Note: The content of this article was written as a collaborative effort between ideas expressed through emails between myself and Abby Henegar who is a senior psychology major at TCU, a amazing servant of God and calls me Dad.
If you Google First Christian Church you will find 114 million hits. So what is in a name that is so common that there are 114 million others? The one thing our Centralia community has the most of per our population is churches yet our community seems to be in chaos and fear. So the problem arises if there are so many churches and things are getting worse then what can we as a faith family do to be more effective. What will make our name carry significance and respond accordingly?
First and foremost we will not panic nor fear. It was out of chaos that God created the world in which we life. It is in the chaos of our lives when Christ is the closest to us. God’s love and mercy has always hovered over chaos. Now is no different. We Also need to realize our community is not unique. We have had an increase of deaths not by natural causes. However in my home town of Memphis in one evening fourteen people were killed. Two children were shot and killed in a drive by shooting while they slept in their beds. Every child should feel safe in their bed. I say this not out or disrespect but to note that evil is everywhere. It is now just trickling down to our community. We need to acknowledge that every life matters. Each life needs to matter to us regardless of age, race, religion, or social class. Why? Because each life matters of Christ so as a follower of Christ it needs to matter to us.
We will continue to preach and prayer that's been echoed it basically all scripture that Jesus, is in fact, alive and well. Alive and well in all of us that call ourselves Christians. We will continue to serve the countless number of families that visit the food bank, fellowship meal, and Salvation Army on a weekly basis. We will be intentional on focusing on the youth who are trying to fill the void in their life with sex, drugs, alcohol. It’s a void that only the peace of Jesus can fill. We will remain serving the adults who ended up with a life they never wanted or deserved. We will continue to focus ones in Centralia that lack an understanding of relentless, forgiving, unconditional love. We will be an oasis where one can find a real relationship with the One who gave them life. We will provide a place for those who yearn for a faith that fancy coffee bars, energetic PowerPoints, and rock bands cannot satisfy. We will be a place of refuge were everyone is not only welcomed but cherished. We will proclaim if anything that Jesus is living in Centralia today. Jesus befriended the hurt, the broken, the least of these, the ones that society would not even give a chance.... Jesus is running this town, He always has been. Jesus runs through us though, its his method of operation. Jesus was a part of saving Murray Center, he was a part of Centralia Group Workcamp, and Jesus was running the streets of Centralia supporting the families and friends of those with cancer and other illnesses. This town is run by Jesus through our actions. Always has, and always will. It is our job to make sure that we aren't distracted by personal pride and ego in our attempt to serve our city and serve our God... When we serve ourselves instead, the Jesus in us is counterproductive. We must shine God's light - not our own. Because it isn't ours to shine. Our name will not be a brand. Jesus did not need video promos, cool graphics, or tattoo drawn t-shirts. So nether shall we. Christ had himself and his father. So, what do we have in common with Jesus? - Ourselves & our Father. We are responsible; we are the future, with God’s will running through us, their will running through our city. We will cultivate disciples of Jesus. We will be more than a t-shirt wearing disciple. My goal is that someone can come to know hope, love, justice, and the presence of God by being myself, being a light of God our Father. Speaking for the next generation for disciples 20 year old Abby writes “I want to get on outreach: serving the poor, comforting the hurt, broken, and sick. I want to use our money not to be a billboard for Jesus, but use it to be blessing for someone else. I want to use myself not as a billboard, I want to use my talents and gifts God gave me as a hand-holder to the broken.”
In reflection of the chaos we are enduring. Let us begin to respond accordingly so our name shall be synonymous for a faith family that consistently communicates the message of forgiveness, restoration, and hope. Then God's will to be with us through both the mountains and the dark valleys.
Peace, Love and Happiness: Tommy