A few months ago, we launched our first Soul Care group with the hope of multiplying new groups this November. I’ve asked the participants of this first run to reflect on their experience and give a brief description for people in our community to catch a vision for what Soul Care is. The following is written by Shainu Thomas.
Just a caveat before you continue reading. It’s a daunting task for some people to blog (and this, of course, includes me). Having said that, the topic in question has become very important to me, and I cannot help but ‘blog’ about it.
The topic is soul-care groups. For those who are unfamiliar with the term, these groups are our small groups here at Seven Mile Road. Words like trust, openness, vulnerability, encouragement and ‘just being real’ all come to mind as I think about soul-care. I had the privilege of being part of a soul-care group in Boston for a few months before we moved to Philly. For a few months even after moving here, I tried to cling to friends from that group through frequent e-mails and phone calls. Slowly, I had to realize that Philadelphia was where God called us and this is where my life was going to “happen”. I never thought I’d be able to trust anyone the way I did when I was in Boston. I missed my soul-care friends. Then Ajay told me that he was starting a soul-care group with a few of the guys at 7MR Philly. Secretly I envied all of them. I even tried to “encourage” them to allow some of us women to join. Apparently, as rumor has it, some of the guys vetoed this idea:)
However, a few months ago, the soul-care group was opened to some of the women. Although I had been waiting for this, I started to become skeptical. How much did I really want to share with these people? They were all super nice, but really, did I want to open up my life and my struggles with this group? Then it happened. I started seeing others in the group doing it – sharing things I would not have imagined. I started seeing the grace of God in each of their lives; how God has been working in their lives from the beginning – how through sin, struggle, joy and pain, God has been moving in amazing ways.
Being able to share my life with the women every week has been a blessing. It’s a sweet time of challenging, questioning, encouraging and once again, being vulnerable. It’s a sweet time of remembering that we’re not called to do this alone. There are people whom God brings into our lives, who live in community with us, and along with us, depend on His grace alone. I have been blessed to see His grace revealed even more through soul care.