Ever since I moved from Puerto Rico to Miami in 1987, I’ve been separated from my family by thousands of miles. One of the things I wanted to do was find a church once I was settled in Miami. I visited a few but it wasn’t till I moved to my own apartment and walked 3 blocks to First Church of North Miami Congregational that I discovered the meaning of a “church family.” I walked in and was welcomed by several people at the door. Once seated in a pew, the pastor walked down and introduced himself. I was invited to the Women’s Circle meeting that week. At that meeting I mentioned that I was interested in joining the choir and the pastor’s wife immediately offered to pick me up (I lived 3 blocks away). Getting involved in those groups allowed me to meet and get to know the church members.
A few months later, I was asked to become a member of the Board of Outreach. This board decided which charities and non-profit groups to support. I was on that board for 9 years serving as its chair for several of them. The pastor also encouraged me to go to a seminar to start a singles group. We joined forces with a sister church (United Church of Christ) and we had a pretty good group going with several social and spiritual growth activities.
I attended a weekly bible study and the folks in that group really became my close family. One lady, Judy, adopted me as a surrogate daughter and she became a surrogate mom to me. Besides the moral support she and the other people in the church provided, they helped me in my times of trouble.
I moved 25 miles away from the church to be closer to a job, and I still traveled twice a week to church services and choir practice.
When my car was stolen, they loaned me money to buy a used one. When my dad passed away, they were there for me. When I had 2 car accidents within 8 days of each other and totaled my car, another lady, Carol, loaned me her van so I can go buy a bike to get around.
When I moved to Melbourne, FL, I joined the UCC church there the day after I moved. I joined the choir and not too long afterward, was asked to be on the Board of Deacons. Attending bible studies inspired me to write the novel.
The summer of 2004 when Hurricanes Frances and Jeanne hit, I decided to move to Phoenix. I contacted a church friend who had moved there and she helped me get to know the area.
I still keep in touch with most of them and I have a new church family at First Christian Church of Phoenix. I went for a visit last year to my old church. As I was planning my trip, people asked me if I was visiting family and I said no, just friends. Once I was there and got to see or talk to mostly everyone, I realized that they are not just friends they ARE FAMILY.
There’s a lot more to being a Christian than just believing in Christ. As a single person, being with other Christians helped me grow closer to God and learn how to deal with life’s ups and downs. We celebrated the good times and the support was there for the bad times.
Soli Deo Gloria!
Giselle is an award-winning writer who’s first novel, Deo Volente! (God Willing): Love in the First Century, The Christian Centuries Series – Book 1 won the Women of Faith Writing Contest. She lives in Phoenix where she works as a freelance social media expert, blogger and is writing the second book in the series, “Follow Me: Love in the Second Century” – an epic adventure of two brothers, descendants of the first novel’s characters, who leave their home in Alexandria, Egypt to help a fledgling church in Spain.