When I asked about their initial house church experience, Brittany responded, “I had no idea what was happening in there! I couldn’t follow along. It was really deep, intense content, vocabulary I didn’t understand. I didn’t think we could do this.”
Even--maybe especially--the part where they had to move from California to Ohio.
Both Trey and Brittany grew up in California, put down deep roots there--family roots, friend roots, college roots, and graduate school roots. And it was in California that their respective faith journeys began.
When Brittany was young, she and her family attended a very conservative Chinese Methodist church, but Brittany never felt at home in this church. It just didn’t quite seem a comfortable place for a vibrant young kid. Perhaps not surprisingly, when competitive volleyball, along with its ensuing weekend travel routine, became a large part of her life during her middle school years, her mother gave her permission to stop going to church altogether.
“It was hard for me to believe in the Lord growing up,” she reflected, “because none of my friends were religious. I didn’t really have anybody, so that’s where I fell off the path.”
Trey, on the other hand, grew up going to a more contemporary church with his family, was familiar with the doctrines of the faith, and followed his friends to youth group fairly regularly. However, when he was in high school his parents split up, and even his youth group attendance dwindled. By the time Trey went away to college, with no one to push him towards the things of God, he stopped going to church completely.
Brittany and Trey had both put God on the back burner.
But He would not do the same with them.
When they met at San Jose State University, neither Trey nor Brittany was making God a priority, yet God graciously kept both of their hearts open and receptive to what would eventually be His Spirit’s quiet call to return to Him.
“We both were at the same point in seeking God, walking through the same things at the same time,” Trey explained. God’s hand in their relationship was evident even then, he said. It might have been easy for them to push each other away had they been at drastically different points in their faith journeys. But God was gracious, simultaneously nudging them toward each other and toward Himself.
They got engaged during graduate school, and when he graduated, Trey signed on with the Air Force as a Radiation Health Consultant. By the time they married and moved to Ohio in September 2013 (Trey having already served a month at Wright Patterson Air Force Base), they had already begun to sense God calling them back to Himself and to His Body.
“Looking back at things that have happened, I can see the Lord pushing us in the right direction,” Brittany emphatically told me. She now recognizes, in seemingly random life events, God’s leading hand.
As they settled into a Midwestern life that was out of their comfort zone, the Slauters realized that now they had no reason not to find a church and start getting involved. “Things lined up,” Trey said. A coworker had invited him to Apex during the month before he and Brittany had gotten married, so it was natural for the couple to consider continuing to attend Apex together.
Not that it was without struggle. Like all disciplines, the discipline of regular church attendance needed to be practiced. It wasn’t always easy--especially when the temperature plummeted and the snow swirled--to get up and go to church. But they persevered with what God had called them to, practiced the discipline, and now it’s natural, an activity they genuinely look forward to.
House church especially.
Though maybe not at first.
When I asked about their initial house church experience, Brittany responded, “I remember on our drive home that night thinking, ‘Is this even a good idea?’ I had no idea what was happening in there! I couldn’t follow along. It was really deep, intense content, vocabulary I didn’t understand. I didn’t think we could do this.”
It’s intimidating to join an already well-established group, where people have shared stories and a history that goes way back--not to mention a theological lingo that leaves you in their metaphorical dust. “Everyone was way more mature and more knowledgeable than we were. It kind of felt like being a little kid walking into a high school class,” Trey said.
“We contemplated not going again,” said Brittany. “It was so scary.”
But they did go again. And they kept going, again and again and again, despite their qualms and fears, and despite the awkwardness that is any new situation. They went to content time on Sundays and they went to quads on Wednesdays and they went to functions--fall parties, brunches, volleyball games, girls’ craft days--so that they could get to know these people in every capacity.
As house church slowly became more comfortable, the Slauters discovered that they had not just joined a group; God had brought them into a family of people who genuinely cared about each other and their community. These people were walking through life together.
The Slauters have learned so much from their house church friends.
Brittany has been learning about trusting God as she has watched her friends and listened to their stories. “When I hear about our friends’ past experiences, when I hear people’s stories, I think, ‘Wow, that’s so compelling! That’s amazing how the Lord worked in your life!’ I’ve learned to trust the Lord through them, through the words of others, hearing their stories.” These stories of God’s faithfulness in others’ lives have built her own faith in His trustworthiness. “Through everything, the Lord loves me. I am his child! There’s nothing I can do to make him not love me.”
For Trey, God’s goodness has been reflected in the lives of these house church friends. “The Lord is good, and you can see it through these people, in how much they care and want to help out in any situation...and the reason they are like that is because they have the Lord in their lives.”
Brittany and Trey Slauter have tasted of God’s goodness and faithfulness within the community of their house church. They’ve shared in it, and they’ve learned from it. They’ve been loved, so they’ve loved others. They’ve been given gifts, so they’ve generously given gifts to others. They’ve been welcomed, so they look to welcome others.
All this evidence of God’s good hand in their lives has them thinking about their future as a military family and how God’s goodness will continue to play out in their lives. If Trey remains in the Air Force, they know that they’ll likely need to move away in a few years. And that thought scares them a little. They are so thankful for the church family God has given them here in Dayton, this group that has been so influential in leading them and helping them grow in their Christian maturity--and leaving them will no doubt be difficult.
Brittany wonders about other churches out there. Do they have house churches? Will there be quads? Will the preaching be as relevant as what she hears at Apex? But despite all the question marks, she is able to say,“He knows what is the best for me in my future.”
Trey’s mind strays to his penchant for the ascertainable. “I’m a huge planner. I like knowing my future, and I have no idea what my future is right now. It’s tough, but ultimately wherever He wants us, we’ll figure out how to make the best of it and hopefully take what we’ve learned here...and bring that to whatever church we end up going to in the future.”
The Slauters have confidence that God has a plan for their lives, that He has woven together, as Brittany put it, “a whole chain of events,” thus far. He has faithfully drawn them to Himself and shown them His goodness. They will trust Him to lead them in the future, and as they move forward in their lives--wherever God leads them--perhaps their own story will become the fuel by which God fans the flame of another’s faith.
Author: Erin Steelman