Sunday at Elevation I read the testimony of a young lady named Teri. Teri gave her life to Christ at our Union campus a week ago, and wrote a (very long, very awesome) email to me telling me all about it.
It’s worth a 5 minute investment of your time.
Remember, behind every statistic there’s a story.
Oh, and all of you who think campuses that utilize video teaching are illegitimate, I hope this shuts your mouth.
I hope I have the guts to hit the ‘send’ button at the end of this….
OK – Here it goes.
I will try to make this short and sweet, but I’ll probably only be able to follow through with latter the of the two. I am Teri Miller. I am 33 years old and I have never gone to church. Never known Jesus. Never known God.
Definitely don’t know the Bible.
I have a friend, Kirsten Bynum. Kirsten and I have been friends for almost 20 years. Kirsten has always gone to church. Known Jesus. Known God.
Kirsten has always, always asked me to come to church with her. I’ve always put her off, coming up with different excuses each time. Who needs church?
It messes up my Sundays.
Several months ago, I noticed a wedge developing between me and my friend of 20 years. Concerned about this, I asked her if she noticed what I was noticing. Not only did she notice it, she said it was intentional. Scared to death of what was going to come out of her mouth, I asked her why. Her response? “Teri, I have been waiting for the right time and the right way to approach you with this. I love you and that’s why I need you to know Jesus. I need to know that you are saved and I need to know that I don’t have to worry about your salvation. I am not doing my job if I don’t help you.”
There was a different tone to her voice than in the past, so I knew she meant business. This was more than just “come to church with me.” I thought to myself “wow, she really cares about me – that’s pretty cool”. Let me just tell her I’m going to church with her to appease her. That will get her off my back about going. Because who needs church? I’ve been just fine without God.
Then, I realize that we have to haul ourselves all the way to Porter Ridge High School in Union County. At a high school? Really? You want me to come all the way over there for church? I’m in the University area in Charlotte and you want me to come all the way over there? To watch a preacher on a screen? Really? I definitely don’t need this church.
I used to laugh at Kirsten because she would say that she didn’t want her son to be born on a Thursday, Friday, Saturday or Sunday morning because she didn’t want to miss church. Miss church? What’s the big deal? Church is boring. If you need some churching – turn on the tv and find a preacher – open your bible and read a couple of pages – but who cares if you miss church one Sunday morning? Who needs church?
So…..on Sunday, June 10th me, my husband and our two children packed up for our long haul to Union County for church. A parking crew? Smiling people at church? “Hi! Welcome to Elevation” screamed at us from every direction.
What? People want to be
here? They’ve got to be drinking the kool-aid.
Sunday, June 10th changed my life forever.
The sermon we heard was week 4 of Deep. Even though I thoroughly enjoyed the worship and sermon, I was still skeptical. I’ve never needed church, why do I need it now? So I came back the next week to see last week was a fluke. I felt the same way this week. So I came back the next week. And the next. And I haven’t missed one since.
This Sunday morning, August 19, 2007 I accepted Jesus Christ into my life as my personal Lord and Savior. There was no pomp and circumstance – so I hope it’s official! I was alone in my car on the way for my first day of volunteering for the first time guests. I was playing “The Sound” cd and a song began.
It was a song that I’ve heard over and over again, “Restored” – but just like page 23 for you – this song touched me in a way that I did not expect.
Tears were streaming down my face before I knew what was happening.
“Healer, come and make me whole. Make me over. Here in this moment.
Abandon my will. I am broken and poor…ready to be restored” It was at that moment, sobbing, that I said a prayer out loud in my car asking Jesus to enter my life and my heart and help me to be more like Him. At our small group tonight, I asked Kirsten to pray out loud with me about my decision – so as to make it a little more “official”! I also wanted her to know that she didn’t need to worry about my salvation any more.
Well, as it turns out, Kirsten’s son was born on a Tuesday, so she didn’t miss church! And you know what – now I know why she didn’t want to miss it!
Not only do I not want to miss it, but I crave it. My husband craves it.
My children love it. My two year old, Sophie, doesn’t even whimper when we take her to her class now!
My four year old, Whit, is constantly singing “Oh no, you never let go, through the calm and through the store” – we’ve tried to tell him it’s “storm” but he insists it’s “store” – fine with me, you keep singing it baby!
I am so excited about what is happening in my life, I want to shout it out loud to everyone. That is why I shared my story with you. Pastor Steven, you may not like to take credit for saving people’s lives – but I have to give credit where credit is due. Did you catch me from falling off a building? Technically, no. But your preaching saved me from falling into a fiery pit. So at least take a little credit. You can preach. Boy, can you preach. You preach it like I’ve never heard and you preach it in a way that teaches people and the way you teach it reaches out to people. (There’s something there – a new slogan or something – Preacher, Teacher,
Reacher!?!) Anyway, thank you. Thank you for delivering a message every Sunday morning that gets me through the week. You have a true gift that touches thousands. Thank you. Chris, because I attend Union campus, I wanted to share my story with you. Everything you’re doing there – keep it
up – it’s working! Kirsten, you deserve to know that you are a huge
“turning point” throughout my entire life which is why I shared this e-mail with you.
I’ve cried to Kirsten about finding Jesus so late in life – because I’ve missed out on something so big for so long. She has taken some of the blame for that, thinking that she should have done more earlier in our friendship to get me to church. I disagree. Elevation is what I needed. I think her timing was perfect.
After 33 years of life on this earth, I’ve finally realized that I DO need God in my life. Not only that, but I WANT God in my life.
I bought a Bible and I study it every day. My husband and I both are volunteering. We’re tithing. We’ve joined a small group. I’m watching old
sermons online almost daily. I’m a faithful blog reader. I think I’m
I’ve still got question upon question and sometimes I’m still a little scared, because this is a new way of thinking for me. But with my husband, Kirsten and her family and the rest of my new family at Elevation, I’m going to make it! Elevation’s got something good going on and I’m so proud to be a part of it.
So – who needs church? Me. That’s who.
Sorry – I knew it wouldn’t be short!