“I feel like I’m really starting to believe this for the first time,” Michelle confessed as she took the bread and wine in her hands. “I know the Bible says to profess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and I want to do that tonight.”
“We all freaked out, and Cathy and I started crying,” Cameron remembers, beaming. "Cathy laid hands on Michelle as she prayed to accept Christ, and then our whole group prayed for her. It was a super powerful moment.”
A few months before Michelle started attending their missional community group, Cathy and Cameron were praying that Michelle would fall in love with Jesus and grow in her understanding of God.
Michelle grew up in the Catholic faith, attended mass consistently, and was called the “religious one” in her friend group, but she had never experienced Jesus’ sacrificial love for her or knew the relationship she could have with him. After moving to Austin in early 2013, she was searching for a way to meet people when a friend invited her to a series of women’s gatherings hosted by The Austin Stone Community Church. There, she met Cathy and as the two got to know each other, Cathy invited Michelle to attend church with her. Michelle accepted and eventually began hanging out with Cathy’s community group on Tuesday nights.
The group was comprised of about 20 people in all different stages of their faith – some had been walking with Jesus for years, while others were still figuring out if and what they believed – but they treated each other like family. The group hung out at Butterfly Bar on Friday nights, went to church together on Sundays, invited each other to Barton Springs on the weekends, and talked about Jesus in their everyday lives. For Michelle, this type of community was something she had never experienced before.
It was through their missional community group that Michelle met Cameron, who had recently joined the community as well. Cameron didn’t know many people at first, but she and Michelle began to form a friendship as they hung out consistently on Tuesday nights.
“When I first met Michelle, she was pretty reserved but seemed genuinely glad to be around our group,” Cameron recalls. “She was drawn to the way we cared for and included her, and she began to see who God was to us.”
As Michelle continued to spend time with the group, her interest in learning about God grew. A couple months after she started coming to the group, she expressed an interest in reading the Bible and having accountability with someone. Cameron and Michelle began meeting together weekly before their Tuesday group meetings; they shared their stories and began reading through the book of John together. A few weeks later, Michelle professed faith in Jesus Christ during a time of communion with their group.
“Being part of Michelle coming to faith has truly been a source of celebration and encouragement for our group,” Cameron shares. “You don’t always get to see it happen.” Cameron and Michelle still meet together every week, and their friendship continues to grow deeper. As they live life together, Cameron says, it’s been a gift to walk with Michelle as she learns how to live out her relationship with Jesus in her every day life.
“When we started hanging out, it was a lot of my wanting to be there for Michelle. I shared and was vulnerable but expected to be the one pouring into her,” Cameron shares. “Since she’s accepted Christ, she’s been a source of encouragement and truth to me as well. It’s been a really life-giving relationship formed from having very little common ground other than being in the same missional community group.”
As the group focuses less on themselves and more on sharing the love of Jesus with others, God continues to move. People are inviting their non-believing friends to Butterfly Bar on Friday nights and engaging them in deeper, more intentional conversations. Some of Michelle’s roommates and friends have even begun hanging out with the group after seeing how her life has changed.
“Our hope is to grow with people who are new to the faith,” explains Cameron. “One thing I’ve learned from this group is that there are other people out there looking for the same things I am – community and connection. Sometimes it’s not as natural, and it takes laying down your preferences to make community happen, but it’s worth it.”
Because of their growth, the missional community group recently multiplied to make room for other people who are looking for a place to belong. God used community to transform Michelle’s life and is continuing to use her and the rest of the group to bring new life through the gospel.
“People see God by the way we love each other,” says Cameron, as she’s reminded of Jesus‘ words in John 13:35. “For Michelle, that’s truly how she came to know God.”