|From Beach Baptism|
One of my favorite pictures of all time, taken at our beach baptism last summer.
I remember what someone said when talking about the difference between Desert Storm's diverse alliance of nations and careful preparation and the "coalition of the willing" that gathered for Operation Iraqi Freedom and the lack of things they really could have used - "You go to war with the army you have."
Sitting in my office this afternoon surrounded by my books and assorted reminders of the past few years at New Hope and praying through our church directory, I thanked God for New Hope's "coalition of the willing." There have been quite a few people who have come through our church over the years. It's a military town after all, and people come here knowing they'll be going somewhere else, and some people just don't stick. Many have really blessed us and contributed to our mission to reach Valparaiso and beyond with the love of Jesus Christ. I can look around and see some examples of their time with us. Memories last too.
But to the "coalition of the willing" who come almost every week, serve, and give to the work of God through New Hope - who have invested years here, who pray for the work and for the pastor and his family - brothers and sisters, as Paul wrote to a church he loved once, "you are my joy and crown."
This is NOT any easy place to serve. It's well, gritty work. We are surrounded by a poorer needier city and are off the beaten path. Our service seldom gets noticed by the big city folks. We don't offer everything for everybody - just can't. And yet, we do more ministry, more often, with less people and resources than any other church I have ever known percentage-wise. Hard work. Good work. God's work. You come to New Hope to push back against the darkness, to shine the light of Jesus in dark places, to be known as who you are, really - and to be known.
To my New Hope "coalition of the willing" I'd say this.
I will go to war anytime with you and push right up to hell's front door knowing that I was serving alongside people who are living the mission out everyday. Thanks for sharing your lives with me and my family. Thanks for your dedication and sacrifices. Thanks for being you.
If you're reading this, live anywhere near and want to be a part of what God is doing at New Hope, come and join us as we love, laugh, and rip up Satan's plan and throw it back in his face.