Thrive
Podcast

Overview

Today on the podcast, I got to talk to Rev. Valarie Grimes. She is a coach, pastor, church planter at Radiant Church, international speaker and kingdom builder and soon to be an Asbury Seminary student. She will also be speaking in chapel on November 9, so be sure to give that a listen as well. Her passion is inspiring believers to reach their God-given potential in order to change the world. Along with her many other roles, she is also a registered nurse, but her most important roles as she says are the ones she holds in her own family as wife, mother, sister and grandmother.

In today’s conversation, we talk about her journey of calling, how she became a church planter and the way she seeks to empower others to say their yes to God.

Let’s listen!

*The views expressed in this podcast don’t necessarily reflect the views of Asbury Seminary.

Rev. Valarie Grimes, Church Planter and Lead Pastor, Radiant Church, Savannah, Ga.

Valarie Grimes is a coach, pastor, international speaker, and Kingdom builder. Her passion is inspiring believers to reach their God-given potential in order to change the world. She traveled to Ganta City, Liberia, and Delhi, China as a speaker and missionary. Along with her many other roles, she is also a registered nurse. Her most important roles, however, are the ones she holds in her family as a wife, mother, sister, and grandmother.

Heidi Wilcox, host of the Thrive Podcast

Writer, podcaster, and social media manager, Heidi Wilcox shares stories of truth, justice, healing and hope. She is best known as the host of Spotlight, (especially her blooper reel) highlighting news, events, culturally relevant topics and stories of the ways alumni, current students and faculty are attempting something big for God. If you can’t find her, she’s probably cheering on her Kentucky Wildcats, enjoying a cup of coffee, reading or spending time with her husband, Wes.



Transcript

Heidi Wilcox:
Hey, everyone. Welcome to this week’s episode of the Thrive with Asbury Seminary podcast. I’m your host, Heidi Wilcox, bringing you conversations with authors, thought leaders and people just like you, who are looking to connect or your passion meets the world’s deep need. Today, on the podcast, I got to talk to Reverend Valarie Grimes. She is a coach, pastor, international speaker and kingdom builder, and soon to be Asbury Seminary student. She will also be speaking in chapel on November the ninth. So, be sure to give that a listen as well.

Heidi Wilcox:
Her passion is inspiring believers to reach their God-given potential in order to change the world. Along with her many other roles, she is also a registered nurse, but her most important roles as she says, are the ones she holds in her own family as wife, mother, sister, and grandmother. In today’s conversation, we talk about her journey of calling, how she became a church planter, and the way she seeks to empower others to say their yes to God. Let’s listen.

Heidi Wilcox:
Reverend Grimes, I am so delighted to be able to talk to you today. Thank you so much for joining the Thrive with Asbury Seminary podcast.

Rev. Valarie Grimes:
Well, thank you for having me, Heidi. I’m excited to be here.

Heidi Wilcox:
Yeah. I’m looking forward to hearing your story, getting to know you, and you’ll be speaking in chapel on November the ninth, so I’m looking forward to like having a sneak peek to who you are before you come to campus as our chapel speaker.

Rev. Valarie Grimes:
All right. Well, I am excited to be coming. Asbury has found a very special place in my heart. You all have some amazing people there, on staff, as students, and I am just fascinated with Asbury.

Heidi Wilcox:
Well, thank you. Well, thank you. How did you first get connected to the Seminary?

Rev. Valarie Grimes:
Well, actually I have a dear friend, her name is Donna Covington, and-

Heidi Wilcox:
Really?

Rev. Valarie Grimes:
Yes, yes. So, she is in the spiritual formations department. In fact, she’s the director of spiritual formations and she is an amazing, amazing woman. She came into my life at a very tragic time, but she came in at a pivotal moment and has been such an amazing part of what God is doing in my life right now. And she introduced me to Asbury and from there, it has been an amazing journey with you all.

Heidi Wilcox:
Yeah. We love Donna. So, I’m glad that you know her.

Rev. Valarie Grimes:
Yes.

Heidi Wilcox:
So, I was looking at your about section on your church, Radiant Church website. And we’ll talk about more about your church plant in a minute, but your about us section mentioned what sounded like a really great story of how you and your husband met, because you grew up on opposite sides of the country, you in Georgia and he in California. So, how did you two get together?

Rev. Valarie Grimes:
Oh, wow. Well, his family is based… His grandmother and grandfather lived in Americus, Georgia and his dad was in the Marines. And when he got out following the Vietnam war, they moved back to Americus with his grandmother and grandfather. And so, they ended up going to the same middle school that I did, he and his sister. And it was strange, my husband tells me that he could tell that I was in love with him from the day that he saw me. And I’m like-

Heidi Wilcox:
Do you agree with that?

Rev. Valarie Grimes:
…. Well, secretly, the answer is yes.

Heidi Wilcox:
Okay. Okay.

Rev. Valarie Grimes:
But I would never tell him that. I would never tell him that, but yes. So, we met in middle school. He was actually a year ahead of me. And so, he moved on to the high school before I did, of course. And I kind of let that whole thing go, just, “Oh, he was a cute guy,” and all of that. But then we reunited when I went to high school and I guess, the rest was history. We kind of had this friendship that developed and he was a senior and I was a junior, and we had never acted upon any of those feelings. And he asked me… Our very first date was to prom.

Heidi Wilcox:
Oh, wow.

Rev. Valarie Grimes:
To his senior prom. And so, he asked me to go with him to the prom, but his friend had actually approached me earlier and said, “Oh, I hear you’re going to the prom with my friend.” And I was like, “He hasn’t asked me to go anywhere.” And I was just, “How dare he spread this rumor?” And so, I approached him, I says, “Are you’re telling everybody we’re going to the prom together?” And he says, “It’s because I want to go with you.” So, our very first date was to prom and he wrote me the most amazing letter the day after prom, and said that I looked like a princess and that he was in love with me. And I was thinking, “This guy is bonkers, is bonkers.” But we began to date after that, needless to say, and the rest is history.

Rev. Valarie Grimes:
So, I am married to my high school sweetheart. And we have been married now for 34 years. And-

Heidi Wilcox:
That’s incredible.

Rev. Valarie Grimes:
… Yeah. Yeah. And there are days that we kind of tease each other about, like I said, he says, “I knew you were in love with me from the very minute we met.” And I’m thinking, “Oh, God. Yeah.” So, we do… It’s been a lot of ups and downs, but I think we’ve grown together and we have matured together, and God has definitely blessed this relationship.

Heidi Wilcox:
Yeah, for sure. 34 years, that’s a long time [crosstalk 00:06:13].

Rev. Valarie Grimes:
Yes. I’m sure that is longer than you have been alive, Heidi.

Heidi Wilcox:
You might be surprised, but no, I just think it’s really awesome to hear about couples who have been together for a long time. And my husband and I have been married four and a half years now. And so, just even in that short time, just learning the ups and downs that happen in a relationship and it’s not… I don’t think I ever thought it was the Disney princess fairy tale version, but just realizing that it’s definitely not always that there are hard things that happen-

Rev. Valarie Grimes:
Absolutely.

Heidi Wilcox:
… that you get to do it with this person.

Rev. Valarie Grimes:
Absolutely. And that is the truth of it. We are very opposite. I am very high energy, always on the go, always moving, something’s going on all the time. And he is just this rock. He’s just so steady and so stable. And he comes up with me sometimes but he always helps me maintain my level head. So, I’m grateful for him. I needed him in my life. And so, God sent him to me very young, and so I’m appreciative of that.

Heidi Wilcox:
Yeah. Yeah. For sure.

Rev. Valarie Grimes:
Yeah.

Heidi Wilcox:
How did you experience your call to ministry? And since you met your husband so young, how did his call align with your calling, or did they because they don’t have to?

Rev. Valarie Grimes:
They don’t. That is so funny. Well, I grew up in the home of a Baptist pastor.

Heidi Wilcox:
Okay.

Rev. Valarie Grimes:
And my dad was very, very strict. It was women were not a part of ministry and that was just the way it was. And as a young child, I remember not being able to kind of reconcile that, and that’s weird that as young as like 10, 12 years old, I remember feeling like I was supposed to be doing what he was doing. And then I would hear… I never saw a woman in the pulpit. I never heard of female preach. Every now and then, my Sunday school teacher would be a female. So, it was just so weird to have these feelings and not see it represented. And then in some instances to actually hear people say, “Women were not supposed to minister.”

Rev. Valarie Grimes:
And so, it was just so weird. So, I kind of put that to the side and say, “Okay. Well, I’ll become a nurse because I love helping people. And I think this would be a great place.” And so, I was literally living my ministry through nursing and through taking care of my family. And I thought, “This is good,” but just that call and that pull and that you’re supposed to be doing something more with this was always present, it was always present. And so, I started to take on some roles at a church that was a little more liberal. They did allow women to minister, and so I started, but still, I was leading the women. I was the director of women. And so, it was still… Even though I was more vocal in leadership and more seen, I was still in a female led, female role.

Rev. Valarie Grimes:
But over time and over the years, the Lord just allowed me to grow in those positions of leadership. And he began to really call and pull on my heart. And so in 2000, I think it was 2007, I actually met a Bishop who was willing to ordain women. And so, I went through their ministry training program and became ordained, and started teaching Bible study on Wednesdays to the whole congregation. There were men there too. And I thought, “Okay, God, this is it.” And the Lord was like, “No, there’s more. There’s more.” And I’m thinking, “Oh, wow, this is scary. This is scary.” So, I didn’t surrender. I want to just be honest, if there’s someone listening and they’re thinking God has called them, and they’re like, “All the people I hear, they hear the call of God, and then they surrender.” No, I ran for about another 10 years.

Heidi Wilcox:
Yeah.

Rev. Valarie Grimes:
Yeah. For about another 10 years. And by then my family, they were adults, my two children were adults, and going on and starting to live their own lives. And I was like, “Okay, Lord, I’m quite content. I’m working on a church staff, helping out.” I was actually leading the small groups ministry and thinking, “Oh, this is it. This is good. I’m doing what God said.” I kind of slowly got there. And he was like, “There’s more.” I was like, “Okay, Lord, I went from doing nothing to teaching women to now teaching Bible study in small groups. So, what else?” And he says, “You’re called to be a pastor.” And I was like, “Oh, God.” I says, “That’s a lot.”

Heidi Wilcox:
[crosstalk 00:11:31].

Rev. Valarie Grimes:
I knew because my dad was a pastor. I saw the life he had to live and the things he went through. And so, I continued to say, “No to that. I’m going to do this, but I won’t do that.”

Heidi Wilcox:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Rev. Valarie Grimes:
And fast forward, 2017, January 1st, I was announced as the small groups’ director of a church plant in Savannah. And I was like, “Okay, God, this has to be it right here. This must be enough.” And I was so excited that morning. Oh, my goodness. There’s just nothing that can even explain how excited I was, because I felt like I was doing what God had called me to do. And that evening, I was resting, just kind of sitting and basking in the glow of that, and we received a phone call. I will never forget it.

Rev. Valarie Grimes:
It was at 5:45. And when we received that call, it was my sister. And she says, “Let me speak to Rahman.” That’s my husband. And I was like, “That was odd.” She talked to him often, but usually it was after we had talked. So, instantly, I knew something was wrong. I said, “No, you need to talk to me. What’s going on?” And she said, “Please, let me talk to Rahman.” I was like, “Mm-mm (negative). No.” And she let me know that our son, our oldest, he was 27 at the time that he had been attacked. And they weren’t sure that he was going to make it. And it hit me in my heart at the very moment she said it, I knew he was gone. It was just an emptiness. And I knew that he was gone, and that she was really just trying to hold me together.

Rev. Valarie Grimes:
And I said, “We’re on our way.” And we lived four hours away from him. And when we got there, I knew from the beginning that he was already gone. And as I began to think about it… He died actually helping a young lady who was in an abusive relationship and they turned on him. And my son lived the life that I taught him, which was you take care of people, you help others, and you intervene and you use your voice and all of those things. And so, of course, at that moment, I stopped and I was like, “God, I taught him how to live this life, and it’s the very thing that took him away from me.” And so, that was devastating. It was so devastating. And in the midst of all of that, back to the call, he began to talk to me. I’m like, “God, I can’t even think straight right now, and you’re talking about pastoring.”

Heidi Wilcox:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Rev. Valarie Grimes:
Fast forward, about two months after this, I was still paralyzed, I call it, that’s when I met Donna Covington.

Heidi Wilcox:
Oh, yeah.

Rev. Valarie Grimes:
And she too… And I’m sure she has shared many times there, she lost her son. And a friend connected us. And that day that we met, I was like, “I didn’t want to hear anything. I didn’t want to talk to anybody.” I was very content to just live for God with behind my closed door. And Donna said, “God is asking you to do something, and you said, no.”

Heidi Wilcox:
Wow. Was this the first time that you [crosstalk 00:15:28]?

Rev. Valarie Grimes:
Very first time I met her. And I’m thinking, “First of all, how dare you get into my business?” I’m grieving here. It had been about probably 60 days since that happened. And I’m thinking, “How dare you?” And she began to tell me her story and she says, “God is asking you something, and you said no.” And that very morning, I had just said, “No, Lord I’m content here. I will pray. I will fast. I will seek you. I will do all those things, but I would do it from my house because the world is cruel, and I don’t want any part of it.” And-

Heidi Wilcox:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah. I don’t blame you.

Rev. Valarie Grimes:
… when she said those words, I kind of started to release and we talked and prayed, and we prayed for probably about three hours. We were all in prayer, myself, Donna, and my friend that was there. Her name is Penny. And we prayed and when we finally kind of came to ourselves is what I call it, she said, again, she says, “Now, once again, God asked you to do something. And you said, no. What is it?” And I told her, I says, “He called me to pastor.” I says, “But I can’t do that.” And she said, “If God call called you to it, he’s going to help you.” And I said, “As I was praying, he showed me my son’s face. And he says, ‘There are other 27-year-olds out there that don’t know me.'”

Rev. Valarie Grimes:
He says, “David knew me. He was ready to meet me. But there are 27-year-olds who don’t know me. So, what are you going to do?” Oh, my God. So, needless to say, Donna was like, “Take what you just said to your pastor. Let him know what God is speaking.” And from that day on, I was on a track to become a pastor, and that was in, like I said, 2017. And so, I sat under my pastor in a type of residency for about a year and a half. I left my job in nursing and devoted my time fully to the church. Yes. And so we began this actual church planting journey for Radiant at the end of 2019. And we are now about to actually launch.

Rev. Valarie Grimes:
And so, I am so excited, but it took that tragedy. I would never say God caused it because that’s not his nature. It was definitely evil that produced it. Then God took that moment of brokenness, that moment of pain, that moment of hurt, and he began to show me that there are 27-year-olds that don’t know him. And if I continue to run away from my gift, they may leave this earth without ever hearing from him. Now, I’m smart enough and spiritual enough to know that God would send them somebody, but he’s saying, “I’ve chosen you. So, why would you make me have to send someone else?” And so, it’s been a roller coaster ride. It’s been highs and lows and moments when all I could do was cry. But from that moment, I was committed to doing what God called me to do.

Heidi Wilcox:
I’m very sorry for the loss of your son. I don’t think anyone… You should never have to go through that. I’m very sorry for that. Also very grateful for how you have let God use you in ministry moving forward.

Rev. Valarie Grimes:
Yeah.

Heidi Wilcox:
What has that been like for you as you’ve seen good come out of something so tragic and so terrible?

Rev. Valarie Grimes:
Well, it’s just been evidence that God is good.

Heidi Wilcox:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). Did you ever think that he wasn’t-

Rev. Valarie Grimes:
Oh, yeah. Oh, my God.

Heidi Wilcox:
… in the midst of [crosstalk 00:19:37]?

Rev. Valarie Grimes:
Yes.

Heidi Wilcox:
Because I think sometimes it’s easy for all of us on the other side… Like I don’t ever hear people who have been through tragic circumstances, they’re like a few years removed and they’re like, “Oh, God was so good.” And I believe that he was, but sometimes when I’ve been in some very difficult times, I’m like, “I’m not seeing it here and I’m angry.”

Rev. Valarie Grimes:
Yes. Oh, my God. Yes. Yes and yes. There were moments like I said, I had just decided, “I’m not crazy enough to say that I won’t serve you.” Because I recognize that he is the only truth and he is the way, but I was like, “I’m not feeling like I should tell anybody about you at all, because if I do that, I’m saying that you are going to protect and guide them, but I don’t feel very protected right now. I don’t feel very loved and held right now.” And so, like I said, I was completely content to never talk about him. And that’s the truth, but I can honestly say the scripture in Jeremiah, where he says, “It was just like fire shut up in my bones.” Because Jeremiah tried to walk away.

Rev. Valarie Grimes:
He was like, “God, what you’re giving me to do is too hard.” And for me, to go out and minister and talk to other people and let them know about a good God, and I was sitting there with ashes, I was like, “This is too hard. You’re asking me something too hard.” And so, as I said, I was still saying, “No, I’m not going to do this.” And I was angry with him. I’m like, “God, how could you let this happen to, and let’s get it right to my child?” Isn’t that what we always do, we look at what belongs to us. And so yeah, there were moments of pain and darkness that… And even now, as you said on the other side, there are moments where I stop and I’m like, “Okay, God, you’re good. I don’t doubt it. And I will profess it everywhere I go. But my son?” Yeah.

Rev. Valarie Grimes:
And then he reminds, “My son died on the cross for you, for all of mankind.” He was broken at the point where Jesus said, “There was a disconnection between the body of Christ and the spirit.” He says, “I turned my back on that because that was so tragic. I hear you. I feel you.” He says, “But I am here for you.” And so, I go through those moments and I’ve talked to other mothers that have lost their children, and I tell them, “Be angry. Don’t try to be super spiritual and have it all together in five seconds. Be angry. Be angry because if you don’t, what’ll happen is it’s going to all just explode at one moment.” I says, “But understand that God is so big and he is so amazing, and so loving that he can just hold you at those moments that you are raging at him and saying, ‘I can’t believe this.’ He’s still able to love you through it.” And yeah, yeah.

Heidi Wilcox:
Yeah. Yeah. That love through it is a beautiful thing.

Rev. Valarie Grimes:
Yes. Yes. And I learned what it means to have the arms of God around you, because there were moments when that’s all I had. My husband, we grieve in such different ways and so for a moment there, I thought we were losing each other. And God had to remind me that, we’re helpmates, we’re meant to be together, and so he loved us back together. So, that’s the mercy that’s there, that what the evil of this loss in dying world perpetrates, because that’s who took David was the hatred in the heart of someone, the love of God can repair, restore and use those tragedies to release love through and for others. And I will tell you this, and I know we’ve got to move forward, but we went to the court for the two, for both of those, the other two people that… Because they both were a part of that murder, and standing in the courtroom, the judge asked if there was anything that we had to say.

Rev. Valarie Grimes:
And the day before each of their cases, I had to wrestle in prayer because God says, “You know, in order for you to move forward and truly live out my word, you’ve got to forgive them.” And I’m thinking, “But God, they took, they took so much from me.” And he says, “You’ve got to forgive them.” And so, it was a wrestle. I felt kind of like Jacob wrestling with the Lord the night before each of those cases. And I stood in that courtroom, and I told them who David was, that he was a good son who was loyal and faithful, and who was a productive citizen and who loved people. And I said, “And you all took him from us.” I says, “But do know this, that I have given it to God. And I forgive you.”

Rev. Valarie Grimes:
And I believe that forgiveness is what has helped us to move forward, because if I had stayed there and held them, trying to hold them hostage, it would’ve only held me and my husband and this ministry hostage. And so, that release, and there are now that they are really heavy on my heart and my mind. And instead of anger, what God has put there is he says, “Pray for them. Pray for them.” And so, the scripture where he says, “Pray for those that despitefully use you.” I’m like, “God, you what?” And so, he’s taught me how to pray for them. When they are so heavy on my heart and mind, he tells me, he says, “They’re going through something and you need to pray for them.” And so, that is how I stay on the right side of this thing is to know that the enemy probably brings it up for me to be angry and mad and to slide and slip away, but God says, “No, use that, pray for them.” And so, that is what he’s taught me to do. That’s what he taught me to do.

Heidi Wilcox:
That is amazing. I can’t even imagine having to pray for an enemy like that.

Rev. Valarie Grimes:
Yeah.

Heidi Wilcox:
You said the forgiving of them, which was not easy and it sounds like sometimes a daily occurrence to release that. How did the forgiving of those people release you for the ministry that you’re doing now?

Rev. Valarie Grimes:
Well, for one thing we have to recognize that God’s word is true.

Heidi Wilcox:
Yeah. Yes.

Rev. Valarie Grimes:
And his word is true. And he said that he has forgiven us much. And so, if I were to attempt to preach his word or pray with someone, or attempt to help them through something, and I was harboring that unforgiveness in my heart, it would never work. And God’s says, “I want you free.” And the freedom comes through forgiveness. It was something that he taught his disciples. You forgive, he says “70 times seven, if your brother offends you.” He has word in there about taking it to the leadership of the church, if there’s something happening between you and a brother or sister in the church. God believes in forgiveness, so much so like I said, he bought us back and the blood of Jesus is our forgiveness. And so he says, “If you want forgiveness, you have to give it.” And it was hard and it is a process. And that’s why I say now, the way I deal with it, like I said, is that he says, “When you’re starting to have those thoughts, don’t get angry, pray. Pray for them. Pray for them.” And so that’s how it happens.

Heidi Wilcox:
Wow. You mentioned earlier in the conversation, or when we were chatting before the conversation that you are in the middle of planting Radiant Church, you just submitted some paperwork to get it officially planted. How did you move… You’ve talked about it a little bit, but how did you move from leader in the small group to now lead pastor of a church plant? So, it’s not just you’re a pastor of an existing congregation. You and God are birthing this new thing in the world.

Rev. Valarie Grimes:
Yes. And I tell you, it’s blown my mind. It has blown my mind because I will tell you, that’s one of the things that my pastor and I talked about. He actually planted the church, it’s called Hope City Church in Savannah. He planted that church. And so, a part of training and shadowing that I did with him was I kind of saw the process and it is long. And it is definitely something you have to be called to do otherwise you will lose your mind in the process.

Rev. Valarie Grimes:
And so, I sat under him for about a year and a half, and then I began the actual process, it was like the end of 2019. There’s a group called Stadia, and all they do is assist with church planting. And so, the end of 2019, I went through what they call an assessment process. And my husband describes it as being dropped onto survivor island. So, they never question your calling, never, because that is God-given, but they do put you through rigorous activities to determine your readiness to do it.

Heidi Wilcox:
Okay.

Rev. Valarie Grimes:
And so, we went through that process and came out as their very first female that was recommended for church planting. And so, that is all God right there. That is all God. And so, that started the process. And in 2020, we started to actually begin what we call interest meetings, letting people know what we were going to do eventually, and inviting them to hear about the vision and sharing that. That started in January and then March came along and said, “What? COVID.” So, everything shut down. And so, I just… You know I stopped. And I said, “Okay, Lord, that must mean that this is just not meant to be. Here we are in a pandemic.” And God says, “Did I say that anything had changed?”

Rev. Valarie Grimes:
And so, we’ve been working in the middle of a pandemic to get Radiant Church launched and released. Another person at Asbury has been very instrumental in helping get me through this pandemic, because my whole mindset was, “God, I must be crazy.” But when Dr. Winfield Bevins-

Heidi Wilcox:
Oh, yes.

Rev. Valarie Grimes:
… who is the director of church planting there at Asbury. I met him on a spiritual sabbatical there and we became fast friends, such diverse backgrounds. We have nothing truly in common. And we became fast friends. And in July of 2020, I started working with him through the Asbury Theological Seminary church planting fellowship. Yeah. All of that. And one of the first things he said was, “Valarie,” he says, “… I think you need to affiliate with a denomination. I know that’s not what you want to do.” He says, “So, you pray about it and think about it.” And it took me about four months to let that sink in, because it was a pandemic. Things were already at a crawl and I had no real support.

Rev. Valarie Grimes:
And so I started praying about, and God opened the door to the Evangelical Covenant Church, the ECC. And so, we are now in the process of planting with them. And I will say that Winfield Bevins had a big role in that because now I understand what he’s saying. I have a pastor that has been assigned to me. I have a team that is helping us put together this well conceived plan. There’s going to be funding that is a part of that process. And so, we’re not alone. You can’t do this by yourself.

Rev. Valarie Grimes:
And so, with all of that, we are able to make this journey and it’s been long, there’s been sleepless nights, but when you find someone like Dr. Winfield Bevins, that God has used to do this before, he’s planted himself before. And he also has a heart for the people of God. And so, he to speak wisdom, “You need to stop and listen.” So, I am grateful to him for the wisdom he’s given. And so, yes, we have been on this journey now. It seems like forever, but it’s only really been a year and a half. And our official launch date, we are already gathering. We have a team, we actually have a service, I guess you would call it worship experience together.

Rev. Valarie Grimes:
And we’re planning and we’re working in our community and doing things, but we’ve been doing that now for probably about six months. And so, our official launch date will be Easter of next year.

Heidi Wilcox:
That’s perfect.

Rev. Valarie Grimes:
So, we are so excited. On resurrection Sunday, the dream that had almost died, God is resurrecting it. And so, Radiant Church, and that name actually comes out of Ephesians 5:27 when I was praying and asking God, “What do we call all this church?” And Ephesians 5:27 says that “He will present a church, a radiant church.” And so he says, “I want you to partner with me in getting my church ready to be presented.” And so, Radiant Church is who we are.

Heidi Wilcox:
Yeah. That’s beautiful. And it speaks to so much hope and newness and-

Rev. Valarie Grimes:
Yes.

Heidi Wilcox:
… yes. That’s beautiful.

Rev. Valarie Grimes:
Absolutely.

Heidi Wilcox:
Beautiful.

Rev. Valarie Grimes:
Absolutely.

Heidi Wilcox:
What was it like… Because you mentioned that you were the first recommended female church planter to come out of Stadia and that whole process, what was it like for you to move from…. Like, I’m not saying you stayed in the 10-year-old mindset, but to move from 10-year-old Valarie to like take all these steps? And I know it was a process, but then now you’re the lead pastor. Can you talk just a little bit about what that journey and that shift for you was like?

Rev. Valarie Grimes:
Wow. Well, I can say this. Like I said, about 10 to 12 years old, I remember God saying that there was something in ministry that he wanted me to do. And that 10-year-old Valarie could not believe what this mature and seasoned Valarie is actually experiencing, but the journey-

Heidi Wilcox:
I think that’s all of us, I think [crosstalk 00:36:55].

Rev. Valarie Grimes:
… Yes, yes. The journey is in the fact that he worked with me at my pace. He didn’t force me. He worked with me at my pace and he showed me slowly each step, like I said, going from just being someone who went to church on Sunday to all of a sudden, I’m working with the women and then from that to actually teaching Sunday school. And then from that to being brave enough to be ordained, did not know really what that meant, going through that minister’s training and teaching Bible study to the whole church. And then yeah, then to move from that into small group director. So, he took me in tiny steps to begin to show me, first of all, I think that he trusted me with the ministry. And even with my no-

Heidi Wilcox:
Yes.

Rev. Valarie Grimes:
… he continued to be faithful. And so, just step-by-step-by-step, and I will say that if there are any women listening and you are wanting to get your education in the theology, go for it. I wish I had done that in the very beginning. My degree is in psychology and also in nursing, but I will say this, it is never too late because this journey is now leading me to Asbury, and I’m going to be completing my MDiv.

Heidi Wilcox:
Oh, that’s so exciting.

Rev. Valarie Grimes:
Yes. Yes. So, it’s never, never too late. And look at it, even if they’re small incremental steps, don’t fret it, continue to push forward. Like I said, God never gave up on me. And I think the reason was is because even when I would say, no, it was still, “But what is it that you’re asking me to do again?” And then he’s like, “Wait a minute. You said, no.” “But no, what was it again?” So, to continue to move forward and take those small steps, those small steps of faith and branch out into what God is asking you to do. And now I look, and as a lead planter, pastor, you cannot be timid.

Heidi Wilcox:
No. No.

Rev. Valarie Grimes:
No, you can’t be timid in the natural world or in the spiritual world. And so-

Heidi Wilcox:
That’s true.

Rev. Valarie Grimes:
… he has brought that 10-year-old Valarie to a place where she now can look back and say, “You were calling me to be a trailblazer when I didn’t even understand what that meant.” Because to be-

Heidi Wilcox:
[crosstalk 00:39:41].

Rev. Valarie Grimes:
… Go ahead.

Heidi Wilcox:
No, go ahead.

Rev. Valarie Grimes:
To be the first woman fully recommended, that’s a God move.

Heidi Wilcox:
Yeah. Really. So, I’m asking this next question kind of from my own life as I think about different things, but also because it’s been small steps for you and you mentioned that it’s never too late to like get education, to do really the next right thing that God is calling. Do you ever worry that you are late to the party, that you should have done something sooner? Because I can be pretty judgey on me, not really to other people, but be like, “Well, you should have figured this out sooner and then you could already be five steps down the road.”

Rev. Valarie Grimes:
Yes. Yes and yes. I have done the same thing to myself many times. And God brings me back to this that Sarah was past childbearing.

Heidi Wilcox:
Yes, she was.

Rev. Valarie Grimes:
He gave her a promise and it didn’t even happen instantly. She was already 90. And he began to restore her and bring her back to a place where she could act actually have… She says, “Can I have pleasure even…” And he not only brought her back to that place, but to a place where her body could physically carry and give birth to a child. So much so, Heidi, that when two Kings saw her, they were like, “She looks good.” And so, God told me, he says, “When you commit and you say, ‘Lord, I’m ready.’ It doesn’t matter how old you are.” It just matters that you’ve given him the yes. And so, he can restore, renew and bring you back to where you need to be. He can give you the strength.

Rev. Valarie Grimes:
Just ask Caleb, who was 85 when he finally got to the place in the promised land that God had given him. And Caleb says, “I am as strong today as I was when he first spoke the promise.” And he took a hill, he didn’t even take flat country. He took a hill. So, I am, and I will gladly say it, I am 54 years old and I am well able to give birth to Radiant Church as Sarah gave birth to the promise. I am well able to take any hill, and Savannah is a hill. It’s a hill country. There’s so much going on, so much good and so much bad, and I am well able to take this hill, not because of me, but because of the God that lives in me. And so, if there’s someone out there who thinks that the party is over and that they’ve missed it, if they are willing to submit themselves to God, he will renew them just like he renewed Sarah, and he will give them the strength, just like he did Caleb. And you will do what he has said you will do.

Heidi Wilcox:
Yeah. Won’t he do it?

Rev. Valarie Grimes:
Yes.

Heidi Wilcox:
Like, won’t he do it?

Rev. Valarie Grimes:
He would. Yes, he will.

Heidi Wilcox:
So, I think I have like maybe one or two more questions, because I do want to be mindful of our time. But as you’re planting this church, you have said that you believe the local church is God’s best expression of him working in the world. Why do you believe that? And how do you see that through Radiant Church?

Rev. Valarie Grimes:
Well, I believe that the local church has the heartbeat of God for the area that they are in., and that you begin to discern, “God, what are you doing here in this area for these people? And I want to be a part of that.” And you can begin to look around, like I said, there are a lot of things happening here in Savannah. There’s great growth and people are so excited, but there are people being displaced. And there are people that are broken and hurting, that are being ignored and forgotten. And so, God has put me and my husband and Radiant Church right in the middle of that tension. How do we leverage who God is between those who are productive and booming and show them that there are others over here that are in need, and how do we stand in that tension and love both sets of people and allow them to walk and work together.

Rev. Valarie Grimes:
And that is how God uses pastors in the local setting. I can appreciate all of the ministers who are at this level where their broadcast are being heard all over the world. There is a place for that ministry, but the local church, that pastor that is right there in the trenches, feeling the emotions and the tensions of what’s happening, that is God’s light and hope for the world, because they are the ones walking and journeying with the people. And so, I believe that that is his expression in the world that reminds people that he loves and cares about them.

Heidi Wilcox:
Definitely. Definitely. We have one question that we ask everyone, but before we get to that, is there anything else that you’d like to mention that we haven’t already talked to about?

Rev. Valarie Grimes:
Well, and I guess, we’ve kind of touched on it, but I have this little affinity towards young women who love the Lord and are doing their very best for him. And I just want to say, know that God sees you, know that he values you to the point that there was a Mary that he entrusted to actually carry the Christ child and bring him into this world, that there was a Mary at the tomb that he revealed himself to. The very first person was a woman. And she went back and carry that word to the disciples, and Peter who thought he had been excluded, she was able to take that word back. And then there was a Lydia, a maker of purple who was able to plant and finance a church in her home. There were so many women that were instrumental in the gospel. And so, I just want to say, Hey sisters, God loves you, and he has a work for you. Don’t give up on what he’s doing in you even if the steps feel small, keep moving.

Heidi Wilcox:
Yeah. That’s a really good word. I hear that myself. And so, thank you. Thank you for saying that, for that for reminder.

Rev. Valarie Grimes:
Amen.

Heidi Wilcox:
Yeah. So, the one question that we ask everyone who comes on the podcast, because the show is called the Thrive with Asbury Seminary podcast, what is one practice or more than one… Some people want to share more than one, that’s up to you that is helping you thrive in your life right now?

Rev. Valarie Grimes:
Wow, that’s a big question. I will say for me though, it’s maintaining a day of Sabbath.

Heidi Wilcox:
Oh yeah.

Rev. Valarie Grimes:
Because like I said, it has been so busy these last few months, because whenever you are trying to bring something new into existence, you have to give it complete and total attention. And so, I’ve been very busy between that and I was also working. I’m a registered nurse and I am a GG of two littles, a two-year-old and a three-year-old, and so I have to spend time with them. And of course, I’m a wife-

Heidi Wilcox:
[crosstalk 00:47:34].

Rev. Valarie Grimes:
… and a mother. So, all of those roles, you just get so busy and consumed with giving your time away to others. And sometimes you can forget that you need to recharge and rest. And God himself created six days and on the seventh day, he rested. And so, he had to, God himself had to remind me, “Valarie, put in a day of rest. A day that you spend with me and you commune with me.” And so, Mondays are my Sabbath and I do my very best to turn my phone off and to not make any plans for Monday, and to spend that time just refreshing in the presence of God.

Heidi Wilcox:
Yeah.

Rev. Valarie Grimes:
So, that’s something that keeps me thriving. And if I miss it, if something interrupts that time, I can tell the rest of my week is just a little bit off, because I haven’t had that recharge. And so, that’s how I thrive and yeah.

Heidi Wilcox:
Yeah. So important, Sabbath is a huge trust step, I think, to say, I don’t have to do anything. It’s not like you’re just sitting on your couch doing nothing, but I don’t have to produce that day.

Rev. Valarie Grimes:
Right. Absolutely. Absolutely. And it is the sweetest time of communion because it’s his time. And that’s the thing you have to remember too, because a lot of people take what they say is Sabbath and then they veg out on TV or whatever. And if that’s how you want to unwind, I’m not talking against it, but make sure that you don’t take arrest from him on that day. It seems to be the day that he gives me the new ideas and the new motivation, and the desire to work with him even more. When I say work with him, because we get to partner with him, we get to do this with him. And so, those are the days that help to recharge and remind me of his goodness.

Heidi Wilcox:
Yeah. Yeah. For sure. Thank you so much for sharing today, Reverend Grimes. Our conversation has been an absolute delight. Thank you so much.

Rev. Valarie Grimes:
Thank you so much for having me Heidi. And like I said, young ladies like you, you guys just inspire me as well.

Heidi Wilcox:
Yeah. Well, thank you for making the path and going before us so that we can see what a strong woman in ministry looks like.

Rev. Valarie Grimes:
Oh, bless you.

Heidi Wilcox:
Hey, everyone. Thank you so much for joining me for today’s conversation with Reverend Valarie Grimes. I just so appreciate her vulnerability and authenticity as she shares her story that involved deep tragedy, and the ways that she is still dealing with that, but also finding hope in what God is doing in and through her. Just appreciate the gift of her work in the world and her sharing that with us. So, if you see her, be sure to say thank you for taking the time to be on the podcast today. As always, you can follow Asbury Seminary in all the places on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram at @asburyseminary. Until next time, I hope you’ll go do something that helps you thrive.