For those who don’t know, my dad is the senior pastor at Grace Fellowship Ministries in Winnsboro, Texas. This is the text I just received from him:
“22 years ago today Grace began Sunday morning service!! Been a journey!!! Aug 14, 1994. STILL BELIEVING!!!”
Oh my, congratulations dad. Congratulations mom. Very few could have made it. Very few would have pressed through. People stabbed you in the back. Friends betrayed you. People around town would not talk with you. The church even hurt our family. A lot. But you persevered. We all did. I am so glad. I would not be where I am at today spiritually if you hadn’t.
The church began my freshman year in high school. It is amazing to think that this church began in God’s heart, traveled to my mom and dad’s heart, then to our living room, then to a downtown storefront, and now to a 25-acre property with a beautiful building surrounded by a forest. If you are struggling to hold on to something God has put in your heart, my dad’s church ought to be a fresh reminder of the following: “Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin…” (Zechariah 4:10 NLT).
Daddy God always starts with little bitty seeds and a pile of dirt.We are the dirt (Genesis 2:7; Psalms 103:14). He plants the seeds.
By eighth grade, I had already planned my religious escape. I loved my parents so much and I loved God. However, I was so, so, so bored in church. There seemed to be so little life and power. I decided that in order to honor my mom and dad, I would stay in the church until I graduated from high school (four years away). Then, I would walk away from the church for good. What was extremely difficult for me was that I, in my eighth grade mind, could not reconcile how I was going to be able to love God (because I did) yet forsake the church (you know, what so many Millennials have regrettably mastered). But I knew that there was no way I could sit around and be a part of something so dead and boring for the next 60 years of my life.
And then Grace Fellowship happened.
Through a series of unfortunate events and quite frankly, suffering and disappointment in the life of my parents, new desires were birthed.
Suffering truly is a womb of sorts. A matrix. A greenhouse. A launching pad.
For the first time in my life, we began traveling to Dallas, Texas every weekend to visit churches that were more “open” to the Holy Spirit, the spiritual gifts, healing, and God’s power.
And not long into this movement, we were meeting in a home one night and God demonstrated his power. My brother had a milk allergy so severe that a few sour-cream-and-onion chips could send him to the hospital. You can only imagine what milk or ice cream would have done.
While I played in an adjoining room, a group of people gathered around my brother Clay, laid hands on him in Biblical fashion, and prayed for him. They really prayed. The next day we were scheduled to leave for vacation and before we went, Clay wanted a glass of milk (or ice cream, I can’t remember). But dad and mom told him that we were going to wait until we returned from vacation to “test” things out. Clay insisted. The rest is history. Rather than go to the hospital, we left for vacation. Nothing happened. Clay was healed! HEALED! Physically healed. He never looked back. He has enjoyed dairy products since that day.
Since that time, God has fulfilled the vision that he gave dad at an old run-down car wash full of broken appliances. God would bring people to Grace, heal them, and send them back out. I am one of those. I was going to walk away from the church after high school. But God used this local church to show me that there is life and power both in Christ and his community.
Thank you Lord for my dad, my mom, the suffering you used, and the beauty of Grace Fellowship Ministries. I am one of those changed.
Congratulations dad, mom, and the people of Grace.
*** You can check out Grace Fellowship Ministries’ website at http://www.gracefm.org/.