This is one of the stories I tell in the book, backwards: Created to Live SENT
Here is a story of what community can look like when it is working well. I took my son, Jeremy, and his son, Landon, to the Lenexa, Kansas, BBQ cook-off. We joined my neighbors, Harry and Doug, who were competing. They had a tent where many of us gathered to cheer them on and of course eat their food! I ran into Chelsea there.
At the time Chelsea was just a year out of Pittsburg State University. She is a young adult who is not married. She’d been attending Indian Creek for the previous two years. She had made a commitment to follow Christ and was baptized just the prior year. With her eyes wide she pulled me off to one side and confessed, I can’t believe what happened at my community group last night!
She proceeded to tell me she had gone to her group with a bit of an attitude because things hadn’t been going smoothly for her lately. She was frustrated with God and had some doubts about whether He cared about what she cared about. She was amazed that when she shared openly with her group, they listened and took her doubts to heart. They connected with her at a soul level.
They discussed her concerns with honesty and to them there were no dumb questions. She found acceptance, some answers that night and she learned that her group was there for her. That was encouraging, but it was just the beginning of the story.
Something else happened in the group that was a completely new experience for her. When the group got ready to pray they divided into two groups: one consisted of guys and one comprised of the girls. The girls went downstairs for some privacy. One of the young women spoke directly to Chelsea, shared a scripture with her and challenged her to step up to a new level of faith. As that was happening Chelsea said she heard God speak clearly to her spirit and give her exactly what she needed to hear.
With tears in her eyes Chelsea said, I’ve never had that happen to me. It was awesome! But there was more! A young woman in the group dissolved into tears and began to cry. Curious and wanting to be supportive the other ladies gathered around her. Encouraged by their support, she shared a financial need she’d been trying to keep a secret.
She and her husband were going to be evicted from their apartment if they didn’t produce $1,000 for rent within a day. They didn’t have the resources to do it and they didn’t have a place to go. They weren’t sure where to turn, so they had turned to their group.
Has your husband shared this with the guys, one of the young women asked.
No, we are embarrassed, was the answer.
Someone in the group offered, We will pray, but we need to talk about this as a group and pray for both of you. And they did but the group didn’t stop there. Chelsea could hardly talk now because she started to cry which brought tears to my eyes as I listened. Chelsea then related that miraculously enough, the ladies in the group had opened their purses and started to pool their money to help to meet the need of the couple. The girls went upstairs and discussed it as a group. This time the guys participated. However, the group were just short of collecting the full $1,000 needed.
The group decided to go to the closest ATM together. There they took turns and withdrew money until they had enough to cover the rent! They presented it to the grateful couple. Then to celebrate they went out to eat ice cream together and had a great time! I’ve never experienced anything like that! Chelsea declared.
That BBQ tent became holy ground for a moment as Chelsea and I hugged and thanked God for the love that is present when God’s people unite. That is community at its best!
When you live SENT you are never alone. That community group loved God as they studied and prayed. That’s true worship! They heard from God through the scriptures and prayer. They loved each other by listening and speaking the truth in love. Then they lived out their faith by giving sacrificially without judgment. God was honored, and their lives witnessed to the love of Jesus and His followers.
Community is possible for you, too, when you connect into the body of Christ which is the Church.