Take a peak at some stories and testimonies from people at RED Church. We hope you will be able to identify with them and enjoy reading about what others have been through, their journeys, their experiences at RED, and how they became who they are in Christ.
Tonight I gathered with my RED family to celebrate our serve teams. After about an hour of trying to keep Pax quiet during awards I was basically in tears and walking out the door...
They say it takes a village and I know this to be true. Parenting is hard, really hard.
Most days I lay down at night wondering if I’m doing enough, wondering if anything is making a difference, wondering if I’m a complete failure at the thing I love most, being a mom. But this evening as I was leaving in tears one of my village grabbed me by the arm, prayed with me and scooped my boy up and hugged us both. She rocked him and played with him for the duration of the event. She was the arms of Jesus for us tonight. Thankful for my village, and my church.
Words fail when I think of my RED family. I wish I could say just how much each of you mean to me, but I just don’t know how. I am so very blessed to have this church in my life, and even more blessed to have the opportunity to serve Christ with these wonderful people!!! You have all helped me to grow so much and I am so happy that there is more to come. I love you all dearly, and I am so thankful that I can call you my family!!
Sharon Jackson, RED Church's worship leader, shares her testimony.
Adam and Sara’s Story
By Karen B.
If you attend RED Church regularly, you’ve probably met Adam and Sara. But, if you’re like me, you’d never guess the struggles they’ve faced individually and in the early years of their marriage. Originally, I’d planned to take this interview and write a story about how God has worked in their lives and how they are stronger for it, but I decided instead to let them tell their story in their own words because I didn’t want to leave anything out. Theirs is a powerful story and one that I’m sure many of us can identify with.
Q: How did you meet?
Adam: We met January of 2002 at a Super Bowl party I put on. Ironically, she ended up dating my roommate for a couple of months before we started dating. Because we were going to the same church at the time, I would see her at a Contemporary worship service that I was in charge of. I asked her if she'd be willing to dance for the service and that's how we began talking. Initially it started with email, then phone call, then our first date was in May of 2002 at the Pungo Strawberry festival ... with her parents, haha. Two weeks later we told each other we loved each other and 3 months later we were engaged. We had a long engagement at the request of her parents and were married September 27, 2003.
Q: What attracted you to each other?
Adam: For me it was a couple of things. One, I loved the way she danced. One of the first times I noticed her, she was dancing and I immediately felt the presence of God while she danced. Two, I thought she was good looking, haha. Three, her outgoing personality. She is way more outgoing and crazy than I am and for an introverted person, I really liked that.
Sara: I was attracted to Adam because he loved the Lord. I needed somebody I could trust and somebody who would put the Lord first because of my previous marriage. And I liked the fact that he was taller than me. He is attractive and smelled nice, haha!
Q: When did you both get saved, and when did you start attending RED Church?
Adam: I was saved when I was really young, maybe 8 or 9. I was raised in the church. We started going to RED December of 2014. We felt like God was leading us there, one to meet a financial need of ours, but two, for us to get involved at a ministry level.
Sara: I was saved and baptized between the ages of 8 and 10. For us going to RED was a process of a couple of years. We initially met with Pastor and Erica before RED started, but didn't feel "pulled" to RED until 2014.
Q: Sara, tell me about your previous marriage. What happened? How did that affect your relationship with Adam?
Sara: I was married between my junior and senior year of college. I got married blind to the full character of that person and I messed up sexually with him and felt trapped but didn't see it that way at the time. At the time I was getting married because I thought I was in love. After we were married, I discovered he was very selfish and emotionally manipulative and irresponsible (didn't pay bills, racked up credit cards, ignored my dreams, etc.). I lost half of my college scholarship because I had to move off campus. I spent the next three years of my marriage following him wherever he wanted to go trying to be a good wife. All the while, he was addicted to porn and trying to get me to watch with him. He ignored the responsibilities of adult hood and I ended up having to be the bread winner, supporting his dreams and losing mine. But divorce was not an option for me because of the way I was raised. So after three years of marriage, he asked for a divorce, refused to go to counseling and that was that. I moved to Chesapeake to be with my family and recover.
This experience made me angry at men for a short time and very distrustful. But I trusted God and I felt like he would redeem my life. I did not expect to meet Adam as quickly as I did (dated Adam a month after divorce was final). So the first couple of years of our marriage, I struggled with seeing sex as something that was shameful and undesirable. I felt like I was just a receptacle for someone else's wants even though Adam didn't do anything that would make me feel that way. I had trouble seeing intimacy with my husband as a good thing.
Q: Sara, what did you grow up believing about sex? How did that affect your marriage to Adam? Do you still struggle with some of those beliefs?
Sara: I grew up in a healthy, Christian home but sex was a bit taboo. I remember my mom had an anatomy book in her bedroom which had a section on male and female parts. I would sneak in and look at it because we didn't talk openly about sex. At the right time my parents introduced me to the concept and showed me "the miracle of life" video. But in an everyday setting, sex was a very uncomfortable topic of discussion. I don't think they did it intentionally, but I grew up feeling like sex was something forbidden. I did the "true love waits" thing and understood that it was supposed to be healthy in marriage but I didn't know what that looked like.
So again, in both of my marriages I came in with the feeling that something about sex was wrong. And after being emotionally abused in my first marriage that issue was magnified by the time I was married to Adam. I was very prudish and uncomfortable regarding sex.
The only thing I rarely struggle with is that old lie that I'm being used, but I believe those are spiritual attacks. Otherwise, the Lord has helped me grow in appreciating the value and joy of sexual intimacy with my husband
Q: Adam, how did your addiction to pornography begin? How did it affect your marriage and relationship with Sara?
Adam: I was exposed to pornography as early as 8 or 9. I remember being at a sleep over, watching movies I shouldn't have been watching. Later, in Jr. High, I went to a friend of a friend’s house and was exposed to playboy magazines. From there it grew. The affect it had on Sara and I was I expected to have sex from Sara. It was about me and what I needed. And when I didn't get it, I felt I was owed it. I was going to fulfill my needs one way or another. Sara was extremely patient with me and always full of grace. I was always open about my struggles. It was a merry go round so to speak. I wanted sex but Sara didn't feel intimate. The reason she didn't feel intimate was because she knew I was looking elsewhere.
Q: Adam, how did you deal with your addiction? Do you still struggle with it?
Adam: One day I finally had enough and went on a simple fast. I asked God what it was going to take to get me out of these habits. He led me to deal with past sins (one of which was with a family member) by confessing them and asking for forgiveness. That was one of the hardest things I have ever done in my life. After confessing those things from my past, I felt something happen in me. I felt as if a chain that was keeping me down finally broke and I was free. I know that sounds cliche, but that's really what it was. Once that happened, I had to change my habits. I became more aware of temptations and how to battle them. I was regularly open and honest with Sara when I struggled so that Sara would not feel like I was hiding something.
Today I am no longer addicted to pornography. That's not to say I'm never tempted. God has always provided ways out of temptation. Some times are harder than others. But between God's and Sara's patience and grace, I can honestly say I'm free from that addiction.
Q: What was your marriage like before you both dealt with these issues? What is it like now?
Adam: I think I mentioned this earlier, but before I dealt with these issues, I felt I was owed. Eventually, I felt embarrassed, frustrated, not good enough for Sara. It also led to less intimacy. The thing I wanted from Sara I wasn't getting and was looking elsewhere. But if stopped looking elsewhere, I would have gotten it from Sara.
Now I feel like our intimacy is amazingly better. Sex / Intimacy for us has been the best it's ever been. Sara can give more details from her end, but I dealt with my issues and changed my thought patterns and grew. Along with the changes Sara made, we have grown a lot in that area.
Sara: Our marriage before we dealt with Adam's porn addiction and my emotional wounds was not regularly intimate. I honestly did not want to have sex. I felt like it was just a way that a man used me. And when I discovered Adam's addiction I tried to fix it by forcing myself to have sex to try and cure him; as if having sex whenever he wanted would make the problem go away. Now after dealing with our issues, having had some counseling, having open dialogs together about our issues and really praying through them, our marriage is very different sexually. I'm still more of a prude than him but I realize that's more of my personality and not due to shame. But we do have fun!
Q: In what ways have you seen God working in your marriage?
Adam: Sara has always been full of grace and forgiveness. One of the ways God showed his forgiveness for me was through Sara. I've seen God change me. I've seen God change Sara. In regards to sex, we are completely different people from when we were first married. We've even been able to encourage other couples who have been going through the same things.
Sara: I've seen God redeem my life through a healthy relationship with a Godly man. Nobody's perfect, but I always knew despite our problems, Adam loves God and really did want to live in a way that honored him. So now that we've tackled these issues and we have a healthier, intimate relationship, I'm really happy with where God has taken me, good and bad.
Q: What was the healing process like?
Adam: TOUGH! But because the pain of staying the same was greater than the pain of change, I was willing to do it. It was also a long process. It didn't happen over night. It took us maybe 8-10 years to get through to where we are.
Sara: It required a lot of patience and repetition. I needed constant reassurance that he wanted to do the right thing and love me for me and not just my body. I needed constant reminders from God how much he loved me and made me special just the way I am. That required me to seek God regularly. As I began to heal, I needed those reassurances less.
Q: Is your relationship stronger after having gone through these things? If so, in what ways is it stronger?
Adam: Of course it's stronger. We're stronger in our intimacy. We're stronger in our communication. Some of these difficult issues are hard to talk about. But I think now that we've addressed these tough issues, other issues that come up are easier to confront because we know we've been there before.
Sara: Yes, I agree!
Q: Is there anything else you’d both like to add?
Adam: One of the verses that got me through the majority of this part of my life is I John 1:9: If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
I know that God not only forgave me, but completely wiped the slate clean. He purified me.
Sara: In my life, fear has been my biggest struggle. All my bad experiences feed into that fear. But when I give those up to the Lord and ask him to show me his truth, I can live in freedom. 2 Timothy 1:7: For God did not give me a spirit of fear ...
When I let the Lord solve my problems I can trust him and I don't have to be afraid. Allowing God to heal me and the intimacy in my marriage has removed the fear that was associated with sex.
By Karen B.
I spoke with Crystal on Sunday after the service, during which Pastor Jayce talked about the lies our culture teaches us about sex. She said that the Holy Spirit was leading her to share her story because sex isn’t something that is talked about very often in church and it has greatly impacted her marriage. Here’s her story in her own words.
I grew up in a Christian home and was taught at a young age that sex was bad, that you wait until marriage, and that I shouldn’t think about or talk about sex.
As I grew up I learned how to suppress and hide my developing sexual being by feeling ashamed or guilty when those thought or desires came up. Since all the church had to say was sex is bad and you shouldn’t have it, I began to develop a mindset that sex was something to avoid.
Phil and I went through premarital counseling, and unfortunately, the only thing we got out of that regarding sex was that I needed to look attractive for my husband, and if he is not having sex with me 2-3 times a week, he is going to get it somewhere else. This was terrifying for me and didn’t help me in feeling comfortable about sex in marriage.
When I got married I thought sex would be instinctual, wild, and fun. On our wedding night I felt uncomfortable even being seen naked in front of my husband but felt I had to do my wifely duties and that we weren’t truly married unless we had sex. My husband didn’t pressure me at all, but it was all in my head. I thought that I have waited so long to have sex that God would surely bless me with a healthy enjoyable sex life. Didn’t I deserve that for obeying his commandment?
Well it didn’t work out that way. I was self-conscious and I couldn’t look at myself naked or my husband. I realized this was hard, and it was painful and frustrating. No one talked to me about this. I forced myself to continue to try, but it felt like an obligation. I was in pain, but I tried to hide it because I knew if my husband knew that I was in pain then he would stop. Therefore, sex on our honeymoon didn’t happen and we both went home confused and frustrated.
Weeks after we got married we continued to have the same problem. I went to the doctor and found out I had some severe issues that would cause us not to have intercourse. We both learned how to be intimate and have sex without intercourse and we began to enjoy it. Even to this day I question why it is so hard and difficult. The doctors say that it would be a miracle if I had children.
I obeyed God and yet sex continues to be a struggle. I don’t feel it as a spiritual experience connecting our souls. It is basically me trying to see what hurts and what doesn’t. Why didn’t the church tell me how to deal with this? Why didn’t they prepare me for the difficult part about sex. They had so much to say about the not doing it that they forgot to say how to do it.
Going to Liberty University, most of the guys were excited about getting married so that they could live out their sexual fantasies on their wedding nights. They expected women to know everything about sex and be willing to do all the different positions. How do you go from kissing to sex in one night? When you guard your heart and limit your physical affection in order to avoid sex, how are those desires just supposed to be there? I continue to struggle in this area and maybe I am the only one but I thought that my testimony may be able to help others as well.
Through all of these struggles God has instilled a passion and desire for my husband and I to adopt. As we start the process, we are excited to see how we can be blessed through adoption despite the difficulties we had starting our life together. We have grown closer through these difficult times and are able to share anything with each other no matter what.
Sarah, a member and volunteer of Red Church shares her testimony.