Michael and Amanda felt content in their former lifestyle, “keeping up with the Joneses” to maintain the status quo. The couple prospered financially as Michael pursued a successful career. But increased success for Michael meant increasingly less time with his family, including a young son Charlie, and with God. When a job opportunity brought their family to Raleigh, Amanda’s dad, who had read Pastor J.D.’s
, suggested they visit The Summit Church. It was there Michael and Amanda truly heard the gospel for the first time.
Michael and Amanda soon made the commitment to become members of the Summit, and in the process, they rededicated their lives to Christ. They began challenging themselves to better understand what it meant to live differently from the rest of the world.
“We started asking ourselves, ‘What does it look like to be obedient in all things? Are we living a life that begs the question ‘why’?’” Amanda said.
“We knew we needed to start with our lack of generosity,” Michael agreed. “We pretty much went from zero to tithing and beyond almost overnight, but we realized we needed to give more than just our finances, we needed holistic generosity. We knew we had to make the decision to go all in – with our time, our talents, our finances and any other resources.”
Soon after this, Michael and Amanda became foster parents, welcoming several older children into their home before also taking on the care of Kristian, a 15-month old with multiple medical issues. Their family’s love for him grew over the time spent providing foster care, leading Michael and Amanda to adopt him. Along with their son Charlie, who was eager to emulate his parents’ sacrificial lifestyle, Michael and Amanda embraced the challenges they knew they were up against.
“We were obeying God in all these different areas of our lives – giving financially, serving as small group leaders, fostering and then adopting – but we started facing one difficult trial after another,” Amanda recalled. Medical challenges threatened Kristian’s life, and a job change led Michael to uproot his family to Connecticut for 18 months, pulling them away from the community and known medical care they needed. They have since returned to the Triangle.
It was a challenging time. “We were facing some really hard things, things we didn’t think we could handle, but we knew we’re not supposed to feel capable on our own,” Amanda recalled. “God says ‘You can’t, but I can.’ When you surrender your fear and step out in faith as you obey, God will meet you each step of the way. It might not be in the way you expect, but he will sustain you.”
While Michael and Amanda still have a challenging road ahead with Kristian’s medical challenges, they still stand firm on the calling God has given them to continuously live sacrificially in all areas of their life. It’s a challenge they accept, and one they want others to accept for their own lives.
“What will you do with your time here?” Michael suggests others ask of themselves. “Will you run the race hard? Do you understand what’s been done for you and what you’ve been saved from? Let go of the one thing you think you can’t let go of, and watch the chains fall off. You’ll see that it’s more exhausting and painful to hold on than to let go and let God liberate you.”
Written by Abbey Temple, volunteer writer.
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