MEET PASTOR CRAIG JONES
My, how time flies! It was nearly 15 years ago that my wife, Megan, and I entered full-time ministry. Honestly, being a pastor was not something I had planned to do, but as God began to place that very call on our lives He has been faithful to lead us each step of the way in serving Him.
We spent our first years of ministry serving as Director of College Ministries at Yorba Linda Friends Church in Southern California. Then, I was blessed to serve as an assistant pastor at Calvary Chapel East Anaheim for 6 years while completing my seminary degree at Talbot School of Theology. I learned so much during that time as I served under an anointed senior pastor. My wife and I truly enjoyed working with an amazing group of young adults at the church.
It was during this time that God began to stir in our hearts to let us know He was preparing us for a new season of ministry, so we began praying for His leading and asking others around us to pray as well. We believed that God was placing it on our hearts to step out in faith and go to the place God would show us to plant a new Calvary Chapel.
WALKING BY FAITH
After sensing, through several different means, that God was confirming His call on our lives to plant a church, the daunting question of “WHERE?” began to emerge. “Where in the world, Lord, would you have us go and serve you in this manner?” We honestly had no idea.
After a great deal of prayer, searching the Lord’s will through His Word, and researching different areas, Gilbert, Arizona began to emerge as the place where God was calling us. As we contacted the other Calvary Chapel Pastors in the area, we felt even more encouraged that the Lord was working throughout the Phoenix area, and that perhaps He would want to use us in His work out here. We were blessed to know some dear friends in the East Valley who were excited to be a part of this new church plant.
HOME IS WHERE THE CALL IS
God has worked in amazing ways to provide for our family’s relocation to Gilbert. With 3 kids, a dog and a baby on the way, the reality of leaving friends, family, a ministry position we loved, and a church family we adored was such a huge step of faith for us all. It seemed as though fear and uncertainty were constantly upon us, but our faithful Lord kept lovingly leading us along and empowering us to trust Him as we took each step. In the face of our fears and uncertainties, God revealed to us something so important: Home is where the call is! It was not about us picking a place where we wanted to go and serve and then asking God to bless it; it was about allowing God to choose for us where He would have us serve. We simply needed to trust Him, knowing that our hearts would follow as we stepped out in faith.
A key verse God gave us in the process of our transition to further encourage us was Isaiah 43:18-19, where God says, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.”
By God’s grace, we are now here. We moved to Gilbert during the last week of November 2010 and held our first church service on Sunday, January 16th, in the living room of our home. God amazed us by bringing together a core group of 9-10 families to begin this ministry, all of whom have blessed us beyond measure. These believers, who truly love the Lord and others, are a joy to serve our Lord with. After three months of meeting in our living room, God opened the door for us to begin holding services at Haley Elementary.
It is our prayer that our Lord will fulfill His purposes for this new work for the glory of His Name, and that CEV will be a place where each of us can come just as we are to become all that God has created us to be in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Thanks for taking the time to read our story. We truly hope and pray that if you are looking for a church home or want to learn more about what the Bible says about the truth of who God is, that you will stop by on a Sunday morning and join us for church. We look forward to meeting you and growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ as together, we worship Him and study and apply His life-changing Word to our daily lives through the power of the Holy Spirit.
May our Lord make Himself known to you more and more each day.
In Jesus, our Rock,