Surrounded by a Great Cloud of Witnesses

Our pastors, church staff, and their families had the privilege to serve and honor our long-term members who have been members of our church for twenty-five years or more this past weekend.

It’s hard to put into words the joy we experienced as a family getting to serve those who first served us because of a Savior who first served us all.

I was filled with thankfulness thinking about all the ways these dear saints in the room had lived by faith through the years. I am not sure if it is because we just ran the Race for Hope in the morning, but I was reminded of Hebrews 11 and 12 and the powerful encouragement that comes from examples of faithfulness for running the Christian race. I kept thinking to myself as a looked around the room at our long-term members, “we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us” (Hebrews 12:3). I was thanking God as I recounted their example of faithfulness.

By faith, they have stood for God’s Word and heralded the good news about Jesus Christ for decades.

By faith, they have sought to grow in holiness and greater Christlikeness to be an example to the next generations.

By faith, they started and supported Purdue Bible Fellowship, a wonderful Christ centered college group grounded on God’s Word, that impacted my spiritual walk when I first came to Purdue.

By faith, they provided a biblical counseling ministry for the church and community that helped me to grow in Christlikeness and fanned a flame in my heart to love the Lord’s powerful Word.

By faith, they began Faith Christian School that impacted by wife and now is forming my three children with an excellent Christian education.

By faith, they generously gave and labored to begin Faith Bible Seminary, where I received my pastoral training. God used this to change the trajectory of my vocation and formed and shaped my marriage, parenting, and ministry into greater conformity to Christ.

By faith, they chose me to be one of their pastors knowing my warts and all. They have exercised forbearance and love in all my sins and weaknesses as I have served among them.

It was a little taste of the glory that is going to be revealed for us in Heaven. Like the writer of Hebrews “And what more shall I say? For time will fail me if I tell…” We have so many great witnesses who have exercised faith in our church family. Their examples are a powerful encouragement to press on toward faithfulness.

As I considered those in attendance I also thought about the dear brothers and sisters who were not there, but with their Savior Jesus. Those who had finished their race and kept the faith. I imagined how much they would enjoy seeing and being with these brothers and sisters. To imagine the joy of talking about the wonderful things that God has done and to be part of it all.

Then I thought about that precious joy of that last verse “God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us they would not be made perfect” (Hebrews 11:40). The sweet joy of knowing that God’s community of faith will receive vindication and glory, God’s commendation and reward, because of Christ the author and perfecter of faith (Hebrews 12:1-3).


Question: Who are some of the examples that live by faith in our church family that encouraged you to be faithful to Christ? How did their example specifically encourage you?

Question: Who in our church family did you see finish the race well looking forward to promise of being with Christ? What specific trials and circumstances did they experience that revealed their hope was not in this life but that they belonged to Christ?

Aaron Birk
Aaron is married to Tirzah and has three children: Zemirah, Boaz, and Keziah. Aaron is the Pastor of Global Missions for Faith Church. He serves as a service Pastor for the 11:00 a.m. worship service at Faith West. Aaron oversees international students, missionaries, and short term missions. He is certified as a biblical counselor through the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC).