By Ross Fitch | Photo by Hannah Trussell
“The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)
When Pathway launched the Goddard Campus over three years ago, Erik and Janet Merhoff had complex relationships with God. Erik grew up at Pathway and had considered himself a “Christian” since he was a child, but without a strong connection to other Christians, Erik’s faith and church attendance had become stagnant. Janet similarly had attended Sunday School as a child, but she later became an atheist and still maintained her disbelief in God. After recently becoming a new father and hearing of the Goddard campus launch, however, Erik seized the opportunity to restart his Christian life.
“It became a lot more important to find a church home and start living what I claimed to believe,” Erik said.
Janet also began to sporadically attend at Erik’s requests, but remained an atheist. On June 26, 2013, the Merhoff’s second child, Owen, was born, and Erik expressed a strong desire for the entire family to attend church the following Sunday. During the service, Janet was leaning down to cover up Owen when an usher came up beside them with the communion tray. Nothing could have prepared her for what happened next.
“God told me, ‘You’re going to take communion today,’” Janet recalled. “It was like a thought I didn’t have.”
Surprised and a little scared, Janet looked around to be confident that the moment was real. Assured of her reality, Janet took communion and gave her life to Christ. Janet initially worried about how she would possibly explain her experience to those closest to her, particularly her parents. Thankfully, her parents and everyone else she told rejoiced and were very supportive in her first steps in her new faith.
For Erik, Janet’s decision was a long-awaited answer to his prayers, and it brought a new aspect to their marriage. “Our marriage was complete,” Erik said. “Our relationship now had God in the middle of it.” Erik and Janet now pray together regularly, finally have a church home, and they both take comfort in knowing they are raising their family according to God’s will. Looking back now, Erik never knew if Janet would ever put her faith in Christ, but he never stopped praying.
“You can always have hope.”