The Bridge: Timeless Truths for Our Time” – Coming off of a summer studying Everyday Church by Tim Chester and Steve Timms, we hope to build momentum as we bridge the gap between what it looks like to be a gospel centered community and to consider how we as individuals live that out. There are many metaphors that are used throughout scripture. Have you ever thought what it means to be a child of God? Why does Jesus always talk about the Kingdom of Heaven? These questions and more will be explored in our class. Join us Sunday mornings at 9 a.m. as we explore these Timeless Truths for Our Time.
Last year, my dad passed away, on August 6th. Even though that was a hard moment it was a blessed moment too. The reason that it was a blessing, was because God made a miracle.
Before he passed away I was talking on the phone with my younger sister, Hilda, in that moment my sister was crying. She didn’t know what she needed to do, so I told her “Hilda, give the phone to my dad. Put the phone in his ear.” So my sister put the phone in my dad’s ear and I told my dad, “Daddy, you know that I love you and I love you so much. But remember God loves you more, God loves you more than me, and he give his life for you.” At that moment my sister started to read John 11, chapter 11 verses 25 and 26. It says, Jesus’ says “I am the resurrection and the life he who believes with life even though he dies and whoever lives and believes in Me will never die.’ Do you believe this?”
In that moment my dad, even though he wastired, he put aside all his hesitation and looked at my sister and said, “Lord, I believe you”. He repeated and repeated it. “Señor creo Señor creo”, Lord I believe you, Lord I believe you. After a few moments he was sleeping again. I told my sister, “you see I told you, my daddy is saved. Don’t be worried, don’t be worried. My dad is in God’s hands. He believes in Jesus. It’s the only thing he needed to do in this world. So, Hilda put all your trust in Jesus too.” And she wasn’t pleased. After that my dad passed away. And I explained to my family: “He responded, my dad responded. ‘Señor creo, Señor creo!’ Lord, I believe I believe. For that reason, we see my dad’s body here, but he is not here! I told everybody he’s not here! He is with God. We want to put his body in the earth, but his soul is with Jesus. That is what the Bible says, so don’t be worried about him, because he is a believer. I looked at everybody and they said nothing. No one said anything. I started to worship God with a couple songs to Psalms, like Psalm 23, like that. I was singing when we put his body inside, and I don’t see anybody. But a miracle was happening around me. Everybody was hugging and there were tears. Everybody was saying forgive. Around me everybody was trying to say forgive, forgive, forgive. Our relationships that were broken… in that moment there was unity. Reconciliation was in my Dad’s family it was beautiful. It was so beautiful.
My story begins with my upbringing, my background. I am from a one-hundred percent Italian family. Being Italian means that your faith is to be Catholic. It is your identity or I’ve been told it’s my license in life.
I saw a flyer up at Wheeling High School and they were looking for people to help with running some tech for a show. So I built up the courage and I went. Through that opportunity I met a friend, Steve. Steve would invite me to church or to youth group many times, but going back to my time as a Catholic, what I had been taught and trained was to go to anything that wasn’t Catholic was bad and wrong. God was working on my heart, softening it and three years later, I finally told Steve “Hey I’ll go with you.”
Fast forward a couple of weeks and Steve’s parents, Wayne and Terry, offered to our friend Joel and I, to sleep over on a Saturday night. Now this was the Saturday night before homecoming, so it was very convenient and easy. One of the things that his parents said to Joel and I was “If you sleep over Saturday night we go to church early on Sunday, and we really want you to come with us”. I started to build trust with them, so I agreed to go with them.
It was really interesting because this was the first time that I had been to a church experience where it was engaging and very very real. I say real because when the pastor came up to the to the pulpit he opened his Bible, then he said “please join me in opening your Bibles.” What really stuck out to me starting there was, wow this is a community of people that love each other and care for for each other. It was just another way that God was building on my heart that the Christian walk is real and it’s alive.
One weekend in October we needed to dig a hole for the new sign that is in front of our church, so a couple of us guys and girls, went and helped dig the hole for the sign. The night after we dug the hole it rained and filled the hole. Steve being a very handy guy and involved in the church, said “hey Jerry come with me. We’re going to throw a sump pump in the hole. We’re gonna get that water out of there”. This was an important moment for me because I had started coming to church, going to youth group, hearing about God’s love, and how there is a savior that you need.
As I was sitting at the hole, looking up at the front of the church at the cross, and putting all this together. I looked back at that hole and realized if I don’t accept this Savior, this God I’m going to go into this hole and I’m going to go to hell. At that moment that hole became very real, it became hell for me per se, and I knew that I needed to rise out of that hole and accept God’s free gift of salvation.
That was around October 22nd 1998, I accepted Jesus Christ as my savior. One of the things that I have continued to struggle with, which I mentioned at the beginning, was what’s my identity. Who is Jerry? When you are in Christ, when you are saved, you cannot hold anything back. You need to be one hundred percent on board to follow him for your life. I feel that this is one of these things that as we grow and we learn more about the Bible, more about what God has for us. We start to realize these things that we have hidden in our hearts, how we need to trust in the Lord stronger with them each and every day.