I am continually asked the question of how God led us to San Diego to plant this unique church called All Peoples. Here is part one of the several part story.
By 2005 we were well underway planting US churches out of Antioch Community Church. God had spoken to my heart that He wanted to do again what He had done through the last generation through Campus Crusade, through the local church in this generation. Specifically, the rally cry had been “Reach the campus, to reach the world”. We had responded by raising up groups of leaders to plant churches by major universities in urban hubs.
My particular journey of planting All Peoples Church began this way. Jimmy had come to me asking me to pray about committing to overseeing the US church-planting side of the Antioch movement for the next ten years. I gave an immediate “yes”, but said I would also pray and ask for confirmation. One day, I was in my bedroom on my knees, asking God if this was my assignment for the next decade. God began to speak very clearly to my heart. First He said, “I have called you to church planting”. I immediately thought this was my confirmation to remain in Waco and take the assignment that Jimmy had offered. But then his next directive surprised me, “In San Diego, California.” To be honest I didn’t know where in California San Diego was. I didn’t know if it was in the North, Central or Southern part of the state. I actually had to get off my knees and walk over to the globe in my room to find San Diego’s location. When I saw that it was a port city, and on the border with Mexico, I was really excited because my heart was always to plant churches in ethnically diverse cities, and the proximity to Mexico was particularly inspiring as we had begun to see a good number of Latino’s coming to Christ. God spoke one more thing to me as I returned to my knees. “Go in two years”.
I told my wife, but other than that, I hid the word in my heart. This would be a dramatic course change and I desperately needed confirmation. We were in the midst of a very fruitful ministry while leading hundreds and hundreds of college students at Antioch Community church. We had an amazing community of like hearted coworkers and we were serving alongside them. Besides that, the majority of my wife’s and my family had moved to Waco, TX to do ministry alongside of us. Also we had just seen an incredible miracle where God had given us a beautiful house that we owned outright! To go to San Diego would be leaving all of these amazing blessings and going to a city where we didn’t know one person.
God graciously began to confirm his call to us time and time again. He did it in very intriguing ways. It seemed like everywhere I went, perfect strangers would start talking to me about San Diego totally unsolicited by me. Also little signs began to show up everywhere. I would be flying on a plane to a random city in the US and someone would sit down next to me with a San Diego shirt on. One day as I was walking to the gym in Waco, Texas pondering this calling there was one car parked directly in front of the entrance. As I looked at this car wondering why it was parked in a red zone, I noticed it had one bumper sticker, and the bumper sticker said “San Diego”. The craziest confirmation came when I was making a pastoral visit to our team in Portland. I still had not told people about this potential call. After a meeting one of the women on the team pulled me aside. She asked, “Robert, are you about to plant a church?”. I was totally caught off guard, so all I could get to come out of my mouth was, “Why would you ask that?” . Then she said something that took my breath away. “When I look at you” she said “I see the word San Diego”. I was blown away. God had spoken this to her completely out of the blue. I immediately excused myself from her presence to contact my wife to tell her that there was absolutely no denying our call to San Diego.