When God Calls You To Plant in the Land of Mañana
This summer is my 20 year high school reunion. I just purchased my first pair of reading bifocals. My kids spotted out my evolving “patch” of grey hair. My wife, Heather, and I just celebrated our 15th year of marital (mostly) bliss. We are approaching year 10 of “ordained” gospel ministry in our denomination (Presbyterian Church in America). Stadia’s invitation for me to write this article has opened up the floodgates of reflection for me. And in all my years of experience on earth, and the handful of years I’ve been an apprentice of Jesus, I can aptly summarize my life in one word—belonging.
As creatures bearing the image of our Divine Maker, we are all innately designed to belong. We were created to belong in places and with people. Our internal hardware was programmed by God to thrive and flourish in community with both God and with his people.
My story is a story of struggling to belong. I grew up in a broken home. Parents divorced before I was 5. I had a good home, with good parents and good half-siblings, but I’ve always struggled with where I belonged. One factor in my struggle is that I was raised in a tragically broken city—Albuquerque, New Mexico. My struggle to discover a place to belong was uniquely difficult in a city like Albuquerque. After a childhood of struggling to belong, both in my own home and in my own city, the welcoming embrace of Jesus was the warmest place of belonging I had ever been. Six months after entering that embrace through faith, I fled from Albuquerque. Strikingly Jonah-esque—fleeing Ninevah for Tarshish—I fled my place secretly hoping never to return . In my mind, Albuquerque would always be the place I could never belong. It would always be a place of pain and brokenness for me. A place where I never wanted to taste my sense of lostness again.
We spent over a decade all around the country gaining education and ministry experience, from San Diego, CA to Jackson, MS (fun fact—we have lived in every southern-bordering state with the exceptions of Florida and Alabama). Everyplace we were, the growing sense of calling to church planting began to nag and fester in our hearts. We were looking for a place to belong. We explored every “sexy city” for church-planting opportunities—Phoenix, Colorado Springs, Austin, San Diego—but the doors proverbially slammed in my face. Frustrated yet focused, my wife and I explored the option of church planting in a city we knew firsthand was desperately broken and incredibly void of gospel-oriented churches—Albuquerque.
Our vision was to plant a church where brokenness was welcome. A community where you could belong before you believed. A gathered people where beauty was expressed communally through transparent and authentic living together. An outpost where good news would regularly be published from the pulpit and from life lived together. Out of that vision, Mosaic Church was birthed and planted in 2015 on the westside of Albuquerque.
One of my favorite things to do as a dad is to surprise my kids. Surprising them with gifts, desserts, and fun activities brings delight to their faces that I just can’t get enough of! Our Father in heaven delights in surprising us too. There have been many surprises for us in church planting. We could write a book. Trust me on that. But one of the biggest surprises has been the delight of seeing God at work in a really hard place. God at work in creating a place for brokenness to be made beautiful. We are delighting in loving our people and our place like we never delighted in any other place we have lived. A place we were content to never call ‘home’ again has now become a place we never want to leave again.
Albuquerque is a place that bears nicknames saturated in shame—‘The Land of Entrapment’ and ‘The Land of Mañana’—giving prophetic voice to both our complacency and anemic ability to commit. A place filled with people who are offensively suspicious of outsiders. A city that regularly anchors the bottom of national lists for education and economy, yet ironically rises as the ‘cream of the crop’ on the lists for poverty and crime. While Albuquerque ‘on paper’ sounds like a terrible place to live, I can commend no greater place for the good news of Jesus to bear fruit. Hearts that have been imprisoned by works-based religion are starving for relentless grace that pursues them. Lives that know nothing but bad news all around them are hungry for good news that is for them.
Here’s the invitation—come and be part of it all. The invitation is to come to a strange place filled with strange people and create a place for them to belong. Come and explore a new land filled with new people and share an ancient story of an Eternal God who has built us to belong together with him. The Land of Enchantment is a beautiful landscape to plant centers of hope and belonging for lost and weary people. Will you be the next one to plant here?
Adam, and his wife Heather, are both native Albuquerque kids who have fallen deeply in love with this city. They discovered grace in college and have been walking together with Jesus ever since, have been married since 2004, and now have three beautiful children. After gaining life and ministry experience all across the country, including undergraduate studies at Grand Canyon University and seminary studies at Reformed Theological Seminary, the Viramontes family was called to plant Mosaic Church in 2015.
Adam considers himself an amateur chef, works out at a Crossfit Box (so cliché) and enjoys reading books with a frothy IPA in hand.
His hope for Mosaic Church is that it becomes a church where anyone can belong and everyone celebrates the greatest news in the history of the world together!