Conversations between friends lead to a life-changing experience.
Alicia A. Neumann
“I thought they were restrictive and that the people were stuffy and cliquey.”
That’s how Kelsey Robbins, member at Cross of Christ, Boise, Idaho, said she previously felt about churches. Growing up, she says she didn’t have much of a church background. She attended a Methodist church with her family on major holidays and remembers completing a three-day confirmation class. “But I hadn’t really picked up a Bible after that,” she says. “I guess I was just very hostile toward church.” But that all changed when Robbins moved with her family to Boise, where she met Kristie Breckon.
THE REASON FOR THE HOPE THAT YOU HAVE
Breckon had recently moved to the area and had a young daughter. Robbins says they became great friends and talked about everything. Oftentimes discussions on current events would turn to religion. “Her security in life didn’t come from money or from her husband’s job or her house; she had a sense of security I didn’t have,” says Robbins. “At that point, I had a small child and an uncertain future, and I started to become interested in why she felt that she’d be okay. It piqued my interest.”
Robbins said it was great having someone who would listen to her and ask her questions. “Kristie never tried to convince me. She just gently told me what she believed,” says Robbins. “It can be intimidating to have conversations like that with someone who doesn’t believe what you do, and sometimes it’s just easier to stay silent—but she didn’t. And I’m so thankful for that.”
Breckon eventually invited Robbins to a women’s retreat and then told her about the preschool at Cross of Christ. Robbins says she wasn’t sure she agreed with the church’s teachings, but the preschool was nearby and it was affordable. So she and her husband, Donovan, enrolled their oldest daughter, Chloe.
A LIFE-CHANGING EXPERIENCE
Robbins says she felt Chloe was getting a great education, but she still wasn’t sure about the church. “I remember attending a 15-minute chapel service for the preschoolers, and Pastor told the kids that ‘Jesus washes the naughties away.’ I was offended that someone would tell my child that she was naughty. I thought maybe I didn’t want her to go there anymore. But it made me think, and we stuck with it,” she says. Not long after, Breckon invited the Robbins family to the kids’ Christmas service, and then later to the summer picnic. “My husband was so impressed by how relaxed and nice everybody was; it wasn’t what we thought a congregation would be like,” says Robbins.
They started attending worship services, where they saw an invitation to Bible information classes. Robbins was interested in being in a group with other people who wanted to ask questions. “We started going to that, and it was a life-changing experience,” says Robbins. “It was never presented as ‘We want to convert you’ or ‘This is why you are wrong.’ It was an open discussion about the Bible.”
She says she appreciated being able to ask all of her questions—from dinosaurs to evolution—and having them answered in an open, honest way. But the biggest “aha” moment for her was understanding that no one can be perfect. “My idea of what it meant to be a Christian was that you were required to do selfless good works to earn a spot in heaven and that the goal of your life was to become as good and perfect as possible,” says Robbins. “Hearing that God himself declares, ‘No one is righteous, no not one’ lifted an enormous burden from me. I didn’t have to try to be perfect for myself, or others, or God. I couldn’t be. The good news that I was already perfect because Jesus did it for me—that changed the way I thought about everything.”
Robbins says after the class on Baptism, she and her husband had both of their daughters baptized right away. “Even before the Bible information class was done, I just knew this was going to be the place for us,” she says.
COUNTING HER BLESSINGS
After becoming a member, Robbins served for four years on the preschool board. While in that role, she told many other parents about the preschool. “It was great because my friends had kids that were preschool age, and I could tell them about our excellent program and get them the information they needed,” she says. “It was very gratifying to work for the ministry that got our foot in the door.”
She and her husband have also been involved with vacation Bible school and worship services—Kelsey is in the choir and Donovan works in the sound room. “When I need to be at church early in the morning for a music rehearsal, Donovan makes sure the girls get ready and are on time,” she says. “I love to see him be active and involved. It’s a huge benefit for our two girls to see a man who loves God and has felt the forgiveness of Christ in his life.”
Robbins says she’s also thankful for the network of Christian friends they’ve made. “I’ve leaned a lot on the support of Christian friends who were patient and kind enough to encourage me to rely fully on God,” she says. “I think it is so important not just to hear the Word, but for other people to remind you of it and lift you up with it and share their own experiences. It’s been such a gift finding this church and this group of people.”
And the greatest gift of all? “Faith,” she says. “I didn’t have that before; it didn’t exist. Now I have something black and white, something to get me through the hard times—faith in a living God.”
Alicia Neumann is a member at Resurrection, Rochester, Minnesota.
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Author: Alicia A. Neumann
Volume 102, Number 9
Issue: September 2015
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