This past Sunday I was struck with feelings of unusual pleasure, not perceived by sight nor sound but by delightful soothings that only God’s Spirit could measure.  That was how I felt at Hope Chapel in Valatie, NY. Visiting Hope Chapel was yet another unveiling of what Christ intended His Church to be. It seems that as I Journey I recognize in each church a piece of the puzzle. That is, the thing that has puzzled Christians for some 1800 years; what is the Church supposed to look like? Sometimes I will look at a large, well administrated, beautiful and affluent expression of His body and say to myself “now there’s a bride anyone could love”.  However, my taste in bride material is not the same as my Lord’s.  He’s definitely looking for qualities that avoid the mind and eyes of carnal appeal.  This small, passionate body of believers just seem to “get it” though.  Their eyes are focused on the right thing…God Himself.

I entered Hope Chapel to find warm smiles, plenty of donuts and pastries, hot coffee and a few “hi Donnas”.  I love meeting new sisters and brothers in the Body of Christ, but it’s always a comfort when they know you by name.  As the worship music began, I noticed some people praying with one another.  The freedom in this church was apparent.  Pastor David Cramer invited anyone in the congregation to give a word and went on to say that each one of us can hear from the Lord.  He then shared details about their special unity services occasionally held at Hope Chapel called “The Merge”.  Christians from all different denominations attend the Merge and the presence of God is felt in a powerful way.

I was excited to find out that the speaker was Michael Brennan.  I had heard him before and I knew we were in for a wonderful, truth filled, inspired message.  He spoke about John the Baptist and the season of preparation.  The baptism of John was a baptism of repentance.  Jesus’ baptism was of the Holy Spirit and of fire.  We are baptized, not to follow the law, but to walk out who we are in Christ.  The whole purpose of Christ’s baptism is to get you to the point of saying:  “I can’t do this! Help me Lord!”  SO WHAT SHALL WE DO?  Receive and be Christ until it dawns on us who we really are!  We are beloved sons and daughters of the King.  We are the presence of the Father.  As He is, so are we!   Don’t interpret “fire” as someone who is loud and animated.  Fire is when you persevere, even when it appears as though all hope is lost.  Fire is continuing to walk out what God wants you to do.  He closed his message by praying for an awareness and an awakening of who we all are in Christ.

It was “Soup Sunday”, so at the close of the service there was a variety of delicious homemade dishes served in the lounge area.   Fellowship and food is a wonderful way to start and end a service.   My friend Michael was approached by a young man named Caleb.  Caleb introduced himself and told him how he appreciated our Journeying team being there.  Later he invited and challenged Michael to consider making Hope Chapel his home Church.  Michael hugged him appreciatively with the intent of imparting in his squeeze some precious gift from within him. Caleb was so brave. What a blessing!

As I departed I noticed a very large 6′ X 8′ map of the world hanging on the far wall of the sanctuary.  Upon close examination I could find only two small push pins stuck in far off corners of the world, indicating the missionary vision of this church.  At first, it seemed a bit laughable that they would purchase such an impressive and expansive map for so little a vision, when suddenly, I was corrected by the Holy Spirit. The push pins weren’t the vision.  This upstate church’s vision is the ENTIRE WORLD.   How could I have missed it?  My heart sank as I realized again how my carnal eyes and mind often fail me in the realm of Gods incredible greatness.

Hope Chapel is a beautifully designed picture of the Bride of Christ.  Things are certainly being done here that will cause this group of believers to have a huge impact on their community.  I encourage the Body of Christ to come visit their family here at Hope Chapel either on a Sunday morning or for a Friday evening “Merge” service.  You will not be disappointed.  You will be delighted!

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By Donna Hansen Munafo
(Contributing writers Michael & Pat Frati)