April 19, 2018
Feeling alone and isolated, Lori O’Connell could not muster the courage to do something many of us do every Sunday: go to church. Instead, she looked at church websites and followed sermons online. That’s how she heard Galilee’s message that we are ordinary people with an extraordinary purpose.
It worked, because last Sunday found Lori in an extraordinary place—at the pulpit, facing the congregation, witnessing to us about her remarkable journey.
“I want to share with you why I love my church and how Galilee and its special people have been integral to my growth and healing,” Lori says.
“In 2016, I was going through one of the worst struggles of my life. I was at rock bottom. Asking for help is never easy, but I recognized this struggle was bigger than me. So I reached out to friends and family and the worst that could happen, did happen…help did not come. I felt truly alone.
My last resort was God. I’ve always heard that God should be my go-to, but that’s been difficult for me, an independent-minded control freak. Yet God was there that night as I begged him for help and I finally recognized that I was not alone in my struggle. Actually, I never was. Perhaps I needed to get to this point to finally let God into my heart and let him be in charge.”
Lori O’Connell is now leading small group innovations for Galilee.
“Things didn’t turn around immediately, but as I grew more open to how much I needed to trust in the Lord, I prayed and asked for guidance. Day by day, I felt strength putting my hope in God’s plan for me, rather than my plan for me.
One day, feeling led, I googled “churches in Sterling.” Not knowing anything about denominations (I grew up Catholic) and being a little shy, I couldn’t just walk in. I wanted to be invisible, to know what to expect. I looked at several websites and when I got to Galilee, I went page by page and found a loving message.
I also found podcasts and video, so I did indeed experience a service invisibly. As I watched, I felt that Pastor Jason was talking directly to me. Some of what had been weighing on me, some of the very words going around in my head, were discussed in that sermon. For the next two weeks I watched on-line and had the same experience! I decided to try out the 11am service in person, and although I was nervous I knew it was right. On my drive over, I asked the Lord to give me an open heart and open mind and I grew calm. Now I felt the impact of Pastor Jason’s message in person and heard what God was trying to share with me.
On that first day, multiple people introduced themselves and welcomed me to Galilee. I was invited to join the Monday Night Women’s Bible Study—my very first small group.”
Small groups—a practical tool for transforming lives.
“The first thing my small group did for me was get me past my shyness, to make friends. This has allowed me to know and glean insight from so many different people of various ages and backgrounds. I found my small group partners at Galilee to be genuine, caring, and full of love for the Lord.
In these groups, with these people, I have learned more about the Bible and our faith in God than I ever thought possible. Powerful study materials and wide-ranging discussions make faith real as we explore what it means to be disciples of Christ in the world today.”
Lori and her niece, Jessica.
“I’ve had experience with three small groups since I joined Galilee in March 2017:
- Monday Night Women’s Bible Study gives me an opportunity for fellowship over a meal at the church. As an IT project manager, I eat in front of my computer way too many times during the week. This group of ladies is welcoming and supportive. We laugh together a lot and get together for outings outside of the study.
- I also joined the Current, which just ended (small groups at Galilee are not designed to go one forever). The Current was a topical response to the Sunday sermon (like the Today’s Group which meets at 10:15am on Sundays, or Civil Christianity, which meets on Wednesdays at 7pm). This group allowed me to talk through some of the scary and disturbing things happening in our world.
- I volunteer as a teacher of the 9am Children’s Church—that’s a small group for small people! Here I get to enjoy the youngsters at Galilee and help them learn about Jesus and the love he has for all his people. What a joy the children are to me.
Finding Your Place
“When Next Level Innovations was voted on last December, I emailed Pastor Jason and let him know about what had been going on in my journey. While I was in a way better place, I still lacked fulfillment. I wanted to be a better disciple of Christ, I told him.
We met for coffee and he shared something he had been thinking and praying on. To my surprise, he asked if I was interested in serving as a Grow Leader, part of the Next Level initiatives. It sounded great to me. I truly love my church and the growth it has engendered in me. Surely part of growing is to pass it on, to help others find their place as I have found mine.”
In the past, Lori (Inmate #25793410) has felt chained and trapped. But that’s not this—this is a fun Halloween costume with a work colleague.
“We hope to have an even more robust discipleship program up and running soon. Our first new group under NLI is a women’s yoga class. The monthly bulletin and the Galilee website are great ways to find existing small groups.
Galilee small groups are a way to find fellowship, spiritual growth, and a path to better discipleship in Christ. I am happy to talk to anyone who has questions. I welcome your prayers for this area of innovation. I am incredibly grateful to the Lord and to all of you…I LOVE MY CHURCH and I am thrilled I finally found my fit!”
For more information about Galilee’s small groups, contact Lori. Or make a note on the Connection Card at worship on Sunday and Lori will get in touch with you.