by Kate Stal
MotelChurch Houston has been in the making for several years. Ron [Wilbur] would say “Kate, MotelChurch Houston has been in the making since before the beginning of time.” He’s right but I digress. I can think back to my earliest years and God was preparing in me a heart for the ignored and shamed and forgotten.
More than 2 years ago, I was out driving the same route I drive every single day. There was a man at the turn to my neighborhood, “flying a sign”. I stopped to talk to him. His story went something like this “ I live at the motel and they raised my rent… I have a son… I can’t afford the rent…”
<tire screeching sound in my head>
You LIVE at the motel?
People live in motels. Kids live in motels. The working poor and homeless live in weekly motels.
Everything changed after that moment. God wrecked my life.
He began in me a work. A work that involved a motel. That was about all that I knew.
I wish I could talk with that man again. I wish that I could thank him for being a part of what God is doing in me, in my family and here on this side of Houston. I hope someday that I get to tell him my story, our story, and that he knows that God used him to further His kingdom. That because of him we now have MotelChurch Houston.
For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose- Philippians 2:13
A quick google search revealed no motel ministries in Houston. And if a google search reveals nothing, then there’s nothing. AMIRIGHT? What it did produce was a link to motelchurch.org in Southern California. BOOM.
6 months later and a crazy God orchestrated house reno, house sale in the midst of our area’s worst flooding (since outdone by another flood. Thanks Harvey) Disneyland trip and an Orange County MotelChurch service and Nate and I said YES to follow the Lord’s lead and start the first MotelChurch location here in Houston, Texas. I’m pretty sure this is where the post should go into the details of starting the church and what our first service looked like. Maybe that will be a future post but what I want to tell you is this- I had never put my “yes” on the altar until that moment several years ago when God opened my eyes to the hurting and broken inside weekly run-down motels.
I had been raised going to church every Wednesday and Sunday. I knew the unspoken societal church rules. I had some memorized prayers tucked into my pocket. I listened to Christian radio. I tithed. I knew bible stories (sort of). I attended the most popular churches. I didn’t know Jesus. I didn’t know the freedom that comes with unclenching my fists, palms open, heart open, schedule open and saying “Lord, Your will, not mine”. That moment spent with that homeless man at the corner of my neighborhood; That moment and the moments that followed, have changed EVERYTHING.
Those moments of uncertainty that comes with starting a new ministry and learning to lean on God’s ultimate timing and provision. Those moments of soul crushing on-my-knees hours of prayer for our church guests. Those hours of phone calls with like-minded ministries. Those relationship building moments spent with new brothers and sisters in Christ as we volunteer together and as we bear burdens together. Those special moments of conversation with my girls (ages 5,7) about homelessness and redemption and sacrificial love and drug addiction and forgiveness and consequences and servitude and the ugly ugly ugly of sin. Those moments of sweaty hugs from my husband, my MotelChurch “muscle” as he loads and loads and loads sunday after sunday after sunday tables and chairs and tents. The moments of homemade birthday cake and happy birthday songs for guests who have never been celebrated. Moments of sweaty, chilly, raining, windy moments of prayer for healing, for saving, for broken relationships. Those moments of horse trough baptisms, dixie cup communion, hands-in-the-air worship and meal sharing, in what appears to the rest of the world as a dirty, forsaken, parking lot but to us is our church.
All of these moments. All of these moments of stripped down religion and pure simple love of the Father, love for His “church” and love for each other has introduced me to Jesus. To the savior of the world. He is real. He is the light of the world (John 8:12) and He deserves all of our moments.
“ I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me with never walk in darkness but will have the light of life”
I found Jesus when I left the comforts of a church building. God wrecked my life and I opened my fists, palm to the heavens and said “Yes Lord. I will do it”.
If you are a believer in Jesus Christ then He is asking you to join Him. He will not force you or beg you but I promise when you finally let go of your plans He will lead you to His plans. It will set you free and be the most beautiful journey. More beautiful than you could ever conjure up for yourself.
Our MotelChurch Houston journey is only at the beginning and it has been hard and exhausting and liberating and joyous and sad and tragic and life giving. It’s been more than I could have ever imagined. Isn’t that so God?
Join me in saying “Yes, God” and hold on tight for the ride of your life.
Kate Stal is the leader of MotelChurch Houston. She is a lifetime Texan and proud #houstonstrong. Childhood Methodist turned “runner” turned “seeker” turned non denominational turned Southern Baptist turned MotelChurch leader, turned Jesus follower. Her crazy family includes 1 love of her life, also known as the MotelChurch Houston muscle and pastry chef, 2 blondes who will (hopefully) someday change the world, and a mini fluff. Lover of the beach, thrifty finds, old stuff, home design, reading half of a book, quality coffee, dark chocolate and dirty hair. Learning every day what it means to give God her “YES” which often means giving the world her “NO”.