Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Influence of the Local Church

In Joshua Harris' book, Stop Dating the Church, he points out among many things that the church is where God's Word should be faithfully taught and be a place where we can find and cultivate godly relationships. Most Sundays and Wednesday evenings throughout her life, Haley has been in church.

Baby Dedication - Mother's Day 1993

On Mother's Day in 1993, Haley made her first trip to church at the age of 2 weeks old.  We stood before the congregation of Dalewood Baptist Church and vowed to rear her in a home where she was taught the Holy Scriptures and be encouraged to love the Lord our God with all her heart, soul, mind, and strength.  She was lovingly cared for in the nursery and read Bible stories from an early age.

Kingdom Kapers Vacation Bible School

Because of a move to the other side of town, we joined Tulip Grove Baptist Church when Haley was 3 years old.  Along with Sunday School and Extended Session, she started attending preschool choir and Mission Friends.  It was at this age that she started developing strong friendships with children that were being brought up in like-minded homes.  She continued to learn more about God and strengthened those friendships as she became involved in the children's program.  She learned how to worship through music in children's choir and music camp each summer.  Seeds were being planted that would later grow into her love for missions as she earned all 6 charms for her Girls in Action bracelet.  She was able to hide God's Word in her heart as she participated in AWANA, culminating in earning her Timothy Award, at the same time as being a 3 year State Winner Superior in Children's Bible Drill.  Her summers continued this growth and cultivated friendships through Vacation Bible School, Centri-Kid, and Terrific Tuesday activities.  Before moving to Louisville, Haley enjoyed a brief time in the youth, enjoying the challenge of youth choir, Acteens, and youth Bible Study.  Involvement in these activities gave Haley a strong foundation to later build her faith.

C-Group led by Tricia Latham

Moving on to Louisville, we joined Ninth and O Baptist Church.  Shortly after we came, they were without a youth minister.  However, several young men training at Southern Seminary to be youth pastors stepped in to make sure there was no lag in growing these young people for the Lord until Rene Gomez took over the position.  She was given solid teaching from the pulpit; challenging, but understandable at the same time.  While Haley believed for a long time that Jesus was her Savior, it was during our time at Ninth and O that she made the decision for Him to be her Lord and was baptized.  She was discipled through small groups  by caring adults like 3D (Developing Deeper Disciples) and C-Groups.  She enjoyed fun activities like MGM, Student Life camps, Centri-Fuge, and Wednesday night worship.  She was given the opportunity to serve not only in the children's department, but became a sought after worker in the nursery.  She especially enjoyed loving on the young babies while their moms went to Thursday morning Bible study.  Her interest in missions was watered and cultivated as she worshipped regularly with those training for the mission field, and later took a foreign missions trip herself to Ecuador.  Strong friendships were bonded during this time as these young people encouraged one another to pursue holiness.

Senior Banquet 2010

 A move to Northern Virginia landed us at Woodlawn Baptist Church.  Here Haley is growing through concepts learned in Sunday School, congregational worship, and Wednesday night youth group.  She serves monthly in the nursery, and ministers to many of the young families by babysitting outside of church.  She's enjoyed afterglow activities on long weekends, the Senior banquet, and had a great time at camp last summer.

As Haley is now a young adult, we are thankful for the influence the local church has had on her upbringing.  While we have always believed it is our responsibility to train our children in the ways of God, having others come alongside us to encourage and offer expertise in areas that we're weak had been a huge blessing.  It is now our prayer that she will always be involved with the body of Christ for continued growth, accountability, and service.

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