Elm City Vineyard! God’s place of residence!
Elm City Vineyard is my church. The people who attend are my brothers and sister and non-binary siblings. I come from an abusive background, raped, molested, and beaten for 16 years. My aunts were always drinking, my cousins smoking weed, and I was reminded by the aunts and uncles that I was supposed to feel safe with that “my mother doesn’t love me, I deserved to be raped, that’s why I am in foster care.” I remember vividly being raped at 6 years old and sodomized with a gun to my head and looking at my mom and she walked away. My mom would beat me until I bled and then only then say it’s because I love you. My twin brother was a terror. If I didn’t do what he said, he would threaten to kill our own mother. He abused me, beat me, and would laugh and say, “That’s why mommy loves me more.” I’ll never forget the day my grandmother choked me, and before I blacked out my aunt said, “Ma, you are killing her.” I ended up in the hospital, at age 11. My cousins would beat me naked. My aunt one day when I was 14 called me a little girl, pushed me against the wall, and started to beat me up and I finally fought back. I reported to my DCF in emails all the abuse, and she would say that because I’m bipolar and heard voices, I wasn’t meant for a family, and when I did have a family, I messed up and was mentally ill. I was kicked out of my home at 24 when I was in a psych ward and told not to returnn. I slept on the streets, and on the beach where I showered in the ocean. I developed hypoglycemia because I couldn’t afford food. I moved to NC to experience trauma. I moved back to Connecticut and had nowhere to go. I was asked, “Can you go back to your grams?” I did and slept on the floor with a sheet. I ate only tuna fish because of my allergies. I worked but wasn’t stable enough to keep a job. It wasn’t until Continuum of Care took me under their wing, through Jesus I was protected and given a shelter home. I moved into independent living with staff but couldn’t afford it, and eventually, I moved into my own apartment, where I saw drugs, addicts, sex, overdoses, and death. I moved and am still seeing it. Then I asked God for a church home where I would feel safe at least one day a week, a job where I would be valued, not judged if I had to be hospitalized, and a compassionate boss. God granted me my request. I work for an amazing company, and I love my clients. I work hard and am learning that August 24, 2023, will make a year of stable employment. My boss has an open heart, is kind and respectful. I am a MSW student at Western New Mexico University and I am excelling. Elm City Vineyard is a diverse church of races, mixed families, and different orientations of people and I am accepted as a man. I see beautiful young African Queens and I tell their parents their daughters are beautiful, and their hair is perfect. I met a young woman with a daughter, and I told her to tell her every day that she is beautiful and today I called her a queen. Her mom told me how she picked out a fancy dress for daycare. Her mom is a singer and she doesn’t know, Elm City Vineyard doesn’t know that they are healing my inner child, and I feel God ever more present in my life. I celebrated May 20, 2023, with 6 years of no psychiatric hospitalizations and 6 years of not being homeless on May 21st, 2023. Boy, the old Baptist saying I was glad when they said unto me let us go into the house of the Lord. It is my anthem of praise. I love my church and pastors. When I saw a young Black girl making a mistake during service, her mom went over to her and kissed her. I felt God hugging me and giving me the kisses, I’d never received. I bring my client to church and Elm City Vineyard is healing them too. I love this church because they are accepting but preach the true word of God in a tangible and relatable way. God no longer feels like a God in space but a friend that is near. God is who I am dependent on. I rely on him for resources. Food, and I want to honor him with my life. Elm City Vineyard challenges me to better myself and to be a better person to the world around me. I know instead of a Ph.D. I want to go to Seminary at Yale Seminary University. Pastor Josh and Patrick have a yearning for the people, I don’t know the other pastors by name, but there is this one woman who works with the kiddos, and I admire her and thank her in my heart. One day I’ll tell her. I am reaffirming my faith through baptism soon. I hope to be a full member of Elm City Vineyard. I already feel like I’m family. If God never blesses me again, a church home was the medicine I needed all along. Thank you, Elm City Vineyard, for the past two months. I love you and your community. I love you because you love God and put the people and community first. To the young kings and queens grow in the Lord you’ll never regret it. To the mother of this princess, thank you for pouring into my life and the recent conversations we have had. I plan to grow in friendship with you in Christ. Elm City Vineyard is a rare beauty and a glimpse of heaven. As Pastor Josh’s wife preached my first Sunday there titled: what’s the point? I finally found an answer within myself God is the point and shepherding his people. The End