Reaching One More Life – Monica’s Story9 min read

Here at Messiah, Midland, we have several different ministries created to help achieve our mission: Reach One More Life with Jesus. Much like piers in the water, we want each of our ministries to help one more life get out of the “river” of nonbelieving—a river that would eventually lead them to fall over the waterfall’s edge into Hell.

Messiah’s ministries are like piers in the water to save a life by introducing people to Jesus—whether that’s through a church sermon, a cup of coffee, or car repair. Recently, we were blessed by our Lord to see a life transform and watch God work on someone’s heart. Her name is Monica Bebeau.

Growing Up

Growing up in Midland, Monica’s first experience with church was when she attended school at St. Brigid Catholic Church. As she grew up, however, going to church faded into the background.“I went to St. Brigid’s for school, but after that, we didn’t do a lot of that stuff [church],” Monica said. “We didn’t participate in church. We had the rosary and thought that was enough.”

As she grew up, Monica remained in the Midland area and got married. Over time, though, Monica developed an addiction to alcohol. She was diagnosed with total liver failure in 2006, and despite the pain that drinking brought her mentally and physically, she felt she could not quit drinking. “I felt like it was going to kill me to quit, even though I got violently ill when I drank,” Monica said. “I prayed to God to quit drinking, but I didn’t quit. I was in the hospital for eight days and they wanted me in an in-house rehab. My husband said no because of insurance costs—he thought me being diagnosed with total liver failure would do it [quit drinking]. But no, I continued my drinking. I’d hide my drinking.”

A New Chapter

Then, on April 1, 2009, Monica said she decided to stop drinking.

“My husband said, ‘Why April 1?’ and I said, ‘Why not?’” Monica said. After she quit drinking, Monica said she got closer to God personally, but she didn’t find a church home. “I was on my own,” she said. “I didn’t have a church.”

Two years ago, Monica’s neighbor—a member of Messiah’s faith family named Greg— had invited Monica and her husband to attend church. They were not interested. “The one time he invited me, I gave him a real dirty look and stormed off the property,” Monica said.

Fast forward two years later to this February. Filling Midland’s Cup, a Messiah ministry dedicated to meeting the needs of the community, hosted a food giveaway at Messiah. One hundred percent of barista tips at Journeys Coffee House (Messiah’s coffee house ministry) go towards Filling Midland’s Cup. That tip money helped fund the February food giveaway. With the harsh winter, Monica and her husband were hurting for food, so Monica came to the food giveaway at Messiah where she was treated with love and grace as volunteers sit and chat with those attending the food giveaway.

Because Monica was treated with kindness and wasn’t judged, she felt comfortable enough to call the church. She spoke with Rev. Ed Doerner, our senior pastor, and told him how much she was hurting but did not want to come to church. Doerner asked what types of issues kept her from physically attending church. Monica said she had marriage problems; Ed responded that we have a Building Healthy Marriage class. She mentioned she was hurting and needed hope; Ed said, “come to Restoration Fellowship, our church service designed specifically for those in need of hope, healing and growth.” He gently told her that he was a pastor and felt that she needed to come to church in order to heal.

Then, things began to change as the Lord worked in Monica’s heart.

Making the Turn

Located at 1550 S. Poseyville Road in Midland, Messiah is about seven miles away from Monica’s home. On her way home, she’d drive past the church. “I’d go by the church [Messiah] all the time because I lived near it,” Monica said. “And every time I went by, I wanted to stop, but it was so easy to speed up to get home.”

Then, one day, she felt the tug of the Holy Spirit. The difference this time? She listened.

“One day, I turned the corner and it was like I couldn’t speed up,” Monica said. “I thought to myself, ‘OK, this is the last driveway [to pull in]’ and I just pulled in. It felt like I was being pulled, like a gravity pulling me in, like if I did drive past the church, I would be going against everything. God was pulling me in here because He knew that I had to start doing something. He knew how I felt about things and he didn’t want me to start drinking. It’s easy to give up. It’s too easy to give up. But once you give up, you lose so much.”

When Monica walked into the church, she said she had a weird feeling, like she belonged. A barista working at Journeys Coffee House saw Monica and asked if he could help her. She explained she just had to stop and wanted to know about the church, so he showed her towards the main office. As the communications person at Messiah, I sit in the main office. The day was almost over, and I was working at my computer designing slides for the upcoming service. When I saw Monica, though, I felt her passion before she even said anything. I felt a heart yearning heart for God. It was tangible, practically palpable feeling radiating from her. We sat and chatted about Messiah, and she explained to me with tears in her eyes how she just felt a pull to come in that day. After talking, I told her with tears in my eyes as well, “I’m glad you pulled in,” and gave her a hug. I had no idea then that Messiah’s faith family member Greg had invited her years earlier.

Monica didn’t come back right away. But the Lord continued to stir her heart. As Ash Wednesday approached, Monica called the church and spoke with Ranee Tessin, our staff member who organizes several Kids & Youth ministry programs. Ranee had no idea of Monica’sprevious encounters with Greg, Pastor Doerner, or myself. Monica told Ranee that she wanted to come to church, but did not have a ride.  Ranee learned Monica’s address, knew where it was, and remembered a faith family member who lives near Monica. Ranee called up Greg to ask if he knew Monica, and if he could give her a ride to church. Remembering how anti-church she was years earlier, Greg was surprised but ecstatic that Monica wanted to come to church. He told Ranee he would pick Monica up, then called his wife to tell her the good news. His wife said, “Is this a joke? If it is, it is not funny!” They were very happy to help, and made arrangements to bring Monica to our Ash Wednesday service.

Ash Wednesday arrived, and Greg went to Monica’s house to pick her up for church. “I remember my husband was outside and I was in the house.  My husband came in and announced ‘Greg is outside; he heard you wanted to go to church’,” Monica said. “I came outside and Greg said ‘I hear you want to go to church?’ before giving me a big huge hug.”

Monica sat in a pew during the service. With God working as He does, the message Pastor Kurt Weber delivered was an atypical sermon for Ash Wednesday. He spoke about how there is a season and a time for everyone, and if you had to write on your head with ashes, you may write, “Loser” or “Addict” or “Lazy” but Jesus would write “Child of God” on your forehead. Touched completely by this message, Monica was in tears the entire time.

“When I came on Ash Wednesday, I felt like a child, and Greg was my dad,” Monica explained. “When I got the ash on my forehead, I went up there and I cried. I was so full of thankfulness—they were tears of joy, tears of finally … finally, I am home. It’s like I can exhale again, I can take a breath. It’s like I’ve been holding my breath and now I can breathe.”

“My New Birthday”

“I got baptized at the 11 a.m. LIFT (Living in Faith and Truth) service on March 22,” Monica said. “It’s my new birthday,” she smiled. “I was so excited. The smile on my face…you could not have slapped the smile off my face.  I just felt like a renewal. I felt born again.”

Greg and his wife April stood by Monica’s side as she was baptized. “They were taking pictures and I just kept crying,” Monica said. “Boy, you cry a lot here. But it’s not a cry of sadness. It’s a cry of hope and happiness and something that you want to share with others. Now, every time I come to church, I can’t help but smile. I’ve got sad stuff going on at home, but when I get here at church, I can’t help but be happy. The people here are so great, and they make you feel that people actually care.”

Monica has attended Sunday services at Messiah, as well as Restoration Fellowship, our Saturday night service dedicated to those with hurts, habits, and hang-ups looking for hope, healing, and growth. She also volunteered at our free food giveaway this April, hosted by Filling Midland’s Cup.

Monica said when she comes here to Messiah, she doesn’t want to leave. She has already ridden her bike to Messiah from home so she can be sure of making it if she can’t get a ride. “The thing is, everyone feels a lot different,” she said. “I feel like a soul has been saved.”

Keeping in mind her long, winding path to Messiah, what would Monica tell someone who is afraid to go to church? “Don’t wait. Don’t be scared. Once you walk in the door and you talk to someone, things change,” she said. Praise God for working in Monica’s heart!

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