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Crossing the Threshold

Pastor Brad and Cheri’s story by Jamie Robison

Each time Brad prayed, he saw the same vision: a closed door with a beckoning handle. He knew that God wanted him to reach out in faith and simply turn the handle, whether locked or whether teeming with new adventure and commitment. As Brad contemplated his conversations with Pastor Randy about considering coming to Beaverton Foursquare Church, his mind whirled with endless thoughts. The steadiness of his thriving church in Spokane. The major shift a move like this would bring to his wife and three daughters. The disruption of everything that was familiar. Despite his own thoughts, however, there was a familiar thread of B4 Church that was already woven into his years of life and ministry, leaving him with a confidence that seemed to be a gift from the Lord. If the door was locked, at least he would know that he’d been obedient. And if it was open? He would cross the threshold with humility and expectation.

Brad hadn’t always hoped or planned to be in pastoral ministry. Most of his young life growing up in Phoenix, Arizona, he was raised in a lineage of successful businessmen, with strong morals and a drive to work hard. When Brad was seven years old, his dad decided to follow Jesus, a commitment that completely shifted their entire household. Amidst his school and his athletic activities, Brad was thrown into the newness of church life. Gradually, the influence of his father’s decision created an openness in him, even if he hadn’t yet experienced Jesus on his own.

Through high school, Brad honed his skills on the swim team, and was Arizona state champion in the 100-meter Butterfly event, ranking in the top 50 worldwide. He went to New Mexico State University on scholarship for swimming, sure that his success held the promise of a bright future. But one day when Brad was in the aquatic center and the conference rankings were posted, Jesus intervened in an unexpected way.  As Brad looked up at the board and saw his name listed as the top swimmer in his event, he was consumed with a feeling of meaninglessness.

What should have been an exciting moment of celebration and recognition sent Brad straight to the question, “Is this all there is to life?”

He went back to his dorm room and found his bible in his desk amidst papers and school books. Though he was just beginning, he knew that he wanted to pursue life with Jesus and find a way to make an impact on people. As a part of this revelation in his life, Brad decided to fully give up swimming—a career he’d worked for years to achieve–in order to attend Arizona Christian University. Though he stepped into a world of unfamiliarity, a veil was lifting into a more meaningful life. To his ex-teammates, it may have looked like his life was unraveling. But God was weaving the threads of obedience and revelation into the tapestry of a whole new life.

While studying at AZ Christian University, Brad began attending a church where he met his future wife, Cheri. They connected quickly, and Cheri shared about her home and upbringing in Hillsboro, OR and the church she attended, Beaverton Foursquare. She was preparing through her studies to be in ministry with an emphasis in counseling and knew that she wanted to marry someone who was preparing to pastor people. Brad noticed a gentle strength about her
—a confidence she carried and a passion for quietly serving people whenever and wherever. He realized that Cheri was someone he could see himself marrying and partnering within this life centered around Jesus.

During their dating relationship, Brad was visiting Oregon with Cheri and they attended Beaverton Foursquare. Pastor Ron Mehl was speaking, and this was Brad’s first introduction to the Foursquare denomination. “I think maybe I could be a Foursquare pastor,” Brad said to Cheri, reflecting on his experience. In his eventual ministry life, he would find himself drawn to Ron Mehl’s teachings and ordering the tapes.

Brad continued his studies at Grand Canyon University, and also began an internship at the church he’d been attending. A mentor at that church continued to call out ministry qualities in Brad, continually opening his eyes to what pastoring might look like. Following graduation in 1996, Brad and Cheri got married, and he started as a youth pastor at another small church in Phoenix. After having gotten his feet wet in ministry life, he and Cheri became a united force, venturing into the world of new and shifting ministry assignments.

During their early ministry years together in Arizona, they became executive pastors and then college pastors. Two of their daughters, Morgan and Maddy, were born during this season. Their third daughter, Meg, came along in 2002 as they began a church planting adventure in Spokane, WA. Brad and Cheri listened to the Lord’s call on their lives, moving and discerning as a unified couple. They invested in relationships and in pastoral mentors, including Jared Roth, who now pastors Evergreen Foursquare Church in Hillsboro with his wife Ann. These mentors became guideposts that echoed and affirmed the voice of Jesus.

“My heart has always been that the church is about Jesus...Could we be the church that changes a region?”

In 2005, their family was invited to New York to train under the leadership of Tim Keller at the Redeemer Church Planting Center. It would be a big move—three young girls in the big city—but they both felt led by the Lord to take the step.

Just a few days before they were preparing to leave for New York, however, a tragic accident became the center focus of their entire family. Their youngest, Meg, was living life as toddlers do, and in an instant, was run over by a car as her older sister screamed in horror. Hearing the commotion, Brad ran out of the house to a scene that looked devastating, and what felt like the blink of an eye and eternity all at once became the only thing that mattered. To the baffling of doctors, Meg survived. And despite the tire marks across her chest, she escaped with only a broken leg and a miraculous story.

Once Brad and Cheri felt that healing was stable and secure, they continued in their call to New York where they jumped into training and church planting. Fairly quickly, they had a growing congregation of unbelievably diverse new believers. Learning the city and falling in love with the people of the city had always been their hearts. There was so much that was encouraging and life-giving as they saw people who needed Jesus drawn to him as savior. Even though the work was so meaningful, Brad was starting to feel how unsustainable this lifestyle would be for their family. Out of mounting stress and a heart to preserve the health of their family, Brad and Cheri moved back to Spokane in search of some stability and longevity.

They entered a season of re-centering and laying new foundations for their family. Brad became a stockbroker while also teaching once a month at Life Center Foursquare in Spokane and they found their girls settling into new rhythms. Brad and Cheri leaned in together, asking many questions of God and one another about what their future would hold. Though there was talk about Brad becoming the next senior pastor at Life Center, he felt a pull in another direction—one directly across the street from their house—to Summit Church.

Summit had been in decline for fourteen years, shrinking to an attendance of 250. This was unlike any of the specific ministry dynamics that Brad had encountered yet, but he felt the familiar voice of the Lord as he stepped in to lead Summit Church. Over the next nine years, the church and the surrounding communities began to flourish. Summit was a church that was “in the city, for the city,” expanding to three campuses and growing to a weekly attendance of 2,800. Brad and Cheri’s wholehearted commitment to love people well and to extend the same grace to everyone formed a culture of open invitation to be a part of God’s story in this thriving community.

Summit Church had become that season of stability, hard work, and longevity for the Williams family. In the midst of these 9 years, they also experienced deep moments of grace, hardship, and celebration. From the loss of Cheri’s dad in 2010 to the scare of their oldest daughter, Morgan, battling a nearly-fatal episode of sepsis, they felt the presence of the Lord sustaining them when their strength had met its end. In 2018, they celebrated Morgan and TJ’s wedding, welcoming a new son and brother-in-law to their family.

Toward the end of 2018, Brad began to feel like a transition was coming. Summit Church was in the midst of planning and dreaming for the new year, yet something in his heart was held back from diving in. He and Cheri both felt a nudge from God, though nothing had been brought before them. A few months into the new year, Pastor Randy from B4 Church was elected as the new Foursquare President and began a Holy Spirit-led process of searching for the next person who would step in and become pastor of B4. This process led Randy to meet and pray with Brad, who was beginning to feel the Lord’s divine direction “When Randy and I sat together...there began to be a knitting together of our hearts around what God does in the local church, and I began to sense that there was much more of a match than I could’ve ever imagined.”

Brad continued to pray, and he continued to see the vision of the door before him. He knew, at the very least, he needed to reach out and turn the handle by letting Pastor Randy know that he was feeling called to move forward in the process. On the morning of their scheduled conversation, Brad opened to Revelation 3:8, which says, “Behold I see a door before you that no man can close.” With confidence, he began a journey that has led him to cross the threshold into a new season at Beaverton Foursquare.

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