Saturday, March 4, 2023
Webcast and Prelude begin at 5:30pm Central Time
Remnant Fellowship Church
1230 Franklin Rd.
Brentwood, TN 37027
Black, white/champagne, with greenery and touches of gold
In 2001, my mother discovered the Remnant Fellowship Church through taking a Weigh Down program, and our entire family joined the church together in 2002. My parents established a strong foundation for my siblings and me built upon loving God first, as they learned from Gwen Shamblin Lara, and we were raised that a relationship with God was to be the most important thing in our lives. Being barely a year old at the time we joined, I did not fully understand the significance of the doctrine of the church throughout the initial years of my membership. But, as anyone who is raised in any strong belief can attest, there comes a point when you have to decide for yourself if you truly believe what you’ve been raised in – it cannot be blind faith.
Ellen loves her family very deeply and always upholds her parents. Her loyalty and affection for her friends is worthy of David and Jonathan in the Bible, but most importantly, she seeks God’s will and defends the truth and this church. She has made every day easier and has only brought good into my life. It can be described as nothing but bliss to be the one by her side, and it will be the honor of a lifetime to call her my wife. - Luke
Around my sophomore year of high school, it was becoming clear that this couldn’t just be “my parents’ religion.” As I slowly felt myself become less and less connected to God, He was making it clear that I couldn’t reap the benefits of my parents’ relationship with Him while not putting in the work myself. One night that will forever stand out in my mind is when Gwen gave an impromptu talk at a youth gathering (this talk is now entitled “How Can a Young Man Keep His Way Pure?”). In less than 19 minutes, she delivered the most direct, electrifying talk I had heard up that point in my life. That night, along with other events in my life around that time, kickstarted a deliberate effort to put the teachings of Christ into practice. Just as was promised, the teachings of this church finally started becoming alive for me. John 14:23 will always be a scripture that resonates with me, as it so clearly lays out the fundamental doctrine of this church: “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching….” Understanding not only is there hope that I can improve spiritually every day but that it is what we are called to do was the antidote to the stagnant yet unstable life I felt myself drifting towards.
Each year as my appreciation for this relationship with God has grown, so has the internal peace and purpose I’ve felt. While God has additionally blessed in countless other areas as well, such as school, work, relationships, etc., I know that if all of that were taken away, my relationship with Him is a remaining rock. Therefore, as I finished high school and entered college, I felt peace in many areas typically defined by stress, and I felt purpose while those my age expressed feeling aimless. Although I knew I eventually wanted to find someone I could love, marry, and raise a family unit centered around God as my parents had, it felt far off as I was incredibly at peace with the work I felt God had cut out for me. Life was full of friends, school, work, etc., and therefore I wasn’t really looking to date. If I focused on the work at hand, I felt God would make it clear who or when I was supposed to date.
Before Ellen and I began dating, we primarily knew each other through mutual friends. Even so, it is not an exaggeration to say that Ellen’s reputation preceded her. You could ask anyone who knew her, whether in church, at her work, or in her family, and they would have only the highest of praises to say about her. Therefore, when we went on our first date, I definitely felt that she was out of my league—a feeling that has only been confirmed over time. Her reputation of joyfulness, excellence, and a love for God was certainly true and was what drew me to her. Leading up to that first date, I knew I was incredibly lucky to have even the chance to form a deep relationship with someone founded on those characteristics. Ellen’s abundance in those qualities has remain unchanged from that first date to today. Over the following months of dating, I also learned that she happens to be the best person to spend time with! She effortlessly gets me laughing and supports me in any work that needs to be done, and it has always felt like we are on the same page. She is quick witted, always ready to laugh at everyone’s jokes, or cry at the first sight of anyone else’s tears. Ellen loves her family very deeply and always upholds her parents. Her loyalty and affection for her friends is worthy of David and Jonathan in the Bible, but most importantly, she seeks God’s will and defends the truth and this church. She has made every day easier and only brought good into my life. It can be described as nothing but bliss to be the one by her side, and it will be the honor of a lifetime to call her my wife.
I cannot write a single word without first giving credit where credit is due. I would never have a testimony or a life filled with so many blessings if it weren’t for my parents and the amazing leadership of this church with their unmeasurable amount of love and guidance throughout the years. To my mother and her beautiful example of devotion and righteousness, and to my father for his loving and unfailing support: words will never be able to express the overwhelming thankfulness and love I have for each of you.
My mother had always sought a relationship with God, and when I was growing up, we attended many different churches until she came across Remnant Fellowship in 2007. I was 10 years old at the time, and for many years, I was more so just along for the ride. I always believed in God and knew that He was omnipresent. The knowledge of that, along with the fear of upsetting my parents, kept me out of any serious trouble growing up, but I also had a strong sideways focus on pleasing people and was terrified of looking weird or different or like a “Jesus Freak.” Even with my mother’s unwavering example, her relationship with God never quite clicked for me until I was older. However, looking back now, I can fully understand and appreciate the deep love she had for my siblings and me and her steadfast devotion to teaching us the importance of seeking God and how to have a real relationship with Him, like she had learned through Remnant Fellowship.
Luke is extremely smart and talented and has such a strong zealousness for God... He perfectly lives out Romans 12:9: Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Luke has the best sense of humor and always knows the perfect thing to say in every situation. He is my very best friend, and I cannot wait to be his wife and experience every stage of life together.- Ellen
After graduating high school, I had plans to attend college in Michigan. I really didn’t know what I wanted to do career-wise, and I was constantly worrying about the future. It was suffocating how focused I was on myself and on fitting in with everyone around me. I wanted a relationship with God, but I wasn’t actually putting in any effort. It was a time of so much uncertainty, and I had no peace and a general lack of purpose. While visiting Nashville that summer, I had the opportunity to attend the blessing shower of Brad and Ivy Stamps. I had never been to a blessing shower before and was immediately moved by all the beautiful words shared about them. Ivy has, and continues to be, such a strong example and youth leader for our church, and I will never forget the conviction I felt that night. I wanted a passion for God like she had. I knew that my new purpose in life had to be to love God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. I started to really listen to the sermons given by Gwen Shamblin Lara, and my life began changing. I learned that I really could pray to God and actually have answered prayers! The more I focused on God and the needs of others instead of myself, the more fulfilled and happier I was. I had read Philippians 4:6 before but was missing the action behind it. As soon as I truly starting praying to God and trusting that He would take care of me, there was instant peace. There was no longer any need to worry or feel anxious. It was the most freeing feeling!
I moved to Nashville later that year, and although moving away from family was the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make, I knew this was exactly where I needed to be. I can’t even begin to attempt to list the countless blessings in the following years. I had the absolute honor of being very close to the Chris and Helen Boerman family. I will forever cherish all the invaluable lessons learned getting to see their family walk in the footsteps of Christ day in and day out. The friendships I was able to form were—and still are—the most beautiful and meaningful friendships I have ever had...bonds that genuinely feel like family and that will last for the rest of our lives. It brings me to tears just thinking of all the love and admiration I have for this extraordinary community of saints.
I’ve always had a strong desire to get married and start a family, but with so many dearly loved friends and family members, life was far from lonely, and I was very content being single. I think I preferred it, as dating never seemed to be easy or peaceful for me. I will never forget talking with Jessica Walters and her encouraging me to write out a list of characteristics I’d desire in a husband so that I could pray for them. For years, I prayed for someone who was righteous, humble, and who loved God above all else. God truly answered each one of those prayers with Luke! From his gentle and humble spirit…to his magnificent and unmatched head of hair, I knew from our very first date that he was going to be a permanent part of my life. There was just this immediate feeling of comfort and ease. Luke is extremely smart and talented and has such a strong zealousness for God, yet he is the first to admit if he is wrong and never forces his opinions on others. He perfectly lives out Romans 12:9: Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Luke has the best sense of humor and always knows the perfect thing to say in every situation. He is my very best friend, and I cannot wait to be his wife and experience every stage of life together, because I know he will be unwavering in his faith and therefore be the perfect helpmate. My love for him grows with every minute... And so my love and appreciation to God grows for bringing us together.