Shannon’s Story: The community I always wanted

Everyone knows everyone in a small town, so everyone knows everyone’s business. That was the case in my hometown of Prosser, Wash. I enjoyed living in a country town, but it was judgmental sometimes, and it gave me a bad impression of what community looked like.

My Brokeness

I was born as the youngest of three, with two older brothers. My family would go to church occasionally, but we didn’t live the way God wanted us to live. My dad drank a lot. As a kid, I felt he chose the alcohol over me, and he was always letting me down. I knew he loved me, but he never really showed me as a child. I struggled with my self-worth, and I couldn’t understand why a child should have to go through the pain I was experiencing. I grew up being really upset at God.

I moved out after high school and had a boyfriend for six years who partied and sold drugs. I worked two jobs to support myself, and my boyfriend didn’t work until the end of the relationship. When we broke up, I had to readjust my whole life. I moved to the small college town of Ellensburg and got a good job managing a Starbucks.

Persistent love

One day at work, this girl came up to me and said, “Is Shannon here? My name is Jessica Dahl. My husband and I are here planting a church. You and I have a mutual friend who told me about you.” Jessica seemed sweet, and she kept coming in asking me to hang out. I would say yes but cancel on her again and again. I was still hurt from things in my past. I resented God, and I wasn’t about to go to church.

But Jessica is a really strong person, and she did not give up on me. I blew her off for a month and a half until one day, she suggested we go hang out at a pond with some other people. I said yes, and I didn’t cancel this time.

I was so worried about what they were going to think of me, but it was the complete opposite of what I expected. All they wanted to do was get to know me. From then on, I wanted to become better friends with Jessica.

The more I hung out with her, the more I could feel my heart changing. I wasn’t so bitter anymore. I was becoming a different person. I loved hanging out with Jessica, and I somehow knew God was working through her to help me see Him.

Everything came to a head when God helped me overcome bitterness and forgive someone—that’s when I realized He was real. He was changing me from the inside out, and I knew it couldn’t be me—it had to be Him.

Results of Resonate Church Prayers

Jessica and her husband, Jacob, had started a house church gathering called Resonate Church on campus. I started going. At one of the gatherings, I went to Jessica and told her I was ready to follow Jesus and give my life to Him. It felt like a weight had been lifted off me.

Everyone gathered around and prayed for me. I really felt like I had a family who cared and loved me. It was such an amazing experience—the changing point in my life.

I really am a whole new person now. My mom will tell you she doesn’t even recognize me, and my relationship with my dad is good now that the Lord has helped me heal and forgive him. I’ve learned a lot about grace, and he can see how I’ve changed, and he knows it’s the Lord.

Our church community is so different than what I knew community to be as a child. We still struggle just as much as everybody else; the difference is we have a healthy community to help us through that.

The best part for me is that I have a Friend, Father, Savior and King who is never going to leave my side. I have a whole new perspective about all the things that have happened in my life. Now I get to help people who have been through similar experiences come to know God.

Shannon leads a “Village” small group for Resonate Church in Ellensburg, Washington. Pastor Jacob Dahl and his wife Jessica moved to Ellensburg to start Resonate Church on the campus of Central Washington University. For more information about Resonate Church and the Dahls, visit the Missionaries page at anniearmstrong.com.

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