One of my greatest joys is to hear what God is doing in our community of churches. Big or small, sharing the story of God with each other builds a powerful tapestry that can strengthen your faith immeasurably. Together magazine asked Pastor Howard and Maureen Harmer from the The Rock Hosanna Miller Baptist Church about their church planting experience.
Tell us the story of your church plant?
The church plant started when we were given a vision from God 20 years ago. God showed me that I would became a Pastor, something that was very far away from my mind and plans.
In the vision I saw myself preaching in front of a lot people in a church building. The people were from many different ethnic groups. As I was preaching people were walking in front of me crying out to Jesus Christ. I saw also a glimpse of me in the Pastor’s office counselling a couple with lots of people outside wanting to come in for help.
From that moment I felt a deep calling in my heart to lead people to Christ. This was not a new desire as I had always had a strong passion to reach the unchurched, even when I was a child growing up in the church. It seemed that other people saw a calling for church planting on my life even before I did. I was asked to start a church when I was in youth group. At the time I sought God in fasting and praying and never felt it was the right timing.
In 2012 my pastor shared with me a need for a Pastor and church at Miller. My family, church and I prayed about it.
I visited the church location at Miller and something came over me deeply in my heart almost as if I had been there before. My vision from 20 years previous came back deeper and stronger than ever. I knew that God’s calling was upon me for this ministry.
We invested in prayer and fasting, seeking affirmation of my calling from mentors, pastors, evangelists and friends. 8 families came out of my cell group from our church to start the new church plant.
How have you seen God move in your journey?
One of the greatest blessings has been that the church is growing in numbers with the unchurched being reached with the Gospel of Jesus Church. We have seen a Hindu family receive Christ and turn to Jesus as their personal saviour – another affirmation of my vision. Incredibly we have also seen many people set free from sickness and diseases with many healings received by people in the church from God.
On a very practical level we have been able to use the church building which previously belonged to Miller Baptist Church before it closed down. This has given us a place to call home. And we are now saving towards buying the property. God is good!
What are some ways you have advanced the Kingdom of Jesus in your plant?
We are passionate about reaching the lost for Christ, however we are also dedicated to building people (young and mature) in their faith.
We run a 7 week discipleship training course, connect groups and have bible classes weekly.
The church runs a youth outreach program weekly along with a children’s ministry and evening outreach services.
The needs of the community are met with free counselling services and a foodbank program. We also run a community carols event each year to bless the community and continue to have open days that allow the broader community to come into the church and speak with people involved.
Of course all the work we do is begun, covered and concluded with our intercessory prayer groups within the church.
What would you say to someone considering planting a church?
Make sure it’s a calling from God not people, because when it’s from God whatever you go through you will persevere. You need a passion for the lost and unchurched and to know that it is not your church, Jesus is the true leader of the church. Finally brace yourself for the joy of seeing people having a relationship with Jesus – people coming out of darkness into the light and living a life in victory as part of the Kingdom of God!
Howard Harmer with Aaron Veart The Rock Hosanna Miller Baptist Church