I serve as the pastor of Awakening Church in Bellevue, WA. It's been a blessing to have been surrounded by such great leaders and men of God who have invested in my life from such an early age. Being raised a pastor kid, I have been saturated with the word of God since day one. At the age of 7, God showed me that it was through a relationship with Jesus Christ alone that my life could be made righteous. From the mountain tops to the valleys, God continues to give me wisdom, knowledge, and understanding to lead and guide those around me. Understanding that I am following the leadership of Christ. My wife and I have a passion and love for people and are privileged to be able to serve people for His Glory. Kathy and I were married on August 2, 2003 in Atlanta, GA. God has blessed us with three amazing children, Evan, Adele, and Elijah.
Partners are so much more than monthly support checks. They are fellow soldiers on the battlefront of expanding the kingdom of God around the world! I’m so grateful for this team that made sacrifices to serve with us this past week. For many people, Seattle is just a weird place in the Pacific Northwest. But for those that come and serve, it’s a place where God is on the move! In their coming, partners see, taste, smell and experience the city in ways that news articles and update emails never can. In addition, our hearts are mended together as we serve and experience God’s activity firsthand. If you haven’t come yet, you should! We would be honored to have you.
This is our third year to participate in Worship in the Park! This year, 14 churches closed their individual doors as we collectively worshiped together! There is ONE church in Bellevue and we thank God for the unity among our churches. We strive to partner and work together for the saturation of the gospel across our city that is less than 5% reached with the gospel.
We are on mission together! We may have a choice about the neighborhood or affinity group we serve, but we don’t typically get to choose the particular people we will encounter, which means we actually have to learn to love our neighbors. To love our neighbors, we have to trust the grace of God to empower us to do what we cannot do in our own strength and believe the truth that these people are image-bearers of God, loved by Him, and worthy of our time and attention.
We are the sent people of God! Ultimately, it is by His grace and not our works that brings about the Kingdom of God…and any good works we do are accomplished through the grace He showered on us before the foundation of the world.
Thank you for praying and partnering with us as we serve Jesus in the Seattle area and beyond!
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!
Awakening Church was planted in metro Seattle to enter into the dark places of our city with the hope of Jesus. A new dimension to this city engagement is to serve women who work in the adult entertainment industry. We are ministering to these women right where they are, in the strip club. Each Wednesday, our Outreach Team gives hope by going into strip clubs displaying the love of Jesus and declaring the gospel.
Through actions and words, we proclaim Jesus to strippers because He alone is their hope to be free from all bondage. Our ultimate goal is to demonstrate and introduce their Redeemer to them.
This ministry can make people feel uncomfortable. But as we model the life of Jesus, we desire to meet, eat with, love, give favor and extend grace to sinners of every kind. He spent time with those whom society overlooked and cast aside. Jesus didn’t leave anyone as worthless, but instead made them worthy with his very own blood.
May we always remember that it’s God’s kindness that leads us to repentance (Rom 2:4). That only the blood of Jesus makes us holy. Jesus was never afraid of walking towards those society had the least regard for (Jn 4:4-42).
Each week, relationships are being built and trust is being established. We pray these relationships lead to social interactions and deeper relationships to display and declare the good news of Jesus. We pray they will come to personally know the love of Jesus and the extent he went to bring them back. Jesus alone can bring heart transformation.
Please partner with us by praying for our outreach team, those they are engaging, and divine appointments. We need you, prayer warriors, to uplift our arms as we engage in this spiritual battle.
The challenging and uncertain days remain consistently unpredictable. I am proud of the resiliency and faithfulness of the Awakening Church family as we navigate this season. The official announcement hasn’t been made yet, but based on the current increase in Covid-19 cases, we anticipate tighter restrictions in the near future. In spite of this lingering news, we remain encouraged about what God is doing in and through this church family. God’s grace and your ongoing support for our church and family are keeping us engaged on the front battlefield lines. Your prayer and financial support are helping us not only survive, but thrive in following Jesus and living out the calling of our lives.
This past month we had many gospel conversations and saw 3 people surrender their lives to Jesus. And this past Sunday, we celebrated one baptism! Praise God for drawing people to Himself! Your prayers are meaningful and impacting us each day. Thank you!
Pastor Jonah Easley
Over the past couple months, Sister 谢 (Xie), has been joining us for worship and engaging in deeper relationships with Awakening Church.
She said, ” From the first time I heard I believed, but I didn’t know how to come near to God. I couldn’t find a place where people could help me. Ryan has been in my life for a while and always told me to come to church. I just wanted to maybe read a little in my home and do good things. But, he continued to encourage me to go to church. Because we don’t speak the same language, I didn’t understand very well. But, I always felt like God was telling me to come to him. But, when Britton told me believing in God means I am a child of God. So, I confess Jesus with my mouth. I believe him in my heart. I believe him with everything. I don’t have any problem with this confession. I feel very happy and grateful. God has allowed me to return to him. This is His grace.”
We have been called and equipped to engage our city so they will see that God is FOR them! We are branding our local GO TIME and city engagement “FOR BELLEVUE.”
DONUTS IN THE PARK: Each Saturday we gather at DOWNTOWN BELLEVUE PARK to engage people with a FREE DONUT. This is an intentional missional opportunity to show our city that we are FOR them.
This has been a valuable opportunity as we gather to connect with people in our city. Pray that this would continue to open doors for new relationships in the days and months to come.
This past month, we have been using this card as a simple way to bless people in our city that we don’t yet know. We are reminded that we are the presence of God in this generation. He has called us right here…right now to live the life of a Jesus follower. This means selfless and relentless love, desperate for the souls of men, women, and children in our city and around the world.
Pray with us as we continue to engage people without the hope of Jesus, with the hopes of declaring the life-changing gospel of Jesus Christ.
This past month has been a continuation of the challenges surrounding the pandemic. Schools, restaurants, and other indoor gathering areas are still closed or extremely limited in their capacity. Awakening Church continues meeting online each week to encourage one another with the hope found only in Jesus. We thank you for your continued support and prayers as we face a steep uphill climb. Your partnership means more than we could ever possibly put into words.
In spite of our current realities, we see God’s hand at work in and through us. People often ask how we stay engaged during a time of shut-down and digital gatherings. My answer is always, “through intentionality.” We work hard to daily spend time with God, each other, and look for ways to engage our city in new ways. This season is hard, but it’s been good as we’ve been challenged to think outside the box and keep our urgency with the gospel burning HOT!
Please continue praying for our wisdom in making disciples, in our looking for a local venue large enough to accommodate a socially distanced Awakening Church gathering, and for our unity in prioritizing the gospel above all.
The global need for missions is more urgent than ever. Every day there are 154,937 dying without the gospel. Today, there are over 7000 unreached people groups consisting of over 4.5 billion people around the world. Every December, we partner with more than 47,000 Southern Baptist churches with a common vision for every language, people, tribe and nation knowing and worshiping our Lord Jesus!
Awakening church has a role to play in reaching every nation. Our generosity through praying and giving will help create momentum as we realize the great commission is not optional for believers.
Throughout the month of December, we will be collecting our annual World Mission offering. With a goal of $12,000, we will be able to support our local, national and international partners that are working around the world for the advancement of the Kingdom of God! 100% of these gifts will go directly to the mission field.
Last week Kathy and I celebrated our 17 year wedding anniversary. We made plans to be kid-free for a few hours so we could have lunch together without asking for kid menus or arguing about why, “you can’t just eat ice cream.” After we dropped off the kids, we sat in the car for about 15 minutes trying to find a restaurant that was open with dine-in seating. How obnoxious! We finally found one, but it got me thinking about the church. We haven’t met in person since March. Some have disengaged and others have just felt distant and disconnected. But for many, it just seems like the church is closed.
If this pandemic has done anything, it’s reminded me of what….or who, the church is. When the word “church” comes up in conversation, the first thing we think of is a building. We have this mindset that church is a place we go to on Sundays. The spiritual gas station where we get to see other familiar faces. It’s easy to lose sight of the fact that we don’t “go” to church; we are the church.
In 1 Timothy 5, Paul describes the church as people dedicated to doing whatever it takes to reach out and help others. We have a responsibility to serve and help others in need as the church. Caring for each other (inside & outside the church) is the quickest way to see Jesus change lives. Too often, we see a need and wait for the pastor to take responsibility. But that’s not the way church works. But I believe that’s why many in the church have had such a hard time. Those “things” that they’ve been accustomed to others doing for them (i.e. creating relational and serve opportunities), have suddenly shifted to their personal responsibility.
Caring for each other (inside & outside the church) is the quickest way to see Jesus change lives.
Each of us has been given skills, abilities and opportunities to serve, both inside and outside the church (not the building!). In Timothy’s church, for example, the women ran a widows ministry (1 Timothy 5:16), and elders directed church affairs while others were devoted just to teaching and preaching (1 Timothy 5:17).
In the Bible, church is always a reference to people, not a place. The church is a body of believers that live out the Gospel in their displaying and declaring. The church is at its best when people inside the building take Jesus’ message outside the building and serve those they meet. Be encouraged as you live out this perspective of YOU being the church. Yes, we’re open! We’re always open because YOU are the church.
The pandemic has upended the economic stability of our church and community. But with that shaken foundation, we have seen great opportunity to meet needs all around us. Over the past few months, Awakening Church has been consistently working with other local churches in our community to provide much-needed food, diapers, and other personal hygiene items as families in our local area face trying times.
While our personal needs have increased and our resources have decreased, we have stayed intentional about running toward our community needs, instead of away from them. As a result, we have seen many needs met and many lives changed. Each week we pick up and deliver many pallets of food from one of our local partners. That food is brought to a local non-profit that sorts and distributes that food based on the individual family needs. At it’s peak, we were serving over 620 families. Today there are 565 families in the program (approx. 2542 people, 28 churches involved, and over 16,500 grocery orders provided).
Recently, there has been an surplus in food so many of the leftover food boxes have gone directly to a local hispanic church that has faced great challenges. Their pastor has expressed deep hurt and questioned the survival of their church. And he’s not alone. According to the Barna Group, tens of thousands of pastors are unsure if their church will survive the coronavirus pandemic. However, 2020 has given us a glimpse into just how fragile our churches actually are. We are learning first hand how you don’t know how able God is until you find yourself in a situation that you can’t handle and requires the divine providence of God. We need God’s providence in these days!
You don’t know how able God is until you find yourself in a situation that you can’t handle and requires the divine providence of God.
But praise God, He is providing! And he’s using Awakening Church to help provide for other families, churches, and neighborhoods across our region. This past Friday, 370 food boxes were picked up and delivered directly to this hispanic church. They have 67 families in their congregation, so they are using the food boxes as a way to reach out to their community, minister to their felt needs, and build relational bridges into their immediate neighborhood.
In a year of uncertainty, we are continually looking for ways to love our community and share the message of hope through a relationship with Jesus. Despite facing ongoing challenges, Awakening Church will continue to operate virtually and prepare for the day when we can worship together again physically. Please continue praying for us and our boldness to proclaim Jesus in a hurting city.
We know that the impacts of COVID-19 will be long-lasting emotionally, financially, and even spiritually. The future is uncertain, but our goals remain the same. As we move forward with faith and wisdom, we will make decisions based on our vision, mission, and values. These will be our guide as we confront difficult issues in our community. We are committed to serving those around us and meeting as many needs as possible. The needs far outweigh our abilities, but we are putting them all into God’s hands in prayer.
Here are some ways we have had the opportunity to serve…
Covid-19 Food Drive – Practicing hospitality as a Jesus follower demonstrates Christian brotherhood and good Samaritan care for those whose lives are upended and in need of help. Each week we’ve continued to help provide for this overwhelming need in our community. Here is a message that was sent out by the food drive coordinator this week…
“We didn’t think a market would be possible today, as there just wasn’t sufficient food and items to make it worth it. We don’t want to open the market, if only a small number of families can benefit. Over the morning, Awakening Church arrived with three car loads of food!..Suddenly, we had fresh gallons of milk, hard boiled eggs, guacamole, tomatoes, potatoes, red onion and Trader Joe’s yogurt. Hastily, we set up the market, and it turned out to be one of the coolest yet…Thank you Casey, Pastor Jonah and Awakening Church!”
In connection to the food drive, we provided 40 $25 Target gift cards to families that needed specific items that weren’t accessible through the food drive.
Awakening Kids and families are putting together 250 goodie bags for families with children (including Lifeway activity books, stickers, glow sticks, candy, etc.) that will be personally given to families receiving support through the food drive.
We were able to supply some much needed financial support in providing necessities for families of students in our neighborhood through the Seattle Area Youth For Christ.
For 7 weeks we prayer walked our church neighborhood followed up with gift bags with encouragement and the hope of the gospel, the Jesus film, and microwave popcorn. This opened the door to reveal new relationships and gospel conversations.
Several of our Awakening Church family members have been deeply impacted by the coronavirus. We have been able to provide grocery gift cards to help them make it through.
We helped one of our members relocate to a smaller apartment.
We contributed to a local back pack drive for children in need. Some schools in our community report 70% of students receive free lunch. Many people work multiple jobs to provide for their families. In our area of continually rising cost of living, the $65 – $100 for a new backpack and school supplies is more than difficult, as many families have to spend increasing more than ever before on just housing and food.
We continue to gather weekly though digital platforms for prayer and worship. We’ve seen an increase in connection points and a more intentional time of focused prayer.
We believe that the key to a new movement of the Spirit of God will not be in a new technique, but in renewed passion of Gospel proclamation, earnest prayer, and yearning for the Spirit of God.
Please pray with us as we continue looking for ways to engage our city. In addition, we are planing to host 2 Backyard Bible Clubs this summer (Aug. 10-14 & Sept. 14-18). We had planned on a VBS, at the end of June, but had to adjust due to the current reality. We are praying for support from individual partners and mission teams to come alongside us for our Bible Clubs. Please pray about personally coming and/or bringing a team of 3-5 people to support these incredible opportunities. We need you!