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How generous friends soothed my grief

Marcus Monaghan couldn’t afford to fly overseas for his beloved grandmother’s funeral, but his NewSpring family stepped in.


When I got the phone call that my grandmother had passed away in March, it took the wind out of me.

Nan was 93 years old, lived by herself, and had no major health issues. She would get herself out for a walk every day.

I felt so guilty I hadn’t seen her in the six years since moving to the United States from the United Kingdom. I said to myself, I’m not going to be able to live with myself if I can’t get to the funeral.

But I couldn’t afford to fly home.

There was no way to make the funeral, I told myself.

Preparing for the funeral at a church near nan's hometown in Coventry, UK.

Tough Times

I started a new career as a realtor in late 2016, and money has become tight — very tight. I am still trying to establish my name and my brand, and there’s 150 Realtors in Greenwood.

I haven’t had a paycheck since December. My wife, Anna, and I have been living off savings and her income. Even with money so tight, we continued to tithe every week.

There was no way to make the funeral, I told myself.

Two trusted friends suggested I ask my home group for help. I told one of them I didn’t think I could do that — I had too much pride. But I finally said, “OK, I’ll do it.”

We got involved in a small group straight away when we joined NewSpring in September 2016.

We had been doing life together socially, not just on Wednesday nights, with lots of messages of encouragement during the week.

To live as the church is so much more beneficial.

In less than a year, our small group became like family.

Overwhelming Love

It turns out I didn’t need to ask. My home group heard about my grandmother’s death, and at the end of our meeting, one of the members handed me a folded check — $500 — and he told me, “use this for whatever you need.” Another member of the group contributed $100.

The rest of the cost of the ticket came from volunteers who serve in production at NewSpring Greenwood with me and Anna.

My wife and I were overwhelmed. The only reason I was able to attend my grandma’s funeral is because of our community.

We have felt the power of community so much more at NewSpring than at any other church.

That’s one reason why I see clearly coming to church on Sundays is not enough. To live as the church is so much more beneficial.

If you hear someone’s pain and anguish first hand, you can be part of the comfort and part of the solution.

 

Anna and I praying before services with our tight-knit serving team.

Sharing Struggles

You can’t do life alone. You’ve got to do life together. Our small group has become family. Our production team is also a tight-knit group.

Satan would have you believe there’s no one else who can help you with your struggles — whether financial, or marriage, or parenting or work-related.

But when you get to small group and you open up and explain, they can almost finish the sentence for you.

“This is how we handled it …”

“Have you tried this?”

“How can we pray for you?”

If you hear someone’s pain and anguish first hand, you can be part of the comfort and part of the solution to help them through it.

By socializing with fellow believers, it helps keep you grounded and centered.

A typical Sunday for me serving on the Production team.

A Safety Net

I think Satan doesn’t want you to have that lifeline. He wants to isolate you in your faith to separate you from your faith eventually.

The moment you stop socializing with fellow Christians, you’re going to live a more secular life. It will be gradual, but you’ll find yourself reading the Bible less or praying less and then in a few years, you look back and you’ve only been in church at Easter and Christmas.

By socializing with fellow believers, it helps keep you grounded and centered, seeing the Truth for what it is, not what you want it to be.

To be able to surround yourself with fellow Christians and experience their trials and struggles — it’s life changing.

Anna and I celebrated two years married in February 2017.

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