Dear friends of the Fellows,
The Charlotte Fellows Class of 2016 is done! Many have already moved to other cities, and I’m sad to see them go. Thankfully, several are staying here in Charlotte—so there is still a reason to rejoice. Overall, it was a great year with a great class of Fellows. It was also a year with several unexpected turns. But the biggest highlight has been seeing God’s provision throughout the whole year.
I know without a doubt that God brought each of our Fellows here...it wasn’t a backup plan or a detour. God brought us together intentionally. There was a lot of learning and growing—spiritually, vocationally, and emotionally. And because of the unexpectedness of Bob’s bypass surgery in December in the midst of my first year serving as director, I felt as if I was learning many things right along with them.
Courage & Kindness
We talked a lot about two things this year, and the first was having courageand being kind. Our Fellows showed courage and perseverance by coming and committing to this program. It took courage to look into their hearts and unpack the hard and painful issues that God brought to the surface. And they learned that only God can give that kind of courage—the courage needed to see that we are more sinful than we ever thought but also more loved than we could ever imagine.
And that kind of God-given courage enables us to give kindness to those around us. This world doesn’t seem to value kindness very much, but God certainly does. In Romans 2, it says that “God’s kindness leads us to repentance.” It’s not fear or judgment or good intentions but God’s kindness seen in the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus was the ultimate expression of kindness, but he never sacrificed truth or holiness in the process. It was a special thing to see the Fellows be genuinely kind with one another, even in the most stressful of times.
True kindness comes not from our own strength, control, or good nature, but from knowing who we are in Christ. It comes from experiencing God’s mercy in our own life and then being able to extend that mercy to others. We need to be kind to others but also to ourselves. Jesus was firm and intentional. He spoke truth that was hard to hear, but through it all, he remained kind. And it drew people to Him. Showing God’s kindness to those around us requires courage from God.
Walking by Faith
The second thing we talked about this past year was how we are called to “walk by faith and not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7). It’s hard to do. We would so much prefer to walk by sight, in our own strength and ability. But our growth and dependence on Jesus grows when we are forced to walk by faith. The Fellows and I had to do this pretty much all year! It was uncomfortable and scary and just plain hard sometimes. God wants us to see our need of Him not just one time but over and over. The qualities and abilities we will need to walk by faith are many and changing, but God has promised that He will provide what we need for the journey forward.
The Fellows also learned tons about work, vocation, their strength and challenge areas, the church, community, and calling. But underneath it all we intentionally laid the foundation of the Gospel. This Fellows year was a "starting well" year, and our prayer is that they are off to a good start!
A Few Thank You's
Before I sign off, a few thank you’s are in order:
A big thank you to our board for all the ways they were so helpful and amazing this year. I love getting to do this program together and having so much fun in the process!
Thank you to Bob for the great job in loving and caring for our guys and for his love, care, and support of me. It was a year full of unexpected things with a guy who does the unexpected well.
A big thank you to Virginia Spykerman, who was my assistant director this year. She was God’s provision for me, and I am so grateful. She loved and cared for the gals so completely and sacrificially.
Thank you to our host families, mentors, and employers. We are so grateful to have you as part of our Fellows family. You are absolutely integral to the program, and we are so thankful for God’s provision to us in you.
To the families of our Fellows, thank you for sharing your most treasured child with us. We were humbled and privileged to share life with them for nine months!
And finally, to all of our donors, thank you for continued support of the Charlotte Fellows Program. Without your generosity, none of this could happen.
As you can see, we had a full Fellows year! We learned to live with courage, to live with kindness, and to walk by faith and not by sight. Once again, thank you for your partnership in this gospel-centered program.
P.S. We're still taking applications for the 2016-2017 program. If you know of anyone who might be interested, encourage them to apply now through our website or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.