It’s very hard to live a radical life for Christ and to maintain a comfortable life at the same time. In Matthew 19, Jesus says to a very well-to-do young man: “walk away from all that brings you comfort, and come follow me.” Needless to say, the man could not bring himself to do it.
Hello. We are the Proudfoots. My name is Morgan, and this is my wife, Jess. We have four children at home: Noah (15), Elli (12), Chloe (11), Meryn (4), and an adult daughter, Brianna (21). Over the course of the past six months, we have all felt like that rich young ruler with Jesus asking us to follow Him, counting the cost of what we will leave behind, and having to make a choice.
By God’s grace and the Spirit’s help, we have chosen to follow Him, and we have left behind much. It has been, and continues to be, very difficult. But at the very same time, it is also so good. At this point you may be wondering what exactly I am talking about? I am talking about the journey our family embarked on several months ago when we responded to God’s calling to move across the country for the purpose of establishing a faithful local church in New Bedford, Massachusetts.
For some, perhaps this same journey would not be that difficult. For us, it has been extremely challenging. We have learned that there is no way we would ever make it as a military family, moving every few years. Out of the six of us, I am the only person in our family that appears to like and welcome change. On top of that, as to be expected, we encountered many challenges and frustrations. Walking away from our “comforts” has felt more akin to a slow and painful removing of a Band-Aid, than that of a cheerful sacrifice. But praise God, He accepts them both. It has been two months now since we arrived and we are beginning to get our feet back under us. You can paint a wall and unpack a box very quickly, but processing the struggles of the heart takes some time.
Many have asked us, “Why New Bedford?” Well for almost twenty years, our family has loved New England. We have deep roots here and a great love for New Englanders. At the same time, we have always wanted to live for God’s kingdom and not for the comforts of this world, but did not know where that would lead us permanently. These factors brought us to the awareness of the spiritual bankruptcy of New Bedford, Massachusetts.
New Bedford is a city of 100,000 people, with another 150,000 in the close surrounding area, with very little gospel presence. Many of the city’s churches have closed, and with the exception of a few, the ones that remain are either liberal churches preaching a Christ-less gospel, or aging orthodox churches that have disconnected from the culture at large.
The city is best described as a “both/and city.” Many people in the city are hopeless and disgruntled. What they see and experience on a daily basis is a city that is broken by an opiate epidemic, shootings, violent crimes, and decaying infrastructures. AND, at the very same time, it is a city that boasts a proud cultural history, that is striving for revitalization, and that contains great people filling the neighborhoods.
New Bedford is a great city, a city that God loves.
It is much like the city of Nineveh in the book of Jonah (that ironically has a unique connection to whales like New Bedford); a city that was spiritually broken yet loved dearly by God. God’s plan to call that city back to Himself was to send a messenger to herald good news of faith and repentance.
In a similar way, we believe that what the great city of New Bedford needs most is faithful gospel proclamation from churches that herald the good news of Jesus Christ. We long for the day when the city will have many faithful churches, but until that day, we are praying and laboring for just this one… Grace Harbor Church of New Bedford.