This month, the First Christian Church Board begins work on our new budget. I’m writing today to ask you to take time this month to sincerely pray about making a pledge to give to FCC over the next year.
Now, let me tell you a quick story.
Last year, some of you came to know a man named Michael here at First Christian. Michael had been through a series of difficult circumstances – a desperate move to Oceanside for a job that didn’t pan out, a long period of unemployment, and a serious domestic conflict that landed him on the street. This is a common story for people like Michael. Homelessness is rarely a simple problem. Usually a myriad of factors – including unforeseen hardships combined with poor choices – contribute to people ending up on the street. That is Michael’s story.
One night, Michael asked me what I thought about his circumstances and, as I often am, I was straightforward with him about his mistakes. Angry, he stormed out of the church. But over the next few months, Michael came faithfully to our Tuesday night community dinner. He heard the gospel and enjoyed the fellowship. Eventually, he asked to meet with me to ask questions about God. After a few more months, Michael was baptized right here in our sanctuary and made a commitment to become a follower of Jesus.
The impact on Michael’s life was immediate. He began reading more of the bible, and with the help of the Holy Spirit he began to recognize the difference between foolish and wise choices. He became more self-controlled and started to have hopes and dreams about his life. Then one day, God opened a door for him, to get a decent job and a good place to live in another State.
Michael has been in his new home for several months now, and I spoke with him just last week. His life continues to improve by God’s grace. He has found a new church home, he is holding onto his job, and paying his bills. Perhaps most significantly, he is learning to be reconciled to the broken relationships in his life. Pray for Michael, that he would continue to grow in God’s grace.
This is how we make a difference
Michael’s story illustrates that we make a difference at First Christian in a way that few churches do. We truly welcome anyone to the table. Like any other church, our mission is to make disciples of Jesus (Matt 28:18-20). But because of our location, and because of the grace God has given this congregation, that mission regularly extends to “the least of these” in our midst (Matt 25:31-46). This kind of mission changes all of us by revealing the truth that we are all “the least of these,“ saved by grace.
Here are some of the ways we have been making a difference this past year:
- This year we baptized 4 new believers and welcomed 24 new members into our church family including 6 new children or youth.
- Every year we offer free summer programs to teach neighborhood children the gospel. Last summer we offered a free week-long Art Camp and a free week-long Vacation Bible School.
- Every Tuesday night, and the last Sunday of every month, we provide worship, preaching, and a hot meal to 50-70 homeless friends and neighbors in our community.
- Sarah’s Hope Food Pantry now provides food assistance to more than 150 households each month.
- The Freeman St. Boutique offers free clothes and personal hygiene supplies to anyone with a need.
- This year we renovated our three main children’s classrooms, so they would be safe, clean, and fun for our families.
We can only operate by your generosity
These numbers also illustrate something else: First Christian Church of Oceanside truly is a charity. We regularly provide for the needs of hurting friends in our community. And like any charity, we operate on donations. Without the generosity of your time and money, we simply cannot do what God has called us to do. Like any good charity, we make every effort to spend wisely, to make the biggest possible impact for the sake of the whole gospel. I hope that diligence shows.
Please pray about how God is calling you to give
Jenell and I first visited FCC two years ago this month. We stayed because we are passionate about the work to which God has called this church. We prayed about it sincerely, and felt God calling us here. Because we feel called, we give our time and our money toward this work.
I suspect you feel called here too. If so, please take time this month to sincerely pray about what amount of time and money God may be calling you to give over the next year, from July 1, 2017 through June 30, 2018 (our fiscal year). If you are married, pray with your spouse about this decision. I strongly believe that God leads couples to make important decisions in agreement.
Please make your pledge by May 31st
If you receive a pledge card in the mail from us, you can fill it out and send it back in the reply envelope. Or you can go to www.fccoceanside.org/give and make your pledge there. During the month of June, the FCC board will tally your pledges and use it to set our budget for the 2017/2018 fiscal year.
I want to end by saying thank you. It is truly inspiring and humbling to be part of this church. What we accomplish by God’s grace every day is nothing short of a miracle, and you are part of that!
God bless you,
Jason Coker, Pastor