“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
In 1988, a group of friends from Calvary Chapel Big Bear, began to get together once a week for fellowship. We would play cards, or board games, and share a meal, and laugh our heads off! One such evening we were all sharing how nice it would be to own some land and build a home, a place to settle down and raise our families in. It wasn’t long before we realized that God had brought us together for a purpose.
As we began to pray about buying a large tract of land, subdividing it into 3 parcels, and then building our homes on them, we all sensed that God was leading us to pray about moving to a new city, not just to a new tract of land! At this point our fellowship nights turned into prayer meetings. We would come together, share a meal, and then we would take an hour or so and just spend time in prayer. After we were through praying, we would share what the Lord had laid on our hearts. From the very first such prayer time, God told us that we were to go.
Over the next year we held weekly prayer “meetings,” and each week we would ask the Lord a new question; like, “where should we go?” and, “when should we leave?” Also, each family needed to know if they were even supposed to go. At this time our group grew to include another couple, and a single woman. Throughout this year, God was faithful to answer us, and answer us in miraculous ways! One of the first verses of scripture that He confirmed had to do with when we were to go. He told us that we would be leaving when “she who was with child would be delivered,” and yet no one was pregnant……….YET!
All of us sensed that God’s desire was for us to move to a city that had a college or university. We began to look into what cities and states in our union didn’t have a Calvary Chapel yet, and found a few. We then began to narrow our search down to a few of these states, and what cities in those states had colleges or universities. We decided that we would just start with a state, and pray and ask God for His answer. The first state that we prayed about was Wyoming. The night that we prayed about moving to Wyoming, all of us heard a distinct, “no” from the Lord. So, that night, we all picked a state that we would like to live in, some chose California, others Washington and Colorado. At our next time of prayer, the first state of this list that we prayed for was Washington, and that night we heard a distinct “yes.”
Once we knew what state we were re-locating to, we did some research on what exact city we should move to. We called Calvary Chapel Spokane and they suggested that we pray about Kennewick. In 1988-89 there were no Calvary Chapels on the west side of the Cascades. At this time none of us knew anything about the Tri-Cities. We only had a name, Kennewick. So, we began to pray and the Lord was faithful to answer.
One of the verses that He gave to us was: Isaiah 43:19-20 “Behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. The beast of the field will honor Me, the jackals and the ostriches, because I give waters in the wilderness and rivers in the desert, to give drink to My people, My chosen.”
It wasn’t until we knew that this was the city that God was leading us to, that there was a huge river flowing through a desert! Another miraculous confirmation!
We continued to pray over the next few months, seeking the time that we were to begin our exodus. We knew, because of the scripture that the Lord gave to us, that we were leaving after the “pregnant one’s” due date, but not a specific day.
The Lord led us to scriptures about the Passover, which happened to fall in April of the next year, 1990.
So on April 9, 1990, we rented 4 huge U-Haul moving vans and began the business of packing up 4 families, which included 9 adults, 7 kids, 3 dogs, 2 cats, and a cockatiel! Our caravan was 9 vehicles long!
We left Big Bear Lake California on April 10, 1990 and headed north to Washington; it would take us 3 days to arrive. It was a long drive, and some of the little ones were a bit upset along the way, but all in all, we tried to make it fun. We would play, “Bible trivia” on the walkie-talkies, and one night we were treated to a nice dinner by one of our friends from home.
When we arrived in the Tri-Cities, we stayed the first 3 nights at the Motel 6 in Pasco. It was here, that we celebrated our very first church service as Calvary Chapel Tri-Cities. It was Easter morning. As we celebrated the Resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, we thanked Him for the new life that He gave to each of us, and we rejoiced that He had brought us to a land “flowing with milk and honey.”
We later met at Steve and Bobi’s apartment, on Tweedt Street, in Kennewick, with child care at the Dunfee’s apartment, down the street.
Our next “church” building was the Whinery’s home in Finley. We grew rapidly, and within a year were searching for another place to meet. We rented Desert Hills Middle School for Sunday services, and held Wednesday and Sunday evening services at the Covenant Church in Kennewick. We then purchased the church on 3rd and Washington staying there for a number of years. It is here that KBLD went on the air for the first time. Then the church purchased the Red Apple Market complex on the corner of 4th and Vancouver, and held services there. It is here that Calvary Christian School opened their doors. In February of 2008, we broke ground at our present location, on Clearwater Avenue, in Kennewick.