How I Discovered the Healing Power of Community During Separation and Divorce

How I Discovered the Healing Power of Community During Separation and Divorce

by Wodline Hippolyte

I was crying hysterically while one of my closest friend’s tried to console me. She dropped everything to come over to my apartment after a brief phone conversation. I knew I could call on her because she’d been in my shoes before. Though I was ashamed, she never judged me or made me feel embarrassed about everything I was facing at the time.

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Lessons from Old Order Mennonites

Lessons from Old Order Mennonites

by Micalagh Moritz

I recently had the privilege of spending an overnight with a sect of Old Order Mennonites in Belize, Central America, where I was living. A surprise to most, there are several Mennonite communities in Belize that are very similar to the Amish in the United States. They have managed to preserve a distinct culture, religion, and way of life despite the climate and culture of Belize.

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Church in a Coffee Shop

Church in a Coffee Shop

By Kimberly Coyle

I hear her talking from across the coffee shop. I’ve seen her there before, circled close to the same group of older gentlemen clutching coffee cups. They come here often to talk about the latest headlines, their medical problems, the grandkids, and, occasionally, their faith. As a serial eavesdropper, my ears fine-tune to the tenor of their conversation, and I listen in.

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End Injustice For All

End Injustice For All

By Susan Panzica

If you think that slavery in the U.S. ended in 1865, think again.

Human trafficking, a.k.a. modern day slavery, is the fastest growing criminal enterprise. The illegal buying and selling of human beings is second only to drug trafficking, equal in scope to arms trafficking. “Human trafficking involves the use of force, fraud, and/or coercion for the purpose of sexual exploitation or forced labor.” (NJ Coalition Against Human Trafficking) [Continue Reading…]

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Community in the Good Times and Bad

by Diana Jones

During the time we were serving as small group leaders, I received a voicemail from a woman in our group that concerned me. I couldn’t make out the words because she was sobbing; I called her back right away and when she answered, she told me that her adult child had been murdered. I immediately prayed and went to be by her side at the police station where her family and friends had gathered and were mourning.

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Community 101

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I was born in the Bronx but grew up in Queens, NY, where I didn't know many of my neighbors. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to meet them or be in relationship with them, but the norm on my block was not to engage. As I entered the workforce and rode the A train, the people I did pass by on a daily basis might give a hesitant nod letting me know that was as far as they were willing to go, socially…Community seemed to be a four-letter word!

Once I came to be in relationship with Jesus, married, and moved to New Jersey, my husband and I joined a church that emphasized uniting people to God and people to people . They promoted Life Groups, which are small groups that met twice a month in the homes of volunteer leaders for worship, prayer, fellowship, and Bible discussion. For the first time, we realized that God wanted us to be part of community. Even though this had become our desire, I was a little hesitant.

The Bible says, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7) Yet I had reservations…

What was community supposed to look like?

Who were we going to meet?

Would we fit in? 

I realized that I was struggling with fear of rejection. This had deep roots. I grew up knowing my father hadn’t wanted more children when my mother was pregnant with me. And I was raised feeling like in order to be accepted and valued by my dad, I had to perform (clean, work at an early age, etc). My childhood, together with several other experiences, led me to build up attitudes and behaviors to avoid rejection…

BUT, God didn’t give me a spirit of fear (and I’m a New Yorker who doesn’t like to be pushed around), so I needed to muster up some courage! 

I chose to believe and trust God with my fear, so we took the first step of obedience by signing up to attend a small group. During that first year, we learned how to knit our lives together with others by sharing our life experiences, a meal, and prayer. After a while, community started to feel natural and I started to look forward to spending time with these precious people while growing in my relationship with God.

Fast forward eight years, even though we are no longer part of that congregation, we are still in relationship with several of the people we met in that small group, and I am so thankful for that.

Community rarely happens on its own. Relationship MUST be intentional. It may take facing your fears, getting over your past, and/or taking risks, but take the first step by getting involved through a local church, prayer group, book club, or Bible study today. We were made for community.

Won’t you join me in experiencing community and new relationships in this season of your life? You won’t regret it!

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Diana Jones is a compassionate wife, mother, grandmother and friend. She is passionate about sharing God's love and all that He has done throughout her life. She is also looking for opportunities to grow spiritually through reading, prayer, singing and being in fellowship with others. She is thankful for the opportunity share her stories here at Circles of Faith.

photo credit: Grzegorz Łobiński via photopincc

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My Heart for Circles of Faith

by Elise Daly Parker

Where Faith, Life, and Community Intersect

“…if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us.” 1 John 4:12

I’m a community member…I love being in a group, exchanging ideas, growing in faith, exploring our stories…together! 

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