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Neal reconciles: A story from the launch of Mars Hill Everett

Neal began coming to Mars Hill Church in February of 2011 at a point in his life where he had lost everything. He is part of the Mars Hill Everett, which re-launched this Sunday.

“Although I was raised in church and even raised my own daughters in church, I didn’t understand that I needed Jesus. I thought that my unhappiness was because of everything else and felt compelled to sin even though I saw that my sin was destroying everything I loved, including my family.

“My marriage of 21 years was shattered because of my sin and I lost my family as well as respect for myself. As a 48-year-old, I moved back in with my mom. My mom encouraged me to read a Psalm each day and talk about it. To appease her, I did. Through reading and praying with my mom, God showed me the ugliness of my sins and that even if my sin was the only “gift” that I had to bring to Jesus, he would accept it. I realized that I had nothing else. Instead of rejecting and condemning me because of my sin, God accepted my sin as if it were a gift and gave me his righteousness. So, I gave my life to Jesus in January 2011.

“I moved back to Seattle to get help and to restore what I had destroyed. I had been watching the Mars Hill sermons online and decided to actually go to Mars Hill Downtown in February 2011. At the end of one of the first services I attended, I went and talked with one of the elders, told my story, and asked for help. I began meeting with him and a few other men in the church and participated in Redemption Group. What amazed me was in all the years I was part of a church, there was never a group of men willing to walk through the ‘ugliness of life’ with me. I never understood the freedom that comes from confession and the strength and encouragement that comes with community.

“These last three years have been a rebuilding, on a new foundation, of everything that I had lost. My life is better than it ever was and I am not compelled, without a choice, to sin anymore. I am learning how to be a husband, father, and man in Christ. After a year of counseling with Mars Hill and with an outside addiction group, my wife agreed to reconcile. Because we realized our marriage was never centered on Jesus, my wife and I decided that instead of redoing our wedding vows, we would commit ourselves to the Lord through baptism. On August 15, 2011, we were both baptized at Alki Beach by Mars Hill.”

In April of 2013, Neal’s job moved him northward and he began attending Mars Hill Everett, which moved into its new building on Sunday.

“I feel joy in my life for the first time ever. I am more confident in my faith and sharing the gospel with others. Before, it was an effort because it was all book knowledge instead of a personal experience with Jesus. I am becoming the husband my wife had always wanted. Our daughters see that I am the man they want their husbands to be. Jesus changed my life and is walking with me every day.”

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