Guest Blog by Dorcas Plemmons
It is 2am and I am wide awake. Again. All I can think about is Vermont. The most unchurched state in the United States. All I can think about are the people of the state. Most have never heard who Jesus Christ is, never heard the Gospel, know nothing of “the good news.” Why am I awake again for the third night in a row at the very same time of the night? So, I pray for Vermont, I pray for the lost souls in this dark state, then I pray, “Ok, God…I know this has to be you…please give me clarity. Please open my eyes to the purpose you have in waking me up these nights and at the same time each night.” Amen
Rewind 9 months. July 2013, our family has what I considered a once in a life time opportunity to travel 900+ miles to a state up North, that some have questioned, “Is that a state in the US?” Vermont! The state that I had always oooo’ed and ahhhh’ed over since I saw the movie Funny Farm and then gorgeous fall foliage pictures that my husband Heath’s cousin passed around one time at a family function. Her son had moved about seven years prior to our trip, to plant a church. His mission work was the connection to our church sending groups twice a year.
The trip was life changing. God was all around us in the beauty of this part of the country, but the heaviness of the lack of hope and joy was strongly present. It opened our eyes and reminded us like never before that the Great Commission to the children of God is not just an every now and then option to practice. We don’t have to be in another state, or country, we can share daily right in our own back yards. It was one thing to hear this in a sermon. To see and feel the need for the Gospel in the area that we were in, in comparison to where we were so blessed to have grown up (the Bible belt), really was like cold water splashed in the face.
Two weeks after we returned from the weeklong trip, I couldn’t get the people of Vermont off of my mind. I couldn’t get out of my mind that overwhelmingly these were people who had only heard God or Jesus as a curse word. No one had shared with them WHO He is or what He unselfishly did for them on the cross. My heart was hurting, and I couldn’t control my emotional breakdowns. I thought to myself, “It has been two weeks. Why am I still so emotional about this?” Heath came home from work, and I stood in the middle of our living room, tears streaming down my face and told him, “I don’t know what is going on with me, but I can’t get Vermont off my mind and I do not feel like we will live here in this house for the rest of our lives.” I think I shocked him as much as I shocked myself that I actually said this. But it came out, and a little part of me felt relief. See Heath and I had lived in Haywood County all of our lives. We met in the Fall of 1999 and were married the following Fall of 2000. Our families lived close by. We had an amazing church family. Heath had a secure job. Our three kids all attended the school that I had attended as a child, in our small country community. We were comfortable. We were not expecting the radical test of faith that was happening. Yet, God was preparing us in an unexplainable way for the next steps to come. Daily.
The months passed, and the kids went back to school. The holidays came and went. We were doing “life” and I still couldn’t get Vermont off my mind.
February 2014 came and Heath had the opportunity to go back with the winter team from our church, Pinnacle Church, to Vermont again. I will be completely honest I was jealous, (I confessed of my jealousy) but my heart was OVERJOYED that Heath was going back. I physically, emotionally, and spiritually hurt to be there. All I could do was pray. My prayer life was changing, was strengthened during these months of “the not knowing.” I wanted to be there so badly, but not just in February with my husband. God was making it clearer that He had a purpose for the constant burden placed on my heart for Vermont.
Heath called me the first night in Vermont and said that he had a horrible knot in his stomach and thought that it was the food they had eaten that night for dinner. I remember praying for him to feel better by morning, then going to bed and not really thinking much more about it. A few days later, he mentioned it again and we blamed it then on the travel and the lack of rest and all the good food he had been eating there. We had no idea that the knot was more, much more important. I will get to that.
Back to the wake-up calls at 2am. May 1, 2014, the day after my three nights of waking up with Vermont so heavy on my heart, and asking God for answers. I will never forget that day. Along with the day I gave my life to Christ, my wedding day, the birth of our three children, this was a day that changed me. Our Associate Pastor made mention that he was feeling the call to Rutland, Vermont to plant a church. I immediately knew that God had been preparing me for this day. Because we are close friends with our Associate Pastor, Tim, he knew that we were battling the burden for Vermont. His family was feeling the same burden. Heath agreed we should meet with Tim and try to make clarity of it. Through prayer and confirmation after confirmation, we answered a clear call and said, “Yes, Lord, we will be obedient to your call for our family to move to Vermont and help with the Rutland City Church plant.” We had NO idea how we would get there, but we were fully trusting God to get us there since He was telling us to “GO!”
The weight was lifted. There hasn’t been a 2am wake –up call since that day. And remember the knot in Heath’s stomach on his February trip? When we made this decision, it finally went away. We know now that it wasn’t the food; it was the Holy Spirit at work.
Many asked for an explanation for the notion to sell everything we had in North Carolina. Leave our families, and the county that we had lived in all our lives. To leave a job that Heath had worked at for 14 years and had moved up in rank. To pull our kids out of a school that they love, from friends they had known all their lives, and move out of the house that welcomed all three of our babies home from the hospital. The explanation is that God had this journey planned for our lives long before we took our first breath. He broke our hearts for the lost people of Vermont. I mean He wrecked us with the desire to go to them, and share the eternal Hope that only comes from knowing and having a relationship with Jesus. We know where we will spend eternity, Praise our Lord, but these people would never have the opportunity to hear and know of His everlasting love and peace, unless we dropped our nets and followed Jesus.
As Romans 10:14-15 says; How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent?
October 10, 2014. 26 foot Penske moving truck packed with every belonging we had left. Vermont bound. To God be the Glory!
~Rutland City Church held its first preview service December 14. This is the date that our Pastor, Tim Owens, felt was the date to mark, and set. It just so happens to be my birthday. May lives be forever changed in Jesus’ name.
~Population of Rutland City 16,000 and no Southern Baptist Churches
~Only approximately 3% of the people of Rutland City have ever heard the Gospel of Jesus
~Rutland is in the middle of a heroin epidemic