I attended our W.I.N. Team gathering this evening at church. I enjoyed good conversation with some great leaders, over Jimmy John’s sandwiches. The sounds of laughter and conversation are music to my ears. I work with great people, both volunteers and vocational staff – they are the best!
Nate called the meeting to order and then, for the next hour or so, we shared story after story of people’s lives being changed through our church family. The stories were about real people, dealing with real issues and real life-questions. We heard about great projects being accomplished; projects that help us care more effectively for those whom God sends along our path. Our friend, Rob Kastens, from Mountain Christian Church also shared with me some of the great victories happening in their church family as well.
We shared Scripture that is actually coming to life before our very eyes. Indeed, the Bible is accurate when it states that God’s Word is living and active. It’s hard to argue with reality.
Meanwhile, Gail was attending the first meeting of a new Life Group for cancer support. As with any congregation, there are hundreds of people directly affected by cancer at any given time. The lady who is pulling this together is a five-time cancer survivor who is one of the most inspiring people I’ve ever met – right alongside her amazing husband. Gail reported that her meeting was uplifting and inspiring as well.
TJ and I took the leftover Jimmy John’s into our auditorium where about fifty people were playing volleyball. This is a fun group of people and they attacked the food like circling sharks. It was encouraging to see this group, through whom many people have found their way to our church, having a blast together.
Gail and I are part of an awesome church. At every turn, in every meeting, at every service, there is encouragement and victory to be found.
But what also amazes me is the fact that our church is growing so rapidly. We’ve grown over 200 people since this time last year and we’ve already baptized more people this year than we did all of last year. We just purchased a new building for our Etters campus and our new architect – Plain Joe Studios – will be guiding us through a new master plan that will result in new facilities for our Lambs Gap campus. We expect that our church will have its greatest year of growth ever - all while my wife is dealing with cancer and I’m paddling fast to stay afloat.
Last Sunday, Gail’s chemo hall-mates visited our church as a result of our sharing with one another through her last treatment. They are great people going through the same struggle. Another of Gail’s hall-mates is a lady from our church who has been fighting the disease longer than Gail. It is comforting to see Ralph and Mary Beth smiling through it all each time we meet at chemo central.
God specializes in displaying His magnificent glory through our weaknesses. He does it through our local churches in ways like no other. It is indeed a wonder to be allowed to see His mighty hand at work in spite of, and even through, our difficulties. How could I not praise Him? For He is making things of which I’ve dreamed my entire ministry come to pass while I feel the most feeble and ill-equipped.
I guess I am rambling, but I’d just say to a person who wonders how God works in the midst of suffering - visit our church for a while. God is alive and well among hurting people. His signature is all over victory out of suffering. It may be the gift nobody wants, but it is a gift nonetheless.