About two and a half years ago, God brought my son, Max, and me to Oxford. I was coming to Ole Miss as a full-time graduate student. We immediately set out to find a church home in Oxford. We faithfully visited multiple churches in the area, longing for a place to serve and connect to others. But we never found a place where we felt like we belonged.
These months proved to be among the most lonely times in my life. At a particularly low point, I found myself in the hospital, not able to think of anyone locally I could call. While I knew plenty of people, I simply didn’t have a deep, personal connection to anyone at that point, only surface-level friendships. We had been here over a year, yet I sat in the ER alone, realizing how deeply I needed a family of faith.
This past summer, a son of my former pastor posted a picture on Facebook, excited about the launch service at Pinelake Oxford. I contacted his dad about this news, and after a few messages back and forth, I decided that we were going to attend the launch service. I begged God for this church to be a place where we could fit in.
I sat in the ER alone, realizing how deeply I needed a family of faith.
I cannot exactly explain that launch service with adequate words. There was an outpouring of the Holy Spirit in that place. I knew immediately we had found our home. When we got in the car, Max had the same conviction. We both knew that visiting churches and only attending services on Sunday mornings left us feeling a void. We felt confident that Pinelake was where God wanted us to grow and serve.
As Pinelake Oxford prepared to launch, we attended several meetings — informational meetings, small group meetings, leadership trainings. I felt God reminding me of my previous struggles to be involved at other churches, prompting me to lead a small group for ladies.
I met a sweet lady, Pam, at one of those small group meetings. God had placed a similar desire on her heart, a desire to help women connect to each other. We joined forces and set up our first ladies’ small group meeting for the very next week.
I smile when I think about that first meeting. It was awkward, to say the least. No one was sure how personal to be. No one knew any others in the room. Pam would pose a discussion question, and it would just fall silent.
But, eventually, a few ladies began to answer questions. The surface answers led to personal connections, and before the end of the night, ladies were opening up and sharing parts of their stories. Before we left, we exchanged phone numbers and email addresses. We ended by asking each new friend how we could pray for her. Throughout that first week, we did just that — we prayed for each other. We sent simple text messages and emails to tell the others we were praying.
When the second meeting rolled around, something beautiful happened that night. We hugged, smiled and laughed together. We shared personal stories and prayer requests. We started this wonderful connection among fellow believers.
This group of ladies has been part of a turning point in my faith journey. It has shown me the importance of a family of fellow Christians. They have shown me how quickly friendships can form around the common thread of Jesus. We are not all exactly alike. We are single, widowed, married, divorced; some with kids, some not; our ages range from twenties to fifties. But we join together each week to share life.
This group of ladies has been part of a turning point in my faith journey.
We have seen some amazing prayers answered in our small group. We have seen husbands turn back to Christ, children protected from near tragic situations and healing of hearts and bodies. God continues to move through the prayers of these precious women. We watched Him move miraculously in our first mission project. He used our group to coordinate Christmas gifts for 12 foster children, over and abundantly more than we ever imagined.
We are not designed to do life alone. God did not create us to journey through life without others. His plan for us is to gather with other believers — not just as a spectator on Sunday mornings, but all throughout life. He longs for us to stand arm in arm, shoulder to shoulder with other people of faith. We are stronger together. We need people to check on us, to pray for us, to go to dinner with us.
As I sat in a local restaurant after church recently, I found myself at a table full of people that I love. I looked around and marveled at how far God had brought me. I know these girls. I know them on a deep personal level. I sat there with them and became overwhelmed with God’s goodness.
What a gift! I have a family of faith. I am connected. I am not alone. That was His plan for me all along.
— Becky Nance, Pinelake Oxford