by Kristen Pepe
As part of our 20th anniversary celebration, we’re reflecting on our church’s values through the stories and experiences of our Chets family.
Growing up I was pretty good at loving others. My parents set a great example showing me what it meant to love my neighbors and serve others. They were constantly helping those in need and finding opportunities to share Jesus with those around them. As I recognized how God’s love was changing my own life, I wanted to share that with everyone around me. But that’s where it ended. I loved and served those around me.
The moment anyone started talking about missions I had the, “Oh that’s cool for you. I’ll pray for you when you go but God hasn’t called me specifically” mentality. I thought, “I’ve got a mission field right here in the United States.” I laugh now thinking about how much I was missing.
Sure, I was kind to the “weird kid” at the lunch table, but I never considered the orphan kid in Haiti eating lunch without anyone to show him love. I prayed for my elderly neighbor who had cancer but didn’t consider the single mom in South Africa who was HIV positive. Without even knowing it, I was picking and choosing who I loved.
When I started attending Chets Creek Church in college, my perspective on loving all people and living on mission changed. I met people who were being the light of Jesus in their community and many of those same people were traveling overseas to share the same gospel message with people who’d never heard. I met people excited to go and be the hands and feet of Jesus to those who needed to know the love of Christ in Asia and Guatemala and all nations, just like the Great Commission commands us.
God began to change my heart. Yes, my mission field is my university, my neighborhood, and my workplace, but I could no longer ignore that it was more. It’s the students playing soccer and learning English in Honduras searching for a Savior. It’s the malnourished babies in Guatemala who need love and care. It’s the people being reached by the church plants that Chets supports. It’s the men, women, and children of the 31 places where Chets has sent mission teams. It’s the families that God has called out from our church to serve as occupational missionaries all across the world.
I finally began to understand what it meant to love all people. Not just those who are geographically close, not those who are convenient to love, but all people. I am so thankful to be a part of a church family that gets what it means to love God and love others.