When Pastor Alan asked me to share my testimony of what it means to ‘’serve with gladness”, I immediately wanted to capture some more words to describe what gladness means and what I have seen in the faces of those who serve the Lord in this church. Gladness means feeling joy, being pleased, happy about good news, showing cheerfulness, being content with your efforts and seeking to do more, being delighted, having enjoyment, even having warm fuzzies.

From my own recent experience, I have seen this service with gladness in the face and laughter of a special teacher as she does crafts with 4 year-olds in Sunday School, in the faces of that merry band of miracle workers who transformed the Fellowship Hall into a tropical paradise for Vacation Bible School, in the faces of parents as they gathered children around the garden to plant seeds, in the faces of Personnel committee members as they faced challenging decisions and prayed to God for guidance, in the faces of coaches, staff and referees as they work with youngsters in the Upward Basketball program, in the faces of those who slip out of their pews to go lead Junior Worship time, in the faces of volunteers as they gather food and supplies for Urban Ministry and other missions, in the faces of children as they picked green peppers and tomatoes in the garden to take to needy families, and even those who brought cucumbers from their own garden, too, in the faces of these choir members who rehearse and rehearse and then provide such beautiful music to inspire us and praise the Lord.

I could be up here all morning talking about all of you and all the ways you serve the Lord with gladness. Service is unselfish and loving, it is often tiring or difficult or challenging, it is sacrificial and caring, it is serving others before yourself. It is contentment with a job well done and hopefulness that there will be even more success next time, it is thinking “what else can I do?”.

David and I came here as young 20 somethings, and were inspired by the devotion to service and ministry of this church by so many members who reached out to us to get involved. Those people encouraged us and cared about us. That was an act of service. It inspired us to be engaged in serving the Lord even when our careers, flying all over the country for business obligations, and having children of our own made life a challenge. But as I look back on my service here, I remember the faces of the church members around me who always seemed to be smiling and their focus on serving the Lord, of children singing in the choir I led, of painting in the Habitat House and getting covered with paint in the process, in meetings with so many of you in various committees to solve issues and to seek guidance on how to better serve the Lord, on mission trips where our youth, including our children, cared for those in need. This list goes on and on.

As you know we have a Community Garden here at First Baptist, and we share plots with the Westerwood neighborhood where we are meeting new friends. We harvest vegetables to share with needy families in Guilford County, and all of it is donated to that cause. When I think of our garden, I am reminded that God first spoke to man and woman in the Garden. I think the garden is a metaphor for life. We plant seeds, nurture and pray over it, get frustrated, pull the weeds to get the bad stuff out, pray some more, we feed it with love and nutrients, we involve others to help, we harvest and then we share. We serve others and, by doing so, we serve God. So, in your life, whatever your ‘Garden’ is, or could be, I encourage you to get involved, plant those seeds of love through your service, praise God and rejoice for having the opportunity.

– Janice Newsom

With Gladness

Learn more about our 2019 Stewardship campaign, “With Gladness.”