"The ways we desire to have impact are through a small group and long-term relationship," Jonathan Fisher says. "Because of the percentage of unsaved people here, you're less likely to go the route of gospel proclamation than you are conversation."
Here is Denver, Colorado.
Jonathan and his wife, Rachel, moved west in 2018 after having each felt called to greater ministry leadership. They knew they’d move somewhere – Rachel is from Birmingham and Jonathan from Huntsville – and the culture of Denver and how ministry is approached out there meshed with how God has wired them.
The Fishers were very involved at Shades after they married. They’d each felt the pull toward committed leadership and investment in a local church body. And then, God used Global Impact Celebration to cement the call placed on their lives.
“We’d been thinking about moving somewhere, and had started to pray about it with that mindset,” Rachel says. “But I remember that night that Ben [Mandrell] spoke, and [Jonathan] was like, ‘Let’s go talk to him.’
"I remember talking to him feeling like, ‘This is going to happen,’” she quips.
Though God had affirmed their desire for more, nothing happened immediately. Jonathan and Rachel kept taking steps until God opened or closed a door. A few months after GIC, they headed to Denver to visit the area and connect with the church planting team there. It was on that trip the couple met Chris and Libby Phillips, who would go on to plant Journey Point Church, now where the Fishers serve. Though the mile markers seemed to be aligning, many logistics were left unresolved. Mainly, they needed jobs.
Jonathan and Rachel had agreed when one of them got a job they’d go. Rachel, a social worker, was offered a job in the school system there, and the offer held a limited decision time. “That was the kick in the pants,” Rachel says. Jonathan turned in his two weeks’ notice; however, the company he worked for asked him to remain onboard as a remote employee an additional two months. The church they were to begin working with allowed them to stay in its mission house while they sought an apartment.
God had provided them a buffer season to allow them to adjust to life far from home.
For the Fishers, refocusing didn’t mean they drove away from Alabama full of excitement. Jonathan found himself in the midst of a swing of depression when they moved, and they both stepped away from Shades, a church they’d poured into and which had poured into them. “Colorado was really far away from home,” Rachel says as she recounts the days leading up to going.
But they knew God had spoken. Using their jobs as a means to get to a new city, they moved to Denver to invest in a local body of Christ in a heavily under-churched area.
“It’s more living intentionally than as a missionary,” Jonathan says, when asked if they’d consider themselves missionaries.“Definitely COVID has made that hard, and we’ve turned inward.”
Like many of us, the Fishers have spent much of the past year at home due to the pandemic. Jonathan works remotely full-time,and Rachel has spent much of the year doing her job from their home also.
How do you live intentionally when the best thing you can do for current circumstances is isolate from the world around you?
"This may seem like a simplistic answer," Jonathan says, "but like anything, I would say it begins with prayer. Having that intercession with the Spirit your life and letting that inform your actions, inform your conversations, inform your mental space.”
“I would add being genuine in your relationships and bathing those in prayer,” Rachel tags on. “We’ve never really been superficial people. I hope we can model that in relationships and show that we genuinely care about these people, how they’re doing, and what’s going on no matter where they are in their walk with God or if they’re walking with God.”
"If we're present in our interactions with people, then that's used by the Holy Spirit."
These relationships aren’t transactional, merely meant to lead someone to faith. The relationships Jonathan and Rachel have in Denver are important for them too – they provide community. “They’re providing a need. God provides through relationship whether or not there’s salvation,”Jonathan says.
"Be present and take your expectations out of it," Rachel continues. "We're operating on God’s timetable, not on ours. Sometimes it’s a long road, sometimes it’s not. If we’re present in our interactions with people, then that’s used by the Holy Spirit.”
With COVID, those interactions changed a year ago, and the Fishers’ mission field was refocused. “All of a sudden it shrank,” Rachel says. “We’re not at church and we’re unable to see people. There's the exhaustion everyone feels having to weigh every decision as a safety decision. But I think we had to get more creative with our time and how we could still be investing in relationships.
“We’ve tried to take advantage of the little opportunities we have had. When the weather was good, we were out on our porch a lot,” she continues. “We live in a high-density neighborhood, so there are people always walking by. We loved being outside because that was how we could be visible to our neighbors and we could have a conversation.”
Persistence in prayer and obedience are hallmarks of Jonathan and Rachel Fisher’s lives. Following God, though, doesn’t negate natural emotions and circumstances of walking when we can’t exactly see down the road. Nerves and mental health provided struggles as they followed God in faith. “We were nervous to make the move. We were excited but really nervous,” Rachel says. “But we don’t regret it.”
“Don’t wait on that perfect moment,” Jonathan says. Rachel looks at him next to her at their kitchen table. “There was a lot of uncertainty. But yeah, don’t let that stop you from doing what you feel God has led you to do.”