Leaving Antioch

For all you Wacoans out there, we were among the original families who, back in 1999, started Antioch Community Church. If you’re not from Waco and don’t know the church’s reputation, it’s best known as that place where Heather Mercer and Dayna Curry–who were taken captive in Afghanistan in 2001–were from.


I just listened to a podcast that detailed the church’s origins, back to when Jimmy Seibert was the college pastor at Highland Baptist Church. My husband, John, and I go back to that era through the end of 2005, about 10 years (with a couple of hiatuses on our part).


Antioch was then and still is all about sending people to the nations. Since John and I knew that wasn’t our gig, what on earth were we doing there?


Learning. Growing. Maturing.


Even being the halfway-Christians that we always have been, it was exciting to hang out around the super-duper Christians of Antioch. Meeting on the parking lot was an adventure. Lifegroups were transformative. Church itself was as thrilling as any rollercoaster.


While we were there, we began to feel our own call–one very different from what our friends were hearing. John left his job in 2002 because he felt God told him to, and for the next three years, we never knew where the money was coming from or where we might be moving to. Eventually, he got on a new career track, and we ended up in Fredericksburg.


Almost five years later, we have still had trouble settling into a church. I have blamed this problem on the fact that there is nothing like Antioch here, but I think it’s deeper than that.


For much of my life, I had a difficult relationship with my family. Now that I’m an adult, I blame no one but myself. About a year after we moved here, my mom’s cancer came back, after a 23-year remission. Living closer meant that I could make day trips for her chemo appointments and other treatments.


The next three years were not about the existential Family of God, but my actual flesh-and-blood family. Learning to love them. To like them. To hang out with them. To eat and drink with them.  The weekend before and the weekend after my mom died were filled with family from seven states and even more cities. Those days were both terrible and beautiful.


I believe that part of why we left Antioch and moved to Fredericksburg was so that I could be physically closer to my mom through her illness and death, and so that I could be emotionally closer to the rest of my family. Now that she’s gone, I find myself wanting to be with them more than ever.


Maybe now that I’m learning to love my actual family, I can learn to love the family of God. Which, hey, wasn’t that what Antioch was all about?