blake waller

In your life, where have you seen hope emerge from difficulty?

I could tell story after story of God's faithfulness in this area. I started following Jesus right at the end of my senior year of high school, and shortly after graduation, I walked through one of the hardest seasons of my life, watching my family break apart as my parents divorced after 18 years of marriage. Going from never really going to church or having God as part of my life, to watching everything I knew unravel and break before my eyes was so painful, but God used that time to mold and shape me and teach me about His faithfulness, His comfort, how He is a refuge, and what it means to hold on to hope. This lesson continued to build as years later my wife and I followed Jesus into the unknown by moving to Oklahoma to do college ministry and raise our own support, not knowing that we would welcome our two children into the world during the time we were there. So many times, we didn't think we would be able to pay the bills or keep doing ministry, but again, He showed His faithfulness and provided all that we needed as we needed as gave us hope where there was no hope.

How has God used specific people to bring you to this point in your faith journey? 

Have any of these people been unexpected?

MANY have been unexpected for sure! God has a way of placing specific people at just the right time to be able to walk me through whatever season I am in, or to teach an encourage me and build me up. While in Norman, God placed an older gentleman in my life who was a missionary in Austria for 10 years. He became a spiritual father to me because even though I have an amazing dad who has taught me so much, he only began his faith journey of Jesus in recent years. This man has taught me about relationship, about apprenticing Jesus, about leading my family spiritually and leading people in ways that have changed me at my core. God also used my time of being the only white male college pastor leading & investing in an all Black/African American student ministry at OU to teach me so much about reconciliation, listening to other people's stories, seeing beauty in difference, and the power of presence and just being present and loving people well and how far that allows the Gospel to go. I have a LOT more to share on this part, actually.

What has “All My Hope” revealed to you about the nature of church family? How has this challenged some of the “typical” ways we view church community?

LISTENING TO EACH OTHER'S STORIES is so pivotal and crucial to not only building community but also to advance the Gospel and the Kingdom. This film actually brought back an important event back 5 years or so ago, right before {my wife} Anna and I left to do ministry at OU. Sam Williams (member) was in our apartment telling about racial reconciliation and longing to see that happen in our church and our community and asking real questions about how that can happen, like, what does it look like for, or how can, white brothers and sisters stand in the gap and hear the stories of those who are different from us that we might learn and grow together to see the Gospel advance.

Well fast forward to my time at OU, where I had no idea I'd be working with discipling student leaders in an all African-American student ministry to see OU's black student body be reached for Jesus and the Kingdom. I learned the power of listening and leaning in and how trust is gained and built that way. I learned that is how the family of God is built up and that it is crucial to what it means to be the family of God. This film shined a beacon of light on this truth.

What has “All My Hope” revealed to you about the nature of church family? How has this challenged some of the “typical” ways we view church community?

I know I do not have enough space to even scratch the surface here. The word "remnant" has come up often for me over the past 2 1/2 years, the idea that God is raising up a remnant of believers who are faithful to surrendered obedience and apprenticeship to Him, that long for Him and His Kingdom and to be a part of what He is doing in the world and communities around them. I see this in our church, a call and an invitation to whole-hearted surrender and discipleship; a return to the spiritual disciplines and genuine apprenticeship to Jesus in not the "big, bold, move overseas and sell everything you have, missionary kind of mindset" (if that makes sense) but the day-to-day, in being a leader, or a stay-at-home mom, or a worker at Kroger, or a barista, or a lawyer, kind of way. How to follow Jesus in the places that we are in a way that is genuine, practical, rubber-meets-the-road, and people pour into the Kingdom because THIS is what people and the world need!!