During the summer months, we have been exploring the power of our stories to shape our faith and encouraging our members to share their stories. This is the first of many stories that we will share with the people of St. Stephen’s. We hope that your faith is strengthened as you read Jaraby’s story.
My faith story began at the darkest time in my life. I was in a bottomless pit; at least that is what it felt like each day. God had sought me for years, but my sin and flesh would not let me embrace him completely. I made one bad choice after the next.
I was a 30 something with a 6 month old baby in an emergency women’s shelter trying to stay out of the grips of an abusive spouse. I left my home with nothing but my purse and a diaper bag.
I drained a majority of my finances on legal fees fighting for the custody of my son. I was completely devastated and not just financially. I was severely depressed from being in an abusive relationship for 8 years, post partum, and without a safe place to call home. My soul was bankrupt. I told my mom I was scared because I had no room in my heart to feel, other than the tender heart my son had lightly ignited.
Kind people, family, Christians like many of you in this room gave their time and love to BARN, a transitional housing program for homeless women and children in Virginia. I did not understand why they were so generous and kind to me. I felt loved and cared for. Little by little God would bless me. Remind me He was near and would take care of me.
I began to smile and laugh again. My heart expanded abundantly. I too, wanted to be part of that community of Christians that pour love on strangers. It has been a gradual process but I made my way to God’s house here at St. Stephen’s UMC. My son and I were both baptized here a few years back by Pastor Jeff. I found music and singing as a way to praise God through our Source Band. I will be celebrating my wedding in a few weeks right here in our Sanctuary with Pastor Abi.
I have been blessed to have the opportunity to pour love on strangers every day working as a nurse. I feel it is a privilege to serve our community with a willing ear to listen, an open heart to sympathize, and caring hands to help heal. St. Stephen’s has allowed me to pour love on strangers constantly and I look forward to working with some of our missions in the future where I may pour love on strangers from far away places.
My story matters not only to me, but for all those around me who need encouragement, for those who are homeless, divorced, depressed, single parenting, post partum, financially devastated, emotionally bankrupt, those in the cycle of domestic violence as a victim/abuser, for those trying to find God, those trying to pour love on strangers. My story matters, so does yours so let’s share them.
If you would like to share your story, please email your written copy to Carol Knachel, knachel7[at]aol.com, or give it to her directly. She is often at the front doors at 11 am on Sunday mornings.