Jonah Easley was living as a missionary in China when he and his wife had their first child. They noticed developmental delays and brought him to America where he was diagnosed with autism. Amid having more children — each diagnosed with autism as well — they planted Awakening Church in Seattle, Washington. In this episode, Jonah vulnerably shares about how God has used his family to help him grow emotionally and spiritually, the church planting experience and the spiritual apathy of Washington state.
To find out more about church planting with Send Network, text “Send Network” to 888-123, or visit us online at SendNetwork.com.
Since our launch in 2018, the focus of Awakening Church has been to engage the diverse people of the Seattle area with the love and hope of Jesus, make disciples, and plant churches. In many ways, it’s seemed like running an uphill marathon in knee-deep mud….while pushing a boulder. It’s slow, challenging, discouraging, and oftentimes lonely. In spite of the challenges, the seemingly small victories have not been overlooked and we continue to see God transform lives through genuine and authentic relationships.
The diversity of Bellevue, WA was one of the primary attractors that drew us to this area. In fact, over 50% of our population was born outside of the United States. With our ethnic diversity comes cultural and religious diversity that translates into this being one of the most unreached cities in our nation. On any given Sunday morning, less than 4% of our population will be in a church of any kind. Those numbers represent a similar percentage to what we experienced in China. But as a gospel presence in this city, we are faithfully bringing the greatest message in history to a people oftentimes unaware of their need of it.
As we have sought to build relational bridges to connect with different ethnicities in our city, the Lord has brought several people into our lives that share a similar passion for Kingdom work. Through these bridges, we begun to experience a gradual build of momentum. Most recently, God has brought a Chinese pastor named Levi to our area. As a NAMB (North American Mission Board) church planter, he has joined the Awakening Church family to take the lead on our Mandarin speaking population. I believe that under his leadership, the Mandarin speaking arm of Awakening Church will expand in unprecedented ways. He is currently working to raise financial support from individuals and churches. Please pray for his family and their needs as we launch into this next season.
In early July, I was contacted by a Slavic pastor named Ivan. Ivan has been serving in student ministry for the past 18 years in Lynnwood, WA. Over the past few years, Ivan has sensed a call to plant a Slavic NAMB church in our area. He has been meeting in his home with more than 30 people each week and was exploring other options in our city. With limited availability and affordable spaces, we were able to help meet this need for their Russian speaking group. And through that, God has unified our hearts and expanded our vision of working together for God’s glory. We are currently praying about their assimilation into the Awakening Church family. This is another large population of people in our area that is largely unreached. Please pray for Pastor Ivan and his family as we explore how to best unify for the advancement of the Kingdom of God.
One more… Earlier this year, I received a message from a young man named Ben Sparks. I’ve known Ben since he was 6 years old and have watched him grow into a man of God that has been wrestling with a call to ministry. In his message, Ben let me know that he was getting married and would be coming through Seattle on their honeymoon. He was excited to worship with Awakening Church while in town. Well, sure enough, they came. After the service, we spent a few minutes catching up, and Ben shared what God was doing in his life. He told me he had plans to begin seminary next semester and wanted to begin exploring God’s specific calling on his life. In the coming weeks, we had several conversations on the phone as I sought to encourage Ben, and pour as much into him as had been poured into me. In those conversations and prayers, Ben accepted my invitation to attend the M3 Church Planting Intensive in Las Vegas this coming September. In addition, I asked him to pray with his wife, Abby, and consider coming to Seattle to serve with us as an apprentice in ministry/church planting. After another weekend trip to Seattle, Ben and Abby feel led to join the Awakening Church family and are currently making preparations to do so. Please pray for Ben and Abby as they relocate from Utah within the next month. They will be looking for jobs, financial partners, and an apartment.
With all of these exciting and momentum-building additions come needs that we alone are incapable of meeting. But I’m a firm believer that with the call of God comes the provision, power, and promises of God. Please join us in praying for Pastor Levi, Pastor Ivan, and Ben and Abby as they join the Awakening Church family and partner with us to engage the greater Seattle area with the gospel. Your support and partnership is a great blessing. Thank you for your ongoing support. To God be the glory!