Once again God moved mightily at Southbrook and many folks gave their lives to Jesus!
Praise God for this. It will never get old! But maybe something else I often do has gotten a bit old. So, rather than spew out the numbers again of all those who trusted Christ as their Lord and Savior (and no, I havenâ€™t backed off numbers. They are important! We count people because people count!) I want to do something a bit different and zoom in on just one story out of the many. Itâ€™s my hope that through Brendaâ€™s story you all will see what a difference you are making for the kingdom. Hereâ€™s her story:
Dear Pastor Rob!
I wanted to share my story of how I ‘stumbled’ upon Southbrook and how much Southbrook has moved me and changed me to be the person I’ve wanted for so long to strive to be but didn’t quite know how to become, and here today as I write you this email I am becoming HER the woman I want to be, the woman I know I need to be, the woman I feel I deserve to be but held myself back from being for so long because I denied myself of living with God in my life knowing him and loving him.
So let me start by telling you the out of the ordinary way I found Southbrook… and let me tell you God works in mysterious ways!
I had recently moved to Waxhaw my husband and I found a great little starter house to rent for our family. We lived not far from my mother in law, whom I love dearly. One day before we opened our store that we own in Matthews my mother in law and my daughter was then probably only 6 months decided to go yard-saleing! We found a neighborhood yard sale in Waxhaw and decided to stop by, parked the car and went from house to house.
Well it was time to call it quits and I decided my daughter and I would stop by one more house, my mother in law was picking up some stuff she had purchased. I walked up to a house and there in a kennel sat a puppy with a sign on the kennel that said ‘free puppy’ my heart MELTED. There has simply never been any denying I’m a sucker for animals dogs especially, and especially when they need a home! My mother in law is a sucker for German Shepardâ€™s and this little girl was clearly a German Shepard mix. When my mother in law came over to see if i was ready I said “mama look at the puppy that needs a home” sure enough she too melted.
Shortly there after a woman noticed we were admiring and melting over this little puppy. She started talking with us and telling us about the puppy and my mother in law said she would come back later for the puppy that we would certainly take her and if we couldn’t keep her we’d find her a home through the adoption service my mother in law has connections with because of her job (sheâ€™s an animal emergency veterinary clinic administrator). The woman was so excited and her husband had just walked back out from the house, excited she’d found a home for their puppy that they just couldnâ€™t keep, she introduced us to her husband Dan…Pastor Dan! We began talking and somehow church came into the picture! He told us about Southbrook and later when my mother in law went to go pick up the puppy he gave her a Welcome pamphlet and a CD of the church’s music!
I was trying to find faith in God and doing it with out church with out support from my husband, who seems to be running from God, he’s a believer it just seems he’s lost his way, and trying to do this on my own was very difficult for me. I knew I needed a church and had tried a few here and there but I wanted to find a church that when I walked in, I felt like I was walking into my own home… I wanted a church I could call home.
One ambitious Sunday morning I got up got my daughter dressed and my husband daughter and I went to give Southbrook a shot, now I’ll be honest I was nervous, I wanted so badly to find a church that moved me that I felt was home and that I felt like I could really grow in my faith in God at and learn and feel God’s presence at that I was scared of disappointment again, not to say every other church that I tried failed at having the presence of God there, it just wasnâ€™t for me.
We parked our car and walked in and IMMEDIATELY were greeted with warm hugs and welcomes and hand shakes people welcoming us to Southbrook for the first time. It was wonderful. During worship I sang my little heart out even though I didn’t have a clue what the songs were I read the screens and sang my little heart out. I felt warm and fuzzy and uplifted, I felt my sorrows pouring out of me and I began to sob… not just a little tear here and there full out snot sniffling tears streaming down my face sobbing!
One may think how embarrassing if you were in any other place but church, but I was shameless I had no shame I felt God I felt him around me I felt him moving me filling me up and I for the first time felt like I really knew God’s love for me!
With that said I started attending church at Southbrook…my husband came a time or two more but then stopped coming and that was hard on me…eventually I started attending less and less and forgot the feeling I got that first day I was at a Sunday service at Southbrook.
One Wednesday night I went to a service and I guess I didn’t really attend service I was VERY late it was nearly over but that night was a very difficult night for me. My husband and I were facing a hard time in our marriage and we’ve been married less than a year. I walked into Southbrook sobbing I needed someone to talk to I needed some encouragement a shoulder to lean on some wisdom and prayer! Service was still in progress and I found a woman(a member) and she helped find someone I could talk to. That woman was Marybeth Cherry. We sat in one of the nursery rooms and I poured my heart out to her letting her know the difficulties I was having with my husband, how I was worried for him and we talked and talked and prayed! It was BEAUTIFUL! Marybeth emails me still to check on me and see how I’m doing and I’m thankful for her everyday! But still life was becoming chaotic and I was missing church again.
Finally last weekend I came to the service and the heroes series was going. On the screen you showed what was like a letter talking about how God was not all these things he wasnâ€™t there for you and so on and so forth and then it was read backwards saying the complete opposite of what was said when read correctly. THAT MOVED ME and that service moved me. What was keeping me from hearing God’s quiet whispers??? What was it….ME!!!!
I hadn’t instilled my full faith and love to him I hadnâ€™t devoted my life to him I was trying and thinking about it but i HADNT and that service just moved me. I came back today and attended the service and sang my little heart out (and sobbed as i always do when we sing) and the story of Peter really MOOOOVED ME. God didnâ€™t give up on him so why would he give up on me? OH WAIT HE WON’T it was just like you said a smack to the forehead with a shovel, that was todayâ€™s service for me. I connected it with last weeks service and you asking people to commit to God today HOW PERFECT!
And guess what Pastor Rob…I did it i made the decision to really commit my life to God to stop coming up with excuses for myself as to why I hadnâ€™t already. To stop walking from a distance and to start walking HAND IN HAND if i could with God to know Him to LOVE HIM to grow in Him and in my faith. I closed my eyes and raised my hand and it was like I didn’t even raise my hand it was like I felt God take my hand and say to me “the time is now Brenda you can do this you’re strong” and my hand shot up in the air I began to sob and I knew I could Trust Him, MY God MY Savior MY Father!
Curious how one little puppy needing a home at a yard-sale can lead me on the right path to God. How one little puppy would lead me exactly where I needed to be to become the woman I have wanted to become for so long but just couldnâ€™t find the courage to become, funny how a day of yard-saleing could lead to the change in my life that I needed and wanted to make by introducing me to Pastor Dan who told us of the church he was part of!
Today after the service I received my gift from Southbrook and am looking forward to studying my Bible. I had more than one member come up to me and hug me and give encouragement for the journey that lies ahead of me. It was truly amazing!
I’d like to thank you for the amazing church you have, for being able to in all that Southbrook offers touching my heart. For the friendly faces the encouragement and the love for each other and Jesus Christ!
Southbrook is truly a blessing in my life and that little puppy… a blessing in disguise!
Thank you again for all that you’ve done in my life and all that your amazing church has done in my life!
Brenda Ralston (your new sister in God)
Thatâ€™s why we do what we do. Keep inviting your friends and familyâ€”neighbors and coworkers to Southbrook Church each week!
P.S. We are catching up in the “Our Church Band Rocks” contest. Click here to read about it and add your vote!