Our stories link us to each other, fusing unseen bonds that connect our hearts in camaraderie. Stories engage the whole person. They draw us in, engaging us mentally and emotionally, and often igniting physical responses like knee-slappin’ laughter or heartfelt tears of empathy, or an offer of sympathy through a hug, a note, or a text message. We always react to stories with our whole selves: mentally, emotionally, physically.
– Amanda Erickson
Too often we limit ourselves to our own experiences of God. But when we share our stories with each other, we come away will a fuller appreciation of the many ways in which God works in our lives. Our understanding is increased as we are open to the perspectives of others. On this page we will hear stories from our church community and about our church community. Our goal is to share with you insights from the past year regarding how the Holy Spirit is using Forest Grove Community Church as an instrument to facilitate Transformation in Jesus Christ in the lives of our church body.
I accepted Christ in to my heart at a high school Christian Rock Revival. Despite that choice, I didn’t really have faith and questions that I had went unanswered, so I didn’t pursue God or live for Him. I lived for myself for the next 27 years, not really giving God much thought.
Though we weren’t living for God at all, we realized that our life would probably be much worse if we hadn’t learned some morals at home and at church ourselves when we were younger. Because of this, when our first daughter was two years old we decided to look for a church so that Brooke would have the opportunity to be taught the same values and then she could make her own decision about God at some point of her life.
We chose Forest Grove because it had a good mix of young and old, had a good children’s program and was inviting yet large enough congregation that we could remain anonymous. Church was not a priority for me and many times I found excuses not to attend.
A pivotal moment for me was while I was listening to the Humboldt Bronco’s chaplain’s message on TV during the memorial service in April 2018. Spending many hours on the road myself, and having driven through that same intersection many times, I realized that my life could be over in an instant and that it was time to get it in order. And so I prayed. While I prayed, Jesus opened my eyes to the fact that I could live for Him immediately, and that I didn’t need to be a theologian or know all the answers first. This was the first time in a long time that I had prayed. And Jesus started changing me immediately.
Eight years ago, my wife’s struggle with chronic pain brought her to the realization that she needed Jesus in order to survive and cope with it. I eventually realized that the strength she had was coming from her faith in Jesus. I thank my wife for the many years of prayers for me. And I truly believe that this was why the chaplain’s message was so strong to me.
The next pivotal moment was when I was handed an invitation to attend a men’s ministry session here at Forest Grove. After a few days of thinking it over, I decided to attend. It was an eye-opening experience. I could feel that God was working in me and some of the men that I met there. At the conclusion of the three evenings, God compelled Les Klassen and I to go out for coffee afterwards, even though we didn’t really know each other on a personal level. It was that same evening that we decided to start a men’s small group with a few of the guys we had met. God definitely had a hand in putting together this group of men with different backgrounds and interests. This small group has had a big impact on my faith with their support and accountability. One of the guys, Rob L., connected us to a group chat on our phones which has been great for keeping in touch, for immediate needs and sharing when we can’t get together in person.
Although our family struggles with significant health issues, both physical and mental. Having faith in God has made it easier to cope with it.
I feel that the next step in my faith growth is to be baptized and become a member of Forest Grove Community Church. I am not very well versed in scripture but a passage that is becoming a favourite is 2 Corinthians 4: 7-9 “ We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not ourselves. We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven down to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed.
I’d encourage everyone here to remember that God doesn’t forget about you, even if you forget about Him. I’m a perfect example of that.
Martha (Martie) Giesbrecht
I asked Jesus to live in my heart as a young child and rededicated my life to Him as a teenager at Torch Trail Bible camp. I was baptized at 16, at my parent’s home church in Osler, SK. Unfortunately during my 20’s I did not live for Christ. Although I made attempts to read my Bible and spend time in prayer, I really just wanted to do life my own way. I met Brent, my husband, in high school; we have been married 23 years.
I have lived with Fibromyalgia, a chronic pain and fatigue disorder, since my early 20’s and when I hit my 30’s it gradually worsened each year. At this time, we became parents to two lovely girls. Parenting changed our lives and we decided, when Brooke was a toddler that we needed to find a church so that it would be a regular part of our lives again. That was when we started coming to Forest Grove Community Church. It felt like “home” from the first time we came almost 14 years ago.
The next ten years were impacted immensely by the truth being taught here, by the people who reached out to us, and most of all, by God Himself pursuing me and drawing me back to Him. There came a day, in March of 2011, during yet another church service in which I was feeling emotional and crying during the message and the singing, that I had a beautiful Jesus encounter that changed my life. Saved my life. At that time, I was feeling very overwhelmed with responsibilities: parenting our daughters, neither of whom slept through the night at that point, I was working 4 days a week, Brent was nearly always on the road for work and the pain in my body combined with absolute exhaustion had taken its toll. Nearly every day I wanted to give up and die. Thankfully, I never followed through on any of these plans; I believe this was God’s hand of protection on me. So when I physically felt the love of Jesus pour out over me, from my head down to my feet, telling me I was worthy of love, worthy of life and worthy of forgiveness, my life changed completely. There is no way to accurately describe this sensation and the “knowing” of what He was telling me – it was real, it was powerful and it was beautiful. Jeremiah 29:11-13 “For I know the plans I have for you”, declares the Lord, “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days, when you pray, I will listen. If you look for Me wholeheartedly, you will find Me.” This verse was profound in shaping me because I realized that though I had been seeking Him, it had been on my own terms, not with my whole heart.
During the last eight years there have been many more encounters with His Presence and many answers to prayers. He has healed my body enough that I can now function pretty well, even though my back still gives me regular reminders that it hurts. Yet my journey with chronic pain has done more for building my faith than if God would have healed me instantly. I know I wouldn’t have the dependence and trust I have now if He had given me a miraculous healing, so therefore, I can now say with true gratitude, thank you God for the pain. Not just the physical pain, but the emotional and mental toll as well. God has used it all to make me new. Phil 1:6 “Being confident of this, He who began a good work in you, will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
Every day He is teaching me, changing me, growing my faith and my trust in Him. I am learning to step into new things in trust, not knowing the outcome, just knowing He will take care of me. My love for His Word, my trust in its Truth has become my foundation and when I stumble, always brings me back to my God, my Saviour and my Teacher.
And now, praise God, I am able to be here today, with my husband by my side, to become a member of Forest Grove Community Church. I am so excited to be able to commit to you all, to serve and be part of this body of believers. I have wanted to become a member here for many years, I was just waiting to do it with Brent by my side. 1 Thes 5:24 “The One who calls you is faithful, He will do it” is my current “comfort” verse.
My name is Kaitlyn, and I am 12 years old. I have two wonderful parents, Brent and Martha, and an amazing older sister, Brooke.
I grew up learning about Jesus for as long as I can remember. My parents, older sister, and I have attended Forest Grove mostly every Sunday since I was born. When I was about five or six, I accepted Jesus into my heart. I didn’t really understand what that meant, but I knew that my Small group leaders kept telling us that we should. Though I enjoyed going to Grovekids here at church, we never really talked about Jesus at home. The only time I prayed was before meals and at bedtime. But when I was nine years old, I really started living for Jesus.
I don’t remember one huge pivotal moment that changed it, but I do remember a lot of little moments where it felt like Jesus was telling me “come home”. I remember one of those moments, in the summer of 2018. I was at Redberry Bible Camp, a regular summer activity for me, standing in the chapel. We were singing the song ‘Great are You, Lord’ near the end of the service. I was singing along, when suddenly this wonderful sense of overwhelming love for Jesus, this knowing that I would do anything for His Glory, washed over me. So I stood there, eyes closed, and crying, for a while after the service.
Since I was six, I’ve dealt with chronic back pain as well as anxiety. And many times, it’s become so overwhelming that I’ve cried out to Jesus, begging Him to take away the pain, or to just come back to earth and take us Home already. And although He hasn’t taken away my pain, or even lessened it by a lot, I remember many desperate moments where I felt His tangible, loving arms around me, and an unexplainably peaceful voice telling me that I am loved.
I want to be baptized because I want to grow closer to Jesus. The more steps I can take to follow Him, the better. And I couldn’t imagine a better place to make a commitment like this than in such a supporting community of believers.
A few scripture verses that have really stood out to me are:
Isaiah 43:2 “When you’re in over your head, I will be with you. When you are in deep waters, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burnt up; the flames will not consume you.”
Phillipians 4:6&7 “Don’t worry about anything. Instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything you can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”
Psalm 23:4 “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for You are close beside me.”