In High School I played on an AAU Basketball Team for three years. We played in a lot of tournaments in Columbus, Toledo, Cleveland, and Cincinnati. At the end of our final summer playing together we had a team banquet. At that banquet, my coach Marvin King, said something to us that I will never forget…“Don’t ever forget where you came from.” Now most likely he was speaking directly to the other guys in the room since every one of them went on to play Division I basketball but me, but those words have always rang true to me in other respects. The phrase, “Don’t ever forget where you came from” is why I am such a passionate OSU Football fan (that and the reason they have a tradition unmatched by any other program!) and is why I love Columbus, OH. I am never ashamed to tell people of the greatness of this midwest city I love and all of the many reasons to live there. I do this so much I know it annoys many people (this may slightly be another reason why I do it).

Anyway, I also have never forgot where I came from regarding my spiritual heritage as well. I was raised in a loving church community that believed in me and taught me what it means to follow Jesus. I can’t begin to list all of the names of the saints at Immanuel Baptist Church that poured their lives into mine. From the nursery right on up to graduation from High School, countless hours, sweat, and tears from people were sacrificially given to me. Pretty much any time I return home to speak, I am moved with emotion when I stand before these people because I am so humbled…knowing that I am where I am today with Jesus because of their impact on my life. My dad prayed this line once when I was home last week, “no church is perfect.” I’m sure this applies to IBC as well. But one thing they have right — they love people and sacrificially give of themselves to the betterment of others. IBC is a community where people truly “love their neighbors as they love themselves.”

So it is no surprise that when I went home for the Holidays, I was again blessed, humbled, and blown away by the generosity, love, and support for me from the people of IBC. I want to share just a few of the things the body of Christ there did for me, my family, and Consumed Ministries.

  • Before we left for the Holidays we received a letter in the mail with money in it from a family from IBC. We were blown away. As I expressed my thanks to the father of the family in Columbus, he informed me that the decision really came from the kids. They told their dad that they had everything they needed and they wanted the money to go to Consumed.
  • The first night I arrived home my parents gave me a box that someone left them that said nothing on it but Consumed Ministries. The box was heavy and something was rolling around in there. I opened the box and found a note from a senior in high school that explained over the course of 2006 he committed to give every quarter he received as a tip while delivering pizzas to Consumed. In the box was $98 worth of quarters and two $1 bills.
  • On New Year’s Eve, IBC hosted a pie & praise night where people gathered at the church building to eat and share both formally and informally how God has blessed them in 2006. While I was there, I was told that someone wanted to talk with me in the hallway. I went to the hallway and found a family friend there. He told me he wanted to see me before I left because he had some money he wanted to share with me. I noticed he looked as if he was holding back tears so I asked him if everything was OK. He informed me that he was on his way to the hospital to see his wife that was just admitted. They were unsure what was wrong but it seemed pretty serious. Are you kidding me? Talk about humbling! This poor man was in anguish over his wife and was in transit to the hospital when he decided to take a detour in order to give me money. That is Immanuel Baptist Church in a nutshell.
  • And then last night when we arrived home, Gretchen found an envelope in the baby bag unmarked with cash inside. Someone from the church had put it in there.
  • This is just what happened the last two weeks. I could go on and on sharing other things like those from IBC that support me monthly or with one-time gifts, or the $150 someone gave my dad to send to me for Holiday travels and asked my father not to tell me who he/she was, the anonymous $1000 someone gave to Consumed, the countless hours of prayer, etc., etc., etc.

Yeah, no matter where God takes me I will never forget where I came from… the west side of Columbus, OH, doing life with the saints of God from IBC. Much love to you!


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