Pastor Chris Hemmerich
We moved to Connecticut when I was in high school, and shortly thereafter my father died after a brief bout with cancer. This sent my world reeling. My father and I had never been close, but now all hope of a better relationship was lost. I began to wonder whether there was a heaven or a hell, and where was father was. God used this tragedy to spark a spiritual investigation that would continue through my freshmen year of college.
Through that time, I often talked with a friend about the big questions of life: Why are we here? Is there a God? What is God like? Finally, my friend suggested I talk to his father, who “thought about this kind of stuff all the time.” When I did, this man offered to answer any question I had, so long as I committed to attend a bible study he taught for at least 6 weeks. I agreed, and the next thing I knew he was handing me a background check form! I found out was that his bible study was held at a medium security prison in Somers, Connecticut!! He picked me up each week, and gave me a Bible to read. Each week, I saw prisoners weep over their sins, and rejoice in their salvation. As I read the gospel for the first time, I saw the fruit of the Gospel in the transformed lives of the prisoners. They were behind bars, but they had more freedom than I did. God shook me, convicted me, and woke me up to Himself. That spring, I surrendered my life to Christ.
I began the work of trying to find a church that preached the Bible --- no easy affair in the Northeast! I eventually settled at Valley Community Baptist Church. I was blessed to be mentored there by several Pastors over the next few years, meeting and marrying my wife Corey, who had grown up attending there.
I continue to seek growth in my walk with Christ through regular Bible study and prayer, reading the sermons of Spurgeon, and listening to those of Tim Keller and John Piper. Every church I have served in I have sought both accountability and encouragement from older men, (often Elders or fellow Pastors,) and I enjoyed the combination of their support and counsel.
I have grown a lot since I first believed 21 years ago, but I have so much farther to go in the time the Lord gives me. Higher up and deeper in, as the characters in The Last Battle cry as they explore the new Narnia. There is so much depth and richness to Christ's love and care -- how much more of His grace and goodness do I long for and yearn to know!