When I lost hope, my church family had my back

Brian Kalwat got a painful opportunity to see the visible love of his volunteer team. Press play to hear about their generosity.

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Brian Kalwat was just trying to knock something off his honey-do list. Instead, the bit of yard work took him out of commission.

He bent over to pull up the roots of a shrub in the front yard of his Clemson home in the spring of 2017, and, as he was pulling, he felt a bolt of pain shoot through his lower back.

A disc in his lower back had slipped slightly, pinching a nerve that went down his leg, doctors told him.

I had honestly given up on believing that God would heal me completely.

Months of visits to chiropractors and physical therapists helped ease the pain some, but it was always there in the background, making him uncomfortable and making it difficult to concentrate.

The injury was especially tricky, given that his job as a web specialist forced him to spend hours a day seated at a desk.

The only solution was surgery, but that just didn’t seem like an option, financially. He and his wife, Danielle, were diligently paying off debt, and they didn’t want to add more of a burden.

They were trusting God’s promises that Brian would be healed.

The no ordinary family that surrounded Brian and Danielle’s at NewSpring Clemson had covered them in prayer and offered them constant support, but Brian grew increasingly despondent as issues dragged on.

“The past year or so in Clemson, I’ve seen such a clear picture of what I think God intends for His church to be — a family where we don’t have to pretend like we’re somebody we’re not; where we can share our weakness; our pain,” Brian says.

At a service in the fall, Brian felt too hopeless to even respond to a special invitation to come forward for healing.

“I had honestly given up on believing that God would heal me completely,” he says.

And that’s when he saw the power of visible love.

Two volunteers on his KidSpring serving team who knew Brian’s struggles stood up from their seats, walked across the auditorium to find him, and led him to the front for prayer for healing.

They thanked God in advance for the healing that God was going to do.

Brian was filled with overwhelming comfort — not only because he saw how much his friends cared, but also because God showed him He cared, too.

“Jesus showed visible love to people all the time,” Brian says. “When we take steps to imitate Jesus in that, like my family at the Clemson campus, it allows people on the receiving end to experience His love first-hand.”

That moment alone would have been powerful enough, but God wasn’t done.

The following week, those two friends took him aside to tell him they’d coordinated with a large group of volunteers and raised the $2,500 deductible so he could follow through with surgery.

"I've literally never had anything like that happen to me," Brian says.

Brian had surgery in January, and despite minor complications, is progressing toward full recovery — and the prospect of a pain-free future.

“What I’ve experienced is so much more than just a generous gift," he says. "I get to be part of a family who constantly puts others before themselves."

Brian’s experience of God’s visible love through His people made a permanent difference in his perspective.

“God blesses us so that we can, in turn, be a blessing to others,” he says, “so that God would be glorified, and we would be filled with joy.”

Sharing your story is a simple and powerful way to tell people about Jesus.

Sharing your story is a simple and powerful way to tell people about Jesus. By talking about what Jesus has done for you, it’s like joining a conversation God is already having with them.