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Where Jesus Is

Oftentimes, we don’t feel ready for the big things in life, like getting married, having children, or even starting a house church, but we don’t need to be — God is ready and with us.

When Jillian Vincent was a freshman in high school she went on a missions trip to Tijuana, Mexico.

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“I had never before been exposed to that level of poverty,” she said. “Tijuana is located just across the border from San Diego, barely a half hour away. I remember being horrified when I realized how such wealthy people could live so close to poverty and seemingly not care.”

When she returned from Tijuana, though, the Lord truly opened Jillian’s eyes.

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“God shocked me by showing me this poverty was just a mile away from my own suburban neighborhood in Mansfield, Ohio. I realized I was San Diego and Tijuana was five minutes from my house.”

When Jillian met her husband, Tim, she realized they shared the same heart – they both felt a calling to be missionaries, but not the sort of missionaries that lived in exotic locations. They had both grown up in the suburbs, had a wonderfully safe childhood, and now felt called to be a light in areas close to home, places where children hadn’t had the same blessing of growing up within similar parameters and conditions.

“We didn’t feel we could do anything by standing on the sidelines,” she said. “We both felt God saying, ‘move in.’”

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It was around that time they found the original Triangle House Church. They found that, suddenly, they weren’t “weird” anymore; they had found a company of “weirdos” who had already moved in and were loving the community right where they were, in the Dayton View Triangle Neighborhood on the West Side.

Jillian compares the Triangle neighborhood to the Kingdom of God.

“There are old houses that have been preserved and cared for. Each house has a beautiful history and was masterfully created or restored. There are no ‘cookie cutter’ houses in this neighborhood; each one is unique.”

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For two years, Jillian and Tim worked alongside other members of the house church to love on and be in community within the Triangle, but they began to lose leaders. Tim and Jillian found that, in the midst of military moves, pursuit of other callings, and various trials, there were fewer and fewer people to do ministry with. After much prayer, they left the house church and joined another Region 1 house church. Jillian and Tim enjoyed being in community with their new house church but never lost sight of their desire to love on those in the West Side of Dayton.

After a couple years with this house church, Jillian and Tim couldn’t believe it when their friends in ministry, the Herrs, returned to Dayton. Jillian and Tim had never lost hope for the Triangle community, and now, with the help of their friends, were ready to rebuild the community within their neighborhood. Shortly after Easter, Triangle House Church met again for the first time.

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Oftentimes, we don’t feel ready for the big things in life, like getting married, having children, or even starting a house church, but we don’t need to be — God is ready and with us.

“What do we look like now?” Jillian says. “We are a beautifully diverse group. Some I know from the original Triangle House Church, but there are also some new characters, too!”

Two of the men in their community run Saving Grace Ministries, a local ministry that reaches out to males in the Montgomery County jail system and seeks to help them find godly community once they are out of jail. They have a woman who grew up in the Triangle community that writes books about Biblical Womanhood.

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“We are much the same as all the ‘sides of Dayton,’” Jillian said. “We are married, single, out of prison, seeking PhD’s, part of restored marriages, stay at home moms, and have kids upon kids upon kids. But the point is, we have so much work God has given us to do to love the West side, and we hope we can love each other in the process.”

The Triangle House Church tries to love their neighbors with intention, planning one neighborhood outreach a season. They are also seeking to have “open schedules” to see when God is wanting them to say yes – from baking cookies for their neighbors to offering to help someone fix his or her car.

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“Sometimes the best yes you can have is just living life in a place that desperately needs you to believe in it enough to move it.”

Someone once asked Jillian, “Don’t you want to be in a church where not everyone looks and talks like you? Don’t you want to be in a church where the one thing in common is Jesus?” And it is the best thing in common, she says. “Our stories have Jesus in the center and we seek to reach out to people who need Jesus in their center. And Jesus is needed on the West side.”

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Jesus came to seek and save the lost. Triangle House Church just wants to be where He already is.

 

 

Author: Steph Duff

Photographer: Mindy Braun