Contributions from Mendy Wilson (CG Leader)
Sharing my story meant opening up and being vulnerable with our group members. Sharing my story also meant taking down any facade or walls of protection that I may have put up. What a scary thought! These ladies were seeing the real me, both the pretty & the ugly. But… oh, what a relief too! I had nothing to hide. They were willing to accept me for who I am! I now had a group of friends who knew my struggles, and yet would support me, challenge me, and hold me accountable for living a life that is pleasing to God.
After sharing our own stories, the way was paved for our group members to begin sharing their own stories. It was AMAZING to see how open they were with one another, not holding anything back! I remember comments like: “I can’t believe I just shared this with all of you. My parents don’t even know. ” or “I’ve been living with this secret for years and it’s been eating away at me.” The courage that the ladies showed in sharing their stories encouraged the others who had not spoken to step out and share their own pasts. It was incredible to see how several of their hurtful experiences were related, yet God used them to minister to one another’s pain.
After listening to everyone’s stories, my co-leader (Sarah) and I could sense God’s guidance in the direction we should go for our first study – Breaking Free. Many of the women in our group were experiencing freedom for the first time or were ready to begin tearing down the lies that Satan had held them captive with. Because the way had been paved by sharing our stories, the women in our group felt that they truly knew each other. This was evident in our group meetings as each shared what God was teaching them throughout the week, and they held each other accountable by asking the difficult questions. They approached the throne on behalf of one another’s prayer requests and rallied around and prayed for individual sisters in Christ when they were weak and reminded them they didn’t have to go it alone.
A year and a half later, our community group is no longer the same, but that’s a GREAT thing! Our ladies have grown both individually and as a group. They challenge each other to grow and to change in order that they may fulfill their God-given destinies. That’s my story of seeing God work through the power of shared stories, and changed our group in the process!
Mendy and Sarah demonstrated tremendous leadership by following the Do’s and Don’ts of sharing, then by modeling what it looks like to be transparent in sharing their own stories with the group. And as a result, they saw God bring about some incredible change in the group participant’s lives. However, it didn’t end there. They also demonstrated strategic leadership in how they used the exercise of sharing stories to prayerfully discern what they needed to lead their group through. Look for common themes or strong-holds to help you determine where your group members may need to grow in their knowledge of God or surrender to him.
How have you seen sharing life stories be the bridge to greater transformation in your group participants? Share your story!