Recently I had the privilege to minister at a small Pentecostal Church in the town where my dad grew up. It was the church my grandparents used to attend when they were still alive. As a little boy I would come here now and then, and later when I moved in with my grandmother for my studies- I attended the church with her for a couple of years. I believe that around 1989 when I joined the Army, I stopped attending. The few times I came to that church was for my grandmother’s funeral and the funeral of my cousin. I have many precious memories of this church and it was a very emotional and grateful moment standing in front of this congregation. It is the church where God called me for the first time, and I realized that He had a plan for my live. It was here where I used to sit in the back, still hung over from the night before, telling myself; “I serve God when I’m eighty years old, but first let’s party.”
Standing there that Sunday morning behind the pulpit instead of sitting in the back corner of the building, made me reflect and be grateful for a few things;
1. A forgiving God: Thinking back I wonder why God had mercy on me, after the many times I disrespected; the presence of God, the house of God and the people of God. If somebody would have done the same to me, it would’ve been; “That’s it, I draw the line and you better don’t cross it or you will suffer the consequences!” How many of us experience a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love? Thank you Lord, for forgiving me and changing my live.
2. A praying grandmother: I remember the evenings I would come home and hear my grandmother pray for her sons, daughters, and grandchildren. Usually I would ignore her crying out to God, but at times I would walk slowly to my room, listening to the words that she uttered in despair. Even though in the natural it seemed to get worse instead of better, she was holding on to her faith, and she had much faith. On her deathbed years later- when cancer was destroying her from within, she was singing hymns unto her God, instead of acknowledging her pains. She prayed me in, I believe because she was being sure of what she hoped for and certain of what she did not see. Thank you oma for your prayers, and I’m sorry for the pain I caused.
3. A church with a clear vision: The church was founded in early 50’s and had a clear vision at one time. What I do remember is that the congregation had gatherings in a movie theater and also in a school. The church started to experience growth and the building became to small. There was a need for a bigger place and the desire for their own building grew. My grandparents would always talk about that vision, they would give sacrificial towards that vision and in 1983 see that vision become reality. Twenty-six years later the building is still there, many of the early members are with the Lord, and new members joined the church. But one thing I noticed, that there was no longer a clear vision in the church. Vision is so crucial for a church; it shows the direction, it ignites passion, it gives hope, and where there is no revelation, the people cast of restraint. I love this church for many reasons, and at the same time I am grateful that God called me into a ministry with a clear vision, not only for my live, but for this world. Thank you Pastor Sonny and Sister Julie for your obedience to the call and sending missionaries to Holland.
I wonder sometimes what my grandparents would say if they would still be alive…