Launching New Cities
For the months of February through April we’ve invited several people to give you a peek into
the new directions God has called The Barnabas Center. We hope these directions will be
encouraging and that you’ll resonate with the needs and hopes that are being shared. In May
we’ll be back online with our usual thematic blog posts.
“What was the best part of your last year and what was the hardest?” Two simple questions, but two questions that go straight to one’s heart. It was my 40th birthday weekend and several of my Charlotte friends had come to Richmond, VA. to surprise me. We had had a wonderful day touring a winery and sat down to have lunch and catch up. One of my friends, who is a Barnabas counselor, threw out the questions. Another friend, who had been a pastor’s wife in Charlotte said, “Oh, those are great ‘Barnabas’ questions!” My immediate reaction was not how I was going to answer the questions, but instead I realized that the questions stirred a longing, a longing to continue building community and friendships similar to what I experienced for ten years in Charlotte.
Most people don’t probe in order to hear another’s heart, it’s too risky, it may cause discomfort, however, much like everything, taking risks brings much greater rewards in the form of deeper relationships. Barnabas Charlotte has helped many in my circles to assume those risks and experience the rewards.
Having lived in other cities since Charlotte, my husband and I have longed to have the deep and meaningful relationships with others like we had in Charlotte. Lately, we attribute much of the rich relational community in Charlotte to the impact Barnabas has had there through their counseling, teaching, and support to pastors. Barnabas’ Gospel-driven counseling and teaching liberates people to be authentic with themselves and others, to be honest about their sin or the sins of others, and to receive the Lord’s healing and forgiveness. While in Charlotte, I witnessed many who had experienced the freedom that resulted from this influence. This freedom created a willingness to share struggles and, in turn, created an atmosphere within the church body for others to be real and honest as well. I also saw how Barnabas Training taught people to engage with each other’s hearts. Living in other cities has revealed that despite a strong community of churches, many believers are not equipped for moving into deeper and more meaningful relationships.
Having observed the benefits of this ministry in my life and others was a big motivator for my desire to have a Barnabas in Richmond and now in Northern Virginia. While in Richmond, I presented the Barnabas Training material to my pastor, who in turn asked all of the elders and small group leaders to participate in a Barnabas weekend in Charlotte. The teaching resonated with everyone and they wanted more. Now in Northern Virginia, I long to see a Barnabas presence here, serving as a resource to the church at large.
Presently, I am part of a small team that is laying the foundations for starting a Barnabas-DC. We are meeting with pastors and lay people to cast the vision of Barnabas and asking them to partner with us prayerfully and financially. We cannot wait to see how God is going to grow this ministry in the Washington, DC area. I have been amazed by the enormous interest people have had in learning more about Barnabas.
My first exposure to Barnabas was 18 years ago. Today, I still remain a strong believer in the impact of Barnabas’ ministry and I long to share that impact with the community where God has placed me.
That is what Vision 2020 is calling “launching new cities.” Our heart at Barnabas is to take Barnabas to the streets – to impact other communities with the healing love of the Gospel.
To learn more about the Vision 2020 campaign please watch this brief video:
Margaret Whisler lives in Clifton, Virginia with her husband Brian and three children, Abby, a freshman at Covenant College, Riley, a Junior in High School and Zack, a 5th grader. She spends her days keeping up with her kids sporting events, volunteering at school and church, discipling women and fighting Washington, DC traffic.