After Surprise Calling, Pastor Leads Living Water Church to Renewal

After Surprise Calling, Pastor Leads Living Water Church to Renewal

By Stephanie Heading, managing editor

In 2021, Pastor Adam Hunt filled the pulpit at Living Water Church, Ashtabula, a church of 10-15 people in rural Ashtabula County northeast of Cleveland. 

“I remember when I came out to speak and then they invited me to come speak again,” Hunt said. “I’m from New York and so my family is back in New York.”

He accepted the invitation to preach again. “And I come back a second time, and I’m a candidate. And the next thing I know they voted me to be their pastor.”

After the vote church leaders asked for his response. He said, “Well, I can’t give you an answer. I didn’t expect this to happen today.”

On his way back home, he called his wife and shared the unexpected job offer. “I drove out to New York, and I get my wife on the phone in the car, and I’m like, they just voted me in as their pastor.”

Relocating to Ashtabula was not a simple proposition for the Hunt family. He and his wife, Rebekah, had 11 children at the time. Today they have 13 children, ages 16 years to 5 months old. 

The Hunts took time to consider the offer. “I actually took two to three months to say yes to that,” he said. “I prayed about it and waited to let my wife speak into the situation, and then we decided to do it.”

However, the move itself didn’t happen overnight. “We had a lot of stuff we had to unravel in New York – a lot of stuff that had to happen in order for us to get there,” Hunt said.

He finally got to Living Water in August 2021. His family moved to the Ashtabula area in February 2022.

The work started immediately. “We came two years ago, and it was kind of a church rescue operation. We came knowing full well that there was going to be a lot of work,” Hunt noted.

We came knowing full well that there was going to be a lot of work

He remembers Sundays when the congregation was so small and scattered throughout the sanctuary that he moved everyone to a tiny overflow wing in the building so they could be together.

Since the days in the overflow wing, things have changed for the better. “Now we have a hard time fitting into our building,” he said. “We’ve grown quite a bit, and the church is almost completely changed.” 

Hunt believes that change is a process. “It takes time to form the church body, to kind of figure out who you are. What builds the church, what forms a church, if you want a healthy church, is the Word of God.” 

He also believes in bold, unapologetic preaching of God’s Word. “I think faithful consistent preaching of scripture will inform people on what they ought to be,” he said. “It has to be unashamed preaching. It can’t be somebody saying, ‘Well, I’m afraid they’re going to judge me or they’re gonna be upset with me if I tell them this truth.’ You do it in love but you’re telling the truth.”

One truth Hunt is instilling in his congregation is having a heart for the lost. “I believe as God changes us we don’t become judgmental. We become sympathetic. Sympathetic towards the world.”

Living Water is putting this truth in action through community outreach. “The people who are outcasts, the people who are the sojourners, the people who have the greatest need tend to be the people that can’t speak up for themselves,” he said.

This spring the church reached out to foster children through Ashtabula County Children’s Services. 

Members prepared 130 Easter baskets for foster children. The baskets included candy, toys, and even religious materials. Children’s Services workers personally delivered them to the children.

With an SCBO Evangelism Grant, Hunt purchased multiple copies of “God’s Great Plan” written by Melissa Cutrera, a Southern Baptist Theological Seminary graduate. “I strongly recommend it. Every time I read it, tears run down my face,” Hunt said. 

The book was offered to foster families when Easter baskets were delivered. “We purchased a bunch of those books and most of them were distributed,” he said.

Not only did the gospel reach the families who received the Easter baskets, but the evangelism grant was also an encouragement to Living Water.

“There’s always the question of is there going to be enough money for something. So that helped, knowing that money was available,” Hunt said. “ And I was glad to have a partnership with the state convention. I think it tells the church that we’re in this together. We’re not alone.”

And I was glad to have a partnership with the state convention. I think it tells the church that we’re in this together. We’re not alone.

Living Water also distributed 450 door hangers for Easter, up 350 from last year. “We make Christmas and Easter big in this church,” Hunt noted. “I bought over 500 invitations. We have them custom printed. I figure if lawn mowing companies can do glossy advertisements that they hand out to people, we could do the same thing, right?”

While Living Water hasn’t seen fruit from their recent outreach efforts yet, Hunt believes that it will come.

“When God says that His Word is going to go out and not return to him void, you know what that means?” he said. “That means when we go and share the Word of God that we’re doing something that has an effect. There’s no question God promises that it will have an effect.”