What Helped Me When I Was in a Dark Place
Written By Heidy Reynoso, USA
I was in a really dark place when my church made an announcement encouraging us to join a growth group (or small group). Though I had been a Christian for several years by this point, I was still living my life as I had always been. I was not praying regularly, nor was I letting God lead my life. I was trying to understand things on my own. My mom had passed away the year before, and my long-term relationship with my daughter’s father was not working out. . . I was feeling a lot of hurt and knew something needed to change.
I didn’t know what to expect or how it might help me, but I figured if I was serious about making a change in my life, I should get more involved with church. I filled out the growth group signup form handed out at my church, and within the week, a volunteer called me and informed me that there was a young adult group that met at the church on Monday nights.
Although I didn’t know anyone at the church yet, I was more excited than nervous to join the group. On my first night, everyone was so welcoming, friendly, and had such warm smiles. While small group and its format are probably familiar to people who grew up in church, it was different than anything I had experienced before. Since joining, God has been teaching and shaping me through the growth group. Here’s what has changed:
Growth Group Showed Me I Wasn’t Alone
Prior to this group, I felt alone because I didn’t have friends in the area. I had moved back and forth between Michigan and Florida a few times, and most of my friends were in Michigan. At the growth group, it was refreshing to connect and talk with other women my age about things we were dealing with daily, and to be reminded that I am not alone.
Just like it says in Ecclesiastes 4:9-10,
Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.
There was a group chat set up where the leaders would check in on us, and people could submit prayer requests. Before growth group I didn’t have any one asking how they could pray for me, so it was really encouraging. These Christian friends pointed me back to God when I had questions, and reminded me to always pray.
Growth Group Taught Me That I Can Meet with God at Home
In addition to Monday night group, we had Scripture reading to do for the week. The leaders encouraged us to worship and pray for 20 minutes before reading the Word. This was entirely new for me. I had never actually sat down and read the Bible book by book—it was always verses here and there.
Reading the Bible this way helped me see the bigger picture and the background story of the verses, which gave me a better understanding of who God is and how to apply these Scriptures in my daily life. I had never worshiped before, and now I was able to feel God’s presence in my home as I worshipped and prayed. Sometimes I felt such a deep connection that I would cry. I was experiencing things I had never experienced before, and I loved it.
Growth Group Inspired Me to Pour into Others
After about a year of attending the group, I felt a tugging in my heart that I could do more to become involved. I prayed for God to lead me to where He wanted me to serve. That following Sunday, there was an announcement that adult leaders were needed for the youth ministry. I had not served before, because it was never called my attention and I had not been established in a church long enough. But I signed up.
My passion for serving and mentoring the youth grew from there. Mentoring the youth helped me regain purpose because some of the girls were reaching out to me for help and advice on things they were going through. I was able to point them back to Jesus and pray with them over their troubles. It was definitely like it says in 1 Thessalonians 5:11, “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”
As I’ve been engaging more in my growth group, and inviting other people to come, the leaders noticed a transformation in me, and invited me to co-lead sometimes. Because of growth group, I now read or listen to the Bible every day and I worship at home. Ever since I took that leap of faith in joining a group where I didn’t know anyone, I’ve never felt closer to God, and I have a community of believers that I call friends.
Now, whenever I’m facing any troubles or stress, I go to God for answers instead of trying to understand things on my own. I can also ask for prayers from my group. I truly feel supported by this community, and I’m thankful for how my relationship with God has grown. If you’re ever feeling alone or discouraged, I definitely suggest seeing if your church has a small group you can join—it can transform your life.
This is lovely, Heidy! As a growth group leader, I am very encouraged and reminded once again of the positive impact we can have in each other’s lives. Thank you so much for sharing!
Thank you so much for reading! 🙂