|The Story of a Fearless Church: A Message from Ciara & Pastor Stacey|
|Hi, my name is Ciara. I’m 17 and I attend Melissa United Methodist with you. I am blessed. Every day I am provided an education, food on the table, a roof over my head, and countless people who support me. I have an amazing church community that I am committed to. I’m on the varsity debate team at school. I am typically a straight A student with the occasional B. I can crack a joke at any moment in time with the biggest grin on my face. But more times than not, I’m not okay. What you don’t know is that I was raped by my biological father as a child. Behind my jokes and grins, I am fighting a battle that sometimes feels impossible to overcome. And it feels this way because I now live with PTSD as well as depression in my everyday life. Even though I am standing up and fighting for myself with my countless testimonies and court battles, I still struggle. A few months ago, my battle almost beat me when I decided to try to take my own life but luckily failed in doing so. I received the help I needed – thanks to my support system – and was back on my feet ready to fight again. But my battle isn’t over yet.
Sunday’s worship service is going to be healing for some because it is a reminder that it is okay not to be okay sometimes. We wake up, get ready, and arrive at church with a smile on our face every Sunday and forget that it is okay to not have it all together all the time. It is okay for life to be a little messy. But the church is our safe place, our place to go and be with God because God understands and heals the pain, fear, and problems we face. The church understands that everyone has their different pasts and different struggles but no matter what, they accept and support us. This service is going to be emotional and eye opening but most importantly, it is going to bring us further together. We would appreciate it if everyone would attend church with open hearts this Sunday because this is going to be hard for some and painful for others. Thank you. – Ciara
There is a misconception in the world around us that Christians are always happy. Some people believe that if you follow God and do all the right things in life, then life will be easy or free from worry or free from fear. This isn’t true… and Christians are not always happy. The statistics we see around us affect our lives, our friends and our family with equal percentages to the world. Many churches don’t talk about things that they are afraid of because… well, we are afraid of those things. But we are not faithfully following God until we are willing to be honest with God and with each other, and that means tackling some fear-filled issues.
We start a new sermon series on Sunday entitled FEARLESS and we are going to begin by reflecting on what it means to be a FEARLESS CHURCH. We are going to talk with a few of our MUMC members as they share their stories of struggling with anxiety, depression, addiction, PTSD, self-mutilation, cutting, and suicide. These are some of the bravest people we know… and you will want to hear their story of how God has walked with them through some of the darkest times in their lives and of what it means to be a part of this FEARLESS CHURCH. (Just a note: Andrea will be ready with our children’s team for a full house in Sunday school since we recognize that this content may be too much for our children in 5th grade and younger.)
Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in our country. You may not struggle with these issues but 44,193 Americans have lost a loved one to suicide every year. The message we are called to offer is to stand without fear in the face of mental illness and to speak the words of love God offers to us time and time again, you are not alone.
I am looking forward to being in worship with you on Sunday as we live into the vision of being a FEARLESS CHURCH where you do not have to have it all together to worship, to find friends who will love you for just who you are, and to receive the love of God that surpassing all understanding.
Glory to God, who is able to do far beyond all we could ask or imagine by his power at work within us; glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus for all generations, forever and always, Amen. Ephesians 3:20-21
To watch previous sermons click here: Sermons on Video
For more information contact Rev. Stacey Piyakhun (firstname.lastname@example.org).