I’ve moved 20+ times in the past 25 years, so being settled here now gives me a sense of immense relief. All that successive putting down roots and pulling them up again has left me emotionally exhausted. Shredded. Fragmented. One of the most comforting things to me about Tabernacle is the acceptance I feel here. I am welcome just as I am, fragments and all. I’m not expected to have it all together or to fit a certain mold. Even our children are allowed to be themselves and to be present, not sequestered away in a separate part of the building but welcome in the mix, like a real family. Tabernacle feels authentic to me. I love the honesty, the focus on each person as someone of incomparable worth – the whole person with all their good, bad and broken bits.
Every place I’ve lived, God has brought me the most amazing, heart-level friendships with local women. Through these beautiful friends, I’ve been challenged to see things from different cultural viewpoints. I’ve realized that some of my beliefs about God reflected my own culture rather than scripture, and as a result I’ve learned that God is even bigger than I had given Him credit for being. One of my favorite things about Tabernacle is the desire to see God in bigger ways and the willingness to live with the tension and mystery of not having Him completely figured out.
I cherish the diversity at Tabernacle, and as the church family continues to reach out and expand, I hope that people from even more ethnic, color and language backgrounds will find their home among us. I would especially love to see genuine friendships develop across the cultures. Logistics make this more of a challenge in the U.S. than it is overseas. I’m still finding my feet here, struggling to find the time and energy needed to make meaningful connections, but I’ve experienced firsthand what a lifeline it can be so I’m motivated to work toward it. I look forward to getting to know people beyond the surface of “how-are-you?-fine” and discovering together how our unique experiences and perspectives will contribute to our collective understanding and expression of God’s amazing love for the world.
My Prayer for Tabernacle:
- May Tabernacle continue to be a place of welcome, hope and healing for broken people, and may Jesus continue to be the center of everything we do, the source of all we are.
- May we lean together into the mystery of life, unafraid to wrestle with hard questions and okay with not having all the answers.
- May we find practical ways to truly connect with one another, developing soul-friendships across cultures.
- May Tabernacle become more and more a full reflection of God’s kingdom, a blended family of people from every culture and every background.
[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’][/author_image] [author_info]Content goes here “Welcome home!” These were Sterling’s first words to our family when we joined Tabernacle Baptist Church in February. Actually, I felt at home at Tabernacle as soon as our family started attending last September. This was a huge surprise to me. For 16 years we served in Kenya, Cyprus and England, countries where I had felt profoundly at home. I especially loved worshipping alongside people from multiple nationalities, and I had thought we were giving that up when we moved back to the States last year. Then we found Tabernacle! I’m so glad that God’s ways are higher than ours. I remember sitting at the church-wide picnic at the home of Ler Htoo and Lay Htoo, tears streaming down my face while listening to the gentle harmonies of worship songs in various Burmese languages. I didn’t yet know anyone, and I didn’t understand a word, but my heart basked in a fresh wave of God’s grace to me as I thought: “These Tabernacle people are my tribe.” I was raised in a cross-cultural American home: my mom is from Kentucky and my dad is from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. I loved visiting both sets of grandparents and early on came to appreciate the beauty of diversity. I grew up in a Salvation Army church in Michigan, graduated from a conservative Christian college in Kentucky and was baptized by a Methodist minister in New Jersey. I went to Bible College in Detroit, lived among the Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs of Nairobi and taught at Rift Valley Academy in Kenya. After meeting Matt in Kenya, we lived in the Fan early on in our marriage (two different apartments, each within three blocks of Tabernacle!) before serving with the International Mission Board in Cyprus and England. Now we live in Bon Air with our two children, Jack and Sophie, a fluffy cat called Luna and a chirpy cockatiel named Pearl. I’m an introvert who loves people. I cry easily but always because I feel deeply. I need strong tea, good books, spicy food and fresh air. I dream of peace and quiet. And seriously: I’m done moving.[/author_info] [/author]