Thursday, July 12, 2012

Our New Church

We had received many recommendations of D.C. churches and visited them all. None was the right fit for us. Since we had been members of a Christian & Missionary Alliance church from 1994-2005, we decided to look up area C&MA churches online. One of them, Arlington Community Church, was hosting a "Family Luau" fun night in May and since we're always on the look-out for family activities and free food is a nice bonus, we went. We had a great time, laughing at a magic show, making crafts, chatting to church members over a hot dog dinner, and watching "Rio" on a big screen complete with popcorn!

The next morning (Mother's Day), we attended our first church service at ACC, and were surprised by how few people were in attendance but also by how much we liked it! The pastor's preaching was very much what we had been looking for, and the music was a nice blend of old and new. We put the church on our "let's visit again" list.

The next time we attended was Father's Day, and we were kindly hosted to lunch by the pastor and his family after the service. We really enjoyed talking more with John and Amy Eckrote, and our kids enjoyed playing with their three boys. It was a chance for us to ask lots of questions, especially about areas that concerned us particularly because of ACC being such a small church. We left the Eckrotes' house feeling much better about ACC as a viable option for us.

After visiting one more Sunday, and after much prayer and discussion, Steve and I decided to commit to Arlington Community Church and make it our new home church. We are grateful beyond words to finally have a place to grow roots, to connect and make friends, to worship every Sunday (no more asking on Saturday nights, "Where are we going tomorrow?") Our children are very happy with their Sunday school and are spending time getting to know the Eckrote boys, as I'm sure they'll get to know other church children soon too.

The church only has about 50 people in attendance on a regular basis, but it has grown a lot since January, and is continuing to grow. We would much rather get to know 50 people well, than feel lost in a crowd of 4,000. Steve and I both appreciate and value John's preaching. He digs deep into the Word, but teaches us with both humor and relevance. We laugh, we ponder, and we come away wanting the Holy Spirit to work ever more in our lives. John also does a good job of leading worship (though he'd rather pass that off to a worship leader at the right time!) He blends hymns and modern songs, all to piano and guitar accompaniment, in seamless continuity so we can really focus. And all with a light heart -- it's not unusual to laugh, and as people who often take life too seriously, Steve and I need that!

Our biggest relief is to finally be making friends! One of the things that attracted us to ACC was that after just attending once, we had a personal invitation to a Memorial Day picnic by people that didn't even know us yet! In just our first few weeks of committing, we have felt loved and welcomed in very tangible ways, and this makes all the difference. If you've been praying for us, thank you -- your prayers are being answered!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


We stopped at a thrift store (charity shop) today, trying to find some shoes for Josiah. I could immediately tell that the shopkeeper was African, and at the end of our visit, asked her where she was from. She answered, "Nigeria," and then of course was delighted to hear that I too had lived in Nigeria. I used my little Hausa and agreed that Jos was a "cold" place to live (only cold to a Nigerian!!) We quickly digressed to the recent violence that has marked much of Nigeria.

I don't know if you've kept up at all with the news of Nigeria, but in the past year, a Muslim terrorist group called Boko Haram has ravaged the country.They bomb churches, bomb government offices, and wreak havoc in other ways as well. It's getting to the point where I expect to hear bad news every weekend, and it's really quite heart-breaking.

The country of Nigeria has already struggled for years with corrupt governments and growing poverty. It has a lot of wealth from its crude oil off its coast in the south, but the people and infrastructure don't seem to benefit. The millions of dollars are in the hands of a few.

In January, the average person was made to struggle even more because the federal government suddenly removed its subsidy on gasoline. This not only made it difficult for people to get around (usually by taxis and buses, as most people don't own their own cars), but it also increased the prices of everything else.

The attacks of Boko Haram are an added burden, and I frankly don't know how much longer the Nigerian people can survive. My parents still live in Jos, Nigeria, and I have many dear friends there as well. I pray regularly for this precious country, that God will sustain the people and somehow bring about peace.