Raised in a nominally Christian home in East Cleveland, Ohio, Leon always had an abstract idea of who God was, but he lacked an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ and it showed in his lifestyle. To adults he was a leader in his community, but to his peers he was a kid that was willing to do almost anything for recognition.
Though fruitless and unfulfilling, this duality remained a part of Leon’s life through high school and into his sophomore year of college at Wright State University. After his close friend became a Christian, Leon started inquiring about God and was invited to attend his friend’s church. For the first time, Leon was instructed to read the bible, pray daily, and allow the Holy Spirit to lead his daily decisions. While receiving these biblical teachings he pledged a fraternity founded on Christian principles.
God used the pledging process along with the church support to provide Leon with the strength he needed to break out of the dual roles and commit his life to serving the Lord wholeheartedly. He continued to pursue spiritual growth through his local church and became the co-founder of an on campus ministry until he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Communications. He went on to lead a bible study and disciple students while in Graduate school at Ohio State University.
After attaining Master Degrees in Higher Education and Student Affairs and in Human Resources, Leon returned to Cleveland to teach children with severe behavioral needs. During this time God provided opportunities to renew family relationships and to reunite Leon with Rebecca, a high school friend who later became his wife.
With a variety of professional options, Leon realized that he would find no greater pleasure than serving the Lord in full time ministry. After much research, the Lord led him to Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary where he was able to obtain a Master of Divinity Degree. Rebecca also obtained a Master of Arts in Religion Degree at Gordon-Conwell during their time at the seminary. God has richly blessed their family, as they, along with the entire leadership team, live in the community in which they serve. And as Leon serves as Lead Pastor, both he and Rebecca desire to use the gifts of teaching, discipleship, and evangelism to further the purposes of Christ. They hope to see Detroit transformed both spiritually and physically.
Rebecca grew up in Cleveland Heights, Ohio. Her parents divorced when she was 6 years old and she and her older brother primarily lived with their Christian mother. While Rebecca accepted Christ into her heart at an early age, she lacked spiritual maturity and direction during her adolescent years. She struggled with insecurities, seeking to find her identity in relationships and what others thought of her. It was not until her college years that she really began to grow in her faith.
Rebecca went across the country to the University of Southern California for her undergraduate education. While being away from her family proved to be more difficult than she had anticipated, California provided the space needed for Rebecca to hear from the Lord. Broken and tired of living life out of her own strength, she began to lay down her insecurities one by one, exchanging them for a new identity in Christ.
In response to the grace she had received from Christ, Rebecca worked as a youth intern at a church in Southern California and later took a job as a residential counselor at a Christian group home for drug and alcohol addicted teenagers in northern California. Led by the Holy Spirit, the Lord used her broken past to minister to young girls, struggling with sin and a distorted identity. The experience solidified for Rebecca that there was no greater purpose on earth than making Christ known to others and witnessing the miracle of a life yielded to the Holy Spirit.
After 7 years in California, Rebecca moved back to Cleveland in order to raise support to be a missionary in Albania. However, the Lord had other plans and she reconnected with High School friend, Leon and the two married within a year. The day after the wedding they moved to Boston in order for Leon to pursue the MDIV degree at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. Two years into the degree, Rebecca started the Master of Arts and Religion degree at the Seminary. The seminary was an excellent theological training ground for Leon and Rebecca as the call to join the Detroit church planting team became clearer.
Leon and Rebecca moved to Detroit summer of 2008 and it continues to be a growing time for the Stevensons. Parenthood has been a huge part of the journey as the Stevensons are now blessed with four children, Shiloh, Laelle, Ezra, and Elisha. They love the Mack Ave. community and are amazed at what God has done in such a short time. Rebecca remains convinced that true life is found only in a relationship with Jesus and she is excited to see broken people in Detroit be made alive in Christ.