“Jesus loves me! This I know, for the Bible tells me so. Little ones to Him belong; they are weak but He is strong.

“Jesus loves me! He who died, heaven’s gates to open wide. He will wash away my sin, let His little child come in.

“Jesus loves me! Loves me still, though I’m very weak and ill; from His shining throne on high, comes to watch me where I lie.

“Jesus loves me! He will stay close beside me all the way; if I love Him when I die, He will take me home on high.”

“Yes, Jesus loves me! Yes, Jesus loves me! Yes, Jesus loves me – the Bible tells me so!” (Anna B. Warner, 19th century)

There was a time when this little song was known by more adults and children than probably any other song sung in our churches. I don’t know if we still teach it and sing it as we used to, but it is one of the simplest, yet most profound of all hymns.

Yes, Jesus loves me! Why? I don’t know, except that in His grace and mercy He chooses to! And His love is so much different than the world’s definition and expressions of love today.

When I counsel young couples heading to the marriage altar, one of the first questions I ask them is “Why do you want to get married?” Almost invariably, the answer has something about “I love him/her”! And then I get to tell them that while they are on the road to loving their spouse, love is a byproduct of a Godly marriage, love is a choice made on the wedding day, and love is a growing experience; you don’t fall in love, you choose to and grow in love.

Our world has many expressions of affection, of commitment, of connection, and so on, but I’m convinced that real, true lasting love comes only when we experience the love of God as shown in Jesus Christ. Love between husband and wife is wonderful; love between parents and children is too. And our world needs love for each other more than we need the end of COVID or climate change. But where do we find real love and how great is it?

The answer is found in one verse of Scripture that is probably as well known as the song at the beginning of this column. The verse is John 3:16 and it contains the biggest word in the entire Bible. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” And what is that super-duper word, the little word so!

He so loved the world! How deep in that word? As deep as descending from the throne of heaven to the stable of Bethlehem. How broad is that word? As broad as the outstretched arms of the Son of God, nailed to a Roman cross. Human minds cannot comprehend the enormity of that word so…but God so loved me, and He so loved you too!

Jesus died for our sins. He didn’t die to excuse our sins. He didn’t die to eliminate the penalty for our sins. He didn’t die to remediate our sins. He didn’t die to eradicate sin from the earth. He didn’t die to lessen the wages of sin. He didn’t die to redefine sin.

Jesus didn’t die to make bad people good. He didn’t die to make good people better. He died to make dirty people, sinful people (and we all are) clean, pure, forgiven! He died to pay the price for sin, the full price,

“The price of sin is death” (Romans 3:23), that’s not just physical death, but eternal death and Jesus, while on the cross, went through all the punishment that I would take in eternal hell.

But now I don’t have to. Why? Because God so loved the world and I’m part of that world.

Having worked with people for well over 50 years, I’ve seen the results of children and adults who don’t know love. It’s heartbreaking. And today our world is reeling from a lack of understanding real love, God’s love. As I read the news, I know the only salvation for a world headed to oblivion is the love of God. “God so loved” the world. God still loves the world. He cannot love us more than He does right now, and He will not love us less!

He loves all of us! He doesn’t have to put an adjective into His version of “…lives matter”! All lives matter to God, from conception to natural death, no matter what the person looks like or is. And Jesus died for us.

And when we come to Christ as Savior and Lord, when we truly come to know His love, then how can we not love others, all others! We don’t excuse sin. We don’t overlook evil. We realize that all our hearts are that way from birth. But we love people and we share with them the love of God, by our actions and our words. Let us truly live by the words of the Holy Spirit, written down by John, “Beloved, because God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.” (I John 4:11)

Way back in 1965, a singer named Jackie DeShannon sang, “What the world needs now, is love sweet love; it’s the only thing that there’s just too little of. What the world needs now is love sweet love, no not just for one but for everyone…” I don’t know what she was defining as love, but I do know that the world needs God’s love, His grace, His mercy, His forgiveness and that we, His children, have got to show it wherever we go.

What’s Going on Where You Are?

As we continue on in our “new normal”, more and more churches are opening, often with different schedules and other modifications. And as summer progresses, we’re thinking about Vacation Bible School and other activities like that.

Let your congregation and the community as a whole know what’s going on in your church, temple, house of worship or other faith-based organization. And let Church Talk help.

You can send your announcements to us by email at bethanyb@sccoast.net and we’ll be glad to share the news.

Christ has called us to be the light of the world at a time when the world needs His light. Let’s accept the calling and share His love!

Helping the Helpers

As we continue through this worldwide “emergency”, needs seem to be multiplying. There are many economic problems from those out of work; there are medical needs for the ones coming down with COVID plus the other “normal” diseases and physical problems; there are emotional needs of loneliness and depression; and there are nutrition needs as many in our area (and around the world) are hungry.

There are a lot of groups that are trying to do that: the Salvation Army, Help4Kids, the Red Cross, CAP, the Shepherds Table, many local churches and so on. The Waccamaw Community Foundation collects “gifts” and distributes them to a number of charities. And we need to remember groups like Coastline Women’s Center and Bethesda Home for Single Mothers who go beyond the physical to assist the spiritual and other needs of our people. If you look, you can find someone to help. Let’s all open our eyes and hearts to friends, neighbors and strangers and be the hand and feet of God to the needy.

A Day of Hope, Aug. 8

This year’s Day of Hope will be different because of COVID, but it is now time to pre-register for the event to be held on Aug. 8.

For the sixth year, Sheila Karsevar is organizing the event benefitting many school-age children and their families. The Day of Hope provides each child with new shoes and backpacks filled with school supplies and provides household supplies for each family.

But Ms. Karsevar says the most important part is to serve and love these children and families and to let them know that Jesus loves them and God has a plan for each life! And the volunteers pray with each family that would like prayer!

Each year this event has served 250-270 kids; however, this year because of hurricanes, flooding and COVID, they are expecting to have 400 backpacks and 300 bags of household supplies.

This year’s event will be a drive-thru which will start at 9 a.m. Parents or guardians can register their child at Catholic Charities (843) 438-3108 and will be given an appointment time and all the details including where the event will be held. Please note: registration is open until July 31.

Volunteers are needed! If you are interested you can email Sheila at hopeinaday@gmail.com or just show up at a meeting at 6 p.m. on Aug. 6 in the Community Center behind Carolina Forest Community Church on Carolina Forest Boulevard. Also, if you want to donate financially you may email Sheila or go through @ADayofHome at Venmo.

In the past onsite haircuts were given, but this year vouchers for haircuts will be given to each child. Barbers or hairstylists willing to provide vouchers can contact Karsevar for details.

This is certainly a way of “ministering to the least of these” and you and I can help!

Virtual Dragon Boat

COVID won’t keep the Ground Zero Dragon Boats down. But this year’s event, the 12th Annual, will be virtual! This fundraiser will be held via Facebook, video chats, email etc. as Ground Zero leads Dragon Boat team members to raise funds for GZ all through the month of August.

Mark your calendars for Aug. 22 as there will be a live TV broadcast from Ground Zero with reports and a celebration of what has been accomplished. Go to www.mygroundzero.com.

Community Bible Study Registration Opens

Community Bible Study (CBS) announces the opening of registration for this year’s study “The Gospel of John”. CBS offers classes for men, women, couples and children (birth-high school) and meets at the host church Ocean Drive Presbyterian on Sixth Avenue South in North Myrtle Beach. The group will begin on Sept. 9 and will meet every Wednesday at 9:15 a.m.

The New Testament book of John is an eyewitness account of the life of Jesus Christ. The apostle John was transformed by the years of close friendship he spent with Jesus, and he wanted everyone to experience that same joy. John 20:31 says he wrote the book, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, “so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name.”

CBS is a nondenominational, in-depth Bible study designed for all levels of Bible knowledge, and we welcome all faiths and beliefs. You may now register with our coordinator, Jeri Friz at (843)249-6957 or email to wlgm250@gmail.com.

EOC Summer Food Program

Waccamaw EOC has a summer food program giving free food for children 18 years of age and younger. This will continue through July 31. Phone (843) 234-4100, ext. 229.

Conway, Loris, Aynor and Western Horry

■ The Catholic Church of St. James, 1071 Academy Drive, announces a new Mass Schedule beginning Aug. 1 and 2 as follows: Saturdays at 4 p.m. and 6 p.m.; Sundays at 7:30 a.m. and 9 a.m. (and 12 p.m. Spanish); Monday-Friday at 9 a.m. and Tuesdays at 8 p.m. – Spanish.

The church also collects nonperishable food items for Catholic Charities and CAP Monday-Friday from 9:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. at the church. Please help as you are able. Call 843-347-5168 or go online to www.stjamesconway.org.

■ Bethany Bible Chapel, 1668 Four Mile Road, will have a “modified” Vacation Bible School Aug. 2-4 from 6:30 p.m.-8 p.m. for young folks age 3 through college & career.

This will be “in-person” with care taken to provide safe and sanitized facilities; all participants will be encouraged to wear face masks.

Come and enjoy songs, memory verses, Bible study, crafts and more. Phone (843)b369-7729 or email bethanyb@sccoast.net

■ Tilly Swamp Survivors of Suicide, a new faith-based support group for those having lost someone to suicide, meets the first and third Mondays of each month at 6:30 p.m. at the church: 4619 S.C. 90. Phone (803) 566-0702.

■ St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church, 3449 S.C. 65, will distribute food on the second and fourth Fridays of each month from 11 a.m. until all food has been distributed.

■ Loris First United Methodist Church, 3507 Broad St., has a Blessing Box in the church and it is available each Friday from 4:30 p.m.-6:30 p.m. This box contains nonperishable food items and individuals in need are encouraged to come to the church at those times. Also, if you would like to donate items, please place them in the box.

■ Dogwood Hill Baptist Church, 1040 Mt. Zion Road in Loris, has a food pantry on the third Saturday of each month from 8 a.m.-10 a.m.

■ Salem Baptist Church, 4008 Salem Road in Aynor, opens its Food Bank on the second and fourth Wednesday of each month from 9 a.m.-noon. The mission: “We serve Christ when we serve people.”

Myrtle Beach/The Coast

■ Knitting Hearts at the Beach invites all ladies to a special event this Saturday from 9:30 a.m.-noon at Ignite Church of Myrtle Beach, 4808 N. Kings Hwy.

This program A Message of Freedom, Healing and Hope will feature Atiya Fazal Massey. Atiya is a Pakistani, born and raised as a Muslim in Kuwait. She came to the states in 1995 and shortly thereafter had a supernatural encounter with Jesus. You won’t want to miss her story! Admission is free; a love offering will be received.

■ Help 4 Kids and Backpack Buddies continue to provide food for 400-500 families per week and need your help. Suggested food donations include: peanut butter, jelly, pasta and sauce, rice, beans, cereal, macaroni & cheese, canisters of Kool-Aid, canned meats, snacks and chips.

You may also donate grocery gift cards used for produce, meats, dairy and bread and monetary donations are always appreciated. The office is located at 2523 Forestbrook Road, Myrtle Beach SC 29588 (gifts may be mailed to that address also). Go online to www.help4kidssc.org.

■ Together in Christ has a Wednesday ZOOM Prayer Meeting from noon-12:30 p.m. each week. Prayer changes everything and you are invited to pray with the mid-week group. Email hgprayer @sccoast.net.

■ Ground Zero is working hard to get back up and running with its various youth-oriented ministries and services. They need our help. If you are interested in assisting GZ, then go to their website or give them a call and see how you can be used there. Email to info@mygroundzero.com or phone (843) 945-9440.

■ Low Country Food Bank and Faith Outreach Ministries will have another sponsor Drive-Thru Food Distribution at 4223 Socastee Blvd. Aug. 7 at 2:30 p.m. Phone (843) 215-4500.

■ The New Beginnings drive-thru food distribution will be held Aug. 15 from 10 a.m.-noon at the Church of the Resurrection, 8901 U.S. 16 Bypass in Surfside Beach. Phone (843)215-4500.

■ The fall Women of Passion Conference, Dare to Dream God-Sized Dreams (Ephesians 3:20) will be held Oct. 10, 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. at The Grace Place, 404 George Bishop Parkway in Myrtle Beach. Tickets go on sale this week. Contact Stacey Gurley by phone at (864) 477-9683 or email to stacey@lovecoversus.com.

■ The Colombiettes of St. Andrews Church, 37th Ave. North are in need of crafters and vendors for their November 7 Christmas Bazaar that will take place from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. in the Community Life Center. Contact Patricia Martelli at (908) 938-1433 or email patriciamartelli57@gmail.com.

■ St. Philip Lutheran Preschool is currently registering students for its 2020-21 school year for the 2, 3 and 4-year-old classes. Come join the fun! Contact Director Jenn Loeswick at stphilipppreschoolmb@gmail.com or look us up on Facebook: St. Philip Preschool-Myrtle Beach. The preschool is located at 6200 N. Kings Highway. Call (843) 449-4322 and we’ll get back to you.

■ Horry Friends Monthly Meetings, formerly known at Five Rivers Friends, has offered unprogrammed, silent Quaker worship in our area for more than three decades. Now meeting virtually, Horry Friends welcome new attenders and visiting Friends. Contact clerk Grace Gifford at (843) 365-6654.

■ St. Michael’s Catholic Church, 542 Cypress Ave. in Murrells Inlet have a Life Chain every first Sunday at 12:30 p.m. on U.S. 17 Business near the church driveway. You are invited to participate in this event. (Bring a chair if not able to stand for the hour.) Contact Joanne Bennett at (614) 313-8425 or email Joanne.bennett55@ gmail.com.

■ Temple Emanu-EL by the Sea, 65th Ave. North and N. Kings Highway invites you to Friday night service at 7:30 p.m. (Kosher Oneg), Shabbat Service at 10 a.m. (Kosher Kiddush).

Current Second Nature Project: we are collecting items for New Directions of Horry County that provides shelter and meals for those in need. Please bring paper products (toilet paper, paper towels, diapers), bath towels, laundry soap, toothpaste and brushes, and cleaning supplies. We are continuing to collect new packages of children’s underwear and socks. Take your donations to the Rosen Center and place them in the basket provided by the front door. All Mitzvoth greatly appreciated! Questions? Contact Karen Osborne at (843) 446-1060.

■ Myrtle Beach Christian Church, 1226 Burcale Road, opens its Thrift Store each week, Monday-Saturday from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. You are encouraged to come out and browse and buy and, in so doing, you’ll be supporting this community outreach. Phone 843-236-1121.

■ Temple Shalom, 4023 Belle Terre Blvd. invites you to Shabbat services each Saturday at 10:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. Phone 843-903-6634 or go online to templeshalommyrtlebeach.net.

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I'm the editor of the Horry Independent, a weekly newspaper in Conway, South Carolina. I cover city hall and courts, among many other subjects. Know of a good story? Call me at 843-488-7241.

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