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building a community to reach a community

We Are Home [plus echo pictures]

On Saturday, July 30, GFC held its 8th annual ECHO serving event, echoing God's love across the Tri Cities region - but it looked a little different than normal.

For the very first time, we followed the event with a huge Community Celebration in Downtown Johnson City. The celebration included great music, delicious BBQ provided by a local farmer, fun give-aways, and a beautiful community blessing to close the day lead by Pastor Tom Oyler. This may have been the highlight of our summer here at GFC! Over 700 people served at dozens of sites across the city, and nearly 1,000 folks stopped by Founders Park to join in on the celebration.

Shannon Sutherland and her family are pretty new to GFC - they moved to Johnson City just two years ago. So when she was called on to lead the Food Team for ECHO, she was nervous. However, she believed God had equipped her with the skills and experience she needed for such a time as this.

Below you can read Shannon's story from this year's ECHO and view some great pictures from our serving sites and Founders Park. View Tom Oyler's community blessing here.

God’s timing continues to amaze and humble me. A little more than two years ago, when He told us to put our Georgia house up for sale, it was a challenge to remain obedient. My flesh was comfortable in the home we built, in my teaching career, and in our local church. We were very involved in our jobs and in our church, we had a daughter, we did not see it coming. Stepping out in faith, we sold the house, resigned from our jobs, and moved to Johnson City. We clung to Jeremiah 29:11. It wasn’t easy and it wasn’t always pretty, but it was through the journey that the three of us learned obedience to His call and His will. His timing is perfect and He met our every need along the way.

God’s timing was beautifully demonstrated when we were asked to serve for ECHO. We were approached, as a family, about serving in the food tent. It was intimidating. We are fairly new to Grace and don’t know a lot of people. While we wanted to be more involved, this seemed like a plunge head first; the three of us do slow progression well, not so much a plunge. We prayed over it and accepted the role. Thankfully, we had prior experience. You see, God in His timing, had us serve at our previous church in a similar role. This provided us with an understanding of what was involved and how to execute the plan to serve hundreds of people. We began ordering food, purchasing supplies, and reaching out to our group of volunteers. We had to work with local businesses, giving us sense of community and providing an opportunity to represent our new church well.

We prayed for courage, stamina, and an open and willing heart. God delivered! The bond with the volunteers was nothing short of a God thing. The comfort level and the instant connection with the group brought such joy. Their enthusiasm in serving, willingness to jump in, and love for God was so evident on that hot summer evening. It was another answered prayer. Having the opportunity to serve our community was such a blessing. It allowed us to get to know people through service; we were able to shine the light of Christ into the middle of our town.

Thank you to the staff for allowing us to serve for ECHO. Thank you for helping us teach our daughter what it means to serve. We are so glad to be part of Grace Fellowship and of Johnson City. Thank You, Lord, for the opportunity to be stretched and grow in Your service, showing Your love to our community. We pray that we may always be found representing You well, living in obedience of Your timing, here at home.

"He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart, yet so that man will not find out the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end." Ecclesiastes 3:11

Shannon Sutherland

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