Pictured Above: Some of Ensign Spencer Vance's Hallows Church family rallying around him at his UW Naval ROTC Summer 2016 Commissioning Ceremony. 

Pictured Above: Some of Ensign Spencer Vance’s Hallows Church family rallying around him at his UW Naval ROTC Summer 2016 Commissioning Ceremony. 

As an outdoor lover, Sunday-set-up expert, security team greeter, men’s ministry gatherer, fiddle and hammered dulcimer-playing musician, summer intern, soon-to-be-real-life Top Gun character, and to many in our church, extended “family,” we asked Spencer to share what God has taught him through his time in Seattle before he heads to Florida for the next step in his career. Here is what he had to say:

Seattle was quick, but I’ve made friends that will last a lifetime.  These “friends” however, don’t follow the same rules.  A friend will throw a few lines in the lake with you or take you out for a drink, but what I found at The Hallows was a true example of what God’s familial church looks like.  

I have moved around quite a bit in my time, and thus delved into the church-finding scene quite a bit.  It can take time, but one undeniable fact I have found to be truly consistent throughout every location is this:  we all serve the same God.  From Tennessee to California, it truly is refreshing to be welcomed into a new group for the first time and realizing the God I worshiped there is the same here and for the rest of His church.  This aspect of Christianity is what makes it so attractive to so many people–but we didn’t come up with the idea.

“And I will be your Father, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty” 2 Corinthians 6:18.  When we accept Christ and proclaim that we truly believe He is who he said He was, and did what He said He did, we are adopted into Christ’s family.  That feeling you get when you think about your niece or nephew (I’m sure the same is true for children) is what I’m getting at.  You would do anything to make them happy, better their lives, or just hang out with them.  You do this not because of some service that they provide to you, but because you love them and it brings you joy simply to see them flourish.  This is the love God has for us.  Not a reaction to an action on our part, but an unconditional love for His children that cannot be quenched.  It is this love that we should strive to express to our brothers and sisters in Christ and all people.

But back to the family I’ve found at The Hallows.  I have to take a second and brag on Tom and Cheryl Hartman.  I cannot  think of a better example of what it looks like for two people to freely give of themselves towards the ultimate goal of embracing and discipling children of God’s family.  Between leading men and women’s ministries and marriage counseling, the Hartmans made the time to adopt me as their temporary son and truly treat me like family–and I can definitely say it was not because of anything I provided to them (remember that time I invited you to dinner and then forget about it?!).  

Ultimately, we as disciples of Christ should strive to produce an environment in which everyone feels utterly connected to Christ’s family tree not based on what they can contribute to the team, but simply because they are an image bearer of God.  I encourage all of you to continue developing a love for people that supersedes worldly standards, and shoot for the higher standards set by God the Father.  As I’m leaving my family here in Seattle, I will deeply miss them, but am encouraged to know that God’s family extends far beyond city limits.  

Love you guys,

Spencer Vance