Thursday, May 22, 2008

My Childhood Church

For 18 years of my life I went to the same medium-sized, CRC, inner-city, church. I was baptized there as an infant, publicly declared my faith as an adolescent, and even got married there a couple of years ago. It is the same church my dad grew up in, and the same one that sponsored his family to immigrate from The Netherlands back before he was born.

I have so many memories in that place…

Hiding from my parents in a random stairwell – just for fun.
Sitting in the grass in the front lawn during vacation Bible school.
Counting the stained glass window panes while sitting on the wodden pew.
Drinking terribly weak punch after Sunday services.
Singing a duet with my cousin Mark where we fought over the microphone the entire time.

And even though I haven’t regularly attended there since I was in high school, it still feels like “home” when I go there now. I get to see people that have guided and taught and prayed for me my entire life, and it is such a blessing to me. I still feel a part of the community there. After the service I am greeted by a variety of people, young and old, who have had a significant impact on my life. These people truly care about me and I'm confident that I'm still in their prayers.

It isn't just me. My friend Rachel, who also grew up in that church, is currently working in Africa, doing AIDS education with the Peace Corps. She lives in a hut in a remote village, and her work there is often difficult and thankless. She is determined to stick it out, and the church community has completely come along side her with prayers and support. She even regularly receives letters and packages from people there.

It sounds SO cliche to say "church family" but in this case it is true.

I haven't experienced anything close to it at any other church I've attended. Not because those churches was at fault, necessarily, but because I haven't spent most of my life at those places. I just know that wherever I go in this world, they'll be there to support and encourage. I'll always have a home there, no matter what.

I don't know what God has planned us, but I hope my future children can be a part of that kind of church community as they grow up. I know that the kind of support, love, and encouragement I have always experienced there has significantly impacted my life.


Dave and Jenni said...

Wow, I didn't have that kind of experience growing up, but I SO want that for my children. I'm glad you still feel so connected there - it's an amazing testimony to what Christ can do when people are willing to come together.

Marlene said...

I still feel that way after being gone for over 20 years. In fact the picture sparked many memories for me as well. It is definitely the people there.

Jennifer and David both just made profession of Faith in the church we are now attending. Although they were both baptized in a different church, this church truly feels home to them. I hope that you and Josh can find a church that you will both be able to call your home (or maybe home away from home).

Annette said...

Loved the entry...and I agree that I have found nothing that rivals First CRC's family. But I would have to say that you forgot a few things:

1)Carnival night at Kinder Club
2)Youth Group all nighters and all that entailed

How did Mark even GET a duet? Probably the last time he's sung into a microphone!

Jo said...

As you can see, I'm behind reading your blog. What a tribute to First Church! I have many fond memories as well and since we are still members at First we continue to build memories.