The following stories of how God has touched people’s lives were submitted for the Tenth Anniversary celebration of the church.
The year was 2005. The place was Sly Park. Touchstone was having a baptism and barbecue, and I had come to follow the Lord the previous Easter. Naturally, I wanted to be cleansed through baptism. Then the panic came! I realized I had foot surgery scheduled the week before the baptism. I told Gary, and he said, “Don’t worry. We will make it happen.” So, on that day, into the lake I went. I was carried into the water by Daryle, Bridget and Ed, and it was so awesome! Thank you, God.
Mike and Theresa
We were a shy couple who successfully ducked in and out of the big church unnoticed for seven years. It was the perfect place for us… or so we thought. God called us to move with this new church plant called Touchstone Christian Fellowship. We were not excited about a smaller church, but we were obedient. God stretched us and grew us mightily. We began to serve and connect with the church body. Then, the church body turned into our church family. We went from just sitting in church with a bunch of believers to living life together with our new church family. We are blessed beyond measure to be a part of such a sweet fellowship.
My Touchstone story starts about 10 years ago. My friend, Sue, and I had been friends for many years, and we both became Christians about the same time. Afterward, I went one direction; Sue went another. She was so happy in her choice. I, on the other hand, was not. She came into my ceramic shop after a retreat and had that “Godly glow.” You could just see Him in her. Then, she came in after a women’s Table Talk gathering. I saw the same thing again. This went on for several months. I was so jealous of her! I finally convinced myself that I needed to go to church with her. I asked if I could come to Touchstone and check it out.
When the sermon was being preached, I felt like Jeff was speaking to me. I bowed my head and thanked God for bringing me home. When I left church that day, I had God in my heart because I asked him in. Thank you so much, Jeff and Touchstone, for being there when I needed God in my life. I am here to stay.
Bill and Judy
We started church shopping four years ago. My friend said to try Touchstone. Our first day of church shopping was our last. Thanks to Jeff and all the welcoming people, we have a new church home.
Touchstone Christian Fellowship has been a huge part of my walk with the Lord. It has also been an important part of my family’s journey. As a child and young adult, I knew who God was, but did not have a personal relationship with Him, or a true understanding of what His love and mercy meant for me. I began attending Warehouse Christian Ministries during my last year in college, specifically the “42” service where Jeff taught. It was during this time that I began to know God in a new and wonderful way. I also began to understand what it meant to lean on Him. I had never heard anyone teach like Jeff, and it was life-changing. The direction of my life here on Earth was forever changed. During that same year, my husband, Jered, and I were married. Touchstone opened its doors just one month after we said, “I do.” Over the years, I’ve seen my in-laws commit their lives to Jesus and become part of the Touchstone family, I’ve seen my husband get baptized and grow in his faith, I’ve seen my two children dedicated to the Lord, and I’ve learned volumes about God’s love and forgiveness. Our Touchstone family has been an immense source of encouragement, discipleship, accountability and fellowship.
As I reflect on the last 10 years, there are a few really special moments that come to mind:
- In 2005, my mother-in-law, Sue, had recently had surgery on her foot and couldn’t get it wet. After committing her life to Jesus that spring, she was determined to get baptized – even with the foot challenge. Watching Jered, Ed and Daryle carry her down to the water was so amazing.
- I often think fondly of the old days at the Hamilton Street Community Center before we had the nice mother’s room. I used to stand outside on the deck with Katie in a baby carrier and sway back and forth, trying to listen to Jeff’s teaching through the open back door. I’m so thankful that I was a believer when I became a parent. I remember the day she was dedicated. I have the sweetest picture of Jodie holding Katie in his arms. They were smiling at each other. I remember thinking to myself how amazing it was to see little Katie in this “gentle giant’s” arms. A few years ago, her class went on a field trip to the state capital, and there was Katie in his arms again, but this time with a gavel in her hand!
- Little Cameron fell asleep during church every Sunday like clockwork until he was about a year old. The first time I dropped him off in the toddler room, he wanted no part of it and cried the entire time. Art was volunteering in the baby room that day, so Cameron associated the horrific drop off with Art’s face and would run and cry every time he saw him. For months, Art tried to win Cameron over with no success. Finally, Art and Cameron made peace over a handful of green goldfish crackers. Cameron began saving his green ones for Art and bringing them to church each week in a bag. Their bonding moment over goldfish has turned into a very special relationship. Cameron now gives hugs to Art every time he sees him, and to Mike’s chagrin, Cameron cheers intensely for Kevin Harvick. It may not seem like a big deal, but it’s amazing to see the tears well up in Art’s eyes when he talks about how the experience of serving in the toddler room that day changed him. It’s another reminder to me of how God can use such a simple thing to challenge us and then bless us.
- I’ve seen the lives and the hearts of so many friends change as they become part of the fellowship at Touchstone.
- I’ve been encouraged, supported, and stretched by many of the leaders in the women’s ministry, specifically, Melodie and Sharon. When life’s circumstances challenged me, these women impacted my decisions always pointed me to my Father.
- Shirley’s worship nourishes my soul.
These are just a few things I can think of about my Touchstone family.
About a year before I retired from civil service, I began to pray for God’s direction on what to do after retirement to make my life meaningful during the next phase of my life. I don’t recall the timing of all this, but here is my story:
The fence blew down around my house during a severe windstorm, and the thought came to mind to add a gate to one side of my house large enough for a truck to enter the back yard. Just in case. Sometime later, I sensed it was time to leave the church that I had attended for about 17 years. At that time, a tree needed to be cut down in my front yard, and I found out from the tree trimmer that my friend, Barbara, was attending Touchstone Christian Fellowship. I thought, “Cool.” Barbara was the first person I had met at my old church, so we ended up driving to Touchstone at Hamilton Street Park together for a while. Some other women from the old church were there as well.
One Sunday, the request was made for a location to house the Touchstone Tales Puppet Theater trailer in an area where it could be locked up inside a property for insurance purposes. The message from the Holy Spirit was so intense that I didn’t hear a word Pastor Jeff taught that Sunday (sorry Jeff). I told Pastor Steve that I had the space with a lock that Touchstone Tales could use if there was nothing closer to the church office. Before long, that trailer was stored in my back yard. Soon, I received calls from Sharon or Steve to check inside the trailer to see what supplies were needed before the next show. I don’t recall how this all came together, but I became the organizer of the crafts and volunteers at the puppet shows, and I am joyfully fulfilling this task that God has given me.
Once all this was established, the church had a need for someone to put together craft parts for the teachers to use in their Sunday school classes 3-K, 1-3, and 4-5 every other month. I jumped at the opportunity because I love making crafts. I also liked sending emails to the teachers about the crafts that would be available for them. Eventually, the Sunday school curriculum changed to include activities to further motivate the children to learn what the Bible taught them during classroom time. What was once a task every other month then became a weekly task at the church office. Last but not least, I have been able to serve on the Touchstone prayer team and continue in Bible studies and women’s gatherings–true blessings.
So what Touchstone did for me was to allow me to respond to the direction of the Holy Spirit in such a way as to use the talents I learned throughout my life for God’s work–crafting, organizing, working with volunteers, sending emails, and developing new friendships. I even connected with cousins of four generations all over the world on Facebook (I hadn’t joined until the need came up for prayer at retreat last year). I had a window of opportunity to go to Israel, and I am now writing a book to pass on to my cousins about how God touched my life along my journey here on Earth–even when I was a prodigal. I am so grateful that I listened to the call of the Holy Spirit and for Touchstone.
For me, worship at Touchstone isn’t about being a rock star, or playing the latest hit music, or impressing anybody with my mad skillz. Touchstone worship is about our congregation, the body of Christ coming together as one to sing to our Lord. Touchstone is blessed with a worship leader whose heart desires the things of the Lord and strives to bring forth music that will impact lives and bring us to a place where our hearts are prepared for the sermon. So much prayer and study is done as Shirley chooses the songs we do each week. It’s not uncommon for people to come up after the service to tell us how much a song spoke to them, or how it was just what they needed to hear. I don’t take for granted how blessed we are to have Shirley lead us through the process each week, challenging us to be better, and accepting us when we aren’t that great.
Being a worship team member is a tremendous amount of work. There are weekday rehearsals, learning new songs every week, schlepping heavy music gear to and fro. It’s a small team of volunteers with jobs and families and busy lives, so we are often stretched to our limits serving week in and week out. Then, there’s the last-minute practice at home on Saturday night that goes a little later than you were hoping it would, only to show up early to church Sunday morning to try and rehearse the songs one last time. Many times, I’ve walked on stage wishing I knew how some part of a song goes or longing for a couple minutes to work a part out. That’s maybe the most special time as a worship team member. Right there, you have to give it over to the Lord, praying as you climb the steps: “Lord, I don’t know how the bridge goes, but here I am, use me.” Then you hear the drummer count us in, and that’s where we all come together as one body and sing praises to our Father. All the struggle is forgotten when we look out and see God’s family drawing closer to Him through the music and singing. What a special moment Sunday mornings are, seeing hands reaching up to the Lord, hearing the congregation singing out praises, eyes closed worshiping our Father.
The worship team, of course, develops a special bond given how much time we spend together. We pray for each other during the week, we share in each other’s life trials and struggles, we encourage and challenge each other to be better, and we lean on each other’s strengths to carry certain parts of the music. The Touchstone worship team is like my extended family, and we have a unique relationship. It’s unique in the way that we can’t do what we do without each other. It’s like the scripture in Corinthians about the hand telling the eye, “I don’t need you,” and the head telling the feet, “I don’t need you.” I always liken that to the worship team. The bass player doesn’t say to the drummer, “I don’t need you,” and so on. We are truly a team united in Christ seeking to worship Him.
Given how much this team has raised the quality of music offered at Touchstone over the last ten years, I’m really excited to hear us in another ten years.
About one and a half years ago, I was in a serious car accident. That one day changed my life. My vehicle was hit head on, and I was badly injured. I was taken by ambulance to the hospital, and while I was still awake, God directed me in whom to reach out to. I asked hospital staff to contact a great Christian friend of mine. She then contacted the person who sends out email prayer requests on our church’s prayer chain. Immediately, prayers began to flow among our loving church family.
I remained in critical condition, placed in a coma, and put on a respirator for several weeks. Little did I know, everyone was praying for my healing. My church family was at my hospital bedside praying for me daily.
I was told that I came close to death several times, but God had other plans for me. I remember someone bringing the book, Jesus Calling, and reading it to me. Thank you, sister! I still read it daily. Another friend brought me a prayer journal, and I write in it to this day.
When I got a little better, another friend came to visit and brought her guitar. With her loving smile, she sang the most beautiful songs. I remember the sun shining and birds singing. Through her music and worship to the Lord, she comforted me, as well as other hospital patients and staff. I was so thankful to be alive, and that God had spared me. I still remember how scared I was when I was unable to breathe, but God calmed me and gave me peace.
When I got stronger, I remember seeing the smiles of my loving church family who came to visit me. I don’t remember a lot about my hospital stay. However, I do know God was there by my side. He took me on a journey, and I have never felt as close to Him as I did when I was in the hospital.
Once I was able to speak, I shared God’s glory with the hospital staff. I talked about my loving church family and the privilege of belonging to it. The staff told me they have never seen a church family come together as much as Touchstone did. So many people helped me in the weeks that followed, from women coming to my house and cleaning it, to making it accessible upon my return home, to loving hands that prepared meals and delivered them, and taking me to appointments. When I was strong enough to travel, they also took me to church on Sundays.
I know without the power of prayer and God by my side, I wouldn’t be here today. I will always be grateful to each and every one of you. I believe God still has more journeys for me to take with Him. Thank you Touchstone Christian Fellowship!