2020 is a year where we learned more about God’s faithfulness and provision. Like so many of you, the uncertainties caused us to lean more on Christ for our stability. We understand that God’s provision for health and finances are not things to be taken for granted. We know that many have experienced a great amount of loss and difficulty in 2020. We are continuing to pray for those continue to struggle, grieve, and navigate challenges in 2020.
In this update, we want to share a couple of stories of how God met our needs and exceeded our expectations during this challenging year. We hope that it will be an encouragement and give you a glimpse into our journey.
God Meeting Needs
Shortly after announcing in late 2019 that God was moving us to New York City in 2020, we began to recognize all that would have to happen for us to prepare to move. From raising support to downsizing to finding an apartment, we knew that we had a short time to accomplish a lot! One of our most pressing concerns was what was our current house’s lease in our town of Fleming Island. In June of 2019, a short time before we began to recognize that God was leading us to plant a church, we signed a 2 year lease, confidently believing that we were God would have us for the next several years. As we began to count the cost, we were concerned as to how our landlord would respond to us breaking our lease with so much time left. We prayed and asked others to also pray specifically about this situation.
Early in the year, we had an issue in our house that required our landlord to come and make a repair at our house. It was during this visit that I was planning on having a conversation with him about our desire to break our lease later in the year to gauge his response; however, early in our conversation in my garage, he actually threw me a curve ball I was not expecting. He asked if we’d be willing to buy the house.
Little did I know that while we were praying about how we’d be able to break our lease, our landlord was also considering selling the house. When I told him that we were actually going to be moving to New York, he seemed relieved and told me that we could break the lease with no penalty. He just asked for us to give him a 30 day notice. We would even be able to get our security deposit back! This was an incredible answer to prayer and being that it was so early in the process, a huge source of affirmation that we were taking the correct steps.
Provision Through the Pandemic
In March, we attended a church planter readiness assessment in New York City with the North American Mission Board. Heading into the week, we knew that there was a virus that could pose a threat but honestly did not think that it would affect much in the city. During the assessment, the NBA shut down, and then Broadway shut down, then the subways began to become empty, and we began to worry that our flight home was in jeopardy. Thankfully, we were able to fly home.
Little did we know, this virus wasn’t going to be a quick fix. Originally, our hope was to spend the months of March - May raising funds and move up to New York City in June. We had already had plans to transition off staff fully at the end of March in preparation for our move. With the economy coming to a complete halt, it was painfully obvious there were going to be significant adjustments to our plans.
By the end of March, we were without income and in need of a job in the midst of businesses everywhere closing. While we had some great relationships with individuals and churches already who discussed partnering with us, everyone was unsure of what the future held and most were understandably unable to make any type of commitments at that time. We still had bills to pay and we were seeing our saving disappear rapidly. We began to ask others to pray specifically about these concerns.
We shared these concerns with Pastor David Tarkington, who has been serving as the Pastor of FBC Orange Park, our SBC sending church, and he began to network on our behalf. He connected us with Stan Rivers, a local church planter in Jacksonville who also was a hiring manager with a delivery company contracted with Amazon. I drove across town to meet with Stan and was hired to deliver for Amazon full-time! This position provided much needed income to help cover our expenses as well as health insurance for our family during this time of transition.
In addition, Pastor David shared with us that the church had a mission house that they were willing to restore for our family. The church’s Executive Pastor, Stanley Puckett, led the restoration project with volunteers through the pandemic and our family was able to move in to the house in June. We were blown away by how God provided in this time!
While our immediate needs were provided for, we still lacked financial commitments for our move and living expenses in New York City. We had some money in our church planting account but not nearly enough to sustain life in New York City. We had already seen God provide for our needs previously, we trusted that when His timing was right, He would make a way. Over the next several months, we and reached out to friends, family, and other churches about partnering with them financially to plant a church in New York. There were many unanswered calls, emails that weren’t responded to, and leads that fell through. Given the nature of where the world was at the time, it was understandable; however, we still were worried about where funds would come from.
As we continued to pray, share, and invite individuals and churches to partner with us, God moved them to join with us in this journey. What we have found since that time is that those who began to lock arms with us in that time have been huge sources of encouragement throughout this process. We are grateful that our partners don’t just see their role as sending a check; rather, they are committed to praying for us and walking with us on this journey.
One story sticks out as exceptionally encouraging. When we stepped out on faith in our calling, we had a friend from our previous church named Sharon who began praying about others she knew who would share a passion for seeing a Gospel-Centered church planted in New York City. Early in 2020, we had a conversation with Sharon who she shared with me that she had a friend who gave generously to support pastors like me. It sounded awesome to me but after assessment, moving, and the global pandemic, I had forgotten about the conversation.
After several months, I was reminded of our conversation and simply asked Sharon if she had heard. She reached back out and I was able to speak to her friend and share with her about what God was doing in our lives. A couple of weeks later, I received an email from her sharing that her foundation made the decision to contribute toward our church planting effort. The amount that was given was what put us over our benchmark that we needed to reach to confidently make the move from Florida to Queens. This email came on July 31st.
While that date may seem insignificant, it most certainly was not. One year earlier, on July 31, 2019, I was preaching to our church in Florida on a passage from Galatians 5. God used the preparation from that message to move our family toward following the call of the Holy Spirit. I was personally challenged to walk closer in step with the Holy Spirit. Church planting wasn’t on our radar but as we reflect, that was the day that God began to move us toward planting. Then, 12 months later, we came to a point of realization that what God had planted in our hearts with a small seed 1 year earlier was growing into our family walking in obedience to His Call!
Moving to NYC
Over the next couple of months, we began to make preparations to move to New York City. We prayed that God would lead us to a place He was preparing for us. Being that so many people had moved from the city during the pandemic, we had a great opportunity to move into the perfect apartment for our family!
Our apartment is located in a neighborhood called Sunnyside. Sunnyside is a quiet, very diverse neighborhood of about 60,000 residents within about 2 1/2 square miles. Located just off the 7 train, many neighbors take the 15 minute subway commute into Manhattan everyday for work. The neighborhood is home to lots of families with children, great restaurants, and fantastic schools. In an odd way, it has the feel of a large small town. While Sunnyside has a very distinct community culture, it is very welcoming to outsiders who move into the neighborhood.
With a heavy Latino and Eastern European population, there is a strong Catholic presence. There are also Mosques, Synagogues, and a very large Jehovah Witness congregation. There are also a couple of international Christian churches that reach neighbors who have recently immigrated to the United States or do not speak English. We feel led to plant a church that is both with and for the neighborhood. We are seeking to partner with organizations, nonprofits, and churches that are already doing positive work in the community. Through these partnerships, we are meeting neighbors and learning about NYC’s unique culture. We have also been extremely encouraged by the amazing people that live in the neighborhood. We have met individuals from many backgrounds and have truly fallen in love with our neighborhood.
We also desire to plant a church that is for the neighborhood. Through meeting these neighbors and hearing their stories, we are praying about how God can use us and our future church to bring value through the Gospel to the neighborhood. This comes from understanding the culture around us and contextualizing the Gospel to communicate God's love for all the people of Sunnyside.
Over the next year, we are engaging in a church planting residencies with the SEND Network, New Hope Church, and The Church of Eleven22 while living in New York City. In these residencies, we are able to train in best church planting practices, learn about our culture, and have an on-going conversation with individuals who are experienced in church planting to process all of the highs & lows of church planting. Already, we have seen fruit from these relationships and believe that it will be vital to the long-term success of their church. We are grateful that we are not in this alone! ———————
As we enter 2021, we would love for you to consider partnering with again in 2021.
We have already seen spiritual attacks since coming here. We need individuals who are committed to interceding regularly on our behalf. Would you pray for these prayer requests?
Pray for a close walk with Jesus.
Pray for an identity grounded in Christ.
Pray for a strong marriage and family.
Pray for wisdom.
Pray for favor in their community.
Pray for people of peace who can assist in the work.
Pray for faithfulness in their work.
Pray for fruit for God’s kingdom.
We still have financial needs for 2021. Would you consider making a one-time or monthly contribution? To give, click here. Be sure to select "NYC Church Planting - Floro Family" under the Fund Selection menu.
2020 was so difficult for so many. Throughout all of the challenges we faced in the past 12 months, we are so grateful for your partnership. To everyone who prayed for us, contributed financially, or reached out with words of encouragement: THANK YOU! You played a significant role in our journey. We are looking forward to an exciting year of ministry and service in 2021!