“Before I became a believer, I was resting on my own good works and striving to be perfect. I was enslaved to the idol of approval. The pressure to be perfect, my failures in this attempt, and my sins weighed me down and made me feel flawed and unworthy and undeserving of love.”
Catie grew up in the suburbs near Philadelphia, PA. She attended church and Sunday school faithfully throughout childhood, but did not fully understand The Gospel. When she was in high school, the church her family had attended all her life split over an adulterous transgression. As a result her family stopped attending church.
In January 2014 Catie was invited to Four Oaks Midtown. She began to understand things in a new way and realized that Holy Spirit was working in her heart! Each time she came back she felt like she understood something new about God or Scripture. The worship was moving- the lyrics and the music spoke to her soul in a way she had never experienced before.
Soon after Catie began attending a Fellowship Group and felt her faith grow because of this community.
During this time, God blessed her with an unquenchable desire to know Him but this caused difficulty with her boyfriend, who did not understand. God gave her the strength to end this relationship.
Trusting in Ephesians 2:8-9 (“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”) Catie has learned that her salvation is not through her own efforts or good works, but through Christ.
“Before I became a believer, I did not truly know love. But now I know and am beginning to understand God’s overwhelming love for me and so I want to praise Him and obey Him.”
You can watch Catie’s baptism and testimony here.
“The doctor said to me, ‘Your pursuit of perfection is killing you.’”
At age 12, Sarah began to battle an eating disorder. She had always sought perfection in every area of her life, and in searching for something she could control she chose food. Within six months to a year she had spiraled, finding herself very underweight and unhealthy and forced to go into treatment. She had withdrawn from friends and family to a very dark and lonely place with no idea of how to get out.
In treatment for a second time, and not happy to be there, her doctor declared that her relentless pursuit of perfection was killing her. Realizing that they only way she would be perfect was if she was dead, God began to soften her heart. He revealed that the only perfection is found in Him. She came back to Tallahassee and was invited to Four Oaks by Rob and Shannon Pifer. Through the prayers and care and accountability of the people of Four Oaks, who took the time to care about her ONE LIFE, Sarah found recovery and an identity not in her anorexia, but in Christ. You can watch her ONE LIFE video here.
Paul and Mary Chafin found themselves feeling isolated and alone. Getting to church had become difficult and emotionally exhausting. The desire to be in fellowship was there, but the logistics had left them neglecting going to church.
Let’s rewind a little.
Paul and Mary were so happy to welcome their twin boys into their life. But it was evident in the first year that little Paul was different than John. Through a journey of doctor visits and tests, they received the diagnosis of Cerebral Palsy for little Paul when he was two years old.
Fast forward a few years: Mary is signing up John for kindergarten. The application asks for a pastoral reference, and Mary has the sad realization that they do not have a pastor. Enter Deretha Heller. Deretha was working in the office at that school, but willingly took off her “secretarial" hat and put on her “Four Oaks” hat and invited Mary to her church. She told her that Four Oaks has a ministry for children with special needs, and Mary felt as if God provided this encounter with Deretha.
Nearly 10 years later, the Chafins are still attending Four Oaks. They host a fellowship group in their home. Little Paul has a team of G.E.M.S. volunteers excited to take care of him and spend time with him each Sunday. This year Paul and Mary shared their video testimony in church and Pastor Paul prayed for them, their boys, Deretha, and the special needs team. You can watch their story here.
The DC (Dangerous Calling) Collective began in 2013 for those whose “vocational work is in the local church, para-church ministry, or other support service in the Christian community.” In 2015, the DC Collective, sponsored by Four Oaks, City Church, St. Peter’s, and Wildwood, hosted spring and fall breakfast meetings, and the OFI (Of First Importance) Conference.
At the spring DC Collective breakfast meeting, over 60 participants gathered at Wildwood Church to hear Pastor Dan Tucker of Gracepointe Church speak on the subject of “Suffering and Sovereignty in Ministry.” In the fall, Pastor Dave Harvey of Four Oaks spoke on “Departures, Desertions, and Pastoral Ministry” to over 80 participants at Four Oaks.