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His Story: Jean-Paul

Drums conceptual image. Picture of drums and drumsticks lying on snare drum. Retro vintage instagram picture.

Jean-Paul Gauthier grew up in the Catholic church. He attended with his parents, went through confirmation, and lived a fairly normal child’s life. “I was an altar boy. I was in boy scouts, but I was a confused kid. I went through some normal kid crap. I was introduced to pornography at a fairly young age. It wasn’t like there was this fascination or addiction, it just became a part of regular daily life for me. It certainly became a factor later in my life.”

As he grew up he continued attending the Catholic church, but wasn’t really living the Christian life. He knew of God, but had not come to the understanding of how God could truly change his life. “It was like, ‘Okay. Who’s the next girl I can sleep with? Where’s the next party I can go to? I thought that was perfectly okay.’”

A few years after graduating college he got married. “I met a girl whose parents were married, mine were divorced. That was pretty attractive; she had parents that were married, they had a lake house, she was an only child and it seemed like this really great package.” During this time Jean-Paul continued to go to church. “I was a good Catholic boy,  walk down the center aisle, make sure everyone knows that I’m there. And then when I had kids, that was even better because now it was, ‘Oh look. Isn’t that wonderful! He’s bringing his kids to church.’”

An opportunity came for Jean-Paul to teach a confirmation class at his church. After being a part of the Catholic church from a young age, he knew that many of the kids in that class were likely coming to the class because their parents wanted them to go. So, on his first day he told the class that if they were there because their parents made them come, they could leave. Every kid got up and left. After getting all of them to return, he said “OK, I get it. You’re here because your parents made you.” He also told them that if they did not want to affirm their faith for themselves by the end of the class, he would support that decision. This caused a bit of an uproar in the church, which began a journey into Jean-Paul questioning the theology of the Catholic church.

Later on, Jean-Paul’s marriage began to fall apart. Since he was going through a divorce, he realized he could no longer teach confirmation because it was contradictory to what the church teaches. “I go to the head of the program and I say, I’m going to have to step down.’ And she goes ‘Wait. Why?’ and I said ‘Well, my wife and I are about to go through a divorce.’ And she said ‘Well…umm….well…maybe…’ and I started thinking ‘What? What do you mean maybe? This is what the church teaches and I’m about to go through this and you’re saying I can still teach?’” Once again he was left questioning the integrity of the church he was attending.

Jean-Paul continued through his divorce and his life continued to spiral. He was divorced, lost custody of his kids, stopped attending church, and he was losing all hope. “I made the mess. That’s really important to remember.” One Sunday morning, when he was working as a DJ for a local radio station, he got a call from a friend who asked what was going on, “You sound terrible.” Jean-Paul denied that anything was really wrong, but his friend asked him over for lunch anyway. Jean-Paul explained that he had to pick up a car, was planning to walk and just wanted to go home. His friend told him that his wife was on her way to church with the kids and she could pick him up and drive him. Jean-Paul told his friend several times he wasn’t interested and ended the conversation. Once he had finished his shift at the radio station, he walked outside and his friend’s wife was waiting to give him a ride. He reluctantly got in the car.

While driving home, he remembers God tugging at his heart to go to church. “I’m having an argument with God. He’s like, ‘I want you to go to church.’ And I’m like, ‘No.’ ‘Go to church.’ ‘No.’ ‘Go to church.’ ‘No.’” This argument continued until he found himself parked right in front of the church. “I thought to myself ‘OK God, you better have something to say!’ Can you imagine? Me telling God what to do.” He snuck in the back, side door, went up three rows and sat down. “Here’s where the freakiness starts to begin for me. I sit down in a pew and it’s dedicated to a Mr and Mrs Jean-Paul… the last name doesn’t matter, it’s my name looking back at me. I’m sitting there and I’m getting really weirded out by this. And then the sermon is about lost sheep coming back to the flock. Now I’m a mess. I’m bawling.” That began a chain of events leading Jean-Paul to give his life to Christ during an altar call at a Christian convention. “But my life didn’t change. I’m still sleeping with my girlfriend. I’m still looking at every skirt that walks by me.” Although he accepted the call, there wasn’t change in the way he was living his life.

A few years went by, Jean-Paul found himself at another church, teaching another class to kids. A situation came up causing issues in his heart with their theology which didn’t seem to line up with what he knew of God and he ended up leaving. Around this time, he was not attending church and he had a friend that was into sound just like Jean-Paul was. His friend suggested that they go check out DEC, because he was told they had a cool sound system. Jean-Paul drove by DEC many times on his route to work and was familiar with the church. Once he began attending he fell in love with the worship team and he decided to join as a sound tech. “It was there that my relationship with Christ began. The first hour of rehearsal each week was a devotional – studying scripture.” Jean-Paul realized that although he knew the Bible from his Catholic upbringing, he was not reading the Word. He began reading the book of John and that was when his faith started to change his life.

Now Jean-Paul, and his wife, Loretta, teach the Financial Peace University course at DEC. “FPU is a big part of our testimony now and why we’re so passionate about getting people financially healthy. Because it removes all of those barriers to your relationship with Jesus Christ.” Out of his passion for helping people become financially healthy, and his own personal success in applying the principles learned in FPU, he is also a financial coach and mentor. “The coaching aspect of it is that desire to be able to sit across a table with people…watching someone working their butt off after 9 weeks and come back to me at the end with tears and [they say] ‘We did it.’”

July 19th, 2016|Uncategorized|0 Comments

His Story: PJ

At the age of 13, Paul “PJ” Donahue started attending DEC with his mom and stepfather. Around that same time he also began drinking, which led to years of alcohol abuse. “When I was really young I would go to the soda machine. I was already fantasizing and romanticizing about drinking. I remember watching the Superbowl and there were constant beer commercials. I remember drinking soda, and Pepsi was a Bud. I was already off and running before I even started.”

During high school PJ spent much of his time playing music and partying with his friends. His passion for music later turned into a career as a drummer for several bands and a drum teacher for many students in the area. He remembers music and drinking being very separate at first. Most of his week was spent practicing, but he would be looking forward to the weekend when he could get drunk with his friends. “As I grew older, and had more freedom, I was able to make that more a part of my life. Music, partying, and alcohol, they go hand in hand. By the time it was my career, when I could go to work and I was expected to be a part of it [the party scene], it fit too perfectly.”

Years of partying and social drinking had gone by when PJ noticed a change in his behavior. “Somewhere along the way things started to change. I would drink on a Friday night and I would wake up Saturday and the first thing I wanted to do was drink more. Then that became the reality. It got to the point where I would come to Bible Study on a Thursday morning and I would be in the bar by 11AM. Drink all day. Drink all night. Be right back in the bar Friday.” Drinking with friends was no longer just a social call. Drinking was all he could think about.

PJ, along with his wife Jenn and daughter Molly, continued to attend DEC. “Usually Saturday night I would have a gig. I would come to DEC and put on the “Church PJ”. Always looked sharp. Nice button down shirt. Totally shaved. After shave. Mints. Hair perfect. On the outside looking like everything was together. You would never know. I would just sit there and think, ‘I just got to get through this hour then I can go to the gig and drink.’ I would not really listen to the sermon, but I would always watch the worship team. I envied them so much. I was super proud of them.” He was proud of the younger members of the worship team for the way they were serving and the heart they had for the Lord. He was so glad they were “sold out” for God, because he remembered what he was doing on a Sunday morning at that age. “When I was 24 or 25, I would wake up hung-over. Maybe in the bed. Maybe next to the bed. Maybe on the kitchen floor. Who knows? Maybe on someone else’s kitchen floor.” Although he was so intrigued by the members of the worship team, he wanted nothing to do with them. He did not want to deal with his addiction and he knew that if he joined he would not be able to hide it anymore.

After years of alcohol abuse, PJ had a gig that made him realize just how much his addiction had a hold on him. He had some drum students cancel a few hours before a gig in Concord, and he was left in the city just waiting to drink with friends before his gig. “I had a gig in Concord on a Thursday night. It was from 9PM-1AM or something. I had some students up in Concord and then I had a little break, actually too long of a break. I remember thinking to myself, ‘You can’t go in there and get a beer yet, because you know that once you start you will not stop.’ So I sat in the parking lot across the street just waiting out time because I knew once I started it was on.” It wasn’t long after that he decided to go into the restaurant and start drinking.

By the time he made it to his gig he was already drunk. “I remember going up to the bartender and she said, ‘You can drink all you want. It’s all free, but we have a New Hampshire law that you can’t drink on stage.’ And I was like, ‘Thank God! That will force me stop for like an hour. I just need an hour.’” By the time the gig was over he had been drinking for several hours and had to drive back home. His blood alcohol content was far over the legal driving limit. He stopped a couple of times along the way because he was having trouble seeing correctly and was afraid he might get pulled over. After a couple of hours he made it home. As soon as he got in the door he went into the basement and began drinking again.

A couple of weeks after that night he decided to go back to Alcoholics Anonymous and get some help. He had tried sobriety once before but was only able to stay sober for about 3 months. Around the same time, he also decided to join the worship team at DEC because they were in need of a drummer. He first contacted Danielle thinking that being a part of the worship team might help him in his sobriety, but he hoped he wouldn’t have to commit to too much because he had brunch gigs on most Sunday mornings. Shortly after contacting her he was put on the schedule to play once a month! This forced him to have a sense of responsibility, because he knew he couldn’t show up to rehearsal on a Thursday night or a service on a Sunday morning drunk.

Soon after joining the worship team he also began attending a Community Group. They were going through the book “Experiencing God”, which really helped him see what experiencing God was like for the first time. It helped him in his prayer life and taught him how to develop a relationship with God. “Prayer isn’t just a routine. It isn’t just something that you say. Church isn’t just something that you do and just go to get through and then you’re good. You have to start to seek God and ask God to reveal himself to you.”

After 2 months of being sober Danielle asked PJ to play a drum duet for the Mission’s Sunday at DEC, having no idea the internal struggle that was going on. “That’s a weird point in sobriety. When I first stopped drinking…that’s almost easier because you are so close to that turmoil and it is so fresh in your mind. When you get farther in sobriety you kind of forget how bad it was.” He was struggling with sobriety because it was so new and different, but he knew he could not go back because that would be even worse. He felt stuck and vulnerable, but he did not realize just how vulnerable he really was.

PJ came to practice with the rest of the worship team for Mission’s Sunday, and shortly after Danielle noticed something was off about rehearsal. In that moment she stopped rehearsal and prayed. She was feeling spiritual warfare and asked God to help them in their practice. “We had had so many problems, like technical problems. It was really weird. Everything was fine until I sat down to watch the worship team practice the other tunes. At the time I didn’t know what it was. I was just having these thoughts of, ‘Why are you here? They don’t even want you here. You don’t belong here. You need to pack up your stuff and leave and drink. You shouldn’t even be alive.’ I must have gone back on stage. That’s when Danielle prayed the first time. I remember Danielle prayed twice. The first time Satan used it to make it worse on me. Then he was like, ‘Now look! Now you’re not supposed to be here so much that you are ruining it for them.’” As the practice continued, PJ’s feelings were not going away.

PJ put on a brave face like nothing was wrong and continued to play the drums. Danielle had no idea what was going on in his mind, but she knew that the team was under a spiritual attack. So, she prayed again for the demonic spirit to leave practice. “Then Danielle prayed a second time. That’s when I knew that she felt it too.”

That night PJ went home and talked to his wife, Jenn, about what happened. She did some research to find out what spiritual warfare was and that was when PJ realized he had been under attack. “That was really cool that Danielle felt that. It made me look into it more. It made me think, ‘Maybe I’m not ruining it for everyone. Maybe Satan is threatened by what good can come out of it.’”

It has now been several months since that night at worship team rehearsal. Through help in AA, and support from the worship team and his community group, PJ has been sober for over a year. He has continued to serve on the worship team and has been a huge encouragement. Through it all, God has done an amazing transformation from a life of addiction to a life of freedom. “I believed in God. I always believed that we were created and the world was created. I can just see that by looking around. But as far as Jesus, I was a little more like, ‘Maybe? But, how do you know?’ I think often that when Jesus died the veil was torn and I’ve spent a lot of my life just trying to sew it back up. Once I humbled myself and just said, ‘You take it. I can’t do it anymore.’ That’s when things started happening…[when I was] driving home from Concord one night and hearing, ‘Jesus is your friend. You can talk to Jesus.’ And I just casually said, ‘Jesus, I love you.’ And I looked down and the license plate said, ‘Love you more.’ And when they did the baptisms and there was one after the other and I was on the team. I just felt like God was revealing to me another character of him. No matter how dark it gets, or how much stuff happens in the world and how lost everybody gets, and how out of control everything seems to get with shootings and everything, don’t forget for one second that He hasn’t got it right in his hand and He can win at any time, at will. He’s got it.”

 

PJ and Jenn

PJ with wife Jenn

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PJ with daughter Molly

June 21st, 2016|Uncategorized|3 Comments

PASTORAL PONDERINGS: JUNE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“You are the light of the world….a city on a hill that can’t be hidden”. That’s what Jesus said about his disciples in the Sermon on the Mount. In that statement is revealed God’s plan for the church – an assembly (that’s what the word “church” means) of people visible for the whole world to see, who are living out the Bible’s call to love and holiness. Since the first century, this ragtag group of Christ followers has slowly but surely taken over the world with the Good News of Jesus Christ. Yes, His parable about the Kingdom of Heaven being like a mustard seed has proven to be true—this movement started very small, but has grown to be a worldwide thing.

 

But it is difficult, if not impossible, to see a “worldwide thing”. We can really only see what is close at hand. And that’s why the real question we need to ask is this—what do people see when they look at DEC? Do they see a group of people who love one another in a way that is strangely visible? Do they see a group of people who are bound together with a mission to share the Good News of Jesus with the world? Do they see a group of people overwhelmed by the grace given them by God? Do they see a group of people who just don’t seem to “fit in”—they have different values, a different set of priorities, they just live a different kind of life? The church of Jesus has always had an odd relationship with the world in which it lives. On one level, we are sojourners—we don’t belong to this world (our citizenship is in heaven). On another level, we have been placed on this earth to give witness to the work and power of the Spirit of God. Acts 5:13 kind of sums up the relationship of the church to its community well, when it says, “None of the rest dared join them, but the people held them in high esteem.”

 

This summer is a great time for us as a body to do two things: 1. Pull together as a community, so that we really can learn the beauty of loving one another. This is a step of faith for some. It is hard to love those you don’t even know. So maybe this is your summer to make sure you gather with the rest of the community of faith—like coming to a “lake day” or joining in our evenings of prayer. Also, maybe it would be a great time to explore the gift of hospitality, and invite folks over to your home for a BBQ (or some such thing). 2. Reaching out as a community, so those around us encounter the Gospel. VBS is coming up, and it doesn’t matter whether you have children of that age or not. Invite the neighbors, reach out to friends. When we do a church outreach, let’s all be a part of making it happen.

 

When it is all said and done, the real question is this—if DEC is the city on a hill that can’t be hidden, do people see in our city the reflection of the risen Christ?

June 15th, 2016|Uncategorized|0 Comments

PASTORAL PONDERINGS: MAY

 

Sounds odd to say a church should be like a bar, but maybe, just maybe we should. Remember the show “Cheers”? It was set in a bar in Boston, and the opening song that introduced the show had those great lines, “where everybody knows your name, and they’re always glad you came”. Every time I think of those words, I wonder: how many folks go to a church service, and hardly anyone knows their name? And if they do…..are they really glad you came?

Our leadership has been pondering something for a while now. How do you grow a strong sense of community/fellowship in a church with multiple services and hundreds of folks who may or may not know each other? There is something truly beautiful about the body of Christ when it functions like a family that loves one another. The apostle Paul described it well in 1 Corinthians 12 as a body in which every member is important, and every member is needed. That is one of our great pursuits here at DEC—we want to be that place where every person feels valued, and they value each other. It is not an easy thing to accomplish, but it sure is worth the effort.

One the negative side, when we don’t operate like a family, we can lack graciousness one to another; we can focus on the tasks instead of people; and we can be religious, but totally lacking in love (1 Corinthians 12:1-3). On the positive side, when we do operate like a family, we can give much grace to those around us; we can see that people are as important as any task we are doing; and we can be a fellowship defined by love.

How do we get there? Well it isn’t easy, but here a couple things that can really help:

  1. Break out of the relational ghetto. Some folks sit in the same seats every Sunday, and talk only to the same people around them every Sunday. If you are the new person, how in the world is that going communicate to you, “we are glad you came”? Do something simple—sit in a different place every week, and get to the folks from “the other side of the room”. Who knows… you may actually make some new friends.
  2. Do something really scary (not really). Get involved in a ministry that is populated with people you don’t know. It could be a one day thing like an Operation Blessing work day, or it could be an ongoing thing like being part of our hospitality team. There is nothing that gives people a sense of oneness as much as laboring side by side for the kingdom of God.

It gives great glory to God when people can observe a fellowship and come to the conclusion—these people really love one another. Jesus actually said this would be the standard by which His disciples would be recognizable (John 13:34-35). I pray this is a pursuit that will always be a part of who we are as the body of Christ.

May 10th, 2016|Uncategorized|0 Comments

PASTORAL PONDERINGS: APRIL

Hungry people. That is who Jesus calls blessed. In the beatitudes, which begin the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5), Jesus said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness”. Yes, Jesus is saying there is a great blessing for those who are hungry. Of course, you have to be hungry for the right thing.

We just started into the book of Amos, and one of the things we are finding is that the people of Israel were a very hungry people……but not in a good way. They hungered for luxury/prosperity even if it meant trampling people to get it. They hungered to be politically and militarily powerful. They hungered to show everyone how “religious” they were with their showy sacrifices and worship. But that isn’t the kind of hunger God blesses; in fact it is the kind of hunger He judges.

When we speak of good hunger, we are talking about folks that have a yearning inside to live in a right relationship with God. They know it only comes as a gift of grace to those who seek it (Heb. 11:6), and they desperately want that gift. They want to be covered in the righteousness of Jesus, which is offered to all who put aside their own fleshly works, and receive God’s gracious gift through faith (Rom. 3). Hungry people are people who realize that everything they have is a gift from God, and they seek those gifts with a humble dependency.

So the question for all of us is simple—are you hungry? Is there a hunger in you to join the saints in worship, and to pour out your praise to God because He alone deserves our worship, and He alone is the one who fills the hungry? Is there a hunger in you to spend time alone with God in prayer and meditation; meeting with Him in what Jesus calls your “prayer closet”? Is there a hunger in you to gather with a smaller community and spend time in God’s Word? Is there a hunger in you to use the gifts God has given you to serve His kingdom, and to see it grow? Is there a hunger in you that so much wants to see justice come to this earth?

Yes indeed, God blesses hungry people. And if you are in that place where you just don’t feel all that hungry….go to Him and ask Him for the gift of hunger. As a pastor, I would love to know that one of the marks of our fellowship is that it is made up of hungry people….hungry in the right way.

April 19th, 2016|Uncategorized|0 Comments

PASTORAL PONDERINGS: MARCH

 

Psalm 30:11 says, “You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness”. Well, we are almost at the end of a somber season called Lent. It was a time to step back, slow down, meditate, pray, and practice the discipline of self-denial. All of this is designed to help us come face to face with the depth and seriousness of our sin; and then to truly start to understand why we so desperately need a Savior. Until one comprehends in the depth of their soul how truly awful sin is, one will never really appreciate the wonder of grace that comes in the saving work of Jesus Christ. But that is only part of the story—our sin and Jesus’ remedy will bring us to Good Friday (yet Sunday is where hope really blooms).

 

The truth is that our hope isn’t just in Friday….it is in the power of God’s resurrection of His Son that early Sunday morning. Have you ever wondered—if Jesus paid for our sins on a cross, why is it important that He then rose from the dead”? There are many answers to that question, but the two I want to focus on are these:

 

  1. Jesus’ resurrection is the stamp of God’s approval on His sacrifice. It shows us that just as Jesus had promised, the Father would raise Him from the dead on the third day. If Jesus was still in the grave, we would still be stuck in our sins. It would mean that what happened on the cross wasn’t accepted by the Father as a sufficient payment for the debt of sin (Acts 2:22-24, Matthew 16:21, and 1 Corinthians 15).
  2. Jesus’ resurrection is called the “firstfruits” of the resurrection of the dead. What that means is that He is the first of many to come. No matter what we face in this life, we know that in the end, we shall rise again just as Jesus did. This is the hope of the Christian life—victory over death. And this is why Easter is a day of joy (1 Corinthians 15:20)

 

So as we look to this Sunday—that great day of hope and joy—come prepared to worship the God whose promises in Christ are always “yes”. Truly our mourning has been turned to dancing. That is what Easter is all about. And don’t forget—invite someone to come with you so that they too may hear the great story of hope in Jesus. That is what the “Good News” is all about. I pray to see you all on the morn when we can cry out, “He Is Risen”.

March 22nd, 2016|Uncategorized|0 Comments

HIS STORY: BARRY & CLAIRE

reinholds

Barry began attending Durham Evangelical Church while he was a student at UNH. During that time DEC was located at McConnell hall at UNH, a small church with many needs. Almost as soon as he began attending, he began serving. “My first service at the church was, actually, in the nursery. Which I was reintroduced to the concept of babies. It had been a while. It was probably the first time I had to actually change a diaper.”

 

After his 4th year at UNH, Barry married his high school sweetheart, Claire. She also began attending DEC and soon after they were married they began serving on the worship team. “That was funny, because we were really bad.” Claire said with laughter. “There may be a heart there, but there may have not been the appropriate gifts…” Barry added. The church was small at the time and there were not many people available to help out in the different areas of needs throughout the church. So, Barry and Claire decided they would help where they saw needs.

 

Serving at a church means being a part of a community. Barry and Claire said this had a big impact on their serving over the years. They could recall several times where being a part of that community helped them through the difficult times. “If you have a community that is willing to serve, you are much more likely to stay with it. The Christian life is a marathon. It’s a walk that you need to have partners in. You need to have people that are walking with you.”

 

During their service to DEC, Barry says that the hardest part of serving is the relationships. “The most difficult thing I think people have to face in ministry is not the task they have to do, but the relationships in there. We are a community that needs to live together when we serve. So, I think the most difficult things in service are always when you are having those struggles to serve together. DEC has really got leadership that are very sensitive to that. If you think about serving, you know, I think one of the key things is your hearts position. There also has to be this ability to be flexible. Don’t take yourself so seriously. You may have this real passion for how God is going to do things and how you see stuff, but the reality is so do other people. “ He believes that there is joy in serving when you can prioritize what matters. “When you can take the focus off of yourself and see what God is doing, that’s when you can really enjoy things.”

 

Over their 30 years of service to DEC, Barry and Claire have served in the nursery, worship team, college ministry, children’s ministry, youth group, men’s & women’s ministry, marriage mentoring, and MOPS. They have also led community groups, and Barry has been a member of the elder board. During these years of service Barry says that there have been joys and heartaches, but they still serve to see people grow in their faith. “At the real end of it, it’s when you see people grow and you see them make steps of obedience. You see a disciple grow. You see somebody who now makes choices and follows Christ on their own volition. You know that God is doing something in their lives. When you see people growing in the faith, in ways that are not just words, but in ways that are really making decisions for Christ, I think that’s what really makes it worth it.”

 

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Barry and Claire Reinhold

March 1st, 2016|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Pastoral Ponderings: February

 

So a new season is upon us—Lent. Hard to believe how early it comes this year. In fact, it all begins tomorrow. I think it is a legitimate question to ask whether or not it is beneficial for the church to celebrate “seasons”. There is no biblical mandate to set aside special times during a year for things like Advent, Lent, etc. ; but they do seem to serve a great purpose in bringing glory to God and in growing His children as disciples.

 

Think about it for a moment. In an overly commercialized world where Christmas and Easter have been taken over by gadgets and chocolate, isn’t it nice to have special things (like Advent calendars and candles) that keep pulling us back to the real reason for the season. Every year here at DEC we find the Advent season a particularly generous time in which the giving kind of goes through the roof. I know some of it is tax driven, but much of it is just a response by the saints to the generosity of the grace God has given. May God bless you for that.

 

Now we enter a very different season. What is Lent really about?  The traditional purpose of Lent is the preparation of the believer through prayerpenancerepentance of sins, almsgivingatonement and self-denial (thus says Wikipedia). It is a time to prepare our souls for the season that changed the history or this world—Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection. It is a time of sober joy, and the birth of hope. My prayer is that we all find these next six weeks a special season in which we draw closer to God and rediscover the inner life God desires for us. It all begins with a special communion service tomorrow night (Ash Wednesday) at 7pm. Come join us around the table as we seek the face of God.

February 9th, 2016|Uncategorized|0 Comments

HIS STORY: CHAD

chad

On November 29th Chad Prusia was baptized, along with 11 others that day.

After being with his high school sweetheart for 16 years, and having two children, Chad came home one night to find that his marriage had become completely disillusioned and his wife was leaving. Chad felt completely blindsided by the news. Not long after they were divorced, Chad had to find his identity apart from his wife. “Unfortunately, I could barely make ends meet. I lived in different apartments, and about a year after my divorce things were so tight that I moved back home for a little while.”

After a short time living with his parents, Chad was able to get back on his feet and began his own carpentry business. “I started my own business mainly for my kids. At the time when we first got divorced, which was like the death of me as it was. It was like my whole world had got turned upside down. I went from seeing my kids every day to only seeing them twice a week.” Even after starting his own business and having shared custody with his kids, he still struggled to be the man he thought he was before.

About 4 years after Chad’s divorce, a friend who attended DEC was also going through a divorce. So, Chad and his friend decided to move in together to make it financially easier on both of them. “We were kind of joking about moving in together, but then we started talking about it more seriously.” During that time there were many conversations between the two guys about faith and having a relationship with Jesus. “My mom always said, ‘God didn’t make the churches and you can pray from anywhere.’”

After several months Chad’s friend began challenging Chad about his faith. “I remember having a conversation with him and he said, ‘Well, I know you believe in God. I don’t know how much of a relationship you have with Jesus. You don’t really read the Bible or talk with Jesus unless something bad happens. You don’t pray unless you need something. What if you had a really good friend, but you never talked with them a whole lot? But, whenever you needed something, let’s say, money, you would call that particular person. You would only call them when you really needed something.’ Then I said, ‘Well, that would be kind of rude.’ And he said, ‘That’s exactly what you’re doing with Jesus. You need to talk with him. You need to have a relationship with him.’”

Shortly after having that conversation, Chad began attending DEC. The first time Chad came to church he felt like he belonged. “Every time I came in it was like Terry was always talking about a problem I had in my life. It was really coincidental and really exciting all at the same time. You know, I hate singing, but I found myself belting out all the songs! I didn’t care! It was really different for me.”

A few weeks ago a sermon was preached about baptism and it challenged those who have not been baptized to consider the reasons they may be avoiding baptism. It challenged all of us to be obedient to Christ’s call on believers to be baptized, and to live lives that exemplified Christ’s work in us. That morning the Holy Spirit was moving among the people of DEC and 12 people were baptized. People from the congregation were bringing up shirts they were wearing and clothes from their car so people who wanted to be baptized could do so. It was during that service that Chad was baptized.

Chad had attended baptism classes at DEC and had talked with a pastor and his mentor about baptism. He kept waiting for “a sign” that he should be baptized. One day during Community Group, his mentor told him that there would be a chance for him to be baptized at church and said that he should be baptized. So, Chad agreed and when the call was given for people to be baptized he was the first one in the water. “Looking back at how I’ve handled everything in life, I’ve screwed a lot of things up. That same week at Bible study we were talking about it and everyone was crying again and they were all saying, ‘It was such an emotional day’. I had been out back getting dried off and stuff so I kind of missed that emotional part that everybody was in, but then hearing that and looking back, nothing else matters. I was a part of that. That changed my whole realm of thinking.”

“It’s definitely changed my life and how I look at things. There are all these things I handle differently now than I would have even three years ago.” Since becoming a Christian, before being baptized, Chad told his wife that he forgave her for what happened in their marriage. “I blamed it all on her, when in all actuality, I wasn’t the greatest guy in the world either. We were verbally abusive to each other. I asked for her forgiveness in that and I said that I forgave her for what she did. There’s no way I could have done that without God’s help. No way.”

“I think back where my life was headed. We get so caught up on money and things, and we don’t look at the important things. Now I see things that make me happy. He found me and brought the right people in my life that brought me to him.”

 

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Chad with his son and daughter

December 23rd, 2015|Uncategorized|2 Comments

A Christmas Prayer

 

This past Sunday the Senior High, Real Life, students were asked to reflect on the Christmas Story. They were given Mary’s side (Luke 1:26-38), Joseph’s side (Matthew 1:18-25), and the Shepherd’s  side (Luke 2:8-20) of the account. The students were then asked, “How would you have reacted? What can we learn from Mary, Joseph and the Shepherds?” Once they had spent time in reflection they were then asked to write a poem or Christmas Carol with their thoughts. This poem was written by one of those students.

 

I am not Mary. I do not react well to changes in my plans.

I am not Joseph. I do not lead a life of faith and trust.

I am not the Shepherds. I do not tend towards their willingness to please You.

But make me like them.

Guide me towards serving You in the way that they did.

Give me Mary’s grace.

Give me Joseph’s faith.

Give me the Shepherd’s willingness.

Through Your son You have made it possible for me to be more like them.

Let me seek You the way that they did so that I may glorify You.

Amen.

December 22nd, 2015|Uncategorized|3 Comments