This morning I got a call from a person I've been assisting for 3 weeks through parish community outreach and case management who had come to Panama City with a referral for a new job. The couple raised 4 children in a Methodist Church out of state. After the spouse and three of the four children died in tragic circumstances over the last 7 years, the individual was broken, aimless, and angry with God, had abandoned the Church after the spouse's death in 2009 but now had realized that faith lived through a godly spouse and children saved and nurtured in the Church instead of based on a personal relationship with Christ is not faith at all. Faith is not a second-hand gift. The circumstances that brought this person our way are miraculous, in and of themselves, involving a "chance" conversation in a passing contact with a person engaged in lay ministry at LHUMC who anonymously extended an unusual grace in meeting a specific need that one wouldn't expect to have met so promptly or in such a place. That LHUMC member, then invited the person to seek additional help at "that Methodist Church up the road." Today, Pastor Terry Tatum spent time in spiritual guidance and a prayer of salvation with this wounded person. The angels are awe-struck! The remaining adult child, halfway across the country, is celebrating and grateful. I am praising God for his prevenient grace and for allowing LHUMC to be a means of grace in sharing the Truth of the Gospel with this new Christian. Tonight in fellowship with others, a new believer will take the first tentative steps in a personal journey of faith in a new hometown and a new community of believers. We are grateful to God and to others who will come alongside this person to help bring spiritual and emotional healing and new joy in living. Oh, God of Second Chances, thank you for a new beginning for another wounded and wandering soul! Amen!
This month, our God-Sighting comes to us from Pastor Terry Tatum. He, like the rest of us on the church staff, has seen God at work in our congregation and community, and here is an account of what he experienced at our Baptism in the Bay event as well as some of what else he has seen God do in the first half of 2016. “On Sunday, May 15th, I had the opportunity to witness one of the greatest things I have seen since becoming a Follower of Christ. On that day, 23 members of our church family were baptized in North Bay, with over 150 people in attendance who were there to support their brothers and sisters in Christ as they made their baptismal vows. This was truly a great day in the life of our church.
In addition to those participating in the sacrament of baptism, this year we have seen 95 people profess their faith in Jesus Christ. I have personally witnessed people accepting Christ in a local McDonald’s, at our Mobile Food Pantry, during worship services, during Youth services, and at our weekly AWANA club. The Holy Spirit is moving in a mighty way right now, and I am humbled and thankful to be able to witness God’s mighty hand at work in our church and community.”
Over the last year, the Lynn Haven United Methodist Church has provided a Mobile Food Pantry for the community of Bay County. Thousands of pounds of food have been distributed to hundreds of families in need. At a recent Mobile Food Pantry, an attendee saw the love of Christ being shared at Fusion by our servants and staff and she decided to attend worship there the next Sunday. During that worship service she felt the overwhelming presence of the Holy Spirit and in the days that followed she gave her life to Christ.
Julio later sat down with her to discuss how and when she accepted Jesus as her Lord and Savior. Today, she joined the church and after she joined, Terry suggested all in attendance to join him in the laying of hands over her and Mindy Clemons led a wonderful prayer.
Terry was moved by the Holy Spirit to do this. It was a true God Sighting.
On Wednesday, April 13th Chris Morris, along with his parents Jon and DeDe Morris met with Pastor Terry to discuss questions Chris had about baptism. During that conversation, Chris gave his life to Christ and all of Heaven rejoiced. Chris was baptized at the 9:30 service at our Transmitter campus on April 24th by Pastor Craig and had several family members and friends present to share in this glorious occasion. Chris has a very mature understanding of his faith and has been actively involved with our AWANA program and children’s ministry for some time.
Since the beginning of the year, the Lynn Haven Church has recorded over 76 professions of faith. This brings our total professions of faith to 229. It is easy to see the fruit of our outreach and mission projects. In March, we praised God for Nancy Stewart’s nephew who came to Christ at his home. He had been on our long-term prayer list for over a year. Through the work of the Holy Spirit and the support of our prayers, another person can say he has found the grace and peace of Jesus Christ.
AWANA & Youth On Wednesday, April 27th the Holy Spirit moved mightily in our ministries with young people. Pastor Terry was able to share the story of Jesus with the older Awana children at Transmitter and 6 boys gave their lives to Christ. At the same time, Neal was at Fusion sharing the Gospel with the youth, and six youth gave their lives to Christ! Lynn Haven Church truly is a fruitful congregation for Christ here in Bay County! Look for opportunities at work, in your neighborhood or in friendships to show the love of Christ to those who are in need.
Tammy first came in contact with our church when she attended our Mobile Food Pantry earlier this year. While there, she immediately felt the love of Christ through those serving. She soon attended a Fusion worship service and said she felt something come over her during the service, a true peace, something she had never felt before. A few weeks later while attending a church in her hometown, she felt the same feeling again and realized it was the Holy Spirit. At that moment, she gave her life to Christ and couldn’t wait to get back Fusion so she could tell folks what God had done in her life. Tammy credits her encounter with our Mobile Food Pantry and her experience at Fusion worship for leading her to Christ and plans on making Fusion her church home.
Good Friday One of our members, Fred Keller, responded after attending our Good Friday Tenebrae Service: “Anointed, Anointed, Anointed. The readings, prayers, and music were used by the Holy Spirit to change lives. The focus was where it should always be, on the Cross. The Spirit of the Lord permeated all in attendance. This was one of the more moving, spiritual services in my 30+ years as a Christian.”
Last week after our Seder Meal, Heather Howell and her two children delivered some of the extra meals to some of our seniors who were not able to make the event. When describing the experience, she writes, “I was amazed at how excited my four-year-old and sixyear-old were to take these meals. It was such a nice experience getting to meet people from our church family and hear stories of their experiences with the church. It was also a reminder of how important it is for us to take care of the seniors in our church. One person said she had just looked in her empty fridge to decide what to eat when I called her and offered her a meal. Each person we met was so kind and friendly. It was a chance for me to talk with my children about hospitality and sharing Christ’s love. One woman mentioned that she used to take people meals when she was able and it was such a blessing to her when she did it. I told her that her church family was blessing her now because she had blessed so many. Hopefully, one day my children will continue to show such radical hospitality.”