Monday, December 30, 2013

It was just like I remembered it

Everyone has a story where the direction of their life made a 180 turn. Those moments where you can look back and see a turning point in your life.

Well, mine began in this dank, smelly, and musty, Sunday School classroom. 45 years ago, sweet Mabel Huff told me about Jesus and I began my journey of trusting in him. As we walked through this empty room and very empty church my heart swelled with emotion, because God changed my life here.

We stopped by on Sunday night and asked if we could take a few pictures before their evening service, and the group that now meets here was very gracious in letting us do so. It is a shell of what it once was, but God reached me here.

This is the inner city church building that once had vibrant services... As we snapped off the photos we told the story again to our kids of how God used this place to get us where we are at today...

 This is the old gym that I would later use to house the Hagerstown Teen Center on Saturday Nights. It still had the same paint on the walls that Anne and I and a few others brushed on years ago. This was the place where hundreds of teens found Jesus and I spent every Saturday Night for the first 4 years of our  marriage. 

I remember bolting these hoops on the walls. This old gym with a short ceiling, gave the youth of this city a place to hang out and hear about Jesus. It is now dark and empty but if the walls could talk they would tell you miraculous stories of God moving.

It was here that I began to get the call for ministry and where I tore a ligament in my ankle  after shooting hoops. Before we left I fired up a shot for memory sake...

 Kids would lean over this ledge and watch games while playing pool and air-hockey in the room. 

 As you can see, it wasn't much, yet it was enough to give teens a place to get off of the streets... 

 This is the auditorium that we met in. It used to be full of people and life poured from this room in a vibrant way. We stayed for the Evening service where 10 people filled this large auditorium. But we thanked God for using this place in our lives...

We snapped off a picture of the dear Brother, Dan Staley who purchased this building years ago and helps his son lead the ministry here... 

Sometimes it is hard to wrap my head around the ways that God has moved since then. Sometimes it really doesn't compute. Sometimes the odds seem astronomical for us to be where we are at today. But, God really doesn't care about odds, all he looks for is a willing heart and an openness to follow him and he can do some of most mind-boggling things humans have ever seen.

It was good to go back and remember and to take time and thank God for all the people who helped me get to where I am today.

I wonder who will come back one day to Grace Community and tell their story like I am today? My only desire is that when they do the place is still bursting forth with vibrant life. 

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