My name is Jim Pattison, and I’m a member of Grace Chapel (Springfield Grace Chapel Foursquare Church) in Springfield, Mo., pastored by Jay Bean.
I gave my life to God at age 7 and was baptized the same year. But after 34 years of being a Christian, I turned my back on God and went my own way. I gave in to sexual desires and alienated the church, my family and my wife, also losing my law practice in the process. I call this time “the period of my insanity,” but I have no excuse for my idiocy.
After wallowing in the depths of my depravity for several years, I realized the silliness of my life and turned again, gratefully, to the waiting arms of God, asking only that I be allowed to remain anonymous and hidden as “the least of His” somewhere in the shadows of His sanctuary. I was humiliated and desperate for His approval, but without expectation or entitlement to any standing in His kingdom. I was a pitiful wretch.
God graciously accepted me back, of course, but would not allow me to remain anonymous. After moving from Kansas to Missouri, I found Grace Chapel. I shared my testimony of compromise with Pastor Jay Bean and asked that he allow me to do for the church the grimiest of tasks that others would shun. Jay put me to work.
The difficulty I soon encountered at Grace Chapel was that there were few jobs that no one else would do, because the congregation had a heart for service without any desire for recognition. The menial jobs were taken. What a wonderful problem to have!
I was among kindred spirits. The congregation was eager to serve without notice, without encouragement, and without selfish demand for recompense. These people walked humbly with their God. My kind of church.
I have been with Grace Chapel for a year and a half now with my sons (10 and 15 years old), engaged in the raising of men of God who will know Him, and be prepared to sacrifice all—not just to live for Christ, but to die for Him, and to grow selflessly in knowledge and stature as Jesus Himself did.
Grace Chapel is small but growing. The people are mutually uplifting and constantly seeking opportunities to pursue hard after God, not only as individuals, but also as a congregation, and through whatever alternative avenues for worship down which God may lead.
The church’s leadership consists of people who consider serving God through actions—living the witness rather than merely speaking it—to be a higher purpose than even their subsistence, confident that God will provide through His people.
Grace Chapel’s determination naturally led to involvement in relief work in Joplin. After the devastating tornado leveled 30 percent of Joplin’s homes (about 8,000), killing more than 150 people in the process, Grace Chapel formed a task force involving more than 50 percent of the congregation. These people serve as members of specific teams that provide people in need and volunteers with various services, such as spiritual help, donation and distribution, construction and labor, and hospitality.
To this day, the task force forages for opportunities to “get its hands dirty” with the work that will redeem the physical lives and livelihoods of tornado victims, so that people may see the grace of God reflected in the lives and work of the task force, and be drawn to Him.
My church is a community of believers that is seeking to live for others the witness of love and grace that each of us has received from God. And while anonymity seems to be eluding me, I am in love with both Him and His people.