I want to shout those words from the stage for everyone to hear. Thank you! In so many ways, on so many levels, this church has blessed us. How many are the ways? Let me count them, just a few.
Family. It’s the first calling of a church toward its members, and it has been the way you have welcomed us and cared for us. From the moment we arrived in Jesup to youth and parents showing up in the pouring rain to unload a uHaul full of heavy boxes and furniture, to the response and outpouring of love we have received on announcing our move, you have treated us as family. Thank you.
Investment. This church, it’s leadership and ministers especially, have invested in us immensely in our time here. We have grown because of that investment, and seen the love of God displayed time and again toward us. We have been shaped and moulded here in so many powerful ways. Thank you.
Grace. As we have learned and stumbled, you have been gracious to us. As we have experienced times of strain and business at home, you have shown us patience. As we have labored you have come alongside us to help us on the way. Thank you.
In these ways, and so many more, I want to shout “thank you!”
As we go, there are other words I want to shout, too. “Press on!” I want to say. It can be easy to give up hope or to take the comfortable route. Do not let the burden of loving and serving our youth override the immense blessing of seeing them come to faith and grow and produce fruit as disciples of our Lord. So press on!
“Give yourselves to the work!” I want to say. The only way our community can be impacted by the gospel is through your time. People need people, youth especially. As wonderful as paid staff and nice spaces may be, the only way to make an impact on an eternal soul is through the love of other eternal souls. So give yourselves to the work!
“Place your hope in the Lord!” I want to say. The days ahead will be the best yet if you will pursue the Lord. Human effort is in vain if it is not from the Lord. Before you can do the work, you must love the One who gives it to you. So, trust Him. Lean on Him. Hope in Him. He is the God who holds the future. He holds you too.
A question I have been asked a few times is this: “do we know who the new youth minister will be?” I, of course, don’t know. But at the same time, in another, truer way, I know exactly who the youth minister is.
Soli Deo Gloria!