Go and Tell
by Pastor Jeff Schoch
As senior pastor of Abundant Life Fellowship in New Waterford, I introduce a word for our church at the beginning of each year along with a core scripture verse – something for us to study, to apply to our walk with Jesus, to challenge us to grow in our faith.
Last year our word was “Invite the Stranger,” and a week after finishing a three-part series introducing that word, our church was filled with hundreds of strangers who came for assistance after a train derailed in nearby East Palestine. The anniversary of that event is next week. That outreach continued in our building for four months and still goes on today with many of the people we met as we carried out our assignment to invite strangers into our lives. It was a powerful reminder that Holy Spirit knows what he is doing when he brings assignments our way to further his kingdom work in the world.
This year our word is “Go and Tell,” and it’s linked to an account in Luke 8 where Jesus sets free a man possessed by demons, after which he instructs him to “return home and tell how much God has done for you.” (verse 39)
When I introduced this word on January 14, I asked our people to begin writing down details about what Jesus has done for them so that they can be prepared to go and tell as the Holy Spirit directs them this year.
One of our young men, Isaac Ricketts, who grew up at ALF and is now a husband, plumbing apprentice, coach and youth leader, took this assignment to heart and this week posted details of his story on Facebook. “How should I respond to this word?” Isaac asked.
“I could be here forever telling you all that Jesus is to me,” he wrote.
As I read his words, I thought immediately of Romans 1:16, where Paul says this: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.”
And as I read that, I was reminded of my own life in my 20s when as a young journalist, I was prompted by the Holy Spirit to begin writing a weekly column about my walk of faith. That column, titled “Out on a Limb,” appeared weekly for four-and-a-half years on the editorial page of the Morning Journal and contributed significantly to the trajectory of my life, even to this day. I will write more about that in a future posting, in which I’ll relay how my editor at the time, Jay Thwaite, played an integral part in how God’s plans for my life would unfold.
It has occurred to me that, like Isaac, I have much to “Go and Tell” about all that Jesus has done in my life. My initial intent with this piece was to tell about my journey to salvation. But this is already getting long, so that will be my next one. In that post, I will note the significance of Proverbs 3:5-6 in my transformation.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will direct your path.”
I’m not sure yet how often I’ll be posting my “Go and Tell” stories, but throughout the year, I’ll be explaining details of how trusting and acknowledging Jesus has in fact directed me into marriage (Connie Kleon Schoch), parenthood (Kaitlin Vogt), job changes, grandparenthood, heart surgery, ministry and much more. The ministry part includes but is not limited to leading an amazing and growing fellowship in tiny New Waterford, Ohio, where I get the privilege (and responsibility) of leading with vision.
I must go and tell how much God has done for me.