The Stories that Came out of Denham Springs

I feel completely inadequate to tell you the stories that have come out of Denham Springs while we were there. I think because God’s work in those precious people’s hearts was so profound, that I’m afraid if I try to put words to it, I will diminish it.

What we witnessed there was sacred and I’m afraid to touch it. But, these people have a story and you and I–we feed off of each other’s stories. Story is what helps us see that we’re not alone. And so, I’ve prayed and I’m showing up here in this space, and I’m going to do my best to give you an account.

First of all, you need some background.

These specific people that we ministered to had already been through so much. And when I say so much, that’s an understatement. But because they had already gone through the fire, figuratively speaking, and through the floods, literally, they were broken and desperate and their hearts were the softest soil. Ready for seeds to be planted and tenderly watered.

Did you know a couple years ago, there was a severe flood in this little town in Louisiana and so many people lost everything? I never knew. We asked them why it wasn’t on the news. They said, “The storm wasn’t named.”

I pondered that.

Sometimes, the storms in our lives aren’t named. So, we ride them out, silently. But, they still affect us profoundly. We suffer when seems like no one takes notice or even sees. In those obscure places in our lives, we are forever changed.

The folks there were the warmest kind of friendly. Like, we walked in and it felt like we were showing up for our own family reunion. I leaned my ear up to their story and listened. I listened to see what Jesus was doing, presently, and what He wanted to do.

After tending to the fertile soil of their hearts, with Jesus, these are the stories they told us:

(By the way, I’m just including the first letter of each name, just in case they’d rather me not publish their names on social media. And we had to write fast while they spoke, so this may not be word for word, but you will feel their hearts through these scribbled down thoughts.)

“God found me sad and angry at the loss of my grandparents. (They both died within months of each other and I was close to them.) I turned to so many things, but I wouldn’t turn to God for happiness. I need God’s grace but I’ve been bottling up my pain! Wearing a happy face because I haven’t wanted you guys (my church family) to see me grieve.

I’ve tried to look strong, but the truth is, I’m hurting so deeply inside. I need God’s grace. I had these internal storms and this week, God helped me to name them. Grief. Loss. Resentment. Anger. Frustration. Confusion. I’m still angry but I know this will be a process. I plan to keep crying out for God’s grace.” –“K”

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I’ve had a hard heart since I was seventeen. God has spoken into me this week that I have an addiction to porn. I need His strength and forgiveness! I need freedom! I’ve put myself in a prison and for the first time, I feel a release from all the pressures I’ve put on myself. I need some people to come alongside me and help me. I’m humbling myself and asking for that. — “A” (a young momma)

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I had this step-father who was verbally abusive. But, one day he died and I was so glad because I thought, “Finally! I have some relief! I don’t have to deal with his cruelty ever again.” What I didn’t realize was, I still carried all the anger and shame.

I’m a teacher and I’ve been noticing that I’ve been very short-tempered with my students. I thought it was because I just didn’t like some of their personalities. But, God showed me this week, that I’m carrying around a lot of anger and I needed to forgive my step-father for all the pain he caused me. I did that this week. And when I went back to work, I noticed that I actually like my students! They are wonderful kids. I just couldn’t see it through all my resentment and heart-ache. — “J”

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I thought I was a humble guy. But, this week, God has shown me that we can be proud in more ways than one. I’ve been in a spiritual battle for 36 years of my life regarding lust and pornography. I’ve tried so many times to be free but when I talk about it to other Christian men, they run the other way. I’m so ashamed and embarrassed right now, admitting this, but I’ve been deeply hurting my wife and I want to live free. I’m asking for accountability. I can’t walk this road on my own. I need help.  –“B”

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I’ve known for a while that God wants me to come alongside some younger guys and mentor them. I’ve made promises to spend time with people but I haven’t kept them. I’ve been selfish with my life, just thinking about me. Putting myself first. God has challenged me to live differently. More eternally and in a way that invests in others. –“T” (A young dude in high-school.)

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So, my Dad died when I was twelve. That year, I lost connection with God. I’ve felt lost ever since. But, this week, God told me to say yes to Him forever. Will you guys pray for guidance for me? And openness? I want to stay open to Him. –“B” (a college age student)

 

Then there was this middle school guy who got up. He was adopted when he was eight. He’s really struggled with identity, so his parents invited my family over for dinner at their house and asked me to share my story with him and his brother. (They were adopted together.) God had already been stirring in his heart. Here’s what he told us,

“I’ve been so bitter and angry. I’m full of guilt. I’ve had so many problems with my relationships–my parents and my friends. Basically, I’ve been an absolute jerk to everyone. I’ve been stubborn. But, I’ve been seeing what God can do to help people. I’m asking Him for that kind of help.” –“N”

You guys, there are so many more stories and ones that we will never know about, this side of heaven. But, I just wanted to encourage you as you scroll through social media and listen to the news–do not despair! God is doing the most amazing things!!!

My team simply moved in with this community for a couple weeks and joined Jesus in the good work He’s already begun. God is helping people to name their internal storms. He’s helping them find the places where they are stuck in ruts and He’s offering His arm to pull them out.

God is, right now, this very day, restoring what has been lost and stolen and is bringing peace to so many bruised up hearts.

We just get to bear witness. This is my job, and I love it.

4 Comments

  1. by Br. Gordon James, OSBS on January 26, 2019  5:27 pm Reply

    Blessings!

    • by Maggie on January 26, 2019  7:09 pm Reply

      Thank you, Gordon! Bless you!

  2. by WANDA JENKINS on January 28, 2019  10:54 am Reply

    Wow Maggie! This is us in story form, from an outside perspective! Validation is precious, but to reflect allows me to better see God's sustaining grace. Thank you for your willingness to join us in our struggles and Glory moments. A Team Rocks!!

    • by Maggie on January 28, 2019  4:54 pm Reply

      Love this. Thank you, Wanda!

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