When you Follow Jesus, stories of his goodness always Follow too…
This is what we experienced on Sunday, April 12th at both our 9am and 11am services at Wellspring: two seemingly ordinary Followers of Jesus shared uniquely vulnerable stories that revealed how unordinary they are in Him! As they shared their stories with us, many were touched, moved, and a few even gave their hearts to Jesus this weekend.
Read the testimonies below and be sure to jump in with the rest of us in Following Jesus groups… You won’t regret it and our hunch is that if you give yourself to this last session of A Year of Following Jesus over the next 10 weeks, you’ll have your own stories of His goodness following you too!Testimonies:
1. My Journey To Forgiveness – Kimberly Grant – 9am
2. Harvest List Breakthrough – Stacy Propfe – 11am
by Kimberly Grant
My daughter Aubrey had two difficult pregnancies, so being her mother I volunteered for her to live with me. In 2008, after her first child, Lena, was born she continued to carry on her frivolous lifestyle, while I raised my granddaughter. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed it. I woke up with her at night, saw her through nightmares, sicknesses, and the dreaded potty training, and loved every minute of it.
I continued to support my daughter both emotionally and financially, while she went to school, dropped out, worked at various jobs, and enjoyed the single lifestyle.
Soon my grandson was on the way, and another difficult pregnancy ensued, giving me Landon my grandson. At this point, I stopped working, and opened a day care center in my home.
In February 2013, she met Steve. He taught my daughter to settle down, and I thought that maybe she was finally growing up. Three months later, she wanted to move closer to him so they could continue their relationship. He lived over an hour away in a very secluded part of Maine. They wanted me to come, so I closed the day care center and moved with them. It was only an hour away, but I suddenly found myself with no income, no car, and no way out.
Within a short period, I was no longer needed. I turned into a burden that they didn’t want around. I became very depressed, and withdrew from all family activities. Why not, they didn’t want me anyway. I still watched my two grandchildren on a daily basis, while they worked, but without any income, I had nowhere I could go.
I felt unloved and unwanted. I prayed on a daily basis, but couldn’t hear God’s voice. I knew my Father in Heaven loved me, so I thought if I died, I would finally be loved. Suicide became a possibility.
In October 2013, I received a phone call from my daughter’s fiancé, saying that she was sick and they needed me. Would I come? Of course. You see, God had other plans for my life, even though I didn’t know it at the time. I came to Connecticut, and started attending Wellspring. This is where God wanted me. I found significance to my life, I was asked to teach Sunday school, connected with wonderful people, and found meaning for the first time in a long time.
When I went back to my home in Maine to get my things, I was told by my daughter that I couldn’t have anything from the house except what they put in the garage for me. I left with an almost empty truck, a broken car, and a very hateful heart. My daughter stole all my possessions, everything I had collected over my lifetime. I had nothing. Not even a bed to sleep on. Again, God had plans for me.
Soon I joined a “Following Jesus” group, and realized that God wanted me to forgive my daughter. I laughed at the idea. Forgiveness? Not a possibility. No way, no how. I was angry, I was revengeful, and I would not forgive her. I no longer allowed contact with my grandchildren. Again, God had other plans.
Aubrey was the first person on my “Harvest List”, but not the way you would think. I wanted her to see that she was wrong and realize what she did. I thought if she had a relationship with God the way I did maybe she would correct her wrongs. I prayed, my group prayed, but I remained angry.
Then we started session two, and it was as if God was saying, “I’m talking to you!” Maybe it was time for me to listen. I started a daily prayer. “God help me to forgive Aubrey.” It was hard, some days I didn’t say it, but over time, it got easier. My group helped me, but my relationship with God helped the most. I kept hearing Jesus say, “Father forgive them, they know not what they do.” At first, I thought that “they” was meant for the ones who killed Him, but soon realized that it was meant for me. “Father, forgive me, for the anger and hatred in my heart.” I knew I needed to forgive my daughter.
I started sending her texts about the little things that reminded me of her during the day. At first, she didn’t respond, but I was persistent. Soon we were texting back and forth, not daily, but at least once or twice a week. Lena started calling me again. My heart was starting to heal.
In February, Aubrey called me and asked me to come see her. God was really testing me. I talked to my group, and we prayed. I think they prayed for me even when I wasn’t around. I knew that God wanted me to go. I accepted the invitation. Plans were made.
At my last group meeting before I left, I asked that they pray for me. You see I would be walking into her home, filled with my things. I didn’t know how I would react. Would the anger come back? How complete was my forgiveness?
They met me at the airport, and all I felt was an overwhelming love for my child. I held her tightly in my arms and cried. I missed her so much.
As I walked into her home and saw my things, I didn’t care. There was no residual anger, not even a desire to take anything. I had many opportunities, but I didn’t want the things. I realized that it was just stuff. I knew that the relationship was more important that the objects. I had my child back. That was the most important thing.
That night when I went to bed I thanked God for helping me to forgive. I know I never could have done it without Him, and I’m sure I wouldn’t have wanted to try if I didn’t have my group to help me. When I joined the “Following Jesus group”, I was lost, but now I feel whole.
by Stacy Propfe
When Pastor Wes asked me to share what’s been going on with our life group I really felt that it was something that I needed to do. Not because I was trying to encourage and motivate people to join a group or to stay active in a group, but because I knew this was yet another way to share all that the Lord has been going since we started these groups 8 months ago.
When we first began talking about launching this new initiative of “A Year Following Jesus” I was both excited and a little hesitant. You see, Tim and I started a life group about a year prior and I knew this would mean change. But as we began to talk and pray about it I really felt thay God was doing something new.
So as we ventured into this new season I accepted that our group was going to change and it did. Some members left to lead their own FJ group, as the Lord directed them to and others joined our group. As these changes were occurring I was a bit worried about the continued cohesion of our group, and how our new group was going to establish together.
Looking back on the last 8 months and as we are going into our last 10 week session of “Following Jesus” I cannot tell you the value and impact it has had on me, our group and those on our harvest lists.
This time has not only helped me grow as a leader but it has also increased my faith and trust in the Lord. The deeper and more intimate my relationships grew with my group members, the deeper and more intimate my relationship grew with the Lord. I have not only understood but have experienced firsthand that when we are in community with one another and in active partnership with the Lord, all things are possible.
It has been so amazing to have both witnessed and experienced the countless ways that so many people have been changed since we’ve started these groups.
One particular example I would like to share is about someone from my harvest list. This woman has spent her life believing the lies of the enemy and plagued with addiction, mental and physical illnesses. I put this woman on my harvest list and shared my heart for her with my group and they began praying for her as well. I also began ministering God’s love and truth to her and she has become more and more open to His transforming and redeeming love and power.
Less than 1 year ago she was isolated in her bedroom, drinking again after 5 years of sobriety and spent 80% of her day in bed. She could barely walk and had no hope or motivation to change. She was suicidal without a plan and thought that the only way out would be to die. About three weeks ago this same woman spent two weeks in Florida, and she is walking with limited use of her cane, and she is sober again and has a renewed sense of hope.
This person is not completely healed but she is actively seeking the Lord, and is becoming free of sin and shame. She has fully and completely accepted Jesus into her heart and life, and she began attending a church in her town. I continue to encourage her to come to our life group where I know that she would be welcomed and loved with the heart of Jesus, by all my group members. This is just one of many stories of God’s love and a true testimony to His grace, mercy and transforming power.
I have experienced myself and/or witnessed people that I’ve known for years be transformed and restored back to the Lord, to begin to walk in their true identity, being healed mind, body(physical healing) and spirit, and ridding themselves of lies from the enemy. But even if we experienced just one of these things during the last 8 months than that in itself is proof positive of what the Lord can accomplish when we come together in unity and be the church to each other.
There has been so much freedom and healing but one of the most wonderful things that has come out of this time together is the relationships we have forged. I know for my group we have become not only a group of people that meet together on a Friday night (for most nights 4+ hours) but we have grown close in friendship and trust, we are an extension of family that is truly invested in each others lives. We share our joys and triumphs, our struggles and pain. We pray for each other in and throughout the week during times of need and get together socially enjoying each other’s company. I have once heard it said that “the more time you spend with someone the more you become like them”. I do think there is some truth to that statement and because of that I am even more grateful for my group because they help me to be the person I want to be and who God created me to be.
We were all created to be in relationship with God and to live in unity and community with one another. These relationships are just the first fruits of what can be established when the foundation of community is deemed essential in the church body. We must take this journey together for us to be transformed and to fully experience God’s love, for it is through our relationships with one another that God shows us His love for us and how to love others. This foundation and understanding of what true relationship and community means allows us to relate with one another through and with the love of Christ in every and all areas of our lives. They help us to not only be equipped but provide us the opportunities to equip and activate others to and for the kingdom of God which is what we are commissioned and created to do.
So what is it that I am trying to convey about the “Following Jesus” life groups? Well for me, this time has become a true testimony to what it means for the church to be the church, for the body to be the body to one another and has reaffirmed who we were always meant to be. We have become true demonstrators of the gospel.
To quote Bill Johnson, “but the greatest honor bestowed on us as stewards is the responsibility to steward tomorrow, today”.
This has been such an incredible journey and has brought new life and perspective into all areas of our lives and I am just so grateful to be a part of all that the Lord is doing here. As God’s stewards it is our responsibility to encourage each other and continue to build community together so we can care and love one another as God loves each of us and to then spread that love to each and every person and situation we encounter; so the church can be the church!