Who would have thought back in 1994, when my girlfriend and I came up for one Sunday so I could preach to fill in for the Chestnut Lane congregation that nearly 10 years later I would be moving to work fulltime with that very same congregation. Changes had happened. Chestnut Lane had moved buildings, taken on a new name. My girlfriend and I had married and had three children.
On September 1, 2003, we pulled into our new home. On September 2, a group of you came over and helped us unload our trucks and get unpacked. It started nearly 7 years of a great working fellowship. How was I to know that you weren’t just trying to look good for your new evangelist but that you all really are that loving and serving all the time?
Over the past years, we have weathered good times and bad. You all have been there for us as we had our fourth child, as Marita’s father and grandmother died, as she underwent surgery for skin cancer, as my grandfather died. You were there when we had financial difficulties, spiritual difficulties, extended-family difficulties. You’ve even been there this past week as we had to leave our home because of plumbing problems. I want to thank you for your great service.
I hope you can say the same for us. My hope is that when the shoe was on the other foot, when you were in need and having difficulties, that we were as loving and serving for you as you have been for us.
I have truly enjoyed my time working with you and want to say thank you to the elders and to each of you who make up this congregation for letting me work with you, teach you week in and week out, and be the voice of the congregation. Your kindness and support of my efforts has made all the difference in my own spiritual growth and ability to stick with this work of preaching.
I am excited for what the future holds for me and my family as we move to Indiana. I’m also excited about what the future holds for you as you start to work with a new evangelist. I believe a fresh start will help take the Franklin Church to the next level of work and growth. I’m excited for you and I’m especially excited for the Davis family as they getto experience the love and service that we have experienced for so many years.
You have worked your way into a special place in my heart. I will pray for you continually and often. Please pray for me, my family, and our work.
I want to leave you simply with the reminder from Paul that no matter what happens, we are God’s children and as long as we stay in His hand, “In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Romans 8:37).
Hang on to Jesus. Stand firm in the grace of our Lord and “after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen” (I Peter 5:10-11).
Please remember that I love you and God loves you. Let’s remember to love and pray for one another this week and for the years to come.