Sunday, March 29, 2009

Now a Member!

I became a member at church today. There were six of us and each was to speak for about five minutes. I read from my palmtop what I had prepared:
I grew up in a community saturated with God and the Bible and I loved it all. By the time I was twelve years old, I was buying theology books, books about missionaries and my own, leather-bound study Bible. I wanted to become a missionary but instead I got married on my eighteenth birthday and began to move away from God. After nearly four years, I moved away from my husband as well and spent the next two years in promiscuity.

When I discovered I was pregnant, I began to search for support services for single moms. What I found was a Christian woman who brought me back to God. From then on, I spent much time reading the Bible and praying and realized, to my dismay, that God wanted me to return to my husband. But God changed my heart so that by the time I moved back, I was looking forward to starting again with him. I was still pregnant and amazingly, Tom accepted this child as his own. Except for the difference in appearance--Tom is Chinese and Mons is tall, blonde and very Nordic-looking--you would never know they are anything but father and son. [The congregation chuckled at this.]

I became established in a church where I stayed and raised our four sons for about twenty-four years. It was a good, solid church with awesome preachers and people I came to love as family. I participated in a variety of ways including: teaching children, organizing children's programs, helping in the library, playing piano, singing in the choir and developing church archives.

Towards the end of this time my life began to change. I had become part of an awesome, Christian community online and for the first time I began to address the same-sex attraction issues I've had all my adult life. I felt unable to share with people at church and so this online community became my spiritual support and encouragement. Two women in this congregation were also wonderful support: Lois Ward, who I have known for nearly thirty years and Bonnie Lewis who I have known for over forty.

It was through Lois that I first learned of the Vineyard movement and church. I had seen remarkable changes in her because of her association with Vineyard, so when she invited me to Vineyard conferences and other events, I was glad to go, eager to "catch" what she had. Now, through Christians I knew online, I was gaining opportunities to learn about and encounter God in new ways. I felt like a jet that had spent the past quarter century taxiing on the runway, now taking off at a steep incline.

The time came when I simply didn't fit the church I was attending, as much as I loved it, and began attending _______. When it folded, I stayed with what it became, but it was so different that after two and a half years, I decided to change once again. The first Sunday morning I walked in here, I knew I was home.

I love this place for so many reasons. I love the presence of the Holy Spirit, the love of and commitment to frequent corporate prayer, the absence of rigidity and willingness to step out of the box, the friendliness, even the building. What I especially like about Winnipeg Centre Vineyard is the interaction with the homeless, the disenfranchised, the poor and the people of this neighbourhood. We're not a church stuck in a white, middle class, suburban rut. And I like that. I love too that there are so many young people.

Up till now my main involvement, aside from attending regularly, has been with the Sunday morning prayer time, the prophetic prayer times and being on one of the prayer ministry teams. I would love to get involved with the neighbourhood drop-ins and hope to soon add my collection of books to the church online library. My great loves are reading, writing and encouraging others in their walk with God. God is so awesomely wonderful and I'm glad that this is a place where I can worship and serve him.
After we had finished speaking, the pastor, Andy, called people to come up and pray for us. There was one couple I was disappointed to not see there—it’s spring break and they must be vacationing—but there were others I know who made a point to come, lay their hands on me while they prayed and talked about the things they saw or heard from God. I wish I could have written it all down or at least remembered the details.

Strength. This is what one saw--that all the things I have been through have made me strong. I think she’s right. Someone else saw me as a deep well, or saw a deep well inside of me. Another saw a welcome mat in front of me, but that welcome mat changed to a red carpet that I was walking on. She also commented on how she loves it when I wear red. One of the pastors also saw a welcome mat. One of the other new members saw me coming out of the chrysalis as a butterfly and a good friend spoke of how I am a person of words and the different ways words are a part of me. Afterward, others came to hug and/or welcome me, including one or two that I didn't expect. It was good.

Thank you, God, for such a wonderful group of people with whom I can grow into a deeper relationship with you. I love you.


Samantha said...

What a beautiful, meaningful experience. I'm very happy for you.

Debbie Haughland Chan said...

Thanks, Sam!