I found Hope when I was searching for the next chapter in my life. I had one more year before I graduated college and really had no long-term direction. I had a friend’s family that lived in Memphis and when they went home they invited me to join them. They invited me to a Saturday night service, and at the time it was called The Stirring. Immediately I knew something was different about this church. Not just the living room feel wherever you went, but the people felt like real people. I did not grow up at church, but I was in love with Christ. I personally was skeptical about churches, but Hope was different. My family would feel comfortable walking in to this church if I ever got the chance to invite them. Because of that immediate connection I began to see Hope as my extended family. I fell in love with Hope from a far. The summer following my first few visits at Hope, my Memphis family invited me to intern with Hope’s Student Ministry.
During that summer God not only broke my heart for youth, but specifically the youth of Hope Church. Even though he broke my heart, He was also mending it towards my future bride. You see, that same summer there was another youth leader by the name of Julie. Julie was college bound, ironically enough, to the same college from which I would be graduating. Much like the atmosphere at Hope, she was warm, welcoming, and attractive. That’s a good place to say AMEN! After that summer, I added a church ministry minor to my degree and spent as much time with Julie as I could. I knew then that I would go in to ministry and that Julie would be a part of my future as well.
Fast forward to today. Julie and I have been married for eight years and we each have one “mini-me.” I worked seven years as one of the Jr. High Directors at Hope and have now served the last five years as the Director of Hope 4 Kids. Hope is not just my church, it is not just my family, it represents the author’s hand at work in my life. God used Hope to raise my bride in her faith, as well as poured into her family’s faith during the many joys and sorrows we have experienced over the years. God used Hope to call me out of my major, to major in a greater story. God used Hope to equip me to care for others the way it has been doing for the last 30 years.
What does Hope mean to me? It means everything, my ministry, my wife, my kids, my life. It all began because Pastor Craig got together with some great people and decided that some people have given up on church but not on God. Here’s to the next 30 years, as well as the next person who will walk through our doors, become family, and forever be changed by God’s love through Hope Church.