PERRY -- Theres a time in most churches history when just a small handful of people gathered together to begin the new work.
For Living Water Worship Center of Perry, that time is now.
Living Water began meetings with a core group of about 10 people in December and had its grand opening service Sunday.
It was in late October we got a place to meet and began cleaning it, painting the walls, putting in new carpet and really fixing things up, said Marcus Dennis, pastor. Theres a totally different look from when we first walked in.
Dennis said getting the church going has been a journey that included discouragement and joy, questionings and confirmations. He and his wife, Stephanie, said the journey goes back much further than when they started looking for a place to meet.
We moved from Macon to Perry 11 years ago to minister with a church already here, Dennis said. We had been part of a church in Macon, but I came here as a staff pastor but still worked a regular job. After five years, the church unexpectedly closed. It left us and a lot of other people shaken and without a church home.
Dennis said the intervening years were difficult. He said he and Stephanie dealt with many questions and struggled through what he called a wilderness period where he wasnt walking as closely to God as he had been.
It was a struggle, but God was doing things in our lives and hearts to heal us and prepare us for this ministry, Dennis said. God was especially dealing with me and healed me from a lot of things in my past. I had given up a bit.
Stephanie Dennis said during that time she found it especially difficult not being able to find a church they felt was home. She said a year ago they began attending Christ Chapel in Warner Robins, where God began a process of re-calling them to ministry and leading them to start Living Water.
Pastor Andy (King) says Christ Chapel is called to be a healing place, she said. You hear that, but you dont really get it until you experience it. He would say part of that healing call includes God sending broken people to the church to get ministered to and then sent back out. It was really true for us.
Marcus Dennis points to two sermons from King where it especially seemed God was speaking just to him, healing past wounds and challenging him to return to ministry. He said God began speaking to him in other ways that he was to start the Perry church and that it would be a place of salvation, healing and deliverance.
Yes, theres been a lot of discouragement through the years and even in trying to get this started, he said. But theres been so much more joy seeing what (God has) done and how hes brought this together.
Dennis, who still works as an electronics technician at Robins Air Force Base, said things came to a head one day while sitting in his driveway asking God where the new church was to meet. He said buildings he had looked at were beyond the budget of the small group that was gathering to start Living Water. He said God gave him a picture of the shopping center where the church is now located off Macon Road, and from that point things began falling into place.
He said that he and his wife began seeing Gods favor on the work as he contacted the propertys owner, worked out a deal and began purchasing chairs, sound equipment and other items.
We began seeing Gods confirmation over and over through the provision and the deals he brought about, Dennis said. Its encouraging and gives us a confidence for the future. At the beginning of October, we had no money and no idea how all this would come about. We just had the fact God said do it and a vision for a church where hurting, broken people could come and be touched by God and healed. Were waiting to see what he does. Were preparing and praying and looking to him.
Stephanie Dennis said she believes the struggles the couple have gone through will be used to help others.
Thats the way of God, she said. We give of ourselves to help others in the love of God, she said. Hes transforming us into Christs likeness, and that includes laying down our lives for others, being his hands and feet. Jesus made it simple to be a Christian; we sometimes make it so difficult. We make it a burden, but Jesus didnt--he did it all at the cross. We dont need to add to or take away from that.
Contact Michael W. Pannell at firstname.lastname@example.org.