Here's a recent sampling of what God's been up to...
Jasmine Johnson, a woman just stepping into adulthood, shared this powerful testimony at our 2018 Spring Banquet: Safe Spaces.
I was born into a home where my parents were captive to addiction and darkness. In those early years, I developed a distorted view of myself and, at the age of five, my parents walked out of my life, which left me confused and lost. I couldn’t figure out what I had done wrong for everyone I knew to leave me.
Almost immediately, I was adopted by loving parents who offered me everything I could ever want or need, yet I felt something was missing. I thought something was wrong with me.
Almost every night, I was attacked by Satan and his demons, and had flashbacks of being abused in horrendous ways. I did not understand why I had nightmares, nor did I know which memories were true.
I didn’t tell my adoptive parents, as I feared that if they knew what I had been through, they would leave me as my birth family had.
I learned to hide, and grew up afraid to show who I really was. Afraid that people would see the filth I hid inside. I was confused and stuck seeing myself as a mess that couldn’t be cleaned.
As time went on, I progressively distanced myself from the Christian community around me, afraid that if they looked too closely they would see through my mask and witness the truth that I hid. I even distanced myself from Jesus, feeling certain that He could never accept me.
I’d never felt so alone than I did at this time of my life. I did not see any hope, or way out, yet deep inside I clung to the hope that God had something good planned for me.
I attended a Door of Hope event where I was introduced to Diane Stores. When she looked at me I knew she could see through my walls, to the little girl inside that I didn’t even know existed, the girl who Jesus created me to be. She saw someone with value, someone who had no reason to hide, someone who was strong, and who lived in the truth of Jesus, not in the lies of their past. I immediately knew that I wanted to meet the girl Diane saw.
In my first healing prayer and trauma counseling session, I felt so safe and knew Jesus was there. I felt I could reach out and touch him. All my masks dropped, and the raw and authentic me came forward. I sat on that couch and cried. I had never felt so safe to just let myself weep, to mourn what I had lost.
In my sessions, I found all the areas in my heart where pain and darkness still resided and let in the light and fresh breeze of Holy Spirit. Through these sessions, I also began learning by heart the truth Jesus has been speaking over me since I was born. All the negative, hateful words I identified with were rewritten, and replaced with the words Jesus speaks over me…"pure, beloved, His child."
Through my Door of Hope prayer and counseling sessions I began to see myself as God sees me: A masterpiece.
Today, I have a future that I am eager to live. I now see that: I thought I was the problem, that there was something wrong with me, while all along the problem was in how I was dealing with my past trauma. By letting it sit in silence, and hidden, I was letting it control me. Twisting my sunshine into a hurricane.
Through the ministry of Door of Hope I learned to mourn, to let go, to take back from the enemy what he’d stolen, and to let Jesus into those places of pain. I found a safe space. A place I could go and find peace, harmony, and safety. I found hope.
A child from our Hope-Filled Kids support group (ages 9-12) wrote this sweet poem and gave it to us.
It gives you a glimpse of the work God is doing in the life of this precious one.
Born in the Soviet Union… I Built Protective Walls Inside...
I was born and raised in the former Soviet Union, where my father was addicted to alcohol, and my mother worked very hard at her job, leaving her little energy for us children. We were not an affectionate family, and God was never mentioned.
My father often told us that we were to blame for his life not working out. I now see this is emotional abuse. Like all children, I wanted my parents to love and care about me. Instead, I was led to believe that I was to blame for their neglect and abuse.
Not getting the love and encouragement I needed, I began to isolate and build protective walls inside, so that no one could hurt my feelings. I was suspicious of anyone who was kind to me, not realizing that my walls not only kept out the bad but also the good.
When my parents divorced when I was 12, my brother and I moved in with my father. As a teen, I lost my identity. I did not know who I was, what I loved, or why I existed. I was very shy and did not believe that I could achieve anything in life. Decisions were made by others, and although I did not like it, I did not see another way…
Not Even Moving to the USA Could Help Me Find Out Who I Am
In 2000, my father, brother and I moved to the United States. Moving to America gave me hope that in this country, with its opportunities and freedom, I would finally find out who I am. I didn’t realize that no country could help me find my identity, only the One who created me.
When I got married, I thought I would finally find myself. What I didn’t understand was that for many years I had been building up resentment, rage and much more. Instead of revealing my true self, marriage opened the toxic emotions that I had buried. I started to believe that I was
evil and controlled by anger.
When I had children, I began trampling them emotionally. I did not want to repeat my parent’s mistakes, but didn’t know how to break the vicious cycle…
When I realized that I was powerless to change on my own, I prayed that God would show me the way out. Since then, He has led me...
A few years ago, in a local Slavic Christian community, a man murdered his pregnant wife. I wondered how this could happen among Christians, and came to see that violence is in Christian families, but that no one talks about it. Through this tragedy, a friend introduced me to Diane Stores. At Door of Hope I learned why violence occurs in families, and how to stop it.
At Door of Hope I Began to Discover My True Identity
What I didn’t know was that God was also leading me to Door of Hope to help me discover who I am...
In Door of Hope groups, I found that I could talk about my wounded emotions, and no one would blame me. As women shared and cried openly, I started to recognize that there are many broken hearts like mine.
Quietly, the Lord also revealed to me who I am in His eyes…
Yet, I needed time to believe it, so I went through the Authentic Hope support group a few times, as well as the Boundaries and Safe People classes. Through Diane and other Door of Hope ministers, my Heavenly Father told me that I'm not evil or terrible, but that I'm His princess. He helped me realize that “God does not create garbage.”
Relationships Began to Change: Forgiveness, Healthy Boundaries, Love and Respect
After God revealed to me the truth about who I am, relationships began to change. Although Satan used my family to speak lies over me (which they probably didn’t realize they were doing), I can forgive them, because I know the truth. I know how Jesus sees me. I have chosen to live differently, to break the cycle of abuse, and to teach my children about love and respect. I now try to set healthy boundaries, and respect others’ boundaries.
Door of Hope is Teaching My Children Early In Life Who They Are
My daughters like coming to the Hope-Filled Kids group because they are loved and respected there. They are not afraid to express themselves, knowing that they will not be laughed at.
I'm grateful that my children are learning, at their young age, who they are in the eyes of God.
Giving Back, So That Others Will Find Freedom Too
Last spring, I was invited to teach a Boundaries workshop at Seattle’s Slavic Christian conference. At first I wasn’t sure I could do it, but the Lord gave me confidence and I agreed. To my surprise many women attended. I shared what I learned at Door of Hope. If someone had told me a few years ago that I would teach that class, I never would have believed it. But with God everything is possible.
As a Door of Hope leader in training, God is using me so that others can find freedom from trauma and abuse too.
Marina is from the Republic of Moldova, of the former USSR. She moved to the United States in 2000. She and her husband have three children.
2017 Hope-Filled Kids Evaluations
In 2017, we launched Hope-Filled Kids, a support group for children (ages 9-12) dealing with the effects of abuse. We served 18 children. That’s 18 young lives touched by the love and truth of Jesus,18 lives finding hope and healing.
On evaluation forms they said:
All said they felt more confident (one said "less shy")
Something God showed me:
- Kind people
- God will always be with me
- He helps me when I'm having a bad day
- That I have tools to obey His word
- How awesome all these people are
Something I learned:
- To choose wise decisions
- To be a better communicator and a better person
- How God loves us
- God always guides me
- That I can be confident
- That God is there no matter what
- To build my house on the rock
Hi, my name is Jamie Mork, and I have struggled with introversion since I was a child. Meeting new people, or being around groups of people was a draining experience, and one that I avoided.
As I aged, it became apparent that I had to overcome this to have a successful career, meet my wife, or just have friends…so I started using alcohol as a way to grease the skids in social situations. It worked, but through time it also created a dependency that was very unhealthy mentally and physically. I eventually reached a point where I needed help. That’s where Door of Hope came in.
What I learned in my “couch sessions” [trauma recovery counseling], with the loving guidance of David and Diane, and the unwavering personal power and love of Jesus, was that this “persona” I had created, who felt the need to imbibe, was just trying to help me – and it wasn’t something evil or to be destroyed. It was something to love as Jesus loved, and bring back into myself with forgiveness and grace. I know that sounds a little odd, but through Jesus’s guiding hand, I was able bring this “piece” of me back, and become closer to the Jamie that God intends me to be.
Once this happened, I no longer felt the need or desire to drink, nor the anxiousness of being around people. I’m still an introvert. After all, that is how God made me, but I now look at these types of situations through a different lens than before, and I feel more alive and joy than ever! Thank you Jesus and Door of Hope!
Jamie lives in Blaine and attends Substance Church in Spring Lake Park. He works as an executive for a local software company and enjoys spending time with his family at a cabin in northern Minnesota, and chasing around his wife’s three little dogs.
In the last couple of years, God has had me on a journey of self discovery. He has used Door of Hope’s Authentic Hope and Boundaries groups to help me turn from seeing myself as a victim and from trying to establish harmony and unity within our family, and toward focusing on myself and why I have allowed stress, anger, and prolonged discussions in our home.
I now realize I am not a victim, but someone who tolerated, or many times didn’t even realize, that various hurtful behaviors were completely inappropriate and should not have been tolerated.
I now realize that I am a precious, valued “Child of the King,” and that no one should be treated inappropriately or unkindly. Everyone should only tolerate kind, respectful behavior.
In Door of Hope’s groups, the support, encouragement, and love that came from the leaders and directors was a large part of my healing and growth process. Learning how the brain responds to stress and trauma has helped me understand why, for many years, I have felt numb and unable to fully engage in family activities and celebrations.
I also learned the importance of not tolerating inappropriate behavior, and to not be easily fooled by behavior changes and many promises, for both are easy to deliver for a short time. Instead, a complete transformation with true character change needs to happen. For those of us who have tolerated, overlooked, and spent many years wishing for the best are usually eager to meet the other person more than halfway because we want our relationship to work so badly. I now know a relationship will never work if I keep crossing the line and allowing inappropriate behavior to exist.
The best part of the Boundaries class was the support of my peers and my leaders, as I set up and practiced boundaries. Their love and support, as difficult growth and development was being obtained, was a gift words can’t describe.
Thank you to all of Door of Hope’s staff and volunteers. You have made a difference in my life.
Most sincerely, Melanie Jeulfs
Last fall, I met the Door of Hope team when they came to the Leech Lake Reservation. At the time, I was confronting past wounds and hurts that were at the forefront of my life, due to significant relational issues with a very close friend and leader. Door of Hope is relationally-focused and driven, and I believe the Kingdom is all about relationship, community, and family. That is why I felt so connected to Diane, even during our first healing prayer meeting [trauma recovery counseling], as we addressed deeply embedded issues.
I have come to realize that the largest issues plaguing tribal communities in our area, are related to identity and belonging. By design of federal policy and those seeking assimilation, there has been a systematic breakdown of the nuclear family, causing intergenerational trauma, feelings of disconnectedness, and a lack of belonging. With no niche or place to fit in, our people turn to addiction.
Door of Hope is bringing a message of hope, healing, restoration, and reconnection—central to seeing the Kingdom advance in our community. We are excited to work with Door of Hope in our tribal communities, and watch the transformation, healing, and restoration that God desires for our people.
Lenny Fineday, a member and resident of the Leech Lake Band of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe, is a licensed attorney operating his law practice from the Leech Lake Reservation. In addition to representing churches and ministries before the IRS, he is Tribal Attorney for the White Earth Nation and Judge for the Red Lake Nation Tribal Court. In the past, he was an associate attorney for the Minneapolis-based Best & Flanagan law firm, and was the in-house General Counsel to the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe. He has served two terms as President of the MN American Indian Bar Assoc., as well as two terms as a member of the MN State Bar Association’s General Assembly. Currently, Lenny serves on the Leech Lake Tribal College Board of Trustees and as a member of the MN Judicial Selection Commission, where he advises the Governor on the appointment of judges to the state courts.
Lenny is the son of the late Rev. Leonard Fineday and Mary Fineday. His father, a full-blooded Leech Lake Tribal member, was a pastor on the Leech Lake Reservation for more than 30 years, founding three churches and pastoring throughout the Reservation. Building on this foundation, Lenny’s calling is to establish and expand the Kingdom of God in Indian Country through relational ministry, building bridges between peoples and communities, and exhorting and encouraging the body of Christ in unity and in truth.
When I came to Door of Hope, in the fall of 2015, I struggled with self-defeating beliefs about myself. I did not realize it at the time, but I had a habit of seeing myself as a victim. I did not know how to trust.
Although I clearly saw that anger, rage, and control were issues I struggled with, I did not know why. I often felt trapped, hopeless, and helpless to the emotions that arose whenever I experienced the loss of a relationship, had financial issues, or lost something I believed I needed to feel valuable, or needed.
In the past, I took part in other Christ-based support groups where I learned to identify my emotions. Although they were very powerful and healing for me, I still struggled with needing the approval of others to feel whole. I lacked real connection with Jesus, and an understanding of how to trust Him.
During my first time through Authentic Hope (I’ve taken it 3 times), I started to trust little by little, in ways I had not before. I began to learn how to identify the lies I believed about myself and replace them with the truth: HE LOVES ME! I AM NOT A VICTIM! I AM VICTORIOUS! For the first time, I began to understand that the hyper vigilance and isolation that had been my companions for so long, although developed naturally due to abuse and rejection, were not my friends! How freeing it was to let go of that heavy load I had carried for so long!
Today, I am learning to forgive myself (1 John 1:9) and realize that God sees me as his precious daughter - pure, whole, lovely, and beautiful. I trust that “He who began a good work in you will continue it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus!” Philippians 1:6
Having a safe place for me AND my son to learn about who we are in Christ, what to do with pain, how to process our emotions, how to trust, and how to heal through the Love of the Father, has been vital for our spiritual, emotional, and mental health. Supporting others in this process is just as important! I am forever grateful for Door of Hope.
A mom shares
Dawn: When I started at Door of Hope Women’s Support Group a few months ago, I was filled with fear and confusion. I was stuck in a bad place and felt hopeless. No one and nowhere felt safe to me. I was afraid to be real or my authentic self.
Over time, I found Door of Hope to be a safe and healing place. The healing prayer session helped me to forgive those who abused me.
Through forgiveness, I have been able to have healthier boundaries and have found a new freedom in Christ Jesus. Through the healing prayer and support group, I am learning to see myself as God sees me, as His beloved child, His unique creation. Ps. 139:14-16 and Eph.1:11-12.
I am moving from fear and confusion to a new hope for my future and my children’s future. I am moving out of being stuck, to knowing that God has a good plan for my life and for my children’s lives. I can’t thank Door of Hope enough for giving me and my children a place to heal and feel hope again!
I’m amazed at the positive changes I have seen and experienced with my children in such a short time.
They are more confident and positive. I can see that they are healing and growing in the Lord. It is wonderful that they are learning these things and going through this healing at such a young age. They are learning about their emotions and how to express them. They are learning about appropriate healthy boundaries and mostly, they are learning about who they are in Christ, beautifully made children of God. I praise God for this!
10-year-old twins share
Katelyn: I’m thankful for Door of Hope’s kids group because I get to go to a place that is Christian and be with other kids that are Christian and talk about God. I like going to the group because I talk about my feeling and have fun. When something bad has happened I can talk about it and they pray for me and guide me through it. Normally, I am shy and don’t like to talk, but in this group I’m not shy and I like to talk. I like the crafts and being with the other kids. The leaders are really nice and fun to talk to.
Nathan: I like to go to Hope-Filled Kids because it makes me feel happy. I look forward to Monday nights and am always so excited to go. The leaders are really nice and funny and I like the activities and craft that we do. I never feel out of my comfort zone. I like it because it is a Christian group. We draw and work with clay. I like it because whatever I make, there are no rules. We can make what we want. We talk about our emotions and learn about them. I like the other kids and the things we talk about. Going to group is fun. I know they really like kids. I’m glad I can go to this group. When we leave they give us sweet good bye hugs.