After graduating from Oklahoma Christian, Jeremy and Lauren Jacoby lived the good life by cultural standards.
They had the country club membership, the company car and a comfortable home in Oklahoma City. But soon, Lauren felt called to pursue her medical degree at Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine in Erie, Pennsylvania, long distance from Jeremy.
The Jacoby’s (05) prayers for their faith to be transformed by God-given trials came true many times over. Lauren failed her first year of school in Pennsylvania, so the couple felt they should be reunited. Jeremy took an 80% pay cut to move out there with her, so they could once again work as a team, leaving their lives in Oklahoma behind. Together, they tackled the complicated birth of their first child, a couple of jobs and a bit of moving around before the family eventually landed in Lake Charles, Louisiana.
In their new home, Lauren and Jeremy searched for a congregation that was committed to serving and improving their community, people who welcomed anyone into their doors, free of judgement. Following years of varying challenges, the Jacobys learned how much people matter when it comes to the success of a family and faith. They knew they needed a strong church family to succeed in their new home.
To their dismay, the search was fruitless. More than likely, they were not alone in their desire for a welcoming, service-oriented community. So, instead of succumbing to their disappointment, the Jacobys decided to create the community they were looking for.
“We want to serve God as the body of Christ,” Jeremy said. “We don’t want anyone to feel judged walking in our doors. None of us has it all exactly right. We all have room to grow, to grow into what God wants us to be.”
The couple got to work on their church plant. They found a location, money and people. The church building was well on its way to hosting regular services and family potlucks. But it wasn’t long before trials tested the strength of the church plant foundation and the Jacoby family.
Right before COVID-19 hit, Lauren was promoted to Chief Hospitalist at Sound Physicians in Louisiana. She led her team through the pandemic and volunteered to take on covid patients when others wouldn’t, earning her Physician of the Year.
“I did everything you saw on the news,” Lauren said. “I showered after getting home, changed out of my scrubs, and had to spend weeks away from my children. Once things settled down a bit, it was nice that my work was recognized by the CEO of Sound Physicians. They let me know that they wouldn’t have made it through the pandemic without me.”
Raising young children, working full- time jobs and conquering a pandemic tested the foundation of the Jacoby’s faith and their church plant. Jeremy’s work running a fabrication company struggled when oil prices dropped. A flood, water leak and eventual hurricanes required them to restart home renovations at least three times, displacing the Jacobys.
“The more we’ve embraced the chaos, the more God has made it clear that we’re on a path that is good,” Jeremy said. “We’re asked why we don’t just move out of here, escape the trauma. If we moved, we’d be Jonah. We’re needed here.”
While the pandemic and hurricanes raised property prices and destroyed plans to open the church plant this spring, the Jacobys are still well on their way to making a difference. They have purchased the church’s mobile medical van, and they’re looking at locations for the church building. They plan to finish construction in the late summer to open for services in the fall.
For now, they’re trusting God’s timing. Jeremy, Lauren and their sons Jude and Parker are recovering from the trials of the past year and looking forward to a year of renewal. They’re ministering to their community through their jobs, building rapport as they anticipate the grand opening of their new church building. And while they have yet to break ground, the Jacoby family has already started to grow their church family. Through it all, they’ve learned that ministry happens in each step of the journey.