susanna-serraldeIt’s interesting that God would have me write this now. My nest has just become half-empty. I have to trust God will take care of my now, adult children and what we have planted over the years will grow and help them continue living in the faith we taught them.

A big part of that planting has been Chase Oaks En Español.

When Chase Oaks announced plans to launch a Spanish-speaking campus, we had been going to Chase Oaks for a year as benchwarmers—only going to church service, usually on Friday night, not involved in anything. We could check the box. This was so atypical of us! To understand just how atypical, you need to know that I am a pastor’s daughter and was brought up going to church at least 4 times a week. I started singing in the kid’s choir as soon as I could stand straight, was teaching at kid’s club by age 12, taught Sunday School as soon as I was able, sang in the worship team every Sunday, led a small group in our youth group, went to visit orphans and prisoners, and, well, you get the picture. As an adult, my husband was asked to pastor a fledgling campus started by our church at the time. He didn’t do it alone. We poured our hearts and souls into it together with our kids. They were excited about the work we were doing and helped in everything they could. We were a family committed to our little piece of Church.

serralde-childrenThen, out of the blue, plans changed. Some people from our home campus decided the leadership team of which we were part on our campus was not equipped to lead. As the church struggled through the resulting changes, we suffered defamation, loss of friendships, and betrayals—too many painful memories to even try and put into words. To protect our children and the church, we decided not to fight back and removed ourselves from the situation, giving our leaders one less thing to worry about as they dealt with the attacks. This decision left us jobless and we left California. We went in search of a “promised land” to help us rebuild our life. We needed to provide for our family and healing was set aside. Things were moving too quickly to take time to breathe. With two teenagers, a pre-teen and a kindergartener to support financially and emotionally, my husband and I had to lay ourselves aside. And so, we did. We came to the Dallas area, immediately started going to church, and my husband dove straight into the routine of serve, serve, serve that we had been used to at our other church. I took care of trying to make our lives normal.

And then, again, things changed. Our kids begged us to go to a church that was closer to home and more relevant to them. Against my husband’s preference, we went. That’s how our planting at Chase Oaks started. There, we ran straight into our grief, and God let us sit and heal. No judgment, no rush. We needed to be benchwarmers. It was God’s time to work in our hearts, to restore our love for serving others, to lift our heads up once again.

Then Chase Oaks decided to start a Spanish-speaking campus. “You should come with me to this planning meeting,” my brother in law told my husband. “This campus is launching soon and they need all the help they can get.”

This was an answer to prayer. I knew my husband needed to get “back in the game.” Our mourning time was over, and we needed to get involved. Our kids were watching and waiting on us to make the move. I anxiously awaited his return from the meeting. When he came back, he reluctantly said, “Let’s pray about volunteering, because if we do, it has to be with everyone willing to serve and help. The kids have to agree, and they have to find somewhere to serve.” We prayed and talked to the kids. They said, “Yes.” They got excited! Each one of them found their spot, their own unique place to serve.  We each started working in our own area, and it gave us a new rush of life. We had more to talk about in the car ride to and from church, at the dinner table, in the hallway. New ideas on how to help and serve others surged. My sons started learning the “tech stuff” in the adult service and with the kids. Our nine-year-old got involved in KidZone worship. Our church became our family again. We found brothers, sisters, friends, an extra set of parents, loving arms to comfort, others to laugh with, a place of safety and rest. Chase Oaks En Español became our home.

sasanna-worshipLast year we were able to buy our own home, which was truly a miracle. We had to go a little further away from Plano, and for about a second, we thought about moving to the 544 campus. It was just around the block, but our kids wouldn’t hear it. They wouldn’t even consider not being at Chase Oaks En Español. For them, En Español has been a true vision of Church. An example of what God can do with and through diversity, humility and love. They have been accepted for who they are—imperfect kids with a lot of opinions and a passion to serve. They have been adopted, put under the leadership of Godly men and women who have shown them what genuine Christ followers look like and who have taught them that following Christ doesn’t mean that you´re perfect. It just means you acknowledge that fact and that´s why you follow Jesus. We have learned that differences of opinion are okay. It is Christ´s love that binds us together, not those opinions. Now, don´t get me wrong, we love all of Chase Oaks. This is where God brought us to heal us, restore us and to make us understand that it didn’t matter where we were, what job we had, what title we carried, what people we influenced, that we were God´s chosen servants in that place. But Chase Oaks En Español is where God brought us home. Here is where our lives are now grafted into a new part of the life-giving vine. Here is where we belong.

I pray that my children will continue to walk in the faith and stand firm in the truth of Jesus Christ. I pray, in moments of doubt as they seek their own independence, they will look to the evidence of the amazing gift that God has given them through the love that our church family has shown us. They know now, without a doubt, how a loving God will never stop watching over them.

Knowing they have been witnesses to His true love makes me confident that this certainty will always bring them back to Him. This assurance gives me peace. God knew I would need this. He knew I would need Chase Oaks Church En Español.