Thursday, January 6, 2011

I heart Houston's First.

On August 26, 2007, as I walked through the doors of Houston's First Baptist Church for the very first time, I never could have known what enormous things He would do in me there. Really. Never could have dreamt it.

I'd woken up on my first Sunday in my dorm room at Houston Baptist University and, having never missed a Sunday of church unless death were possibly impending, I had to go. I just didn't know where.

My sister went to Texas A&M (whoop!) while Gregg Matte (pastor at HFBC) was leading Breakaway Ministries, so she had suggested that I try out Houston's First. I got online, wrote down directions, Sunday Bible Study information, got ready, and went.

I got overwhelmed. I drove there, parked, and got out of my car, but had no clue how to get to my class after that. Someone else probably would have thought, "Find the visitor's desk...find someone that looks like they work here...find a map." Those were not my thoughts.

I went to find a little old lady.

She was walking down the hall with a group of her little old friends, and when she looked at me and smiled, I smiled back and quickly said, "I'm lost." She waved goodbye to her group and took me right where I needed to go. Bless her...whoever she was. She took me to my family.

The HFBC College Community was my home for the next two years. I was stretched and asked tough questions there. I was pushed to pursue my relationship with Christ. Not my parents', not my pastor's...mine. I found friendships. I found a place to serve. I got my first job through that community. Through that job I met the Godly woman who would walk with me and shepherd(ess) me the through some rough growing up times and become so influential in my life. One Sunday morning led to so much more than I thought possible.

August 26, 2007, walking alone and overwhelmed into that big building, I never would have dreamt that on December 17, 2010, navigating through crowds with my friend Brianna, bumping into a dozen people who hugged me and exchanged quick conversation on our way to our seats for the Christmas Celebration, she would say, "Girl. You are loved here."

I had to think about that....because she was right. I had walked in the door and not known a soul....but 3 1/2 years later, I was loved. I had a family away from my family. I had countless people, of all ages, who loved and cared for me and desired to see me make much of the Lord.

I am so grateful for each of them. I love them in my life. I love living alongside them and encouraging each other. Oh, I love them so.

And I'm leaving them. Not forever. But for a season. My heart hurts at just the thought.

Making plans for A&M, I was so excited and ready to go that I never even thought about the fact that I won't be here. I'm not sure when it hit...or how, but it came in full force.

Hopefully, I'll be back in less than two years. I'll be home and back with my family. In the meantime, I'm  praying that I find a temporary home I love just as much.

As a parting farewell see you later, and to help you understand just why my love for HFBC is so great, here's some of my favorite things ;)

Hurt is welcome. One of my favorite things is that people are welcome and encouraged to talk about their hurts. Not in a pity party kind of way, but a "this is what's in my heart. these are my questions about it. this is what's causing me pain" kind of way. We're broken. We have hurts. We don't have to act like we've got it all together. We share our hurts...we share in each other's hurts...and healing comes.

Only Truth. You will not hear opinion taught from that pulpit. You will hear God's Word. No one else's.

Unmatched love for missions. Overseas. Homeless. Next door. Next state. Any missions.

Sunday Bible Study. Your Sunday Bible Study group is like your church within the's the people you live life with and pray with and grow with and serve with and love.

The Houston Project. Every summer, we all participate in one great big, churchwide mission project right in our city. With HP sites at around 15 churches around Houston (with more sites added regularly), we come alongside churches around our city to help them facilitate Vacation Bible Schools, sports camps, youth programs and adult Bible studies. Then through the year, the Sunday Bible Study groups keep up with their HP church site to continue meeting needs and serving with that church. It's one big reach out to our community, but such a huge time of growth and unity within our own family. So. Good.

Open doors. Anyone is welcome. And welcomed. With open arms...literally. We're a huggy bunch.

Nothing is off limits. Any questions, any issues...are open for discussion. Bible Study leaders...ministers...small groups...certified Christian matter what the topic, there's someone to listen and help you work through the issue and sort through the questions.

Same heart. Same mind. The staff, the leaders, the people.


First Family. It really is a family. I have brothers, sisters, spiritual mothers and fathers. We are for the Lord and for each other.

Itunes. Podcasts. Christmas Celebration albums. Live webcasts. So even if I'm not there...or you can't get there, we can still be a part.

Relevant. HFBC rightfully claims to be a Relevant, Biblical Community. Still sticking solely to truth in Scripture, we believe in meeting people where they are.

Swell. And by swell I mean fun. (Because I didn't have another 'F') We have fun together. And lots of it.

Tears. Are a regular event. I said we're a huggy bunch...but we're a tearful bunch too. And I LOVE that!


So what do you love about your church? I'd love to hear about your home, your family.
And if you're in the Houston area and you need one...well, you know where I'd recommend. ;)


Erin said...

Hey girl. It is so encouraging to hear your thoughts about First. It's good for this "life-time member" to be reminded about what is right (correct not immediately) here.

As far as churches in CS. Not sure if you have thought about that at all. There are a ton of great churches. I visited about 5 or 6 and joined one because it was similar to home, only to realize that wasn't where God wanted me. So junior year i finally made it to where i should have been from the beginning. Living Hope. I love that church. I love the heart of the pastor and of the community. i love the heart to reach the lost, to foster realtionships, and above all to seek the heart of God. I know that god may have a different place for you, but I would encourage you to check it out. I have a friend that is still in CS and attends there if you want someone to go with.

I love you!

Becky Kiser said...

this made tears stream down my face.
love you so.
karis and i are looking forward to driving up and having lunch some day! i can show you some of my old favs.