& Jackie Medenblik '82
New Direction, New Church,
As founders of New Life Church
in New Lenox, Illinois, faith is the most essential qualification in Jul
'82 and Jackie '82 Medenblik's job description. How else can they be certain
they are meeting the standards set by their Supervisor?
"There is no way we could
take on the task of planting a church without trusting the Lord," said
Pastor Jul, a former lawyer. "God told me to do this, my wife affirmed
it, and each step has been taken in faith."
Shortly after completing
his master's degree in 1995 at Calvin Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids,
Michigan, he and his family embarked on their church-planting mission.
What started as a gathering of four in 1996 - Jul, Jackie, and their children,
Joshua and Julianne - has flourished into a congregation approaching 600
regular Sunday worshipers.
For the first few years of
its existence, church members met weekly at a local high school. New Life
received an anonymous gift of land in 2000, and in November 2003, the members
culminated a three-year faith journey by opening the doors to their 26,000-square-foot
"We launched our capital
campaign in 2001, and broke ground in 2002," Jul recounted, "and we did
not go from one point to another without seeing obvious evidence of God's
faithfulness. Watching Him work from the very beginning and bring us to
this point has been remarkable, and it gives us reason and confidence to
continue moving forward."
Trinity served as a training
ground for the Medenbliks, who have been married for 21 years, to prepare
them for the challenges that planting New Life Community Church would present.
Both of them honed their people skills as resident assistants during their
undergraduate days and have also participated on the College's alumni board
"Throughout our experiences
here, we learned how to build relationships within a community," said Jackie,
who returned to her alma mater in 2000 to work in the Cooper Career Center.
"That wisdom has helped us greatly. Both of us have felt a gratifying sense
of joy to see God bring people from diverse backgrounds to form a family
at New Life."
The church's mission states
that New Life is "dedicated to leading people to take their next step with
Jesus.together." It is a message that subtly reminds its hearers that there
is always progress to be made.
"I don't want our church
ever to think that we've arrived," Jul said. "I want us to keep growing
in our diversity and our giving. There is no security in the status quo,
and if we're not looking ahead in faith, we run the risk of not living
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