In my previous post I spoke about how David and I met and what we felt called to do in our new life together. We moved across country to start a coffee shop ministry. The vision for the ministry was to bring all Christian denominations together through the arts. We felt like it should be a place that ministered to both believers and non-believers. Through means of music, art, poetry, woodwork, sculpting, films and guest speakers, those were some of the outlets. We had to live with David’s mom and step-dad for the first several months we were there. That was an interesting time that truly brought us closer together in a very short period. We lived in a bedroom with both of my cats, his mom had two cats and three dogs, we had to keep my cats locked up because they still had claws and were not too friendly with others.
That was interesting to say the least.
For a long period of time we were unable to find work, David was still working on his thesis and we were networking for the coffee shop ministry. We got connected with many great people who saw the vision and supported us, not financially because we never felt that we were supposed to receive an income from the ministry. However, the owners of several local coffee shops opened their doors to us and gave us free rein on the weekends to have people come in and share their art. It was a win-win for both parties because the coffee shop would gain new customers/business and the artists would gain exposure/business. There were times that it was very frustrating having churches tell us that they did not want it to be a mix of denominations. Then there was the business of trying to “sell” us to congregations.
One pastor of a megachurch told us that he could have his 1300 young adults there every Sat., all we had to do was join a small group.
We did not feel comfortable in that church or with the proposal so we just let it drop. It was mainly how the pastor made it clear that he could influence his people to go wherever he said. Scary. So many churches loved the idea but wanted us to be under their umbrella. We felt like it was not supposed to be a part of a specific church. Finally, we got involved with an internet ministry and became a parachurch ministry under them. They brought us on to write articles for them dealing with many different topics. We met different people and were exposed to a lot of different ministries. David eventually got an adjunct position at a Christian University and we had really warmed out our welcome at his parents house. They had their own financial burdens.
It was time for us to leave but we had no money and no place to go.
Many of the people we had met stepped up and rallied around us through prayer and funds. We were able to get a horrible apartment for $200 a month with David cleaning the grounds to help with rent. We felt like it was a palace! We didn’t care about the location or the black mold it was ours and it was huge compared to the room we had been in. We finally managed to start the coffee shop ministry and had many different artists come through. We had paintings, photography, indie Christian films that would offend a lot of Christians but the messages were great because they were painful and challenging, poets, musicians, and some speakers. It didn’t last long though, we got pregnant and I started to get very sick from the mold and the pregnancy.
David had to find more work and I was in bed the first few months of the pregnancy.
From the beginning we felt like we were supposed to start it and others were to take over. After we got pregnant I just couldn’t keep up with getting artists to come and David had to get as much work as possible. Again people rallied around us and helped us get into a much nicer apartment. We had a great experience while we did the coffee shop, we met many believers who felt like they just couldn’t step into a church building ever again and they enjoyed the freedom of being themselves. There were artists who felt like their talent was wasting away because there was no outlet for them in the Body of Christ but the ministry was giving them the outlet they longed for. There was freedom of beliefs and freedom of expression. If ever I felt the power of God it was in the moments that the artists were operating freely in their gifting and expressing themselves before man and God.
I loved when people would say things like “I never knew Christians were creative.”
Doesn’t that seem wrong? I know not everyone is a Christian but the sheer belief that we are supposed to believe in the Creator, wouldn’t it seem like we would be VERY creative? Whatever our creative outlet may be, it is not limited to the arts but what we are gifted at. Wouldn’t our inspiration come from working with the Creator and knowing Him? I am not being a snot here I am being serious. It is a question that I have thought about a lot. I digress. The owners of the coffee shop did keep it going for a while and the owners franchised to several other Christians who did keep it going in their own way. Some of the churches we met with started their own version in their buildings. I liked how for a time it brought unity to people who ordinarily would not come together, I liked how it wasn’t about one church or artist but about a community trying to express the love of Christ through their gifting and sharing it with others through love.
David and I have been church vagabonds pretty much from the beginning.
Even before I met David I would frequent various churches throughout town, I liked being exposed to different churches and people. Though I was devoted to both of my home churches while I went to them, I still was visiting friends churches as well. When we moved we never felt like we found a church home, we went to many different churches from Denominational to Pentecostal to Messianic we were all over the place. We liked it like that. After the twins were born though our life changed drastically and we ended up in seclusion for a long time. We tried to go to church on several occasions but it just didn’t work, especially since we never belonged to a church there. This would lead to the path of us going to a church here that caused so much confusion and pain.
I completely lost my identity after the kids were born, ministry had become who I was.
I really lost any sense of self trying to understand what was going on with Daniel and taking care of the babies by myself. David had to work and I had no family, no friends and no help. We lost touch with all of the connections we had before and I was starting to get very depressed. I loved being a mom but I was so tired, lonely, and would be locked up in the house all the time. Where we lived it was cold! I do not do well with cold and snow anyway but the last year we were there we had been trapped in our house several times because of blizzards. I couldn’t drive the car we had and the city we lived in kept me in constant anxiety. I had no contact with people for long periods of time. When we moved here I was desperate for any social contact.
Because of my vulnerable state, I didn’t use very good judgment.
I am naive and gullible about people’s motives anyway, but I have been especially that way in church because I thought that all Christians (actually most people) were good and nice and would never do anything mean. I still do, mostly. I felt like if there were problems than it had to be my fault. I have written about this church enough, basically I had my guard down, I was tired, lonely and desperate because of that I fell for some twisted thinking and wrong doctrine. David was trying to be as supportive as possible and had hoped that I would see for myself what was taking place.
They used scriptures to control and manipulate, not for what they are truly for.
It didn’t take long but it was long enough for me to experience spiritual abuse and to feel like I was loosing my mind. The good thing is I learned a lot, I have forgiveness and no bitterness any longer. I know that my priority in life now is to take care of my kids and just love people as best as I can. We have never been evangelists or apologetists (I think I made that word up.) but we have always wanted to share the love of Christ and the acceptance that community is supposed to be about no matter where people are on their spiritual or non-spiritual journey. :- ) We see and experience God through the gifts and freedom to share them with others. The goodness that comes from serving one another without seeking something for ourselves, that brings us great joy. For us that is what Jesus reflects, love, acceptance and building up people to be who God intended them to be.
We do not feel obligated or guilted in sharing the message of Jesus, we just try to live it out.
(And now this movie is done, on to the next one. )