By Leanne Smith
It was a rainy day on a beach in Spain when I decided to follow Christ during my spring semester abroad in 2007. I grew up going to church, but in that moment I knew that something was missing - that I needed more. I needed more from God than I had ever asked for, more from life than I ever knew could be, and more from a church than I had ever experienced. From the beginning I was hungry for things I couldn’t put to words. That same Spring, my friend Kristin called me from the U.S. to tell me that she had met a group of people that were starting a church that would be different than what I had known. After that phone call, I knew that I needed to be a part of what God was doing through this church.
I met Kristin when I visited the first service in August 2007, where I brought my roommates, my now-husband, and his roommate. The music was moving and the speakers were earnest and passionate. There were signups after the service and I knew I wanted to put my name on anything that could further immerse me in what God was doing with this church.The desperate need of a church plant forced us to rely solely on God. I was so afraid of meeting new people but I prayed for boldness and God gave me such a joy to meet my neighbors, pass out granola bars on campus, and have heart-felt conversations over pancakes with the Friday-night party crowd. More and more people started coming and God opened my heart to them in love and compassion. I realized that my life was intended to serve others.
My husband and I were married after our first semester with Resonate and we moved to Moscow. We hosted the first Village there and loved to invite new people into our home regardless of their beliefs. I loved sharing life with others and getting to hear their stories.
I remember hearing about the idea of starting another church in Moscow just one year after the launching of Resonate. There were so few of us in Moscow and resources in Pullman seemed to be stretched thin. I remember asking myself, why not wait another year until we were more sure of ourselves? But God is bigger than my doubts, and I am so grateful that He put leadership over me that decided to move forward with the Moscow location.
God blessed our outreach efforts on the University of Idaho campus and people showed up to our first service! Growth was slower than it had been in Pullman, but the people who were coming and the lives that were changing proved to us that God was using this church and gave us hope. Our Village grew, and more Villages were formed. We poured our days into prayer, new outreach ideas, events and strategies. We faced rejection, frustrations, and broken relationships, but I am so grateful for the time that I had to work in ministry side-by-side with my husband and closest friends. You don’t need God when you are doing what comes easily and what is comfortable. You need Him when you are doing the most unnatural thing to you, but He always shows up!
God gave us the experience of being a part of such a radical church movement. My husband and I served with Resonate for 2 years before we graduated and moved to New Mexico. We cannot shake this desire to help ignite our church here with the same thirst for deep community and brokenness for our lost and hurting town. And I wouldn’t have it any other way!