I was introduced to the ministry of Calvary Baptist Church when I started attending the Calvary Baptist Day School in 6th grade. It was during my time at CBDS that I heard the message of the gospel and was invited to put my faith in Christ. I also was exposed to scripture and worship in a way I had not experienced previously.
Through my friendships at school, I started attending youth group at Calvary. I was drawn to the youth staff’s love for God and for the students in the youth group. It was all so dynamic and appealing. Admittedly I prayed “the sinner’s prayer” many times during my 6th and 7th grade years at CBDS, but when I began to pray the prayer at youth camp the summer before my 8th grade year I heard the still, small voice of the Lord confirm my salvation and encourage me to reach out to those who did not know Him.
It was at this point that I started to see my heart change: I became much more aware of my sin, I had a hunger for God’s word, I had a desire to serve, I had a desire to share my faith. I thank God for the men and women who poured into me at Calvary during some of my most formative years. I was discipled by some of the Godliest people I have ever met. There are too many to name, but these men and women taught me the Bible, prayed for and with me, counseled me, encouraged me, corrected me, encouraged me to memorize scripture, modeled Godly marriages, and so much more.
Through the youth choir, I was exposed to missions and ministry. It was during a trip to NYC with Vertical Generation (Sound Foundation in my day), that God gripped my heart for urban ministry. He pulled back the veil from my selfish heart and showed me the needs of those around me: physical, social, and spiritual. He also showed me that – contrary to my belief that pastors and missionaries were the only people that God used – He wanted to use my ordinary life for His extraordinary purpose.
I was hooked on ministry and there was no going back. This trip to NYC was the spark that God used to start a fire in me for serving Him by serving the “the least of these.” It took many years for my theology to catch up to my ministry where I could realize that Jesus looked upon my lowly state when I was impoverished and imprisoned by my sin and traded his riches for my poverty.
When I went away to college, I never envisioned landing back in Winston-Salem or at Calvary. I saw myself invested in the inner part of some large city. And in fact, I did spend a year after college living in the inner-city of Chicago through a missions program. But God had different plans for me.
In a divine full circle season of life, God opened a door for me to come back to Winston-Salem and serve on staff at Calvary in the area of urban ministry. I had the privilege of helping the church that had invested so much into my life be invested in our own city with gospel intentionality. I spent many months getting to know the city in which I grew up but didn’t really know. I met with ministers, non-profit leaders, and lay people who were actively involved in local ministry to understand what was already happening in Winston-Salem and where the Church at large—and our church in particular—could fill in the gaps.
Through this time of learning and listening, Calvary launched our local missions initiative called Love Winston-Salem which included Bring It In donation drives, Community Serve summer missions week, Christmas for the City and many other ways that the members of Calvary were seeking to be faithful in loving their neighbors and sharing Jesus with them.
We focused on two particular neighborhoods where we wanted to grow roots deep down into the soil of these communities so that we could prayerfully have a more significant impact. In these two neighborhood (Southside and Kimberley Park) and later into Davie County, we were able to establish a presence through school partnerships, tutoring ministries, and non-profit partnerships. We would eventually have a church presence in the Southside community and in Davie County.
My time on staff were some of the most memorable and meaningful years of my life. It was during this time that I met my husband and later wewelcomed our first child. It was where I met some of my most treasured friends. It’s where I was launched to serve not just locally, but internationally as well. But most of all, it was where my faith became rooted deeper and deeper into the gospel because of the faithful preaching of God’s word. Sitting under Mark Corts’ preaching in grade school as well as Al Gilbert and Will Toburen’s teaching and later Rob Peters as an adult, I grew immeasurably in my faith.
For all these gifts, I will forever be eternally grateful to Calvary Baptist Church. Rejoicing in God’s goodness for 100 years of faithful gospel ministry; my life is one of the countless lives that has been changed by the gospel because of your faithfulness.