What is the value of having a church family? In an age when our culture is increasingly secular, there are great benefits in being in a family of like-minded believers. Fellow brothers and sisters in Christ can encourage your faith journey, be a support in times of hardship, can provide opportunities to serve and to disciple others. For Jerry and Pat Pendleton the importance of church family here at RiverLakes Community Church (RCC) was so important that they specifically moved to be close to RCC.
The Pendletons’ life journey has taken many turns. Married for 10 years, this senior couple has between them four children, nine grandchildren and one greatgrandchild. About three years ago, God tugged on Pat to return to Him. “God was speaking to me. You need to come back to me,” said Pat. She realized that there was more to life than what she had experienced in the last half century. As Pat states, “God called me in the past but I had a lot of excuses, like I was busy at work, busy with my family or just busy with my time. It was all excuses. I knew it and God knew it.”
Pat realized her need to be close to God and the need for a strong, biblically-grounded church. This was not shared by husband Jerry at the time. He was in a nutshell, a tag-along. As he says, “At that time I was ho-hum in my faith. So I told Pat if she found a church I would go.” She did.
Looking online she found RiverLakes. She viewed the website, listened to some sermons by Senior Pastor Matt Vorhees and promptly told Jerry, “This is it!” That Sunday the couple attended RiverLakes for the first time and were both moved. “The first time at RiverLakes I just sat in my chair and cried. I felt at peace and felt God’s presence. I was at home!” shares Pat. Jerry also felt at home and shortly thereafter accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. Likewise, after three months attending RiverLakes, Pat felt a strong urging to give her life to Christ and follow in baptism. She did this and exclaims, “My life and how I think, talk and do things is now centered on Christ and to serve Him in any way I can. He is my Truth, the Way and the Life and my Rock.”
Immediately they connected and began growing spiritually and serving. They loved volunteering and helping at church and they wanted to serve more, but it didn’t make sense to be so far away. They lived 25 minutes away in the southwest and as a senior couple that distance was difficult for them. Jerry had lived in the same house for 42 years and was comfortable. But they both prayed to God to let them know if they should move closer to church. God responded. At the 2015 Easter service they wound up sitting next to a fellow RiverLakes attendee who was a real estate agent. In the next 60 days they sold their home and moved to a new home in a wonderful neighborhood within five minutes driving time to the church. “God answered our prayer!” marvels Pat.
Since coming to RiverLakes, Jerry and Pat have taken the All In classes and are now members. They have embraced the wonderful seniors Sunday Primetimers Class. During the week they connect in the Monday afternoon community group for seniors. Pat is involved with Women’s Ministry and helps with Bereavement. Jerry helps out with Senior Sack and they both serve as hosts to guests in the Next Steps room. They both have encouragement for anyone who is not sure about connecting with others as well as serving at RCC. Jerry sums it up, “Come and serve. Our example is Jesus. The best way is to just make yourself available. And connect in a small group!” Sharing, caring and praying for each other in a small group were so appreciated by both. As Pat humbly shares, “I have much for which to be thankful. I recently had cancer surgery and I felt the prayers and love from those in my small group. My group was there for me.”
Both Jerry and Pat have been ambassadors in reaching out to new people at RCC. They both feel it is the Lord who has given them the courage to talk to new people. Pat explains, “The Lord has given me confidence to reach out and talk with people, especially guests to our church.” Jerry concurs. “It is now second nature to talk and help people. Pat has been a great example for me. I feed off her for communicating with others.” Their marriage has grown stronger as they both have made efforts to read God’s Word daily, pray daily and attend church regularly.
Both have favorite Bible passages that have impacted their life. Pat’s favorite passage is Matthew 19:26 where Jesus is asked, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus responds, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Pat encourages others to trust in the Lord. Let him lead you. Jerry’s favorite Bible passage is John 3:16 which says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” As Jerry sums it up, “It says it all…it is all that you need to hear.”