud of keeping the same job regardless of whether or not it is an enjoyable endeavor for us.
Bottom line is that if we are seeking God with all of our hearts and minds, His blessing WILL be upon us. The Bible says, If God is for us, who can be against us?

In my opinion the only reason anyone would chose to go to BCF is out of a sincere desire to develop a closer relationship and become more prepared to serve God. It isn’t for the awesome sports teams, or for a great location on the beach or in the city, or the amazing housing units complete with all of the amenities and perks. 

We ask each of you to pray with and for us. That God will continue to show and guide our family.
This Saturday our family will be going back up to Graceville to meet see the campus and meet with Tim’s family and perhaps a couple others. We look forward to posting our results.

-The Harmons

Sunday, January 16, 2011


Hello all, I realize it has been quite a while since we posted our last update. Between the hectic holidays and the time sensitive jobs that have been coming in at work, we have managed to neglect our poor little blog.

Our Christmas and New Year's was wonderful and we have started off 2011 with great anticipation for what the Lord has in store for us this year.

Today we are encouraged by Psalm 130:5-6 - I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope. My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning.

Like the watchmen in this passage waiting for daybreak so that they can leave their post, we are eagerly awaiting for the Lord to light our path as we continue to seek His will for our family.

It is often said that God answers our prayers in one of 3 ways. Yes, no, and wait. But the important thing is that he hears EVERY prayer and answers every one of them. Our answer thus far has been "wait", yet we feel a stirring in our hearts that tells us that this waiting is only for a short season.

Waiting on God is never wasted time. God's timing is always perfect and in the time of waiting He develops us and strengthens our reliance on Him.

We are still in prayer for our friends the Scott Family as they move forward with plans to plant a church in Gainesville. The Scotts have secured a home and have begun the process of kindling relationships with those in their neighborhood.  Our hearts have not changed in regards to this particular church plant; however we have been encouraged by some friends, mentors, and very wise men of God, to look into the possibility of going to Bible College before committing to a higher level of ministry.

While certainly not a requirement to serve in ministry, we have been counseled to consider the many benefits that extend beyond just the education that come from spending time at Bible College. Some of these benefits include exposure to aspects of several types of different ministries, networking and building friendships with like-minded families, and opportunities for mentorship from some very wise and Godly folks that will last a life time.

To this point, we have not felt a strong calling this path, but in order to fully seek God's will, I (Alan) have made plans to go visit at least one Bible College. On Tuesday January 18th, I will be taking a day trip to Graceville, Florida (Just north of Panama City and just south of Dothan, AL.) to visit the Baptist College of Florida. Please pray with us that God's plan for us will be CLEARLY impressed upon me during this visit. If I do indeed sense a call in this direction, I will schedule a follow up visit to the school in which Maria and I will go together and seek to confirm the calling.

Whether it is to go to school, move into church planting, or something else, we know that God wants our feet moving. He has called us out of our comfort zone as spectators and has specific plans for us as participants in the Kingdom workforce. We wait for answers not with frustration, but with Joy knowing that in His word we hope.

- The Harmons

Monday, November 15, 2010

Hurry up and Wait!

Friends and Family,

Many of you have called, emailed, written, texted, tweeted, and sent smoke signals about your desire to see an update to our blog. Well, not really all of those things, but the point is that you want to know what is happening!  I have been holding out in the hopes of having a bunch of new details to share with you. However, the truth is that not a lot is going on in the way of logistical changes in regards to the church planting. The good news is that although the physical movement has slowed the Spiritual movement has not. God continues to confirm and press upon our heart the calling to church planting.

What started off as a shoreline experience of Jesus calling out to us to immediately, "Leave your nets and follow me", has now been transformed into a calm and quiet voice encouraging us to "Be still and wait on the Lord". The emphasis has now shifted from the urgency to step out in faith and get our feet moving, to being still and patient for God to work in His timing, not ours.

To me, this waiting part may be more challenging than the first part of stepping out in radical obedience to the call. By nature I'm a "go-getter". Once I get my mind made up to do something and I waste no time in getting it done. While in many aspects of life this can be a desirable trait, in ministry this can be a detrimental set back when we become reliant in ourselves or when we get ahead of God.

Isn't it cool that both of these scenarios, moving and waiting, each require a stretching of faith? God is using this time to mature, teach, and prepare our family for ministry. Today I found a verse that brings me a great peace in my restlessness:  I Thessalonians 5:24, "Faithful is He who called you and He will bring it to pass." This verse confirms that we don't have to do anything else other than obey the call. HE will bring it to pass. HE will provide. And, HE will open and close the doors at just the right time in order that His work be done. Boy, does that take the pressure off!

Of course we are still doing the responsible things to get prepared and equipped for the work ahead. These are the things we can use your specific prayers for. Before I list our prayer requests, let me quickly recap where we are in the process of moving into church planting.

We (the Harmons) feel that our calling is to come along side the Scott family to share in vision and support of their calling to planting a church.  Because God has placed a specific calling and vision upon Pastor Chuck, we (the Harmons) feel that our role as servants is to follow the lead. Pastor Chuck has been very open to our thoughts and input and so far God has confirmed the calling through a matching of Spiritual desire and discernment in both of our families. What we now know is that we are being called to plant a church in the Northwood section of Gainesville, Florida. We are in constant prayer for this to come about. We are still seeking a denominational partnership with a Gainesville based church or organization and there are a couple of things in motion for that to happen. Chuck and I are scheduled to attend Church Planting training in April and are seeking an ongoing network of friends and mentors.

Prayer requests:

The sale of our home here in Chiefland. We can't start an effective ministry until we can break ties here, and get moved over into the community in Gainesville. This is a 3BD/ 2 BA brick home on 1.5 acres. 4th room can be used as office or 4th bedroom. $155,000

- Relationships. 1.) We need to be surrounded by people who can pray and share in our vision. Mentors, partners, and friends. 2.) We are starting to look for folks in the Gainesville area in which we can start praying about ministering to. Just as God has revealed the calling and the area, we believe God will soon start showing specifically who we are to be reaching out to.

- Specific calling. Pastor Chuck knows his calling. He knows he is called to preach and now plant a church. My specific calling has not yet been revealed. I have some interests and gifts in a couple of different areas, administration, missions, media & creative, and perhaps counseling. I am currently praying about whether any of these areas may be a specific area that God desires me to hone in on. I am also praying about the possibility of being calling to ministry as a vocation. I am also encouraging Maria and the kids to seek their gifts and what areas God may have them work in.

Thank you all for your support and prayers. I'll try to be a little more prompt in posting future updates.


-The Harmons

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


Hi ya'll, just wanted to post a quick update so that you didn't wonder where we are at and if we changed our minds about church planting. Things have been so busy in the past couple of weeks that we have had to be purposeful in the last couple of days about getting into some quiet time and really take in and praise God for the doors that are opening up to us.

First, the training and mentorship is off to a great start with our new church Westside Baptist. Phil Young the Senior Associate Pastor has taken us under his wing and is providing both nuggets of Godly wisdom and ample opportunities for hands-on experience with outreach driven ministries. Chuck and I have been put in charge of the First Impressions Ministry at the church. The purpose of this ministry is to provide a warm, welcoming, and helpful experience to families and individuals who are visiting the church for the first time. The staff is particularly interested in our input and suggestions from the point of view of being new to the church ourselves. This is a perfect ministry for us to be involved with as it will give us great insight and experience that we can translate to our new church plant.

Secondly, the bullseye on the location of the church plant is starting to become much clearer. We now feel with most certainty the God is calling us to plant in Gainesville, Florida. We even have our hearts and eyes on a particular neighborhood there. Unless God changes our minds in a big and unexpected way, we feel settled about Gainesville being the place. Like Chuck stated in his blog, we don't want to get ahead of God so we are holding out on sharing some of the specific details until further doors start to open.

We need and appreciate your prayers. Here are some things you can pray with us about.

Pray that Scott and Harmon families will receive wisdom and direction from the Lord in how we can best serve to further the Kingdom.

Pray that through the process of mentorship and ministry work with the church, that Chuck and I will develop a standard of servant hood and love that will be translated to the church plant and the people that we will minister to.

Pray specifically that the hearts of the people we are being called to serve will even today start being prepared and softened for our arrival.

Pray that God will open doors and make very clear the specifics of when, where, and how we are to proceed with the Church Plant.

Pray for our two families that provisions will be met as we seek to find ways to start cutting ties in our current locations and prepare to move into the community we will serve. Many logistical things will need to be accomplished such as selling our home, kids changing schools, adjustments with jobs, etc.

Pray that God will give YOU the heart to consider us, the Scotts, and this new church plant in your daily prayer life. 

We encourage your comments and thoughts here on the blog as we continue keeping you posted on this God-Adventure. Create a free blogger account ----->>> over there to the right of your page and "follow us" so that we know who all is checking up and praying for us. Some of you have left comments on Facebook and this is good too.

With Love and Respect,

The Harmons.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


Tonight after we returned home from eating out and having ice cream dessert for my mother-in-law's birthday, we had a family church time here at home. We had great discussion with the kids about what they felt was happing in regards to all of this church planting stuff. Their answers were remarkably on target and it is apparent that God has given them an understanding and excitement for the church planting vision.

We reinforced with them the idea that this is a "family together" mission and that they play a just as important role in the ministry. We talked about how in ministry, just like other things in life, that in order to be successful we must train and practice. In our walk with Jesus, this preparation consists of praying, studying, and being on guard against sinful and selfish behaviors that inhibit us from having a loving and caring spirit. We also had a brief introduction to the Gospel and discussed why it is so important for us to know about Jesus and be able to tell the good news to others. We closed our discussion with talk about how these small and intimate times together are good practice for what is to come, as it is very likely that our church plant will start with some small in-home groups.

Thanks for continuing to check in on our blog. Your comments are always welcome and your prayers are felt and appreciated.

The Harmons

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


The last 5 days have been AMAZING!  In just this short time we have experienced the following:

 - Attended a new church.
- Taken part in a Call to Vocational Ministry Interest Meeting which allowed us to spend some time with pastors, missionaries, and church planters.
- Met with senior staff at Westside Baptist.
- Chuck has officially been brought on board as an Outreach Ministry Intern which I suppose makes me the Intern of the Intern.
- The church has confirmed its commitment to offer us support through mentorship, training, and prayer.

We also feel like the bulls-eye is closing in on our possible location for the church plant. Unless God moves in big and otherwise mysterious ways, we are praying about either Gainesville or Jacksonville as the location for the plant. So those who thought they might lose us to the mission field in Zimbabwe are in the clear, for now. :)

I cannot express through the typing of words the multiple confirmations of the call that we have experienced in the past couple of weeks. It is truly an exciting time in our lives and we are grateful to those who are praying and continue to pray for us.

The Harmons

Thursday, October 7, 2010


Have you ever noticed that when Jesus issues a call or a command that it is usually for an impossible thing? There are dozens of examples of this but a few that come to mind are, when Jesus approaches some fishermen on the shore (the same ones who will become His disciples and closest friends) and says, "Leave your nets and follow me." Now this was their lifelong profession, this is how they made their living. Leaving their nets and possessions meant, giving up their job, income, and life as they knew it. They couldn't possibly leave, how will they make a living? What about their Thursday nights bingo club? Plus the guys on the bowling league were counting on them to be there, what would they do without them?

Or what about when a few of the disciples are out to sea and a raging storm is upon them and Jesus shows up walking across the water. At this point Jesus commands Peter to walk out to Him. WHAT! Me, walk across the water, yeah right - IMPOSSIBLE! Don't you know there are big sharks out there? Haven't you seen JAWS??

A third example that comes to mind takes place at the pool of Bethesda. Now the background here is that this is a body of water in which the sick/ lame reside around in constant waiting because it is a place of healing. However, the catch is that the water only periodically becomes stirred and ONLY the FIRST person to make it in the water when it becomes stirred will be healed. So Jesus shows up on the scene and you have a invalid man laying there. Now this man had been an invalid for 38 years and he has a real problem; He can't get to the water without someone to help him. Even if he had help, it would be highly unlikely that in the mad rush to be the first to the water that someone could get him there first. So he just resides on this porch day after day, year after year. Jesus says to the man, "Get up and pick up your mat and walk!" Yeah, OK Homie, whatever you say. Do you think if that were possible that I would be lying around for 38 years?

I use a little humor in my examples but the truth is that sometimes our arguments of why we can't seem just as silly to God. In each of these examples along with many, many more, the impossible is accomplished through faith in Christ.

A call to uproot and go into church planting seems to be an impossible command for my family. I mean, our children are settled into their schools and routines, I own a company that is just finally becoming established here locally, Maria has signed a 2 year contract at work, we have a house that would need to be sold in one of the worst housing markets in history, and the list goes on. Yet, looking back on those examples given to us in God's Word, gives us a peace that God will handle the impossible. He will work out those details to fulfill His purpose in us.

When we are faced with an impossible call from God we have two choices. We can try to argue with finite logic, or we can choose to trust infinite God and step out in the faith that Jesus spent so much time talking and teaching about. How different the story would have been for these folks in the examples had they said no to Him. The disciples would have been lost fisherman their entire lives, and the man at the pool of Bethesda would have very likely died on the porch next to the very pool that he longed to make it to healing waters of.

Please pray for both the Scott family and ours that God will start to move these impossible blocks from our paths so that we can not only be able to do His work, but so that we can also give Him credit and praise for something only He could accomplish.

Much blessings and respect,

The Harmons.