I appreciate the church asking me to give my God Story. Now first you may say “Isn’t that the guy who, in the past, presented the quarterly church financials, presented the next year’s budget, MAP, and served on the pastor search committee that recommended Dr. David to be our pastor? Well, yes – that’s me – just now with a lot less hair. However, today I don’t want to focus as much on the finances of the church. Now don’t think you are getting off scot free – I’ll get around to that before I finish but today I want you to think about something. Think about what are the most important things to you in your life.
I have recently reflected on this and find that my answers parallel a recent survey that said people ranked three things as the most important in their lives.
2. Love – toward family, friends, and others
With us being in God’s house today, my guess is many of you picked God first. Many of you, like me, may have intertwined #2 and #3 – Love and Family. Today, I want to talk about family.
Kay and I are blessed with a wonderful family of a son, a daughter, 5 grandchildren and daughter in law. As we were raising our son and daughter, I repeatedly told them that I was doing the best I could because they didn’t come with an instruction manual. Kay and I found that our main responsibilities as a mother and father were to:
1. Love them unconditionally
2. Have them love and care about others
3. Learn right from wrong
4. Education them to fulfill their mission and goals in life
5. Provide food and shelter for them
6. With the Ultimate Goal: Be Christlike
Well, in 2009 Kay and I joined FBCD and found a church like none other in which we’ve attended. In no time, we knew so many of you as friends. We were immediately asked to participate in many church activities – it was like we had been here 20 years. We were a part. We had found a church home. FBCD was special, inclusive, loving, and focused on teaching the Bible.
But in March of this year, I added a new word to FBCD as my church. I realized more than ever that FBCD was my church family. You see, in March, I was in the hospital for about 2 weeks while the doctors tried to figure out why I was in such pain. They kept saying I was not a text book case. They concluded that I had B-Cell Lymphoma Cancer and that I was in it for the long haul of 8 cycles of major chemotherapy and, in my opinion, every medical test known to man.
From that first day in the hospital, the love and support that FBCD has shown me has shown me that you are far more than my church, you are my church family. A day doesn’t go by that I don’t get a card, an email, a text, a call, a visit from one of you telling me that you are praying for me daily and asking what I need. The food, books, snacks, drinks, and other wonderful gifts you have given Kay and me have been overwhelming. I know that I am loved by this church. It has made all the difference in my spirits, my health, and my hope.
Now a minute ago I listed 5 of the top things that Kay and I felt were our responsibilities as parents of our children. I wondered if the responsibilities of being a member of a church family any different? The things we tried to do as parents were:
- Love them unconditionally – where better to do that in church where we do have an instruction manual – the Bible. But we need people like our wonderful staff who dedicate themselves to teaching us, guiding us, counseling us, and loving us as Jesus would have us love others. To have a wonderful staff takes money for their salaries and benefits.
- Care for and do for others: Our church does this for its members, such as me, but also for the community whether in Decatur or on the other side of the world. Our mission efforts take money to send us or others as missionaries and/or to provide supplies to those in need.
- Educate us and Learn right from wrong – our Bible study groups provide us an avenue to socially gather with others whether like or different from us in social, economic or other arenas. But we need a place to build these relationships. And for our education, learning more about Christ and his purpose for us is a never-ending process whether you are an infant, me or Pastor David. We need a church home to provide all of those avenues for learning. Where better than FBCD?
- Provide food and shelter for them – We eat at FBCD a good bit. We meet here even more. For that, we need a church home that represents our Love of God but that is structurally sound, safe, and welcoming. Our church facility is large. We ignored it for decades and have much to fix. This will take a lot of resources.
I love this church and seeing what it has done in loving me through this, I am more convinced than ever that everyone needs a loving church home/family. FBCD also needs to be here for the generations to come.
Let me conclude with one MAJOR example of what this church means to Kay and me. Early in 2018 Kay, who many of you know is an artist, was invited to have her first ever art show at a gallery in Marietta in early August. I was so excited for her. Then I got sick and she became my major care-giver – spending every third week with me in the hospital, taking care of me night and day when we got home, running back to Emory once or twice every week. Doing her art for the show took a back seat. It weighed on my mind every day – I wanted her to get ready for her show but she wanted to take care of me. As we approached the summer, 4 angels from our church called and said for us not to worry. They were handling all the show’s food preparation, set-up, flowers, decorations, everything. Their husbands quickly joined in with staging, photos, manual labor, clean-up - you name it. And then another FBCD angel called and asked if she could help Kay carry her art to Marietta and help hang it in the gallery since I was unable to help. I can’t tell you what a burden was lifted from Kay’s and my shoulders when these angels called.
Then the night of the show, a FBCD bus pulls up and out pours a bus full of Young At Heart members followed by many cars from our FBCD family - all coming to love and support Kay and me. The Gallery owner told us later that he had never had a bus, period, pull up and have so many people come to one of his artist’s shows.
So, let me tell you that I wouldn’t be standing here today without the loving and sustaining support and encouragement you have given me over the past 5 months. I still have 2 more chemo cycles to go each taking about 3 weeks. God heard your prayers, I felt them and I am so happy to say that recent tests say I am in remission. I understand I am cancer free but chemo whipped. Hopefully by early November, I’ll be through with this, start getting my strength back and be more able to be with you. The constant through all of this has been you, my church family. Words cannot thank you enough for what you have meant to Kay and me. I knew that I loved FBCD from the time we joined but what you have shown and done for us is beyond love as we typically think of it. What you have shown to me is the love that Jesus wants us all to have and to share. You, my brothers and sisters in Christ, have that kind of love. I am forever grateful.
My Prayer: May FBCD be your church family and the church family for the many who need it now and for the generations to come. As you allocate your time, focus, money and resources, think of FBCD as your church family as you do your other family. May God Bless You. Thank you.
– Ronnie Jowers