Testimonies of Changed Lives
The Church in Action
"Although my family's exposure to World War II hardships made them cynical about churches, they were shocked by the kind of help the Diaconate has provided. My family and friends in Europe all heard about how the Church is taking care of me while I recover. I've shared this story of redemption with nurses and doctors who treat me. Everyone around me knows that Christians from my church are helping me through this journey, proving what Jesus said: "The way the world will you that you are Mine is because they see how you love each other!" Many are touched by seeing Jesus manifested in tangible ways. My mother has abandoned her long held opinion that Christianity is a crutch, and "Jesus" a self-created fancy I rely on to face adult life."
Taking the Risk to Ask for Help
"I moved to Brooklyn to student teach from Canada. I finished my last semester of school and decided to stay in New York to look for work. It was a difficult time. The job market was terrible. I was getting low on funds, having depleted my savings while putting myself through school. After doing some calculations, I realized that I would not be able to keep supporting myself. Under my student visa, I was restricted to only education-related jobs. I couldn't even take a part-time retail job to relieve some financial stress. I felt hard-pressed in many ways, including in my walk with God.
10 Years Later
"The 10th anniversary of 9/11 was approaching. I was months behind on my rent. There was little to no work to be had in my industry. I was financially and spiritually challenged. As honored as I am to have served in the recovery efforts, nine months of work at Ground Zero led to acute post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). I was conscious that the impending anniversary could be an emotional trigger and I knew that I needed help.
From my first phone call to the Diaconate I was treated with respect. I felt listened to and understood. The Diaconate assisted me with rent and groceries. Most importantly, I was able to go into counseling for the PTSD that was overwhelming me again. The Diaconate was able to provide access to counseling with a specific understanding of Christianity that would have otherwise been unavailable to me. The strength that I had to work at the Respite Center at Ground Zero had failed me, which is something I am sure God wanted me to learn.
As time went on I was able to become a more active participant in my faith instead of an observer. Instead of staying in a Community Group that wasn't challenging me, I switched to a group that was a better fit for encouraging my spiritual growth, which helped support the healing work that I was doing in the counseling sessions. My life is a lot better now. It's still a struggle and still a financial challenge, but isn't everyone's? Yet today, I am able to share with you how God has brought me back."
Suffering, Perseverance, Character and Hope
"I began my sixth year of working as a dancer in New York City. I was moonlighting as a Pilates instructor, babysitter and administrative assistant. I'd been living pay check to pay check accumulating debt while trying to stay competitive in a stressful and harsh industry. Life was about trying to get through each week. My health, relationships, and faith had suffered. After much prayer, I planned to take a little break from dancing, relieving myself of its physical, emotional and financial toll. I would save some of my earnings while I reassessed what steps to take next. After all, God was my loving protector; everything was going to be okay.
Rebuilding after Divorce
"My journey with the Diaconate began nearly three years ago. My long-term marriage had come to an end. After many painful years of hoping for a restored marriage I was devastated to experience the opposite. I felt I had let down the Church, myself, my God. I thought that if I had only been a better wife, a better Christian, had prayed more, things would be different. Since I made the decision to get married, I felt I was the one who needed to pick up all the broken pieces.
A good friend encouraged me to call the Diaconate. Without delay, the met my immediate physical needs: paying doctor's bills and even buying me a bed. They encouraged me to get counseling. They called at random times to check on me, pray with me and encourage me. Three years later I still meet with "my" Deaconesses who are now an important part of my life. One of the greatest things the Deaconesses have done for me is to remind me of how far I've come. It is so easy for me to keep looking to where I want to be, instead of recognizing how far God has brought me."
"I appreciate the weekly prayer times I've had with the deaconess who's working with me. If we don't have time to get together, we pray on the phone, sometime two or three times a week when I need it."
Deacon and Deaconess Testimonies
God's Greatest Work
"God's greatest work in us and through us is when He combines His truth with our service in order to bring restoration to those lives in need." Deacon
The Helper is Helped
"I had the opportunity to be ministered to by a recipient of care who had gone from owning his own financial firm to six figures of debt - losing his family, a close friend, and his security along the way. Lost and searching for identity in his mid-50's, he found the Lord and eventually the Diaconate. Listening to him during our many sessions, I was deeply touched by how well he articulated the joy and peace the Lord provided him despite his circumstances and the relative newness of his faith." Deacon
Risking to Help
"When I was approached about becoming a deacon I had mixed feelings. On one hand, I was happy to have a chance to serve God and those in need at Redeemer. On the other hand, I felt unqualified to pray for and provide Godly counsel to people in trying situations. Nevertheless, I decided to take the plunge. It was intimidating to me at first, not always being sure of what to say and how to say it, and questioning whether I would use good judgment in my assessment of a client's spiritual and financial needs. However, gradually recognizing that God is always there, I learned more and more to rely on Him to put the right words in my mouth at the appropriate time. I also learned to be a better listener, and to overcome my natural impatience. On the contrary, I have found that by exhibiting patience, God in turn has patience and is graceful towards me, enabling me to better minister to others." Deacon
We are All in Need"Through the Diaconate training I learned a lot and grew a lot. But personal circumstances helped me supplement the process. Two weeks into the training I blew out my knee, tearing my ACL, MCL, and meniscus. It was a significant injury and required surgery and months of physical therapy. It was also many months of daily pain, of limited mobility, and of needing to ask for help. I have always valued my independence and self-sufficiency, and this experience taught me that sometimes we all find ourselves in place where we just cannot manage on our own. It is hard to admit that we are weak and need help, and it can be hard to accept help, especially when we have nothing to give in return. But this is the fundamental human problem. We are all sinners in need of mercy, an there is no way we can earn God's grace or repay Him for it.
As I have worked with people in the church who come to the Diaconate for help, I have often repeated the lesson I've learned: "Sometimes we are in a place to give help, and sometimes we are in a place where we need help." When someone unexpectedly loses their job and can't find another before their savings are almost gone, we can help pay for their rent and basic needs until they can get work. When a personal crisis hits someone who was just barely staying afloat, we can help pay for their counseling and make sure they are supported financially, emotionally, and spiritually until they can get back on their feet.
And when at the end of a service someone finds themselves with a heavy heart or a troubled mind, we can pray with them and help them remember the hope we all have in God and His unending love for us. We all need His help, and we can all rest in His mercy. Deaconess
An Instrument of Change
"Through the Diaconate, God has shown me that He calls me to be an instrument of change in people's lives. We have resources available to help people in their circumstances; but what God is really calling us to is heart change. As people talk to me about their struggles, I take a look at myself and how I respond to my own struggles. As I talk to a client about their fears, I have a chance to look at my own fears and idols. When I talk to a client about God's love and mercy, I see God's love and mercy at work in my own life." Deaconess