When the 18th-century poet Robert Burns wrote To a Mouse, he wrote a line that stays with us to this day.
"The best-laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men..."
Today that line is known as the phrase "best-laid plans"; meaning when plans are laid out, they might not go as smoothly as when it was originally planned.
For Rev. Klay Harrison in Haughton, Louisiana, the plans for Embrace Church's Sunday launch might not have gone as planned, but he embraced the Holy Spirit.
"I'd have it no other way," says Harrison. "I woke up this morning not knowing what Launch Sunday would look like. But the entire day was full of Jesus and unlike anything, we could have ever anticipated."
The changes for Harrison and his staff began as straight-line winds rocked the area. A strong line of thunderstorms and severe weather swept across the area and the entire state of Louisiana. Two people were killed and a third injured in Haughton, just outside of Shreveport.
Embrace Church, a new church inside the Louisiana Conference, has been, for months, planning its January launch. Suddenly, just hours before launch, the entire city was dealing with wide-spread damage and power outages.
"We hit the ground running with local first responders," Harrison said. "As the area was assessed, teams spent all day helping with downed trees and helping people get back on their feet."
Meanwhile, others met at the local elementary school which has been serving as a temporary home for Embrace, to plan for early setup Sunday morning.
However, the lack of electricity was proving to be a huge obstacle for those hoping to launch, but God cleared that obstacle in an amazing way.
After the power company informed Harrison and his team that there would indeed be no electricity for Sunday morning, the team leaned on the support of the community and the community came through.
"We started asking the community for generators," Harrison said, "And the community responded! Several people showed up at the school with their own generators and allowed us to use them so we can launch."
Power outages weren't the only issue. There were also plans for an after-service lunch and those plans were also 'best-laid'.
"We were planning for 200 lunches," Harrison said. But due to the storm and the power outages, Harrison knew many more lunches were going to be needed.
While it might not be on the same level as the multiplication of loaves and fishes, the lunches did indeed multiply.
"We spoke with Dicky's BBQ and they agreed to partner with us to provide even more lunch plates," Harrison said. "Our launch lunch turned into a community disaster relief lunch. All first responders and those affected by the storm were fed and, in fact, ate first."
Everywhere Harrison looked, God was taking something he and his team had originally planned and making new plans.
"We also canceled the inflatables due to no electricity and the weather," Harrison said, "The money saved from the rental is now being used to kickstart microgrants from Embrace to be used around Haughton for those affected by the storms. We are also committing a portion of our tithes and offerings to further this microgrant so people can have chainsaw fuel, tarps, food, and anything else to get back on their feet."
While the launch might not have gone according to plan, the ability for Harrison and the entire Embrace team to lean into the Holy Spirit comes as no surprise for Rev. Gloria Fowler, Director of Congregational Transformation and New Church Development for the Louisiana Conference.
"Having walked alongside Klay and Embrace's team, I am excited to see Embrace getting off the ground. It is like watching a baby being birthed into this earth to make a significant difference!" she says, "It's amazing to see the dream of a church embracing its community come to life, and to see so many new people already connected to Embrace and to Jesus! I'm excited for the hundreds and thousands of people that Embrace will touch in the years to come, helping them connect to the life of Christ."