_“But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)
God is constantly transforming hearts and writing stories of life change as people throughout our body devote themselves daily to following Christ. Meet four people who have found new freedom and hope in a relationship with Jesus and community with His people.
“I once found life in partying and the stereotypical ways of the world. As I experienced some career success, I continued down a path of opposing God. Even as I began a relationship with a married woman, God did not stop pursuing me.
“In the same week last year, I started a new, stressful job, was in an alcohol-related car accident, and began to feel the consequences of all I had sowed. I was looking in the mirror at a broken shell of a man I hardly recognized, and fell head-first into crushing anxiety. I guess I didn’t have everything figured out like I thought I did. God put it on my heart that I could not handle life on my own, but He could.
“After ending my inappropriate relationship, I stumbled into Watermark, full of guilt and feeling lost and broken. I heard a message about God’s grace, love, and forgiveness and realized that my sins weren’t too big for God. I committed my life to Christ, knowing that He was my answer. God continues to change my life and uses me to further His Kingdom. The Lord teaches me daily to trust Him more, and that has reduced my anxiety more than anything else. I praise God that while I was His enemy, He died for me, and He continued to pursue me.”– Joe Parisi
“I started drinking when I was 15 years old, and that led to drugsand inappropriate relationships. The devastation of drugs took the life of my child’s mother and were a factor both when CPS took my child away and when I had a car accident that paralyzed my father. I went to prison three times, but nothing changed until my last incarceration.
“At the time I was on suicide watch and had withered down to 105 pounds. Scared of sobriety, I concocted schemes to get access to psychiatric medications in prison. But, amidst the chaos, the Lord spoke to my mind. The Lord had tried many times to pull me near, and I pulled away. I didn’t want that kind of life anymore, so through tears of joy, I surrendered to Christ. I knew the Lord really cared about me.
“I still had an addiction, more prison time, and no family or friends, but God was with me. Fast forward to today, and I am an active ambassador for Christ. I’m sober (a miracle I thought would never happen). I am a husband, a father, a son, and so much more, all because of Jesus Christ. I was baptized this year with my wife as a symbol of my love for Christ and our desire to walk in faith as a team. For everything that has happened, I give all glory and credit to Jesus and His love!”– Buster Zufelt
“I am so thankful for the thousands of small ways the Lord has worked in my life. The clearest example of His work is what He hasdone in my heart through my community group. Prior to coming to Watermark’s Plano campus in 2016, I used the seasonal nature of my role on staff at an outdoor adventure camp as an excuse to avoid making lasting relationships. Through His Word, the Lord has helped me see that biblical community is essential to my walk with Christ. Those excuses have disappeared, and I am learning how to fight for time with my community group.
“I’ve also had a front-row seat to how the Lord is at work in other community groups at Watermark. On the 4thSunday of each month, I have lunch with other group leaders. Whatever challenges I face, it is easier to count it all joy when I am surrounded by other believers who know me well enough to accurately admonish me when I stumble. I am thankful for my community group and overwhelmed by God, Who allows me the opportunity to reflect on how far He has brought me.” – Mary Jo Boney
“I was raised in a Christian home, but the Bible seemed like a rule book I had no desire to study. Since I did not know God’s Word, it was easy to abandon my religion when my first serious dating relationship came along. I became agnostic and started living according to the world’s standard. I had one foot in the church and one foot out.
“Full of deep doubts, I attended Watermark, and the gospel became clearer. I finally got serious about pursuing a relationship with God in 2017, and the Equipped Disciple class was a real turning point. I was convinced that reading the Bible would be absolute drudgery. I started readingand discovered it’s NOT boring, and I have become a lover of God’s Word. In October 2017, I decided to go all in with Jesus. I could never pay the debt I owe for my sin, but Jesus could, and He did! Christ’s death was sufficient for us. Today I know God’s joy and peace that passes all understanding.”– Cara Schoonover