Joel Hart had served as associate pastor at Second Indianapolis RPC, which is one hour north of Columbus, for nearly two years. In January 2021, he visited Columbus to preach for us and have a Q&A time with the congregation, where we got to know him and his family a little better. Shortly thereafter, our congregation voted to call him as our pastor. Almost exactly one year after our pulpit became vacant, Joel and Orlena Hart came to the Columbus RPC!
It’s impossible to guess how many prayers were lifted up by Columbus RPC members on the behalf of our congregation and also the Hart family in the two weeks Joel had to decide how to respond to our call, but it was a very prayerful time indeed!
We knew the Harts had very justifiable cause to remain at Second RPC in Indianapolis if they so chose, but we knew that the decision was ultimately in the Lord’s hand, as He is the Great Shepherd of the sheep, Who unfailingly cares for His church. How elated we were to hear Joel’s letter to the congregation read aloud, announcing his intent to minister among us in Columbus! Praise the Lord!
A Time to Wait and a Time to Move
We wanted to have Joel in Columbus as soon as possible, but as the Lord’s perfect providence would have it, Orlena was due to give birth to Seth, their fifth child, very soon after Joel’s acceptance of our call. Understandably, they did not want to be in the middle of this transition when it was time for Seth to arrive.
Through the favour of our God, Seth was born safely on the 12th of February, and shortly thereafter the Harts began the work of relocating. This was one busy family for several weeks! The Lord provided wonderfully as they were able to sell their house in Indianapolis and find one in Columbus, all in relatively short order.
Joel began filling our pulpit on March 14th, 2021 and his sermon to us on that day was taken from 1 Corinthians 2:2, about the necessity of the proclamation of Jesus Christ, and Him crucified, to be the focus of his ministry in our church, and of any ministry of the church. Shortly after that, amidst the relocation of his family to Columbus, which wouldn’t be finalized for a few more weeks, Joel began the work of getting to know the people of the congregation. A big part of this effort was holding open office hours at a Columbus coffee shop twice weekly, where many members gladly met him!
Joel’s installation as Columbus RP‘s pastor was on April 16th. Dr. David Whitla delivered a stirring message at this installation service that would rejoice the heart of any believer in Christ, as he proclaimed the inevitable victory of Christ’s Gospel in the world, and reminding all present that the Lord’s placement of Joel in Columbus was part of this work of the Gospel that He is perfectly accomplishing in the city of Columbus.
Very fittingly, Rev. James Faris from Second RP delivered the charge to his former associate pastor, and Rev. Adam Niess of RPC of Lafayette, who was an intern at Columbus RP several years ago, delivered the charge to our congregation. What a blessing it was to see so many faithful men in the front with Joel, praying for his new ministry at the church in Columbus!
We are very thankful to the Lord for sending the Hart family to Columbus when He did. We hope and pray for many years of fruitful ministry as we become an increasingly faithful local body of believers, and a brighter Gospel light in the city of Columbus! God be praised for His perfect works!
Sam and Ellen Stearns are members of the Columbus RP Church in Columbus, Indiana, and are lifelong residents of Indiana. They have been married since July 2020 and hope to raise a family to the glory of God!