The word “gospel-centered” gets thrown around a lot these days. So I’m always looking for stories that convey what we mean when we talk about planting gospel-centered churches. This past week, God graced me by stirring Kaitie, a young woman in our church, to write the letter below.
I first met Kaitie almost six years ago when she moved to Omaha as a college freshman. She is now graduated, married to a young man she met in Coram Deo, and getting ready to move again to pursue God’s calling. Her letter aptly and narratively describes the “feel” of a gospel-centered church. I pray for many more letters like this – written not just to me, but to church planters all over North America who are building churches with “gospel DNA.”
Dear Faithful Friends of Jesus,
I’ve been a member of Coram Deo Church Community for about five years now. As my husband and I look ahead to an impending move to a new city, I want to look back and celebrate the work that God has done in me through the people of Coram Deo Church Community.
I was raised in a traditional Christian Japanese family culture that placed great value in career, financial security, and comfort. My parents sought after those idols and used them to further the education and success of their two daughters (my sister and me who are strategically four years apart). I love my parents for their sacrifices for me; however, they were often made at the expense of a truly gospel-centered family. I was also coming out of a Christian church that did little to challenge these priorities and seemed, frankly, effeminate and shallow.
It was during my freshman year at Creighton that I discovered the gospel in its simplest form during the Coram Deo study of Romans: I’m a terrible and broken sinner and I need a Savior. I was part of the same Missional Community for about four years; they loved and served me so well that I thought of them as my second family. I started meeting with a wise, godly older woman who mentored and loved me like her own daughter. I began investing in people who were the lowly and unlikely ones both at school and at inCOMMON and found myself to be no different than they were and just as much in need of the continual grace of the gospel. This led me to calling my religious and irreligious friends and classmates to repent and believe in the true freedom of Jesus.
The strong gospel-centered vision, mission, and theology of Coram Deo Church Community has significantly shaped my thinking to the point that the values instilled in me as a child seem almost foreign. Most recently, with setbacks of not succeeding in my professional career in the way I had expected, I have been forced to grapple with the fundamental truths of God as Father, God as Sovereign, and God as Good. I’m learning how to reject the idols of my family that they hold most dear, while learning to love my family better. I find myself, even after five years of repentance, at a climax in my story.
Thank you deeply, Coram Deo Church Community for your kindness and commitment to the power of the gospel. You will never be far from my thoughts and prayers and it is with great sadness that Micah and I must leave this community to go be and make disciples the way we’ve learned here.