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Previous Challenge Entry (EDITOR'S CHOICE)
Topic: Expand (07/18/13)

TITLE: Hearts Hurting~
By CD Swanson
07/25/13
~4th Place


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It was only meant for a one-night gathering, and it was held in a tiny room in the back of the church. The church bulletin called it "Hearts In Pain Meeting" slated for Monday morning at ten.

The counselor, Marie, facilitating the meeting didn't expect more than a couple of people to be in attendance. She set up the refreshment table checking the items on display, bagels, Danish, coffee, tea, juice, water.

When ten o'clock rolled around she was seated and hoping for at least one person to appear. Endless problems plagued the church, there wasn't enough empathy or truth resonating from the pulpit. There was plenty of self-effacing and self-righteous to go around, but not enough of Jesus' love and compassion. So, on that premise, Marie asked the Minister's permission to have this meeting of "hearts."

"Excuse me?"

Marie turned to see a heavy-set lady with red eyeglasses, "Is this the meeting?"

"Yes, please come on it. I'm Marie, I'm the facilitator. How are you today?"

"Good. I almost didn't come...but I needed to be here."

"Well, praise God."

She sat near Marie and after a brief moment began to speak from the heart. "I just moved here from the mid-west, my hubby passed away and I have no children. I'm just lonely and my heart is breaking. I don't know what to do. I came to this church last week, on a whim, because I'm needing something in my life. I feel so lonely."

"You've come to the right place...may I ask what your name is?"

"Oh, Tanya, sorry."

"No problems Tanya. I'm so sorry for your loss. Losing a loved one is always hard, and throwing a move into the mix makes it exceedingly difficult to navigate life."

"Yes. I came here with a job transfer. I figured it'd be easier to start over." She began to cry, "I miss him so much. I don't know what to do. Please help me."

Marie grabbed her hand and asked, "Would you like to pray?"
She nodded silently as the tears cascaded gently down her face.

"Dear Father, your Son Jesus Christ heals the broken-hearted and binds up their wounds. Please help your child Tanya as she goes through this trial, and give her the strength to move forward. She needs your help, that help that only you can provide. In Jesus name we pray. Amen."

Tanya continued nodding, then said, "This is such a good idea. I was going to go to a grief session, but this is better. I feel the Holy Spirit here, and anyone can attend. So, I thought it was a great idea, that people have aching hearts for all different kinds of reasons. So, I wanted to be here to listen as well as heal."

Marie smiled and hugged her. "This is only one time, but I can ask the minister to keep it going."

"I think it would be a good idea, maybe with a little more advertising...like posters or flyers in the supermarkets, we can get others to come."

"Great."

"Can I do that? I have great ideas. I need to focus on others, like Christ would want me to. When I do that, I find I don't hurt so much."
"A wonderful idea. Thank you Tanya."

*********************

That first gathering was five years ago. It began with one person, whose heart was hurting. It grew into a group of fifty, and kept expanding from there. We had to move to a bigger place, and we used a basement in another Church for a long while, until we had to expand yet again.

We are currently in a huge auditorium in a local hospital, who lets us use it for a minimal charge. The endless hearts that come through the door in search of "help" from pain, bondage, abuse, loneliness are staggering. But, Christ has been healing and binding them up all along. And, to think it all started as a "one night deal" with one person...amazing huh?

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Member Comments
Member Date
Linda Goergen07/25/13
You never said if this was true or not, but it rings true and how wonderful if it is! I can see where a group that doesnít just preach to, but truly ministers to the heartís hurts would expand! I like how you literally gave vision to the topic! And I am sure that meeting expanded more than in numbers attending, Iím sure it expanded friendships, expanded compassion, expanded understanding and insight into otherís pain, expanded faith, to name a few. This writing slaps you in the face with the truth of how so many churches are failing to deliver the true love and compassion of Christ, people need more than just being preached at, they need ministered to on a personal basis! You have delivered a lot to contemplate in your wonderfully presented short story! Well done!
lynn gipson 07/25/13
Yes, it is amazing what Christ can do, especially in a group setting like the one you write about. This is also an amazing story. It made me feel so good as I read it. I love to read about His power to heal the hurting and lonely people in this world, as He did the same for me. Excellent!

Blessings, Lynn
Dannie Hawley 07/25/13
Terrific article! So many times there are hurting people near us, and we know that God wants us to interact with them. However, we shy away for lack of boldness or fear that we'll say the wrong thing. I love that your MC wanted to start such a group, but also that she wasn't afraid to ask the woman if she could pray for her. Such compassionate touch, along with prayer, is exactly what our hurting world needs. Thanks for the spotlight your article has brought to this issue today.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 07/25/13
Wow this is beautiful. I'd love to be able to start something like that in my area. It's been 20 years next month since Mom died and oh how I miss her. She dreamed of starting a chronic pain support group for me, and after she died I did have one going for a while, but needed someone to run it who was healthy. After reading your story I feel God nudging me. There are too many people with hurting hearts and God has plans to use my pain for something to glorify his name. You did an amazing job!
Brenda Rice 07/27/13
It's amazing how our little plans can fit so perfectly into God's big plan. This is how the church should work all the time. One person to one person, two people, five and ten and on and on the ministry goes. Great idea and well written. Thanks.
lynn gipson 08/01/13
Congratulations my dear friend. I am so very happy for you and your well, well, deserved first place ribbon! Your story is truly the winner!

Many blessings to you....

Lynn
Dannie Hawley 08/01/13
Congratulations and welcome to Masters! You're a real champion, and not just today. Well-deserved.
Linda Goergen08/01/13
CONGRATULATIONS CAMILLE on your EC win! Yahoo! You so deserve to be in masters!
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 08/01/13
Whoooo-hhhhhhhoooooooooo!!! Congratulations! Happiest of any Happy Dance!!!!
Colin Swann08/01/13
ongrats on you EC win.
Colin Swann08/01/13
Sos - Congrats
Lillian Rhoades 08/01/13
So glad to see your entry among the top ten. Congratulations! And thanks for reading and commenting on so many entries every week.
Janice Kelley08/01/13
Congratulations for 1st place on a great article. Thanks, too, for your always-encouraging words to the rest of us!
Leola Ogle 08/01/13
Yay for you, Camille, for placing 4th in EC. Good job! Love this! God bless!
Danielle King 08/01/13
What a heart warming and encouraging piece. It rings true too. Congratulations on a well deserved placing and thank you for all the encouragement you spread around FW's. Your kind words are a blessing.
Bea Edwards 08/01/13
Your story has the ring of truth especially because you are such an encourager and I see you in the role of the facilitator.
Congratulations on your win.
Genia Gilbert08/01/13
This is a wonderful piece. You are so deserving of this 4th place overall and #1 in level 3. The writing is wonderful, and you are so special in your encouragement and support of other challenge writers. Congratulations!!!!!!!!!!
Edmond Ng 08/01/13
Congratulations on your getting EC and first at your level!
Hiram Claudio08/02/13
This is AWESOME! I am so proud of you. Congrats on a well deserved 1st ribbon and a well written piece!
Noel Mitaxa 08/02/13
Congratulations on producing such a well-grounded mix of invitationand challenge, especially if this is an actual account of a ministry's growth in its effectiveness. Congrats also on your win, and welcome to Masters...
Pam Ford Davis 08/02/13
Congratulations precious friend!

Wing His Words
Barbara Caldwell08/21/13
This is a wonderful story. You did a great job!