I come from a broken home.
My parents are not divorced. I have been so very blessed to have been raised in a home with two loving parents and siblings. I couldn’t ask for a better family. The broken home that I am referring to, is my home church.
When I was a child, my family and I went to an amazing church. The church itself was nothing much to look at. No tall spires, gleaming towers, or bells. Just a simple brick church with a small white steeple and tiny stain glass windows. What made this church so great, was the people. I bet you never heard of a child begging to go to church every single Wednesday night and Sunday morning. But I did. I remember one Wednesday night a snow storm came in and my brother and I were begging – no crying for our parents to take us to church. Of course, my dad took us and church services were inevitable cancelled. We were devastated. That is because going to this church, was like coming home.
This church was my second home. It was the most comforting, most secure, and the most happiest place of my childhood. I instantly felt better the moment I walked through those doors. The people that made up this church were the most loving, genuine, supportive, God-loving people I have ever met. It was the one place I felt like I belonged. And to a middle school kid, that meant a lot. Because isn’t that what we all want in life? To belong?
In this church, we did have separate groups and classes arranged by age. But a lot of the time, we spent it together as a whole congregation. One of my fondest memories, was getting up before dawn for a Easter sunrise service. We all met at the top of the hill behind the church and watched the sun rise, while our pastor would give a short sermon about the resurrection of Christ. Afterwards, we all headed back down to the church for huge potluck breakfast. All 250 of us, crowded into the fellowship hall and enjoyed a warm meal together at long tables – family style.
The youth group that I was involved with, is what made this church so special to me. We were a group of about 80 kids, ages from 6th to 12th grade. I know you won’t believe me when I tell you, but this youth group did not have any cliques. Unheard of, with a bunch of teenagers, right? But we did not split up into a bunch of different groups – we were one group. Everyone truly loved one another, respected one another, and most importantly, had a passion for Christ. It didn’t matter where we came from, how we looked, or how we dressed – everyone accepted everybody for who they were.
Every year, the youth group would go on trips called, Youth Tours. Over the year, we would put together a drama, filled with dances, songs, and skits. It was quite the production. We had costumes, fog machines, black lights, strobe lights, and all kinds of props and backdrops. We would then all pile into church vans and travel around the country to perform for other churches. I always had an absolute blast on these tours. I could go on for hours telling you funny stories about these trips. But the one thing I think I remember the most, is how many lives we touched with our stories and how our own lives were forever changed.
The youth tours taught me a lot. They taught me how to be brave, how to work together with others, and most importantly, they gave me a different perspective on life. Going to different places in our country, helped me to become more aware of the world around me and it opened my eyes to see the world as it really is. And to be honest, the world is a pretty sad place. But the youth tours also gave me hope. Hope that the world can one day see the Light, as long as we can continue to be the Light for the world.
Everything sounds so perfect, right? And it was for a long time. But as you all know, humans are not perfect. Because of our imperfect natures, my church fell apart – just like so many others. I do not know all the details on what happened and to be honest, I do not want to know. All I know is that I watch my home, my sanctuary disappear right before my very own eyes. What was suppose to be a normal Wednesday night service, quickly dissolved into people arguing, pointing fingers, and discord. It was like watching parents argue – the argument that you know down in the pit of your stomach that this is it. This is the argument that will forever change my family and my life. And just like that, my home church was no more.
Going through that was very hard for me and thinking about it now, it is still hard for me. But I believe that God gave me my childhood church when I needed it most. At a time when I was still figuring out who I was and figuring out my faith. I am so thankful that God put people in my life, as a child, to help guide me and to help my faith grow. It is because of them that I now have a strong, passionate, unwavering faith. When I look back on all my memories from that church, I remember them with fondest. I imagine that heaven will be something similar to what I had at that church. A big, happy family – laughing together, crying together, eating together, learning & growing together – but most of all, praising & worshipping the Lord together.
I know this post is different from the norm. I don’t really enjoy sharing these intimate thoughts to the world. But this past week, the pastor of this wonderful church, was killed unexpectedly in a car accident. So here I am, grieving over the loss of a friend and mentor. All the while, I am reminded of the loss of my home and my family. I will never, ever forget the time I had at that church and I will especially; never forget the fire, the passion, and the love that my pastor had for his church and for Christ.
I didn’t write this post to point fingers or to cast blame. On the contrary, I wrote it to share the deep appreciation I have for my childhood church. To publicly thank all who helped make me the person I am today. And even though my home church is broken, I still carry it with me everyday. Everything that I am, everything that I believe – it all started in that little brick church.