Fourteen years ago, I was invited to church by a friend shortly after I moved back to Louisiana from Seattle. I was about 15 weeks pregnant, unmarried, and in a very unhealthy relationship. The night that I first attended that church, there were about 30 people in the congregation. They’d had their first service just a month or so prior, so needless to say, attendance was small and intimate.
The church has since grown from that small group of people to well over 4,000 members in the 14 years that I’ve been there. God has used this spiritual family of mine in miraculous ways. He has carefully orchestrated people to come into my life at specific times to fulfill specific needs. Some provided blessing, others have taught me valuable lessons, while others have come to be lifelong friends. The body of Christ (the church) has served as my spiritual, mental, and emotional lifeline – I could not survive this harsh world without it.
After a leadership meeting two weeks ago, the Lord put it on my heart to write a letter to the pastor expressing how grateful I am to call this church my home.
As I made my way down the covered walkway toward the doors of our new building for Vision Night, I was hardly prepared for the emotions I would feel upon entering our new church home…it is certainly a sight to behold.
I walked in just before worship began and made my way to the upper level seating. Once I got there, I had a great vantage point to take in the entire sanctuary. Seeing all of the hands raised in praise, I began to weep.
Almost fourteen years ago to the day, I received an invitation from a friend to an evening service that you held in a strip mall. If I’m not mistaken, it was one of the first few in that new place. I was a broken, unwed, 20-year-old girl expecting my first baby. I was alone, terrified, and desperately needed Jesus in my life in a REAL WAY. There was a guest speaker there that gave me a word of encouragement. One of the scriptures he gave me was Ephesians 2:10, specifically in the New Living Translation.
For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago.
God has blessed me with a passion for art, so that world “masterpiece” resonated with me. I knew He was speaking to me. I certainly didn’t feel like a masterpiece, but I felt the presence of God that night in a way like never before and I’ve been carrying a piece of paper with that scripture on it for years now.
Fast forward fourteen years to last night. Tears were rolling down my face as the following lyrics came out of my mouth:
Chains be broken, Lives be healed. Eyes be opened, Christ is revealed.
That is me. My chains were broken. My life was healed. My eyes were opened. In the years since that first church service, I’ve run from God, experienced deep heartache, and come full circle back on my face before Him. He has redeemed me in a greater way than I could have ever imagined. The face of our church has evolved quite a bit over time, but the body of people that inhabit it has steadfastly held me up from day one.
My husband and I are both so honored to be a part of this family and we look forward to serving here for many years to come.
At the services that following weekend, the pastor read my letter to the congregation. He used it to illustrate that although the building had gotten bigger, the church is still about reaching people and building lives. Even that one hurting person. I was that one hurting person. Divine providence led me to that service fourteen years ago, and as a scared, lonely, single momma, God used the people of that congregation to help me through a very difficult time.
As it turns out, there was a scared, pregnant, single woman sitting in that service listening to that letter I wrote. When the pastor closed, as he always does, he directed anyone in need of prayer to the front of the church where there are several people on a prayer team that will pray for you. God directed her steps down the aisle to the one prayer partner that was all too familiar with her situation – my mother.
After hearing the girl’s story, my mom looked at her and said, “That letter that you heard? That was my daughter. I am here to tell you that THERE IS HOPE!” Mom told her a little about my story – how God had turned my life around and blessed me with a loving husband and more children. She prayed for her and gave her information to resources that could help her.
God truly amazes me the way He works. Of all the people in all the services who could lend an ear and pray for this girl, He sent one who knew exactly what she was walking through. I’m here to tell anyone of you that are reading this today that GOD KNOWS.
He knows your circumstance, He knows your pain, and He cares. He will send relief, comfort, healing, and redemption – all you’ve got to do is take that first step down the aisle.