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The Loudest LOVE

(This post was written by Brad Ervin, Pastor of Outreach and Missions)

I have a 5 week old little boy at home.
He is our first child.
We are new parents.

For those of you with children, those three sentences are loaded with memories, both happy and terrifying! I could write post after post about all that I am learning about myself and about God during these sleep deprived weeks. About how selfish I am with my time, about how much of a control monster I can be, about patience, and at times…a little taste of what unconditional love must feel like.

Many nights, my wife and I will be laying in bed, doing our best to sleep a “whole two hours” between feeding the creature in the other room, and I’ll look over at her and think about how much I love her and how proud I am of her. Somewhere in the middle of the mushy thoughts, invariably, a cry will erupt from the other room – the “netherworld”, I call it. My wife awakens with a start…and now, the title of my blog comes into play. If I were to tenderly reach over, tap my wife on the shoulder and say sweetly, “I love you”, and then roll back over and leave her to go and take care of the dirty diaper/cold/hot/hungry/tired/grouchy baby, do you think it would make a huge impact on her? Would she be telling me the next morning, “Honey, that was the sweetest “I love you” last night at 3:15am, it really made the two-hour baby consoling marathon that followed go by so quickly!

Now, imagine the same situation: asleep, baby crying, we both are awake…except this time, I lean over, quickly kiss her on the forehead, and jump up to go into the other room and meet the needs of our son. Change his diaper, rock him, sing to him, etc. I didn’t say a word to her, but what did I communicate? I hope that she heard what I was saying in my heart as loudly as I could…”I love you!” Obviously, at some point in the night, she was still going to have to get up and feed him and I would have to sleep as well, but when I see her the next morning and she says, “Thank you for being so sweet last night. It makes everything easier in life knowing that I’m not doing it alone and that you love me enough to help in the ways you can.”

Which “I love you” says more? A few sweetly whispered words? Or an act of intentional, selfless service? Can you think of an example in your life where someone has served you lately and it made you feel loved? If yes, you’re probably smiling right now. There is something about being served and cared for that speaks more loudly to our hearts than any words written or spoken. I believe this principle is true in romantic relationships, in friendships, and believe it not, in everyday life with complete strangers. Actions often do speak more loudly than words.

On April 9th, 2011 – Faith Promise Church family, you have the opportunity to shout a giant “Jesus Loves You!” to the entire East Tennessee Valley. We are participating in Operation Inasmuch, which is an incredible ministry that helps us, as Christ-followers, actually take action in meeting the needs of the poor, the lonely, the disaffected, and the helpless in our own backyards. We aren’t shouting from our church steps – “Jesus loves you! Come to church!” – We are actually being the hands and feet of Jesus and loving people right where they are all over Anderson, Blount, and Knox counties. Our Operation Inasmuch team has found projects that are in need of willing hands and hearts and put them on our website where you, your family, and your small group can sign up to share the love of Christ to our community. Most of the projects are family friendly, because we want to give your entire family a chance to serve others, and I truly believe, be blessed and energized more than you can imagine!

We need your help to get the word out to the entire Faith Promise Family about this day of service on April 9th. There is a sign up page where you can find a list of projects. A project leader will then contact you with more detailed information about the day. This is an incredibly easy opportunity and first step to reaching the world outside the four walls of our buildings.

It is such a privilege for me to serve you, my Faith Promise family, and I hope by writing this blog and helping find opportunities to serve, you are hearing me say, “I love you and Jesus loves you.”

Never Say Never

(This post was written by Caroline Ervin, Membership Director)

There is a topic of conversation within the church that I continue to hear across many circles that sounds something like this:

I know someone at my work that needs help paying their bills, we should help them!” or
I know someone in our small group that can’t provide for their children, we should help them!” or
There are so many in Haiti and Nashville that need our help, we should help them.

The more I have tuned into these conversations, I’m starting to realize that the “we” to which they are referring is the church organization. They don’t think they should be the one to help provide the resources for that help or that they should be the ones to go spread that message of hope, but it should be done by the organization.

I want to challenge you to ask, ”What if God revealed that family with a need or that information about a country in need because He actually wanted you to be the one to help them or you to be the one to help spread that message across the world?” It’s so much easier and more comfortable to pass the responsibility on to someone else.

I can speak from experience, because for years, this was me. I can vividly remember conversations I had with my boyfriend (now husband, Brad Ervin) in college as we would discuss traveling on mission trips or even thinking about being missionaries. I would quickly respond by telling him, “God has definitely not called me to go on a mission trip to even go visit and definitely not to move half way across the world. He would never call me to do that, and I just won’t go.” Little did I know that to say never to God is the most dangerous and humorous phrase you can utter.

Fast forward to 2006. I have just come on staff as the Membership Director at Faith Promise and just a few months into being full-time, Josh Whitehead comes to me and says, “We have spot open on our mission trip to Thailand. I think you should go, and I need you to go!” I said I would pray about it, knowing full well God would not call me on that trip (that left in only eight weeks). I begged God not to make me go. I begged Him to break a bone so I couldn’t go. I even prayed to get really sick. Yet all the while I knew I was going to go on that trip. If it isn’t already obvious, I was not looking forward to it at all. The day I was supposed to tell Josh whether I was going or not, the last line of the book from my quiet time read, “Have you ever considered going to a foreign country and sharing the gospel in another language?” Ouch! If that isn’t blatant confirmation, then I don’t know what is.

That trip changed my life forever. God opened my heart and showed me a new love for Him and for His people that I would have always missed out on had I not stepped out of my comfort zone and traveled to the other side of the world to experience it. Since then, I have traveled to Macau, China, and Cape Town, South Africa three times. We just returned from Africa about a week ago, and I am begging my husband to sell all our possessions and move our family to Cape Town, South Africa to serve as missionaries.

I want to share my story because maybe you have told God, “I will never go on a mission trip!” or “I would never be able to give up my own money to help someone else in need.” I want to encourage you to be willing and open to God asking you to do something out of your comfort zone. He may have placed that situation, family, or trip into your path because He wants to work in your life and reveal Himself to you in a way that is unlike anything you have ever experienced. You just have to be willing to say “Yes!” And also, to never say never.

Let’s Fill Up Some Backpacks!

This is the time of year when many families start gathering school supplies – backpacks, paper, glue, pencils and more.  For many in the Mechanicsville/Western Heights area of Knoxville, buying pencils and paper is a luxury that their children have to do without.  Eighty percent of residents of the Western Heights housing projects are single mothers with little to no income.

The good news is Faith Promise is partnering with an awesome ministry, Water Angels, to help out these families.  On Saturday and Sunday, August 7/8, Faith Promise will collect school supplies at a table outside the main entrance to the Worship Center. Please bring new backpacks, glue sticks, crayons and pencils.

If you’d like to be a part of the give-a-way party, it will take place on Saturday, August 14th, at Water Angels.

Thanks in advance for your generosity!  If you have any questions, you can email [email protected].