I grew up attending Woodland Heights Christian Church in Crawfordsville Indiana. My parents started attending there when I was five years old, and I was a frequent guest until I got married and became a full-time pastor. My mom still attends there today, and we held dad’s funeral there last year. It is the Church I call home, no matter where I lead across this country.
I am sure if I was to visit there this week only a handful of people still know me. Most of those people would be my mother’s friends and her Sunday school classmates. And yet, I still feel this sense of connection I cannot fully explain.
Today I was thinking of a few things I would like to tell my home Church.
1. Thanks for Teaching me the Bible. From children’s Church to Sunday School to Youth group to worship you taught me the value and meaning of the Bible. The foundation I received there has allowed me to build an active life of faith.
2. Thanks to the Hundreds of Volunteers I Do Not Remember. My life was shaped by people who will never know what I became in life. They decided to give an hour to help with an event or sponsor a trip or teach a lesson. These people shaped my life without ever knowing it.
3. Thanks for Letting Me Fail with Grace. In High School, I embarrassed my family and myself and the people who believed in me, and yet no one ever gave up. While I know, there was a disappointment in my behaviors I was never made to feel like a failure. I was always reminded of grace while being shown the love of Christ. This example kept me in the faith when it would have been easy to walk away.
4. Thanks for Your Financial Support in College. I was blessed to receive a check to help with the financial burden of higher education. I don’t know how many people even knew I received the money, but thanks anyway. Not only that but thanks for the special gifts people mailed me during those five years.
5. Thanks for Supporting Me as a Missionary. In 1993, I wanted to go on a summer mission internship, and my family along with my church paid every dime. When I felt called to start a church in Iowa, the church once again rose to bless my life. They supported me with one-time gifts and two years of support. They even let me be their VBS missionary. Lives were blessed with your support.
6. Thanks for All Your Prayers. I know many of you have lifted me up in prayer through the years at times I do not even know. You have prayed for me and my ministry, and God has honored those prayers. I thank you for all your spiritual support and encouragement.
I believe that no one in the Church ever imagined the good God would do through me over the course of my lifetime. By my calculations, I have now baptized somewhere around 200 people in the past 20 years. It all started with the love of my family and the support of my home Church.
I also write this information to the Church I now lead. You will never know the way God will use your time, talent and treasure. You will never completely understand the support your prayers offer to our young people. Your actions are shaping the lives of the youth in our Church and one day it will bless people across this city and literally across the world.