Faith Beyond Walls: A Real Life Example
February 20, 2019
We have been overwhelmed by your generosity during this Capital Campaign. We are now working to set the appropriate plans, and will share next steps in the coming weeks.
In the meantime, we wanted to share a story that so clearly illustrates the spirit behind this campaign, and who we are as FirstChurch. On the surface, we are raising money for a building renovation – yet, what we are creating is the continuation of a legacy, ensuring that this will be a place where we can love and learn, and then go out into the world to serve as living examples of God’s love for years to come. For the last six weeks, Matt and Heather Hooper have come to know a new meaning of ‘Faith Beyond Walls’, one that is a beautiful example of what it means to weather the storm and to have your church family rise up to offer much-needed shelter.
Read Matt’s beautiful testimony and watch their talk from the Jan. 6 service. We are grateful for the Hoopers’ presence in this church, and that Heather is on the road to recovery. We are glad to be walking this journey with you.
On Sunday morning, Jan. 6, my wife Heather and I helped kick off the Capital Campaign by sharing from the pulpit the story of how we came to FirstChurch a year and a half ago. Just two days later, Heather was clinging to life in an Atlanta hospital after suffering a life-threatening cardiac emergency while traveling on business.
You may have a fundamental and logical understanding of the fleeting nature of life – but trust me, when your phone rings late at night and the voice on the other end of it tells you your 29-year-old wife is in critical condition, whatever intellectual grasp you had is immediately swamped by much more base instincts – fear and desperation. I immediately called three people: My mother, who lives two hours from Atlanta and was, by distance, Heather’s closest relative. Then, Heather’s mother – not a call anyone wants to make or receive, I assure you. Then, Andy Stoker – who dropped everything to come spend the next several hours beside me on the ash heap as I waited for more phone calls with more “are you serious!?” news.
Let’s pause and celebrate that Heather has been discharged from the hospital and is on the road to recovery. We will continue to stay in Atlanta until the first week of March, at least, before making our grand return to Dallas. Heather has recovered all cognitive function and her happy, effervescent spirit is unscathed. Her primary goal is to build enough strength to move to the next phases of recovery – culminating in either full return of heart function, or a heart transplant.
Since this happened, we have a whole new understanding of Faith Beyond Walls.
Our Sunday school family – the Rise, Shiners – has wrapped us up in love beyond what we could have imagined possible. They’ve flown to Atlanta to see us, they’ve shipped gifts, they’ve raised funds, they’ve prayed, they’ve monitored both mine and Heather’s wellbeing, they’ve served as cat-sitters. They’ve met every need, and then some.
And then there’s our choir family, which has also wrapped us up in love beyond what we could have imagined possible. They, too, have visited, arranged for home repairs to be completed ahead of Heather’s return, sent gifts, prayed unceasingly, and on and on and on.
What I’m getting at is this – Heather and I wouldn’t be where we are now without our church family. I suppose it’s possible to survive something like this without a faith community holding you upright – but I wouldn’t recommend testing that theory. And we’ve only been here 500 or so days! Can you believe this village that has surrounded us so quickly? We’ve never felt more love, more support; we’ve never felt closer to God. We see God in the hands, feet and faces of our FirstChurch family.
And that’s what Faith Beyond Walls is all about.