I Trust in You
by Joanne Portmann
I woke up on my first Fourth of July in our new community, a day of celebration and friendship, only to realize I knew no one. Just thirty days prior, our family had relocated from the city we had been in for twenty years.
This particular lonely day is etched in my memory. My husband, Jeffery, was out of town for a speaking engagement, and our two sons were visiting friends from where we had just moved. I was alone (or so it seemed). That morning, I snuggled and cried with our two beloved dogs.
When my husband and I had talked about planting a church, I never imagined I would have these feelings. This felt like more than unchartered territory; it seemed like I was drifting alone on a raft in the ocean.
Navigating times of loneliness and dealing with the fear of the unknown was a huge part of the early months of my church planting experience. During those times, I discovered the Lord was with me, but He had also given me a best friend in my husband with whom I could walk, talk, pray, cry, process, and ultimately go forward in faith- trusting God had asked us to join Him. Knowing God had called us on this adventure to plant Newhope Church, I could trust He would be the One to provide the relationships I longed for. So, despite the uncertainty, I trusted.
When we moved into our new neighborhood, faith and fear moved in right next-door. I had to decide which one I would embrace. Would I shrink back, withdraw, and cry myself to sleep nightly because I was lonely and unsure, or would I rise up on the inside, cling to His promises for me, and reach out to others? Christ’s love for me was so great it compelled me to action, and if I wanted friends, I had to be a friend.
There will be opportunities disguised as obstacles. I encourage you to remember if God invited you to be a part of a church planting adventure that involves moving to a new community and starting new relationships, He will not only be with you, but He will provide all you need. It’s just in His nature to do so. He is the game changer. He is the difference maker. You and I can bank on His flawless record of faithfulness.
I conclude with a prayer excerpt from my journal dated November 7, 2013, and link arms with you from afar as you read it:
“My tough seasons still bring me to You, Lord. Even as I tear up because I miss friends who are far away, YOU ARE WITH ME. I don’t just survive, but I will overcome. I Love You Lord, and I lean into You even in my sadness. It may seem like a quiet season of just plain hard work behind the scenes, but I know You orchestrate everything for our family’s good. “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6). WE BELIEVE YOU ARE. YOU REWARD THOSE WHO EARNESTLY SEEK YOU. Thank you, Lord. Love, Jo.”
Whether today is your “Fourth of July” or not, you’ll find God to be your source as you lean into Him. Just know this: You’re not alone.
Joanne Portmann has been married for 22 years to her best friend and love, Jeffery. They’ve been dating for 28 years--all the way back to their High School sweetheart days. Their sons, Justus and Josiah, bring them joy and laughter and keep them praying. They love leading and serving Newhope and have a vision to plant 5 churches in 5 years.
They would like to spend 1 month in Hawaii every year, but right now they spend 2 weeks every 3 years. Jeffery has a Doctorate of Ministry, and Joanne has a Masters of Special Education. She teaches Special Ed in the Puyallup School District in Washington State. They love athletics, travel, and time with family.