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Eight “Sisters in Christ” find healing and change in a NewSpring group

Stephanie Whiteside's Story

That day, it felt like Jesus was holding an intervention for me.

My roommates had invited some friends over, and they were all sitting in my living room, waiting for me to get home. “Hey Steph, we have to talk to you,” one of them said.

Then came the moment that changed my life and the lives of seven other women in their 20s: "We don't have a small group leader."

The relationships that have been formed out of this group will last a lifetime, and I know it.

In a single second, I had 1,000 different feelings. “Really Lord? Me? Lead a small group? I’m probably the most under qualified person you could pick!”

Called To Lead

God had been stirring my heart for leadership for some time, and I knew for certain this had to be my next step. Even though I was hesitant, I agreed.

Brooke and Katelyn were roommates and friends from a previous NewSpring group. And I knew Jordyn, Brynn, Sara, and Niece mostly through my husband, Dominique, and his friends on the Coastal Carolina football team. We all made an instant connection. 

When we first began to meet as a group at the end of 2013, I was pretty much the only person who spoke. It was a challenge to keep the conversation moving.

But that all changed when we started the NewSpring Change study, which included the video story of a former alcoholic who had been rescued by Jesus.

The Power of Vulnerability

We all wept. The man's boldness and transparency made me realize that, as the leader, I needed to be open about my struggles before I asked Jesus into my life at NewSpring Myrtle Beach.

That I grew up with an alcoholic mother and no father. That I had my innocence stolen from me through rape and physical abuse. That I had experienced the consequences of bad decisions I made living in a "party cycle."

My openness unlocked the pain masked by the beauty of these women.

For six hours, we shared out of our brokenness, difficulties and weaknesses -- the death of parents and friends, divorce, depression, sexual sin, sexual abuse, poor self-worth.

Everyone's story was different, but everyone wanted to be led into a new future by Jesus.

Amazing Grace

I believe Jesus sent these women to me. In my heart, I knew that if I hadn't lived through those things, they wouldn't have thought I could understand their own issues, and wouldn't have heard what I said.

We began to build the love and trust and accountability that has led to so much growth and healing through our NewSpring group.

We became a family, and we even gave ourselves a name: "Sisters In Christ."

The next steps we saw were amazing.

Bri met Jesus during the first week of the group, and she and three others decided to be baptized together.

Bold Steps

Sara was one of those who got baptized. Before the group, she had been sleeping with her boyfriend. But once she recognized her sexual sin, she made a purity commitment, got baptized, became an owner and is seeking to serve.

Katelyn found her identity and walked out of the darkness. Before the group she described herself as broken, lonely and disconnected and wanted to end her life. Now she is filled with hope, moving forward with next steps, such as becoming an owner and serving in Fuse and KidSpring.

Meeting weekly and sharing daily Bible verses, the group has helped each of us find the encouragement, support and guidance we need to make choices that strengthen our relationships with Jesus and keep him first in our lives.

The relationships that have been formed out of this group will last a lifetime, and I know it.

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