Following on from our previous article, here are some more powerful testimonies from recent Encounter Weekends:
Testimony 4 – “I’d like to thank everyone who participated whether course members, staff and facilitators. Your hospitality was tremendous.
To start with I didn’t know what I was letting myself in for when someone suggested that I come to the Encounter Weekend. Forgiveness?? Oh, ok. I soon realised I wanted to run away, I don’t know all these people. I had a plan! But you foxed my plan by pairing everyone up with a facilitator. I was going to make myself invisible! But no! I suppose fear took a tight grip. Fear of the unknown and the fact that I was, in my normal words, on the tail end of depression. I’d never suffered depression before and I didn’t, and still don’t like, being this unknown person I had grown to be.
I noticed in Tilly’s room she had quite a large box covered in red tissue paper with ‘WORRY BOX’ written on it. I was intrigued.
I came home feeling good but after a few days my mood dropped like a boulder. But the way Linda encouraged me to forgive people had really impressed me and I didn’t realise the things that were inside of me. I thought that I had dealt with things, especially what became evident regarding my father. It’s odd because I don’t see him as ‘dad’ anymore.
So the mixture of Tilly’s box and the forgiveness started to take shape as a project. I would make a ‘FORGIVEN’ box. We have an art group where I live so I found myself a cereal box. I have never liked art until I had the depression. The planning and construction of the box took weeks. It had to be just right. Firstly, I sealed the box. Then I covered it in green paper. Then I tied strings around the edges. There is a slit on top. I’m looking at it now and I don’t really understand why I made any of the decisions about it. I just knew that if I really wanted to forgive people and things that I didn’t want to be able to take them back out again. In my mind I had a list of people I needed to put into the box. So last Thursday, I completed the box and some paper I had cut into pieces so I could write offenders names on.
During this time, one of my dogs was taken back by its previous owner. I was devastated. I wrote him a letter outlining my feelings and that I bore him no malice. And at the end ‘God bless you’.
After the art group I went to take the remaining dog out and as I was crossing the road I said to myself ‘if I can forgive him, then all the others are insignificant’. So it would seem that the whole thought process and making of the box was not needed because not a single name is in it, and I’m free. God obviously needed me to work my way through some difficult and painful times and experiences.
I’m happy for you to share my testimony as I have always believed they are gifts from God and can encourage others in need of a boost.”
Testimony 5 – “I was thoroughly blessed and encouraged by the recent Encounter weekend and am hugely grateful to you and everyone involved in organising the weekend, for giving up their time to serve, support, encourage and pray with those of us who attended. The whole atmosphere of the weekend was one of love, acceptance and safety – all of which were hugely precious to me and helped me to feel more able to allow God to touch me.
I learnt things through the teaching that really helped me to understand myself better and also God’s ways to freedom in life with Him. I was particularly helped by the many personal examples that those of you who spoke shared from your own lives – it is always encouraging to hear personal testimony of God’s goodness in people’s lives, but also the honesty and openness of the speakers made it seem more accessible to me.
I was also hugely blessed by my lovely facilitator, Joyce, who was there for me when I needed her and took the time to listen to me, pray with me and support me as I prayed through things with God. I was also particularly blessed by another lady (Sue) who shared with me some precious words from God which really touched and encouraged me.
During the weekend I was able to forgive my parents for a lack within my childhood that had profoundly affected the whole of my life. God amazed me in that He had very evidently arranged things leading up to the weekend, including a letter I received from my Dad on the very Friday of the start of the encounter weekend). I have had peace since in the certain knowledge that I have truly forgiven my parents and I am now looking forward with more hope that God will continue to work in my heart to bring me into greater freedom and deeper relationship with Him.”