Today we celebrate our three-year anniversary at Anacostia River Church! “Excited” doesn’t even begin to describe how I feel. “Amazed” might be a better description.
On Easter Sunday 2015, 60 persons set out to form a family with a mission in the Anacostia/Southeast D.C. neighborhood. We set up the gym of a neighborhood elementary school, plastered some makeshift signs on the door of the building, and commenced to praising Jesus together. It was simple—rustic even. It was joyful and hopeful. We didn’t know what we were doing, but we were having a good time.
Three years later we’re still having a good time being a family and trying to spread the gospel and mercy in our community. In the three years we’ve changed a lot. Our family has grown to about 140 saints. That means lots more people to love and to be loved by. It also means more people for the work of the ministry. We’ve moved to the neighborhood high school, where we’re forging a mutually supportive partnership with administrators and staff to invest in the students. We’ve formed other partnerships with neighborhood groups like The House D.C. and D.C. 127. And for three years now, the Lord has allowed us to preach the gospel every Lord’s Day and to take the gospel door-to-door on many Saturdays. He’s even allowed us to plant another church in our first two years–Mercy of Christ in northeast D.C. Hallelujah!
Hard things have happened, too. Heartbreak is a part of Christian living and ministry. We’ve had our share but, by God’s grace, they’ve not caused us to lose hope or to shrink back from one another or the work.
Along the way, the Father has sent us partner churches and individual donors who have invested in our mission and our family. With them, we’ve been made stronger, and we believe the gospel has taken firmer root in our neighborhood. We still have the profound sense that people pray for us.
We have not seen revival. We long for more conversions. We are not yet a fixture in the neighborhood. We need to become more visible. And we haven’t solved the community problems that simultaneously break our hearts and excite our love. But we’re still here, and we’re still learning, and we’re still at it, and God is still being gracious to us!
It’s easy to forget that we’re a baby of a church—just three years old. A toddler not long out of diapers. I think we forget we’re so young because the Father has given us genuine knowledge of one another and because we see so many other evidences of grace. It’s interesting how God’s blessings can make you think you’re more than you are! I’m happy we’re still new and hope we never lose the sense of freshness, possibility, and excited energy that comes with newness.
We’re not slick or fancy. We don’t take ourselves seriously. But we do take the gospel of Jesus Christ seriously, and on this third anniversary I have the sense that he has honored our hope and our prayers. May he graciously grant us decades upon decades more grace until the earth is won or he sends his Son!
Happy anniversary ARC!