Suffering Produces Perseverance for Ohio Church Planter

Ohio

Jonathan Smith is a church planter—which he said was never on his radar—at Berachah Church in Columbus, Ohio. He was serving on another church’s staff when God changed his direction.

“The lead pastor I was working with was involved in sinful and destructive behavior,” Smith explained. “It rattled me and caused me to question things I had never questioned before.”

But in the end, he realized that God used the situation to place the passion in his heart for church planting. “In a very real way, I was called to plant a church out of a challenging situation that required perseverance when everything humanly within myself wanted to throw in the towel.”

One key step in planting a church was finding a place to meet, especially to “have greater visibility, as well as stability in our community . . . to better reach others who need to meet Jesus.” During the last 5 years, Smith has seen the church grow from a house to a grocery store to a funeral home to a private school and now to the city’s recreation center. While he tried to fix the problem of location, he learned that God was “building His church. It is His timing and plan, not mine.”

Smith and his wife, Denyse, have endured challenges related to not only ministry but also health and family. In 2011, his father suffered an acute brain bleed but amazed doctors when he walked out of the hospital a week later. The next year, Smith had a heart attack at age 39. Since 2012, he has buried 5 family members, including his mother in 2014.

Still Smith said God “continues to give us His grace that far exceeds every challenge.” When he began ministry, God gave him 1 Thessalonians 5:24 as the promise of His faithfulness.

“This promise takes the pressure off of me,” Smith said, adding it “reminds me that in every difficulty that I face, it is His to do. I just have to be faithful and continue to persevere.”

Virginia Kreimeyer is a freelance writer in Cedar Park, Texas.

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