My brother Jeff and I are 6 years apart and growing up we didn't connect much. I once dipped his deodorant in vinegar as a prank, but then I replaced it because I felt bad (the details on that last bit are a bit fuzzy). He was, and still is, a hard working and focused individual who simply makes things happen. He is a "do-er" whereas I growing up and still am a "be-er." I think that is why we never really connected growing up. He worked his ass off, and I coasted. He got A's and I got C's. He actually practiced his parts for band, and I just hung out in the drum room pissing off my band director by playing the drum set (instead of my baritone).
For my 21st birthday my parents picked me up from ISU and took me over to Champaign Vineyard Church to go to Jeff and Le Que's Sunday Night Service. This was January when, as you may know, Jeff takes a service to talk about Tithing to the church. It was also a giving campaign to build a new auditorium, so naturally my expectations for his sermon were low as I thought he would just be asking for money.
I was wildly wrong.
I remember him speaking about why we give, the bigger picture of what a newer and larger church space meant. What is meant for the greater community, and what it meant for the Kingdom of God. I remember being struck by his wisdom and how he was thinking about giving to the church. Now, I knew that he was planning on going to Minneapolis and after that sermon (and some beer and darts with some of the other plant team) I thought to myself, "I could go with that team." The following Easter Sunday I called Jeff to tell him that I was in.
In September of 2004 we finally "met," and it turned out we liked each other. I remember going from barely knowing my brother to being stuck in traffic with him in his car behind me, having weekly trips to McDonalds with a 2 year old Briana, and setting up chairs for church in a community space every Sunday. We lived life together and grew up together. The Jeff I know now versus the Jeff I met in 2004 has grown so much and I can't begin to describe how proud I am of him.
Because of my brother and this church my life is totally awesome. That is really lazy writing, but it is true. I have made my best friends at Mercy, I met my amazing wife there, I have two beautiful children all because I chose to join my brother on this adventure called Mercy Vineyard Church.
This post barely does justice or even begins to explain what Jeff has done for me and my family. I will never be able to say thank you enough. That being said, I will say it anyway, thanks.