- Associated Press - Thursday, February 11, 2016

BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (AP) - Battle Creek couple Stephanie and Pastor John Boyd understand how it feels to lose and rediscover faith.

When they were kids, going to church was a core component of their lives, but as they got older, both started to drift away from that spiritual path.

As a teenager, John wanted to explore other parts of life so he left the church and began partying. He says he was called back to his former life on March 15, 1992, when he woke up at 3 a.m. and felt almost spiritually pushed to go to church, according to the Battle Creek Enquirer (http://bcene.ws/1Q3yJn0 ).

Meanwhile, when Stephanie was 20 years old, the death of her mother prompted her to step away from God. She says she was angry at God, and she turned to things like alcohol to numb her pain.

Meeting her husband changed everything.

“Because I ran away from God, I also experienced a lot of hardships and depression and I knew that if I didn’t get back to the roots of my spiritual life, that my life was headed towards disaster,” Stephanie said. “So that being said, once I graduated from college and I tried to figure out who I was, that was when I met John and he was already in church. And he actually introduced me to the Lord and ever since then I’ve been serving God and it’s just been awesome.”

The next step in the Boyds’ spiritual lives centers on helping others understand the love of God.

The couple has opened a new Baptist-affiliated church in Battle Creek called Love in Action Community Ministries, which will hold services Sundays and Tuesdays in the Berean Seventh-day Adventist Church.

Their first Sunday service took place Sunday, and Tuesday marked their first weekday prayer service and Bible study. For now, Love in Action will be “church sharing” with the Seventh-day Adventists.

The Boyds said they currently have about 35 members in their congregation.

“How it came about, it was just a calling of God to come in, back home, because we’ve been going to church or attending church in Kalamazoo, Michigan,” John said. “And now God has called us to come back home and start a ministry here in our own community, to see what we can do to partner with other ministries to help bring restoration to our city here in Battle Creek.”

Stephanie said the name of their church is connected to their own lives and marriage. She said she and her husband have had to “really live out” what love means.

“We’ve had to deal with forgiveness, we’ve had to deal with loving people that was hard to love, and so because of the things that we’ve gone through and because that is the foundation of, (love) should be the foundation of people’s spiritual life, that is who we are and that was how we birthed the name Love in Action,” she said. “It’s not just about the word but it’s about proving love and so we want to go out into the community and show people how to love one another and just to love the community.”

Besides offering a place of worship, John said the goal of the church is to bring God’s teachings and love to life by helping others in the community. One of the congregation’s first projects will be to deliver goods like socks, toiletries and baby products to those at The Haven of Rest Ministries on Valentine’s Day.

“It’s really in the name, to be love in action, to make sure we prove to others in the church as well as in the community by actually helping to show them, not just tell them what the Bible says, but to help them live it out and see what the Bible says,” John said. “So experience the word of God through how God loves. So we want to be God’s hands, his ears, his eyes and actually go out and love people.”

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