When Alex’s City Group takes a break for a holiday or cancels because of the weather, Alex misses it. He can’t wait to get back together with the people who he now considers brothers and sisters in Christ. They have been a support line and a source of encouragement. They have become a safe place to ask questions and study God’s Word. They pray for him and his family and have been a blessing and a source of hope. He’s never experienced a community like this before. Last February, when he fell to his knees crying out to God for help, he can’t help but think that this City Group was the answer to that prayer.
“I broke down, praying because I didn’t know where else to go,” Alex shared. “I submitted my life to the Lord that day. I wanted to follow Him but didn’t know the next step or where to go."
Born and raised in Nebraska and around the North Lincoln and Wahoo areas, Alex grew up in a hard-working family. Church was not a part of their family except on the occasional holiday as a kid. Alex never heard about God or Jesus. In school he experienced bullying and was able to transfer to a small Catholic school in Wahoo. There he met a few people who took him under their wings and created a new environment of safety and community. In high school he met his wife and continued dating even when they both went to Bryan College for nursing. When they were 20, they had their first son. That was the first time in his life where he started to question how he was living. He knew he had a problem with alcohol and he knew he had to change.
“I just remembered asking ‘what do I do?” Alex reminisced. “You know drinking and partying was just a common thing to do. For me, the struggles were those things being taken out of the picture at age 20. All my friends didn’t have kids and responsibilities. I had to be a dad and then a husband and I had to step in that role. But I continued with the drinking and still went out with people. That snowballed over the next six years. I thought I needed alcohol so I could deal with everything. Being an ICU nurse brought in more stress too and I just coped with alcohol. In the beginning it was social, but it then became a need. I drank multiple days a week and had issues with dependency. Looking back, I was a slave to it. I couldn’t stop no matter how much I tried but always something in me looked towards the next drink.”
During this season, Alex’s parents and brother got saved and were praying for him. Hearing conversations on God when he went home brought thoughts of God and belief into Alex’s head. Being around his parent’s small group on and off over a few years continued these thoughts. Alex determined that he believed that there was a God but just didn’t know how to put that in his life. Alcohol seemed easier though. Life continued and the next five years, he and his wife welcomed two more children into their home. He couldn’t have joy in that or much of anything. Depression set in and made itself comfortable in Alex’s mind and heart. It robbed him of his life, and he couldn’t find happiness. However, he knew something had to change. Through troubles in marriage he found himself reading through the Gospels but not much past that. He had a feeling there was something about the Bible that maybe could help change him, but he didn't know what he was looking for.
“It was the Holy Spirit that was drawing me in,” Alex said with confidence. “I was losing my family and I hated what I was doing. I really felt like I couldn’t stop. I knew I had an issue and I was a sinner.”
That’s when he fell to his knees and cried out to God last year and immediately, clarity started to rush into his mind. He knew he needed to text Sam.
“Sam and his family came to Wahoo a year before and his kids are the same age as ours,” Alex said with thankfulness. “I knew he went to church, and we met up that week. Sam invited me to Citylight North Lincoln and we’ve been going since then. A month after that text to Sam, I attended his City Group and it just fit. It seemed like the place to be. Those people loved Christ and it was such a different experience from my whole life. I’ve never been in that. The Holy Spirit drew me closer to believers. God knew I needed that support.”
The Wahoo City Group took the summer off and during that time, Alex dove into the Bible. Every single day, if it wasn’t the Bible, it was sermons from preachers, books from theologians, or podcasts hosted by apologists.
“You know, I never picked up a book before in my life other than schooling,” Alex said matter of fact. “My parents found out about my faith and gave me my first ESV Study Bible and I thought it was amazing! I’m someone that wants to know the truth and why. I turned to apologetics, and it made me want to know more and ask questions.”
When the Wahoo City Group started back up in the Fall, Alex was excited to go. Now with a foundation and more understanding, he looked forward to their studies and discussion. There were other aspects of the City Group he missed too.
“The Body of Christ coming together is so important,” Alex said with conviction. “We struggle together, mourn, and have joy together. It’s a safe space where you can talk about your problems and people understand. People who know Christ and understand the struggle of sin while following Christ. In my experience with friends who don’t have The Gospel, they share their struggles, but don’t grasp the bigger picture. In City Group, we all have that understanding."
"Another aspect is we bring our kids. Our kids get to see us and witness us getting together. We are setting that example for them. Even if they don’t understand yet why we go to City Group and The Gospel, my kids are asking ‘are we going over to Sam and Jess?’ It’s a joyful time to see them have fun and want to go.”
Another part of City Group Alex has appreciated greatly is not only do they read through scripture, but the group also wants to understand it and they break it down. Alex described it as this:
“We want to know what the scripture is teaching us each week. The parts I try to go on my own, that community with other believers is important to have to see if I am off or to bring me back. I didn’t understand this at first because I thought I could do it on my own. God showed me that I really need to be with brothers and sisters that love Christ as well. Those who have followed him longer are great disciple makers.”
Alex is thankful for the friendships in his City Group and for the brotherhood of men who follow Christ and who offer him understanding, compassion, prayer and trust. He knows he can’t do it by himself.
“You need community,” Alex said with sincerity. “God speaks through others. The maturity in those who have walked longer. It helps with letting your guard down and the pride. City Group is a great place to grow and learn in Christ. If you are a believer, you need a group with believers.”
For those who don’t know Christ and haven't submitted to Him, Alex offered this:
“Follow Christ. He is the one who sacrificed for us. Join a City Group and ask your questions. We get together to know more about Christ and for the fellowship. We learn and grow together and to share and be real with one another. We all don’t like deceit and dishonesty. We all want the truth. You will find it in Christ and in a Christ-focused small group.”
After taking a break over the Christmas season, Alex looks forward to City Group kicking off again. He knows life and everything that comes with it never takes a break. He knows that he doesn’t have all the answers. And when he feels like he’s in a slump, or that familiar darkness knocking at the door of his mind, he knows he needs to go to God and to the Body of Christ. It is Christ alone and in His community of believers that makes him want to continue getting down on his knees, every single minute of every single day, for the One and only one who saves.