Me & Pastor Jim VandenhoutenTucked away in the trees, conveniently located just off the main drag (Columbia Turnpike), there is a hidden treasure called Faith and Love Fellowship. For years I have heard so many positive comments about this congregation and God finally brought me here. As I came in, the music was already starting. It was so enjoyable to hear some of the older Christian choruses such as “He is Lord”. And when they played “When the Saints go Marching In”, a train of people began to form, making their way up and down the aisles. Naturally, I had to join in!   Pastor Jim Vandenhouten and the worship team lead the songs with such zeal and reverence to God. We sang the old Don Moen song, “Power of Your Love”. Then, during the offering, they played the song, “Through it All” by Ray Boltz. It was so amazingly wonderful to hear the worshipful words of these great Christian classics.

Karen Savicki then shared the announcements which included numerous opportunities for fellowship and Christian growth. Next, it was time to announce the birthdays for the month, but instead of singing a birthday song, we had special time of prayer for each of the birthday gals. Clearly this church knows the importance of praying for one another! Then an older woman, Barb, was given an opportunity to share a testimony. She spoke of how some of the children had made cards for residents in a local area nursing home and how blessed they were. Come to find out, Barb’s husband is also in that nursing home with Alzheimer’s. Barb’s smile and joy were an amazing testimony to me as I reflected on my own husband’s diagnosis of cancer. We need to trust in the Lord and testify of His goodness, even through the storms of life. God bless her!38003139_10214849544284647_2081253834956472320_o
Today was their VBF presentation … not VBS. Karen Savicki explained to me, “Kids don’t want to go to school in the summer, so instead we call it Vacation Bible FUN.” And as the children came to the front of the sanctuary in their hand-crafted rafting vests, it was clear that they were truly having fun while learning God’s word. Their memory scripture was Isaiah 43:2, “When I pass through the waters, I will be with you.” What a wonderful presentation and a clear sign that this church really cares about training up the children in the ways of the Lord (Psalm 22:6). Then Alice Daytor, a remarkable singer, sang two song specials. What a blessing it was to see so many people sharing their gift and talents. One things for certain … there aren’t many “pew sitters” at Faith and Love Fellowship.

Pastor Jim preached in a forthright, transparent manner. His convicting message began with a plea for Christians to “wake up”. He talked about a new bill currently in legislation that would give parents the option to not identify the gender of their newborn babies. We are in the last of the last days and we need to stop simply going along with things. Pastor Jim exclaimed, “I’m done with pretending!” In 1 Kings 20, Israel was in a battle, and so are we! Our #1 responsibility is to guard our inner man (our heart). Christians can get so busy going to and fro that we sometimes let our guard down. We are no good to Christianity if our heart is not guarded with prayer and the Word of God. We affect not just ourselves, but those around us. Proverbs 4:23 (NIV) states, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” We need to be diligent. Don’t look to the right or the left … look straight at Jesus. Following the service there is always a time of fellowship over coffee and treats. Most importantly, prayer is ALWAYS made available at the altar. As I was waiting for Pastor Jim to pray for those lined up, I had a pleasant conversation with his brother, Pastor Shawn Vandehouten, an elder at Faith and Love.

We live in a world that is getting darker and darker, and we need more “last days” messages like this one. They are not only relevant, they could save us from the deception that surrounds us.   If you are interested in messages that are applicable to the times we live in, be sure to visit Faith and Love. Sunday services are at 10:30, and there is a Wednesday evening service at 7 pm. Some of their upcoming events include discipleship class, ladies conference and free dinner & movie night. Their Food Pantry is located at 85 Washington Street and is open on Fridays, 1-3pm. They also have a radio program, “Thirst for Truth”, which airs daily at 5pm on WHAZ 97.3 FM. Be sure to tune in and call in with your prayer requests or testimonies – (518) 237-1330.

Pastor Jim has no interest in tickling ears. He is called to preach the unadulterated Word of God, even if it means “going against the grain”. We are in the last days! We must guard our hearts! “When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” Luke 21:28 (NIV)

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By Donna Hansen Munafo