I feel as if God has been calling me my entire life into a deeper walk with Him – with a greater passion to advocate for the poor and the oppressed.

It has been amazing to me how God has fused love of God and love of neighbor into one-and-the-same experience so many times.

This happened, perhaps most vividly, during my time in rural Colorado. I spent the summer in the San Luis Valley, an arid valley surrounded by snowcapped mountains in the distance. However, our immediate environs were miles and miles of scrub brush and jackrabbits. I remember waking up in the morning to step outside and greet the day, only to find a kangaroo rat that our host's cats had killed and laid before us as an "offering."

The community suffered from deep poverty and lack of water. We helped organize work groups to build adobe homes and add needed features. In addition, my father ran a Protestant church while my brothers and I served as counselors for the local day camp. But while we worked to alleviate poverty, God worked on us to grow in relationship with those around us. As we heard their stories of hardship, family, and commitment to God, we were blessed. Their stories and passions opened my heart to greater awareness of the vast ways God works in people's lives in the midst of hardship. This led me to an even deeper love of God and thirst to alleviate the challenges others face.

It is this call I struggle and hope to live into each and every day.

Thank you so much for struggling, rejoicing, and praying together with me.

About the Contributor

Dr. Thomas E. Evans was called to First Presbyterian, Spartanburg as Senior Pastor on June 3, 2012. Tom was born in Brazil, the fourth son of missionary parents and grew up in many places. Even though living here since July 2012, he and his wife, Wendy, already feel as though they are true Spartanburgeans. Their daughter, Liz, is a recent graduate of Kennesaw State University and their son, Matthew, is in his freshmen year at Spartanburg High. In his spare time, Tom likes to play golf and have a weekly movie night with his family.