Monday, December 9, 2013

My Journey of Thankfulness

As the year 2013 closes out, Awaken has a lot to be thankful for. We made our internal budget this year! Our people rallied together in the end to make it happen. We have sent out about 25 families to be missionaries in other parts of the country and the world through the natural transients of a military area. From the stories we hear coming in, God is using them greatly as excepted. Our kid’s ministry has doubled in size. We have had as many as 35 kids on a Sunday! We have focused our energies on the elementary aged kids and have seen so much excitement as they learn more about God and His love for them. We have the continued support of many outside donors, whether individual families or churches. Thank you for your generous sacrifice! The people of Awaken are grateful, as their lives have been changed because of you. 

With these important examples being mentioned, I would like to also share with you the reasons why I am thankful for Awaken. In a way, I do this selfishly because I need to remember to be thankful. I need to reflect on what Awaken is to me so that I don’t take it for granted. If you don’t mind, please journey with me for a moment as I highlight the things that mean the most to me. For those of you who have never physically walked beside an Awakenite, you are in for a treat! However, in order for this to work properly, you will have to obtain the help of your imagination. Everyone ready?!? 

One of our volunteers Brandon cleaning up for Awaken Kids
Awaken prides itself on being a church outside the 4 walls of a building (as it was meant to be). The church is made up of people. We all know this, but in order to see the picture I wish to paint, we need to enter the facility Awaken calls home, Pembroke Meadows Cinema Café. If you are coming from the highway (most of you would be), you will go north on Independence Boulevard turning right into the plaza that we call home on Sundays from 7‐12:30. Go ahead and find a parking spot. Meet me at the door as I wish to give you the grand tour. Don’t fret! I will wait while Raymond, Rob, and other members of the Hospitality Team rush to greet you before you even make it to the door. Are you loaded down with babies, diaper bags, purses, coffee, and coats (yes, they are needed on occasion)? Not to worry! One of these fine people will gladly assist you. Oh, it’s raining and you forgot your umbrella. Again, there is nothing to fear. We won’t allow you to enter the building with flat hair or water logged clothes. We’ve always an umbrella to spare! On that note, I am thankful for the courage and availability of Awaken’s people. They never miss the chance to welcome a guest no matter how intimidating it may feel. No matter the weather or the circumstance, you will not enter the building without being greeted, even if you aren’t a first‐timer. 

Now that you have made your way to the entrance, I will introduce you to Brandon. He is always ready with a smile and a hand with the door. The first thing you will hear when you enter is laughing. I have thought back on this many times, my entering the building on Sunday morning. I really don’t remember a time when laughter couldn’t be heard upon entrance. Look to your left. You will see children playing in the lobby. We gather in a movie theater. So, you are expecting posters advertising upcoming movies, gaudy lighting, and arcade games to be the first things you notice. I will admit those things are there. The children are playing on the arcade games. I mean, what kid doesn’t want to be in the drivers seat of a fake car? But, I will argue that those things aren’t what you notice first. As I said, it’s the laughter. Listen closely. Do you hear it? Children playing together, the set up crew is cracking jokes while they rearrange our space, the hospitality team is giggling over the antics of its head jokester, Ricchard and his family. Always smiling, always laughing. I am thankful for the joy that cannot be hidden and the people from which it flows.

Continue up the hallway and turn right into theater 1. This is where you will find Dave, his wife Nichole, Scott, Mike, his wife Bethany, John, and many others who sacrifice their sleeping‐in time to come early and transform this theater into the place where Awaken Kids gets their groove and their Jesus on. As you enter, you won’t be ignored. People are more important to these dedicated workers. Dave will talk your ear off, but don’t let him! I know his story of life change is powerful as is his wife’s. However, we have more people to meet. Before we do, I am thankful for people who aren’t afraid to share their struggles and successes. They aren’t worried about what you may think of them. They are more concerned about whether you know who saved them and that He can save you too. 

Across the hall we meet up with Jeff, Drew, JP, Mike, Kellie, Lisa, Rachel, and the rest of the band, sound and light crew. They are transforming theater 2 into a place of worship. Again, can you hear the laughter? Everyone is having a good time as they prepare for what’s ahead. I am thankful for their dedication behind the scenes so that many will see the name of Jesus proclaimed. 

One of our Community Groups celebrating Christmas
There are many more stops on the journey, ones we don’t have much time for right now. You could stop in at Elise and Sarah’s house after church where they are doing a great job leading a woman’s bible study. Or, you could head over to the Portsmouth community group and witness, Jon, Rachel, Mike and Bethany, doing life with their fellow Awakenites and neighbors. The same things are going on Wednesday night in the Haygood and Lynhaven area with Raymond, Jackie, Trap, Leigha, Dave and Nichole. Come during the summer and you can join them in outreach to the community they live in through their Soccer Camp or 4th of July events. It doesn’t matter where or what time you meet them, you will always be greeted and welcomed. Not into a building. Not into a group. Not onto a team. Not into anything but a family. You can come carrying baggage so heavy you can no longer bare the weight of it. You can come with preconceived ideas about God and His love. You can come with a smile on your face but pain in your eyes. It doesn’t matter what shape you are in when you arrive, there will always be someone there to meet you, greet you, and help you lug your burden to the cross. Why? Because Awaken isn’t a church, it’s a family. That is what I am most thankful for. Awaken is a family and I get to be apart of it. 

                                 by Connie Pumphrey

1 comment:

friddle8302 said...

Good job Connie. Looks like you walked yourself into another job title. "Update writer."

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