SOS Christie Garrett

Christie Garrett and her husband launched Grace Conway in Orlando, FL, a campus of Grace Orlando, in September 2011.

After years of praying, planning and dreaming, my husband, Rick and I filled hundreds of Burger King boxes I had spent months collecting, and left our home in small-town Georgia to start a new life and ministry in Orlando, FL. We stepped out with little money and lots of faith to undertake what the missiologists refer to as a “parachute plant.” Somehow, that terminology never sat very well with me. I distinctly remember asking my husband, “But, honey, don’t people die parachuting?” Despite obvious reason for concern, we knew God had called us, and we begged Him to put us in the place where if He didn’t show up, we couldn’t survive. The only thing was, we had no idea what we were asking for.

After about six months of working in the city, God, in great mercy, decided we shouldn’t go it alone. He connected us with Grace Orlando, a local, established church plant. We took our heart for our present work and were able to merge it with their vision of campuses. So, out of nowhere we had resources, connections and support that would be priceless in the days to come.

With a fervor that matched our naivety, we set a date and launched Grace Conway. And out of nowhere, all hell broke loose. Rick and I both grew up with the notion that spiritual warfare was something that happened in other countries or that people read about in Frank Peretti novels. We thought it was strange and only affected the segment of the population that danced with praise banners and smacked tambourines. But we were very mistaken. No sooner than we saw the doors open at Grace, we watched Satan attempt to sneak in and pull his classic steal, kill and destroy.

Out of nowhere, I began experiencing mental, emotional, spiritual and even physical demonic attacks. I was overcome with irrational fear about myself, Rick, our church, our future and God’s provision for us. There were mornings I couldn’t even get out of bed without asking Jesus to overcome the heaviness of demonic presence that literally rendered me paralyzed.  And with the warfare came a strong sense to hide, never speak a word about it and isolate myself in the fight. There were times I was convinced I couldn’t even tell my husband what was happening. I entered into very logical arguments with myself of all the reasons he would think I was crazy. And at the end of the day, I was scared to death I would be left alone to face the darkest night of my life. The spiritual warfare became a horrible cycle I feared I would never escape.

Leading me well as he always has, Rick saw through the patchy veil I had constructed and immediately stood up as my best and first line of defense against the enemy. He began praying against the attacks, leading me to depend on Jesus and wield the powerful sword of God’s Word against the often pointed blows Satan would relentlessly hammer me with. Rick also encouraged me to be open with a wise friend I’d found at Grace Orlando about what I was experiencing and be honest with her about my fears, even when they were at their height of irrationality. I not only found someone who didn’t think I was insane but who had also walked a tough road of spiritual warfare herself.

We began forming a team of people who regularly prayed for us and who were often available to intercede for us any time of the day or night. We also started praying very purposefully for Rick because we felt that even though the brunt of the attacks landed on me, they were often aimed at destroying him. What better way to kill a new church and squelch the work of God than to destroy the pastor. And what better way to accomplish that than to incapacitate his best-friend, wife and partner in ministry.  Thankfully, we were resting in the blood soaked work of Christ and knew He would have none of that.

My experience with spiritual warfare seems far from over.  It is still a reality that I wake-up to every morning and stare square in the ugly face. But each day I’ve found that visage to be less and less frightening. Jesus has faithfully fought my battle and declared victory over the pathetic death rattle the enemy has shaken in my face. God has never stopped pursuing me and is transforming me through this often strange and confusing trial. He is helping me to recognize that anything that makes me need Him more is a gift and that I should receive it with joy and thanksgiving.

God answered our prayer. He took us to that place of great need where we couldn’t possibly continue in our ministry without Him. It just looked entirely different than we ever imagined. In it all, God has given us great hope that He defeated Satan on the cross and He continually assures us that He has called us to plant this church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it (Matthew 16:18). I quickly discovered that parachuting really wasn’t that dangerous after all. Not because the threat of harm didn’t exist, but because Jesus was waiting to rescue me in the middle of it.

You can check out our website here and our personal profile from Church Planting Network, who we partner with, here.

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