I want to introduce to you an amazing group of people. Collectively they are known as East Side Tabernacle. From the moment we met David at the airport and were welcomed by Gloria at the front doors of the church building, I knew we were in the right place and this trip was going to be something special.
The church of East Side Tabernacle are one of the clearest examples of what the church is meant to be. They live among the people they are reaching. They have joy, community, give of their time, talent, and treasure, etc. The relationship they have with Jesus is evident in nearly everything we saw them do.
One common thing among all of the folks I met there is the NEED to tell you about what God IS doing in their lives; how he is using them. Not what He HAS DONE, but what He IS DOING currently. I had never seen anything like it! It’s like they couldn’t help but talk about Him. Even if they had to try to not talk about Him, they just wouldn’t be able to help themselves.
One lady from the church was sharing her story with me. She’s a single mom with two AMAZING boys. She’s a single mother because when she was diagnosed with R.A. about a year or so ago, her husband decided to leave. The thing I immediately took notice of was the way she was telling this story. It wasn’t out of depression or feeling sorry for herself, or despair even. She was telling me this story with a smile on her face that wasn’t just put on. When I asked her to explain how she’s able to do that, her answer made both of my eyes leak…OKAY SO I WAS CRYING….moving on. She began to tell me how God was using her illness and her struggle to make her stronger and how it has benefited her relationship with her sons and how she’s seen her sons grow in their relationship with their Creator and become responsible young men…It was incredible. Story after story with person after person went this way; thanking God in every circumstance and every situation.
So as I mentioned in the last blog I wrote, we slept at the church in the basement on air mattresses. Well, there weren’t any showers at the church so every night we had groups that would go to visit host homes and use their shower. The group I went with were blessed to be able to meet the Villanueva family; who not only allowed us to use their shower, but waited on us hand and foot from the moment we arrived, until we left. John, who was probably exhausted from his day of work in the heat, would greet us with a snack his wife had prepared and would give us drinks and jokes and just wanted to hear about our day and share with us what God had given them. We had the best grilled cheese and best guacamole dip ever while we were in their home…just sayin’!
I could go on and on about different people and stories, but I’m gonna stop there because this is a blog and not a book. The point I’m making is that this is who we are called to be; People who find joy and seek God in every situation and every circumstance. People who share what we’ve been given whether it’s little or much. Share our stories because all of these things matter. They give strength and encouragement to the listeners and those who see what they’re doing. It’s good to know there are people out there living what they say they believe.
Until next time…