From Alabama to Vegas, planter says ‘God was already at work’

Until Ryan Ivy moved to Las Vegas in 2018, Mobile, Alabama, was the only home he’d ever known.

He felt the Holy Spirit working in his heart at a young age, then felt the call to ministry at 11.

“As I grew up, I began to prepare for the call that God had on my life, and then I went to the University of Mobile,” Ryan said.

He became the associate pastor at Crawford Baptist Church, and he learned and grew. But it wasn’t long before he felt like God was calling him outside the city limits of Mobile and perhaps even beyond the borders of Alabama.

“I took a missions trip to Philadelphia, worked with a church planter and saw church planting the way it looks in the Book of Acts,” Ryan said. “I saw them engaging the community and making disciples and saw how a church can be birthed from that.”

And when the church planter asked him when he was going to get involved in planting himself, that lit a fire in him.

“I came back home, and I was tag-team preaching through the Book of Acts with our pastor,” Ryan said. “God spoke to me through His word in that time, and others affirmed that call, and my wife and I began to pray about where we might go.”

He had an opportunity to go on a vision trip to Las Vegas, and while he was there, God gave him a heart for the city, he said.

“I was broken for the brokenness there,” Ryan said. “So I got my wife, Kierstin, to come out here and see it with me.”

The couple couldn’t get past the fact that the city was 92% lost, had a large homelessness problem and had many children in need of foster care.

“The percentage of lostness was 95% just a few years ago, so we knew God was already at work, and we wanted to join Him,” Ryan said.

So he and Kierstin joined the ranks of North American Mission Board missionaries who are working to reach the estimated 275 million lost people in North America. When they first got to Las Vegas, they began an apprenticeship with WALK Church through NAMB’s Send Network for church planters.

“It’s been awesome; we’ve learned a lot,” Ryan said.

With guidance and support from their team, they moved into a community called Mountain’s Edge with the idea that one day they would plant a church there.

“Mountain’s Edge has 60,000 people without a single evangelical church,” Ryan said. “Coming from an area with a church every half mile, it broke my heart to think that 60,000 people didn’t have an evangelical church they could attend in their own community.”

Ryan and Kierstin began getting to know their neighbors as best they could during COVID-19.

In February, they had their first service at their new church plant, Image Church, with a core group of around 25 people.

Ryan asked for prayer that God would bring people to them, as well as a children’s minister to work alongside them.

“It’s hard to put into words just how different Las Vegas is than what you think it is,” Ryan said. “We pray they would be known for the revival that’s happening here instead of the sin it’s known for. And we’re expectant as we pray for that.”

VIDEO: Learn more about how God is working through Send Network church planters in Las Vegas

This article was originally published by TAB Media, the parent company of The Alabama Baptist and The Baptist Paper.

Published May 10, 2021

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