Step of Faith

When Graham and Rachel McCulloch moved to Round Rock in January of 2022, they arrived in a city they did not know, to a house they had never seen, with nothing but their suitcases.  They left behind their family, friends, and church to move to a place where they didn’t know a single person.  They describe choosing Round Rock as a fairly random occurrence - just a place with some good reviews that gave them peace when they prayed about it.  Graham says that moving here with no ties felt like an act of “stepping out in faith.”  But they quickly found that when they stepped out of what was known, they stepped into the provision of the Lord.

Rachel and Graham both grew up oversees as missionary kids.  Rachel spent her young life living in Laos and Thailand with her family.  Although she is an American citizen by birth, the only time she ever spent in the states was during her four years of college, after which she returned to Thailand as an international school teacher.

Graham is from the UK, but also spent a large portion of his childhood in Indonesia.  He moved to Thailand as an adult, working remotely as a software engineer.  He and Rachel met at a holiday party and married in February of 2020, just weeks before COVID turned the world on its head.
Visa issues were common during the pandemic, and they watched many friends become separated into different countries because they did not share a common citizenship.  By the time restrictions lifted, the McCullochs had an infant who was a US citizen by birth; so they decided to move to the States to allow Graham to obtain citizenship here.  They wanted to be certain that they would always have a place their family could be together in the event of a crisis.

When asked about what it felt like making such a big move, their individual answers differed.  For Graham, it was mostly exciting.  “I’ve been moving to new places all my life,” he says, “and I’m very comfortable with it.” He jokes that his foreign accent helps him out in situations where he doesn’t know what he’s supposed to be doing because people automatically give him the benefit of the doubt.  For Rachel, she had a lot of anxiety about moving here with their daughter, Charlotte, and not having the support of family nearby.  She says she was plagued with worry that centered around a lack of community. “How will we find friends and people to support us? What do I do with Charlotte every day? How can I find babysitters?”

And so with fear and excitement, they flew across the world to start over in a place they chose at random.  And on that first weekend in their new home, they made another random choice: to attend the Sunday Gathering at Redeemer Round Rock.

God was There

Rachel says that from that very first Sunday morning, it was “so obvious” that God was looking out for them.  “We were greeted right away…and it just seemed like a warm, friendly place where it would be possible to make friends quickly.” She describes taking Charlotte into the cry room and forming an immediate connection with another mom, who through conversation found out they didn’t have anything in their home yet and posted on the Redeemer Women’s group asking for donations.  She later showed up with tons of household items for them.  Another church member brought by bags of groceries.  One of the elders followed up with them on the same day and connected them to a Gospel Community.  They fondly remember what a blessing it was to have a safe place to leave Charlotte on Sunday mornings, and what a joy it was to be invited to a Super Bowl party right off the bat. In His sweet grace, the Lord looked upon their greatest fears in making this move and answered them with immediate comfort.  “He didn’t give us time to worry too much,” says Graham, “In ten years’ time we’ll look back and go ‘Remember when we moved to Texas and God was right there on that first weekend?’”

Another thing happened on that first Sunday at Redeemer that solidified for them that the Lord’s hand was guiding them and directing their steps.  The sermon that Sunday was over Acts 2, a passage which describes the formation of the early church.  The chapter begins with the Holy Spirit falling upon the people of God, commonly referred to as Pentecost.  And then the Apostle Peter delivers a sermon to the assembly, recanting to them the prophesies that foretold this day, declaring again what Jesus accomplished through his crucifixion, and urging them to repent.  And then the chapter ends with thousands of brothers and sisters being baptized into the family of God, and the beautiful description of how they were unified in Christ.  “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need…And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.” (Acts 2:42-45,47)
This is a passage that can easily be romanticized in Christian circles. We can sometimes read these words and imagine a radical form of communal living that isn’t congruent with suburban life in the 21st century.  But for the McCullochs, these words symbolized the promises of God made true in their lives when they needed them most.  And they felt especially poignant because just before they left Thailand, Rachel’s dad led a family devotion in which he spoke the very same words over them.  To them this felt like God clearly showing them that He is in control, making “really obvious connection lines between the fellowship/family that we have [in Thailand] and God’s family here.”

And from that morning where they randomly chose a church to attend, Acts 2 has been rooted in their hearts and in their lives.  When asked about their views on community, and how they’ve been changed and/or confirmed over this season at Redeemer, Rachel says that it was as if the Lord was telling her she was going to be fine. “This is the same community. We all have Christ in common. We all have salvation and our gratitude to God for that. And, that gratitude and love for God spills out and overflows, you know, to the people around us…You can sort of depend on that, you know, God is present in those people. So that makes it easier to form friendships and closeness because you’re looking in the same direction.”

The Blessing and the Challenge

Graham says that being on the receiving end of such blessing has challenged him to be more aware of people who may need help and stepping up when a situation arises.  He describes coming to Redeemer as one piece of a jigsaw puzzle, showing the bigger picture of Christ in his life. “Over your lifetime as a Christian, every time you have an experience like this, it’s another bit of evidence that God is walking alongside you. And as you have more and more of those assurances, your belief strengthens and strengthens each time.” Rachel elaborates on this point, “Maybe that’s kind of what growing in holiness and likeness to Christ means. That you have these repeated experiences. Your nature is not necessarily changed - you’re still a sinful person - but you have all of this history and it’s much easier to react appropriately and to believe and to be Christ-like because you’ve seen how He is all through your life.”

Ultimately, Rachel and Graham would agree, the story of their move to Round Rock is not a story about the McCullochs, but rather a story about the faithfulness of God on display through the faithfulness of His church.  When the people of God take the radical teaching of Acts 2 literally, lives are changed and families are sustained and the local body flourishes.  It doesn’t mean we live in communes and hide away from the culture; it means we live out a bold commitment to community within a culture that doesn’t.  It means showing up with groceries.  It means hosting Super Bowl parties.  It means asking real questions to the mom you don’t recognize as you rock your babies alongside one another.  And it means, according to Rachel and Graham, that “God is bigger and God is with us everywhere, looking out for us and in control…It doesn’t matter where you go; there are believers and those [believers] are your family that you can turn to. And that’s just an amazing blessing.”
Written by Lacy Jarvis, Pictures by Rebecca Lysaght.
Written by Lacy Jarvis, Pictures by Rebecca Lysaght.