Can I be honest with you for a moment?
With all that’s gone on this year, it’s easy for me to feel like this is a lost year so far. I’m not trying to be negative. I know there is plenty of that out there. I’m also not trying to be a downer. There’s plenty of that too and I’m naturally pretty optimistic.
That said, I’m sad when so many of the things that we had planned and anticipated just haven’t come together. That’s been true personally for our family (just like yours) and it’s been true for the staff and leadership of our church.
Everything that we’ve had to postpone or cancel or every great idea that we couldn’t jump on has felt like a loss. And every time we’ve felt compelled to put this or that restriction in place has felt like a loss too.
All that has made this feel like a lost year sometimes. I just wanted to say that because I wanted you to have a bit of a window into my heart and the hearts of our staff and leaders.
That makes what I’m about to say so much richer ...
Two weeks ago, 30 of our people banded together to serve in Orange following Hurricane Laura. It was very hard work as we tackled 7 different houses, cutting and removing fallen or falling trees and debris. One lady, who was recently widowed, had a yard filled with downed trees, broken limbs and debris. We took care of it all. She was so touched that she tracked down who we were, found our address and sent us a very kind thank you letter. She said the difference we made was “not only ‘yard changing’ but life changing.” After describing her “anxiety and depression” at having to face another loss, she said our work “not only restored my yard but truly renewed my spirit.” In that day, we loved God, we loved people, and we loved now.
I’ve continually been touched over the past six months at how many people have continued to give their tithes and offerings regularly to make sure the ongoing ministry doesn’t miss a beat, but then they added in something extra for the food pantry or to help some family in need. This has been significant and dozens of extra families inside and outside of our church have received food and many in our church family have had serious bills paid as a result. When we do that, we love God, we love people, and we love now.
Every fall, we spend some concentrated time focusing on the mission of the Gospel far outside our walls locally and around the world. We call that mission focus Faith Promise. It’s a way for us to take notice of what God is doing through our different mission partners. It’s also a time where we are challenged to thoughtfully and prayerfully consider what we can do to stretch ourselves and trust God to financially support these causes beyond our regular giving. Next Sunday, September 27, we are going to host one of our partners, Corey and Abby Stocksdale. They serve as missionaries in Botswana, leading a number of very exciting and important ministries there. This will be their first visit to see us and we are excited for you to hear from them a little Sunday morning and then much more that evening. I hope you will come or tune into both. I also hope you will join us in sacrificially supporting these important mission efforts. When we do that, we will be loving God, loving people, and loving now.
I could go on to share more about what God has done in the lives of individuals and through our church in this “lost year,” but that’s another e-news for another time. Just know that despite the losses and the frustrations, there is much to celebrate and be thankful for.
Love God, Love People, Love Now!