It was hard but I’ve chosen 3 winners of my new book, “How to Start a Chronic Illness Small Group Ministry.”
(By the way, we are currently having a special on it till 5/1 – Buy a copy & get a copy of the book Beyond Casseroles for free!)
The entries are:
Jennifer Servantes shared, “I suffer from Lyme disease & with that “honor” comes many stigmas & non-support from medical professionals & regular folk alike. Many people do not realize that Lyme can masquerade as a multitude of other diseases including mental health issues. I have been afflicted for many years with depression & anxiety/panic attacks thanks to the Lyme disease I contracted as a small child. Though I have not suffered a panic attack in a while, my biggest fear is that my anxiety issues will come back & cause problems when I start a small group for chronic illness sufferers. Ten years ago I led a small support group for displaced homemakers (mostly single moms) who found themselves in a situation where they had to go back to school in order to support their families. This was very difficult for me because of my panic attacks & low self-esteem. I relied greatly on planning & organization to get me through.
Last month the restoration pastor at my church asked if I would consider leading a support group again. This, of course, brought up anxiety & I questioned whether I would be able to do it satisfactorily. Through prayer & godly prompting, I believe I can do it justice & with flair this time. I’ve had many talks with my pastor about what I believe God is calling me to do, so he knows it is right up my alley to take on something such as this. I’ve been called to go into ministry, with a twist.
Once my illness is better under control, I will be returning to school to get a dual degree in religious studies & art therapy. Winning one of these books would help me on a step toward my future & I believe that through borrowing from your wisdom, I can help many others like me, whether they have Lyme or any other illness.”
Susan has that fear that nearly all group leaders have at one time or another: My biggest fear about starting a small group is no one will come. My church leaders say go for it, but other than providing church space (if it doesn’t conflict with anything else they consider a higher priority), they offer no support, help or resources. In other words, they will not invest resources in something they don’t think is needed or will succeed.
Am&a says: My biggest fear about started a small group was that I certainly don’t have this conquered. I felt completely ill-equipped because I’m still sick. I worried that perhaps it would be better if the group were led by someone who was healthy now & could offer hope of healing. But now I realize that leading this group while figuring this out offers hope too.
What happened though was the first two meetings of our group became about how I had not accepted that I was sick! It was fabulous! I would absolutely not be where I am today in relation to my walk with God, my acceptance of my chronic illnesses, & my treatment plans if it were not for the wonderful women in my group being brave enough to say, “Hey, you totally aren’t okay being sick!”