Share Your Story: Erin Estrada
Here is her story!
Before I came to the Garden I was in my senior year of college at Biola University and struggling to find a church where I really felt at home. During this time I had great friends, was seeing an awesome guy, had a job lined up after school. I was in a place of complete self-sufficiency with a bit of God on the side and if you asked me where I was at in my walk I hardly saw room for improvement. I would say I found the Garden through a close friend who was told about it by John Mark who is their pastor back home. I was reluctant in going tired of going to another church my heart was not connecting with. When coming into the church it was nothing that I had
expected. It boasted of nothing grand or ornate as so many other churches I was familiar with, but it clearly illuminated truth and love, which is what made me fall in love with it. It is so rare to find a church that is real in all the ways a church should be and I was all in. I got plugged into the Garden within my first few weeks actually, as I was excited about this church and connecting. What made me actually stick to it was a place of loneliness and heartbreak that life brings to us. As uncomfortable as it was I dived head first into the community through house church, internship opportunities and serving in welcoming and ushering. In all honesty, I didn’t want to get plugged in or meet new people and there were so many times I sat trembling in a seat feeling so alone yet loved through strangers “good mornings”, tender hands when praying for me at the front and Darren’s call for us to create space and be vulnerable in love. Within all of this, I felt at home. And I wanted to become some that could welcome and serve another just like me.
Through my time I have experienced love and community at this church, as I have not found in any other. Within this, I find myself being more open to coming into and walking into community in a place of vulnerability in the body of Christ. There are so many things that the Lord has changed within me through a pruning season as well as the willingness of those at the Garden to walk alongside me within it. Pressing into community is hard, creating space for vulnerability is hard, especially when you are in a hard season and even when you are in a good one. It was a deep and desperate place that ultimately pushed me to seek community as in all honesty I know if I was in a comfortable season of life I would have no urgency to do so. Change and growth are uncomfortable, what we feel led and called to do is uncomfortable. Yet, stepping into that place of sheer awkwardness in trust grows us.
All we can do is embrace it.
You can submit your own story here!