Three years ago, life had grounded Regina Reeves. She may have been finally rising out of an abusive marriage, but Reeves was deeply depressed. All day, she lay in bed, crying.
But in the midst of her tears, she would notice the smiles and laughter of her four children as they entered the house. They would try to cheer her up by explaining how much fun they had at the Salvation Army Worship & Service Center in Lima, Ohio.
“I was miserable,” Reeves recalls. “I didn’t want to do anything. I thought, Life is supposed to be better than this. What am I supposed to do?”
During one of her late–night crying spells, Reeves decided to pray—and earnestly this time.
“I gave my all to what I was praying for that night,” she recalls. “I felt like I had hit a brick wall. Suddenly, all my worries just went away. It was odd. It was the first time I had felt relief in a really long time.
“I just had this overwhelming feeling that I needed to go to church.”
A new life
Reeves, 36, did not grow up in the church. She had visited many congregations over the years, but never felt comfortable anywhere.
“I always felt like I was out of place,” she said.
Three years ago, that feeling ended when she attended The Salvation Army during Easter.
“As soon as I walked in there, I felt like I was at home,” she said. “It was amazing. I started slowly attending here and there and then I started attending more.
“I didn’t feel like people were criticizing me. They actually took steps to make me feel like I was welcomed. I never felt that way at any other church.”
Reeves began taking advantage of the discipling programs at the corps and grew in her Christian faith. That’s the goal of the “Deeper Discipleship” element of “Strikepoint.”
Known around the corps as “Gina,” she attended Sunday morning worship. She soon found herself also enjoying small group fellowships, women’s ministries, prayer groups, and Bible studies.
“It was hearing them on Sundays. The more they talked about Jesus, the more I wanted to know about Him,” Reeves said.
“The more I went to church, the better I felt. The more activities I did, the more relief I felt. I believe it was a calling to do as much as I could through the church.”
The preparation to teach forced Reeves to dig deeper into the Bible. She says that has been a major source of spiritual development and growth.
“I would teach younger people what I was learning. We were learning together. To know I’m personally teaching a person and helping them get a step closer to God, is amazing to me,” she said.
Once withdrawn and awkward in social situations, Reeves said she is becoming bolder because of her responsibilities as a church leader.
Sharing God’s Word
“I’m a shy person. So, for me to be able to stand up in front of people and read a Bible verse and give a benediction, is a lot for me,” she said. “Now, I’m comfortable. I’m not afraid to do it.”
Today, when she reads a powerful verse or the lyrics of a Christian song that deeply affects her, she often shares those moments on Facebook and on other social media sites.
“If [the verse] touched me, I believe it will touch someone else,” Reeves says.
Her devotional life consists of listening to worship music, sermon podcasts, and reading her Bible. Isaiah 40:31 is never far from her thoughts because of the past abuse she endured.
“I finally got the courage to say, ‘I’m not taking this anymore.’ That verse [Isaiah 40:31] means a lot to me because I’m now free to do whatever I want to do. I’m free to be me.
“I knew I needed to do something, but I didn’t know how. I didn’t think I was brave enough to leave. I didn’t know what to do. I just prayed to God, ‘I need help.’ He helped me.”
Reeves said today her life is centered around the corps and her children and is “wonderful and fulfilling.”
“It’s not perfect, but I wouldn’t change it,” she said. “I think I’ve grown. I see life differently. I can handle things better now.
“No matter what I do, I know God is there for me. I might not be perfect and I have a lot of growing to do, but He’s going to accept me for who I am.”
Reeves is happy that she gets to serve and attend church with her children, who often are at her side.
“We are at The Salvation Army almost every day of the week,” Reeves said.
Major Debbie Stacy, corps officer in Lima, said she has seen tremendous growth in Reeves.
“There is truth in Hebrews 10:25 where we are taught the importance of meeting together with the body of Christ. There is strength, character, and growth that takes place when God’s people unite,” Stacy said. “We’ve seen that in Gina.
“She is a joy to be around. Her smile reflects the joy Jesus has brought to her life.”
by Robert Mitchell