This morning Eric and I were asked to speak at the church of my childhood — First Baptist Church of Collingswood (NJ). On our way, we HAD to go and have breakfast at the three-generation MacMillan’s Bakery. I was worried when I heard that a Krispy Kreme had opened up across the street – but no worries! This bakery from my childhood had a steady stream of customers in and out. Phew.
I have waited four years for one of those cream donuts…. it was ABSOLUTELY AMAZING… and i couldn’t even finish it. Surprisingly, Owen couldn’t finish his either. It was SO delicious, and so worth it.
It was really special to be back at First Baptist! I always forget how many beloved friends are there… As we shared during that hour about our experiences in Japan, reflecting from John 4, we could feel so much love among the members. We also appreciate those who were so enthusiastic in buying Nozomi Project products. Thank you.
As I started my sharing, I pointed to the baptistry that was next to me – it was March 4, 1972 when my sister and I were baptized there. This church was so foundational in my faith. I learned all of the hymns there…. had some special Sunday School teachers – I most remember a retired missionary couple who influenced me through the stories of their own lives overseas. And I remember a speaker when I was 12 who asked people to come forward who were willing to give their lives to go overseas or wherever God called… I walked down the long aisle and saw tears in my dad’s eyes when he came up to greet me at the end. This church nurtured, matured, and encouraged me in so many ways.
We had lunch with three members of the church. I am so amazed and thankful for people like Judy, who I have known for — over 45 years! – and she has always been such a great encourager and model to me.
Many of us do not get to go back to key places from our childhood. As we sang “Mighty to Save” in the service, I could not sing as I thought of the grace of God in calling me to Himself and to his ministry as a girl at this church, and now the chance to share with this congregation the privilege of partnering with our Mighty God in Ishinomaki to see Him bring people to Himself.