I was introduced to the gospel in April 1980 at a church youth group gathering in Arlington Heights. It is an unforgettable memory since I grew up in a godless home. My restless search for the deeper meaning of life was set into motion when I first heard the story of Jesus in a cheesy slideshow lacking all the technological advances of the 21st century. I was captivated. My heart connected in a supernatural way I had never felt before.
Once my relationship with Christ was brought to life that spring night, the renewing of my mind and heart began. A fellow student from Rolling Meadows High School invited me to Son City, Willow Creek's youth group at the time. I remember seeing all these excited, difference-maker high school students jammed into a room at a church in Park Ridge. Don Cousins was leading with his unforgettable, warm smile. I was hooked. I never stopped going, attending both Sundays and Midweek until I married Tim and moved to Washington, DC in 1989.
Part of the very fabric of who I am today was shaped by the consistent teaching at Willow Creek. I learned about my identity in Christ and began the focused pursuit of discovering my spiritual gifts. Once a Christ follower understands their gifts, there is no wasting time. Matthew 25:14–30 captures this truth.
I jumped into my faith journey with both feet. I leaned on my life experiences, understanding firsthand what life without Christ is like, and I began to use the gifts God gave me to enthusiastically dive into kingdom-building adventures. I led Bible studies, a singles ministry, and fellowship events. And I also served on an evangelism team that would eventually spark a fire in me to help plant a Willow-style church.
I cooperated with the Lord out of a holy reverence for Him, with a response of thanksgiving for all He had done and would continue to do. As a result, joy and peace have ruled my life rather than worry and fear. Even through the toughest times, I know I will always find joy and strength in the Lord. And those toughest times will undoubtedly come.
My husband, Tim, was diagnosed with a genetic eye disease and is slowly losing his eyesight—something he fully depends on as a professional portrait artist. Tim has been an incredibly faithful and dedicated Christ follower, husband, and father. He never imagined he would be facing what he is today, yet we both know God has a plan and a purpose. We have had some difficult days and will continue to have difficult days, as this disease is always changing and calling us to adapt to those changes. But Tim is determined to dig deeper into the spiritual gifts he’s been entrusted with to discover exactly how he can continue to serve in even bigger and better ways.
Knowing how the practice of trusting in and using our God-given gifts has shaped our lives, it touches my heart to see Christ followers flourishing in their specific areas of giftedness. I truly believe this model is what makes the body of Willow Creek so strong, abounding in goodness and love, and reflecting the power of the risen Christ.
After all these years away, Willow still feels like home to me. Staying connected to Willow via WillowCreek.tv has been a blessing to our family as we see and hear gifted teachers, musicians, writers, pastors, and artists flourishing in who God created them to be, serving the local community and people around the globe. There are so many creative opportunities at Willow that we wish we could physically participate in, but we are dedicated to doing whatever we can, wherever we are, for the glory of His kingdom.
Tim and I both strive to live every day as clean, useable, teachable vessels that reflect the beauty of Christ to a dark, confused, and hurting world—offering a cup of living water to everyone God places in our lives. Jesus will draw to the well as we simply surrender to His design.
Regardless of any physical limitations we face, we know there will be more to our story. God writes the story, and we are humbled to be a part of it. With all our hearts, we thank you, Willow Creek, for being a part of ours.
This weekend more of the Chambers’ story will be featured during the services. It is a powerful story you won’t want to miss! Tim's book, Seeing Beautiful, will be available in Seeds Bookstore—and you can meet Tim and Kim following services near Seeds!
Watch Tim's TedX talk here.