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Being a pastor’s kid teaches you a lot of things: how to make people uncomfortable when they ask what your dad’s job is; where to find leftovers from church barbeques and ice cream socials; and knowing the people who can help you find used cars and jobs.

My name is Peter Stewart, and this is my wife, Marta. I was born into a big church. All my life I was there for all four of the Sunday morning services and the Thursday night service. My first job was there; I once calculated I spent more time at church than at home or school; which was sad, because I was a janitor.

But the time came when I had to choose whether I was going to church because of my parents, or to have my own relationship with God. I’m glad I made the right choice; otherwise, without learning to turn to God, I wouldn’t have made it through some later hardships.

One of those hardships turned out to be my relationship with my wife. As any newly married man knows, no one except the woman you love has the power to make your heart want to burst out of your chest from sheer joy, or leave you completely lost and bewildered. But the Lord taught us both some very valuable lessons: Trust Jesus, put Him first and don’t fear His plans for us. And that two nerds who grew up together since junior high could remain madly in love.

Newly married and in a city much larger than Beaverton, Ore., we turned up at Hope Christian Church, a Foursquare Church in Washington, D.C. They welcomed us like old friends. Pastor Mike and Debbie Fullerton have been building this church, and the result is a family-like environment supplemented with a strong understanding that being good at church isn’t enough. We need to reach out to people, the community and beyond: This is our calling.

In a big church, it’s easy to disappear into the crowd—but not here. We are challenged to get involved in various ministries rather than just showing up. The church gathers near the Washington National Cathedral in Georgetown and is home to attorneys, lobbyists, teachers, Army members and students alike. Most members are transplants from across the country, and all bring a proactive heart for the Lord that emphasizes careful and logical analysis of significant social issues rather than blindly taking sides—something greatly needed in such an influential city with needs as great, or greater, than most.

We are grateful to live in a city where global decisions are made, and we hope to make an impact of our own. The Lord has a plan for this city, as with all of His cities, and we’re not only thankful—we’re excited to see the greatness of His will for all of us.