Yesterday was a mixture of joy and sorrow for Redeemer Church. Have we changed our name to Ultimate Power? No. That’s just the name of our new location. Who would have ever thought of checking at marital arts studios to see about renting space for a church? We’re glad someone did. It’s a great situation for us, and gives us room to grow. We’re grateful.
Watching everyone enjoying food before the meeting; setting up chairs, sound equipment and children’s ministry items which were all donated to us; and seeing a large, open space turn into a place for our meeting was humbling and fun. Yet looming in my mind was my expected arrival of my dear friends, Frank and Liz. You see, they found out on Friday that Liz’s cancer has returned with force.
I kept looking toward the door. Frank and their son, Nathan, arrived looking tired. My heart went out to them. When did little Nathan get so tall? How much sleep had Frank gotten the night before? Where was Liz?
Frank pulled Benny and me aside and said that Liz was unable to make it, but that he had something he wanted to share with the church. They were both eager for the church to hear some things on their hearts. Since Liz started anticipating the the possible return of her cancer, her thoughts have been consistently focused on others. So it was no surprise that this godly couple is thinking about their new little church on the first Sunday morning after such hard news.
“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two.”
With tears welling and his voice cracking, Frank shared that Liz’s most recent thoughts of regret surrounded her sadness that she may not be able to be here to be a part of Redeemer Church. In our short history we have had our first baby born and our first engagement. He and Liz have wondered if hers will be either our first funeral…or our first miracle?
He further communicated his and Liz’s desire to see her illness used to advance the gospel. Looking further up into Philippians 1 he read:
“I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.”
With some typical-Frank attempts at humor to keep the sobs from hindering him, he exhorted us to preach the gospel. Liz wants to do that. He wants to do that. God has sent us on a church plant and we need to do that, too. As I sat there listening to our friend of three decades who has been through “many dangers, toil and snares” — and who just learned that his wife and best friend needs a miracle to live — I realized I was on holy ground. Like our Savior when facing His own death, others are on their hearts.
We gathered around Frank and Nathan for our first opportunity as a church family to pray together.
Will you join us in praying that our first miracle is about to happen?