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Going the Distance like Andy Choate

By First Dallas Staff

Something about the allure of nostalgic hymns harmonizing with the crisp downtown air initially drew Andy Choate to the Jeffress Fountain Plaza five years ago. Finding comfort in sitting and contemplating life’s challenges, he listened to the soothing music through the speakers. As he gazed at the church entrance, he resisted the urge to walk in, confessing, “First Baptist Dallas is such a big church!’

Yet, after repeating the routine of sitting, listening, and leaving. Andy described having a “pivotal moment at the fountain, where familiar hymns played, and reignited his connection with God, drawing him back to his Christian upbringing.” He decided to take the first step. He walked through the intimidating double doors, headed straight to the elevator, and entered the nearest Sunday School class. To his surprise, he instantly felt connected and was in awe of God’s faithfulness in leading him to this community. Andy said, “Sunday School and my early morning discipleship class were the things that gave me the strength and encouragement to get through those awful months I had to face.” Andy has been a faithful member ever since, but his journey attending First Dallas hasn’t been without struggles. 

After facing the loss of eyesight and his inability to drive, Andy’s struggle was no longer about whether he should walk in the doors; it became about how to get here. While Sunday School members often offer to give him rides, he doesn’t let the times when his friends can’t bring him stop him from attending worship in person at his church. “It takes two hours to get to church one way,” says Andy. He says, “It’s a 45-minute walk to the train station. Then, I leave myself a 20-minute window in case the train is running behind. It’s a half-hour ride to the church, then I walk 10 minutes to get there from the train station.” 

Despite the challenges, Andy’s made it clear he will go the distance to attend church. His message to others facing struggles is clear. He says, “Take the first step. Progress comes one step at a time, just like eating an elephant—one bite at a time. Ask God to help you get unstuck.”

Andy’s resilience is rooted in five powerful scriptures that he holds close to his heart:

  1. Proverbs 3:5-6: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.”
  2. Isaiah 43:19: “Behold, I will do something new, now it will spring forth; will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, rivers in the desert.”
  3. Isaiah 55:12: “For you will go out with joy, and be led forth with peace. The mountains and the hills will break forth into shouts of joy before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.”
  4. Jeremiah 29:11: “‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.’”
  5. Romans 8:28: “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”

Andy wants to challenge everyone who reads his story to reflect on the five scriptures that sustain him, with hopes that they will inspire you to deepen your faith and face life’s challenges with unwavering trust in God. As you reflect on these timeless verses, may you find the strength to go the distance—one step at a time—after God, just like Andy.

We want to celebrate all that the Lord has done in your lives! Share your story with us by emailing firstdallas.org/stories.