The Loudest LOVE

(This post was written by Brad Ervin, Pastor of Outreach and Missions)

I have a 5 week old little boy at home.
He is our first child.
We are new parents.

For those of you with children, those three sentences are loaded with memories, both happy and terrifying! I could write post after post about all that I am learning about myself and about God during these sleep deprived weeks. About how selfish I am with my time, about how much of a control monster I can be, about patience, and at times…a little taste of what unconditional love must feel like.

Many nights, my wife and I will be laying in bed, doing our best to sleep a “whole two hours” between feeding the creature in the other room, and I’ll look over at her and think about how much I love her and how proud I am of her. Somewhere in the middle of the mushy thoughts, invariably, a cry will erupt from the other room – the “netherworld”, I call it. My wife awakens with a start…and now, the title of my blog comes into play. If I were to tenderly reach over, tap my wife on the shoulder and say sweetly, “I love you”, and then roll back over and leave her to go and take care of the dirty diaper/cold/hot/hungry/tired/grouchy baby, do you think it would make a huge impact on her? Would she be telling me the next morning, “Honey, that was the sweetest “I love you” last night at 3:15am, it really made the two-hour baby consoling marathon that followed go by so quickly!

Now, imagine the same situation: asleep, baby crying, we both are awake…except this time, I lean over, quickly kiss her on the forehead, and jump up to go into the other room and meet the needs of our son. Change his diaper, rock him, sing to him, etc. I didn’t say a word to her, but what did I communicate? I hope that she heard what I was saying in my heart as loudly as I could…”I love you!” Obviously, at some point in the night, she was still going to have to get up and feed him and I would have to sleep as well, but when I see her the next morning and she says, “Thank you for being so sweet last night. It makes everything easier in life knowing that I’m not doing it alone and that you love me enough to help in the ways you can.”

Which “I love you” says more? A few sweetly whispered words? Or an act of intentional, selfless service? Can you think of an example in your life where someone has served you lately and it made you feel loved? If yes, you’re probably smiling right now. There is something about being served and cared for that speaks more loudly to our hearts than any words written or spoken. I believe this principle is true in romantic relationships, in friendships, and believe it not, in everyday life with complete strangers. Actions often do speak more loudly than words.

On April 9th, 2011 – Faith Promise Church family, you have the opportunity to shout a giant “Jesus Loves You!” to the entire East Tennessee Valley. We are participating in Operation Inasmuch, which is an incredible ministry that helps us, as Christ-followers, actually take action in meeting the needs of the poor, the lonely, the disaffected, and the helpless in our own backyards. We aren’t shouting from our church steps – “Jesus loves you! Come to church!” – We are actually being the hands and feet of Jesus and loving people right where they are all over Anderson, Blount, and Knox counties. Our Operation Inasmuch team has found projects that are in need of willing hands and hearts and put them on our website where you, your family, and your small group can sign up to share the love of Christ to our community. Most of the projects are family friendly, because we want to give your entire family a chance to serve others, and I truly believe, be blessed and energized more than you can imagine!

We need your help to get the word out to the entire Faith Promise Family about this day of service on April 9th. There is a sign up page where you can find a list of projects. A project leader will then contact you with more detailed information about the day. This is an incredibly easy opportunity and first step to reaching the world outside the four walls of our buildings.

It is such a privilege for me to serve you, my Faith Promise family, and I hope by writing this blog and helping find opportunities to serve, you are hearing me say, “I love you and Jesus loves you.”

Look for the Angel Tree This Weekend!

Do you hear it?  Yes, that is Christmas music playing in your favorite store!  It’s that time of year again, and you will find a Christmas tree in the lobbies of our Faith Promise campuses this weekend, as we kick off our Angel Tree ministry for 2010.

This year we will be providing Christmas gifts for kids from Beaumont Elementary, our partner school in Western Heights.  You can bless a child this Christmas by taking a tag from the tree and committing to buy gifts for that child.  Volunteers are also needed to assist with distributing the tags, and receiving the gifts.  Go here to sign up. There are many ways to volunteer!

Be sure to grab your Angel(s) from the tree this weekend.  They will go fast!

Pantry of Promise

Happy Holidays, Faith Promise Family!  Yes, it is true… it’s already the holiday season!

Currently, the Pantry of Promise is experiencing shortages of some food groups. We have begun our yearly food drive for our Thanksgiving and Christmas distributions, and we expect to serve 100 families for each of these holidays.  Our goal to see every small group member at Faith Promise donate 1-2 items a week from October 30 to December 12th.  If the Faith Promise family would all chip in a little, together we can make a huge difference.   Containers will be available in the Lobby each weekend to receive donations.  See below for a list of needed items and who to contact with questions.

In addition to the holidays, the Pantry of Promise distributes food every 1st and 3rd Tuesday throughout the year, so contributions are needed all year long.    Thank you for joining in and partnering to serve the hungry and hurting in the Knoxville area!

Questions ?
Call 251-2590 ext: 3002
or email:

Thanksgiving and Christmas Needs

For Families:

  • Gift cards for Turkey or Ham ($10-15)
  • Boxed Stuffing
  • Can Cranberries or Cranberry Sauce
  • Green Beans
  • Can Sweet Potatoes or Box Mashed Potatoes
  • Can of Gravy
  • Canned Ham
  • Apple Juice (64-96oz.)

For Babies (plastic containers, please):

  • Turkey
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Peas, Carrots or Green Beans
  • Fruits
  • Apple Juice

Other Immediate Needs

For 1st and 3rd Tuesday distributions (no glass containers or refrigerated items, please):

  • Apple (or other) Juices (64-96 oz.)
  • Breakfast foods (boxed cereal, oatmeal, etc.)
  • Canned fruits
  • Peanut Butter (pt. size)
  • Canned Vegetables
  • Canned meats (tuna, chicken, Spam, etc.)
  • Canned Ravioli/Spagetti-O, etc.
  • Canned Beans (various kinds)
  • Canned Soups
  • Packaged Rice
  • Box Dinners (Hamburger Helper, etc.)

Serving Saturday

On Saturday, Oct 16th from 8:00 am-12:30 pm, our entire church family is invited to be a part of our first ever Serving Saturday.  This will be a day when everyone is encouraged to stand as one body, with one motive – to go and love our communities with acts of service.

We will all be meet at the Pellissippi Campus/Blount Campus at 8:00 am to pray together and receive our assignments.  We will then disperse into the community to help out fellow churches, para-church organizations, and local businesses with projects that will bless and encourage them.  Some projects will be family friendly, so bring your kids.  And if you have a weed-eater, blower, or wheelbarrow, we can use that as well!  Please email with questions, and let us know during the weekend of 10/2-10/3 if you will be joining us on the 16th.  That way we can make sure we have enough supplies and projects!

See you then as we get to live out the love of Jesus in East Tennessee!

Never Say Never

(This post was written by Caroline Ervin, Membership Director)

There is a topic of conversation within the church that I continue to hear across many circles that sounds something like this:

I know someone at my work that needs help paying their bills, we should help them!” or
I know someone in our small group that can’t provide for their children, we should help them!” or
There are so many in Haiti and Nashville that need our help, we should help them.

The more I have tuned into these conversations, I’m starting to realize that the “we” to which they are referring is the church organization. They don’t think they should be the one to help provide the resources for that help or that they should be the ones to go spread that message of hope, but it should be done by the organization.

I want to challenge you to ask, ”What if God revealed that family with a need or that information about a country in need because He actually wanted you to be the one to help them or you to be the one to help spread that message across the world?” It’s so much easier and more comfortable to pass the responsibility on to someone else.

I can speak from experience, because for years, this was me. I can vividly remember conversations I had with my boyfriend (now husband, Brad Ervin) in college as we would discuss traveling on mission trips or even thinking about being missionaries. I would quickly respond by telling him, “God has definitely not called me to go on a mission trip to even go visit and definitely not to move half way across the world. He would never call me to do that, and I just won’t go.” Little did I know that to say never to God is the most dangerous and humorous phrase you can utter.

Fast forward to 2006. I have just come on staff as the Membership Director at Faith Promise and just a few months into being full-time, Josh Whitehead comes to me and says, “We have spot open on our mission trip to Thailand. I think you should go, and I need you to go!” I said I would pray about it, knowing full well God would not call me on that trip (that left in only eight weeks). I begged God not to make me go. I begged Him to break a bone so I couldn’t go. I even prayed to get really sick. Yet all the while I knew I was going to go on that trip. If it isn’t already obvious, I was not looking forward to it at all. The day I was supposed to tell Josh whether I was going or not, the last line of the book from my quiet time read, “Have you ever considered going to a foreign country and sharing the gospel in another language?” Ouch! If that isn’t blatant confirmation, then I don’t know what is.

That trip changed my life forever. God opened my heart and showed me a new love for Him and for His people that I would have always missed out on had I not stepped out of my comfort zone and traveled to the other side of the world to experience it. Since then, I have traveled to Macau, China, and Cape Town, South Africa three times. We just returned from Africa about a week ago, and I am begging my husband to sell all our possessions and move our family to Cape Town, South Africa to serve as missionaries.

I want to share my story because maybe you have told God, “I will never go on a mission trip!” or “I would never be able to give up my own money to help someone else in need.” I want to encourage you to be willing and open to God asking you to do something out of your comfort zone. He may have placed that situation, family, or trip into your path because He wants to work in your life and reveal Himself to you in a way that is unlike anything you have ever experienced. You just have to be willing to say “Yes!” And also, to never say never.

There and Back Again

(This post was written by Brad Ervin, Pastor of Outreach and Missions)

Hello Faith Promise Family!

Over the last few months, Faith Promise has had the privilege of sending short term mission teams all over the world – Thailand, Nicaragua, Honduras, Haiti, South Africa, Portugal, and more! It’s been a huge blessing for me to see how God is using the overflow of Faith Promise to share love to hearts all over the world. I have personally had the great joy of being a part of two of these mission teams – Haiti and South Africa. In both countries I’ve witnessed some of the most horrific living conditions imaginable. I’ve likened the area in Haiti to a garbage dump with a city on top of it … and the townships in South Africa aren’t much better. However, as I have reflected on both of the these trips, God’s voice has shared some really impactful truths with me.

1. He is ALL we need. That statement is an easy throw-away phrase for most American Christians, but when you are in an environment and a culture where they truly don’t have anything material, and yet you see joy and peace in the lives of the people there, you know it is TRUE! The abundant life that Christ speaks of in John 10:10 can (and should) be had regardless of circumstances! There are rarely moments as a believer in Jesus more humbling than having someone with no home, no health, and no job, praying God’s blessing on YOU! But that is the beauty of our faith … we are all part of the same family, brothers and sisters in Christ.

2. He is THERE in the midst of crisis. It is very easy to look at places where the economic, health, and living conditions are in shambles, and ask “Where are You, God?!” I’ve got to be honest, that has been me on more than one occasion. But as I continue on this journey of love and grace, I begin to see with different eyes, and suddenly, I realize He is there in the center of all the pain. In Haiti, I see believers come together and share their homes and food with each other. I see an 80-year old missionary who has been giving her life away to Haitians for generations still faithful each day to teach young women about God’s love for them. In South Africa I come across community pastors who have a passion for seeing the souls of their towns enriched, with no regard to monetary riches or blessings. I look with my “new” eyes, and realize that God is working out His perfect will unceasingly in all of these “forgotten” areas. I see Christ followers in the darkest of all these places with a peace that defies logic and a love for others that can only come on a direct line from Jesus. I know that I may never understand why God allows some people to live with such excess and others in complete poverty, but I know I can trust that He loves both unconditionally and He is walking with us all through all circumstances.

3. Jesus loves YOU. This is has been the theme that God has been repeatedly echoing in my life over the last few months and it was so cool to see that same message being shared in all these other lands. In Haiti, the first words I heard spoken from the orphans I was talking to was, “Jesus loves you.” In Africa, from the stage at Hillsong Church, the main theme of the evening we visited was “Jesus loves you.” What a powerful message! No matter what you’ve done, who you’ve hurt, how you’ve messed up, or what you are even doing right now…HE LOVES YOU! Actually, He loves you just as much now as He ever will! You can’t do anything to change that all consuming, one-way love that He has for you! And because He loves you, He wants to know you and walk through all of life’s good and bad times with you. I know that I can trust that even though I’m not still there to hug the orphans, or to encourage the local pastors, or even to feed the hungry.  I know that our Father loves them and will take care of them.

There are going to be some amazing opportunities for you to join Faith Promise in a short term mission trip next year! Make sure you check the missions page on the Faith Promise website for the latest news on these trips and how to get involved. I would especially encourage you to begin praying now about where God would have you go and start saving your pennies so you can say YES to the right opportunity!