KEEP AUSTIN WEIRD, the informal motto of the city of Austin, Texas, might make the average person think twice about the idea of starting a church there. But for David and Connie Bernard, it was a place they had both called home and would prove to be fertile ground for planting a church that would grow from zero to over one thousand during an eighteen-year pastorate. Reaching Austin tells the story of the beginnings of New Life Austin and a network of daughter churches working to reach this beautiful city in the Texas Hill Country.
Reaching Austin Excerpt
By the fall of 1995, our rented building was full. We had the momentum of revival and finally had the permits, and we urgently needed to build. Launching the building program was quite a financial challenge, however. First, we needed to pay off our land. Second, after construction, our monthly expenses would increase from rent of $375 to mortgage principal and interest of $6,500 plus utilities. I explained the situation to our church board and presented three options: (1) build now, (2) save money for a year or so, or (3) do nothing for the foreseeable future. I wanted to build immediately and had worked out a budget to make it possible, but it would still take a giant step of faith. . . .
Our need was urgent, but the situation seemed hopeless. I was frustrated and discouraged. We had worked hard to arrive at this point, tapping all our resources. Now we faced an indefinite delay. We could lose our momentum for growth, prices would continue to escalate, and instead of advancing we would fall further behind.
I arranged for a special prayer meeting at the church on Thursday, October 19. After we prayed for an hour, I began to close the service. Suddenly Connie’s grandmother burst forth with a message in tongues, and a young man who was a first-generation Pentecostal gave the interpretation, although neither had ever exercised these spiritual gifts before. The Lord spoke to us: “You cannot see healing, but I see healing. You cannot see a miracle, but I see a miracle. You cannot see a new building, but I see a new building.”
A Witness of the Holy Spirit
Immediately we felt a strong witness of the Spirit. Two years prior, my mother-in-law had been in a serious car accident. Her back had been injured, and she continued to suffer pain. When she heard the message, she came to the front for prayer. She was instantly healed.
Five days later, we held our Tuesday midweek service with a missionary to Hungary. As we worshiped, Connie’s eighty-one-year-old grandfather slumped over in his seat and became unconscious. He stopped breathing, lost all color, and had no pulse. His body was limp, his jaw slack, his eyes rolled back, and his skin clammy. We stopped singing, gathered around him, and began calling on the name of Jesus. Nothing happened. An usher raced to the telephone to call 911. As we stood there stunned, I felt to call for prayer a second time.
See how this story ends in chapter 4 of Reaching Austin.
Resources and Links
Find other books by Dr. David K. Bernard here.