HOLD ON

For some of you, the end of 2016 was an exciting time and there is great joy and anticipation for what lies ahead in 2017. For others, we are not sure where 2016 went.  Life is beyond hectic and overwhelming staring into 2017. It is almost as if we are barely holding on.

That is where I find myself; holding on. This past summer my wife and I went to the doctor to discover the gender of our third child. What was supposed to be a joyful moment quickly turned to helplessness and fear. We learned of a severe abnormality inside our son’s brain that left the doctors with little hope that he would make it full term or have much quality of life if he did survive. In the uncertainty of that moment, I heard a still small voice from God that everything would be ok, just hold on.

Have you ever found yourself in these life moments where there are no answers? There is no other choice but to hold on. During these times, you try to pray for the best possible outcome, but hold on…is the better prayer for strength to accept the outcome of the roller coaster, also known as God’s will.

cj-tuttleAs I write this today, my son is two months old. He was diagnosed with a rare
developmental brain disorder, underwent brain surgery at 5 weeks old, but you would never know if you got to meet this cute boy.  He is thriving and defying the odds daily. The road ahead will be long, but we continue to hold on to God’s love and grace each day and cling to that still small voice from God that everything would be ok, just hold on.

I realize that not everything turns out the way we like. God’s will might not feel “ok”, or even right in the moment, but God’s plan is perfect and learning to accept that in times of trial is one of the hardest parts. My eyes and heart were opened to new layers of God’s love and grace during our time in hospital facilities as I watched other families hold on in their own unique circumstances.

I will never forget walking into Pod B at the NICU one morning and learning that a mother across from us was holding her daughter behind the curtain for what would be her last breaths in the next hour. I wanted to do something or say something to her, but what?

I could not stop thinking about this mother. I went to the hospital lobby the next day to meet a friend who was coming to visit. I saw the mother there waiting tensely in a wheel chair about to be discharged. I took that as a sign from God to speak. The conversation was brief, but what was most meaningful was being able to hold her hand and pray for God to hold on to her.

My prayer for you this new year is that you will hold on. Or perhaps that you would let God hold on to you. Hold on to the promise of Isaiah 43:2, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.”

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God knows what you are trudging through…difficult family relationships, rocky marriage, financial issues, job loss, struggles at work, daunting health diagnoses, aging parents, watching your children make poor decisions…HOLD ON. Trust that you are right where you are this year and that God earnestly wants to use you to bring hope and light to others in your life.

Ask God to put someone in your path this year that will hold your hand as a reminder of God’s love and presence in your life, and do not miss the opportunities to hold someone else’s hand, even if it is one of a stranger.

Hold your head high and hold on for what God has in store for you in 2017. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than we all ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

Be Encouraged,

Nathan Tuttle

Minister to Students, First Baptist Church,Wilmington, NC

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CELEBRATING IMMEASURABLY MORE: KAREN REFUGEE MINISTRY AND GPS

As I start my 39th year of ministry at First Baptist it might seem that nothing new could be done. How big God is should never be doubted. What God has in store for all of us should never be questioned.  These past few years have been amazing with the new work that God has allowed me and First Baptist to join Him in. Five years ago there were no Burmese Karen Refugee ministry and only a very limited college ministry. God has opened the door wide in these two areas of mission work and it has filled me and many First Baptist members with so much joy and purpose. gps-beach

The last two nights were very exciting for GPS, the college ministry of First Baptist.  Earlier this semester at UNCW, over 247 college students filled out “I am interested in missions” cards at the UNCW Involvement Fair.  GPS stands for Go Passionately Serve and First Baptist’s GPS had a booth at the Involvement Fair.  Already this year, 54 UNCW students have helped serve meals at our Tuesday night Feeding the Homeless Ministry, 34 students have help our Burmese Karen Refugee children and teenagers with their homework on Wednesday night during CrossTraining, 62 came to our GPS Masonboro Island kickoff cookout Adventure, and 26 have come to our Sunday night Bible Study/Worship nights.  It has been very exciting to see these college students serve God by following Jesus example of welcoming the refugees, feeding the homeless and worshiping God.

phil-4This past week a great group of 35 GPS students not only fed the homeless on Tuesday night, but went around to their tables, sat with them, listened to their stories, asked for their prayer requests and needs.  After all the tables and chairs have been packed away, we had a tremendous prayer circle and it was very moving to hear both the GPS students pray but also several of the homeless men join our prayer circle and pray with all their hearts.  The very next day at Wednesday’s CrossTraining, a group of 34 Burmese Karen Refugees children and teenagers were joined one-on-one with 21 GPS students to help them with their homework.  We have several Karen refugees who have just come to Wilmington this summer and are beginning from  “square one” learning English and doing their homework.  Watching these pairs of children who for many were living in Thailand in very poor living and educational circumstances only six months to two years ago, and GPS students from UNCW, studying, reading, and laughing together is terrific.phil-2ra

An added blessing this year that God has provided is a new GPS college students who was a 1st grade refugee from Vietnam when she came to America 12 years ago to settle with her family of mother, father and seven brothers and sisters in the Greensboro area.  “Ra” is a student at UNCW and signed up for GPS at the fall UNCW involvement fair.  She came to help one of the Burmese families who has two teenage girls move into a new apartment, setting up their beds, arranging their bedroom furniture and clothes.  Ra also went shopping with one of the 15-year-old Karen girls to pick our a new dress to wear to a recent Burmese wedding that was held at the Activities Center.  It will be an amazing example for all of our Burmese Karen kids to see  Ra who came to USA just like them when she was a child and now is a student at UNCW.

God is truly doing IMMEASURABLY MORE in the lives of both the Burmese Karen children, teenagers, mothers, fathers and the lives of our GPS students from UNCW.

Blog By: Don Vigus

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#immeasurablymoreFBC     #becauselovedoes

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VISIT: http://www.becauselovedoes.org

GOD NEVER INTENDED FOR ANY OF US TO LIVE THE CHRISTIAN LIFE ALONE

God never intended for any of us to live the Christian life alone.  God has given us a community of believers to share our journeys with. This community has changed my life through my Sunday School class (Route 3:5-6) who over the years has become my family.  We started almost 7 years ago as a group of young adults meeting for Bible study during Sunday School. We all got along well, but one particular Sunday stands out to me as the turning point when this class became not just my friends but my family.

About 5 years ago, we were having a discussion about our brokenness when our teacher, Kristen had us literally bring our brokenness to the table.  We wrote down ways that we were feeling broken or ‘not enough’.  We then put them on the ground in front of us, knelt in front of them, and we prayed for each other and our broken areas of our lives.  As simple as this sounds, it was so powerful!  There were tears, there was relief, and most importantly, there was REALness!

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Shortly after, the name Route 3:5-6 was created after the verse Proverbs 3:5-6 which says “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path.”  The “Route” part was added in front as a symbol of the journey that we are on together.  Route 3:5-6 has shown me what it means to be a follower of Christ, to love others as Jesus loves, and to have compassion on those around us.

We all have come from such different walks of life and are in different seasons of our lives, but the best part is we have loved and embraced each other just as we are as we’re walking this journey together. We’ve laughed- a lot, celebrated new babies, rejoiced and celebrated the freedom from prison of one of our own, cried as we had to say goodbye to those moving on, held strong through tough transitions in the life of our class, and even mourned the tragic loss of one of our ‘family’ almost 2 years ago.  I am thankful that God keeps doing immeasurably more than we ask or imagine.

Blog By: Lindsey Reiner

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#immeasurablymoreFBC

WHAT LENGTHS WOULD YOU GO TO FOR SOMEONE YOU LOVE?

In the blistering hot weather this past Saturday members of First Baptist gathered with others from area churches to share Christ’s love in building a wheel chair ramp and painting the inside of the house that will soon be a dream come true for a precious family we have come to love. Margaret Johnson and Sandy Smith share their reflections of this special day below.

There is no better way to spend a Saturday morning than sweating for love with church friends. It has always been  great to be able to work on a Habitat for Humanity House with folks from First Baptist, but last Saturday we enjoyed meeting and working alongside new friends from Scotts Hill Baptist Church, Winter Park Baptist and several others from churches in the 384076624_1d405612c3_bWilmington Baptist Association. All of us from different churches came together for one purpose; to show Christ’s love by helping build a house for Tameka, Kamara and Joshua. Some of us painted on the inside (and yes, there was no air conditioning) while some of the men worked on a wheelchair ramp for Joshua who has cerebral palsy. Everyone was wringing wet, but we were all so happy to play a small part in helping this family’s dream come true. As if the day couldn’t be any better it was made extra special when together we celebrated the birthday of Tameka. The celebration was filled with hugs, laughter, birthday cake and singing loudly, ‘Happy Birthday.’  What a BLESSING!- By: Margaret Johnson


When Stephen and I arrived at the Habitat For Humanity House at Chestnut and 11th around 9:30 am we found Lisa cooling off under a tree with a bottle of water.  She had been painting inside and needed a quick break because she said it was “hot as fire in that house”.  Men and women were inside painting with only two fans blowing hot air around.  Out back were men working on building the ramp for Joshua.  They were in the shade, but with a 110-degree heat index that day, it didn’t really help. So Lisa and I got in my car and went to buy 2 more fans. It’s amazing how much those fans helped circulate the air.

When Tameka and the kids arrived to help, she saw how hot everyone was so she immediately went to get more water.  Margaret remembered we had Gatorade’s and waters leftover back at the Activity Center, so we jumped in my car and off we were to find the largest cooler we had that would fit in my car. Once filled with drinks and ice we headed back to the work site where everyone was so grateful for an iced cold drink!  Just as we cooled down a sweet couple showed up with lunch.  They were from Scotts Hill Baptist Church.  They’re sandwiches, chips aclasped-hands-541849_960_720nd sweet tea hit the spot!  Last week was Tameka’s (the new homeowner) birthday.  I had made a cake and we sang Happy Birthday. I really think that might be her best birthday ever!  Each one of those people that came out Saturday could have stayed home.  They knew how hot it was going to be and that the work ahead wouldn’t be easy. But each one sacrificed BECAUSE LOVE DOES.  I saw the love of Jesus poured out this past Saturday. Truly the hands and feet of Jesus working side by side to help another sister in Christ.  It was pretty cool and I am grateful to be a part of every hot moment! – By Sandy Smith

Sound fun? This coming Saturday, August 6th is our last day to finish the final details to make this dream come true. We need people to help paint inside and to finish the wheelchair ramp and porches. Join us at Chestnut & North 11th Street at 8:00am. Cold drinks and a terrific lunch will be provided by the FBC Friendship Class. 

#whyIserve #becauselovedoes #immeasurablymoreFBC

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FBC Students Giving Their Lives Away in Guatemala This Week

Lucy Womble, a Junior at Laney High School shares why she loves serving this week in Guatemala.

“This is my second time to go on the Guatemala mission trip.  LucyI’m so glad to be spending it with my wonderful youth family. The first day was kind of rough because we had almost no sleep and we traveled all day. We arrived in Guatemala and got to the mission house safely after a bumpy ride on very poor roads.  Day one on the work site was great! Even though we only had one drill for half the day and were short some of our supplies, my team built one house and started another. I played and tried to communicate with the children there, who were so cute and sweet. At night, we gathered together and listened to stories about some of the adults’ journey in their faith. On day two, my team finished the second house and started another at a different work site. I met the family there and again I played with the children in between working on the house. By the end of the day, we finished our third house. Yesterday was our free day and went zip lining I was so excited. Tomorrow we finish our houses and dedicate them to God. I love Guatemala so much and I feel so blessed to be able to have the opportunity to come back and to help change the lives of people in this community.”- Lucy Womble
#whyIserve   #becauselovedoes  #immeasurablymoreFBC

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PAPER CROSSES AND WALKING ON WATER

FBC Mom shares how God continues to do Immeasurably More through the Children’s Ministry of First Baptist Church. 

Let me start by saying you never know what children will say or do…especially mine! However, they each have had their moments when I have been blessed knowing what  they are learning from our church. One afternoon we were walking back to my parent’s house after the 4th of July parade in Southport, there were several routes we could take to get back to the house. It was such a gorgeous day and the road alongside the river is always so scenic. I remember saying to my family “Let’s walk back to Robert and Beck-Beck’s house on the water”. My oldest son, Mason, who was 5 at the time, said “Mama, you know that only Jesus can walk on water”. Clearly, this was something he learned in Sunday School or CrossTraining Kids hat seemed to literally resonate in his 5-year-old mind. Continue reading