This past weekend, my home church in Mt. Pleasant, SC celebrated its 25th anniversary, and being 1,000 miles away made me a little sad as I would not get to participate. For some people, a church's anniversary might not be THAT big of deal personally. For this girl though, my church was not just a church but a family, a sanctuary, and a home. I miss it every single weekend.
My church came into my life 13 years ago when I attended on a whim (thanks to an invitation that I accepted reluctantly). I still remember like it was yesterday, sitting there like a deer in headlights, as hundreds of people around me sang their hearts out. Their joy within the service was very foreign to me. I couldn't grasp the clapping and the hands raised in praise. Foreign yet fascinating. The one thing I do remember grasping was the message. Surely my friend who brought me had called Pastor Greg and told him what I needed to hear. And so I listened for the first time in my life, even after growing up in the church. I heard every word. From there on I never looked back. Never.
In my last 13 years of their last 25, I gained friendships through Seacoast that are wonderfully knitted together. While these friends are people I can be the silliest with, dance the night away with, they're also the prayer warriors in my life. I know with one quick text or email, they've got my back. I've also battled multiple bouts with depression inside of those church walls. At my darkest times, the only reprieve I'd feel was in those chairs. For one hour, the black grip on my head and heart would slowly fall away. I'd gain the strength I needed to just put one foot in front of the other as I'd walk out into the world again until healing would come physically. Seacoast also brought me the opportunity to serve on medical missions and has now been a catalyst for a third world passion that runs deep in my heart. They gave me ways to serve beyond what I could ask or imagine. Being able to create and lead Cinderella Day was an honor I'll cherish forever.
Although I cannot attend weekly anymore, Seacoast offers live online services, so this homesick Seacoaster was able to join in the celebration from across the miles just as though I was there. And there's just something about sitting in your own home while Pastor Greg shares his heart and his vision and celebrates so many of the years that brought you so much light and joy. I suddenly didn't feel so far away. I was suddenly home.
To my home church by the sea, congratulations on 25 wonderful years of growth, impact, leadership, kingdom wins, loving on not just your attendees, but also people and community in general. You are a true example of faith lived out. You're thousands strong as His hands and feet. You're His heart in a way that allows some of the unseen to be seen and felt and touched and grasped. You're visionaries and game changers. You fight for those that cannot fight for themselves when it comes to poverty, slavery, orphans, and much more. You change lives one chair, one person at a time, for generations to come. I know that my future generations will know our awesome Lord thanks to your words that one Sunday morning 13 years ago.
And for that, and for you, I thank you. My soul thanks you. My eternity thanks you.