July 26, 2017
Inspirational Message by Sharon Collings, Campus Manager—Main Campus
“We’re going to do what?”
That was my incredulous response to my husband when he announced we were moving the very next day. We had accepted the call to pastor Central Church (which is now Christ Church) a few days earlier. But I thought I had a few weeks to prepare for the move. Deacons and their wives from the church were going to be at my house at 8:00 a.m. the next morning. This would be their first impression of me, and I was not ready!
Let me set the scene for you: it was early September, 1982. I was an elementary school teacher and school was in full swing. Four months earlier, I had given birth to my fourth baby, Sarah. Sarah had three sisters: Misti, who was seven; Christal, four, and Katie two. (It would be another 10 years before my son, Jay was born – that’s a whole other story). I don’t know if I have ever been more exhausted in my entire life than I was that Saturday evening, after we moved all of our belongings into the humble church parsonage.
Six months earlier (February 23, 1982), Dave came to me with a strange request. We had both been diligently seeking God and praying He would show us His way and direct us to the church He wanted us to pastor. Dave told me he had a vision from God about the kind of church we would lead, and he wanted me to pray and see if God would confirm this vision. I instantly knew and repeated to him what he had heard from God. Thirty-five years later, we still celebrate February 23 as “The Day of Faith and Hope.” But our little church on Broadview Road in Parma, Ohio was far from the vision we were given.
“We’re going to do what?” became my mantra over the next several years as we continually lead the church to do things far too hard for us – things that could only be done with God’s help: we added services, asked folks to come to 6:00 a.m. prayer, we relocated our congregation, rented high school space as we outgrew the church auditorium, purchased 32 acres that the realtor said we would never be able to get, built this beautiful new building on Rt. 82 with only 700 people (250-300 were our kids!), doubled in growth in the next year, went on mission trips out of the country, added campuses, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
This September will be our 35th anniversary at Christ Church. I am overwhelmed with the reality of Ephesians 3:20 that promises us:
“Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”
Even though God confirmed for me the vision for this ministry, I must admit I am so overwhelmed to actually see it all unfold. He truly has done even more than I was able to imagine. I am so grateful to Him for the opportunity He has given us. I have seen hundreds and even thousands of people’s lives changed forever by the saving power of Jesus Christ. Just last week, the ministry that has happened at Christ Church is astounding: 75 teens returned from a mission trip, some of them gave their life to Christ and were baptized this past Saturday; we had Vacation Bible School with over 200 folks here everyday; faithful people served at the food pantry in Old Brooklyn despite the high temperatures, humidity and even rain; the parade team lead our float down Pearl Road inviting people to come to church; our team that leads a service every Sunday at the 2100 Men’s Homeless Shelter brought 26 men to our Main Campus Saturday where they spent the day fishing, enjoying a cookout, and six of them were baptized after the service; the week ended with 18 people being baptized in our pond at our outdoor baptismal service.
And this week, we are breaking ground for Phase II at our Main Campus. Praise God!! I am so excited for the ministry that will happen as a result of this new space!
God has grown my faith over the years. I no longer say, “We’re going to do what?” Now my mantra is, “There’s nothing too hard for our God!” I am so grateful to our staff, leaders and hundreds of volunteers who give themselves away selflessly and tirelessly every week in the service of Jesus Christ at Christ Church.
Would you join us in this incredible adventure of faith? I am so excited to see what God is going to do next – the best is yet to come!!