My story begins with a cookout. You have to understand that at the time I had been on a self-initiated break from attending church anywhere. That’s not to say that I was against church. Not at all. I had been going to church my entire life. But something had happened that made it necessary for me to take a step back from attending church for a while. I spent the next year seeking to heal, searching for answers and wondering where God would lead me next.

And then a little notice appeared on my mailbox, inviting me to a free Community Cookout sponsored by River’s Edge Community Church. I wasn’t really looking for a church quite yet, so I put the flyer on my refrigerator and promptly forgot about it. Every once in a while, I would see it there and think, “maybe I should check this church out.” But some excuse would cross my mind and that would be that (I’m really good at procrastinating).

Finally, my curiosity got the best of me. I called for more information; and then before I knew it, it was Tuesday, Cookout day. I can remember each apprehensive step I took as I walked from my car to where the picnic tables were set up. Here was a swarm of people I didn’t know, who were part of a church I really wasn’t sure I wanted to visit. I had my lawn chair in my hand and a great get-away excuse in my head, just in case. I used the chair, but the excuse wasn’t necessary. I sat down at a table and instantly felt welcomed. The picnic was great–good food, lots of wonderful conversations and something that I had desperately been missing: a truly authentic, caring community where people love the Lord.

Not long after that, I began attending worship services. And soon thereafter, I found myself singing with the music team. Since then, I’ve been on drama teams, taught English to internationals, served with the children’s ministry and have been involved in all sorts of other activities. And I always help with the Cookouts!

A lot has happened since my first Cookout. God provided an aspect of the the healing I needed by placing me in a community here at River’s Edge. I have found new places to serve and many new friends. I know “special” is a word that we throw around a lot, but it fits here perfectly. River’s Edge has been truly a special place for me.

—Jane C.