Being Living Proof to Future Church Leaders
by Emily Ryan
The young couple walked slowly up and down the aisles of the furniture store surveying all of their options. They didn’t need roomfuls of custom-designed pieces created with high-end imported fabrics, but a simple new couch or a mattress without broken springs sure would go a long way into turning their house into a home, especially with their first child on the way.
Plus, as long as they spent $2,000 or more, the furniture store would allow them to pay off their purchase in 36 monthly installments with zero money down and zero percent interest. They knew they didn’t want to throw their money away on interest payments, so this sounded like a perfect solution to meet their needs.
Jonathan and Katy Cochran are the epitome of young love, and many would still consider them newlyweds. They met at church when they were young, started dating in high school, and were married fewer than two years ago – just three days after Jon’s 18th birthday.
Now they live in a small duplex on campus at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary where they are both working toward their undergraduate degrees. She dreams of using sports to share the Gospel with children; he dreams of becoming a pastor and fulfilling the calling he’s had since he was a child.
“When I was five years old, I was sitting in my room looking at my kid’s Bible,” Jon said. He remembers the pictures seemed to slowly change before him until he was looking instead at a vision of himself, years later, preaching to his own congregation. He knew right away that God was calling him to be a pastor, and shortly after that, he even started teaching a small Sunday School class.
The path to that calling has not been without trials and difficult times, especially since he and Katy married. But they continue to try, as best as they can, to put the Lord first in their marriage and to include Him in all of their decisions.
This is why they walked out of the furniture store that day and agreed to pray about their choices for a while before they jumped into any long-term financial commitments.
Several days later, they attended the on-campus chapel service where Sagemont Senior Pastor John Morgan was a guest speaker. Brother John spoke about Sagemont’s history, church planting, and the legacy of blessings that the Lord has given Sagemont over the past fifty years. He emphasized to the group of young seminary students how important it is for a pastor to lead his church out of debt.
As Jon and Katy listened to Brother John’s words, they recognized the wisdom behind them and both wondered what he would think about their opportunity to purchase furniture with a zero-percent payment plan. They whispered to each other during the service and agreed that Jon would ask Brother John for his advice after chapel ended.
As soon as Jon introduced himself and explained his situation, Brother John was struck by the humility and sincerity of Jon’s questions. He saw in Jon a young leader, eager to learn, patient in prayer, and willing to seek godly council in order to discern God’s best for his family.
Brother John advised that Jon and Katy hold off on making any purchase they couldn’t completely pay for up front, and suggested that perhaps the Lord had an even better plan for meeting their immediate needs. He offered to check the warehouse of Sagemont’s Helping Hands Ministry when he returned to Houston and see if his church had anything they might be able to give to Jon and Katy.
The couple returned home and kept praying, never fully expecting the Lord to answer their prayers via a church over 200 miles away in Houston. So when Brother John offered to bring them to Sagemont to let them look through the warehouse for themselves and pick out exactly what they wanted, they admit it was “mind-blowing.”
The couple traveled on faith to Houston and experienced a whirlwind day of God’s blessings. Among the many furnishings they chose from the warehouse were a couch and chair that once belonged to Chuck and Mary Lou Thomas, a bed donated by Patricia Daniels, and a dresser and mirror given by Executive Pastor Chuck Schneider and his wife, Maureen.
The staff also blessed them with a trip to Stein Mart where they were encouraged to pick out a new comforter, new pillows and even new linens.
However, as extensive as these blessings are, the home furnishings were nothing compared to the spiritual lessons Jon and Katy learned during their time at Sagemont.
“It’s been so amazing to witness the hands and feet of Christ, and this is an experience we will always cherish,” Jon said. “This is like a biblical version of [the church in] Acts where the believers shared everything with each other.”
“Waiting on the Lord really does make a big difference,” he continued. “We’ve had to wait on the Lord for so many different things since we’ve been married, but we’re walking in obedience now, and we’re seeing that the more you walk in obedience, well, you don’t get the blessings of God unless you follow the principles of God.”
“Plus, the power of prayer is amazing,” Katy added. She shared that Jon had recently been given an assignment to read a book about a missionary, and Jon chose a book about George Muller, the 19th-century missionary known for his unwavering prayer life. “It completely changed [Jon’s] mentality, and he shared with me the idea that anything we’re wanting or needing, we should give totally to the Lord, not depending or planning on our own way to do things. It’s been incredible to see the power of prayer and see that the Lord answers prayers you wouldn’t even imagine.”
Jon now keeps a prayer journal like George Muller, and said it took exactly six days for their prayer for furniture to be answered.
“But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus,” Brother John quoted from Philippians 4:9. “It’s always a blessing when our church family can be living proof of a loving God to a watching world. We know that Jonathan and Katy love the Lord and that they’ve been called into ministry. They’re willing to just wait on the Lord when they need to and to humble themselves. And it’s exciting for all of us because when this is all over with, the Lord’s going to get all the glory. Like always, we get the blessing but He gets the glory.”
Jon and Katy have many years ahead of them before they’ll be able to fully realize their dreams for ministry, but they know that this experience will not only influence how they serve the Lord in the future, it will also shape how they trust Him in the present.
For now, as they sit on their new-to-them couch and sleep in their new-to-them bed, they are holding all of their blessings with open hands – including their daughter, Olivia, who is due in June.
And they also have a message for anyone tempted to read their story and think, “Sure, it happened for you, but it won’t happen for me.”
“No matter how big the request is, God is still bigger,” Katy said. “If you find yourself not knowing where to turn or what to do, I’d say completely give yourself to the Lord. Fall on your knees and pray, and just when you don’t have anything to give, give of yourself. The times I’m not thinking about myself seem to be the times when the Lord works in incredible ways.”
Dear Sagemont Baptist Church,
My wife and I are still speechless in regards to all of y’all’s love, kindness, and zeal to serve our great God. When I spoke with Dr. Morgan about furniture needs, I hadn’t the slightest thought that he would bring us out to Houston, give us furniture, surround us with so much love, and even take up a love offering for us. Words of thanks do no amount to the level of appreciation that we both have for all of you. Never, in my 19+ years of being in church, have I ever heard of, let alone be a part of, such a Christ-like church. From now on, when I read the book of Acts, I will think of Sagemont.After such an incredible day with you, we went to the convenience store across the street. As I was buying water, I asked the cashier, “Have you ever been that church… Sagemont?” I pointed to the massive church across the street. “No,” the man said, startled by my question. Well, I told him to go! I said, “Never in my life have I seen such a caring church.” I told him, very briefly, what you all did for us. He was very surprised and he said he would go! This will not be uncommon for us to tell people. We were greatly blessed by a very big God.
I want to end on this note: God has shown you all how to be a truly biblical church. Please! I urge you to never stop loving and giving for God’s sake. No matter what storms in life you will face, remember this: Jesus has full authority and power over them all. I look forward to see how God will bless you in Heaven and on Earth.
“Oh, how they loved each other!”
Your brother and sister in Christ,
Jonathan and Katy Cochran