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OUR STORY

 

           Leah and I grew up on the other side of the world as the kids of missionary parents to indigenous people groups in the country of Papua New Guinea (PNG). Both of our families served in different parts of the country, so the only connection between us was the mission organization Ethnos360 (formerly New Tribes Mission), which both of our families served under. Our paths first crossed at the mission boarding school, but being a few years separated in age, we rarely interacted with one another and never established any sort of a real relationship. Soon after this in 2005, my (Grant) family moved back to Pittsburgh, PA to serve in local church ministry while Leah's family remained in PNG serving the mission boarding school as dorm parents. Leah and I did not have any contact over the next seven years, but regardless of where our circumstances took us over these years, the Lord was still sovereignly at work in our lives and would eventually allow our paths to cross again. During this time between, I finished up high school, completed a 2 year Bible degree, served as an associate missionary and then headed to Moody Bible Institute to complete my undergraduate degree. Leah remained in PNG with her family until she finished high school in 2010 and then moved back to the Branson, MO where she began her undergraduate degree at the College of the Ozarks. In 2012, our lives intersected again. Due to a serious head and neck injury, I stepped out of college and remained in Pittsburgh, PA to undergo therapy and work toward full recovery. At the same time and few states away, Leah felt the need to step out of school for a semester to slow down and be near family. It just so happened that Leah's sister (and her husband) lived in Pittsburgh and was plugged into the same church community as my family. All this to say, upon Leah's move to Pittsburgh, our paths crossed again and we soon began a dating relationship that ultimately led toward our marriage in October of 2013. A week after our wedding, we moved to Chicago, IL where we lived for the next year and a half until Grant completed his Bachelor degree at Moody Bible Institute. In the summer of 2015, we moved to Branson, MO in order for I (Leah) to finish up my undergraduate degree at the College of the Ozarks (C of O). During that season, Grant woreked for the college as a Residence Director and also led a small group ministry for the campus called The Gathering. In September of 2017, we were blessed to welcome our first baby girl, Rae Amariah Ryder. She is truly a gracious gift from God and we could not be more grateful for her.  

We were at C of O (College of the Ozarks) for 3 years and we often rejoice in the Lord for a very rewarding chapter of our lives there. As we continued to seek the Lord, we sensed Him moving us on to pursue pastoral ministry within the context of the local church. In faith as a family, we moved to Denver, CO to gain further ministry training at Denver Seminary. Our time in Denver has been full! Grant started into full time seminary along with a part time role as a community pastor at Stapleton Church. We welcomed our second daughter, Eliyanah Jordan in September of 2019 and the last 9 months the Lord has laid on our hearts to plant a church in the community we have been living in the last two years. As we follow this leading, we are now fully invested in the beginning stages of church planting! 

We are excited for all that the Lord has in store ahead of us and we truly appreciate your love, support and prayer for our family!

 
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    OUR

    CALLING

 

Growing up as missionary kids in a third world country has certainly widened our perspectives and exposed us to the need for the gospel that exists around the globe. Earlier in our individual lives, both Grant and I saw ourselves as future overseas missionaries engaging in cross-cultural church planting. However, having now lived in the US for some time, the Lord has consistently opened our eyes and burdened our hearts for the need that exists right outside our door. Within this broken world and amid our unstable western culture, we long to see Jesus redeem lives and raise up healthy, God-glorifying churches.


The Lord’s call to ministry in my (Grant) life has been confirmed over a number of years and through a couple of different circumstances. The first of these came as a young adult after I graduated from a 2 year Bible College and took an opportunity to go to Papua New Guinea for a year as an associate missionary. I initially went to serve the missionaries working on that field in a couple of different capacities, but my role changed when I was given the opportunity to teach the Bible to a group of 15 young men who had never before heard the gospel. For a period of about 5 months, I sat with this group for five days a week for about an hour or so at a time and taught the Bible, working from creation all the way to the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. By the time we had finished, 9 of those young men came to know Jesus for the first time. It was through this experience that the Lord not only allowed me to bear witness to fruit of His spoken word, but He confirmed in my heart the gifting and passion to teach. 


A few years later, I was involved in a church that was very divided by conflicting ministry philosophies, tradition, and a few contentious individuals in the mix. I not only found myself in the middle of this messy situation, but also struggled within it to see the value of the church in general. Yet, while these disheartening circumstances could easily have pushed me away from the church, the Lord was beginning to form a deep burden within me to be part of His desire to be glorified through and among His people. During the time in which this was occurring, I attended a conference in which the main speaker spoke about the desperate need for healthy churches within the US (in light of the rapid rate of decline) and called on the church to be a people hungry to experience the glory of God within our congregations. The message spoken at this conference deeply resonated within me and throughout the days that followed, the Lord continued to allow His word to stir within me. I was frustrated by my experience within the church up to that point, but the Lord continued to affirm in me that what I had experienced up to this point was not what He intended for His people. In fact, His purpose for the church and its witness to the nations is so much greater. Despite my questions and hesitations throughout the process, the Lord eventually brought me to a place of surrender to His clear call to pastoral ministry and He continues to burden my heart today.


As we pursue Jesus and step out in faith toward the direction He leads us, we are committed to pour ourselves out in service to His body. As a family, Leah and I are committed to one another and our daughters (and any other children the Lord gives us) - to love and serve one another, not neglecting or abandoning our family for the demands of ministry but bringing our family into the ministry. We are committed to humbly acknowledge our own inconsistencies and desperate need of the grace of God in our lives. We are committed to repent of sin and continually be transformed by the Spirit of God to the image of Jesus. By the grace of God, we are committed to Jesus and His call to serve the local church through pastoral ministry.

 
 

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