The great missionary Andrew Murray once said, “faith expects from God what is beyond all expectation.” I’m not sure I can say it any better when I consider this journey of church planting and the ministry and impact of Jim & Tami Webb. It seems like yesterday that a Pastor looked at Cissy and said these words. “You don’t really think people will leave and go with you to New Jersey?” These were powerful words that left my wife speechless. Here we were preparing to do something that for a number of reasons made no sense yet we knew God was asking us to follow Him in FAITH.
We had prayed and truly believed that not only was God calling us to trust Him and be willing to step out of the boat into the deep waters but that He would not let us take those steps alone.
We believed that God was going to send us others to take this journey with us. We truly believed that. Who it would be or how many was still a mystery but we did believe we would have others go with us. It was that faith that Murray spoke of that we had and were holding onto.
A faith that expected more from God and was willing to completely trust in Him no matter what anyone said.
A Faith that believed God was faithful to always do what He said and we believed that He said we would have help go with us.
Who would it be? Why would they go? What would be their expectations? These were just a few of the questions that ran through my mind as I prayed asking God to send us help.
Then I jokingly asked Tami Webb one day to go with us and she said confidently to talk to Jim. So, I did. I asked Jim to meet me and to be honest it was only the second time I had ever met him. We talked for a while and I tried to answer his questions as best I knew how and left it in God’s hands.
I must admit that I didn’t think it was going to become a reality. Tami was the longest tenured employee at Idlewild and her role and responsibilities were very significant. Why would she leave that and come with me. It wasn’t like we could offer anything that would entice her or provide for her anything like what she had there.
As for Jim, I couldn’t say things that are important for a husband to know so that he can say to his wife in order to give her peace and security. Things like, “I have a couple jobs lined up for you to choose from for income.” Or, “I have a place for you to stay.” I couldn’t even tell him where we would put his stuff when he got there.
Yet, as Andrew Murray said – Faith is expecting from God what is beyond all expectation. I’m not sure that was the faith that Cissy and I had at the beginning of this journey but I can confidently say that Jim & Tami had it! It is that same faith that they demonstrate before us all everyday.
A faith that is marked by behaviors like service, dedication, selflessness, kindness, compassion, integrity, steadfastness, reliability, servant leadership, and steadiness.
Please read this next line slowly and even re-read it because I don’t want you to miss it. Jim and Tami didn’t leave Tampa to follow Buff & Cissy. They left Tampa in obedience to follow Jesus.
They sold their house, left their family, and jobs in FAITH to follow Jesus. We tend to read passages about following Jesus; the costs involved and think that doesn’t apply to me. Jim & Tami didn’t.
In fact they left to follow Jesus wanting and believing God had more for them. More for them to see, to do, but more importantly to be. I can confidently say they found it.
They, like us, have been stretched, challenged, broken, attacked; yet all of it was not only a blessing but the blessing. I think they could say that the blessing isn’t found in what they lost but is found in what they have gained. You see in God’s economy, profits and gains are always different than man’s economy.
I think of the apostle Paul’s word when he was describing his ministry…
”But as God’s ministers, we commend ourselves in everything…as grieving yet always rejoicing; as poor yet making many rich; as having nothing yet possessing everything.”
They have lost a lot by being here. They have stayed longer than anyone who has come to serve alongside us. The bond we have can never be broken as a result of this journey. We always knew it wouldn’t be forever here yet we never wanted to think about that.
We pledged to stay in the moments and see where and how God was working and stay faithful in joining Him in that work. I am not sure if I can or will ever be able to capture what Jim & Tami have and do mean to us.
How do I even attempt to share with you the impact or influence they have had on the ministry of Grace Falls Church? Not sure I can! But I do remember a quote I heard at the first SEND Conference I went to in preparation coming here to New Jersey.
David Platt said it and it is one that I have held onto as I have prayed and believed God has been at work here in New Jersey. David Platt said that a church should be known more by its SENDING capacity than its SEATING capacity. That resonated with me that day. I am looking at my notes today when I wrote that. I said right then and there on that day that I would not measure our success as church planters by how big our church got in numbers on a Sunday but by the people we disciple and send.
That is the work and command. We have done that…people like…
• Jim & Donna – Baptized here & moved to Fla • Eva – Saved & Baptized here & reconciled w/her family • Shelby – faithfully served & left to help church plant in Tampa • Ashley – Baptized here & now on Mission in St Pete • Joseph – Saved, Baptized & now on mission in St Pete • Chris & Gen – On Mission as IMB Missionaries in Niger • Rafaat & Hoda – On Mission in Fl
These are just a few of over 20 people that we have had the unique opportunity to invest and influence over the past couple years.
You see if all we do is truly about the Kingdom of God, and it is for His good and glory, we will not only be sending people constantly from our churches but we will be sending our best.
Today I believe we just did that. We are sending our best. May God bless Jim & Tami Webb as they go now on mission to plant the gospel and make disciples all for the glory of God. Thank you both for your example and your ministry! Galatians 6:9!