This is my city

It’s time to share my story.

Or at least how I’ve come to where I’m at now. Of course all stories continue; issues come up when we focus on one particular season or want as the End, as if everything were a means to bring us to that point. This is just a highlight of several significant chapters in my life. A lot of you, my friends, have recently asked questions about the past year of my life and this seemed like the best way to communicate.

I want to be very clear about two facts upfront: God is good. and Faith acts with no circumstantial evidence to back it up.


On December 3, 2011 I journaled these thoughts: “Is this how God is saying that I’m here in Greenville for good? God, I struggle with this so much. You have done so much in my heart and life that has given me a passion for the Gosepl where there is no voice or very little. I feel like Greenville is so saturated and stagnant. People know Jesus but they refuse because their stuff and relationships and lives are worth more. We are so plush here. Send me somewhere else.”

I had recently sat through a church service where Tim Keesee had shared exciting stories of travel and Kingdom advancement around the world. I’m not exactly sure why it happened, but I fell apart. I cried all throughout the service, wept during my drive home, pulled myself together while some friends came over, and then wept again once they left. I felt so jaded. Like I was given a taste of something that I couldn’t have as my own. Purpose seemed to have evaded me and my desires went unfulfilled.

I didn’t want to be in Greenville. Of all places I’ve been, Greenville was my last choice. In my life I’ve lived in 7 states, traveled to 3 foreign countries, and have been personally involved in dozens of churches, ministries and cultures. Yet something was still aching, missing. I knew I had to find it or I would die. Moving away seemed the logical answer.

In May 2012 several circumstances climaxed in my life. Quite frankly, life was terrible. I finally said, “Ok God, I’ll move to California if that’s what you want. I can’t just sit here anymore.” Why California? I had visited Menifee, CA in the past and loved the area, the people, and church plant there. I even tried to move there once before. But now seemed like the best time. I had nothing to lose. I didn’t really have possessions, deep relationships, or even purpose. I didn’t even laugh anymore. which was scary. and sad. I couldn’t remember a time in my life where I didn’t incessantly laugh.

This move, however, was very fearful for me because I had no external evidence to support it, but I claimed faith to move on. As soon as I took that first step, crazy stuff started happening. A hospital in the LA area called me about my online resume, and by the end of the first conversation they had set up a time to fly me out for an interview with the Board and CEO for the Director of Marketing position.

*cue freak out moment* I went from nothing to suddently an all-expense paid trip to Southern California during the week of the 4th of July to interview for a dream job! Simply. Unbelievable. I remember driving in my rental through the amazing California scenery, biking around Menifee, and visiting San Diego thinking, “I can’t believe this is happening.”

The job though? I knew the moment the interview was over I wasn’t supposed to accept that job. I loved them, they loved me, but it wasn’t mine to have. I ended up officially turning it down a week later. Yet at the end of my visit I told Tim Lovegrove, the pastor at Grace Bible in Menifee, “I want to be here. I can’t think of a reason why I shouldn’t move. There’s nothing holding me down in Greenville.”

I would literally be starting life over. I made plans to pack my stuff, sell what I could, terminate my leases and contracts, and end my chapter in Greenville. I even had Plan A and Plan B written out, complete with financials. This was real, people.

But oh the fun had just started. August 1, right at the tipping point of change, something relatively insignificant happened, yet it was like God whispered, “Wait.” Hm, ok.

Friday night August 3 I walked into a small theatre building in downtown Greenville for a service with some church I had never heard of before: City Church. 2 friends at outreach had invited me but contra-dancing had conveniently conflicted for several weeks. Needless to say, I showed up that night.

And so did God.

You know how some moments in your life you remember even the smallest details? This was one of those nights. My mind was blown so many times. Something was different. I saw normal, everyday people that really cared about their city. and they weren’t “missionaries.” Like, they intentionally pursued the people and prosperity of the city. It was like the church existed for the city and not the city for the church. This was new to me. I was intrigued.

They had also just started a 21 day fast with other churches in Greenville called The Hinge. They actually believed that real prayer was the hinge to open up a door of kingdom advancement and revival in Greenville. They had been praying for years for the kingdom to come to Greenville as it is in heaven. They believed that you don’t have to go find the kingdom; if you are a child of God, where you go the kingdom goes with you. The power of Jesus really does dwell in your heart and affects you and everyone around you.

Well, this was pretty cool. It was an invitation for me to join. I thought, I may be leaving, but I want to be a part of this, even if just briefly. I want to see the power of this kind of prayer.

So I entered into fasting and prayer unlike any other time in my life. And, well, stuff happened. A lot of crazy stuff. It was like my world stopped and God said, “Watch me.”

3 unpredictable weeks later The Hinge ended with a huge prayer gathering at Falls Park. I got to the park early and sat on a bench reading Romans 8. I was so confused. So much had happened in the past 3 weeks I didn’t know what to think or do. Where was I supposed to be?

As I was thinking, I happened to look past my bench. I saw a piece of trash, a straw (8)

This is my city.

I sat up straight with a jolt. Did I say that? Uh, for real? …God? God, how can this be my city? Like, emphasis on “my.” You see, if I call something mine, I have to take care of it. Because I care. If something is broken, I fix it. If trash is on the ground, I pick it up.

I stared at the straw in disbelief. I knew that he was calling me to Greenville and asking me to pick up the straw and accept ownership. But, but… if this is true, then I would’ve been wrong the entire time! Was I really that blind? Had it really been right in front of me the whole time?

I closed my Bible, got up, picked up the straw, threw it away, and then walked down where everyone was gathering. The first people I saw were friends I had just met the night before at City Church. They asked, “How are you?” And I said in a bit of a haze, “uh, I think God just called me to Greenville.” “Oh that’s awesome!” one friend replied. “Because I just prayed for you this morning.”

And you know what I think is funny? God sent me all the way to California for a wild, expensive dream trip… and then used a piece of trash to call me to my own city. Hilarious! I had to come to the complete end of myself and be completely desperate for him. He asked me to start taking faith steps and then rewarded the obedience by giving me way more than I ever imagined.

From that moment on something changed in Angela’s inside area. Something was set free. I can’t even really explain it, but I guess that’s what love is like. I remember talking with my mom the following week and saying, “Mom, I don’t know what happened. I feel like I’m really light. It’s like I’m myself again. I’m laughing again.” Somehow, because he’s so good, he just took my oppression and chains of heaviness around my heart and broke them. And I didn’t even know the chains were there.

And I have experienced immense amounts of joy since then that I have never tasted before. And it’s tastes reeeeaaaally good.

From that point on God has led and told me that he would be bringing me into many new seasons in my life: work, church, community, marriage, outreach, and relationships. And this is where I’ve learned faith: I believe that they are a reality before they physically show up in my life. Kind of a crazy way to live, but actually in the Kingdom that’s normal.

Starting December 2012, God built the bridges for me to cross into several of these new seasons. My time working directly with the homeless was over and I would be reaching out to women with broken lives, whether they are connected with sex trafficking, strip clubs, or abused lives. This totally overlapped with a new job he sent me. As the trainer and manager of 9Rounds on Wade Hampton, my schedule didn’t allow me to work downtown anymore with the homeless, but he immediately sent me to a new outreach and community to minister in that fit in my schedule. And with this new community and outreach he led me to a new home church, which is City Church at the heart of downtown Greenville. Now my job, outreach, church and home are within a 5 mile radius. He’s really good like that.

And so the story continues. I don’t really know what’s next. Some things have really surprised me in the recent weeks, but honestly I’m done with being surprised to be surprised. That’s just how it is. I can never fully understand the love and joy of Jesus so every new experience of goodness is always a “WHOA! Now that’s a new awesome!”

So, to sum it all up, isn’t he a good story writer? I love a good story. I recently finished Harry Potter and The Half-Blooded Prince and I just had the experience during the story where I literally cried out, “Nooooooooooooo!! Say it ain’t so!” I know there’s one more book and that it’s going to end really well, but I’m kinda disappointed right now… yet captivated. Something good’s coming. Something better.

Every day, each moment of my story, your story, has that constant hope keeping us moving forward and expectant. Something good’s coming. It only gets better. And I’m not being optimistic. I’m being real. Because at some point we need to come to a place where the unseen is more real than the skin on our bones or the air that we breathe.

I get it. I finally get it.

I get it. November 18, 2011

That was the title to the blog post I wrote exactly 1 year ago. God had just given me a really clear revelation about purpose, specifically about my purpose here in Greenville.

However, the blog post mysteriously never got posted.

wh-what happened?! Did I have a ditz moment and simply forget to press the Publish button?

eh, no. No, actually I had a lot of fear. I was afraid that God really was doing what I thought He was doing, that he had answered my prayers and revealed my direction.

I wasn’t ready to commit to Greenville. My heart was not prepared to truly say, “This is my city and these are my people.” I thought the Kingdom was really happening somewhere else, and to publish this post would’ve held me accountable to other people. as if God didn’t already know. I was arrogant, prideful, and fearful. So typical. It’s as if I look for God, ask God for God, yet when he shows up, I take what I want and brush the rest aside. Um, why does he want me again? He’s pretty good and gracious. that’s why.

It wasn’t until August 25 this year that I heard God speak to me again about Greenville, my city. But that’s a story for another time.

So this was one of those I get it!” moments that in all reality took a lot longer to “get” than it should have. but whatever.


Illumination happened today. It was a time where in a single moment the oddly shaped erratic puzzle pieces of one’s life come together in this beautiful, sensible design.

The 5 months between graduation and moving to Greenville to start a new job were probably the most seemingly unstable days of my life, bar nun: 14 homes, 9 churches, 4 countries, 6 cultures, 15 beds, 7 ministry offers, thousands of dollars. In the end, I was still broke, jobless, homeless, and directionless, without a clue of where in the world I was supposed to be. That, unfortunately, was not part of the plan.

I couldn’t muster up in my mind what would practically be my next steps in life. Nothing, and I mean nothing, was happening. Even in my desires. And it was frustrating because I know I am to live my life on purpose. Vita by Design, right? I honestly felt at one point that the fact that I had a blog with this title was a joke. Nothing seemed purposeful. I didn’t know what to do, so…do I just not move?

Well, I did a whole bunch of not moving for what seemed like an unbearable amount of time.

One September Monday evening, while in Fort Wayne Indiana, out of nowhere a thought jumped into my mind: I need to go back to Greenville.

Interesting. So this new thought spurred me to email Dan, my friend and former shepherding group leader, if he knew of anyone in town that may be hiring since I was thinking about moving back to Greenville, though I really didn’t know why. It was just an inclination (hint hint…HOLY SPIRIT!).

The next day, Tuesday, Dan “happened” to be meeting with the owner of the only company that I had interviewed with in downtown Greenville back before graduation. So Wednesday morning Dan called me to tell me that the owner said that he needed to hire someone soon—come to find out, very soon. I called the owner that hour and talked the situation over. By 4:00 I had accepted the job and was due to start work on Monday morning. 5 days later.

I probably don’t need to express this, but I was obviously rejoicing over this ridiculously quick job provision. How amazing, right? Isn’t that a cool story?

God had bigger plans.

God does not move people to jobs. He moves them to strategic Kingdom opportunites. Jobs are just so this-world.

Though it’s a company with a fantastic reputation in the Upstate, the location is probably one of the worst in Greenville. It is sketchy with an extra healthy dose of sketch.

The first day of work my boss took me to lunch and mentioned as we drove out of the parking lot, “Don’t walk around over here. This is a crack corner.” And where there’s drugs, there’s violence. Not gonna lie—I was often frightened. My elder at church, who is a cop, had many stories to share about that corner. Chases, busts—one time he caught this guy from America’s Most Wanted on our corner.

This week 2 guys were standing right outside our front steps doing a drug deal.  In broad daylight. Twice in the past month there were huge fires right across the street behind our building that were started by the homeless. I heard gun shots one morning recently.

I wouldn’t normally tell people all this. But I just wanted to let you know that I had a pretty scary view of the area and tried to be as risk-free as possible.

Yet every day I drove by these people I saw their broken lives and remembered the women I lived with this summer in Betel. That was the potential for these lives too. Yet who am I?

I’ve been reading and dissecting the Beautitudes and just read “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.” I had to really talk with God about this because I desire to show mercy to these people, which involves building relationships. Yet at the same time I understand the implications, and for a single girl to make any relational advances in a predominantly male culture is obviously scary. I needed help and direction.

The very next day on the way to work the main road was blocked so I had to take my own detour to get to work. Divine intervention? I drove through side streets near my work and saw what I’d never seen before in this town. This exists in Greenville? Broken homes, broken lives. Wow. But, where did I fit in with this?

I went to a party last night and afterwards there was tons of extra food. I saw the huge plate of croissant sandwiches and the thought came that maybe I could take them to the homeless nearby. I texted a friend that does outreach on this side of town to see if she would take me during our lunch hour.

She came by the office the next day and we got in my car. We turned left out of the parking lot and had barely passed our building when she said to turn left down a gravel road. Wait, this close? It’s basically right behind our building.
We parked and walked underneath the bridge. There was a fire pit where three people were standing around stoking the fire. Two people drove in behind us on a moped. To the left there were several tents all along the ground, and at the top the embankment was a row of tents with slits in the sides to come in and out. A single picnic table was in front of us, which is where we set the food. We talked with the few people there.

I knew.

I knew in that moment why I was brought to this job and back to Greenville. Since last January God had been tearing my heart up over the ones that his heart breaks over. For the broken people. He led me to Betel. An amazing, unique experience. I knew my life was forever changed, yet I had no idea how it would practically play out in my life. I felt this urgency that I would have to come up with something—he gave me the desire, shouldn’t I move forward with it?

He did it. All without my help, my ideas, my suggestions. Within walking distance of where I spend 1/3 of every 24 hour day, I have strategic connection with the broken outcasts of society. Today’s mission. I had prayed for ability to show mercy ministry— and He answered.

Before I asked, before I even knew to ask, he was preparing me.

Want to fall captive to a regime? Stop believing in resistance

I’ve been thinking about culture. Specifically about the societal cultures I’ve lived in. It’s amazing how people can be so “awed” by various cultures you’ve experienced.

Example. I work in a really sketchy part of town. There’s the homeless, drug addicts, pushers, prostitutes, thieves, alcoholics, criminals. I see them every day. I know a good number of them by name.

In my free time I have been able to meet them, talk with them, go to their “homes,” open up with them. Some may refer to it as “outreach” or “your ministry.” The way I see it, it just happens to be the street God sent me to work a full-time job, and where he sends his people he sends the Kingdom, so that’s my responsibility. So don’t feel bad if you don’t know this unique culture. You have your own street, your own job, your own neighbors.

Often people say to me, “Wow, you are really courageous.”

Yeah sorry, but not really true. I know– it seems that I should always be on guard and somewhat frightened, while also aware and careful, constantly speaking bold words to my heart.

But honestly once I’ve spent enough time in one culture, I gradually start losing all sense of resistance and awareness. I stop noticing things as much. After time it becomes normal. “There goes another prostitute.” “Another drug deal going down.” “Another robbery.” “Another passed out drunk.”

Then I stop thinking. I stop resisting. I start accepting

And once I’ve lost resistance, I’ve lost my independence, both of mind and action. Anyone can make me whatever they want. Because resisting is hard and causes friction and emotion. It’s much easier to accept and move on.

Recently I was listening to Josh Garrels as I was running and his song The Resistance started playing. The words immediately shocked me and at the end of the first verse I almost had to stop running. I think my jaw dropped.

I realized quickly that so much of my life has been giving up resistance over and over and over until I have become something of a robot, void of questions and explanations. Think on this:

See the secret committees, commence with their meetings 
To make red tape in response to simple questions.
Questions threaten the perception of the beneficial systems 
A pyramid scheme with it’s cogs and it’s pistons
Mechanization of men, making more and more 
Live in a miserable existence.
How can so few, claim so many victims 
And this begs the question 
My rest is a weapon against the oppression 
Of mans obsession to control things.
Look at the long line of make believe kings 
The lord of the flies wants you to kiss his ring.
Follow new rules with invisible strings 
And become a puppet in the diabolical scheme. 
How do good men become part of the regime 
They don’t believe in resistance.

I hate conflict. My whole life I’ve tried to peace-make circumstances and people around me. If I was recognized for something, it had better not be because I resisted a system or expectations. Seemed logical enough. So I started accepting and hardly questioning because resistance drew way too much attention to myself.

After some time in my culture the past year, both at work and the surrounding neighborhood, I found myself being okay with evil. It just didn’t bother me as much any more. It became normal. Everyone was doing it or simply accepting others doing it. But you know what happens once you stop resisting evil? You close off capabilities to recognize and love truth. And that’s a scary place to be. I did become aware and scared and was forced to ask questions.

And that’s when I found that to evade resistance would grant me a first class ticket on the “I’m Wasting My Life” flight.

It’s hard. Resistance is one of the scariest practices, yet the alternative is worlds more frightening.

You know what could eventually happen when people stop resisting? Look at history: Brain-washed disciples. Tyranny. Scandal. Evil. Nazi regimes. Genocide.

But you want to know what else is making me hot right now about resistance (interpret as Angela sees this in herself first and makes her sick)? We know full well about the causes that needs resisting and change. We get so upset about our government, the path of society, our economics, our degrading culture…and what do we do?

We post status’s.

We share opinionated memes.

We borrow other people’s thoughts.

We virtually “like” ideas without committing to doing them.

If you call yourself a Christian and your city is hurting and falling apart, you’d better stamp your name on the face of the problem because Jesus sent his Kingdom to your streets, city, and country through your hands, feet and mind. And the last time I checked his Kingdom is peace, and healing, and success, and freedom, and growth, and joy, and prosperity. So if that’s not happening in your city, own up to it and get to work. Cause it’s your responsibility.

Start resisting.

It’s going to be difficult. Resisting always is. But we can’t allow people to have a longing for the kingdom without inviting them in and living it’s reality.

Word of caution: Be very careful in your practice of resistance. Is your banner defined by hating evil or loving truth? When you start thinking and questioning you’re going to see a lot of messed up stuff. A lot of hypocrisy. A lot of evil. So will you channel your resistance into aggressive exploitation or will you intentionally proclaim truth and love and grace? If your resistance causes vengeful disunity and damaged reputations as a result of your actions, no matter how much those people and organizations “deserve” it, you might need to rethink your approach.

Yes, you may say that Jesus clearly spoke woes against the Pharisees and exposed their evil hypocrisy that they were using for their own means in the name of religion. But you know what he did afterwards? Matthew 12. He went right back into their place of worship, where they hung out and spent their time practicing their religious hypocrisy, and he healed someone. Jesus’ resistance resulted in healing and freedom. Every act of resistance was with Kingdom advancement as it’s core drive.

And that’s a great example to follow.