Today was the day. Today Eastgate Baptist Church celebrated 60 yrs. I was excited to be part of the committee who planned the celebration. Loving photos I really loved looking through the years of photos. I loved seeing the first meeting places, a home, a basement where pickles were stored, a garage along with purchasing and building a Church on two different properties.
I loved re-reading the Church History. How exciting to see that what God began in the hearts of 25 people has continued on in the hearts of hundreds of Church members.
I was honored when the Pastor asked me to share with the congregation a bit about how Eastgate had influenced my life. As I spent the next few days thinking about it. I realized that Eastgate had totally changed my life. Everything changed, and I mean everything.
It all started when my neighbor and her daughter asked if our daughter could go to Vacation Bible School. The Church had a bus, so I didn't even have to take her. I thought it was good for kids to go to Church, so I agreed. At the end of the week there was a family night. Parents and families were invited to come and see what the children had been learning. I didn't own a dress, I still don't, so I borrowed one. Everything was nice. I remember several people introducing themselves and talking about how sweet our daughter was.
The next day I was rather surprised to see her VBS teachers at the door. They had come to see if Susan could come to Sunday School. I knew kids needed to go to Sunday School, so I said yes, but I would take her. I got her ready on Sunday and took her. I'd heard some weird stuff about those Baptists so I wasn't to sure about leaving her there until I saw where she would be and who would be teaching her.
As I entered the building a wonderful cheery woman introduced herself and told me all about Susan's class. Then she mentioned they had adult Sunday School classes, and I could stay there "just in case" Susan needed me. I wasn't dressed for Church. as you just read, I didn't own a dress. I was in my "nice" jeans and some kind of band T-shirt.. She told me it was no problem and whisked me to a Ladies Bible Study. She introduced me to the teacher, one of the ladies who had come to the house, and to the class and was off.
I totally expected to see the "Christian Stink Eye".. you know.. Judgemental glares. I didn't see one. Maybe this wasn't going to be to bad. To make a long story short, I stayed.. I attended on and off for 3 months. Then after a very traumatic life event, I prayed to accept Christ and received Him as my Lord and Savior.
As I recalled different things that happened I saw how my life was totally changed by the loving people of Eastgate. I could tell you countless ways their love and guidance encouraged me to study God's Word and learn of His great Love. I could call out name after name of those who loved me, mentored me.. (I didn't know that's what it was) and showed me how to be a Christian woman, wife, and mother.
Eastgate influences on my life. wow.. I talk different, I think different, I see God and His Love and Forgiveness differently. I live differently. Not only did Eastgate change my life, but they changed the lives of our kids and grand kids. 3 generations all touched by God because a few people in 1954 followed God's call to start a new Church. Lives changed because someone came to my house and asked me and my daughter if we'd like to go to Church with them. If that hadn't happened I am sure I would have never given that Church a second thought.
Lives changed because a group of people were willing to serve God by volunteering their time to drive a bus, volunteer to teach and serve in Vacation Bible School, volunteered to sit at a desk and make everyone feel comfortable and welcome.. Volunteered to teach a ladies Bible study class.. And most of all the many who prayed that God would help them reach their community with the Gospel of Christ. They were willing to serve as God led them.
Now for 31 yrs. I've had the privilege of serving right alongside some of those very same people. I'm so excited to see where God will lead us over the next 60 yrs. I'm excited to see lives changed. I'm excited I can be part of what God is doing.
yes, today was a great Celebration Day.