Tuesday, July 6, 2010

I love my North Point homies!

Dear Pastor Tommy and the whole team at NPC,

I wanted to thank you, encourage, and share my amazing NPC experience with you and how it has blessed me tremendously.

The first time I went to NPC, I didn't tell anyone. I was hurting, broken, angry and had recently gone through a significant life change. While I still believed, I had lost touch with the God that comforts, the God that would walk with me and carry me, the God that I could completely trust and say, I give you my life, all that I am, do as you please and I will believe that You are in control and knowing. So the first time, the first time was pretty rough. I drove past by my old church, betrayed and grieving, searching. I can't remember who told me about NPC (I wish I did, I owe them a huge thank you), I sat in the parking lot and missed the first service, summoning up all the courage I could to just walk in, just give it one last try. I was embarrassed because of the things that had happened and worried that I would be judged or even worst, worried if somebody would continuously hound me and stalk me until I "agreed" to be a part of the church. And so, at about 12:15, I told myself, I could either give it a try and walk in for the last service, or I could go home and just try again next week. I live on the south side of town and have no sense of direction, trying to get to NPC in the first place was an experience in itself, so I knew that chances were, I probably wouldn't attempt to come here again. So I said, what's there to lose? Really, what's there to lose when it feels like you've lost everything?

I sat in the back, away from everyone, so I could slip out just in case it was too much or it turned out to be a crazy cult church because who blasts pop music in the parking lot and what kind of happy pills do they put in their kool-aid and holy moly, if they start talking in tongues or trying to "slain" me, my Lutheran butt is getting out of there. Those 5 minutes before service started was probably the longest in my life. Heart pounding, nervous, excited, scared, unsure.

And then the worship team started. I heard the words, felt God and was so incredibly moved. I sobbed and sobbed, embarrassed but it was so real, so tangible, this promise, these words. It was the comfort of an old familiar blanket, one that I knew a long time ago but life kinda kicked and knocked it down. I embraced and praised Him in the darkness and with the crazy lights in this "rock concert" arena. Then Pastor Tommy spoke, and I believed. I'm sure there are lots of people that feel like the sermons are God's way of talking specifically to them but for about 20 mins, I looked around and thought, really? No way. What? How does he know? Has he read my life story? How in the world is he preaching the exact words I so desperately needed to hear? And at the end, during the altar call, I was moved but again, I thought, yeah right they're not going to make you walk up and ask what happened and how and then have to face the entire congregation and yeah...okay. You know which part I love the most? The one where he asks the second time, the ones that were hesitant to raise their hands before, to just do it. And in that moment, I finally felt Peace. Peace, everything I had been looking for and searching. I felt God's Peace, God's Words, God's promise of having a plan, of not forsaking you, of trusting and believing of saying God, I don't know much, but I'm taking this huge giant leap of faith and I'm just going to let you roll with it. Whatever will be, will be and I'll stop questioning and let you do your thing.

I came home so refreshed and told my friends about this incredible experience at NPC and I was smiling so hard they thought I was crazy. I told them about the magical God experience and reconnecting, I showed them my bag of goodies and the next week, we shared popcorn and diet coke and watched a Redbox movie. I told them about how it wasn't a "stuffy" church and it was seriously cool, and they didn't preach crazy sermons like "God hates you if you're a sinner and you're going to die and we're cooler than you so come be saved!". I showed them the twitter feed and fb page and for real, it's like a church just for us and they do these incredible things that we believe in and it's local and we get to help and our money doesn't go towards a fancy car or someplace unknown and they're really nice and not pushy and it's okay to ask questions or not be sure and they have all these brilliant resources and I promise you, they won't shove a Bible down your throat but relay God's Word to you in bite sized easily digested and applicable morsels. How else can I possibly bribe you into coming because you really really really have to come experience this?! And in the last year, I'm pretty sure I HAVE told everyone I know about NPC. But more than that, I think the changes that they have seen in my life, the happiness that I have found in trusting God and letting Him lead me have been more evident and convincing than anything else beyond Andy's Custard or Chik-Fil-A. :)

I love that I have seen where my ImpAct money goes and worked Second Saturdays and Connect Groups and seen how incredible and amazing these life changes are. I have been blessed and I have learned so so much from this experience. When Convoy of Hope came and asked us to fill our fruit baskets, we bought a meal for the Ronald McDonald house, remembering to pass it on. I'll never forget the Second Saturday where we gave out turkey dinners. I remember picking up the list and meticulously putting a bag together, praying that it would bless someone. And at the end, when they said that they had too many, to share it with someone that needed it. I stopped at the Ronald McDonald house on my way to work and asked if they would perhaps need dinner catered that night. We had our own Thanksgiving dinner budgeted and shopped for so I knew that we didn't need this, it was more just an extra then a need. And the lady looked at me with the most incredulous eyes and said, someone just backed out and they didn't have dinner for the guests and probably wouldn't be able to find someone to sponsor their meal in such short notice. Is that not just such a crazy God thing?

When Second Saturdays rolled around, we spent four hours "giving back to the community" but the lessons and the ways that we have been blessed back have far surmounted those four hours. I have learned the power of compassion, of love, of healing and of God's amazing Grace and purpose. They are perhaps my highlight of the month, and it has been beyond neat being able to make friends and come together to do God's work. For the first time, I am so proud to be a part of a church I truly believe in that is so "hands on" and "real".

I'll tell you a secret, there's this greeter, she's African American and has a huge smile and is hard to miss. She makes my heart smile and I don't even have a clue what her name is, nor have I really had a conversation with her except to say Hi but I have seen the way she blesses others with her presence and her love. This, to me, is what North Point is all about. That it isn't just about the pastor, or the worship team, or the "leaders", it is about the collective whole that makes up this amazing safe place. It's that there are people from all walks of life reflected, from the older guy that rocks the guitar, to the cheery event managers and the serious all business coordinators. It isn't about the color you are, if you're rich or poor, or divorced or married, if you have kids, or have none, if you're a single parent or a grandpa, no, it's so much more than that. It is that no matter who you are, no matter what stage of life you're in, it's that you belong and that you have a place in the church. Whether you're a greeter, or a silent supporter, whether you're the face or a backstage hand, it is all these parts that make me so proud to call NPC my church.

In a year, I've definitely learned so much and while I am so incredibly sad to leave NPC, I am so excited for the healing that has come from it and for the things that are unfolding in my life. This last weekend, watching people from my Connect group get baptized and so many more at Freedom Splash was such a neat experience. It was humbling and beautiful. Thank you NPC for helping me 'see it', 'believe it' and giving me the courage to 'achieve it'. Again, what an incredible apt sermon, and on Independence Day no less. So while I prepare to go home to Malaysia, I know that I will definitely be so excited to share about this church I found in Springfield, MO and pray that I'll find a church similar to it with the same values and rockstar qualities. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Keep up the great work and I'm excited to be able to watch the podcasts and see what's to come for Northpoint.

"All that I've seen teaches me to trust God for all that I havent seen"