Real Community in Action

One community member tells their story about a Jesus Gathering in action
Alot of my early childhood I do not remember. Most of what I remember has come back to me in the past few years. I grew up in the Midwest. My parents were both divorced and had kids from previous marriages. My mother was a University professor and my dad was a "stay at home dad". The problem with the stay at home dad was that he was very abusive when we were alone, but made everything look wonderful when people were around. At a very young age he started using me as a "replacement" wife. I did not realize that at the time. I just liked having his attention. Even then it really did not seem right.   When I was about 8-9 I was gang raped by 3 of my older brothers (my father’s sons) At the time the whole thing was swept under the rug. I remember my mom taking me to the doctor for an "exam" and being held down the entire time. After the exam, my mother and the doctor left the room for a long time. The doctor came back in the room by herself and stood in front of me, put her finger in my face and said "none of this ever happened. Do you understand me?" I was devastated and I decided on that day that no one was ever going to help me or defend me. I decided I would have defend myself. I did my best to block the whole thing out of my mind. From that day forward I was out of control! I started running with gangs, shoplifting, skipping school, doing anything I could think of to get back at my parents. I was known as a bad kid. I carried a knife which I knew how to use and everyone knew it! My mother’s response was always that I was ruining her "reputation". My father’s response was to continue his verbal, and sexual abuse. No concern for me.   My parents answer to the situation was to move to another state. They told me they had to move because I was such a problem and hopefully moving would get me away from the crowd I was hanging out with. I had no choice. I was 14 and they were the decision makers.   So we moved and I hated it. I found the same type of crowd in the new town and picked up where I had left off. I was quickly in trouble with the law! I was charged with assault for pulling my knife on a kid at school. Nothing really changed except the location I was in. I was very angry and I did not want anyone to touch me or mess with me! If you looked at me wrong you were lucky to get away unhurt!   The summer before my senior year in high school, my mom got me a job at the local VA hospital (she was chief nurse) in the kitchen. She was hoping it would keep me out of trouble for the summer....LOL All it really did was give me the money to get into more trouble. The thing was my bosses were both Christians and one of there wives worked in kitchen also. My job was cleaning! UGH I cleaned it all from steam pots to boiled eggs.... :yes:   My bosses spent all there free time trying to witness to me. They were relentless! and they paid for it. One of them got shoved into one of the huge ovens. I locked the other one in the freezer. They both sustained all kinds of wounds from working with me, mostly burns. When they were questioned by there boss, they always said it was an accident, they slipped, fell whatever. They never mentioned my name! I always wondered why. Why didn't they just rat me out? Anyway, between the 2 bosses and the one wife they drove me insane all summer! I could not wait for that job to end. Finally one day all 3 of them came to me and said "we want to make a deal with you. If you go to church with us ONE time we will never say another word to you about God again". I told them I wanted it in writing! 😯 and they did it! So I decided it would not hurt me to go one time. I would sit in the back and leave as soon as it was done. Hey I had done the church thing, I knew how it went, it was like a funeral. One hour of torture was worth them leaving me alone!   Well this was not the "normal" Methodist church I was used to. These people were weird. They were clapping and stuff. It was crazy. When I walked in my 3 pals (plus the wife of the other guy) sat me down in the middle of them in the 3rd row! I was fuming! They were all standing up and clapping to some song I had never heard. I sat there with my arms crossed.(now that I think about it, I feel sorry for the pastor..LOL poor guy) Anyway, it seemed like we were there for an eternity. I starting wishing I had put a time limit on our written agreement..... :duh: Finally this guy got up to speak and I don't even remember what he said....LOL I just remember all of the sudden feeling like something was breaking inside of me. It was weird. I sat there and did something I had not done in years. I started to cry and then I was mad cuz I did not know why I was crying and I was supposed to be the tough girl and here I was blubbering in public in front of all these people I did not even know. I was definitely looking for the exit. At the end of the sermon this pastor looks at me and asks if I would come up from so he can pray for me. I was thinking something really horrible to say (I had a pretty horrible mouth) but I could not seem to get the words out so I just shook my head no. Well this guy just marches right back to where I am sitting and takes me by the hands and starts praying. I am thinking "I told you no"! To make a long story short, I lost that battle and I accepted the Christ that night.   Lots of things changed for me and for a long time it was like a honeymoon but there was trouble in paradise. I was not allowed to talk about the abuse that had happened. No one in the church really knew how to help me except to tell me to pray more or read my bible more which I did. I spent years in the church still struggling with the affects of abuse. Even though I accepted Christ, I still had flashbacks and dreams of the things that had happened. After time I could not see faces in the dream and I even started to wonder if maybe it was just a dream. I knew in my heart that it was real, but I just stopped talking about it. It still seemed like I was being told "just forget about it, it never happened".   This went on for more then 20 years. I cried alone and I put on the happy Charismatic, bless God I am fine face at church.   In the year 2000 I snapped! I was depressed, I could not work, I was having flashbacks and all kinds of things were happening. I was afraid to sleep because having that dream was like experiencing the whole thing again. I would go 7-8 days without sleeping. I would not leave my house for weeks on end. I just could not keep up the facade any longer.   Over the years I had many people pray for me I have experienced several different types of ministry, inner healing, deliverance, and many others in the past. There was always prayer and ministry, but there was never anything after that and the dream and flashbacks never went away. I would have some level of healing but it never lasted. In March 2002 a friend came to me and told me that the Lord told him the dream I had was really a memory. It actually happened. When he said that I immediately saw all the faces again, and knew it was not just a dream. I knew it was a memory of something that happened to me. Now my friend knew nothing about the dreams or the flashbacks all he knew is the Lord told him to tell me the dream really happened. Unfortunately when I wrote to that friend about the details of the dream he freaked out and started a hateful campaign to "protect himself". I guess he thought someone who had been sexually abuse was some kind of threat. It was like being abused all over again! The memories had been stirred up and then I felt it was all my fault again. At the very lowest time in my life this so-called "Apostle" chose to add more hurt rather then help me heal.   Anyway, about the time I met another friend. I met him online through a house church discussion list around May 2002. That's another long story, but when he did a conference in New York in January 2003 and I went to meet him. It was hard because I had shared some of these things with him online and I was a little intimidated to meet him knowing he knew some pretty personal stuff about me. I was immediately taken with him. He was such a blessing. I had said several times in emails that all I really wanted was for someone to wrap there arms around me and tell me things would be alright, things would get better. When I met him in New York he did just that. He came up and wrapped his arms around me and just held on to me. He would not let go! He told me later that was the number one thing he came for. It struck me that he would come from his part of the world just to answer that request! I cried the entire weekend over that.   In March 2003 when the revelation came up about the dream, my other friends had asked me to write out the dream if I could. I did and I showed it to them. They said some nice things, but from that day forward they would not really talk to me and pretty much pushed me away. I also found out later (in an email forwarded to me) that they had shared some of those specific with other people who were not involved and who I did not even know. It hurt very badly. It was really like being abused all over again. It was like all of the sudden I was dirty and they did not want to get themselves dirty (if that makes sense) I sent the same description of the dream to my other friend. His immediate response was to send me Psalms 40 from the Message bible with a special emphasis on verse 2 which I highlighted below.

Psa 40 (MSG)A David psalm. I waited and waited and waited for GOD. At last he looked; finally he listened. He lifted me out of the ditch, pulled me from deep mud. He stood me up on a solid rock to make sure I wouldn't slip. He taught me how to sing the latest God-song, a praise-song to our God. More and more people are seeing this: they enter the mystery, abandoning themselves to GOD. Blessed are you who give yourselves over to GOD, turn your backs on the world's "sure thing," ignore what the world worships; The world's a huge stockpile of GOD-wonders and God-thoughts. Nothing and no one comes close to you! I start talking about you, telling what I know, and quickly run out of words. Neither numbers nor words account for you. Doing something for you, bringing something to you-- that's not what you're after. Being religious, acting pious-- that's not what you're asking for. You've opened my ears so I can listen. So I answered, "I'm coming. I read in your letter what you wrote about me, And I'm coming to the party you're throwing for me." That's when God's Word entered my life, became part of my very being. I've preached you to the whole congregation, I've kept back nothing, GOD--you know that. I didn't keep the news of your ways a secret, didn't keep it to myself. I told it all, how dependable you are, how thorough. I didn't hold back pieces of love and truth For myself alone. I told it all, let the congregation know the whole story. Now GOD, don't hold out on me, don't hold back your passion. Your love and truth are all that keeps me together. When troubles ganged up on me, a mob of sins past counting, I was so swamped by guilt I couldn't see my way clear. More guilt in my heart than hair on my head, so heavy the guilt that my heart gave out. Soften up, GOD, and intervene; hurry and get me some help, So those who are trying to kidnap my soul will be embarrassed and lose face, So anyone who gets a kick out of making me miserable will be heckled and disgraced, So those who pray for my ruin will be booed and jeered without mercy. But all who are hunting for you-- oh, let them sing and be happy. Let those who know what you're all about tell the world you're great and not quitting. And me? I'm a mess. I'm nothing and have nothing: make something of me. You can do it; you've got what it takes-- but God, don't put it off.

His response was so comforting. He and his wife told me he wanted me to come and be a part of the healing community they had so they could help me one on one. I thought, I don't know these people really; I have had alot of vain promises. I know what it feels like to think "this is just words". I talked to people here about it and they said I was crazy. "You want to run off with someone you met on the internet that you don't really know, what are you nuts". They said they could help me. They offered the same prayer and deliverance that had not helped so many times before. It took me months to decide. It was a HUGE step of faith. I knew I could not continue to live the way I was living. It was horrible. I knew I did not need just the little short prayer, what I really needed was help in rebuilding. I needed to know how to go forward. I needed some real help in a place where I could not run away when things got hard and someone who could understand what I was dealing with and help me walk through the issues. I finally decided to go. I felt I had no other choice. It was a battle the entire way to get there and when I got there I felt like I had made a huge mistake. I really felt stuck. Then people started coming to me and talking to me. They tried as much as they could to make me part of the community. They cleaned out a room and did it all in purple. Now (tonight as we talked) I find out they did that because I had said I liked purple! We started with daily sessions and lots of prayer. It was like being in the hospital. I felt I was in a cocoon (sp?) One of the first things I was asked was, "if you woke up tomorrow and God had totally healed you in the night (not that this never happened but God healed) what would be different? How would you act different? How would you respond different? How would you deal differently with people?" At that time, I could not even answer that. I had no hope that things could be different and no vision. They helped me to see how things could change over time. It took time. (Some days I am not sure I really see it yet, but I am getting there) The Lord (through Keith’s wife Elaine) gave me a daily prescription of scriptures to pray and I still have it. I still pray it. I felt so enveloped in the love of the community that dealing with the issues was easier. Basically what we did was talk about all the issues for 6 weeks. Then we set a date to pray for deliverance. Keith told me he wanted to make that day a huge deal. He said I should mark the day so that when things come up in the future I can remind myself and the devil that on July 12 2003 I died to all the old stuff (including memories, flashbacks, etc) and started over again. One of the things I did to mark the day was to buy the ring I wear as a reminder of what God has done in and for me. We prayed for deliverance that day and after 6 weeks of prayer, fasting and dealing with issues deliverance was not a big thing. Then we started working on how to go forward. I wrote out boundaries. I think this is the key. They really helped me to see how to walk differently. They really helped me because I could not see how to change or if I could. They helped me to see a vision and a hope. They really encouraged me! More then I can put into words. They showed me how to walk a new way by walking it out in front of me. They showed me the Love of God and His power to break down the walls I had around me and take off the masks. They are/were the first people I felt really safe being myself with. We talked alot about being real. We talked alot about being vulnerable to others and they modeled that too. In the past I was very defensive. I felt no one else would defend me so I had to defend myself. God showed me that He could/would be my defense. There are so many things the Lord did, I don't know if I could list them all. So many healings. So many times that situations came up and I was challenged to walk the new way, but it was made easier because I knew I had support. I knew God was showing me a new way. It was not just the couple I spent my time with. It was all the others that were part of that community. There are soooo many things I could tell you about community. Little things that meant so much to me. The way everyone showed so much concern. The little gifts they brought me that showed they were thinking about me. The concern when I was out on the street alone. The knock on my door when I just wanted to be left alone in my depression. The laughter and the tears together. The bulldog determination they had to see God work in me. I can not tell you what that meant to me. I can't even put it into words. I believe God wants that kind of healing community here in the United States. You see it was not just one couple who laid down there lives for me, it was all of the people that are part of that body. It's awesome to think about. How they all came together to help someone they did not even know or had only met once! I mean think about it!! This is why I am passionate about house churches and healing communities. There are soooo many other hurting people who need that kind of community. Are there more people like that in the United States? United Kingdom? Germany? Willing to lay down there lives like that? I have not met them yet, but I believe they are out there.
If you would like to tell us about your experience in small, relational Jesus communities go to our contact page and tell us your story.

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