Blake shares her story of seeking to build and grow in community with others. Like many, Blake’s intentional and deep relationships with others were impacted by the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. Blake was connected to a church and had several meaningful and important relationships, however, she felt in her heart a desire for more.
The pandemic felt like a time warp or a disruption in time, I felt lonely and disconnected. I was serving my neighbors, my friends, my church, my son’s school, but I did not feel served or loved myself. A lot of my relationships seemed one sided. I wanted a woman to support me like I have supported so many women. I had tried a few times to start a Bible study, but no one seemed interested.
Blake came to know Jesus early in her life. However, she experienced places in her life where a lack of community meant a lack in discipleship.
I was baptized when I was 14 but had no one to disciple me. I started drinking and chasing the things that caused me harm. I did not know how to have a relationship with Jesus. I did not even really know who He was. I did not even know what discipleship was until a few years ago when I heard about it at IF:Gathering. I asked a woman to disciple me. I gained a lot from it, but lost touch with the woman and she became mostly distant. I did not have anyone to walk with me on my walk towards and with Christ; [specifically,] to be in the Word of God with. I felt like I was chasing people and they had nothing to give.
In the summer of 2022, Blake was approached by a member of The Gathering Well team with an invitation to learn and consider joining the support team.
It was perfect timing. My husband and I were praying about where else we could give financially, and Chelsea called. We had a meeting with her and just felt like it was the perfect thing, and I was excited about becoming involved in it as well. I had no idea what I was going to gain in the next few months. I was put in contact with Jazmin, my [discipleship] coach. We started praying about the people to invite to be in community [with me]. Within a few weeks, God showed me the one person I was going to do the Bible study on Hebrews with. She was just excited as I was and was praying about what she was going to do next. She had been baptized the year before and was wanting someone to disciple her. We started meeting and doing the study and loved it.
Blake started to experience encouragement and equipping. Her time with Jazmin was intentionally focused on fundamental and practical disciplines of prayer, Bible study, and community.
Jazmin and I met once a month to pray and talk about next steps. She shared amazing tools to help me study the Bible better, pray in different ways, and how to be accountable to my new friend in Christ. James 5:16 says “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” We were given that gift of confessing our sins, being real, being vulnerable about our fears, our joys, and then getting to pray for each other when life happened or if we were struggling. We were learning how to be fully known. This woman is becoming a close friend. I gain from her just as much as she is gaining from me.
Through this coaching process [I was] praying about how to be in community [alongside] my husband and others. God put it on our heart to be Re|Engage leaders, [a marriage ministry at our church]. We have not started a group yet, but have already gained so much from being apart of the marriage ministry team. It feels so amazing to be in the middle of community.
Blake’s story is a clear display of what it looks like and means to build community. Through the education and coaching process, Blake felt empowered to not only enter into discipleship relationships, but continue the process as she is going.
Jazmin and I also talked about “as you go” community. I experienced [this once] when stopping to talk to a neighbor for 30 minutes turned into a walk with my dog and ended up connecting me with 2 other mothers and their kids. The conversations were vulnerable, real, and connected. I look up today, just a few months [after starting this process] and I am in the center of so much community, some was there before, I just did not have eyes to see it. I am abundantly blessed.