Tonight, we turn the calendar’s page to another year. It’s hard to believe that the year 2011 is just around the corner. I remember when the George Orwell book 1984was a futuristic tale, and when the movie 2001: A Space Odysseywas distant-future science fiction. Now it seems like both of those dates are ancient past.
Much has happened in 2010; some good, some not so good. I heard two different people from the Shelby Crossings faith family say in the last week that the past year has been the hardest year of their lives. So many within our church have lost dear family members in the past year, and others have faced relational and emotional difficulties that have almost been too much to bear.
Living in the worst economic times since the Great Depression, many of us have faced financial troubles and job transitions that have made 2010 a year we’d like to forget. As most of you know, our church has not been immune to those financial pressures, but the Lord has been faithful and we’ve been able to hang in there month to month, as we’ve gotten our financial house in order.
More than that, we have also had the privilege of making significant contributions to mission and ministry causes outside of our own church needs. As we look back on a tough year, I wanted to celebrate some of the good things we were able to be a part of because of our investment into God’s kingdom work in our community and around the world.
Did you know that our church gave more than $25,000 to missions and benevolence causes in 2010? Part of those funds went to support our missionaries to France and Israel, who were home with us a few weeks back. We also invested in international mission opportunities in Swaziland, Rwanda, Haiti, Guatemala, Thailand and Australia, as well as in Oklahoma and New York.
Last summer, our church reached out to the children of Haiti to provide the funding to build an orphanage there, in partnership with the Global Orphan Project. We are anticipating hearing word of the completion of that orphanage soon, and we will continue to support those children, along with others from Uganda in the years ahead.
Closer to home, our investment in missions has included support of the Old Firehouse homeless shelter in downtown Birmingham, where we have provided an ice machine, lighting, and meals for the men there on a monthly basis. Dozens of volunteers have given of their time each month to feed those less fortunate through this ministry. Likewise, many of you have faithfully served in our Angel Food ministry, which provides “grocery relief” to our Shelby County neighbors, and in our “Dough-Nation” bread ministry, which distributes food each week to the needy of our community.
Add to that the assistance our church has provided to several families in our area who have experienced emergency needs; ministry projects such as the roofing of a house through Metro Changers in Birmingham, and the tutoring of children in a Montevallo after-school program; and, a wonderful outreach to the children of our community through our Vacation Bible School, which impacted the lives of nearly 140 kids.
No doubt, we could have done more–and we will, in 2011. But it’s healthy sometimes to stop and count our blessings, to look back and celebrate what God has done–and He has done great things in and through the life of Shelby Crossings in the past twelve months. Only heaven will tell of the return on the investments we’ve made as we’ve laid up our treasures in heaven.
Let me say a big “thank you” to each of you for partnering with us at The Church at Shelby Crossings to touch our world with the gospel, and to reach out to the lost, the needy, the orphan and the widow with the love of Jesus Christ. I can’t wait to see what He has in store for us in the year ahead as we are faithful in the opportunities He gives us.
I look forward to seeing you at Shelby Crossings on Sunday as we gather in His name to celebrate His goodness. It’s going to be a great day, and I hope you’ll kick off 2011 by worshiping with us. May the Lord bless you and your family with a safe and Happy New Year!