“By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.”
Hebrews 11:8-10 NKJV
There is great comfort in remaining in one place for a long time. One becomes used to the routine, the familiarity of the faces and everything related to life. This is very true in church.
I had spent fourteen years in a church on the East side of Des Moines that I had called home. I knew many people, and was very active in various ministries and in the leadership, serving as a deacon.
Then one day at breakfast on a cold Friday morning, Pastor Phil Winfield began to talk about a meeting he had with some representatives of Grant Park Christian Church. That meeting was the culmination of nearly two years of on and off communication between Pastor Phil, and the representatives.
To cut a long story short, Grace Church was gifted the church building with the stipulation that it be used as a church and nothing else.
I heard the story, and immediately announced “I am going.”
It is by the sovereign planning of God the I would happen on Hebrews chapter 11 on the tenth anniversary of the beginning of Grace Fellowship Church. As I read, I happened on the passage telling of Abraham’s obedience, how he was called out by God to go to a place he did not know.
In the founding of Grace fellowship, there are many stories of people who took that step of faith, leaving the relative comfort of familiar church and family, to strike out into the unknown.
For most of us, we were doing a new thing, and did not know what to expect.
Along the way there were mercurial highs and low moments, but there was a steadiness, a consistent effort to share Jesus. I think of Pastor Shawn and his wife Delana, who relentlessly made effort after effort to reach the lost of the neighborhood. There have been successes and times when the successes have not been as grand, but there have been no failures, as there are none when one serves the Lord by faith.
Pastor may never know the impact that he has had on this side of eternity, but I have no doubt that he will hear, “well done, good and faithful servant.”
Over the last ten years, there have been many memories made as our church family has oscillated, as new members came, and original members moved on. But the work has been ongoing, never ceasing.
I have marveled at the growth of my pastor over the last ten years, as he has matured in his willingness to use his gift of evangelism. He is willing to go to any length, in any circumstance to share the Gospel. Pastor Shawn has gone to the Fair to pass out water, preached at athletic events and stood on a box at the Farmer’s market downtown preaching the Gospel to whoever would hear.
I have also marveled at the unity in the church.
When I attended Grace, I found it easy to fade into the background if I wanted. At Grace Fellowship, that is impossible. It is noticeable when people aren’t there, and are many who reach out to see if everything is okay. The unity is especially present when we serve. Because we are small, it is all hands on deck. I have seen many people grow and fill new roles over the past ten years.
Then there is Delana. So many Sundays I have managed to make it to church, when I probably should have stayed home. She always greets me with a smile. I try and tell her things are great, as I learned early on that raw truth about my condition is difficult for her. She has demonstrated such faithfulness to Grace Fellowship and has been in the thick of it all, from working in the nursery to cleaning the bathrooms. The model of a humble servant. She is the shepherdess of the church.
Today is day one of another decade, and I for one am truly excited. Only the Lord knows what will come, but I know that He is faithful.
Brothers and sisters, let us all go forth and walk by faith, serving God, with the confidence that He will carry us and that He keeps His promises.
HAPPY ANNIVERSARY GRACE FELLOWSHIP CHURCH!