From Jeremy and Sharon Emory
“Now the Lord said to Abram, ‘Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the Land I will show you” (Gen 12:1)
Abram was faced with a calling where there was no certainty of a destination or a future that was clear. However, when there is a calling from the Lord we must be obedient and follow. I have found that many times in my life when God is leading the majority of the time it doesn’t make much sense. Faith is what leads us in moments like this. Not in our strength, but in the object of whom our faith is in, Jesus Christ. There have been seasons in my life when God was calling or leading us to take steps like this.
Seven years ago our family took one of those steps and set out to plant a church in the Gateway Community of Ft Myers with some of our closest friends; Adam and Dana Ponder. Our heart was to see the Gospel saturate a geography and to see a people on mission together, making disciples, and “being the church” in this community. As we sat down with local churches, Summit Church came alongside of us with a desire to partner for the advancement of God’s Kingdom. For me, this was so refreshing to see a church with a heart for partnership and not competition. The heart behind their vision and mission was to work together to see Gospel Saturation in Southwest Florida and to the ends of the earth.
After a few short meetings with the elders, we felt like God was orchestrating a partnership that would help us reach further, faster. Sharon and I prayed and we felt like this was God leading and we stepped into a formal partnership to help launch the Gateway Campus. From the very beginning, conversations of a vision to reach every man, woman and child took root in our hearts. The heart behind this vision was for this community to have opportunities to hear and respond to the gospel. It ultimately became our DNA. “Summit Church exists to glorify God by making disciples that represent the Gospel to every man, woman and child” became a mission we owned, not just a fancy mission statement on a website.
As we have followed God’s lead these past five and a half years we have seen His continued hand of favor on this expression and multiple lives transformed by the power of the Gospel. Our prayers were that many would be saved and hundreds would be impacted by God’s grace and mercy. God has done just that!
One of the most exciting things in ministry is when you see God move in supernatural ways and have opportunities to participate in His plans. Sharon and I have not only seen God do great things in our family, but many other individual lives. For that I am truly grateful.
This summer I received a phone call from Adam who was launched out of Summit Church to plant a church in our hometown back in North Carolina. Adam and I often speak of ministry and how things are going at our respective congregations, but this phone call was different. After some brief small talk, Adam presented an opportunity to come back to North Carolina and join him in helping pastor and lead at Summit WNC. Sharon and I looked at each other and thought this was an odd request. We hadn’t had any desire to leave Southwest Florida. However, after much prayer and consideration it became obvious that God was leading us. We began to consider what it would look like to move back home and join Adam and Dana in making disciples and leading a church in that geography. We began to pray and seek counsel. Shortly, Sharon and I concluded that we should move our family back to North Carolina and to see the Gospel advance.
The Apostle Paul writes in his letter to the Philippians, “If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account.” Paul’s desire was to be with Jesus, but he knew there was still work to be done and that his focus was to lead and see disciples made. While it would be easy to stay and continue our work here in Gateway, we believe God is calling us to make disciples in NC.
With many tears and heavy hearts, but also with great excitement and anticipation we take this next step believing we’ll encounter and experience God’s work in supernatural ways. Gospel Advancement is our desire and while we may be moving to another geography, the focus of our work is to see the city of Asheville and surrounding areas saturated with the good news of Jesus.
This new opportunity will be another branch on the tree of Summit Church’s influence as we move to and lead a church with the same mission, vision and values. The Gateway Campus is in a very healthy season and I look forward to coming back and celebrating with you guys all that God is doing here in Fort Myers, along with sharing God’s work in NC.
While this is fast and filled with emotion, we feel that God has given us lifelong friendships here in Florida that will continue moving forward. Our family covets your prayers as we make this transition and for all the details this will entail. If you have any questions or would like to talk with us, we would be more than happy to share more about this exciting new adventure.
The Emory family loves Summit Church and all the love each one of you have shown us. We are going to miss this place, but celebrate God’s call back home to Western North Carolina and are excited to see Him work there in supernatural ways.