On May 17, 2001, Mark and Linda DeYmaz responded in prayer to a very specific call of God on their lives. That day, they committed themselves and their family to a journey of great faith and sacrifice that would lead to the establishment of a multi-ethnic and economically diverse church in the heart of Central Arkansas … a church founded in response to the prayer of Jesus Christ for unity and patterned after the New Testament church at Antioch: a church for others …for all people …a church they named Mosaic.
Mark tells the story as excerpted from his first book, Building a Healthy Multi-ethnic Church (Jossey-Bass/Leadership Network, 2007)
Precious Williams was a hairstylist at Super Cuts in Little Rock, and I had recently begun having her cut my hair. She was close, the cut was cheap, and I particularly enjoyed talking with her about racial attitudes in the South. As an African American who grew up in Little Rock, she was a valued resource and person of genuine warmth. Indeed, I not only learned much from Precious, but that fall God used her to change my life.
I remember sitting back in her chair one day and initially enjoying lighthearted conversation. At some point, however, we began talking about racism and, in particular, the segregation of the local church. I asked Precious if churches in Little Rock had always been segregated and what it was like for her, growing up in such a place. Had it affected her spiritually? Had it shaped her view of Christians, of the Church of God?
Now I honestly do not recall all that she said in response, but I do remember what I asked her next (and, incidentally, in no way thinking of myself or my future). I said, “Precious, do you think there is a need in Little Rock for a diverse church, one where individuals of varying back- grounds might worship God together as one?”
Her answer was no surprise.
“Oh, yes, Mark,” she said, in a quiet but hopeful tone.
She then went on to describe what she thought such a church might be like—what it would mean for the community—and to say that she, indeed, longed for the day.
Closing my eyes, I pondered her words, and with her hands skillfully shaping my hair, I soon relaxed nearly to the point of slumber. What she said next, however, shook me to my core.
“Mark, do you ever think it could happen here?”
Now in the precise moment that Precious spoke these words to me, I experienced two remarkable things. Physically, I felt a very powerful rush of heat pass through my body—the same terrifying sensation you feel when someone scares you in the dark! Spiritually, however, some- thing even more remarkable occurred.
For though I had heard with my ears, “Mark, do you ever think it could happen here?,” I simultaneously heard with my heart, “Mark, would you consider doing it here?” And immediately, I was transported in my mind to Acts 16 and to a time when God used another individual to issue a similar invitation to a man at the crossroads of his life. It was my own Macedonian moment!
So right then and there, I clearly heard the call. I wondered: How should I respond?
Still shaking from the experience with Precious at Super Cuts and with a noble vision now birthed in my heart, I rushed home to share my excitement with Linda. “What if we stay in Little Rock and start a multiethnic church right here?,” I proposed enthusiastically. Her response, however, was immediate and decisive.
“Are you crazy? We’ve spent two years in Germany and now eight years in Little Rock. Our children are growing up apart from our families. Don’t you want them to be around our parents, their aunts, uncles, and cousins out West? Isn’t it time to go home?”
Of course, Linda wasn’t against the idea of such a church. In those days, she was just hoping that God would, finally, lead us back home to family and familiarity. The truth is, I also longed in my heart to return to the West. Consequently, I walked away from our initial conversation thinking there was no way that I could ever attempt such a thing without Linda’s full support. Fortunately, we would keep talking and praying about it together.
Soon, like me, Linda became fully engaged in the vision, having opened herself in prayer to God’s will, in spite of her initial reaction. Returning to Little Rock from Seattle after a visit with the leadership at Antioch, she wept as our plane flew over Mt. Rainier, knowing in her heart that God was speaking—calling us to walk by faith beyond our own understanding, experience, or abilities. Was it mere coincidence that when she opened the one magazine she had purchased just before boarding the plane, there was an article about the historic events of 1957 at Little Rock’s Central High?
So, on May 17, 2001, Linda and I responded in prayer to a very specific call of God on our lives. That day, we committed ourselves and our family to a journey of faith, courage, and sacrifice that would lead to the establishment of a multi-ethnic and economically diverse church in the heart of Central Arkansas—a church founded in response to the prayer of Jesus Christ for unity and patterned after the New Testament church at Antioch (Acts 11:19ff.)—a church for others, for all people, a church we called Mosaic.