You may wonder who I am. Twenty-five years ago, I was sure I had all the answers. I knew the power of Christ had changed my life, and I was sure that it would do the same for others.
But, underneath that veneer of assurance, I had my own personal struggles with change. You see, my experience was like many others: after the first few months, the shine had come off the new Christian glow, and I had fallen back into the personal bondages of overeating, perfectionism and control–I’d even acquired a new bondage: religion.
As I continued on in my Christian life, John’s story and others like it lingered in the back of my mind. They posed unanswered questions that I mostly managed to avoid. Eventually, I tired of street ministry, moving on to a new city, a new upwardly-mobile career, and a new suburban middle-class church.
I worked hard at my career, making good money and a good name in the industry. Then, a series of events started to awaken my heart to a call to full-time ministry that I had abandoned years earlier.
By this time, God had used a serious of events to start me on my personal healing journey. Part of this journey for me included meeting with a Christian counsellor on a regular basis for about two years. In addition, during this time, I became part of a smaller, less “religious” church which helped me “stay real” and not fall into the trap of over-spiritualizing my healing journey. At the same time, returning to seminary to complete my master of divinity degree helped to put an academic framework on my internal process. And it was during this time that God began nudging me to establish a ministry for people with wounded hearts who were looking for spiritual answers by way of established churches.
Now somewhat more emotionally and spiritually healthy, I began offering groups for women who had been sexually abused or molested as children. These groups were offered through our church, but met in a community setting. Much to my delight, women came–some were believers, some weren’t, but, by the end of twelve weeks, they and I had changed!
I had offered this first group to meet my ministry “field experience” requirements. While it was a positive experience, I was looking forward to graduating and moving on to more “spiritual” pastoral endeavours like preaching, leading Bible studies, training church leaders and the like. However, God had other plans.
Women kept coming to me and asking when I would lead another group. Now, over ten years later, I have had the privilege of helping hundreds of women find true healing and wholeness in Christ. The Mars Hill Centre began in January 1995 with the focus of using a support-and-recovery-group model to reach out to those who are interested in emotional and spiritual healing by way of traditional churches. What started reluctantly grew beyond the scope of my time and abilities. Various staff and volunteers offered weekly groups for men and women victims of childhood sexual abuse, adults with mental illnesses such as depression or schizophrenia, and a variety of other groups geared to help apply the truth of the power of the resurrection to broken hearts and lives.