Feature

Generous Generation

Giving up our lives for God’s glory and the good of others

By

During a lunch of Jimmy John’s sandwiches on a Sunday afternoon in 2011, my best friend invited me to do something radical.

“Chris,” he said, “God is calling me to plant a new church, and I want you to join me. What if we quit our jobs, raised money, recruited a team of people, and planted a church?”

I smiled and thought he was crazy. At the time, my wife was pregnant; I had a great job. The timing couldn’t have been worse.

But as we continued to talk, God gave us a vision to start a new gospel work in Omaha, Nebraska. We dreamed of a church that would not only gather on Sundays but also live as a redeemed family that loved each other and was wild about our Savior, Jesus.

Over the past three years our vision has become a reality by God’s grace. Citylight Church (Alliance) began in the fall of 2012 with a handful of people and has since become a congregation of more than 1,500. Jesus loves His Church, and He is building it in Omaha.

We have seen hundreds of people meet Jesus and get baptized. We have seen marriages restored, addicts freed, and heart affections stirred in a fresh way. God is rewriting real people’s stories in a way that only He can.

Light and Life

Nineteen-year-old Tylessa limped into Citylight disconnected from Jesus, depressed, hurting, and running out of hope. Her story is like thousands around our country. She came from a broken home, and family members repeatedly told her she was ugly, stupid, and an unplanned and unwanted mistake. These words haunted Tylessa and stripped her of dignity and joy.

Generous Generation
Citylight Church’s vision is to see the gospel transform the city of Omaha, Nebraska, and beyond.

Our church community reached out to Tylessa. In December 2015 a member of Citylight offered to pay for her to attend a regional conference for college students. She was ecstatic about the chance to learn more about Jesus and make friends with other young adults in our church. At that event, God did a work in Tylessa.

After a speaker presented the gospel, one of Tylessa’s new friends and roommates at the conference asked her, “Have you ever surrendered your life to Jesus?”

In that moment Tylessa realized she liked Jesus and His people, but she had never received Him as Savior and Lord. So, in that hotel room, holding her new friend’s hands, Tylessa prayed for the first time and asked Jesus to lead her life.

The change inside Tylessa began to show on the outside as well. She used to walk slumped over in shame, but now she stands tall with confidence and dignity. Tylessa used to avoid eye contact, but now her eyes beam with light and life. She is experiencing the love of Jesus and His people.

On February 7, 2016, Tylessa was baptized and celebrated her new life in Christ. She said, “I am getting baptized because Jesus has taken my shame, died for my sins, and is my Savior.” Hearing those words, our church clapped with a rowdy roar.

But Tylessa’s life was still very messy. She was living in an abusive situation, and it seemed as though darkness would smother her new life and hope. Tylessa was stuck. She was a young woman with no car, no money, and no pathways to pursue a better place to live. She needed help.

Undeserved Grace

Within a few weeks of Tylessa’s baptism, a group of young adults in our church learned about her situation. They started praying, “Jesus, what would You have us do?” They didn’t have lots of training, money, or a plan on how to help with all of Tylessa’s needs, but they knew doing nothing was not an option.

Generous Generation
Tylessa has met many new Christian friends at Citylight Church.

Feeling called by God, they pooled their money and bought Tylessa a used, red Grand Am. One of the young adult leaders said, “After buying the car and getting it all cleaned up, we invited Tylessa over for dinner and surprised her with it. She freaked out and started crying. But we told her, ‘This isn’t from us. This is a gift from your Heavenly Father, who loves to give His children good gifts. He loves you, Tylessa.’”

A few weeks later, this group felt God calling them to help Tylessa change her living arrangements, so they found a house with godly women and helped Tylessa move in. She didn’t have a bed, so they bought new bedroom furniture for her.

Tylessa recently told me, “This whole thing has been amazing. I didn’t deserve this. I didn’t do anything to earn this, but I am so thankful that God has done all of this for me.”
Tylessa now works full time at a daycare, serves at our church in the kids’ ministry, and never misses Bible study or our Sunday morning gatherings. She loves Jesus.

Pay it Forward

A lot of media outlets say young people are self-centered consumers who are leaving the church, but I see young people encounter Jesus and radically give their lives away for the good of others and God’s glory. He employs His Church to share good news and display good deeds. God is alive, and He does immeasurably more than we could ever ask or imagine (Eph. 3:20).

This story is of a real girl who’s living with dignity because she knows she is a precious daughter of the King. This story is about God using a group of young people to show undeserved grace and generosity. This story is about God employing His Church to love the broken. This story is about God ushering the Kingdom of God into the life of our church and city.

Is there a Tylessa in your church or in your community? May God use you to pay forward the grace you have received.

3 responses to Generous Generation

  1. Kendra,
    Where did you read anything about color. This story says nothing about race, color, or background. I am sorry you fell this way also. I will pray for you that the God who made you and loves you, will soften your heart.

  2. Kendra–I’m sorry you see it this way. I know it was the furthest thing from the minds of those in this church who were eager to serve the underprivileged in their community in any way they could–regardless of race or ethnicity.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Past Alliance Life Issues

Share

Get Involved...

Pray.

We cannot “Live the Call Together” unless prayer is central to all we do.
Pray with us »

Serve.

Is God calling you to service? We’re here to help you connect your passion with God’s purpose.
Serve with The Alliance »

Give.

Help build Christ’s Church by supporting the ministry and workers of The Alliance.
Give today »