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‘I was sick and you visited me’ (Updated)

Oklahoma church takes its Sunday night service on the road

Update: Amy Carnagey, dedicated, sold-out Christ follower, wife and mother, died May 4 after a heroic battle with cancer. The Memorial Road Church of Christ has set up a scholarship fund for her two daughters to attend Oklahoma Christian Academy

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I’m never going to complain about Sunday night service again.

And, over the years, I have. Plenty. It’s always irked me that, after a morning of Bible classes and energizing praise and worship, we have to pile our family back into the car and return to the church building for — let’s be honest — a toned-down version of what we just did.

Inside Story | Erik Tryggestad

I don’t think Luke and Amy Carnagey feel that way. The young couple and their two beautiful girls used to sit down the pew from us at the Memorial Road Church of Christ in Oklahoma City. We don’t see them there now. And, even in a congregation of 2,500 souls, we feel their absence.  

For more than a year, Amy has battled an extremely rare form of cancer. Like so many cancer patients, she’s had ups and downs, highs and lows. Recently, she began a new round of chemo. 

The couple’s attitude as they’ve faced the illness has been … well, I can’t even describe it. “Brave” hardly does it justice. To see someone really put their faith in Christ is incredible. During the week I inevitably let the little, petty things get me down. Then, on Sundays, I see Amy’s name on the prayer list — scribbled on the white boards in nearly every classroom — and I snap back to reality.

Amy loves being a part of the worship service — especially the “Wonder of Worship,” or WoW class, led during the summer on Wednesday nights by our worship minister, Scott Young. We learn new songs and belt out old ones. It’s amazing. 

During this summer’s WoW, one of the Carnageys’ friends, Britton, called them on his cell phone and placed it on the stage behind Scott so Amy could hear us and join in. (Praise God for unlimited mobile-to-mobile minutes!)

The Carnageys’ Bible class wanted to do more, and pitched the idea of Sunday night service on their lawn. So, last night, about 300 of us parked, with permission, at a nearby elementary school. Ministers and volunteers loaded us into church buses and drove us to the Carnageys’ neighborhood. 

It was drizzling as we arrived. I worried that my girls would get wet and that my littlest one would fuss. But the rain subsided and, as we waited for the buses to finish unloading, a slight sliver of rainbow appeared, just behind the Carnageys’ home.

A rainbow peeks out from behind the clouds in the Carnageys’ neighborhood. (PHOTO BY ERIK TRYGGESTAD)

On their lawn, in their driveway, on the street, we stood and sang hymns, from “Shout Hallelujah” to Chris Tomlin’s “Our God’ ( God you are higher than any other. Our God is healer, awesome in power …). Scott led the songs and struggled at times to get through them. We all did. Voices dropped in and out during the brief worship service. It was incredibly emotional. 

For me, the hardest song to sing was Matt Redman’s “10,000 reasons.” Last year my mother died after a five-month battle with pancreatic cancer. At her funeral, we played Zoe Group’s rendition of the song over a slide show of pictures of my mom. 

And on that day when my strength is failing

The end draws near and my time has come

Still my soul will sing Your praise unending 

Ten thousand years and then forevermore.

I’ve had difficulty singing that verse ever since.

Amy, Luke and their girls sat on their porch and sang along with us. She’s immunocompromised, so we had to keep our distance. Before the final prayer, she stood, thanked us and said, “This is what church is about.”

The next morning, Luke shared a video of the devo, shot by one of their neighbors across the street. On the video, you’ll hear their neighbor say, “I’ve never seen anything so wonderful.”

Neither have I — but it pales in comparison to what’s to come. Our present sufferings are not worth comparing to the glory that, one day, will be revealed in us.

Until that day comes, I’ll stop complaining about Sunday nights.

Scott Young leads singing at the Carnageys’ home. (PHOTO BY ERIK TRYGGESTAD)


“Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’

“Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’”

— Matthew 25:34-40

Filed under: Inside Story News Extras Travel Reports

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