CHESTERFIELD – Six years ago, my husband and I began a church plant in the very depressed city of Trenton, New Jersey. Through God’s grace, hard work, and the labor of faithful brothers and sisters, we grew the church from 25 to 100 in six years. Over those six years, we rented space in a dingy state building for our Sunday worship. Church planting is all-consuming. After staying up late to work on his sermon, my husband would wake up at 3 a.m. to be able to arrive early at the rental space to set up a stage, chairs, sound equipment and more.
When our church treasurer invited us to a Journey of Generosity weekend, we were weary. We cared about generosity and giving, but we also had many things on our plate. We committed to go to one day of the seminar.
The instruction was something I never encountered before. I knew we needed to tithe and give generously, but I had never heard of men and women giving so radically by faith. Bill and Vonette Bright’s (Campus Crusade for Christ founders) story was so compelling to me. Like them, my husband and I were missionaries. When Bill received a million dollars for his work, he said, “I already had decided what to do with it.” Wow. I was floored. It was one thing for us to give generously, but this was another plane. I realized that we had never given to the degree that it required faith for God to provide and care for us.
Almost exactly a year after attending the generosity seminar, my husband received a phone call. The phone call was from a member of a dying church. Their church was going to have to close. “Would you like our church building and ten acres of property?” It didn’t take long to say, “Of course!”
Despite being a small church plant, our faithful church family had given so generously to the Lord’s work in Trenton. In fact, we had saved $200,000 towards the purchase of a church building. While the new church building and ten acres were a tremendous gift, we soon realized that the property could use all of the building fund in a snap of a finger.
Our church family knew that pouring all of our saved building fund into the new property was not what God wanted us to do. If God had been generous with us, how could we not turn around and be generous with what He had provided?
Last week, our humble church plant was able to write a $100,000 check to open the first ever pregnancy care center in Trenton. In a city of 90,000 people with many ministries, there was not a single pregnancy care center to offer families the hope of Christ. Through the grace of God, in 2021, the pregnancy care center will open to give hope to families and to give life to babies who had no voice.
We are humbled and grateful to be a part of what God is doing in New Jersey.
Kathleen Coughlin serves alongside her husband at Fellowship CrossPoint Church in Chesterfield, New Jersey, and is the mother of six much-loved children.