Listen: Terrence and Emma Mullings chat with Hope 103.2’s Katrina Roe. Above: Emma and Terrence with their children Jeremiah, Hosannah and Israelle.
When you hear the word ‘Miami’, do you picture beaches, palm trees, fast cars, perpetually tanned bodies, eternal sunshine and glamour? Hollywood will do that to you.
In reality, the coastal city of South Florida, USA is a very diverse place—with plenty of suffering and brokenness alongside its wealth and beauty. That’s why Emma Mullings and her husband Terrence are moving their young family there: to plant a church called C3 History Makers, Miami.
Chatting about their plans with Katrina Roe, they said it’s a dream God has been speaking to them about for years.
For Terrence, the seeds were sown at a very young age. Although Aussie by birth, his Jamaican parents left Brisbane and returned to Jamaica when he was still a baby—and he spent his childhood growing up both there and in Miami. Now as an adult, he’s spent years nurturing an itch to return and spread the good news of Jesus.
The Call of God to Miami, Florida
“Back in 2014 I went on a 40 day fast and I really got clarity that Miami was a city God was calling us to live in, and to love the people,” he said. “It’s amazing how God takes you full circle.”
For Emma, the decision took a little longer.
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“Miami was never on my heart until God put it there”, she said. “Terrence had been talking about it for many years (but) I needed to hear from God myself. So we took the family over there on a trip. I wanted to see the city, put my feet on the ground.”
Very quickly, Emma saw both the best and the worst of the place.
“We’d been there for 24 hours and I felt like I’d seen enough and I wanted to go home,” she said. “I went for a walk on the beach and I said to God ‘I can’t bring my kids here’. It’s a very broken city. It’s so beautiful but very broken. But God spoke to me straight away and said, ‘That’s why I need my people here – to build a life-giving church in the city, to bring hope and healing’.
“That was the whole point. He wouldn’t send us to a place where everything’s fabulous.”
A Troubled City in Need of Love
Miami is a gateway city into the USA with many immigrants coming there looking for a better life. What they find, though, is not always what they are expecting. The city has one of the USA’s highest rates of sex trafficking, divorce and abortion rates are high, and hundreds of children go into foster care each month. That’s a lot of sadness.
The Mullings’ have concerns any parent would about moving to a city struggling with crime and racial tension; but they’re also confident that they’re in God’s care.
“I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have concerns, but I have a strong conviction that God has asked us to go and we’ve said yes,” said Emma. “I have a peace about it. I feel like God’s in it.”
In fact, Emma believes God has hand-picked her family for the task, partly because of their mixed ethnicity. To put it very simplistically, Terrence is black, Emma is white, their kids are ‘caramel’, and this in itself is a demonstration of unity and love to a place filled with racial division.
“One of the things God spoke to us about is bringing ‘unity in diversity’, and we want our church to represent that,” Emma explained. “Terrence and I represent that naturally and I think that’s part of the strategy why God has asked us to go there.”
Emma said that Australia’s warmth and openness is another quality she wants to take to Miami, where people are more cautious and closed. “Here we’re friendly and warm and I’m going to miss that,” she said. “But at the same time that’s part of the culture I want to bring.”
Encouraged by God’s Word
For Terrence, the move is a matter of walking in faith.
“You can talk about walking by faith but there comes a time where you have to live out that faith and I believe the safest place you can be is in the will of God,” he said. “One of the great scriptures gave me, for peace about our kids, was from Isaiah 54. He says ‘all your children shall be taught by the Lord and great will be their peace’.
“To show our kids what it means to live out the gospel and love on people and transform a city, that’s pretty exciting for us.”
Church planting is no easy task, so the Mullings’ have set clear goals about building a life of balance and putting family first. And they’ll need to—they’ll be a family of six by the time they leave in August 2018, with a baby boy due in May. He’ll be a little brother to Jeremiah, Hosannah and Israelle.
To get involved or support the Mullings’ with prayer or finances, head to c3historymakers.com.