For our church, everything finds its origin with the gospel of grace. The unwavering disposition of human history is that this world is unsettling. Feet not quite comfortably placed, hearts not quite full, pain and suffering a little too close, this world is not our home. We all dream of a story where all evil is undone and goodness is perfected. And yet, the promise of the Bible is that this story has been written. It’s one that pieces broken stories like ours together into this beautiful mess. So, we take a leap of faith and gaze upon a tapestry intertwining all of our unique experiences into one dynamic masterpiece. And soon we just might begin to say, “My story. Our story. Actually, his story.” You see, this story tells us that “all things work together for good” (Rom 8:28), meaning that not all concluding paragraphs of each chapter are folded up into a happy ending. For the messy moments are necessary to mix with the simple and clean. The rambunctious climaxes are there to give appreciation to the monotonous slow and steady. The distant journeyers are there to give perspective to the homegrown. The key is knowing that there is a purpose — his purpose — and this purpose brings all stories together for good.
The story of Redeemer initially came together through the vision of a few who met together in prayer and discussion to take part in an endeavor called church planting. Through a vision and a dream, the first pages of our story came over coffee, times of prayer, and an outlook into the far-reaching land called ‘What if.’ So, in trust and courage, our founding members were drawn to the possibility of what God has done while simultaneously looking at what could been done in Ventura County. And so, the vision began materializing through informal bi-weekly fellowship gatherings in 2015. While churches were aplenty, there was a coalescing draw amongst friends and neighbors for more. More of God’s Word through the lens of his grace, more authenticity within community, and more of grace to replace existing wounds and shame. With the projection of the gospel narrative front and center, our unique story began taking root as the group grew and grew with each season of fellowship and Bible Study gatherings. Steadily, a core group organically assembled through a shared dream of planting a much-needed Reformed church in Ventura County, CA.
In 2020, God called the world to a year of adjustments. Covid-19 presented challenges to the church, to neighboring, and to praying for those outside of our immediate circles. With news of global deaths, it taught us perspective — that the Lord is mindful of every human life on this planet. And as many in the church at large had, we joined together in prayer and in preaching gospel hope. All the while, we also prayed for how we might be most helpful and exude the gospel counterculture in such a unique season. So many questions surfaced — How do we display hospitality? What does it mean to love our neighbor in this season? To what extent do we practice “not neglecting to meet together” (Heb 10:25)? How do we “do church” — or, better yet, “be the church”? There were so many questions and not enough preparation. And yet, God in his faithfulness and in his wisdom brought our community together to deepen our fellowship and trust in him during a dark and dampened season. And from this place of darkness and valley traversing, God has lifted our chins to fix our gaze upon the light of life. We’ve been steadily reminded that “the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:5). And in this long and protracted season of quarantine and pandemic living, we trust that our cries and pleas regularly visit the ears of our God. We thank God for upholding us and preserving us, and we pray that we might be of encouragement for others asking difficult questions in emerging out of a trying season. Our prayer is to continually grow in a deeper understanding of God’s love for his children, Jesus’ heart for the lost, and the Spirit’s continued navigation through the landmines in our hearts.
In October 2021, Redeemer became a mission work in the PCA (the Presbyterian Church in America). In this new chapter, our hope is that Redeemer would become a safe haven and place of rest for the restless and weary. In view of the larger church and the kingdom of God, we enter into partnerships both denominationally and locally. In Tim Keller’s paraphrased words of wisdom — in order to reach the entire city, we must learn to work cross-denominationally. And with very little PCA and Reformed presence in both Camarillo and Ventura County, it’s our desire to fill that void while come alongside many others tilling the soil in gospel partnership and cooperation. We are eager to engage in these next steps of our church’s life together, as we trust our God who walks with us and has never left our side.
And so, Redeemer’s story is just beginning. We’ve faced a number of challenges and have been dealt unexpected hands. And yet, at any moment and in every which way we turn, our comfort lies in a traveler who came from a faraway land to make his dwelling with us. And it’s this story that we continue to gather around. We rest in the truth that the presence of Jesus will never leave our pages as long as he remains both the author and perfecter of our faith and of this church. So we brave the unexpected and step forward, knowing that he has seen this journey through. Trusting in his guidance, protection, and presence, in whichever season, we know our church is in good hands. What now persists is that initial outlook of a few who dared to gaze into the far-reaching land called ‘What if.’ As our dreams began in envisioning the possibility of what God could do while simultaneously looking at what hadn’t been done in our land, we step forward in the pursuit of being faithful ambassadors of the greatest story ever told. And we invite you to join us to help write our next chapters in our ongoing plot line. We trust, we pray, and we eagerly anticipate this developing story line of Redeemer Ventura County. To God be all the glory forever and ever.