It’s so exciting to see someone or something that is lost be found. To see something broken get fixed and made like new again. To see someone go from feeling worthless to feeling priceless. This is the theme of the three “party in heaven” stories in Luke 15. Restoration is what God is all about, so that’s what Epikos Church in Vancouver, Washington, is all about.
Let me tell you another “party in heaven” story. Heather spent nine years dead in the darkness of crystal meth and a host of other things. Her family wondered whether she ever would make it out of the grip of that black hole. She lost her son. She lost her mind. Her brother Antonio would visit, only to see her trashed, sitting on the couch. It broke his heart.
One day, Heather prayed that God would help her stop using drugs. The next day, her boyfriend kicked her out of the house. She hit rock bottom. She went into rehab and had 94 days clean. She was listening to preachers on the radio and starting to pray. But when she got out of rehab, Heather relapsed. A week later, she found out that she was pregnant. That day, she prayed again, and she quit drugs.
Next she said, “I’ve got to find a church.” Pretty soon, a postcard from Epikos Church arrived in the mail. On the back of the card was a photo of Pastor Sam McKee and his family. “Hey,” she said, “That’s the guy who did my brother’s wedding! That’s my church!” (Her brother had met Pastor Sam at Epikos’s flag football life group a couple of years before.)
Heather and her mom Laurie began to attend the Epikos weekend experience. Pastor Sam
dedicated her little boy to God. She attended the CONNECT course, where she learned the basics of the Christian faith. And then, last summer, Heather and Laurie were baptized! It was the only time Heather ever had seen her brother cry. She was wearing a T-shirt advertising a bail bonds company; printed on the back was their slogan: Because your mama wants you home. It’s easy to think that her Father was smiling as He watched His priceless daughter head down the road that leads home.
Two other big events were happening in Heather’s life around that time: she was facing legal problems and getting married! She prayed, “God, just get me through the wedding, and I’ll turn myself in.” And that’s exactly what happened.
For that last few months, Heather has been serving on a work crew, picking up trash and pulling weeds, all the while praising God that she is a new creation. It’s not uncommon for her to post this kind of message on her Facebook page: “Back to work crew I go. Everyone have a blessed day!” A few days ago, she posted this: “This night has just been filled with a lot of challenges. All I have to say is thank God for everything and staying in my corner. Feeling blessed.” Heather’s son has been restored to her. Her dignity and purpose are being restored, day by day. And she is already partnering with God in His restoration work in others. Her best friend Shyla started attending Epikos with her, and both women now attend each week. Shyla’s little boy was dedicated to God, and she was baptized just a few weeks ago!
God is busy in His work of restoration, one life at a time. Epikos is honored to be one of the many canvases on which He is doing His beautiful workmanship. We look forward to bringing you many more such stories through the coming years. Thank you for being part of the team that makes it all possible.
Your coworker in Christ,
Elizabeth Whitworth Associate Directional Leader
P.S. It’s easy to give online anytime. Thank you for doing whatever you can to help Mission Catalyst start the next church that will change people’s lives forever!
The CONNECT course that Heather attended is the first course in a five-month discipleship experience at Epikos called Restoration-U. Learn more online.