the wrap-up

We’re thrilled.  No, seriously.

We still get questions and comments from people who feel bad for us.  I get where they’re coming from and appreciate the attempt at empathy; but they’ve misread the event; they didn’t understand the good news of what’s happening.

The past few blog posts have given a good idea of the transition we’ve been going through and what that’s meant for Soma.  It would be easy as an observer to see these things as sad endings.  In fact, we’ve been around other similar events for people and churches and they ARE sad events; some of them tragic even.  This one isn’t.

God is so good, so generous, so gracious, and wow does he ever seem to have a big picture in mind!

Soma is officially being dissolved/closed (effective Dec 31st, for you detail types).  Months ago we heard our leg of the mission was complete, and we began praying to find out what the next leg was going to be.  We now have an answer.  God has sent replacements!  It’s another church, and this Summer three families moved into the same area we left at the beginning of the Summer!  It’s been just exciting and wonderful to hear how God is truly targeting our old neighborhood.  This new crew, though we’ve never met them, are doing missional communities, going door to door with cookies and offering prayer, and are already seeing people healed and lives changed.

How great is our God?  That He would have the next leg in the journey already lined up.  That He would give us a chance to hear the story of how He is moving there.  That He would reassure us that the well-being of where we were once doing mission is NOT actually ours, but His; and He will look out for it even after we’re gone.

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So, yes, Soma is closing.  Yes, it’s good news.  Yes, we are excited about what this means for the neighborhood we’ve left.  Yes, we’re excited about where we’re going.

This blog site will cease updates effective immediately, but will remain live indefinitely so that people can always have access to read the story of God’s faithfulness, generosity, and movement through Southern Orchards and Wilson Avenue in Columbus, OH.

gifted and chapter completion

There seemed to be only one fittng way to wrap up this season of Soma:  CELEBRATION.  In the past 4 years, a diverse group of people came together, locked shields and embraced a vision for discipleship and mission.

We’ve been changed, transformed, for the better.  We have grown in love, the mark of Christ’s disciples (John 13:35). We have been family; sacrificing and supporting one another in practical ways; learning to accept the gifts, time, and resources of others in mutual love and navigating challenge and conflict.  We have grown in rhythms. We must rest to work and can find rest in various forms. We have grown in faith. We have witnessed food multiplied, spontaneous baptisms, help in trials, and the constant voice of God. We have grown in accountability. We operate more consistently in the mindset of “What is God saying and what am I going to do about it?”  We look more like Christ, and we continue to journey with fellow Christians. God is good and He is generous.

In His generosity we have received many gifts and we have tried to show generosity to those around us. There is more ahead in this adventure and we trust that we have each been built up and readied to go into new spheres and help people find and follow Jesus. We have loved sharing the journey with each and every one of you!

The next step on the journey for Soma is transitioning to rest / hibernation.  As we look out over our purpose for discipleship and mission, we see nothing but His work and presence.  It’s been refreshing and exciting to complete and close chapter 1 for Soma and prepare for the ‘page intentionally left blank’ before the start of chapter 2.  Chapter 2 hasn’t yet been titled, but one of the things we’ve certainly learned is if rest comes before work on an individual level, then it should also at the community level.

The intent is for Soma (and all of us!) to rest for a time (oh, say a year or so) and during that time we will be praying and abiding in His presence as he prepares us for the next season for Soma; at which point we will gear up and launch again, rested and ready for His work for us.  We will be looking to build relationships for support, partnership, leadership, followership, and recreation.  We are already excited and thankful for those He will put us in family and community with to start the next thing, even as we prepare to rest first.

For the past few weeks and for the next week or so, our team motto has been, “finish strong; don’t puke.” 🙂

As you may have noticed, updates have been less frequent lately as we’ve been busy working on finishing strong this leg of the race.  While resting, updates will be infrequent (we hope not non-existent, but who knows…).  I’d recommend checking back every so often.

Contact information will remain the same, so if you have an email address or phone number for us or Soma, keep it; we will still be reachable there.

the more He stays the same, the more things change

In the books of Malachi, Hebrews, James, and Revelation (and more!) in the Bible we are told in various ways that God doesn’t change; that He is, “the same yesterday, today, and forever.”  This is a comforting thing.  It means as we learn more and more about our perfect Dad of Dad and what he and his Son are up to, we can count on the promises He’s made and trust His character and will.

So, for a God who doesn’t change, why can He seem so hard to follow at times? 

He moves.  He is forever in motion and his direction is constant, always at his work of restoring what is broken to righteousness in his Kingdom.  This movement is why there is mystery to the Spirit and why sometimes it seems like He changes and why it can be hard to follow him.  And it’s also why from time to time, as we seek his Kingdom, we are the ones who have to be transformed, we are the ones who have to pick up and move to his grace.

This is not an announcement.  Yet…
This is a heads up and a request to pray with us and help us consider and watch for his grace and movement.

So, here’s where we’re at:

Soma ‘launched’ in Jan 2012.  From then until now, we celebrate:
– stretching the definition of ‘church planting’ and realizing we’re more like domestic missionaries
– being given LOTS of amazing resources to steward, most of which have been people
– people committing to intentional discipleship
– being witnesses to 35 decisions to follow Christ and being part of as many baptisms
– seeing marriages and relationships restored
– being there when hearts no longer seek violence
– people being delivered from ‘less than pious jobs and cultures’
– many around us having learned their heart follows their treasure
– learning (and are still learning) how to hear His voice and obey
– countless mouths literally being fed
– … and more!  (We hope this blog has been a decent place to follow stories of His movement here in Southern Orchards, Columbus.)

By the end of 2014 we were perceiving things slowing down, orbits expanding, and missional partners moving on.  There are pieces of this that can be painful and difficult to understand.  So we prayed.  And we were reminded that any kind of pruning can be just that:  painful and difficult to understand.  But almost all of this pruning was indeed out of our control.  Throughout this time, our Father has been gracious, encouraging, generous, and even gentle.  He is good.  Let me repeat that:  He is good.

So, here we are just into 2015 and we’re asking Him if His grace for our part here has moved on (either in mission, mission context, or location), or if we are being tasked with persevering where we are and doing what we do.  This is our request to you, that you will pray alongside us in this ask.  Perhaps it’s the missionary hearts within us, but we are completely open to whatever His answer is; though we are not emotionless in the potential changes.

Pray hard and stay tuned.  🙂

– Nate

His Kingdom is alive

Within a few days of getting back from our Community of Practice retreat, we are already seeing fruit.  It is so refreshing to know we did hear correctly what God was saying.

The summer of 2013 I would regularly walk about five blocks to Nate and Natalie’s house.  Along the way I would smile and wave at anyone who would make eye contact with me.  I met quite a few people this way.  And just this past week, one of the ladies I still wave at came to my house.  She was crying and embraced me with a hug for awhile.  I was confused and shocked.  I had one or two quick talks with her in the past, maybe, and every other time I would wave and just ask how she was doing.  As we were hugging I remembered the people came to Jesus for help.  They would just show up in front of him.  I prayed before I said anything, asking God to help me help her.

While we were hugging I began to ask her questions as to why she was crying.  Asking if she was hurt, or if she was not safe.  She whispered to me, “I’m in pain, I’m in pain.”  She was so sad, this is the only thing she could get out in between crying.  She picked her head up off my shoulder and looked me in the eyes and said, “I’m in pain Danielle, you don’t even know.”  My heart broke.  This was not physical pain she was feeling, but emotional pain.  Knowing she could not speak of the pain, I asked her if we could pray and she said yes.

So we stood together and I prayer to our Father.  I sent her along with some food and another hug.  I told her thank you for coming and that if she needs anything to come back, that we will be here for her.

I can replay her voice and facial expressions in my mind.  Over and over.  It is a reminder for me that people need to hear the Good News here.  They need to be loved in this broken world, in this hard place in Columbus.  And I am so happy God is using us here in Southern Orchards.  We don’t know all the pain and suffering people are in, but we know God does.  We are here to be part of Him restoring and making all things new, and to show His Kingdom is alive.

 

-Danielle

Rebecca’s heart

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Hey, it’s Natalie!  I’d like to share a poem that was written about SOKs.  It was inspired by our time together, which included sneakily delivering gifts to neighbors (who we’re hoping will, in turn, go deliver their own gifts), eating and playing together, and choosing gifts for loved ones (thanks to my Aunt Donna and Uncle Barry, who were so generous in blessing our family).  So, without further ado, here’s Rebecca’s take on the evening:

Finally, I see something that I’m sure is through His eyes.
At last, I feel that which I’m positive He felt in his heart.
Definitely, this is one of the many times I know God and our Lord Jesus Christ lives within me.
Seeing the beauty of young ones and children learn of our King and Father;
Witnessing the welcoming of our Christ;
It moves me.

The joy in my heart is unexplainable, but yet that’s the perfect way to describe it.
The peace of mind and soul is comforting;
I know now the messages sent to me have been secured, assured, and made clear.
My identity is announced to me.

My reflection,
My place,
My heart;

All these things have been shown to me through this one day of dropping off bags of God’s love.

I am Christian and that is enough.
A part of a family that goes beyond blood,
One with a body that can not be seen, but only felt.
Meant to be with others who shine, but to roam among others who have not yet been sparked.

I’m loved by many and beautiful because of my heart.
Learning because I want to know Him, but also because I want others to feel His love.
The battle is hard and the journey is great;
Regardless I’m learning that the reward that comes from it all is more than worth it.

This is what I tell the Lord in my heart.
Rebecca - blog signature (Black BG)

learning UP

The Holy Spirit has been moving in our missional community.  We had an “UP” focused MC night, where we spent some time teaching our new believers and unbelievers about prayer.  We asked some questions to get them thinking and talking openly to each other about what God was laying on their hearts.  We were amazed at how receptive they were to the questions and how open they were to praying together.  There was some amazing break through and we are excited to continue down the path God has placed us on:  to make a family of disciples.

Danielle - blog signature (black BG)

Snyders go a-gamin’

Hey Internet!, Nate here!  One of the exciting things we get to do at Soma is send people out to do what Jesus did, what the disciples did, and what many other disciples have been doing for roughly 2000 years:  be a part of bringing His Kingdom to creation.  One of the ways in which we do this is by making and multiplying Missional Communities.  I am blessed to be able to share today a bit of the story for one such couple as they were grown, cultivated, equipped, and then sent out to make new family for others to join them in.  This story comes from Dustin and Danielle Snyder:

What a journey we are on.  It’s been pretty amazing where God had us start and to where we are now.  As our Pilot Missional Community (the first MC at Soma) was coming to completion, and everyone was feeling called to go out and start their own MCs, I knew God was calling us to go out, too; but the mission was still a mystery to us.  The mission finally came to us when we were at our 3rd 3DM Learning Community in March 2013.  We were being led to begin a Missional Community based around games and those who love them.  Video games, board games, card games, any sort of game is what the mission would be.  That is what would bring us together and closer as an okios (Greek for extended family) and closer to God as a community.  God’s words were so clear to me that weekend.  What made it all come together all the more is that before I came to Christ, I participated in gaming type events, and went to a gaming store on a weekly occurrence.  The mission was given to us, and our OUTs were already thought of.  We excitingly explained the mission to our okios, and they were very excited for us.  But that was only the start of this journey.

We spent months starting to (re)build relationships with old friends and new ones, as we prepared for our new Missional Community.  In the meantime, the Pilot Missional Community ended, and two others formed and started meeting regularly, SOKs and Koinonia.  We were also blessed with our first child at this time.  As we prayed, God led us to hold off on starting our Missional Community, and so we joined the Shoemakers with their Missional Community, SOKs.  We spent a few months with them, being in community (which we find very important) and building relationships with our own POPs (Persons of Peace), and explaining and refining our mission.
In October, God told us it was time.  We had a group of people ready to start, and even more in the wing.  We were sent out by SOKs, and we officially began our Missional Community, Game On!  God has already blessed us with great people, and even more great opportunities for relationships on the horizon.  
Dustin - blog signature (black BG)