Fifteen years of steady employment gave way to two rounds of layoffs in three years, and a Houston’s First couple had a change of heart about where their hope is found.
Dean and Tracy Townsend grew up in Christian homes and were taught to give. But during much of their nearly 25-year marriage, they adopted a practical approach to giving.
“We were occasional givers — trying to keep up with bills and having a daughter in college,” said Dean, “— there were seasons of life that we felt we didn’t have it to give.”
In 2013, the same year MISSION 1:8, the Houston’s First two-year generosity initiative, was kicking off, Dean lost his job as a vice-president at Staples. His severance promised to last until 2014 when they decided to hire him back in another role, albeit at a lower salary.
Lessons on suffering and God’s faithfulness were lessons Dean taught while he and Tracy were Life Bible Study leaders at The Loop Campus, and they continued their practice of occasional giving. “We knew we were supposed to give to God first,” said Dean, “to set aside an amount to give each week, but we just didn’t think it was possible.”
The couple lives in Sienna Plantation, yet Dean and Tracy faithfully led their class at The Loop and saw it grow to 100 members. It split into two classes just about the time Houston’s First opened its Sienna Campus. The Townsends began attending there in 2015 and lead the 40s-plus couples’ class.
After Dean’s second job loss in early 2016, Tracy reintroduced the idea of giving weekly to the church as they had been considering for years. They did, and a few weeks later Dean landed a sales job. His severance from Staples continued through mid-summer, meaning the family received double pay for four months.
“God’s got this,” said Dean. “As we obeyed by giving in faith, we became confident that He would take care of us.”
As faith in God’s provision grew, they felt led to begin giving at a higher level. The Townsends now find weekly giving a joy. “We like the act of physically writing the check and putting it in the offering plate,” said Dean. “We actually fight over who gets to write the check.”
The family sees God’s financial provision and they feel connected to their neighbors and
neighborhood unlike ever before. “We believe we’ve been given a new purpose — meeting
our neighbors and inviting them to church,” said Dean. “We’ve seen what happens when
we obey, and it’s becoming clear why we live here in Sienna. We’re seeing the difference it
makes in getting connected to our community campus.”