Today's post was written by Elisa Coker.

When I think about The Church at Brook Hills, I think about home. Home is a place where you always feel loved and welcomed. Home is a place where growing and learning takes place under the care and guidance of loved ones. Home is where you make mistakes and learn from them, and unrestricted love and teaching is extended without judgment. Home is a place where family gathers to fellowship and encourage one another. Sometimes, home is a place where family consoles one another and carries one another’s burdens. Home is the place where you learn to love and say I’m sorry. Home is always the place that family serves one another in some form or fashion.

Yes, a friend continually shared the gospel with me, but it was my first initial step into The Church at Brook Hills in 2007 that would begin the life and ultimate heart transformation for me. I did not believe I was a good enough person to sit down front, so I would sit in the balcony. It was not until Pastor David preached his series “Lifeblood” addressing the assurance of salvation and asked the final question, “Have the desires of your heart changed?” that, with tears streaming down my cheeks, I finally knew that I was a daughter of the Most High King.

Home is where the challenges of living out my faith began. Even though I found it a little scary submitting to challenges of diving deeper into God’s Word and really getting to know the God we call Abba Father, it’s okay because I accepted these challenges with a multitude of friends. As my faith grew, my challenges grew; I found myself leading 5th grade girls, then leading as children’s director in urban Birmingham, and ultimately an ocean away serving mid-term in West Africa.

Over months and years, my faith continued to grow deeper, and the challenges become bigger and bigger. I adamantly remember stating as a young adult, “you could pay me a million dollars a day, and I would never be a teacher. It is the most underappreciated profession from all angles, by administration, (state and federal), by students, parents, and everybody and anybody.” After several days (weeks) of rebellion and trying my best to convince God that He was not calling me to teach, He revealed Proverbs 16:9: “The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.” It was then I realized my reluctance to trust His will for my life, so with a remorseful and repentant heart, I immediately began to seek out how to become an educator (in what, I had no idea). However, once submission was reached everything became crystal clear, from subject matter, to finances. (Amazing… huh? You reckon He has this whole thing rigged?)

Now, I’m approaching the finish line and yet another challenge, but this time it’s not from David Platt. It’s the voice of God telling me to pick up and move away from everything and everyone I feel comfortable with. It’s one thing to go mid-term and be gone for a couple of months, but it’s completely different to pick up and move away from home. The Church at Brook Hills is:

…where I learned who God is.

…where I learned to pray and worship.

…where I healed from divorce.

…where I learned to forgive and love unconditionally.

…where I learned grief can be somewhat tolerable.

…where I learned to serve and to lead.

Why would He want me to leave this place? Like all children, we grow up and leave home, and it’s time. Resting in the knowledge that God is with me, I’m going to be strong and courageous as I head to the University of North Alabama in Florence to finish my last year and half of school. If I push through hard, I will have my undergrad in Secondary Education/English Language Arts and a masters in ESL to be used for His Glory.

Only by God’s grace, I have achieved 96 credit hours towards a 120 hour degree and maintained a 3.8 GPA and been accepted in Pi Theta Kappa and Who’s Who among American College Students for academic success. My daily prayer is that God would use this degree to bring glory to Himself. This degree is completely for His name, and I pray that He will send me somewhere - anywhere - to share and show His great love just as others have shared and shown me His sacrificial love. (Isaiah 6:8 – "Here am I! Send me!")

However, near or far, east or west, The Church at Brook Hills will always be my home. My launching pad to the nations. Thank you for challenging me to answer the call.

I will never be able to express my gratitude to the body of believers who embraced and encouraged me over the past seven years. I was a new believer and had never been a member of a church before. However, I do know that I would not be where I am today without your answering the call to share, show, serve, and teach new members in the body of Christ. Thanks to your obedience I have a solid foundation to love and serve others because you first loved and served me. (tears…). Thank you, Church, thank you!

Prayer Requests:

  • My uncle whom I will be living with is not a believer in Christ. He does not believe in heaven or hell. He thinks God has just left us here to take care of ourselves. I pray that God will use this time to reveal Himself to my uncle and that God would give me words and boldness to confess His truths. I am intimidated by my uncle’s intellect.

  • Pray for a connection to a local body of believers investing in the community and a desire to take the gospel to the nations.

  • Being a non-traditional student, pray for connection with the student body at UNA to be involved in student activities and boldness to share.

  • Pray for continual academic achievement and the potential to participate in the study abroad program.

“For nothing will be impossible with God.” (Luke 1:37)