A Trip Home

Jim and I just returned from a trip home to Fresno. I say “home,” because it is where we grew up, met in High School, and married 37 years ago. We were visiting Jim’s mom and family this past weekend. She lives within walking distance of the church I attended in High School, and we were married in. We were meeting my brother and his wife there. They recently started attending Northwest Church again. While sitting in the pew, waiting for Steve and Marlene to arrive, a gentleman was making his way down our row from the far end. He stopped in front of us and mentioned something about not coming in this way normally. We chatted just a bit before it became known to us that he was the pastor at Northwest now. We were surprised! We told Pastor Will how we had been married in this church. He ended our conversation by saying we were going to enjoy today’s service.

It turned out the service was a Celebration service. Pictures were shown of how the church looked when it started 55 years ago — a little white chapel on the corner. When I first attended there with my family, we were in that little chapel until the present–day church was built just a few years later. In the sermon, Will talked of looking back and looking forward, as they are planning a new church plant in Clovis. He said that Northwest was a church plant out of Kingsburg — something I didn’t know. When the service was over, I asked my brother, Steve, if he had met Will yet. He needed to. After all, Steve is practically one of the Founding Fathers! He said he hadn’t, so we made our way up afterward to talk with Will. We told him how our whole family had started attending Northwest because of Steve. Steve’s buddy, James, had led him to Christ in his Senior year of High School. Steve was looking for a church to go to, and our Dad suggested he try our Grandma’s church over there on the corner. Steve did, and because he did, our parents did, and the rest is our family’s history. Northwest Church, with Bufe Karraker as pastor, changed our family’s eternal lives — one and all!

Will was born the very year Steve became a Christian. God knew that one day they would meet, standing under the very same “Old Rugged Cross” of two railroad ties that was hung in the then new church building many years ago. Everything else has been remodeled over the years. But the Cross remains the same. This was a divinely appointed morning if I’ve ever seen one! The pastor came down, not the aisle, but our particular row, and stopped and talked to us, of all people. We had not been there for YEARS! When we met with him afterward, we were able to deeply affirm for Will how important church planting is, by sharing our rich family history in this church — and how generations later the spiritual benefits from Northwest Church continue on! Steve prayed for Pastor Will before we left that day. It was a day we won’t soon forget!

We didn’t have to Search far to Notice the Divine today! It was a short walk to the corner church where I met our Savior over 40 years ago. We saw God use us as His vessels – a display of what God will do with a church plant. Everything Will is believing for the future of Northwest Church, could be seen by looking at where its past had brought us.

They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor. Isaiah 6:13