Growing Together: Jeff & Annabelle Ho

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Since moving to New York in January, our time at Forefront has been a breath of fresh air. We have been encouraged by the calls to seek freedom rather than condemnation, to grab ahold of joy firmly, and to always continue to ask questions.

Exhale and step into the freedom we were meant to experience.

We grew up continually hearing about sin and all the ways we fell short of God's standards. As a result, we developed a sense of God as angry and harsh, always waiting for us to fail and then condemning us with anger and punishment. This made us feel trapped within the confines of fear and guilt. But it's at Forefront that we've been experiencing what we knew in our minds but had perhaps never fully, deeply embraced in our hearts: that God loves us with an abundant and unimaginable and perfect love, and that this kind of perfect love completely casts out fear.

Forefront has made God's love for us - and how He knows us and comforts us and encourages us to become our best selves - feel incredibly real. And it's lifted the burden of "should"s that we placed on ourselves - that we "should" do more or be more, or else we don't deserve love or acceptance. Forefront is a place that acknowledges people's struggles and the emotional toll that can ensue. When Alicia gave all of us space to reflect and process our own faith journeys, it was revelatory to have that time in church in a new way. In that way, Forefront hasn't demanded action or responsibility or instant healing or perfect faith from those who are struggling with the weight of their own burdens. It's helped us to accept where we currently are in our own journeys and to realize that God meets us and loves us exactly where we are.

Revel together with others and grab hold of His joy.

Forefront has given us a community to walk alongside in a city where we don’t know that many people. We just joined a small group, and the friendship and joy with which we’ve been welcomed has been so heartwarming. The worship at Forefront has also helped us to literally clap our hands with joy! At the end of weeks that have been tiring, our souls have been refreshed with Angela’s joyful leading of worship, and we always leave church feeling refreshed and uplifted. We’ve been able to fully rejoice, even after tiring or stressful weeks.

Ask questions and seek answers.

We heard once that God isn't afraid of our questions - He embraces them. At Forefront, we've considered new questions, heard insights and perspectives we haven't heard before, and have been encouraged to seek out answers to complicated questions. At our small group, we've grown by hearing others' perspectives and views, pondering our small group leader's questions, and having conversations about inclusion and diversity in the church. This has helped to crystallize our faith. It has also helped us to better understand who God is and, through that, to better love and serve others.

So if whether you’re a question-asker, someone seeking community, or who has lost their joy, or has felt the burden of guilt and shame by what the churches have have said before, we recommend you come and worship at Forefront with us!

Robbie Klein