Would you describe your walk with God as fresh, passionate, vibrant and full of life? Or would you consider it to be stagnant? No matter where you are on your walk, that's exactly where God promises to meet you-even if it's messy. Sharing his own story of spiritual drifting in his new book, Start Where You Are (Baker Books; September 1), popular online pastor Rashawn Copeland encourages you to accept yourself as a glorious work-in-progress, a beloved child in whom God delights and a person on the brink of revival.
Following a childhood that included the tragedy of gun violence, as well as the opportunity to play college football, Rashawn found himself in Los Angeles, California living the Hollywood dream of money, romantic relationships and a flashy lifestyle others envied. Despite all that, Copeland was miserable. One day, he found himself sitting in a room holding a gun to his mouth wishing he could escape the unhappiness he had felt for several years. It was through a God-ordained encounter via social media, Copeland decided his life wasn't worth ending and the next phase of his life-of turning it all over to God-began.
Start Where You Are is full of reminders that we don't have to impress or perform for God. Copeland anchors his guidance in Scripture and shows you how to start your walk with God now, even in the midst of your addiction, doubt, depression, or the fear you may be battling.
Q: Rashawn, thanks for doing this interview with us. Tell us a little about your current ministry.
AMAZING! Excited to be here with you guys. The ministry focus I have now is digital outreach ministry. I absolutely love that we can reach people right in the middle of a crisis through our devices for Christ. It's amazing right? I think God moves beyond the 1 hour service on Sunday mornings - He's using the other 167 Hours to move in the hearts of people Monday through Saturday. I truly believe we "as the church" should have our attention where their attention is "the unchurched or unbelievers." I'm thankful God used a Christian girl's post to save my life - years ago when I was in my darkest hour on the verge of suicide. God met me there! Through a cell phone device.
Q: Congratulations on your new book. Briefly, tell us what "Start Where You Are" is about.
Love it! Thank you, Start Where You Are is an anthem of hope. My heart behind the book is to remind the reader that their mess isn't too messy for God. No resume is ever too bad for God. We like flawless resumes, but God looks for those with blemishes and gaps. That's good news: He actually has Mercy for your mess. He's not working around your mess but in it. No matter how far you feel from Him, you can start your walk with Him now, even amid the addiction, doubt, depression, lust, or even the subtle years you've spent drifting away from God.
Start where you are, and God will take you where you need to be.
Q: I believe the book was very much coming out from your own life. Tell us how you came to know Christ.
The night I came to Christ was far from roses and rainbows. I was on the verge of taking my own life. I wish I could have said Jesus met me on the beautiful shores of Galilee, but it didnt happen that way. My life had suddenly been sucked into the dark shadows of depression. One night I was like forget it. I'm going to end it all. Just one pull of this trigger and it will all be over. I had a pistol in my mouth, I was stumbling, shaking, and sweating. I finally took a knee, not to pray, but to play a few final thoughts to my head. Finally, out of nowhere - something HUGE happened. My cell phone screen lit up like a Christmas tree in the dark and joyless room. To my suprise the only Christian girl I knew sent a notification to my phone. Guess what it was? You got it. She sent me one of the most powerful Bible verses in all of scriptures and as I read it, it read me!
As I was reading and reading, I was weeping and weeping... I cried out and Jesus showed up! (See book for the rest)
Q: What are some reasons people may have a hard time believing God accepts and loves them?
First off, I'd like to tell you. God is personally and passionately committed to your good, even when you fail. Start Where You Are. I truly believe people have a hard time of seeing and savoring the love of God, because sometimes we focus on good things rather than Who is greater - than the good things that fail to satisfy us. We as human beings settle for less than God's best. I don't know about you guys! But, sometimes I love playing in the dirt (anger, jealousy, porn) rather than delighting in the presence of a Holy and Loving God who is worthy of ALL my heart's affections and ALL my mind's attention. The moment we began to pause and ponder the truth that God is infinitely greater and He is fully accepting to us, just as we are. It truly changes everything!
Q: Why is conviction so much more important than being cool?
Great question! When I look at my life I hate to admit it. But, I can't run away from the conviction of the Holy Spirit when He illuminates the areas of my life where I'm blatantly deciding to settle for compromise. We were never called to trade the conviction of the cross for the sake of popularity. The world needs this! If not, I admit I do. The culture of cool who affirms and promotes the "cancel culture" is misleading many Christians away from the beauty of living a faith filled and loved spilled life from acceptance, not for it.
Q: How can we learn to be expressions of God's faithfulness wherever God has placed us?
AMAZING! Here's how you do it. Even if you're not where you want to be. Even if you're not where you thought you'd be. Look around and see God's faithfulness, regardless how you're feeling. Be Grateful. Look to the cross and the finished work of Jesus, and rest in His future promises. You'll never be the same. Choose to open up the Bible not to be informed, but transformed. Not to know the scriptures, but to trust, and live them out!
Q: Where have you seen God use difficult or messy parts of your story for good? What would you say to someone who is struggling to see that in their own lives?
The messiest places in my life has always revealed my own brokenness. I'm extremely grateful for this. Brokenness is where God, stops us, halts us, and kills our progress. He allows us to see how utterly hopeless our lives are truly without Him. It's a beautiful thing to recognize that all that we are, all that we have, all that we do in and of ourselves will lead to a dead end if we do it alone. But, when we entrust ourselves to the saving grace found in Christ, only then will we flourish. My prayer is that you'd embrace the broken areas of your life. Remember that God breaks us to save us. In these moments respond like David, "Let the bones you have broken rejoice." Psalm 51.
Q: How can someone take their next step in faith right now-whether it's for the very first time, or the first time in a long time?
Start right where you are. God doesn't meet us where we pretend to be, but He meets us exactly where we are. Scriptures state plainly we've all falling short of God's glory. Because of that we can't save ourselves and that's why we need the Savior, Jesus Christ the Son of God. Turn to Him by simply crying out to Him with a broken and contrite heart (Psalm 51). The Bible says, Anyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved. Call out, cry out, or even scream out if you have too! He'll meet you in your mess, love you through it, and lead you out of it.
Q: How will your new book help us in our walk with Christ?
My book, "Start Where You Are" will help you see and savor the Savior in a new and fresh way. The the book you will be encouraged to realize the power of your identity in Christ, and walk free from the burdens of your past. You will also discover the truth about how God views you. Start Where You Are spells out practical and productive ways to experience God right where you are, and where you need Him most, right there in your own heart.
To purchase the book, click here.