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Transformation

Life Together

Life Together

By Devon Wayne

Our small group started with eight people who didn’t know each other, but over time our stories have woven together into a beautiful tapestry.

A job opportunity brought Julie to Southern California. She had been looking for a church but couldn’t find the right match, so she decided to join the one closest to her home. Google–that source of all knowledge–pointed her to Eastside. Since joining, Julie has volunteered to serve in Kidside, has travelled to Israel, and is preparing to go to on a mission trip to Thailand to serve people there.

Next is Bobby, known as Boy Bobby (as there was a girl Bobbie among our original eight as well). Boy Bobby has a huge heart and a gift of listening. He has taken on a leadership role in our group. He met Hannah, a beautiful, kindhearted woman who grounds him. Hannah has joined our group, and she and Bobby were married at the end of last year.

A few weeks after the group started, Bobby got sick enough that he needed to go to the hospital, and when he needed a ride home, he was bold enough to ask for help from a group of people he had only known for a few weeks. Brandi responded to his text and drove him home.

Brandi has a huge heart and sense of humor. She sees the Spirit within you and will be there to provide words of love and grace when you need them. Brandi leaned on the group as her mom, Nancy, battled with cancer. Before Nancy left us to join God in Heaven, a prayer of hers was answered. It all started at the end of summer 2015, when our group had a barbecue.

A former member of the group hosted the barbecue, and we invited her roommate, Aaron, to join us… and we wouldn’t take no for an answer. Aaron didn’t go to church or follow Jesus, but hey, barbecue is barbecue. We invited him to join us the following week when we started up our Bible study, and he came.

Brandi caught Aaron’s eye, so Aaron started attending church and asking questions about faith. We didn’t always have the answers, but we’d research them and come back the next week to talk more about his questions.

Last year, Aaron was baptized and proposed to Brandi. By then Nancy, Brandi’s mom, had gotten sicker, so a backyard wedding was planned weeks before the actual wedding. I had the privilege of doing Nancy’s hair and makeup for the backyard wedding, and Boy Bobby officiated the ceremony. Nancy went to Heaven a few days later, her prayer that her daughter would find a husband having been answered.

During this time Aaron’s mom, Michelle, started attending Eastside and was baptized a couple of months ago.

I guess that leaves me. I made the commitment to join Eastside in about 2014, and, after feeling lonely and lost in such an overwhelmingly large church, I decided to get plugged in. I joined a small group and began volunteering. The largeness of the church began to shrink, and it began to feel less lonely.

During the first couple of weeks of our small group, Brandi and I learned that we live a mere two-minute walking distance from each other. This proximity allowed us to do life together. She and her dog Clarence often stopped by for walks. When her mom’s condition worsened, I was able to provide dinners and next-day lunches for Brandi. These moments allowed our friendship to grow.

I was raised Lutheran and didn’t feel the need to be baptized again, but God’s whispering became more audible, and the Spirit swelled in my heart. In the beginning of 2015 I was baptized, and that summer I travelled to Kenya on my first mission trip. My heart for compassion causes has grown exponentially, and I am overjoyed as I prepare for my third mission trip. These compassion experiences make me feel more grounded and connected. My cousins left me a message online that resonates with me. They wrote, “Helping you turn the human race into the human family. God bless you.”

Turning the human race into the human family, I just love those words.

Our stories and lives have been interwoven through moments in time. We are now a group of twelve, and whether people have been with us for months or for years, their lives and stories are becoming a part of ours. Our group, like many others, shares life moments: baptisms, illnesses, deaths, mission trips, camping trips, potlucks, laughter, and tears, but most importantly we share God’s love as we seek to expand our knowledge of Him.

If you’d like to find a community of people to do life with, check out eastside.com/groups.

Bravely Forward: Sherry's Story

Bravely Forward: Sherry's Story

For some of us, only one medical emergency, or one pay cut, or one traffic citation separates us from experiencing homelessness.  Oftentimes as a society, we assume that the folks we see on on the streets of our neighborhoods have a story of how they got there that is far from relatable,  but nothing could be further from the truth.

Cindy's Story

Cindy's Story

Cindy’s Story

“It’s the shirts with turtlenecks, ya know, the ones that wrap around your neck? It’s those I still can’t wear.”

Even though it’s been 14 years since leaving her abusive ex-husband, for Cindy there are particular prompts that even now give rise to recollections of terror during the years living under his control.

Cindy had grown up in a household that hadn’t spoken a lick of self worth into her young mind, her mother being the pioneer of abusive comments that would continue to reign in her head for years to come. One such phrase, “I wish you’d never been born”, creating a foundation of falsities that she would go on to deem as truth.

To this day Cindy can recall seeing her ex as a great guy in the early stages of their relationship, a label that began to fade as the need for control became more evident, insisting that she prioritize feeding him as a grown man rather than her infant son. It wasn’t until the age of 21, after the birth of her third child, that the beatings and verbal abuse began to take center stage. He began to develop his favorite forms of treatment, choking Cindy being among his choice selection of conduct.

“What could she do?”, was the thought that dominated her mind. Not allowed to hold a job, no phone, strict time restraints for completing errands--everything had a limit, a constraint, and she was trapped. With minimal job experience and being forced to live within the tight restrictions her husband enforced, she was stuck.

One evening, with her feet dangling inches above the ground from the hold around her neck pinning her against the wall, a friend of her abuser unexpectedly came through the door. This was the first of many friends and relatives that would learn of the torture occurring within their household, but unfortunately, it would be awhile until any had the heroic-sized courage to stand up to the tyrant controlling it all.

A heroine came indeed, in the form of Cindy’s sister in law. A fearless woman who Cindy recalls as being the only person able to help her in this state of defenselessness, the one person whom this abuser wouldn’t dare cross. One evening with him at work and the kids at grandma’s, she was free. Cindy left that night, taking her kids to live with family for awhile before she learned about His House, a shelter that fit her situation as being open to men, women and families alike; she and her kids moved in promptly.

Unaware of their whereabouts, her ex was no longer affecting her life and the lives of her kids and Cindy worked hard for seven months within this transitional housing, leading to finding her footing. She began to rebuild her life from the ground up, relying on friends from the past that assisted with her job search, as well as new friends that helped with providing rides and support.

With a consistent income established and her fear beginning to subside, Cindy moved her family to an apartment with a roommate she had met at the shelter. This apartment would serve to be just a phase in her journey, but was paramount in establishing her independence.

She soon moved her family from that home to begin a life with the man that would become her new husband, a man that had served as a close friend during some of her hardest times. He showed her a love she had not yet known up until this point in her life, seeing her at her truest form and loving her teen children as if they were his own.

They married in 2011 but soon after began to face struggles and feel financial stresses that affected their relationship. Although Cindy had spent time in church as a youth, she didn’t see that as resolving her current troubles; that is, until her thoughts went to that of her sister--a woman that despite her own trials never complained. Cindy compared her life to that of her sibling’s and knew she was missing something crucial.

After numerous invitations from neighbors to attend church, Cindy woke up one morning with a change of heart. Her husband accompanied her last minute to a service that would go on to shape a deep connection within the community at Eastside Christian Church.

A change of perspective was taking hold of both her and her husband as they felt the desire to get more involved. At an interest meeting for volunteers at Eastside, they were given a plethora of areas to step into, but as soon as Cindy learned of The Sheepfold--a shelter for abused and homeless women and their children--she knew exactly where God had lead her to be.

This strong and joyful survivor of domestic abuse now serves as a liaison between Eastside and The Sheepfold’s Volunteer Director, serving meals to the residents there and offering to speak to the women if and when they need a confidante to relate to.

Life is quite the journey as Cindy mentioned, God seems to lay out a number of stepping stones that may induce pain or heartache or threaten our self-worth, but in taking a glance back at the stones trailing behind, one’s true purpose and calling can be clearly seen.

A Wealth of Knowledge

A Wealth of Knowledge

Worry-filled days and sleepless nights passed. Clint’s unemployment and increasing debt weighed heavily on his mind, body and soul. He was losing hope

God’s Presence Last Christmas

God’s Presence Last Christmas

Finally brought me to my knees, I wanted desperately to come back to my former intimate relationship with God, but wasn’t sure how to return from my current distant condition. I had allowed that closeness I once felt to slip away. 

Show Me, God

Show Me, God

 “All these years of trying to understand religion! Reading, studying, questioning…… I didn’t need a religion, I needed a relationship.” 

Heart for the House - Joey's Story

Heart for the House - Joey's Story

God is doing some amazing things in and through this church. Watch this story about how a man named Joey found rescue and healing from Jesus in this home, a place we call Eastside. 

lost and found

lost and found

Confident and wise beyond her years, 20-year-old Desiree has a singular focus. Her heart is fixed on the 27 million people, many just little girls, in bondage by the evils of the international human sex trade.

PUTTING THE GUN DOWN

PUTTING THE GUN DOWN

There was a hole in the middle of the garage where his wife’s things used to be. He sat there with a gun in one hand and a bullet in the other. The only thing he could hear were the thoughts of failure and loss screaming in his mind.

HOW GOD SAVED ME FROM ABUSE AND SUICIDE

HOW GOD SAVED ME FROM ABUSE AND SUICIDE

When I turned 18, I decided to step away from church. I wanted to explore a world of what I considered “fun”. Instead, I found myself filling up the areas of rejection and low self worth with sex, drugs and alcohol. I was in abusive relationships and became severely depressed.

HOW TITHING CHANGED MY FAMILY'S LIFE

HOW TITHING CHANGED MY FAMILY'S LIFE

Last year around this time my husband and I were barely paying our bills and were facing eviction from our home. The Tithe Challenge was our scariest moment.

LIVING FREE

LIVING FREE

After just five months in Washington, everything fell apart. God revealed the truth about my husband’s deception, and I realized what a foolish mistake I had made.