Page 1

STORIES transformation


STORIES of transformation When we began the REACH Generosity Initiative, we believed God was calling us as a church to grow in generosity, and in the process we have stretched our wallets and ourselves. In response, the Lord has deeply blessed the ways we’ve sacrificed our possessions and time as we’ve sought to obey His call. Here are a few stories from people who’ve experienced the Lord during this season. May their voices encourage you to continue to reach up to the Lord in worship and reach out in loving mission to the Lost and the Least. As our two-year commitments come to a close, may we celebrate all the Lord has done—and continue to pray that the Lord would give all of us at Church of the Resurrection a heart to sacrifice, to build, and to be generous.

Celebrating the lives changed during our two year generosity adventure of Giving for the Lord, the Lost, and the Least.


EQUIPPED to

Evangelize

by Dan Easley

G

od has recently given me several opportunities to share my faith in Christ. Many of you may have noticed that I’ve gotten flamboyant in my old age— with my shaved head and white hat. But I’ve also gotten bolder in talking about Jesus. Some months ago, our children’s pastor, Amy Patton, gave me a Jerusalem cross to thank me for being the host in the 9:00 am nursery. Recently, I decided—during a retreat day—to wear that cross visibly to my workplace at McDonald’s. The Jerusalem cross is an ancient Christian symbol, and the black tiles surrounding our font in the sanctuary are in the form of a Jerusalem cross. But because it has an intricate design, it isn’t immediately recognizable as a cross.  This actually invites questions. I’ve had several people ask me, “Dan, what is that medallion you are wearing?”  This has given me the opportunity for conversations about Jesus. I start by saying, “This is a Jerusalem cross.  I wear it to remember that Jesus took

my bad stuff when he died on the cross, and gives me a en like?” or “Is there more than one way to heaven?” Most new kind of life through his resurrection.” One day as I was of the people who come to this discussion group might stepping off the elevator at work, a person remaining on not come to a Bible study, even though they might have the elevator asked about it.  I only had five seconds, but a Christian background. Some of my Christian friends say during that time I was able to say, “This is a Jerusalem their faith has been deepened by the discussion group. I’ve also had friends from a cross. I wear it to remember “I only had five seconds, but during non-religious background, what Jesus does for me.” or a background other than that time I was able to say, ‘This is a Christianity, grow in their I’m praying and planning Jerusalem cross. I wear it to remember openness to Jesus. I recentabout how to expand those ly discovered that one perconversation openers into what Jesus does for me.’” son turned from atheism to deeper conversations.  This fall coworkers and I started a “spiritual discussion group” faith in Christ, partly through the influence of this group, during our lunch hour. Once a week we discuss one per- and her life has been radically transformed.  I’m praying son’s question based on this opening question: “If you that I can see many other could ask God anything you wanted, and you knew God people come to a full faith would give you a personal answer, what would you ask?” In in Christ, and thankful that the past, when I’ve led discussion groups like this, I’ve my church equips me to see had atheists, agnostics, Hindus, Jews, secular people, and these conversations through. even some Christians engage in interesting discussions about “How can a good God permit evil?” “What is heavDan has attended Rez for 23 years. He serves as Junior Warden of the Vestry, host of the 9:00 a.m. nursery, a Eucharistic minister, and as a leadership team member for Transformation Conversations.


MET by

GOD

by Eli Cannell

Eli Cannell came to Resurrection in the fall of 2012 and was baptized on All Saints Sunday in 2012. He is serves on the usher team and is part of the Friday Night Feast pastorate.

“The answer to despair is hope. God’s love is real... I am believing it, and I am receiving it.”

A

year ago, I met the true and living God. When I gave my first testimony at my baptism, I had no idea what to expect of the future. All I knew was that I was in great need of healing. Nothing worked in the past to heal my wounds. The Lord waited to show himself to me until I had exhausted all other avenues of happiness and fulfillment.

ing from God can't be thought about, it just has to be done.

My life was in a state of despair. No job to make money; no money to buy a car; no car to find a job. Not only had my destructive behavior compelled my wife to leave, it also alienated my friends, who had little patience for my hysterical phone calls. I was utterly alone. Because so much of my life was dead, I was desperate for real warmth and life. I was desperate to be human. Having never experienced personal wholeness in my family, my encounter with the person of Jesus became my only frame of reference for health.

This has been a year of unforeseen blessings, which include a wonderful job, an older Christian couple taking me under their wing, and flourishing, healthy relationships with those in my life, including many of you at this church. The destructive coping patterns of the past have been largely replaced by tools of spiritual growth—such as listening prayer and confession. I am convinced the sole reason these things, the things I've always wanted, the things I was made for, have been given to me is because God is coming to live in my heart, replacing the despair with his presence. This is what Jesus means by the crazy promise in the Gospel of Matthew: “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”

Over the last year, I've tried to understand the process of redemption. Here's the best way I can put it: the light of God's presence is more than a glimpse of His love, it is also a call to repentance. This repentance is simply realizing that God loves you and has placed a call of holiness on your life and that your sin is preventing you from experiencing it. My despair was a dreadful and crippling incapacity to receive love and forgiveness from the Father. This is the linchpin. How do you stop holding onto the world and start holding onto God? Receiv-

And now, I am really living on a prayer—a prayer that is hope, and this hope is deeper than anything else. The answer to despair is hope. God's love is real, and I am dying to the old self. I am believing it, and I am receiving it.

I cannot express the depth of my gratitude for Church of the Resurrection. When I come here, I meet Christ. At Rez, we see and meet real people, not personas. We see the miracle of new life. God working in me and God working in us, the church, to redeem the world.


HEALED by

IMAGES

by Ashley Davila

Ashley Davila has been attending Resurrection since 2010 and became a member at Pentecost in 2012. She and her husband Eddie moved to the area to attend the Wheaton Graduate School where she’ll be finishing her degree in Biblical Exegesis in 2014. Ashley serves on Eucharist ministry and the communications team.

H

me feel vulnerable, and I’m not well connectealing isn’t something that I naturally ed with my own body for the same reason. associate with church, or even God. I Asking me to hold out my hands in a posture grew up in a church that seemed conof receiving, and appealing to my emotional cerned about evangelism to the exclusion of and imaginative self was poking at all my transformation and was not very aware of the vulnerable places. It was the first time I had supernatural or the work of the Holy Spirit. actively tried to accept those parts of myself So, when my husband and I registered for the in order to allow Healing Conference at Rez, I was nerIt was at the Healing Conference this them the possibilvous. I knew that I year that I finally connected healing ity of connecting me with God. Slowneed healing, but I with the sweet presence of God. ly, my invulnerable did not dream that heart melted wide God could heal in open toward God. I was learning to receive the ways that I am actually broken. “Healing” him in a new way. only conjured up wild images of casting demons out of people and whatever “slaying in In the past, when I’ve become aware of an the Spirit” means, and celebrity TV preachers area of deep pain or brokenness inside, I full of false hope and false promisess. might yelp a little prayer of desperation at God, picturing him far off. But at the Healing Who met me there was God. It was at the Conference, I was shown a better approach. Healing Conference this year that I finally connected healing with the sweet presence Instead of waiting to see if God would after all enter my tiny heart and mend it, I learned to of God. Rather than theatrics, the conference lift my pain and brokenness out of myself and was filled with prayer. We were led in conplace it squarely in God’s hands, expecting necting with God through the open postures and believing that God would take it and do of our bodies, senses, and imaginations. his good work of restoration. I learned to trust that God truly desires to make me whole. I had learned to stifle my emotions and imagination pretty early in life because they made

I have an image, a snapshot memory, of my parents and me sitting at the dining room table after lunch. My mom is crying, her face is buried in her hands. My dad and I are silent, and our stares are silent, even vacant. That image is a paradigm of pain for me. I hurt for my mom; I hurt that my dad was emotionally unavailable, and, even more, that I had learned to be the same way. I have few memories that fill me with more grief. There was a moment during the conference when Val McIntyre asked the Lord to bring such an image to mind. Val encouraged us to imaginatively place that image in Jesus’ hands and watch to see what he would do with it. That memory came to mind, and to my surprise, I saw Jesus wrap his arms around my mom and dad. I finally understood that Jesus takes care of my mom like I wish I would have, and that he has compassion for my dad in a way that I can learn. The burden of guilt and grief tied to that paradigmatic image was released.

Who knew that God could use my own imagination to speak to me in such a powerful way? There is hope for me yet! I know that complete healing will only come when Jesus returns and we are face to face. I yearn for that day. But what good news it is that God is in the business of healing even now. My first Healing Conference was not the detached, cynicism filled experience I had anticipated; it beckoned my participation and drew me into the presence of God, my Savior, my only hope for transformation.


Encouraged by Diana Soerens

to

SPEAK

Diana has attended Resurrection for 7 years. She got involved at Parkside in 2008 and moved in shortly after. She and her husband, Matt, had their dream wedding at Parkside in 2011 and now are parents of Zipporah. Diana serves in the nursery.

“Through these conversations, I have heard these women’s honest stories and they have shared their deepest concerns with me.”

W

ite lessons involved learning how to call our landlord to report problems they were having with the apartments. I wish I could have seen my landlord’s face as articulate complaints came into her the next morning after that lesson!

One day a neighbor told me she could earn more money if she could work a cash register, but she needed better English. In another conversation, a woman told me of her son’s trouble in school and her struggle to communicate with his teacher to really understand the problem. Another neighbor was having trouble explaining to the doctor her daughter’s symptoms. Another woman desperately needed her driver’s license to drive her sick husband to his doctor’s visits, but couldn’t pass the written test. I was asked several times to go to school meetings and doctor visits to help translate, but my work often prohibited me from accompanying them.

As our class kept meeting, we finished the lessons we had initially planned, and the participants asked for a more formal textbook, which Rez provided the funds to help purchase. We are in level two of that textbook series now. I wish I could tell you that their English is perfectly conversational, but we have made very slow progress lately. Some weeks a vocabulary word or a discussion question will get us discussing (in Spanish) another topic that derails the class into long conversations about life, church, theology, politics, or whatever is on their hearts. Through these conversations, I have heard these women’s honest stories and they have shared their deepest concerns with me. I have also learned so much from them, especially about being a mother. They are wonderful examples to me of sacrificial love for their children.

hen I moved into the Parkside Apartments four years ago, I saw a huge need for many of my immigrant neighbors to learn English. Many of the women, particularly, stayed at home with children or worked second-shift jobs and couldn’t attend English classes at College of DuPage or World Relief, as their husbands did. As a language teacher, I really wanted to help meet this need, but I wasn’t sure how to start.

Finally, after garnering encouragement from a group of women leaders I meet with regularly at Church of the Resurrection, I hesitantly offered to start an English class for my friends. I was afraid of appearing paternalistic or condescending, but to my surprise, my friends agreed, and together we brainstormed what the class sessions would look like and the topics they would cover. We started a conversation-based English class focusing on basic communication skills for daily life situations. One of their favor-

They tell me often that we can keep studying English together as long as I will put up with their slow-paced learning. I want to keep meeting with them because I have come to cherish their friendship and eagerly anticipate the hours of honest conversation. I am grateful to Rez for encouraging me, and partnering with the ministry at Parkside Apartments, making it possible to meet this need in our community.


FREED from

DOUBTS

by Charis McIntyre

U

ntil a couple years ago, I had a sturdy belief in Jesus as my savior, because I hadn’t been given a reason not to. During freshman year history class, we were studying the big religions of the world, and I learned that the major difference between Judaism and Christianity was that the Jews didn’t believe Jesus was the Son of God. Processing this information, I thought: “Oh, I guess the Jews don’t think of us very highly, because in their perspective, they think that we’re following a pagan idol that isn’t true.” Then these thoughts brought doubt into my own beliefs: “But wait… what if they’re right? What if Jesus really isn’t the Son of God? What if we’re all following some awful scam that someone thought up two thousand years ago?” These questions infested my mind like a sickness. I tried to shake off the frightening thoughts and think positively, “But if it was a lie, why would so many millions of people be following it?” And then a counter thought would come

back, dragging me down into a depression of doubts. I and in terrible agony as the people booed and shouted never told anyone about these doubts because I didn’t at him. Christian, do you love me, do you love me more know how they would react, so I kept them to myself, un- than these? Will you stand beside me as I die upon this tree? O Lord, I’ll stand with knowingly allowing a hard “As soon as I touched that cross, I broke you. At this verse I had ancrust to form over my heart. down. I was crying harder than I ever had. other vivid image of looking up at Jesus on the cross. All this took place around One continual phrase streamed through I was looking up at him from Easter season. I liked Easter my thoughts, “He Died, He Died, He Died” the left along with another Vigil, but because of the depressing nature of the some of the other services, I didn’t woman and a man. This was when I realized that the emowant to attend all of them. However, since my grandma tions I was feeling were actually the emotions of the women who had watched Jesus die on the cross. was in town for the occasion, I was forced to go. At the Good Friday service, Steve Williamson sang the song he wrote—The Passion Song. As he sang I found that tears were brimming my eyes. I didn’t know why. I wasn’t sad enough to be welling up with tears; the emotions didn’t feel like mine at all. Christian, do you love me, do you love me more than these? Will you walk beside me on the road to Calvary? O Lord, I’ll walk with you. As Steve sang this verse I suddenly had a very vivid image of seeing Jesus walking through a crowd with his cross on his back. I was in the crowd with some other women that were crying as he walked past us. He looked exhausted, bedraggled,

While this was happening, our big, wooden cross was laid down on the stage, and the congregation was invited to put a hand on the cross to pray. My mother tapped my shoulder and asked me if I wanted to participate. I wanted to say, “No thank you,” but to my surprise I found myself nodding and walking up with my parents to the cross. As soon as I touched that cross, I broke down. I was crying harder than I ever had. One continual phrase streamed through my thoughts, “He Died, He Died, He Died.”


At home, afterwards, my mind still found doubts, and I hated it. I wanted to bang my head against a wall to tell it to shut up! After such fantastic visions, how could my mind continue to doubt Jesus? The next day, I invited some of my friends to join my family at Easter Vigil. The music, the art, everything was amazing. As the night was coming to an end, Rand York began to sing He’s Alive and Father Stewart shouted at the top of his lungs, “HE IS RISEN!!!!!” and a gigantic 40-foot banner of Jesus wrapped in robes of light, with holes in his hands and feet, flew up to the ceiling, and the congregation exploded, “HE IS RISEN INDEED!!!”

As the banner rose to the ceiling, it was like the hard crust of doubt that had been around my heart was torn off, and my mind was filled with a new phrase, “HE ROSE, HE ROSE, HE REALLY REALLY ROSE!!!!!!!” Then the children, clergy, and adults started to run down the aisles to the beat of the music, rejoicing and singing about the risen Christ. My friends and I ran for what seemed like hours, and even when it ended, it didn’t seem long enough. As the service ended, I realized something amazing, I wasn’t having an asthma attack! I am known for my easily induced asthma, but after running, singing, and jumping to the beat of worship songs for hours, I was breathing perfectly fine. Charis McIntyre is a student at Glenbard South High School in Glen Ellyn and an active member of Resurrection’s youth ministry. She has helped with various artistic projects at Resurrection.


BLESSED by

STRANGERS

by Matthew Soerens

Matthew has attended Resurrection for 7 years. He moved to the Parkside neighborhood shortly after graduating college in 2006. Matt also works with World Relief and churches across the country to promote a biblical perspective on immigration issues and to advocate for Comprehensive Immigration Reform.

A

s Church of the Resurrection seeks to live out the REACH mission of “giving for the Lord to the Lost and the Least,” we have gotten to know a lot of new people, many of whom started out as complete strangers. This can be an intimidating task, since strangers are often equated with danger, but the Scriptures explicitly and repeatedly command us to welcome the stranger, with the suggestion that, by doing so, we too might be welcoming angels without realizing it. While living at the Parkside apartments in Glen Ellyn, we have sought to build relationships with our neighbors, to welcome our primarily immigrant neighbors, and in doing so, we have been richly blessed by the “angels” we have gotten to know time and again. A few years ago, a woman named Marie arrived at Parkside from East Africa with three children and a fourth just a few months from being born. We met this new family—Marie spoke very little English, though her kids could communicate with us better—and we did our best to be their

friends. We found that they had arrived on tourist visas, but actually were escaping from threats against them in their country; they hoped to apply for asylum and start a new life in the United States. For the time being, though, they had very little resources, and no work authorization. We tried to do what we hope someone would do for us if the tables were turned: we helped find some furniture from folks at Church of the Resurrection. We helped the kids adjust to school. They joined Rez, and when two of the kids decided to be baptized, we were standing right beside them, overjoyed by their commitment to following Christ. My wife was there at the hospital when the new baby was born. When—after all sorts of prayer and fasting, because the process is complex and risky—they were granted asylum, we helped them get driver’s licenses and Social Security cards. And, in the process, they became very dear friends. They weren’t strangers any more. After more than two years, Marie’s husband, Janvier, was able to come to the U.S. as well; we wept at O’Hare

as we watched their family reunite, and as Janvier met his youngest daughter for the first time. A short time later, while at Marie and Janvier’s for one of many delectable meals, the topic of children came up. They asked when we planned to have kids, and we shared, somewhat reluctantly, that we had actually been trying to get pregnant for more than a year, and it just wasn’t happening. We were discouraged and unsure if we would be able to have biological children, though we were also very open to the idea of adoption. They wanted to pray for us—they do this a lot, more than we do, frankly—and afterward, Janvier told us that, while he affirmed the beauty of adoption, he also felt that the Lord was telling him that The Lord would provide us a biological child within a year. We didn’t know quite what to do with that. We were a bit skeptical of this sort of thing, and we were tired of being disappointed, but we thanked them for their prayers. A few months later—once more at Janvier and Marie Josee’s for dinner—we had the privilege of sharing with them that Diana was pregnant! I’ll never forget that mo ment. They started shouting with their hands in the air as they fell to their knees, thanking God for answering their


prayers. They went on to tell us that, for months, they had been rising early every Thursday to pray and fast for us to have a child, demonstrating a level of fervency in prayer for us far beyond our own commitment to prayer for ourselves. And God had heard their prayer. On June 19th, Diana gave birth to our little girl, Zipporah Emmanuelle. We’re excited for her to grow in her relationship with Marie and Janvier and their family, people who arrived in our country as strangers but became our neighbors, who have become dear friends and spiritual family to us, and whose fervent prayers may have brought our precious little girl into existence. Our prayer for Church of the Resurrection, as the REACH campaign culminates, is that as we seek to give for the Lord to the lost and the least, we would also see the amazing opportunity this type of outreach brings — a chance to be abundantly blessed by the vibrant faith that many in our community already possess. I hope the next time you are intimidated by a stranger, you’ll think not of a threat, but of someone who might just be a divine blessing. 

Stories compiled and edited by Lindsey Learn Photos by Ryn Manby Photo on page 1 by Kim Johnson Photography Design by Ryn Manby REACH branding and logo by Cindy Kiple

(From L to R): Marie, Janvier, Zipporah Emmanuelle, Diana, and Matt at Zippy’s baptism on November 3rd, 2013. Matt and Diana chose Marie and Janvier to be Zippy’s godparents.


REACH Stories of Transformation  

Here are a few stories from people who’ve experienced the Lord during this season. May their voices encourage you to continue to reach up to...

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you