By Scott Linscott
It was December 2011 when my diseased liver was threatening my life. Ascites fluid filled every cavity and made me look like I was 10 months pregnant. Doctors stuck needles into my lung cavity and my abdomen to drain off liters of fluid. My lungs did not have enough room to expand and speaking in full sentences was difficult.
I remember begging God to save my life and heal me so that I could keep preaching and teaching. I remember telling him that my condition made absolutely no sense to me. All I could do was write a blog that sometimes barely made sense because of the fluid in my brain causing hepatic encephalopathy.
“Yes, Lord, I’m ready to come home, but why? There’s still so much I want to do here. There are people who have no idea who you are. There are hungry children. I’m not ready to pack it in and head home yet. Please let me stay. Please let me speak for you again.”
I never wanted a giant church with grand productions. I had no desire to have my name on the front sign or printed on letterhead, cards, or books. I didn’t want to be the speaker at the next big conference. I begged God for just the chance to do life with a group of people who wanted to follow him and dared to trust. A garage with folding chairs? A living room with people squished together on the couch? A restaurant space?
“What if we got five families to sell our houses and all buy houses in that new development so we could meet all those new families? What if we hung out on the lawn?”
Robin listened to plenty of my crazy dreams and would say, “okay, if that’s where you feel God is leading us, we’ll go.”
God answered our prayers. My son gave me 60% of his liver on May 7, 2012, and, after a difficult year of recovery, I found myself speaking to just a few dozen people in a traditional, old, New England style church building in July of 2013. It was a church facing some very large challenges and facing its own mortality. I shared my story of God’s faithfulness.
Robin went to the church we were attending that morning since she had responsibilities serving there. When we met back at home, I shook my head and told her, “I don’t think that church is going to make it.” I remember feeling sad.
Today, seven years later, you can find me most Sunday mornings, teaching from the front with no shortage of air in my lungs. God has brought families back into the rows and assembled people who are unafraid of impossible challenges. He has allowed us to be part of a Philippians 1 type of church family where I can say, as Paul said, “I thank God for your partnership in the gospel.”
It is a church family where Grace compels us to live out the mission Jesus left to his followers. It is a congregation of less than 100 on most Sunday mornings that the Lord has used to renovate and restore a Noah’s Ark school in third-world poverty in Guatemala. It is a small congregation that furnishes the homes of our new neighbors who are starting over in recovery, are recent arrivals to the United States, or are victims of domestic violence rebuilding their broken worlds. It is a church that hands out 3000+ free, home-cooked meals each year and gave tight hugs to all who needed them before COVID distanced us and turned us into drive-up meals only. It is a church that will have distributed 92,000+ pounds of USDA food boxes by mid-December to families facing food insecurity.
Me? I just shake my head at how massively God answered my desperate 2011 prayers and allowed me to be part of what he is doing in Westbrook. I am thankful for what he has built here. It looks so much like Jesus: simple, consistent, quiet, humble. It’s nothing fancy like more modern buildings. Here since 1888, it is somewhat like a rough stable welcoming the Good News that was announced first to some of the lowliest members of society. Our little family of Jesus followers will probably never attract those looking for polished performance, comfort or perfection, nor will it hold much appeal to those who prefer to gather for a weekly pep-talk without calls for action or selfless living. But, that’s okay.
Nine years after my desperate prayers, I am thanking God for plopping us down in the middle of this former mill town. Yes, this COVID mess has us facing big challenges as a church, but we are doing our best to learn how to do things online while and even increasing the ways we try to meet the growing needs around us. The financial spreadsheets look discouraging but we’re sure God has a plan for that. We will remain faithful to our call for as long as He allows.
If you have the means and God prompts you to be part of his supply for his plans here in Westbrook, Maine, please consider partnering with us at www.easytithe.com/fbcwestbrook or text “GIVE” to 207-600-2777. (Mail: FBC Westbrook, 733 Main St., Westbrook, ME 04092.) If you are one who looks forward to Giving Tuesday to make annual gifts, we could definitely use your help.
If you have needs, like so many in this pandemic, let me know. We can at least pray with you and for you. If you are local, we’ll be distributing another thousand food boxes from our parking lot the next two Thursdays of that could help. We have some furniture and a few coats and hats left. We have some emergency kits for people you know who are without shelter and have collected some winter sleeping bags. Just let us know? You don’t have to go through this alone.
God is good. He has given me a life beyond the life I prayed for and has supplied all my needs. I know He will do the same for you if you, like those shepherds on the hill, go to look for him. In fact, if you’re local, I invite you to come seek him with us.