I’m Danny Iverson. I’m the lead pastor of Shalom City Church and I live here in the Grove Park community in West Atlanta with my family. I’m forever in love with an amazing woman named Kimberly, and we’ve been married since 2004. God decided to hook us up with seven kids… all extroverts and full of lot’s of energy, and we love being on mission with them, sharing life with our neighbors and seeking justice and restoration for our community. We have great fun together discovering the various personalities God put in each of us, and we are definitely growing day by day in learning to love each other and give grace.
I actually grew up the oldest of nine Iversons in Chiba Japan where my parents have been planting Churches since 1986. Growing up looking different than all my friends and navigating being a minority really did two things for me. First, it helped shape a deep dependence on Jesus for my identity and it also gave me a heart to share life with others, especially those different than me and those who are often marginalized by society.
When I was 17 years old I had my “come to Jesus moment” after getting kicked out of school for some stupid choices, and through my dad forgiving me and living out the gospel of grace, the Holy Spirit did a work in my heart and my life started to change. I started following Jesus, not in a religious way, to try and get something from God, but in a personal way, because I had started to actually love him and really believed God unconditionally loved me, even though there are so many things not quite right yet in me. I started believing that in Christ I already had the nothing-broken-nothing-missing peace all of us are looking for, and all the sinful pathways to false peace I was walking started to show their dark side and the false promises of this world began to lose their luster. Jesus and His promises, and the fruit that came from His Spirit in me, was just better, and as I started trusting Him and His Word more, instead of myself and my own agendas, I started experiencing the ever abounding joy and freedom of life in His Kingdom. That’s still going on and I love it.
I came back to the states for college in 1997 and got a business degree from James Madison University in Virginia. I was super involved in Cru, a great college ministry, but swore I would never do ministry or be a pastor, so after college I started climbing the corporate ladder in the business world. It was pretty empty for me, and the pursuit of the American dream started to compromise my love for the Kingdom of God. The work load and constant hustle to keep up with my consumeristic urges and addictions led to some spiritual amnesia and I forgot some things that were true about God, myself and this world.
In 2003 everything changed… My Grandfather, who was 74 at the time, came out of retirement to re-plant an inner city Church in one of our country’s most distressed communities in Newark, New Jersey. I drove up from Virginia to tell him he was crazy, and convince him this was a waste of time and resources, but God pulled a number on me and showed me that I was the one who was crazy as I spent myself on gaining success and affluence of the world. The way it happened was though a prostitute who had just gotten beat up and came stumbling toward us crying as the blood freely ran down her face. I felt very uncomfortable and wanted to retreat and get my grandfather out of the situation, but he did the exact opposite. He saw the image of God in her and moved toward her with compassion, wiping away her blood and tears and praying for her with a love that could only come from God.
A massive paradigm shift began in my heart, and I started realizing I really was’t any different than that woman. I was just better at wrapping up my leprosy as I hid behind my privilege, theology, family, money, and education. I realized I needed the same Savior to the same extent as her and everyone else, and that God wasn’t my personal cosmic vending machine that I could manipulate to give me what I wanted out of life, but was really my loving heavenly Father who had an awesome plan for my flourishing that he would give me for free if I would trust him. I started to see how off I was in my selfish pursuits of my own kingdom of comfort, and God started softening my heart once again with his grace and gently called me back to the path of peace that he had for me. That Fall I left everything behind and moved into the Newark community to serve and learn alongside my grandfather. It was a sweet time in life, and as I found contentment in Jesus and His mission for me, he decided to bless me with a life long partner and lover that far exceeded anything I could have imagined.
After getting married, Kimberly and I did ministry together in Newark till 2010 when we were called to go to Reformed Theological Seminary to get further equipped for planting churches in the inner city. In 2013 we were led to Atlanta to do a Church planting residency with Perimeter Church and then Renovation Church. In 2015 we moved to Grove Park, renovated our house, and started sharing life with our neighbors with the hope that God would birth a Church committed to awakening, strengthening, and multiplying Spirit-filled disciples of Jesus who are ever discovering and displaying the Shalom of God in all aspects of life.
As Shalom City Church begins to take shape through the beautiful mosaic of diversity of people being gathered, I am excited to be a part of a community of Jesus followers seeking to live out the nothing-broken-nothing-missing Kingdom of God.