Have you ever felt abandoned by God and others? How about feelings of shame, that you are not worthy of anything good from God or others?
While we all have had similar thoughts and/or feelings in our life, we also felt like we couldn’t talk with anyone because no one else has felt that way…this year the Life Model family was able to make an impact in one pastor’s life by being the source of life to her through Annual Gathering. It wasn’t just the conference that brought about transformation for Julie, rather it was about the journey and the lights of hope and love that Immanuel placed along the way for Julie’s heart to be softened and opened to receiving His joy and love at Annual Gathering.
“For me the testimony of this conference begins in the journey God led me through to get there. I had learned of Life Model years ago through my close friend Anna Kang, who was being mentored by Jim Wilder along with another couple, who years later I would have the great blessing of becoming close with as well, John and Sungshim Loppnow. I would hear of the conferences they would be invited to speak at and had always desired to attend one, however the constant transitions of our ministry, as my husband and I are pastors, and the financial costs made it very difficult for me to ever attend. This past January of 2017 we had invited our friend John Loppnow to speak at our retreat and it was he who encouraged me to reach out and ask if help was at all possible, if there was anything that Life Model could do to help me get to their conference. This concept had never even occurred to me. To ask for help. To even request something good in a long season where my husband and I were experiencing trauma, grief, weariness, and pain. I was reluctant and felt for some reason guilt and fear about such a request. Yet John gently (okay, maybe firmly!) nudged me to simply ask, and our blessed friend followed up consistently to make sure that I did just that!”
The revelation that we are all created for good and to courageously ask for what we need was a pivotal breakthrough for Julie.
“I am forever grateful to John. God used him to help me to muster up courage, swallow my pride and ask for help! My fear was a rejection of good things that I had not earned. Life for seven years, after all, felt like all things good were stripped away. The email was sent off and I quickly forgot about it. Never in a million years had I even expected what was going to happen next. Kimberly Rigsby sent me, weeks later, an email full of warmth, tenderness, and excitement. She had never met me, yet she was so joy-filled and excited to share with me that a generous couple had offered to cover all my costs. Words will never describe the awesomeness of God’s presence I felt in that moment of reading that email. What was happening?”
Immanuel was softening Julie’s heart and allowing her to see the loving community of people that He had prepared to receive her.
“Then the weeks leading up to the conference…The love of God began to soothe the edges of my broken and weary heart…Upon my arrival to the Annual Gathering 2017…I began to withdraw as I usually do in this kind of setting, but the peaceful and joyful gazes of those who would introduce themselves to me were captivating. Something was so different in the air. There was so much warmth and it felt like everybody was so happy to see me! My normal walls of self-defense could not go up and I sensed my soul feeling at rest. God was massaging my hardened heart and His gentleness healed my soul through every joyful exchange with people and every powerful insight taught at the sessions. God used the relationships, the joyful presence of so many people, and the teachings, to help me to stay connected to Him, where normally, when I am in this state of brokenness, I often find myself easily disconnected. God was so gracious in allowing me to spend a little time with some of the speakers Marcus & Brenda Warner and Karl & Charlotte Lehman. Normally I would have been intimidated yet these two couples were refreshingly humble, graciously kind and authentically open. It was as if I was being carried like the paralyzed man, in Luke chapter 5, whose friends carried his mat and lowered him from the roof to be in Jesus’ loving and healing presence. This is what the Annual Gathering 2017 was for me, from the moment I was willing to accept Jesus’ invitation to allow His Body of believers to see my vulnerability in needing help, to the moment I stepped back on to the plane home. My soul had been paralyzed with sadness, fear, grief, and disappointment yet God instrumentally used the Life Model community to be the friends who would carry my mat and help me to connect to the presence of God…Thank you, Life Model and the generous donors, for giving me such an amazing gift and experience of God’s joyful presence!”
One of the most amazing parts of Julie’s story is how God used different pieces of the Life Model family to make a difference in one woman’s heart that would have ripple effects as she traveled home to be with her husband and children and church family. Julie’s hopeless despair turned in to hope that God did see her and wanted the best for her. Her courage in reaching out for help was met with authentic love and acceptance.
The Life Model brought JOY to Julie’s world. We get to share in stories like this, in part because people give financially to see the work continue. This holiday season we are praying and believing God to lead 400 people to participate through Life Model Works by making an end of year donation. We need 381 more people to partner with us in the next three weeks to accomplish this goal.