Jealous for Allendale

The Espinosa family moved to Allendale, SC in 2011 to live and work in the community as an extension of Grace Church. After returning to Greenville last summer, Joey and his family have engaged their new community here, but the transition has been bittersweet. Caring for others is rarely easy and always a process. 


Last week, I spoke with Joe Mole, Pastor of Vision Ministries in Fairfax, SC. Pastor Mole was one of my main mentors and cheerleaders during our time in Allendale, as he has been one of Grace Church’s main partners in that community over the past five years.


We talked about the upcoming Grace Church Student Ministry trip (going on this week), and how I’m envious that I was not able to be a part of it. (This is the first summer since 2010 that we have not spent in Allendale.) No, we don’t miss sweltering days or pesky gnats. We miss so many great people there.

But I explained that maybe it’s better that I’m not in Allendale this week. After all, new leaders need space to lead. Still, I am envious of those who get to spend a week in our old community, where we loved and were loved (mostly) for three and a half years.


Reminisce, and Move Forward

Our time in Allendale seemed like a long time, and yet it went by so fast. Our family loves reminiscing on the life-changing and fun experiences we had in Allendale. And that’s good. Reflecting on those blessings makes us give thanks to the Father of heavenly lights, who gives every good and perfect gift (James 1:17).

But we can’t stay in the past. Just as the sun keeps moving through the day, we need to do the same in our lives. We have to move forward on the adventure that God has called us to.

Kingdom living means putting aside the things that we hold jealously, and clinging to what God holds dear. God loved Allendale long before Grace Church ever showed up, and he was at work there long before the Espinosa family did. And God will be loving and working in Allendale long after we are gone.

And now we are in a new season, in a new community which God loves just as much.


The Next Assignment

As we closed our conversation, Pastor Mole (a former military man) reminded me that God has our family “stationed” in Allendale for a season. Just as He deployed us to Allendale for a few years, now He has re-deployed us back to Greenville. It is not up to the soldier to question the One who enlists Him (2 Timothy 2:4).

We trust our King and follow Him. But that doesn’t mean we can’t look back, right?

Pastor Mole told me that he was glad I called him, that I made a phone call back “home,” and that I need to sometimes come back “home” as well. He’s right. After all, “Home is where the heart is.” No matter where God has us stationed, a big piece of our hearts will always be in Allendale. In loving and being jealous for Allendale, we are in some way reflecting God’s unfailing love.

I am thankful for our time in Allendale. I am thankful for everyone who supported us financially, who visited us, and who prayed for us during our “deployment.”

And I am thankful for Grace Church’s faithful work in Allendale, and for the students and leaders who are loving and serving there this week.

Yes, I am thankful, even if I am jealous that they get to spend time in my “home.”


-Joey Espinosa