I remember with fondness the day that Scott Parr flew into SFO to interview for a student ministry role at Walnut Creek Presbyterian Church. As we drove across the Bay Bridge, I can remember thinking that big things were ahead of him and in store for students and families because of presence with us. Simultaneously, I remember meeting Becki Porter, the new Young Life leader from Texas, and immediately being struck by her pastor's heart and her infectious personality. I remember when these two found each other, fell in love, got married, and then started a family together. I've been impacted by our friendship and have been influenced by the way they follow Jesus. In this guest post, Scott reflects on his time with The Open Door Community, encourages us forward, and says "See you soon!"
Becki and I moved to Walnut Creek in 2005. She moved from Texas, I moved from Colorado, and we met for the first time outside the laundry room in our apartment building near Walnut Creek Presbyterian Church. I had heard about Open Door from my good friend Mark Stover, one of ODC’s founders, a colleague in ministry at WCPC, and a guy who was instrumental in my following God’s lead to move to Walnut Creek.
I was excited to become part of Open Door, because I had been doing some dreaming of my own about what it would look like to start a church from scratch. Some of the things that most churches seemed to be all about seemed far from God’s original intent. Foremost on my mind was that church was something we are part of, not something we go to. That is, I had become convinced that it was a problem that most Christians though of church as something they attended for an hour on Sunday morning. Jesus intended so much more.
I invited my neighbor/crush/not wife til a few years later to come with me to Open Door. There, we both found community, friendship, a place to worship, and a place to give and receive as part of the family of God.
Give. In Open Door, we, as well as so many people, have had a chance to give of ourselves to God’s kingdom work and to the building up of the life of the community. Becki and I both have had chances to teach. We’ve been able to pray for people. We’ve helped lead circles. We’ve loved little ones with Open Door kids. Becki led prayer walks at Selah – and she will always miss the beauty and time with God at Marin Headlands. We shared our stories – a story of a trip to care for abandoned, disabled orphans in China; a story of heartache, fear, hope, and answered prayers as our firstborn, Isaac, spent his first two weeks of life in intensive care with frightening and uncertain complications; a story of how the Holy Spirit has shown himself to be real and powerful in our lives.
Receive. In Open Door, we have received so much from the family of God. We’ve received strength, hope, and joy in listening to great teaching and powerful worship. We’ve received support as so many people have walked with us. Our modest wedding budget turned into a spectacular, worshipful, fine dining experience, thanks to dozens of ODC friends sharing their gifts of music, cooking, serving, and decorating. We were well fed and cared for when both of our sons were born and we needed help. Our kids were blessed to be dedicated in front of the ODC, and have felt like cherished members of the family. We’ve been prayed for in the back of the gathering and prayed for up in front. We’ve experienced the tremendous blessing of being neighbors to “The Six,” where the likes of JD, Brad, Ryan, and Risa have extended truly unusual hospitality and generosity with their space, their food, and their availability. Their “open door policy” has blessed me with everything from the egg I needed to a place to hang for two hours while I was locked outside in the cold with two small children. We’ve received encouragement and direction from God’s Spirit speaking through people of Open Door who are listening for His voice.
So, Open Door, thank you. Keep welcoming people. Keep nourishing peoples’ gifts and offering them the chance to share them. Keep loving and showing hospitality. Keep listening and obeying God’s voice. May God bless you until we meet again!
Scott, Becki, Isaac, & Asher Parr