Written by: Chris Galanos
Kristin & her husband Andrew are some of our most effective disciple-makers. They went through the first round of DMM Training in the Spring of 2017 and we commissioned them & sent them out as church planters at our 10 Year Anniversary. Since then, they & their team have started several 1st Generation Discovery Groups & they’ve even seen one 2nd Generation Discovery Group started. And all of this is just in the last 6 months or so. I wanted you to hear Kristin’s story in her own words. It’s very powerful!
I began experiencing chronic pain at the age of 24. Doctors really couldn’t find the source of my problem so they began treating the symptoms. This meant copious amounts of pain killers and injections. Me, being a nurse, seemed to only make it justifiable that I was taking large quantities of opiates, sometimes just as much as my patients who were just out of surgery.
But there was never really enough to get rid of my pain totally and I honestly felt entitled to live a pain free life. I felt it was a basic human right.
I started to notice how much wastage of narcotics were just being thrown away. Wastage is what is left over in a vial after the nurse pulls up the prescribed amount for their patient. The rest just gets wasted or thrown away. It really didn’t seem to me like I was hurting anyone by taking this wastage home with me. I wasn’t taking anything away from anyone, it was just trash after all.
Unfortunately this isn’t how the DEA saw it. After 6 years of flying under the radar of everyone, even my own family, my addiction became too strong and I started making mistakes that eventually led to me losing it all. I lost my husband, my nursing license, my kids, and my freedom.
After the DEA told me they were issuing a warrant for a felony (fraudulently obtaining a controlled substance), I decided to try and get some money together to hire an attorney but no one would hire me. I couldn’t turn to my family because they had pretty much received the shock of their lives and deemed me beyond help.
I met a guy in a bar one night who showed me how to make a profit selling weed. I took that knowledge and began to try and make it work. I was pretty successful but unfortunately in that lifestyle run ins with the law are inevitable. My felony warrant caught up to me and I found myself in Lubbock County Detention Center awaiting my court appointed lawyer to get me a fair trial.
The reality was very different. I broke down and took the first plea just so I could be out quicker. With no money on your books, county is a hard place to survive. While incarcerated my landlord sold all my belongings in lieu of rent I owed, my ex-husband sent me divorce papers and took full custody of our children, and I got out with my car and the clothes on my back.
I really tried to get it right but no one would give me chance after they found out I was on felony probation. I turned back to what I knew worked. But this time I did it with a broken spirit, I felt unloved and completely alone. I started doing more and more drugs.
I met my now husband in a trap house. We were both there doing drugs and I had an instant attraction to him. It was deeper than physical for me, I could see his brokenness too. We began spending every day together and I eventually asked him if I could squat with him in his mom’s old abandoned house. He said sure so we cleaned out a spot to sleep and made it ours. We had electricity but no water.
He encouraged me to get off the hard drugs and I desperately wanted to but the pain in my back was coming back fiercely. I found myself in the ER having trouble lifting my right leg along with severe pain in my upper back. The doctors wrote it off as a pulled ligament. They gave me muscle relaxers and didn’t even take an xray.
3 days later I woke up paralyzed from my t4 down. I knew as a nurse I was in pretty bad shape as I had lost complete usage of my bowel and bladder. Usually complete loss to this point is a good indication of damage too severe to fix. The doctors at the ER had a hard time believing that I just woke up like this but after the MRI showed a blockage of some sort on my spinal cord, they took me back for emergency surgery.
After waking up I was still unable to move. The doctors told my family my condition was permanent and they needed to start to think about who I would live with. Unfortunately for me no one was offering.
The doctors decided to place me in a nursing home for “rehab” but I knew how this worked. I’d been a nurse for ten years and a CNA for 4 years before that. I had worked in several nursing homes so I knew that this was where I would likely live out my remaining days.
The reality of my situation began to hit me hard the first night I was there. I was crying and sobbing uncontrollably. I couldn’t believe this was my life now. After the CNA came in to change my soiled bed that I had an accident on, I was at a breaking point. I began to cry out to God. I said, “God, I’m so sorry for all the bad I’ve done and I know I deserve this but if you are real and Jesus died for me because of love then please love me enough to just give me the strength to get through this because I’d rather die than live like this.”
I never expected a miracle, just the strength to come to terms with my new reality. But that next morning, I was filled with a sense of peace and a desire to walk again and knowing that I could. So I borrowed my roommate’s walker and stood for the first time.
All sadness and self pity had left me and now I had strength and hope. The nursing home really had no desire to start me on physical therapy so I had to push them but in the mean time, I began to go use the old abandoned therapy room there in the facility. I would literally drag my legs behind me on the parallel bars until they started to cooperate. I found out early on that I had to get over my fear of falling because I was going to fall a lot! I finally had therapy the last 2 weeks of my stay there but I was already walking when I got there.
I had also paid a visit to a judge after my probation officer revoked me. The judge deemed me medically unfit for prison so he gave me time served on the remainder of my 4 years.
Miracles were happening in my life but I was still too blind to see.
A pivotal moment for me was when I went to see my neurosurgeon at my 6 week post-op visit. He was so astounded to see me walking that he took me into the lobby and called the other doctors who had worked on my case to watch me walk across the room. Then he took me back to his office and told me that medically and scientifically speaking me walking was not possible. He said this is a miracle, a true gift from God and I’d hate for you to think that this was because of me or because of you. This is the work of God and I had 20 cases like yours of people this year who would give anything to be in your shoes. Do not squander this gift.
I did not know how to process this. I mean I did cry out to God but why would He listen to me, I was a horrible sinner and complete failure. I’d been a star player on the wrong team for years.
I left the nursing home walking just 30 days later and went back to live with my boyfriend. We went back to selling drugs but something was changing in my heart. I wanted to find out more about why God would choose me for a miracle and I wanted to know why I had the cyst develop on my spinal cord in the first place.
I ended up finding a co-morbid disease called Arnold Chiari Malformation that just fit the symptoms of my life perfect. I’d always suffered migraines and dizziness and pain for no apparent reason. So I had my doctor check me for it and sure enough I had it. I also made a bargain with my boyfriend that if I was able to get on disability that we would never use any of that money to sell drugs. He reluctantly agreed and it was a long 3 year battle but eventually it happened. No more struggling for a place to live, we could now rent an apartment.
Shortly after I found out I would need brain surgery, I found out I was pregnant. I told Andrew that I really wanted to try and get my life back on track and get my kids back. He got a job but I could tell he was not fully in support of my new lifestyle ideas. After our daughter was born, I had brain surgery but there was an issue. The patch they used to cover my brain with was failing and all of my cerebral spinal fluid was leaking out and forming a large pocket of fluid under my scalp. I felt so ill, I was convinced that I was dying and I had just a few months before regaining primary custody of my kids.
Desperate we drove across country to see a specialist who was supposed to save my life but after seeing my MRI, refused to help me because I was a liability. Disappointed we drove back, but on the trip I began to recall all the things I’ve already gone through and how Jesus had healed me against all odds before. So I told Andy I was done with doctors and I was giving this up to God. Once again I started to see God move miraculously. I began to feel much better and even noticed the grapefruit sized lump at my surgery site was shrinking.
I was awake early one Sunday morning when I saw a sermon on TV. It was like the Pastor was speaking directly to me. So I decided to set my alarm and start having church there every Sunday morning with my family. My husband thought it was just a phase and I’d soon be over this whole God thing. So he got up willingly the first few weeks but then it became a struggle.
So I left him an ultimatum. I said God has healed me twice and answered my cries in the darkest hours of my life, and I want to explore Him more. You are either with me or against me but if you are against me you can’t live here anymore.
I had a teacher parent conference scheduled that week and I began telling my daughter’s teacher all about my journey and she invited me to her church. When she said it was Experience Life, I said I watch that on TV every Sunday. I had no idea it was here in Lubbock, I just thought it was broadcast from Dallas or something. She said nope it’s here and I agreed to go visit the actual church one day.
I was still too weak. But soon my strength was coming back and after we moved into our new duplex we decided to check out the Downtown Campus. I felt God moving there! I gave my life to Christ that first time and began going back every week. But I felt like I wasn’t getting enough from just Sundays and Wednesday Night Prayer.
I needed more so I began reading my Bible. In less than a year, I read the entire book. But still every time I opened it there was something new and unexpected grabbing ahold of my heart. I read a Scripture in Romans that changed things for me.
Romans 6:19 – “Because of the weakness of your human nature, I am using the illustration of slavery to help you understand all this. Previously, you let yourselves be slaves to impurity and lawlessness, which led ever deeper into sin. Now you must give yourselves to be slaves to righteous living so that you will become holy.”
I decided to be all in for God. I started doing the Next Steps. I got baptized, joined an LTG, started volunteering, and me and my now husband decided to abstain until we got married. The wedding was a few weeks later. No, I’m kidding. It was a few months later but seemed like forever! We also decided to start saying yes to God and stop making excuses.
We took Perspectives and that really changed the game for us. We previously had little understanding of the Great Commission but this course opened our eyes. We not only found our calling but everyone’s calling. Jesus left standing orders for every one of His followers and we were not only unaware of this calling but we were not doing it at all.
After Perspectives we did a Phase One Goer Group and learned how we could affect the nations right here in Lubbock. We wanted desperately to go on a mission trip and just last year went to Thailand. I could not prepare my heart for what I experienced there. I could only imagine my daughter knowing the way to heaven but keeping it a secret from her brother. How come it’s 2018 and there are people in this world who still don’t know about Jesus? Didn’t He say go tell everyone? What have we as a church been doing?
I got involved in reaching out to international students here in Lubbock but I started to notice that the lost are here too. And if we are training up believers to go out and make disciples who are doing the same, the chances of places like Thailand being reached become greater. How can I go to the grocery store every day and just do my business without looking up to see the despair in the hearts of those all around me?
God began to break my heart for His children. I want to tell them all about what He’s done for me, how He’s a good Father and how His love abounds and how He heals and how Jesus is the way, but I didn’t know exactly how to do it.
When I heard about the DMM Training, I knew it was something my heart had been crying out for. I didn’t hesitate! After the training I knew it would be hard to break free from the comfort of Sunday morning church that had fostered me so well, but it was a smooth transition and now my Sunday is just as full!
We meet together, worship, offer support and encouragement and then just like the original group of misfit apostles, we go out and try to pray for people. We try to see God do miracles like healing the sick and reach out to people to start Discovery Groups so they can see God’s Word come to fullness in their own lives.
Saying yes to God never turns out wrong, I promise you! It was His yes to me that made me walk, it was His yes to me that healed my brain, and as impactful as those yeses were, nothing compared to when I say yes to Him!
Jesus said yes on the cross and if He was willing, so should I be. I want everyone to know that no matter how unloved and unworthy you feel that God still loves you, and if you are willing He will use you.
Surrendering to Jesus was the best decision I’ve ever made and praying for God to use me has been the most powerful prayer I’ve ever prayed.
If I tried this in my own strength I’d fail. It’s only by His strength, by His grace, and it is all for His glory.
Wow! Isn’t that an amazing story?
In a recent coaching meeting, I was talking to Andrew & Kristin about going out among the lost looking for persons of peace. What they told me blew me away. Here’s how the conversation went.
They said they’ve been going to Walmart twice a week to pray for people. They didn’t give many more details than that, so I started to probe & ask more questions.
I said, “You just pray for people when you’re grocery shopping at Walmart?”
They said, “No, we shop at other times. The two times we’re talking about that we go to Walmart each week are times we’re going to intentionally pray with people & try to find persons of peace.”
I was like, “Wow! That’s awesome! How long do you typically stay there & pray with people?”
They responded, “About 2-3 hours each time!”
I almost fell out of my chair.
Let me remind you. These aren’t full-time pastors. These are just ordinary people with full-time jobs.
I responded, “2-3 hours? Are you serious? How many people do you pray for during that time?”
They responded, “We typically try to pray for 45 people before we leave. We’ve taught our daughter to pray for people too, so she helps us get to the 45.”
I started laughing out loud! I was thinking, “Who do they think they are, disciple-makers of Jesus or something?” — haha
I said, “What do you say when you walk up to people?”
They said, “We just tell them we’re out praying for people & want to see if we can pray for them.”
“And how do they usually respond?” I asked
They said, “Almost everyone says they’d love us to pray for them. One thing we’ve added since going through the DMM Training is that after we pray for them, we ask them, ‘Would you be interested in gathering your family & friends and all reading the Bible together?'”
“What do they usually say?” I asked.
Andrew said, “We’ve only started asking that question recently, but many say they’d love that & they give me their name & phone number. I’m hoping to start DGs (Discovery Groups) with many of these people.”
I was like, “Wow!”
I asked them, “What inspired you to start going to Walmart?”
They said that Phase One was really instrumental in getting them out among the lost & that DMM Training helped them to see their time among the lost as an opportunity to find persons of peace & start Discovery Groups.
Andrew said, “We try to take people with us as often as we can & we train them to do the same thing. I’ll say to my friend, ‘Here, watch me do it, then you can do it next.’ My friends are usually pretty nervous, but after they see me do it a few times, they’re usually open to trying it.”
Then they said another thing I absolutely loved.
They said, “Usually when we pray for people, they start crying. It happens almost every time.”
I was like, “Yes, that makes sense! Power encounters! They probably aren’t used to people praying for them & when they hear you start talking to God on their behalf, it is so powerful that they can’t help but cry. That’s amazing!”
Kristin said, “Our friends think we’re crazy not only because we like to go out ‘fishing’ at Walmart but also because of how often we go to All Night Prayer meetings. We just tell our friends that it’s not that crazy. We used to stay out all night doing terrible things, why wouldn’t we stay out all night now that we’re followers of Jesus to pray to him? And the Walmart thing isn’t crazy either. We used to talk to people all the time about selling drugs to them, why wouldn’t we talk to people all the time about Jesus & try to pray for them?”
Ordinary people. Not paid pastors. Fired up about Jesus. Motivated by the Holy Spirit. Trying to obey everything they read in God’s Word. Trying to share with everyone they can. Trying to make disciples that make disciples & plant churches that plant churches. WOW!
Guess what’s going to happen if ordinary believers get fired up like Andrew & Kristin & start raising the sails for movement?
We just might get to be a part of reaching 1,000,000 in 10 years!
You can watch a video of Kristin sharing her story here.