I am writing this letter on behalf of Geri and myself to give thanks and glory to God for the grace he gave during our years in Athens, and to encourage all of you with reminders of the many ways God has used you over the years. The Athens Church of Christ holds a treasured place in our hearts, and the years we spent with you were a priceless gift.
Many times in scripture, God calls His people to remember all He has done in their lives. As David confirms in the passage below, if we were to seek to share every blessing, it would be more than we could express:
Many, O LORD my God, are the wonders you have done.
The things you planned for us no one can recount to you;
were I to speak and tell of them, they would be too many to declare.
– Psalm 40:5
During the years we were with you (2003-2011), it was wonderful to watch the church continue to grow as a close-knit family. Christians who had lived in Athens for many years continued to support and encourage one another in faith. We also saw a number of families move into Athens from other cities, and how special it was to bring those people into the Athens family.
God guided the church to purchase a building that became a great place of worship and fellowship. Even when our original plans for a building on Timothy Road fell through, God came up with another plan for us. He even provided the funds we needed to see our building project through to completion. What a lesson in faith that whole story was for all of us!
God blessed our campus ministry. Many students came to the University of Georgia from churches all around the country, and many more were converted to Christ.
The church appointed elders to help shepherd the congregation.
During those years, God restored a closer fellowship among our sister churches in Georgia and in the Southeast. The healing and unity was, and is, a great blessing for our regional family of churches.
Our church hosted the Festival of Faith for the Southeast churches in February, 2010, and the International Campus Ministry Conference in 2012. We were able to serve, encourage, and inspire hundreds of disciples from around the country as they attended these events.
In partnership with other churches in the Southeast, we sent Jarrod and Stacey Robinson and a faithful mission team to plant a new church in Clemson, South Carolina.
I share these things with you in order to give glory to God, and to encourage you to see how God worked among you then, is doing so now, and always will, as you seek to serve him! My prayer for you is like the one Paul prayed for the beloved church in Philippi:
I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart; for whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me. God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus. And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God. -Philippians1:3-11