To answer the question Why Northshore, I would first have to explain that there have been many many churches in my life, all of my life. My Dad is a deacon and so was my former husband.

I met and married my husband in 1980.  After we were married we joined a small church in town.  We worked so hard in that little church.  I was children’s choir director, children’s choir coordinator, Sunday school teacher, GA teacher, VBS teacher/coordinator.  He became a Deacon.  Any committee you can think of, we were on it.  We lived, ate, drank, slept church. We stopped going on vacation so we wouldn’t miss a Wednesday night service.   It was exhausting.  I could never rest in Jesus because I was too busy working in the church.

After our marriage became as empty as our church work, and our addictions tore us apart, we divorced after 24 years.  It was a nasty, hateful divorce that affected everybody in my life, not the least being my two children.

I was raised in a family who believes that marriage is “till death do us part”, and divorce is the “unpardonable sin”.  I was convinced Jesus could never forgive me and was sure no church would ever welcome or love me.  I certainly couldn’t love or forgive myself.  I joined a local mega church where I could be left alone, no questions, no condemnation, no guilt.  Shame, fear, loneliness and guilt consumed me as Sunday after Sunday I looked for forgiveness. I thought maybe I could find a way to work my way back into God’s good graces by going to a big church.  How do you flunk marriage when you’ve worked so hard for Jesus?  I don’t know, but somehow I did.

I decided that I could be a Christian all by myself…until I couldn’t.    I finally quit church, and pretty much quit God, convinced He was finished with me. It was easier to stay home than it was to be all alone in a mega church.  There is no loneliness worse than the loneliness among literally, thousands. I could never find Jesus even though I searched desperately for Him among the huge crowds.  I couldn’t be busy there.  Nobody knew how qualified I was!!  So the emptiness followed me for 7 years. I visited other churches, but there was nothing but emptiness. Where was Jesus? He was nowhere.  For the first time in my life, I felt totally abandoned.

I visited NS for the first time in 2009 because of an invitation from Pastor Doug.  I liked it and thought I might go back. He invited me back.  He was very gracious, accepting and welcoming.

But my pain was too deep, my heart too untrusting.

A Voice kept whispering to me to go back to NS.  I knew the Voice was God, but I was afraid.  I fought it & questioned it

for two more years, but finally when the Voice wouldn’t leave me alone, I gave in and went back in August of 2011, to see if there was one last hope.

Jesus met me at the door when I arrived there, in the form of a beautiful woman named Linda, who threw open the front door, was genuinely excited to see me, actually remembered me…and even remembered my name.  She hugged me, welcomed me back, and asked me to sit at her table.  She showed me the coffee pot and breakfast buffet & introduced me to a sweet couple who greatly favor my own parents.  They asked only kind questions, like where I was from and introduced me to others who only asked my name, hugged me, and welcomed me.  Many of them said they remembered me.  Pastor Doug remembered me, welcomed me.  I instantly knew that “Jesus must live here”.  I went back the next week …and the next, beginning to see light. I emailed Pastor Doug & asked some pointed questions about who NS is and why there were no deacons, committees, busy bees swarming around working themselves to death.  He wrote back the kindest reply, explaining patiently, lovingly, the purpose of NS and the freedoms in Jesus to worship as a “family”.  I had never seen a church who loved each other so much, and yet wasn’t burdened with the duty of having to be there every Sunday.  They actually loved being together, and loved each other and prayed openly for each other.  There was a peace, a rest in Jesus I had never really found.  There was no idle gossip, no nosey questions, no curious glances or whispers about me and what my “story” was.  There was an unspoken message that nobody judged me.  They just loved me.

In October of 2011, I knew I was home, and I told Pastor Doug that I wanted to be a part of the Northshore family.

Why Northshore?  Because Jesus lives there, and heals brokenness there through the love of the people.  Because of Pastor Doug’s stories of Jesus life, his messages of who Jesus really is, I saw myself clearly in the story of the bleeding lady.  I saw that like her, I had been hiding in the mob, hoping to see Jesus, touch Him, find healing, but bleeding through gaping wounds of a cruel broken marriage…and a broken heart.    For the first time I believed He hadn’t abandoned me, that he loved me and had forgiven me.  I only had to believe it, and I did.  He restored me.  I was able to believe again because of the love of the people of Northshore. I have since been healed, and continue to see ways He loves me that I’ve never seen before.  I have found the real meaning of who the church really is and what the face of Jesus really looks like.

Why Northshore?  Because Jesus…through Northshore… saved my life.

-Debbie