Authentic Relationships

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WordServe is amazing. It’s a small church with a family feel, and a big reason for that is community groups. Community group is where we have experienced the most depth, challenge, and growth in our faith. We have learned two big lessons in our five years at WordServe for thriving in community.

First, we had to have realistic expectations for authentic relationships. Sometimes the impression can be that as soon as you enter a community group, you will have an instant, fully-invested community. To be honest, we were not always perfectly thriving in our groups. Groups, like friendships, can be tough and take time to grow. Brand new groups, especially, struggle at first to find their groove. We were in a few different community groups, and while they were each wonderful, they were not yet home.

During this time, God worked on our hearts and developed us in exciting and unexpected ways. Meg, for example, works in a male-dominated field and was more comfortable talking to men than women for years! Through community group she formed strong bonds with the women she met and learned that her true home was with these wildly wonderful, faith-filled ladies. Through their support, she gained the courage and vision to begin attending seminary at Houston Baptist University. Matt entered community group young in his faith walk. When he started engaging with other men, especially in men’s group, and receiving the loving accountability, support, and encouragement that comes from their camaraderie, he made great strides in his maturity and his faith. Through their wisdom and support, he gained a stronger faith foundation and greater courage that ultimately led to him stepping into his role at WordServe as youth leader.

Our second big lesson… we realized we have to be courageous enough to ask for help when we need it. A dangerous, unwritten expectation can be that if we have a prayer request or discuss a need, people will automatically assume we need help and offer it. When we needed help the most, we were so busy trying to survive that we failed to ask for help from those who would’ve been most willing to give it. Outside looking in, we had it all together! This left us floundering instead of diving deeper into what community means – asking for help and being there for one anther in all of life’s circumstances in both struggles and celebrations.

God finally led us to our homes in the men’s and women’s groups. While these groups have grown and changed, their hearts for God and for each other have stayed the same. Even when we have had to step back from attending the group, we have kept our relationships with members and continued to engage them in our faith and personal lives. These men and women are people we feel we could reach out to with any need and receive support.  They are the body of Christ to us.

-Matt & Meg Lewis

 

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Refreshed, Revived, Repurposed, Renewed

 

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I am journeying through a life transition.  It was knocking my socks off, and I needed a church home to be refreshed, revived, repurposed, renewed.  WordServe centers their mission around celebrate, compassion, community and connect.  These seemed juxtaposed to what I was seeking and where God was leading me.

I have never attended a church service where the compassion of the Lord has been so alive!  I feel revived every single time I am around the members of WordServe.  Whether I am sitting next to them in service or Bible study, running into them at the grocery store, having lunch with them, or in the parking lot of PetSmart, the people who go to WordServe are genuine.  When the pastors ask how I am, they really mean it.  I am revived in this setting.  It stirs my soul to go back to be the genuine me that God created to serve him!  The hugs when I am tearing up, the laughter with others who have experienced my journey, the delight in the faces when I am greeted, have all revived my soul!  These people are Jesus with skin on.  They are real, honest, vulnerable, sinners who seek God.

The compassion of this church body is awesome.  They are involved in helping the community in the house they are building, in ministering to the children of a local school, in making meals for those who were displaced during and after the floods of Hurricane Harvey, in the washing of clothes, helping the flood victims, and joining local churches in the same area.  They know the heartbeat of this community and take care of it!  I have hungered for helping those around me, and this is where God led me.  I can make meals, wash clothes, make homey things for our Huggins’ families, visit children at school, as well as pray for them, because I can see their faces, feel their hearts and know their needs.

This church body has reached out to me and renewed my faith that God is everywhere.  They welcomed me with open arms.  They have gone out of their way to include me and let me know my skills, talents, and heart have a place here.  The Women’s Community Group on Tuesday nights have welcomed me, and I have never felt like a stranger.  Though I am unable to attend regularly, these ladies have contacted me by phone, text, lunches, asking how they can pray.  They have opened up to me on how I can pray for them as well.  They have been vulnerable with me and allowed friendships to grow.  They made the first and ongoing steps that renewed my starving soul.  I do still have a purpose, place, and peace.  I fit in!

This is the first church body I have been a part of that truly lives the church in Acts.  They get it!  They are real!  They celebrate!  They show compassion!  They know and serve the community!  They connect with those within the church body!  I thank the Lord for leading me to WordServe.  As 2018 begins, so does my furthering journey.  This will include these loving people at WordServe whom I am proud to say I am one of them.

-Robin Ferguson

 

Why WordServe?

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So, Why WordServe?  Simply put… because our church gets it!  Our church knows how to be overwhelmed for God’s things.  We can’t thank God enough for bringing us to this beautiful church in Fulshear.  Immediately we felt at home because God’s love was beaming right through the walls.  It wasn’t just the love everyone has for each other, but, most importantly, we saw the love that WordServe has for those outside the church walls.  That is contagious, attractive and refreshing – it’s seeing Jesus!

Serving is a huge part of life for us, and that is what we have been doing together since we got married nine years ago.  But, we have learned that serving too much can be spiritually dangerous if we don’t do it right and consult God first.  We got so busy following our agenda that we lost sight of what’s more important – growing closer to Jesus.  We craved a deeper relationship with our Lord and with each other.  Without a doubt, obeying God when He called us to follow Him to WordServe has been life changing for us.  God has shown us that He honors obedience and will blow our minds away with the impossible things He has in store for us!

Recently, we saw God’s mighty hand at work.  Jim’s dad passed away unexpectedly on September 6th, and we left for Oklahoma to prepare his funeral and be with family.  Our lives were filled with busy days trying to get things done, and we just didn’t seem to have time for soaking in His Word during that week.  We missed it dearly!  But He immediately reminded us that during the difficult times He carries us.  It’s not about what we do for Him but what He does for us.  We know many of you were praying for us and we felt the power of those prayers.  No matter how many hours we put in during the day, we always seemed to wake up with energy to keep going the next day.  God’s strength came upon us and led us through a very difficult time.

Serving is our way of saying “Thank You” to God for His many blessings.  He is teaching us that a genuine relationship with Him is what guides us in choosing the areas of church in which we serve.  When we seek Him first, His hand is with us and He blesses the offering of service.  That in turn blesses us and fills our souls and bodies with rest, strength and more love for Him and for others.

We are so happy to be serving God alongside each one of you, but even more ecstatic to be growing in Christ through the teachings and serving opportunities at our new church home.  That is why we choose to serve God at WordServe!

Together let’s allow the loving currents of God’s grace and power to carry us to live beyond the limits for His glory!

-Jim & Liz Boggs

 

I Love My Church

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“I love my church.” It’s been a refrain I’ve oft repeated over the last year and a half to anyone who would listen.  I think sometimes we overuse words like “love”, “blessed”, and others, but for this church, at this time, it’s perfectly applicable.  Through an interesting set of circumstances, my family — husband Matt and 7 year old twins Ryan and Quinn — made our way to WordServe in early 2016.  From the moment we entered the doors, we felt wrapped in the arms of some of the most awesome God-loving people I’ve had the pleasure to meet.  Churches are a funny thing, really.  It’s often an intangible feeling of why you decide to call one your “home”.  But once we attended our first Christmas Eve service, I turned to my husband with tears in my eyes and felt it was just that… home.

A little back story, but way back 10+ years ago, I worked for WordServe’s parent church, Grace Fellowship.  I remember distinctly as the leadership there prayed and mulled over name suggestions for this new birthing in Fulshear.  And now having been a part of these mission partners for 18 months, I can say with 100% certainty that the name was absolutely God-ordained.  This church so perfectly lives out that name — grounded in the Word and committed to service outside ourselves. It is just rare to have so many serve so selflessly, day in, day out, and forever transforming lives in our community.  I feel privileged to witness and participate in these acts of service.  And honestly, as a parent, nothing beats seeing my children grow and blossom into devoted followers of Jesus.  Because of the love and guidance of those who serve so beautifully in WordServe Kids, my children have since both taken the huge step of publicly proclaiming their faith through baptism.  Those are moments that I will never forget and I am forever thankful of the examples set by our mission partners to show them exactly what loving God looks like.

I am so excited to experience what God has planned for WordServe and all of the lives that will continue to be transformed both in and outside these walls.  It is an honor to worship with you all each Sunday and to do life with you regularly outside of that hour.  That is a defining characteristic of a church… living faith out LOUD.  Our tagline “Life is Different” is not just a cutesy phrase.  It’s truth.  Thank you for loving our family well.  We are forever changed.

-Meagan Clanahan

 

Build-A-Bear Compassion

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Earlier in February, WordServe had the opportunity to bless Texas Children’s Hospital with custom-created Build-A-Bear gifts. The bears will be given to children who are battling illness and injury and face an extended hospital stay.  As WordServe values elevating others as God’s masterpieces, we hope that the children receiving these bears will find comfort, joy, and encouragement from these tangible displays of compassion. People of all ages and walks of life–young children, moms, dads, youth volunteers–gathered at Guardian Tae-kwon-do and assembled the bears and stuffed animals with clothing, accessories, and love.

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Texas Children’s Hospital was delighted to receive the bears and wrote:

“Because of donors like you and with the support of our community [we are] better able to alleviate stress and anxiety, promote positive coping, and create special moments for our patients and families.”

Thank you to all who participated in this awesome Compassion event!  Stay tuned for more upcoming service opportunities.

Schools Helping Schools through FaithFULL Kids

For many high school students, taking part in community service is a meaningful way to give back to others and gain skills and experiences valuable for future pursuits.  We are blessed to live in a community where high school students are passionate and proactive about serving others.  Seven Lakes High School’s National Honor Society, a chapter with close to 600 members known for its enthusiastic community service efforts, adopted FaithFULL Kids as its Fall 2014 service project.

Christina Zapalac, who serves as SLHS’s NHS sponsor, heard Rachel Dillon speak about the vision and mission behind FaithFULL Kids at during a recent service at WordServe.  Moved by what FaithFULL Kids is accomplishing in the community, Christina quickly mobilized students from SLHS to volunteer for the Sunday afternoon packing parties at Guardian TKD. Students jumped at the chance to earn service hours and help others, and packing parties soon became full.  But NHS didn’t stop there.  Every fall, the organization promotes a school-wide service project to benefit the surrounding area.  The students who had already served with FaithFULL Kids knew of the weekly food needs and could think of no better way of helping out than to conduct a food drive and donate the collections to FaithFULL Kids.  Over the course of several weeks, SLHS NHS collected 50 boxes of non-perishable food to restock the FaithFULL Kid shelves.

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WordServe is so excited to have SLHS NHS join our efforts to ensure that no child from Huggins Elementary goes hungry.  Right now, pray blessings for every child receiving food backpacks from FaithFULL Kids, as well as every student who provided a simple food item for the drive!  Thanks, SLHS NHS!

Habitat for Huggins Update: Moved In!

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It’s official:  the Habitat for Huggins house can once again be called HOME! After an entire year of prayers, love, and hard work, the house is occupied. Move-in day has been described as “Simply AMAZING. Holy. Truly beyond words.” Thank you to everyone who had a hand in this transformation; you have truly done God’s work.

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If you didn’t get to help out as much as you had planned or hoped, don’t worry. This mission has just begun! WordServe Church is already saving funds for the next family in need.  The entire offering collected at WordServe’s Community Candlelight Christmas Eve service was donated to Habitat for Huggins!

To learn more about Habitat for Huggins visit wordserve.org/habitatforhuggins.

WordServe Kids Focus for December: Wrapped Up Generosity

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“It’s official—the holidays are around the corner. How do I know? Relatives are asking for Christmas lists so they can get their shopping done. The commercials on TV are rolling out their latest toy temptations to get children drooling. Even the shopping malls and discount stores are busy stocking Christmas decorations just in case you feel like getting a jump-start on your seasonal lawn ornaments and light displays.

With all this Christmas hoopla, it’s easier than ever to lose focus on why we celebrate Christmas in the first place. That’s why we want to spend this month talking about Generosity: making someone’s day by giving something away.

We hope kids get wrapped up in others as they show them how much God has been so generous toward us. There’s a danger in getting so wrapped up in ourselves or so wrapped up in our things that we miss the essence of this season. There’s just something about giving that reflects the character of God to those around us. Every good thing we have is a gift from Him. But we also know that God’s generosity has a purpose. God gives to us and expects us to do the same for others in return.

Generosity changes us when we learn how to give the way God gives. This month, we’ll look at four great stories from the New Testament that help us understand God’s plan for generosity in our lives.

In Week 1, we start our month on generosity in Luke 12:13-21 with a parable Jesus told about a rich man who was wrapped up in the wrong thing. He worried more about storing up more stuff and ended up losing everything that really mattered. Our Bottom Line is: Don’t get wrapped up in your stuff.

In Week 2, we get to eavesdrop on a conversation that Jesus had with a rich ruler that Luke recorded in Luke 18:18-25. This man was so wrapped up in his stuff that he couldn’t let go of what didn’t really matter in favor of what mattered most, a relationship with Jesus. Our Bottom Line is: Get wrapped up in what matters most.

In Week 3, we celebrate that God sent us the greatest gift when He sent us Jesus. Through John 3:16-17 and Luke 2:1-18, we will focus on Jesus’ birth as we pause and remember that God gave us His only Son, so we could have a personal relationship with Him. Our Bottom Line is: Get wrapped up in Christmas.

In Week 4, we’ll see that the wise men knew how to be generous. In Matthew 2:1-12, we read about the men who came to visit Jesus. They went above and beyond to see Him and show generosity. Our Bottom Line is: Get wrapped up in giving.

Our memory verse is a great reminder for us. “Be rich in good deeds … be generous and willing to share,” 1 Timothy 6:18. Many times, we think that our ability to be generous is connected to our stuff. However, being rich really isn’t defined by how much we have or collect, or how many presents we get. We’re not generous because we are rich; rather, we are rich because we are generous. This month, we hope that kids will discover what it really means to be rich—to let God’s generosity show up in their lives and help them get wrapped up in others.”

Click HERE for the December Baby and Toddler Parent Cue.

Click HERE for the December Preschool Parent Cue.

By Dan Scott ©2014 The reThink Group. All rights reserved. http://www.ThinkOrange.com *Used by permission.

WordServe Kids Focus for November: Time Out! Gratitude

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“Have you ever been watching a sporting event where one of the teams played like they were falling apart at the seams?

The pitcher giving up run after run.

The defensive line that just can’t stop anyone.

The full-court press that simply can’t get the ball back.

It’s a mess. Finally the coach calls it: “Time out!”

He brings the team in, takes a moment to regroup. He adjusts and recalibrates to get his team ready to get back on the field and face their opponent.

The same goes for life.

Everything can be going well. You’re happy at work. The kids are excelling at school, and they are even getting along with each other at home. Life seems pretty perfect.

Then overtime something happens. Not overnight and maybe even so gradually that you don’t notice it. But one day you wake up and it seems like nothing’s going right and everyone is grumpy.

Something is off.

Something is broken.

And everyone needs a time out.

There are just some things that need an adjustment.

God wants to work in your life and the lives of your kids to tweak some things in your character. In a lot of ways, He’s taking a time out and making adjustments to conform you to the image of His Son. In those times, it’s like God is pulling us over to the side and reminding us when we need to recalibrate a few things.

And it makes sense, really. If God made us, He knows what we need to give attention to. That’s why it’s important to pay attention to His instruction manual and what He has to say about certain attitudes. Take the idea of GRATITUDE, for example. If we never take the time to acknowledge what God has done in our lives or how others have helped us, we may develop an unhealthy ego or a growing frustration at the people around us. We might become bitter and complain about every little thing.

That’s why GRATITUDE is a really big idea that God talks about so much. It affects more of your life than you probably have ever imagined. That’s why we’re taking this month to talk about what it means to show GRATITUDE: letting others know how they’ve helped you.

For week one, we kick off the month by taking a closer look at our memory verse: 1 Thessalonians 5:18. It says, “Give thanks no matter what happens. God wants you to thank him because you believe in Christ Jesus.” (NIrV)

We want to help kids understand why God wants us to give thanks in all circumstances. We believe something will happen in the heart of any child when they learn to take a TIME OUT, think about this verse, and remember the Bottom Line: You always have something to be grateful for.

In week two, we will take a look at a powerful story in Luke 17:11-19 about 10 lepers who asked Jesus to be healed. But when their skin condition went away, they became so ecstatic about the miracle that they ran off and forgot to say “thank You.” All except for one, who came back. It’s great to influence children in such a way that they become the kind of people who put our Bottom Line into action: Take time to say “thank you.”

For week three, we’ll dig into a parable Jesus told one day about some vineyard workers. In Matthew 20:1-15, we read that a few of the workers started making comparisons to what others were getting paid and became ungrateful and started complaining. Then at the end of the day, they had a bad attitude because they thought, that’s not fair. Have you heard that around your house lately? Well, then, maybe it’s time for this week’s Bottom Line: Take time to adjust your attitude.

In week four, we’ll explore Exodus 23:14-19 and discover how some of the rules God gave His people included some major celebrating with entire DAYS and sometimes WEEKS set aside to give His people an opportunity to take time to celebrate. That’s what we want our kids to do too: Take time to celebrate what God has done.

Finally, we’ll look at how the Apostle Paul closed out his letter to the Roman followers of Jesus. He thanked people—a LOT of people—for helping him on his journeys. We hope kids come away with this Bottom Line: Take time to remember how others have helped you.

Sometimes gratitude takes a little bit of intentionality. Sometimes, you have to literally take a time out and remember what you have to be grateful for. A great way to do that is through giving.”

This fall, we’re excited to partner with Operation Christmas Child (OCC). Each year, they facilitate the packing and delivery of millions of shoebox gifts to children in crisis areas and third-world countries around the globe. Most of these kids have never before received a Christmas present. Check out http://www.wordserve.org for more information about OPP during the month of November!

Click HERE for the November Parent Cue.

Click HERE for the November Parent Time.

Click HERE for the November Parent Cue for Babies and Toddlers.

By Dan Scott ©2014 The reThink Group. All rights reserved. http://www.ThinkOrange.com *Used by permission.

Get Your Bearings: Risk-taking as Sacrificial Worship–Pat’s Story

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Since October 19, Nolan and Bill have been preaching through a new sermon series titled “Get Your Bearings”, which focus on five core values that can calibrate your relationship with God to one that is vibrant, fruitful, and life-giving.  During yesterday’s service, Pat Penner, Executive Director of Sealy Pregnancy Crisis Center, shared a personal testimony of how God is using the value of risk-taking as sacrificial worship to strengthen and stretch her relationship with Him:

“Dave and I married in April of this year. The day I returned to work from our honeymoon I was told that I was part of the group of lay-offs, and would be on the payroll for 60 days starting the following month and could not accept a job during that time or I would forfeit my severance. I had worked for BP for almost 35 years and really hadn’t pictured myself as leaving in this manner. I was saddened, but I accepted it as a new chapter in my life about to begin.

My immediate thought was, to update my Linkedin profile and get my resume together as I had a list of 30+ recruiters in a spreadsheet in preparation for such a day as this. However, my wonderful husband suggested I take these next 60 days and listen to what God had to say, as maybe He had other plans.

I took that time and reflected, on my life, where I was and how far I had come. In looking back, I had seen Gods hands all along the way leading me. Each time it was for a specific purpose, as I was going through these trials, I would get angry or frustrated because I didn’t understand. But when it was all over, I’d reflect back and could clearly see that His purpose was obvious. For now I know and have confidence that my Father either removes me from the storm or will hold my hand and be with me through it. Either way, He has never abandoned me.

So I knew that I had to step out in faith by trusting that this was a new stage in my life and He had a plan for me. At the time, I didn’t know what that plan was, but I needed to be still and listen. That meant I had to trust God and walk that tight rope knowing that he had that protective hand just below me, in case I fell. And if I fell, it was because there was something for me to learn. That’s because I have total trust in God and know that He has my best interest at heart.

During that down time, I asked myself, what I found most fulfilling. Volunteering at the Pregnancy Help Center came to mind immediately. I thought well there are no jobs available there, the pay is too low and 52 miles was way too far to commute on a daily basis. So that thought was a big “No Way!” Within a day or two, I received a call from the center director Sylvia Johnson asking me if I would be willing to help out periodically during the week while I was off as they were in need of help. I gladly agreed to volunteer on Mondays and Saturdays. The commute on the weekdays was horrible. Eventually, I thought, I can’t keep this up; gas is expensive, wears on my car and it’s not bringing in any income. But supportive Dave encouraged me to continue.

A couple of weeks later I was in the grocery store in Sealy and was reflecting on some of the young ladies I had counseled that day and the issues she was facing. I felt God tell me “Look around. See, there are young ladies here in need. Where can they go for help? There is a need for a pregnancy center here. That’s what I want you to do.” Sadly, I said “Is this in my head or is that You speaking, God? Because if it is, I need you to prove to me that it’s really You.” Then I said, “Number one, starting a business is a lot of work. Number two, I can’t do this by myself, so if this is what You really want, I need Your help and your guidance.” I then thought, “I just got married, my salary would go to literally nothing, I can’t do that to Dave and I couldn’t dare tell him that I was going to start a pregnancy center knowing that starting a business requires a lot of time, money and no salary. Not only that, I’m a control freak: I had a job, owned my own home, and paid my own bills. That would mean in a few short months I’d go from total control to no control.” My entire life was being transformed before my eyes.

One evening, as we sat down to eat dinner, I had this nagging push to tell Dave and I kept pushing it back down thinking “He’s going to think I’m nuts.” Finally, I told him and his response was positive, supportive and he said ‘Who am I to stand in the way if God is calling you to do this. You have the time. See where God takes you with this.” I called Sylvia and told her the idea and that I was just thinking about it and immediately her response was excitement and she said that she was willing to help and work with me to get it off the ground and she was telling me all that I needed to do to get setup. My immediate thought was fear and “what if this isn’t Gods calling and it’s just in my head? I don’t want people getting too excited about this just yet. Let’s just keep it low and under the radar. I’m just thinking about it, not sure I’m going to do it.” The fear in me began rise higher and higher.

So what did I do? I prayed. “God, if this is what you want me to do, make it clear and obvious. I’m listening. I don’t know where to start and, I don’t want it to be a burden on my husband. Please help.” He has done just that.

With every step taken, I have clearly seen Gods hands. When I need help in any specific areas, He has brought the right person across my path at the right time and reason to answer any questions, give me guidance and offer assistance when needed, such as Cheryl, Marcus, Cathy, and others. I thank Cheryl for her help, as she has been giving me any spare time she has to pull data, look up information, you name it. She has become a wonderful friend. You see I have learned that we need others as we walk our walk.

I felt God tell me, “All that I have brought you through has been to prepare you for just this. All that you have learned up to this point prepares you for what I have in store for you, at this stage in your life.” You see over the years, I have worked in accounting, administrative services, HR, as an engineer, commercial analyst, project manager, etc. Many times I’ve looked back and thought, if only I had made better decisions I would have been so much further in my life and career. But God has taken these experiences and given me an opportunity to share them with others, offering encouragement not to give up and that it’s never too late and never beyond hope for them and their child. As I have progressed through this, I have met others that have this same passion and encouraging stories to share and they too are a part of this plan. So, I have learned through this process to be open so that others have room for their spiritual growth through this process as well.

He has been and continues preparing us for the betterment of His Kingdom. He wants someone to be there for the young ladies who are losing hope and don’t have anywhere else to turn, and I am so honored that He has chosen me as His vessel to do His work. You see what I haven’t mentioned is that I, too, was one of them. I had my son at age 16. He is now 37 and is an amazing intelligent young man of whom I am very proud. I can’t imagine him not being here or where we would be without the love and support I too received at that time. Through all of these experiences, my relationship with my Father continues to grow stronger and stronger.

I remind myself often that this isn’t about me; it’s about God and His work. I am just the tool He uses. And if I hadn’t said yes, He would have chosen someone else, as His work will be done, with or without me. I’m glad I said yes.”