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“Encountering God: A True Story of God’s Grace”

Nancy and Amber both were Christians before they came to Crossroads Church. However, neither realized how God would touch them through cell-based ministry.

When Nancy started attending the cell group she was so filled with toxic shame that she thought the others wouldn’t want her in the group if they knew who she really was. She was encouraged to continue when the leader said, “We’re all broken in some way, and on the way to healing. That’s why we’re here!”

Nancy had been attending the cell for some months when, at the urging of several of her fellow group members, she signed up for the Encounter Retreat. As a single mom, Nancy needed some help in order to attend. Amber, one of Nancy’s fellow cell members, took it upon herself to handle the logistical issues. Amber made sure Nancy’s way was paid, and volunteered to take care of Nancy’s young child for the weekend. Amber wanted Nancy to go because a few months earlier she had experienced God in a wonderful way at the Encounter, and she wanted that for Nancy.

Even though she had been a Christian for over a decade, Nancy’s past weighed heavily on her soul. Broken relationships, a dysfunctional family, abuse, and other deep hurts robbed her of inner peace and self-worth. The first part of the Retreat was emotionally wrenching for her. The message of Jesus’ grace, mercy, and love was so overwhelming, it was difficult for Nancy to take. On Friday night she wanted desperately to leave. She confessed she didn’t feel worthy of God’s love, and that she couldn’t see how He could truly accept her when she saw herself with such toxic shame. After a long talk with one of the presenters, she agreed to stay with an open mind.

The next day at the afternoon break Nancy hit another emotional wall. Her pastor found her alone, pacing and crying. Asked what was wrong, unable to look anywhere but the ground, she said “I’ve never told anyone else this...” Finally she blurted out that when she was 19 years old she had been cruelly raped. Eyes still glued to the ground, she asked what God would think of her. Knowing that victims of rape often experience deep shame, her pastor assured her that God would not reject her, but instead loved her and wanted to heal her. Once again, Nancy returned to the rest of the group.

Then came the letters. At Crossroads’ Encounter Retreats, participants are surprised with a package of letters of affirmation, love, and appreciation which are written for the occasion by friends and family members.

The first letter Nancy opened happened to be from Amber. She could scarcely believe what she read. While writing to Nancy, Amber had felt a prompting from the Holy Spirit to risk sharing with her something she had never told anyone else in her life (not even her husband): that when she was 19, Amber had been raped.

That letter broke Nancy’s inner log jam. Not only did someone close to her could understand her experience, but it was clear to her that God had reached out to and shown her His love in an amazing way. The experience also ushered in a level of new freedom for Amber. She finally shared her secret with her husband, further strengthening their relationship.

Since then, both Amber and Nancy have continued to grow. Amber has become a leader of a thriving cell group, and Nancy is enrolled in the church’s equipping track so she can become a leader.

Amber said, “I wasn’t sure what to make of the cell system when I came here, but now I am totally sold out to cell-based ministry!” Nancy shared her story with others in the church and said “I have grown more in the last 8 months [since coming to Crossroads Church] than I have in the 13 years put together that I had been a Christian!“

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