Original blog found at https://wesleystories.blogspot.com/2017/12/remember-alyssa-lewis.html
Author: Erwin Lopez - Pastor of Wesley at UCF
Remembering Alyssa Lewis
Author: Erwin Lopez - Pastor of Wesley at UCF
One of my professors in seminary once said something to the effect of, “You should be so involved in your church that if something were ever to happen to you the church would feel the absence of your presence.” He encouraged the congregation to be more than a Sunday worshipper. He encouraged them to build relationships, to serve the community, to make an impact with their gifts, talents and services. I’ll never forget those words because since that day I have preached them myself. I have encouraged students to be more than a Sunday worshipper but to be a person who serves the church with their whole heart and to leave a lasting impact in their communities.
I share this story because this is the kind of person that Alyssa was. She served the communities she was in with her whole heart. She poured herself into everything that she did and now that she is no longer physically present every community that was graced by her presence feels the deep void of her absence. She embodied the words of my seminary professor.
I’ll never forget about how I first heard about Alyssa. She was an active participant in our freshmen ministry but she barely came to Wesley on Tuesday nights, come to find out it was because of a scheduling conflict. It seems as though everyone kept coming up to me to tell me “Have you met Alyssa?” Our leaders and her colleagues would come up to me and tell me, “You have to put her on leadership. And you have to put her on outreach. She is willing to talk to anyone and she has a huge gift for inviting people to church.” I remember she came to Wesley one Tuesday before we had our leadership applications and I told her that in order for her to be on leadership she had to attend Tuesday night for the rest of the semester consistently. That was the Spring of 2016. She agreed and respected our requirements and I promise you that ever since that day, she never missed a Wesley service.
She attended our freshmen mission trip to South Carolina, on which I drove the 15 passenger bus for the 30 hour drive round-trip. She sat next to me for at least 16 of those hours. She was my buddy. We talked about her friendships in high school, I quickly learned about her sass as she gave me directions to our destinations, she made me laugh, she laughed at my jokes, she told me my bad jokes were bad but she accompanied me. She was my buddy that trip. She knew that I needed someone to make the long drive bearable and she was willing to be the person who kept me company. I’ll never forget that time together.
Once she joined leadership everyone was right about her. She was committed to our ministry and had a gift for outreach. She was willing to talk to just anyone with boldness. That’s one word that most of us use to describe her. She was bold. She was fearless and she made Wesley a better place for it.
I felt compelled to write about Alyssa because she taught our community so much. She taught us to not be afraid to invite people to church, to not be afraid to engage new people in conversation. Alyssa taught us the importance of community and I know that she valued the friendships she made at Wesley calling them not just friends, but family. She was a special girl who could become anything that she desired. She could’ve ran for president, could’ve been a doctor, she was one of the brightest people in our ministry and she possessed a gift even greater than intelligence, she had the gift of grit. She was a young lady who was strong, independent, and willing to overcome any obstacle that was thrown her way even if she was crying, crawling, or struggling through it.
It was a blessing to be her Pastor and I wish I had spent more time with her. My family and I are broken hearted as are many of our students. But as Christians we believe that she is in a better place where there is no more suffering, no more pain, and that she is at peace with our Lord and savior Jesus Christ. I have no doubt in my mind that Alyssa is in heaven because she was a faithful Christian who had a deep connection with God. She is going to be truly missed and our ministry will never forget her.
One of my favorite songwriters wrote a song for his passing grandmother and he writes, “You’re still singing, singing your song, You’re still giving even when you’re gone.” Every time I hear those lyrics I think of Alyssa. Even though Alyssa is gone physically she is still giving, she is still singing. Alyssa has left a lasting impression in my heart and has forever inspired me to live life with more meaning.
I believe that we each carry a little bit of Alyssa in our hearts. Every time we share her story, every time we imitate her boldness, every time we gather together and appreciate one another a little bit more knowing that life is fleeting. Every time we serve with our whole hearts we remind each other of Alyssa. Her life sang a song to the world and we will forever remember the melody and music she brought into our lives. Her song will forever live in our hearts.
you’re still singing, singing your song,
you’re still giving, even when you’re gone.