Our Faith Stories

Prior to my trip to Ghana, I was confident in my faith. I knew that being a whole 24 hours from seeing my parents would be difficult, but I knew I could do it. I was strong enough. And after just a week, I had become quite frazzled by being so inconvenienced by everything that was so incredibly different. Some people say talking to their crush, or going on a rollercoaster is getting out of their comfort zone, and I will be the first to admit that I have done this. But when I was in Ghana, everything that I find comfort in, my friends, my family, my bed, our culture, and even our food, was gone. I was 100 % out of my comfort zone, and then some. So when it I fell ill with probably the worst stomach bug I had ever had in my life, I kept telling myself that I could and would get better, and the more I kept telling myself this, the worse things seemed to get. And at that point, I gave everything to God. I told Him it was in His hands, and that I couldn’t do it, that I wasn’t strong enough.

The next day, I was feeling almost 100% again. I couldn’t believe it. I immediately praised God for His greatness. I learned that day that I am not strong enough, but GOD is.

So many of us live day to day putting the stress on ourselves to be strong, to be confident in ourselves, to make sure we are successful, in whatever way we deem necessary, and only come to be disappointed. In reality, we have no control over what will happen to us. God does. No matter how hard we try or how hard we work, the outcome is always going to be up to God. Just like the oh-so popular Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.” I think that sometimes we misunderstand this verse as a whole. As Phil 4:13 says in “The Message” translation, “Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am” and in the “Amplified Bible” translation, “I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency.” With this in mind, I feel that I can do all things, as long as I make sure it is because of God’s strength and power, and not my own – because God made me who I am, and my sufficiency is nonexistent when it comes to the sufficiency of our God.

After this experience, I have a sense of peace. I am never worried or stressed out more than necessary (college is a tough life, you know 🙂 ). I know that God is within me, and therefore what ever happens in my life, God is going to provide what is sufficient to get me through it.

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I came to China Spring as a recent college graduate, excited to finally land a job that allowed me freedom to structure my curriculum. I was nervous for my first rehearsal; I had spent days planning, years studying in school, and hours preparing to meet the children. However, no amount of planning could prepare me for the impact the children of China Spring would have on my life. The children were wonderful. They followed instructions I gave, asked intelligent questions, and were always so excited for rehearsal. I found myself anxiously awaiting each practice. Nothing fulfilled my professional aspirations quite like working with these children. When graduate work was overwhelming, or the distance from my friends was unbearable leading the children’s choir never failed to lift me up.

This experience guided me to reflect with God on what I was called to do. I had long felt drawn to lead music in the church; I had spent my entire life studying music. Before China Spring I did not realize that I was also called to work with children. I had worked in childcare for years but never thought of it as a ministerial work where I could funnel my time and energy. I am now in the process of becoming a Deacon in the United Methodist Church and I know that no matter where God leads me going forward, working with children will be a big role in my ministry, and I have China Spring to thank for this affirmation.

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My wife and I joined CSUMC 11 years ago. As we made our decision, the most striking aspect of the worship service we noticed was the obvious caring expressed for one another during the greeting time.
Since joining, we have had the opportunity to express that same kind of caring during the worship service greeting time, but also in caring for those in our our church family who needed support in various ways for their everyday lives.
Recently, I found myself in need of that kind of support. I had broken my ankle and was laid up at home for nine weeks. During this time, I experienced our church’s love and support in every way. Meals were brought to our home; well-wishes from church members were received by phone or by mail; our pastor brought communion to us at home. In contrast to the old adage, “It’s better to give than receive,” it was in receiving this kind of support and love that allowed us to feel God’s presence with us as we worked through our ordeal.
If anyone is in need of a church home, where you will be greeted warmly and cared for always, CSUMC is definitely worth a visit.