Open Letter to Pastor Brad
With Saul on one side and the Philistines on the other, David was running out of options. He couldn’t go home—Saul would kill him. He dared not stay any longer with Israel’s enemies. How long would it take for them to exact revenge for killing their favorite son? Alone, tired of running and not knowing what the future held, David stumbled into an out of the way cave near the village of Adullam. This was his last place of refuge.
Like any other small town, word spread quickly the giant slayer was near. And David unexpectedly began receiving visitors. A trickle at first, but more and more as the days went by. In time, David found himself in the company of over 400 people just like him. They were the displaced, the bankrupt, the outcasts, the distressed and they all came to the side of Israel’s champion. Like David, they had no place else to run.
As their numbers grew, the refuge became a solid and mighty stronghold. And David must have felt something he hadn’t felt in a long time—safe.
Ironically, safe can be a dangerous place to stay. And it wasn’t long before a prophet of God came to the sprawling camp with a simple message for David—leave the stronghold.
This must have seemed like madness to David. Instead of running from danger, God wanted David to run toward it? Run toward the man who had tried to kill him? Run toward the man now hunting him? Run toward the man who killed the priests of God?
We don’t really know if or for how long David wrestled with this word, but I imagine he did. I’m sure the decision was agonizing—stay where it is safe or trust God and leave.
In the end David left his stronghold. And we all know the rest of the story. David became the mightiest king Israel has ever known and through David’s lineage God sent His son, the savior of the world.
God had bigger plans for David than for him to stay in the safety of a solitary stronghold. He used David to turn all of Israel, and His future church, into a stronghold for the ages. But had David not left the stronghold, his story would have ended there. His enemies would have eventually found him, he would have died in his own stronghold, and Israel would have remained divided and weak.
Fast forward to 13 years ago. Brad, you came to Paducah finished with traditional church. There was no place left to go and it was time to make a stand at a last place of refuge. Little by little this refuge grew. The dispossessed, those who didn’t fit in, the ones who couldn’t connect, and those whom the “church” didn’t want all made their way to your side in Paducah and Calvert City. And with them, you made a mighty stronghold now called Four Rivers Covenant Church.
With a weekly reach of nearly 400, it is a stronghold of compassion, acceptance, and truth. Those needing a refuge can find a place of safety, relationship, and learning.
Now God has asked you to leave the stronghold and walk away from this place of safety. I know it is scary. I know it’s hard. I know you have wrestled with the decision.
But I also know it is for the best.
Just as God sent David home so he could build more than a solitary stronghold, I know God has more in store for you with this move. Perhaps you alone are uniquely positioned to bring together several of God’s peoples in regional purpose. Perhaps you alone have the opportunity to lead in a much larger sense. And perhaps you alone are brave enough to step away from safety of the stronghold to accept such a charge from God.
I can’t pretend to know all the reasons God told you to leave. But it’s easy for me to dream that one of them is to build the foundations of an even larger stronghold throughout Western Kentucky. I pray this is so. And I pray God uses 4RC and the Potter’s House in making our region a more robust stronghold than either could possibly achieve alone.
Brad, Four Rivers Covenant Church sends you in peace, blessing, and love so you can…LIVE YOUR MISSION.