Sunday, February 13, 2011

Joining The Body @ Willingdon!

    This post is a week late! The pace of life has really ramped up since I finally found a job at the end of Jan after 6 months of hard job-hunting, so I haven't had time to post as frequently as I used to over the last two weeks. I'm still in the process of settling into the pace and cycle that my work requires of me, but I'm hoping that once I do, I'll get back into the routine of posting as I once did. I definitely want to!

    Last Sunday was really eventful, as one of the family (see the 'Family Matters' post) got baptized, and both she and I became official members of Willingdon Church. Alison and I had ended up in the same 'Discovering Church Family' class that Willingdon offers as a prerequisite to membership, after missing the chance to get into the same class with Tim and Angie. But after finishing the class that began in mid-November, the day that we'd been looking forward to finally came around. Alison delivered her testimony and joined the Willingdon Church family through Baptism, and since I'd already been baptized, joined through Confession of Faith.

Early at Willingdon before Alison's baptism!
   Alison and I showed up early before service to collect our Membership Certificates, flower pins for New Members, and an invitation to a lunch reception with Pastor John at the end of the month that I'm really looking forward to! After that, Alison got baptized during the 10 AM service. The video of Alison's testimony was really touching to watch on the big screen; although I'd proof read it once before when she typed it out during a family hangout, it was really different watching it being spoken. Here's a photo of Alison just before she got baptized:

Alison getting baptized!
     As I watched Alison take the plunge, my mind went back to my own baptism in a river, at the end of a summer vacation in India. God has taken me on such an incredible journey and done so much since then. I can't believe it's been 11 years since that day. I dug through my photo albums and found this photo of a photo that I took while visiting my parents in Toronto last July:

My baptism photo!
     The two people standing with me in the photo below are what God used to draw me to Willingdon almost 3 years ago. They happened to be my next-door neighbours when I first moved to Vancouver in Fall 2006, renting a room in the basement suite of a family living close to SFU. I first met Rick Pearson one afternoon walking home from school, as I passed him mowing his lawn near the sidewalk. While chatting, we discovered that we were both Christians; Rick was fascinated that being Indian, my last name was 'Thomas' - he'd never met an Indian christian of my background before. He was even more excited when I explained the origin of my name in the context of Christianity in Southern India, and my own family history. He introduced me to his wife Barb as she came out to talk to him, and they invited me over for dinner a few weeks later.

Rick and Barb Pearson!
    The more I got to know and interact with Rick and Barb, the more I was struck by what I saw in this couple. Though they loved and welcomed me with a kindness, graciousness and hospitality that was surprising, I was even more intrigued by the way they treated each other. In all the time that have known and watched them, I have never seen them address or behave towards each other in a way that was anything but loving, gentle, polite and respectful. Never a harsh or unkind word or tone out of their mouths towards each other. I'd never seen a married couple like this before, younger or older. I guess it's significant that over the last four years since first meeting them, they have become my "gold standard", the example that I'm inspired by for the kind of relationship and marriage that I hope to have one day, if God wishes that to happen. They also became my 'parents-away-from-home', taking me under their wing and taking the time to listen, advise, encourage, sympathize, pray and comfort as my own parents would. I love them both very, very much. Incidentally, I was so happy that Rick ended up being the person that baptized Alison :)

So intrigued was I by this couple that I decided I had to have a look at the church they went to, as my high school friend Brendan was going there too. I figured there had to be something in the kind of church that they went to that had this trickle effect into the way they loved and cherished each other, and those around them. I first went to Willingdon sometime in 2007, and started going there regularly by early 2008. Since then, it has become more than just church. It has become home and family, where God has built people into my life that have become very, very dear to me.

    I'm so thankful for all that God has been doing through Willingdon over the last four years in laying the groundwork, slowly but surely. Looking back, I see how He's been active even when it seemed as if nothing was happening. Life, work and ministry is getting very exciting, and I'm so looking forward to what He's going to do as things are beginning to come together for lift off!
- The Wisdom Seeker