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Joshua Kersh

Hello, I’m Josh. I’m living in Texas with my wife, I’m 26 (a terrifying thought to be so ancient and decrepit already D: where did the time go??), I’ve lived all over the southern US, and am a former minister’s kid. My dad was a youth pastor for 25 years, then became a public school teacher, then a sociology teacher at a youth detention center in Arkansas, and is now retired on disability due to several strokes.

Due to my father’s ministry I have always been exposed to the ugliest side of internal church politics (a border town pastor we served with briefly was embezzling money and using the church to smuggle drugs across the border, a music leader at another stored child porn on his church computer, and many many examples of leadership covering up abuse or internal schisms). As a result I have always had an immensely difficult time feeling at home among other Christians as my entire life has been one long, sordid affair of awful behavior within the church.

I’ve always struggled with finding community, as, living mostly throughout the Bible Belt, I heard from many good friends who experienced abuses and anguish as a result of coming out as gay, or voting Democrat, or anything deemed “unchristian” by cultural Christians who seemed (by their actions and words) to identify more with politics and cultural trappings than of faith. Needless to say, I’ve had a strained relationship with religious institutions, and I have stumbled greatly over the years, but I’ve been growing more and more daily in my own walk since my marriage.

I’ve had three open heart surgeries since 2010 (aged and will need another within the next year or so. I’m unemployed, and my wife’s insurance is not the best. Lots of anxieties right now about finances, as, if she loses her job (she’s a graphic designer at a marketing firm, so if the economy continues to slide, there won’t be much use for marketing if no one has stable income…), this upcoming surgery will mean bankruptcy. I struggle with clinical depression stemming partially from a long history of childhood sexual abuse, my wife has an anxiety disorder, and every day is a struggle. But we still hold onto faith. Through all my surgeries, Christ saw me through. For all our anxieties and doubts, our Father has lifted us out of the gutter of our own narrow lives.

I found RZIM after searching through apologetics videos earlier this year and came to adore Ravi Zacharias’ ministries. So now I’m here, eager to engage and ask questions, and to grow in my walk with God.

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Hello, @Jersh, and welcome to this community!

Indeed, a true child of God will always come home repentant and in need of refreshing fellowship after being away so long.

I am glad that you were able to overcome the discouragements you could have had for all your experiences with “Christian” duplicity. I know that God would work out something for you, so stick tight to Him, because really, there is nowhere else to go. God is faithful, and God alone is big enough to carry you through your trials. I pray that you could find fellowship and prayer partners through this forum.

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Hi Joshua!:blush: That is quite the journey you have been on. It is so sad how many people have turned Christianity into just a mere religion and even hid in its name as a means to fulfill fleshly desires. I praise the Lord that you have not turned your back on Christianity all together, but have acknowledged your questions and sought for answers to the truth. Satan will take whatever he can to distort and corrupt what God has made good and beautiful. It takes a strong desire for the Truth that will weed through the deceit and mud and leave it at the cross to pursue a genuine relationship with Jesus Christ our Savior especially after being hurt by those who claim His name. If you only have religion, there is darkness and bondage (any religion or denomination can fit this category), But when you have Jesus, which means salvation​:wink:, you have light and freedom.
There have been many times even in my family’s life (I am the fourth child out of sixteen children) that we have had trying times with finances. But as we look to God’s word for his promises to those who love Him and trust in obedience to Him, we find He has always come through and provided for us. Not only our temporal needs, but also spiritual needs as we learned faith and trust in Him.

Joshua, Welcome to RZIM Connect! I hope you will feel welcomed here and feel the Love of God as you seek to find answers! And most importantly, May your relationship with Jesus Christ be strengthened and grow deeply that He might be glorified in your life, and that others might see the work of the Lord I. Your life and be drawn closer to Him because of your love for God!

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@Jersh! A warm welcome to you, and I’m glad you’ve found our community. My heart breaks to hear of your experiences, and pray that you would continue to know the presence of the God of Life, our Provider, alongside you and your family in these times. Looking forward to interacting with you and your questions! :blush:

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You’re welcome brother @Jersh we trust the Lord for grace to engage in other in the wisdom of the Lord to the glory of his name.

Shalom!!

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Hi @Jersh, welcome to connect and thank you for the outpouring of your heart :pray:t3: I am sorry for all your pain. I cannot fathom having to endure open heart surgery, and for you, being so young to have had 3 already! I can relate to witnessing the “ugly side” in the church. It is very painful however, I have also witnessed the “ugly side” in my own life and heart and found that to be even more painful.

Anxiety, depression, fear, these are all such difficult, dark places to navigate through. Our journeys have not been easy for sure. I thank God that we can come through these trials with thoughts such as yours here, “For all our anxieties and doubts, our Father has lifted us out of the gutter of our own narrow lives.”

I will lift you and your wife up in prayer. I pray that through it all, you will find the “peace that surpasses ALL understanding.” :pray:t3: And, as you continue to overcome these uncertainties, you will then be able to give us encouragement through various trials. Let this be your community for now, to reach out for prayer, compassion, love and encouragement.
I am thankful you found RZIM. This ministry has been vital to me and so many others.
Keep us posted on your journey :pray:t3:
Take care, Sig

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Wow, such a journey. Welcome @Jersh. I trust you will enjoy being here. I already have liked your response to a post and commented though. I’m sorry I did not welcome you properly first. Probably if you were in Calabar, Nigeria, I’ll give you a hug and maybe a can of malt :smile:. I admire your sincerity and I’ll be praying for you. Do contribute more to the community and do ask your questions. God is with you!

Soli Deo gloria!
Shalom :hugs:

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Joshua, welcome to RZIM Connect. I am both stunned and impressed by your struggles and your desire to grow in faith. God will bless you. I also share your concerns about the culture within American Christianity. We have much to learn from our persecuted family around the world. I look forward to growing together with you.

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Hi @Jersh ! Welcome to RZIM connect!

I’m so sorry for the hardships you’ve felt with people in the Church. I am with @LauraLinzey that sometimes Satan gets into the church and corrupts the truth. It’s really hard I know. I just want to say that those experiences are not the end and God does work through them! It probably sounds kinda cliche but God put my family and I through a really bad experience with a church. Frankly I was hurt by the experience because I thought “How could God allow something like this to happen among people who say they’re Christian’s?” It didn’t make sense. But little did I know at that time that God used that situation to bring me to Him, for after that experience, God showed me that I needed Jesus and I was saved. And that wouldn’t have happened without the bad church situation. My point from that anecdote is that Romans 8:28 is 100% true, even if we don’t think it looks like it sometimes. As Christians, we need to never forget to love one another. That has to be the foundation for the way we relate to each other, both in the church and outside of it.

And wow! I am in awe that you and your wife are so faithful during your incredibly trying times. I’m with @sig in that I’m sorry for all the pain you’re going through and I pray that the Lord will look after you and your wife through both the surgery and the mental struggles. Financially, God always provides and will sustain you as long as you are on the earth. Keep your heart for Him who sustains and I pray that your heart surgery goes well!

Love in Christ,
Karys

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Hello @Jersh,

Praise the LORD for being a God of dependability and security, inspite of literally anything on earth. Though this life brings many different kinds of storms and currents, and as a tree needs the winds and the torrential down pours in order to grow mighty and strong, so we as trees (planted by the Rivers of water—The floodgates of God’s love)—for reasons He deems is best, God has allowed these storms to help you and your wife grow deeper and stronger in Him.

Yes, life is hard. It is real hard. And it seems life is even harder when the people who are supposed to come along side and encourage in the righteousness and purity of Christ as His church, don’t and even turn their backs on God themselves. My father was at a church where everyone on the staff had to leave except for one.

The physical eye tends to reflect whatever it is looking at. How much more does the spiritual eye. If the eye gazes at the waves, the waves are reflected within and thus people see that in him. If the eye gazes at the “left” with all its traps and temptations, the traps and temptations are reflected within and therefore people see that in him. But, if the eye gazes upon The One Who is the Reason for living (not the church, society, or even the family)—if the eye gazes on HIM, HE will be reflected within…and that is what people can see in him.

Welcome to RZIM! I thank God that you are seeking Him. Keep running! We are all in this together… “…and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.” Proverbs 18:24

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