20 years! Yes, Living Hope is 20 years old. I was recently asked how long we spent setting up and tearing down each Sunday at Marcus Whitman Jr High. The answer is actually 19 years plus one year when we did not meet. I recently calculated that during the 19 years meeting in the school we set up for just under 1000 Sundays. We unloaded and loaded all our equipment carts each Sunday for roughly 16,000 cart trips. This means that we loaded, setup, tore down and returned close to 120,000 chairs. Just imagine the number of bulletins, songs sung, communion cups prepared, snacks served, gallons of coffee, soccer snacks served, t-shirts organized, AWANA verses memorized, and youth activities to just name a few aspects of weekly and yearly ministry. It really does speak to only one aspect of the hard labor of ministry yet through it all God is faithful. There is also a second aspect; it also speaks to the faithful investment of the Lords servants!
We not only saw God’s faithfulness during those 19 years that we were able to hold services but also in a year of online services due to the school closure. The year without services was profitable in another way by allowing us to focus on the site development and all the work that goes with that. Yes, the congregation did get slimmer over those 12 months but we have actually grown much stronger spiritually. These reasons and many other is why we have chosen Lamentations 3:22-23. “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22–23) ESV
I hope you will be encouraged by the Lord’s faithfulness in your life. I hope that you will trust Him in the challenges that fall into your life. It is verses like this one in Lamentations that remind us that “God has my back!” This verse comes from Jeremiah’s intense struggle in his life. He is struggling but there is a lesson for each of us. It is to focus on the Lord and not look to our own circumstances. Verse 24 is another great verse, ““The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.””( Lamentations 3:24) It reminds us to find our identity and purpose in our creator not in our circumstances or ourselves. Several times in his discouragement Jeremiah holds onto the hope that we have in our Savior. He is not talking about a cultural or wishful hope, but rather grasping on the certainty of the Lord’s promises. The 20th Anniversary is a testimony to God’s faithfulness to our congregation. It encourages us as we look back to now look forward!
So what do we have to look forward to in the next volume of Living Hope’s history? I don’t know. I don’t know where the days ahead will lead us, but I do know that the Lord is faithful. I can only imagine what the days ahead will bring. Great is His Faithfulness!
-Pastor Joe Parkinson