Attending church has never been an option for me. My mother was the church pianist and my father was the Sunday School director. We were in church every time the doors were opened. It’s what I knew, and I loved church. More than church, I loved Jesus.
Fourteen years ago, life changed for me. At 30 years old, I found myself unmarried and pregnant with a biracial child. My parents chose to sever our relationship. What had I done?!? How could God forgive me when my own parents had chosen not to? How could I ever walk through the doors of a church again?
Fast forward several years. Patsy Vance was my neighbor at the time. She encouraged me on several occasions to come to First Baptist to visit. I finally gave in. I visited Mandy Feasel’s Sunday School class and loved the ladies in there immediately. Faith Martin invited me to a ladies painting party the following week. I was very hesitant to go, but I went anyway. We laughed that night. Real laughter! The laughter and smiles that night served as the beginning of God’s healing in my very hurt and shamed heart.
Connor and I began coming faithfully to First Baptist after that ladies night. We would always sit in the balcony. After a couple of months, Sue Addy asked me one day why we stayed in the balcony. I told her that I did not feel like we fit in downstairs with all of the perfect families sitting in those pews. Without hesitation, she said, “You just come on down. There’s a whole lot of messed up people in this church. Nobody is perfect. That’s why we’re here.” From then on, we started sitting downstairs with the “messed up people.”
Soon after, there were signups for LifeGroups. I went to the fellowship in the Family Life Center to sign up for a group to attend. But once again, I let my insecurities get the best of me and listened to Satan’s taunting that we would never fit in anywhere. I left without signing up for a group. The next day, I got text messages from Celeste Brasher and Sandy Robinson saying they had signed me up for their group. I absolutely loved LifeGroups! We became family. Isn’t that what church should be?
There is a common theme throughout this. God used his people to create a home for us. God used his people to heal my heart. Those people who loved us from the beginning and welcomed us with open arms made me want to be better, serve more, and most importantly, know God more intimately. The kindness and generosity shown to us has been life changing for me. I can never say thank you enough.
First Baptist Union is far more than a building. It is the beautiful collection of faces who serve as a reflection of our Lord’s grace and mercy. First Baptist Union has become what I so longed and prayed for… our family.
“So we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.” Romans 12:5
“That there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.” 1 Corinthians 12:25-26