The second thing that sticks out in my memory about Valerie is that she studied the book of Revelations with us. It’s probably the most feared and least understood book of the Bible, and she took it on with a bunch of junior high students because she wanted us to grow in our Scriptural knowledge and increase our faith.
Pastor Cheryl and Valerie were both really good about encouraging those around them to serve inside and outside of the church, to dig into Scripture and to really take ownership of their own faith. The first sermon I ever gave was in High School. I distinctly remember putting on my makeup Sunday morning and getting a phone call from Pastor Cheryl. Her voice was raspy and she said to me, “I have laryngitis. Can you do the sermon today.” I don’t remember that sermon. I’m pretty sure no one remembers anything about that sermon, because it was probably about 2 minutes long and didn’t say much. But I do know that the people of the congregation gave me hugs afterward and told me how good it was, and they continued to support me as I began to serve more and more in ministry. I do know that Valerie and Pastor Cheryl continued to encourage me to listen to my call to ministry.
For my confirmation, Pastor Cheryl gave me a candle. I keep it on my desk and every time I see it I am reminded of Valerie and Cheryl and the impact they have had on my life. When I was in high school, Valerie was killed in a car accident, and I don’t get to talk to Pastor Cheryl very often – mostly Christmas cards and occasional e-mail or Facebook message, but the spark they started has grown into a flame.
They aren’t here to continue to encourage me in my faith, or to tell me to go serve, or to remind me to read my Bible, but because they were willing to step out in faith and use the gifts that God has given them, I am the person that I am today. And I pray that by using my gifts a spark from my flame will land on other people, that God will fan into flame.
At a prayer retreat a few months ago, I started reading 2 Timothy 1:6-7. “This is why I remind you to fan into flames, the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you. For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love and self-discipline.” As I continued to pray over these verses, the Holy Spirit gave me the message, “Spread my presence like a fire!” And this is the calling and vision that we have at ARK for the upcoming year. As we commit to be faithful to God in our service, as we step out of our comfort zones to welcome people and serve in our community, we will be like those flames. People near us won’t be able to help but feel our fire for God and be affected by it.
If you would like to be part of ARK’s vision to “Spread His presence like a fire”, please connect with us or join us Sunday morning!
Here are a few ways to get involved:
- Service opportunities; most are posted on our Facebook page or in our e-mail newsletter
- Small groups and Bible studies; send us a message to get connected or start your own
- Gather together; join us Sunday mornings at 9:30 as we grow in our faith, community, and worship!
- Give; your financial support helps us provide these opportunities and more! Give securely online through our website or give during our offering on Sunday mornings.
Christine is the Lead Pastor at ARK United Methodist Church, a church replant in North Sioux City, SD. She is also a Ministry Coach with MOPS Int’l, wife to Matthew, a foster and bio mom to 6 kids, and an aspiring chicken homesteader leaning on the grace and hope of God amidst life’s messes. You can connect with her on Instagram as cececappetta.