My name is Steve and I have been married to sweet Julie for 37 going on 38 years now. I’m a pastor and more than that, I’m a child of God. I’m a beloved Son of God, who He has just deposited His mercy and His grace in His love in my life.
And so it’s the exploits of the Holy Spirit that I want to speak about today that all point to exalting Jesus Christ. I’ll back up and say there was a time in my life where I was working with college students out in West Texas, and we loved it. I was also the interim pastor and there was a young man that came to see me at this church. He said, “Pastor, I want to talk to you about some things that God has put on my heart, I had a dream about you. Do you mind if I share with you this dream?” And I said, “No, I don’t mind at all.” He had written it down and the dream was a dream about building that he saw. This building was a beautiful, like an arc shaped building that had beautiful woodwork like the like, you would see in the, in an arc or a big boat. It was beautiful, stained wood and it was a place that had a lot of chairs, but it was empty of people. So there weren’t a lot of people there. But there were a lot of seats there. And he said, “I saw you standing at the front of that place that was empty. I saw you crying out to God, and asking God for a new work in that place.” Of course, I said, “Where? Where is that?” And he said, “I don’t know. I don’t know and God didn’t give me a date and He didn’t give me a where.”
It was soon after that, that the Lord opened the door for Julie and I to leave West Texas and for me to come back to Dallas. We thought that the church that we went on staff with was that vision fulfilled. We went downtown to First Baptist Church, which is a great church. But I never saw that vision come to fruition there. So I just kept holding on to it. While we were at First Baptist, two things happened that were really significant, that really tie into that original dream. One was we visited Brooklyn Tabernacle. We were there in the spring for their Tuesday night prayer meeting and it was amazing. We walked in, and there had to be 1000 plus people at this prayer meeting. Worship, people just praising the Lord with, just unhindered, of all, as many backgrounds and nationalities and ethnicities, age groups that you can imagine. It was awesome. And then they went to prayer. I just remember at the end of that being moved by the Holy Spirit to just get up. As Pastor Cymbala said, “Come to the front, if any of you need special prayer,” I was being stirred by the Lord to start a Bible study downtown through First Baptist Dallas for the downtown community and I just wanted prayer. So I walked down to the front of that big auditorium and Pastor Cymbala motioned for me to come up to him. All these other people were there praying, but he was free and he said, “What can I pray with you about?” I just said, “I just want to see folks get free in Christ and we want to have a night where there’s freedom like that for people to come and get free.” And Pastor Cymbala said, “What is your name?” I said, “Steve.” He said, “Steve, let me tell you. If you’ll just open the doors and provide a place for people to be able to express their freedom, where they can really experience the love of Christ for them and they know that that’s a place that’s free for them to do that, then there will be people lined up outside the doors, from multiple ethnicities, from all kinds of socio-economic backgrounds, and all age groups. They’ll be lined up outside the door, waiting to get in to experience and know more of the life in the person of Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit. Open up that door, and you’ll see the Lord do something.”
So we started that, and it never really took off. I mean, I think we started it. We had it open for a year and there were some sweet things that God did there. But it wasn’t, it wasn’t that experience that I remember in terms of the vision of what the room was to look like, or this outpouring like I thought I would see from just this, almost prophetic, word from Pastor Cymbala, if you will. But we stayed faithful, by God’s mercy, and continued to plow through. Then that Bible study came to an end. Fast forward a few years, my nephew-in-law, Chad, he said, “I want to introduce you to somebody that I recently met.” He said he had been walking with this older guy named Randy in prayer. And Randy, in one of their prayer meetings said, “I need to see your uncle, the Lord’s given me a word for him.” So you know, there was the one side of me that thought, Oh, Lord, what, where have I been? What have I been doing? What have I not been listening to You? What have I not heard You in? And then there was the other side of holy anticipation of, Okay, what new thing Am I going to hear? So I had no idea. But I knew in obedience, just by God’s mercy, that I needed to, and wanted to, sit down with this man.
He came in to see me, he and Chad. There we were in downtown Dallas, in my office, and I’ll never forget, this was in the spring of 2007. He introduced himself and he was real sober. You know, I was just “Hey, man, nice to meet you. This is great. Tell me who you are, what you do…”And he said, “I’ve got a word for you. So I’m about to share something with you and you just need to get a pen and a piece of paper and you need to write this down. Then when we’re done, we’re going to pray. When I’m done praying, I don’t need you to ask me, what does this mean? Because I don’t know. So that’s the ground rules.” And man, when he started our conversation like that, man, I was just like, okay, so I got real quiet. He said, “All I’m telling you is, you need to keep the pipeline to this small West Texas town, open in your life, because God’s gonna do something.” And of course, without even thinking about what he had said earlier, I said, “Wow, what does that mean?” And he said, “What did I tell you?” And so I just said, “Oh, man, I’m sorry.” We prayed, he laid hands over me. And he said, “The Lord is about to reestablish a friendship, some friendships, in a ministry era of your life that you had in that West Texas town. Lord, establish your work. Christ, You be exalted, for the movement of the gospel forward in Steve’s life, in Jesus name. Thank you.” And so he finished praying, and I was weeping. That was in the spring of 2007 and then nothing happened. You know? I’m like, Okay, what is this guy? What was this word?
Fast forward to July, one of our old guys in our ministry, from this Bible study back in West Texas, was now a pastor. It was a young guy named Matt, who now pastors The Village church. And so Matt is in China, on a mission trip, in July of 2007 and he, the Lord moved on his heart to call me and said, “I know you’re downtown, serving the church there and the Lord there. But,” he said, “The Lord has put you so strong on my heart, and I want to talk to you when I get back into town about what that would look like to come on board with me as just an older brother.” And man, as I listened to it, I just…boy, the Lord provoked my heart. Matt came back into town, long story short, several months later, just by God’s mercy, we joined the staff and the team there at The Village church. Here we were, now in 2008, at the beginning of our season at The Village church, remembering what this young man said in ‘99, about a ‘building that would look like an ark, and it was finished wood, and you were standing at the front of it and there were lots of seats, but nobody was in there.’ It was a restorative work. Then just remembering this word from Randy, ‘keeping the pipeline open.’ Yeah, it was to, to go to The Village and to serve there. And then going back, Julie was reminding me, there in January of 2008, let’s keep holding on to what the Lord has told us. We don’t know what it’s going to look like, but let’s hold on. That ‘the latter glory of this house shall be greater than the former, says the Lord of hosts, and in this place, I will give peace, declares the LORD of hosts.’
So at the time, at The Village, we were looking for a Dallas campus. We had no idea where. Every door we had knocked on prior to that time, just no door was open. One day, it was a Tuesday morning, I was doing a men’s Bible study for The Village, hosted at another church in Dallas and it was a real icy day. It was kind of like the day we had a couple of weeks ago. So I had to get word out that we weren’t going to meet on that Tuesday morning. I went up to that church in North Dallas and put signs on the door early in the morning, in case some of the men didn’t get the word that because of ice we weren’t meeting. So when I was done, it was that Tuesday morning, that the Lord said, “Drive over to Northway. Just drive over and see if anybody’s there.” And I was just, Lord, I don’t know anybody over there. I don’t know who would be there on this icy day. And I don’t even know if I can make it. But I drove over there and got out of my vehicle. I noticed there was a car parked there.
I walked in and there was a man at the front door vacuuming, cleaning. His name happened to be Randy as well. It’s not the same Randy that came to see me. But he was Randy who was working as the facilities man at Northway Baptist Church. I said, “Hey, my name is Steve. I work at The Village. I just, I felt impressed to just walk in today and meet whoever is here.” I said, “Randy, who is your pastor?” They had a part time pastor named Milford Minitray who was not there. I said, “I’m with The Village.” He said, “Oh, yeah, I podcast The Village. I listen to your pastor. I love what God’s doing up there.” I said, “Man, we’re just praying for a place that we can begin to meet in for prayer.” Randy said, “That’s cool. Can I show you around here, just to show you the place?” I said, “I would love that.” We walked around the building, and then we walked into the worship center to their sanctuary. It was this big, beautiful Ark looking building that had this beautiful woodwork at the top for its ceiling, finished wood…And I just started crying. And Randy was, “Man, are you okay?” I said, “You have no idea!” I said, “I am okay, but the Lord’s just doing something right now and, and I can’t explain it and now’s not the time.” So I just said, “Wow. Can you connect me to your pastor?” And he said, “Yeah, here’s his number and here’s his name.”
I remember calling Milford out in my car in the parking lot. I said, “Milford, you don’t know me from Adam. My name is Steve, and I’m part of The Village.” He said, “I don’t know you, but I know The Village and I know Matt.” So he knew of the church and he knew of the gospel work. And he knew of Christ’s reputation in the life of that church, of meeting a lot of broken people. So he said, “What are you doing? What are you looking for? What’s up?” And I said, “You’re not going to believe this Milford, but we’re praying right now, for a place that we can lease just to have meetings with our people for prayer. He said, “What are you praying for?” And I said, “Man, we’re praying for a church. We need a building. We’ll have probably 1,000 young 20 year olds that will join the Dallas campus right off the bat and we’re just looking for a place that can house a bunch of people that are hungry for Jesus, that are driving up to Flower Mound to Highland Village from Dallas. When I walked in, I just was provoked by the Holy Spirit. If you ever have an opportunity to sit and talk, I’d love to talk.” He said, “Next Monday, I’m open.” This was Tuesday. “Next Monday, I’m available. You bring Matt, and let’s let’s sit down and let’s talk.”
Three months later, after that initial conversation, Matt and I stood before, and some of our other leaders at The Village church, we stood before the church at Northway Baptist Church, answering questions and having a night of prayer. Then a night that that church voted, and they voted unanimously 99.9%. Which, one of the members of that church, a man named Harry Reese said, “It’s the Miracle on Walnut Hill lane when a Baptist Church votes unanimously on anything.” They voted 99.9% to become The Village church in Dallas at Northway. I’ll never forget, in September, greeting people in the foyer on that first Sunday that we became an established work. There were people from multiple ethnicities and age groups all lined up outside that door. In fact, there were people in their cars on Walnut Hill lane, waiting to get in to park, to get out and come in. I just remember being overwhelmed with the goodness of God, thinking of the Lord’s goodness and the way that He used multiple people to declare His word that was coming. In His work that was coming in a day that He had designated and we were there on that day to see that work fulfilled and realized.
One last thing too, just about Northway. Northway started in, I believe, 1956 and out of Northway in 1978, they started out of that church, Prestonwood Baptist Church. So that church had an incredible history. They had just dwindled down to 80-90 people who were really faithful, who had bought 500 extra chairs, believing that God was going to do something great in that place, at some point. So they voted, 99.9% said, “Let’s do it. Let’s become The Village church.” Here’s a church valued at close to $6 million and they deeded us that building. We didn’t write a check for it. So here was a building the Lord gave us. This beautiful building that matched the dream that we had, that matched the prophetic words that were given to us about what could happen in that place. It also matched the prayers of their people. They had been praying for 10 young families, “Lord give us…we’ll just start with 10. Would you give us 10 young families?” The Lord gave them 10 times 10. He gave them a multitude of families. So He took their prayer of faith and He blessed their prayer of faith with thousands.
There was a point where that campus, in one particular year, once we became The Village church at Dallas, before we started other campuses out of that campus, there were some weekends where there were over 3,000 people that were coming, calling that place their home. That is amazing, from 80 to several 1000, including children, that were making that little place their place. Where they call that their house of refuge and their house of peace, coming to find Christ there. It was really cool. And all of that for God’s glory. Then out of that we started reaching the schools in that community, neighbors in that community, neighborhoods in that community, ministries in South Dallas, ministries in West West Dallas and then of course, two churches that started out of that ministry with Eastside Community church and Mosaic in Richardson. What God did through the faith of a handful of people that said, “Let’s do something great here.” These are all screaming of the exploits of the Holy Spirit. All reviving His church, all for the glory of Jesus Christ. So praise God to that end!