“The Anthem Miracle” Pt. 1
God had been stirring our hearts and burdening us to reach out to the people around us and share our faith. At the time we lived in a community in North Phoenix called Saddle Horn Ranch. In obedience to God we started reaching out to our near neighbors at the same time God begin to place a burden on our hearts for a brand new community even further North called Anthem.
As we drove the community we were overwhelmed by the magnitude of what was being built at the foothills of Daisy Mountain. There were two parts to the new “city” being built: an exclusive country club side and a Parkside. Dell Web had invested 88 million dollars in building the infrastructure before they broke ground on the first home. It was truly amazing. There was a sixty-acre park with: tennis courts, baseball fields, skater park, catch and release lake, a full size train that traveled around the park. In another location there was a large two-story basketball gym and work out center. Beside this was a waterpark and Olympic size swimming pool. All of this was open to homeowners and included in their Home Owners Association fee.
As you can imagine the community was a magnet to young families. Originally the builders had planned to build out the community over a twelve-year period but it became apparent early that this community would be filled and closed to new builds in a much shorter period of time. We moved to Anthem in late 1999. Our community was called Union Trail. We were in a cul-de-sac. The home was lovely with desert landscape that included mesquite trees and colorful lantana along with other desert friendly plant life. As our home was being built we met our closest neighbors. We would come up together to watch the progress on our new homes. We found them open to new friendship they were the typical Anthem residents: young professionals with 2 young girls ages 2-4. We hit it off immediately.
We knew God had placed Ken and Kim in our lives so that we could share Him with them. The friendship grew quickly and in no time we were hanging out regularly during the week. We would take turns fixing the evening meal. We came to love their children just as we loved ours. Our kids would baby sit for them so we could all go out to a movie or dinner.
We had invited them to church and they were open to it but had expressed they had never been to a church before. One Sunday afternoon I was in the garage with Zak working on a pine wood derby car for our church derby races. We were mostly finished we had worked for weeks on the car. Ken was out in his front yard and came over to see what we were doing. He got very excited about helping us out and was interested in the big race. I asked him, would you like to bring the family and join us tonight at church for the derby race? His eyes lit up and he responded, “Yes”.
The derby race was Ken and Kim’s first exposure to church. They met the church family, they cheered on Zak (his car took first place that night). Afterwards we went out for dinner and they were so excited about the experience. They could not believe church would be this much fun. They talked about the people they met, the races and different this was from what they had expected.
There had been no sermon, no worship music, no invitation but they had met people who love God and really know how to enjoy life and one another. I could tell they were wide open to attending a regular worship service. The following Sunday they arrived about 15 minutes before service began. They already knew many of the people who were at the church setting up for the morning worship service so they felt right at home. We took the girls to their classes and as the worship service began you could tell Ken and Kim were deeply engaged. At the close of service the altar call was given and Ken and Kim came forward to accept Jesus as Lord and leader of their lives. It was a very powerful moment in all our lives as God had already bonded us together as friends and neighbors.
You could see the glow on their faces. It became apparent quickly that their lives had changed. They were eager to learn about God. They invited us over for a special dinner in their home the next week. You could tell they had something important on their minds. They were a bit nervous and looked at each other for courage to ask. As we sat down and started the meal, Kim began: “I know what we like about the church but I don’t know what the church expects from us. What are we supposed to do in order to belong?”
Over the next hour we explained to them what it means to be a member of the body of Christ.
They were anxious to get involved and eager to share their new life with their friends. This made it easy for us to meet more of our neighbors through Ken and Kim.