Water to My Thirsty SoulSuzie Gonzalez
I had virtually stopped going to church for years because my husband had been deeply hurt by the church and all I could see every time I tried to get involved in one was hypocrisy. I didn't want anything to do with the “church” nor did I want to become like them.
After the loss of my husband to an eight-year battle with cancer, I was looking for spiritual healing and encouragement. One of my sons, a new believer at the time, had heard of David Platt and wanted to check him out. He asked if I would go with him to hear David preach at Brook Hills.
It was like water to my thirsty soul.
I cried almost every Sunday sitting under the Word. God was drawing me close to His heart both inside and outside of church. I wanted to be more involved at Brook Hills but felt as if I was in a sea of people. I felt like I didn't belong and had nothing in common with these people nor had nothing to offer them.
One Sunday, David preached on suffering. At the end of his sermon he asked that anyone who was going through suffering at that time please stand up to be prayed over. I was definitely suffering with grief but didn't want to ask for prayer. It was like something in my spirit said, "Stand up. You need prayer!" So I did and all these people surrounded me and laid hands on me and prayed over me. I wept uncontrollably because it felt as if the love of God was surrounding me and lifting me up. It was the body of Christ holding me up before the Father.
After that experience I still wasn't completely sure if I wanted to join Brook Hills or not, because it was still really hard for me to get involved. I felt so lost in the midst of all these people. One Sunday I had made up in my mind that it would be my last Sunday at Brook Hills.
After the service this little lady with a beautiful smile came up to me and started talking to me. She was the one who had prayed over me the Sunday before about suffering. She reached out to me in a very genuine way. I felt like God was telling me that He had a purpose for me here at the Church at Brook Hills. So I pursued membership classes and here I am. That little lady and I became precious friends, her name is Edith Moyana.
As I started becoming more involved at Brook Hills I began meeting different women who would want to get together for coffee or dinner. These ladies became dear friends. But as I met with them more one-on-one I would think how great it would be to bring them all together. But, that never worked out and I was craving fellowship with godly women, so I started trying different small groups.
Edith invited me into the choir, which I loved being a part of, but I had not found the right fit in a small group yet. I kept craving this fellowship and spoke with our Minister to Women, Dawn Stephens about it. She shared with me what leading a women’s small group it might look like and I began to wonder if God was leading me to do just that, lead a women’s small group at Brook Hills?
I met a friend in choir that I truly thank God for, Deb Brooker. God started impressing on my heart that she and I could lead a small group together. That's where it began. We met in her basement and prayed to God for wisdom. I didn't know if it was going to just she and I in this little group, but we moved forward, believing God was leading us in this direction. And so our group started meeting last fall in my apartment.
I believe God has allowed my life experiences to train me in teaching and encouraging other women. I try to be very dependent on the Holy Spirit of God and what He wants me to say and what direction He wants our group to take.
I'd have to say the best thing for me in co-leading this small group is seeing God really work among us. I love watching Him hand pick each woman for our group for a purpose. I love the friendships that have grown out of our vulnerability with each other. I love watching us become the body of Christ with each other and for each other.
The hardest thing for me in leading a small group is having to say something I believe God wants me to say and not knowing how it will be received by our group or guiding our group in the direction I believe God is leading but not everyone is convinced they need to follow. That's hard because only God can turn the heart so I really have to pray and rely on Him during those times.
The first night of our small group I was very nervous. I felt so under qualified. I felt like the last person who should be trying to lead or teach other women. I even told Deb she was my "Aaron" because I didn't even feel like I could speak and make sense. Sometimes it was very hard to get what was in my head out of my mouth.
When Deb and I started pursuing this small group the only thing in my heart was that this had to be "real". I didn't want it to feel like Sunday school. We are real women, with real problems, living real life together.
If you are considering leading a small group, make sure it is in your heart, not someone else's. It's got to be something in your heart. God will place it there and it will not leave. It will grow in desire.
Pray. Pray. Pray. Seek counsel from godly people. Pay attention to your heart to see why you want to lead a group. Is it for the glory of God or self? Is it for the building of the body or self? This is very important. If God is not building the house, it's being built in vain.
Pray. Pray. Pray. If you feel like you’re not smart enough, not confident enough please know God can use you. He has spoken through a donkey and He has used me. I am probably the least educated and under qualified in our group. But for some reason God has chosen to use me. That's incredibly encouraging but also very humbling. And did I mention to PRAY? Sincerely, with all your heart.
Prayer is our most powerful tool, which is also our most underutilized tool; it will take us directly to the heart of God. He'll tell you whether He wants you to lead or not. But if he says, “Yes”, You must be willing to follow…