A “What’s your Story” from across the pond

September 10, 2015

IMG_9177I am excited that Tina, one of our Online Chat Hosts, has shared her story about how she discovered New Life, has grown in Christ and is now a vital part of the Online Campus Team.  Her story is why I am so thankful that New Life decided to stream Church online.  I hope and pray this inspires you in your relationship with Christ as it does me.  Tom

I first found out about New Life last summer when I was visiting family members in Virginia (Centreville). To be honest, that wasn’t exactly the best time for me to get involved with a church. I had been questioning my faith for years, so I was hesitant about it. But I was told so many great things about it and the best one of all (at that time) was that you get coffee and sweets there! Now that is amazing! For a great coffee lover with a sweet tooth, I needed to at least try it out.

Yes, what motivated me the most to visit the church was coffee and sweets. But it wasn’t just that of course. I heard that this church was different. Different in a very good way. Nobody expects you to be perfect. In fact, perfect people aren’t allowed to go there. I thought that was really refreshing and honest. People being willing to openly admit that even though they go to church, that doesn’t mean they’re still not making mistakes and they’re just as messed up as everyone else.

I was a bit anxious going though. It was a new and crowded place and for a person who’s been struggling with social anxiety most of her life, that’s not exactly the best combination. I was afraid I would be expected to participate, that I would be put on the spot, but it wasn’t like that at all.

After getting a great cup of coffee (that I was allowed to finish while watching the service) and some sweets, what intrigued me the most when I entered was music. It wasn’t just the music, it was also the way people responded to it. I couldn’t help but feel a part of it instantly. I had never been to a concert and this felt like being in one. I very much enjoy listening to music, but this was beyond anything I’d ever experienced before. Honestly, I could stay there all day just listening to it.

Most of the sermons I’ve heard in my life were boring. And they didn’t make much sense to me or at least I couldn’t relate to them much. It was mostly about what was written in the Bible, but not how we can use that in real life. This was different. It was about real life experiences and there was so much to learn from it. Wow, this is exactly how I’ve always wanted for a church to be. I couldn’t believe it actually existed. For the first time in my life I was actually excited about being in church and couldn’t wait for the next Sunday. Now it wasn’t about the coffee and sweets anymore, it was about the music, the sermon and mostly being a part of something wonderful. And not just that. I wanted to get involved. I couldn’t even believe it myself. I would never, ever, want to get involved with anything before in my life due to my social anxiety. But now I just knew I had to.

Unfortunately, I had to go back home to Slovenia soon. Luckily I was still able to watch the service online (which is another amazing thing!), but that wasn’t enough for me. I felt like I wanted more. So I emailed pastor Tom Pounder and asked how I could get involved more with the church. He was absolutely wonderful and helped me to get in touch with Ron Furgerson, which led me to become a member of a Prayer Team. Being on a Prayer Team has helped me more than I ever though possible. It’s something so wonderful being able to pray for people you don’t even know and being able to help at least with your prayers and support, even if only from a distance. And the best part of it all, you stay connected with God. I don’t think I would pray as much as I do if I wasn’t a part of the Team. In fact, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t, because honestly, sometimes I don’t really feel like praying and it would be easier just to skip it. But I feel strongly commited and I know people are counting on me, on everyone on our Team, so that motivates me.

I also became a part of an online group, which is a great way to stay connected with people from all over the world. It’s another thing that caused me anxiety at first, but now I just can’t imagine not being a part of it. It’s so great being able to talk about anything, share life experiences, explore the Bible in greater depths and pray for each other. It’s a huge encouragement to me and it helps me so much with everything I’m dealing with in life. There has been quite a few challenges, especially since I moved from Slovenia to UK (South Wales) and I’ve received so much support from my church family, especially Tom and Ron whose friendship I value more than I can express with words. And I’m so thankful for all the members of my Prayer Team. I’ve never met people who would be so willing to help and offer their support and be there no matter what. God bless you all!

Another thing that I really enjoy is not only watching the Sunday service online, but also being a chat host for one. It has been so fulfilling and for those of us who can’t join church in person, being able to watch online has been such a blessing. We can share our thoughts and comments on worship music, sermon as well as other things and it just makes the whole experience richer. I especially love the fact that I’m not watching alone and it’s almost as if we have our own group online 🙂 I’m always excited about watching Sunday service and I learn something new each week.

Before I found New Life I wasn’t sure if I’d ever want to go to church again. I wasn’t even sure if I wanted to believe in God anymore. My faith was low and I never thought that could change to the point it has. I was never comfortable talking about God with others, but now I can’t not share how New Life has affected me.

I thought it was a bad timing going back to church. I didn’t think I needed it and I certainly didn’t want it at the time. But God had different plans for me. Not only it changed my life and helped me in so many ways, it’s also helping me to share it with others. Because when you find a church as awesome as New Life, you want for others to experience it as well.

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