Last week on Facebook, I asked anyone willing to send a paragraph or two on how The Church (i.e., not Discovery Church, but any church) has helped them. On the macro level, church has a rough reputation, most of it earned, some not.
But on the micro scale, also known as the scale the church should be on, the church is pretty phenomenal. It is actually the most amazing, life changing community I know. Below are the responses, posted with permission:
Immediately my thoughts go to the most difficult time of my life and my greatest time of need (which is tough for a person who doesn’t like to need help) a couple of very strong women came along beside me and walked with me through every minute of my husbands terminal illness. They supported, guided, and pushed when it was needed. Unbeknownst to me, they were diligently working behind the scenes to anticipate our next needs and be there ready when those needs arouse.
This beautiful display of caring and selflessness expresses the heart of the church to me. It was a clear reminder that no matter how much I wanted to be mad at God for the situation and the loss, I couldn’t face each new day without knowing that He would be walking each step with me.
I get chills remembering what incredible support my family had, and continues to have.
When I was a girl of 10 or 11 years old, my sunday school teacher, Gladys Meskimen, saw that I seemed out of sorts and noticed me. She would sit with me if I was alone and she had me over to her house at times to walk in her rose garden. I will never forget her or her small acts of kindness to a confused and lonely little girl at a time when I needed it most.
I can’t think of one good redemptive thing in my life that doesn’t have its genesis in the local church. Character formed early on, my life altering decision to make faith my own at a high school youth group, the first 3rd world experience, The girl I married, life changing decisions for my kids, my son in law — the list goes on but it was because of the sacrificial investment into me and others and those people were there at the prompting of a church leAder through the local church
I have worked in mental health for close to 20 years and have attempted to dispel the myths in some Christian cultures that “it is a sin issue”. This church, and many churches, are now coming along side professionals and those who suffer to embrace, support, and educate. The love and acceptance of an often overlooked suffering, THAT is the hand of God.
2 weeks after our second son was born, I went into the ER with severe gall bladder issues. I had surgery and subsequent pancreatitis. It looked like I was going to be in the hospital for a long time. People from our local congregation and congregations of friends and family prayed for us. Our pastor’s wife came to spend time with me and help. I went home in a week. The doctor said it was a misdiagnosis; I said it was a miracle. People from church paid our hospital bills (we never asked for it). So many people helped us, it was amazing.
Back in 1992 we tried to adopt a baby boy and the day we heard about him we knew he had a club foot and cleft palate. All fixable things we thought. We brought him from the hospital to find out there was so much more going on than we knew. He had many genetic problems, to the point a doctor in another town was able to get a genetic lab to do his blood work for free. What we found out was that he not only had 1 severe genetic mutation but 2 and with either one he should not live to the age of 1 and with both his chances were even slimmer. We did a lot of soul searching at this point and made had to make lots of decisions, one of these being getting him baptized asap. Time was not on his side and we knew he wouldn’t ever be able to make this decision for himself. We called our old church where we had attended before moving less than a year before and the priest was amazing. He talked with us about what was going on and how he could be of support to us. Normally, a baptism is a happy occasion but he knew this had both the happiness of celebrating this babies life as well as it sadness to protect him for what could come. He also was willing to do this quietly for us in the home of a friend vs at church so we could be surrounded by those we love in a warm quiet situation.
I believe church is not what religion, christian, catholic, baptist, methodist, jewish, etc.. it’s about people loving God and wanting to share in his word. We were no longer participating in the catholic faith anymore but this man loved us and understood our plight. He cared more about a child of God than which faith he was being raised in that church in the most positive sense.
During and after the loss of our baby the church completely surrounded us. Because of the people in the church Cody and I didn’t have to worry about anything those following weeks except for taking care of our kids and starting our grieving process. We were provided with meals, listening ears, child care, financial help for the funeral and we even had someone come to the funeral home with us to make arrangements. We also had an amazing couple with us at the hospital immediately after we delivered Nora. Them being us made the unbearable a little more bearable.
I didn’t have the greatest childhood, my mom was an alcoholic and my dad worked nights and had extra-marital affairs. My saving grace was a local baptist pastor that came knocking on my door when I was 7 years old. His name was Pastor Frank. He told my mom about their church and the Sunday School program. She agreed to let me go and then the pastor set it up for me to get rides from a nice, older couple. They came every week without fail to take me to church. If it wasn’t for the three of them and their passion for the lost, I might still be out there searching. God has blessed me by His church and I will never, ever forget it.
Nancy, Terry, Danielle and I discussed this the other night. When our church was suddenly disbanded, the meeting you/Discovery had at your house welcoming us and a few others after a very saddening and disheartening time-you took us in, emphasized with our situation and gave us a new home. Thank you.
Not sure I can count the ways. 😊 I think that, when our family has gone through hardship, not only was our church there for us, but stayed with us and checked in on us. When my mother was dying, we were surrounded. When my husband’s father died, and I had to move all by myself, we had our church family hop in for an hour here and there when they could, sweating and packing alongside me and my kids. All the while asking how Scott was doing.
One of the ways I enjoy the church is that when I feel pain, they do too. If I explain that a neighbor has a need, they feel that pain, regardless if they know them or not. They recognize emotional and physical pain and what it’s like to be simply human. No answers necessarily, just a hand or an ear or both.
We found Jacob’s Well through their mops program. I was not a church goer, honestly, I didn’t really trust the “church”. But, my dad was ill, we had just opened our own business, life was stressful, and we needed a connection. We were welcomed and loved on until the day the doors closed. Dave Richa and Heather King Richa are now lifelong friends.
The positive life-changing event happened to me at the recent women’s retreat.. I notice that when people get out of Jesus’s way that healing and miracles can begin.. That when people feel the love of God and feel the love of their fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, is when God can work wonders in a person’s life, in a community’s life or showing that love around the world.. I went from a heart of stone, a heart of profound anger and hurt, to loving, forgiving and moving on from the pain that was caused by my prior experience….To learn to forgive the people that hurt me, to let go of the poison that was rotting my soul…And give that to God…And in the process of letting God do His work, I became closer to God, than I ever thought possible, to fully see and become the daughter of God that He created me to be. The church as a whole through the hundreds of years has done things that have hurt all kinds of people.. But, when the church starts to truly remember what Christ taught us and we get back to the basics, is when real-life changing events happen to us individually, to our community’s and then to the world and etc… And when we feel the joy and love of God working in our hearts, is when we can share our love, our passion, our joy for Jesus to a lost, hurting and broken world.
“The church”, the literal body of Christ, is God’s reminder to us that we weren’t made to go it alone, but interdependently with each other. I’ve moved around a lot and found belonging, support and purpose in many different churches of various Christian denominations and size. The church’s faithfulness to facilitate a priestly function – helping me connect with God – through corporate worship bolsters my faith and heals/transforms my challenges and my perspective.
How to make this short and sweet… that is the real question! 😉 Despite growing up in the church, I had a significant distrust of women in general. I did not enjoy ‘women’s events’ or spending time with the women of church. The second time Bill and I attended Discovery, I was invited to the Women’s Retreat. Yeah, right, I said to God. But my husband strongly encouraged me to go, and I did. Ever since then, God has used the women of the church to show me unconditional love and support in my mothering and my role as wife, as well as giving me some of the deepest and most meaningful relationships with women, which I never thought was possible. And now, of all things, I am a leader on the Women’s Ministry Team at Discovery. For sure, God has a sense of humor.
I grew up in the church, went to a Bible college, moved all over the place as a military dependent, and am now in seminary. Needless to say, I know a ton of ministers. However, there is one particular pastor that walked alongside me through my darkest days and that has touched my life more than any other (except my own father who was also a minister for a time). The night that Carrie was flown to Duke, she flew there without us. Kevin was still deployed, and the doctors would not release me from the hospital. But Carrie was not alone. That pastor and his wife drove to Duke and made sure that she got there safely and was being taken care of by the staff.
For the ten months of Carrie’s life, this pastor visited us at least once a week every week of those ten months. He would get an update on Carrie and what was going on with us. Inviting the staff and other families to join us, he would pray over Carrie and us. Then, he would take me out of the PCICU for coffee, and we would sit and talk. Those talks were a real saving grace for me. We would talk about Carrie some, but mostly we talked about theology. They were pleasant distractions, and we learned from one another. There was one week he was unable to visit. That week, I sat with his wife in the waiting room while he had surgery. But he didn’t forget me either and arranged to have a pastor friend visit me in his place. Our church even arranged a meal and donations for all of us staying at the Ronald McDonald House, and they collected a love offering for my family. Many others from the church visited us and supported us as well. I can never thank them enough.
When Carrie died, this pastor did her memorial service in North Carolina, and two months later, he drove to Arlington to conduct her funeral. God spoke reassurance to this pastor and his wife through angelic music after Carrie passed away. After her death, he grieved right alongside us. We moved immediately after she died, so I don’t think I ever fully expressed to him what he has meant to us, to me. I am not sure I could.
And now, it is my turn to grieve him. This wonderful, sweet man of God passed away this weekend. I know that he is in Heaven with Carrie now. I never got to attempt to tell him what he meant to me since Carrie’s death. I didn’t get to say good-bye. He did so much good for so many people. The lives he touched were countless, I am sure. Just like Carrie, I am sure that he has been surrounded by people who love him. Just as he was assured of Carrie, I have assurance about him. Yet, I am heartbroken for those of us left behind. I sit here once again experiencing grief mixed with appreciation for the beauty and goodness that life can offer. His family, friends, and the congregation of Christus Victor are in my prayers and engraved in my heart.
Pastor Cook, one day, we will all be reunited in Heaven. Until then, take care of Carrie for me like you did her first night at Duke.