This month, the church I had a small part in planting, turns 10 years old! You have no idea how much of a miracle that sentence is. It’s an act of God that Faith Community Church made it through the “survive phase” of its life, and an even greater miracle that it’s now made it into a “thrive phase” of its life. Oh, how I pray that in our next season of life we will arrive at a phase of life where we live out full vitality in our life and mission in Santa Cruz. It’s going to take more miracles for that to happen.
As I think about the last ten years I recall so many stories; some very sad, some very funny, and some very joyful. But here’s the thing – I honestly think the most important stories are the ones I know nothing about! Here’s why I think this. A year ago I had the privilege of preaching at my friend Danny Bennett’s church Santa Cruz Hope. It was a great experience to see what God is doing in another church plant in Santa Cruz. Santa Cruz Hope is a great church! After the worship was over I was hanging outside chatting with a few people, and a young man aged 24 or so, introduced himself to me. He said, “Hey Andy you probably won’t remember me but I have to tell you how God used Faith Community Church in my life years ago.” He had my attention. He went on, “Way back when you guys were still worshipping in the Rio Theatre I began sneaking into your worship services. At that time in my life I was far from God, partying and doing heavy drugs, but because you were worshipping in the theatre near my house I found myself curious and so I would sneak in the back and then sneak out before anyone saw me. One Sunday morning after an all-nighter of drugs and partying I stumbled into worship. I was honestly in such bad shape that I had my phone set to dial 911 in case I passed out. Yes, I was so screwed up with drugs that I could have easily lost consciousness, coded, and been in big trouble in the middle of your worship service!! As I sat there, one of your pastors or leaders or someone grabbed me and said ‘Hey can I pray for you?’ I must have said yes because they prayed for me and the most amazing thing happened – all the effects of the drugs immediately disappeared and I became very clear-headed. This freaked me out because in that moment I knew God was real, and I knew I had to deal with God!” Obviously I was blown away by his story and so I asked, “How come I never saw you until today?” He laughed and was honest, “Ha that’s funny. Even as I’m telling you my story right now, I have no idea why I never went back to the church where I encountered the power of God. I just kinda kept doing my thing for a while longer, but my experience at Faith Community Church led to me finally turning my life over to Christ and since then I’ve served Jesus on the mission field with YWAM (Youth With A Mission) and now I’m in Santa Cruz here at Hope church and I’m trying to open a YWAM mission center in Santa Cruz!”
Churches are living, breathing epicenters of God’s work in broken human lives. Some of the stories we know, and most of them – perhaps the best of them – we will never know.
God thanks for an amazing ride over these last ten years. May we invest our health in your kingdom and in all the things that make you mad, make you sad and make you glad!