And here is why: what you experienced in the good news we brought you was more than words channeling down your ears; it came to you as a life-empowering, Spirit-infused message that offers complete hope and assurance! We lived transparently before you so that you would know what sort of people we truly are. We did it for your sake.
– 1 Thessalonians 1:5 Voice
We are excited to celebrate Easter together next Sunday, April 9th! Easter reminds us of God’s message of hope to the world; his power raised Jesus from the dead, and that power is available to each of us today. Easter shows us that no matter what we face, God can transform our lives and give us hope. We can see this truth in today’s story.
Loren Olsen met Keturah Harris during their freshman year at St. Mary’s College in 2021. Over the next year and a half, they continued to become great friends, but when Loren would invite her to church Keturah was uninterested.
Fast forward to January 2023: Keturah went through some significant life changes and challenges.
The person she called for help was Loren.
Loren had good friends in the church who had gone through similar things, so she immediately set up a conference call with them to help Keturah. Loren knew these women could help Keturah not only navigate her life, but also learn to handle her challenges emotionally and spiritually.
Keturah started coming to Let’s Talk Nights, midweeks, and Sunday services, and then she decided she wanted to study the Bible to know God better. As she saw how real and connected the women around her were with each other and God, Keturah began to realize she had been wearing a mask her entire life. She had always felt like she had to keep everything inside, but she saw that the women around her had been freed up by building a real relationship with God, and she wanted that for herself.
As soon as Keturah began studying the Bible, it seemed as if the storms of life kept crashing down around her. It was not easy. She went through obstacle after obstacle, but she found that she was able to persevere through them because of the friendships she had built, the prayers she learned to pray, and the scriptures she held on to.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”
– Jeremiah 29:11-14 NIV
The hope Keturah got from verses like this one carried her through the storms of her life, and that hope was contagious. While Keturah studied the Bible multiple times a week, she brought friends along with her. She shared with them what she was learning, inspiring many of them to seek a relationship with God through studying the Bible as well.
After two months of studying the Bible, (and navigating a totaled car, a bout of COVID, midterms, finals, and rehearsals and concerts for her jazz choral group in the evenings), Keturah got baptized on Mar 26, 2023, expressing how grateful she was for God and that he had given her a best friend through Loren.
Easter is a message of hope. It reminds us that no matter how far gone or troubled we might feel, God can transform our lives and use them to give others hope.
Please join us next Sunday April 9th for our Easter services! At any one of our services across the Bay Area, you’ll get a day of memories, kids’ activities, refreshments, and of course an inspiring message about that same hope Jesus brings. You can find a location near you at bacc.cc/locations.
Hope to see you next week!
Sam and Tenea Manuel
East Bay Lead Ministers