I met Melanie last semester and was so blessed to have her start attending the life group that I led! She has become one of my good friends in Boston – Here is her story of how the group impacted her life and her relationship with Christ:
First of all, I come from a pretty conservative Christian family in the south and was raised in the church. As kids, we were in church every time the doors were open. My church became my family and my rock. My relationship with Christ began to develop at a very early age and I began serving at church, singing in the youth band, and as I got older became heavily involved with missions and outreach. Fast forward to summer of 2014… I flew home after living in Ethiopia for a 6 month mission project upon learning of my acceptance to graduate school here in Boston. It was very emotional for me to leave Ethiopia in the first place, but I felt God was leading me in this direction. With a heavy heart I began to make plans to move to Boston and start grad school….
Never in my life did I imagine transitioning to life in Boston would be so difficult. I have lived in several other countries and none were as challenging as the familiar U.S. city of Boston. I felt like I was slung into a very strange world and my emotions sort of spiraled out of control and I began to lash out at God and push Him away. I still had a somewhat healthy prayer life, but I was angry and sad and didn’t want to talk to anyone about it. As someone who is known as a leader in a pretty sizable church and outreach ministry, it feels shameful, embarrassing and confusing to open up about any spiritual warfare I was feeling. So I tried to cover it up and just go on about my business. That didn’t work so well. I had visited a few churches here and there in Boston but wasn’t a fan of any of them and found myself feeling more and more uncomfortable than anything so I sorta gave up on that and decided I would just watch the sermons from my home church in Texas online. That works out ok, but The Lord is very clear about community and I knew I needed that desperately.
So I had a huge breakdown one night and cried out to God in fear and desperation asking what to do… Suddenly I remembered a sign I saw on the T for Journey Church so I googled it and that’s when I emailed randomly asking if there was someone I could talk to. That’s when God sent me Kelly who invited me into her life group. Ironically enough it was the night before the first life group meeting of the semester. I attended even though I normally don’t do those things…
I can truly say that my life group last semester carried me through for several weeks. As I told my group before, it’s like I was floating around on this Jesus cloud! I don’t really know how I ended up at Panera Bread that night at life group but it completely saved me in a way and I am so thankful. I didn’t even attend the church until months later! All I had was my life group. They were wonderful to me and I never felt judged, pressured, or like I was an outsider. They welcomed me and treated me as their own. This experience really reinforced a lot of things for me. It was yet another reminder of one of my favorite verses… 2 Timothy 2:13 “if we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny himself”.