By Kirsten Sidebottom
The story of how I got connected to Barry and Amy Rager and the start of New Circle is a time that I will always look back on filled with a grateful heart.
It was February 2013 when I first wandered up the escalators of IUPUI’s campus center to try out this bible study (aka community group) “with a pastor from Kentucky,” which is quite literally how this invitation was pitched to me.
Backing up a bit, I truly started following the person of Jesus in fall of 2011. When this happened, I initially attended a lovely church in Indy for about the first year of college (2011-2012). But I felt like that wasn’t where God wanted me. I knew there had to be somewhere specific for me, so I church hopped for about 6 months and never really found a place where I felt like I belonged. Honestly, I attended a number of really awesome churches throughout the city, but since I mostly attended these services by myself, I would often walk in and walk out untouched and unnoticed. Even though I enjoyed these different places, I never knew how to get connected. After attending the same churches over and over again and never being invited into a deeper community, I became a little disheartened. I didn’t have the language for it at the time, but what I was really searching for (and what God was calling me to) was community and the sense of knowing and being known by others.
The first time coming up the escalator at IUPUI to try out community group was a monumental experience for me. I scanned the room and saw the Rager children playing games. I saw who I’d soon learn to be Barry and Amy. Just them. I was fifteen minutes early, and no one else was there. Only me and two, well six, strangers.
My mind flashed back to all those other times I’d gone unnoticed in the sea of people. I made eye contact with Amy, and she immediately smiled and introduced herself. I met Barry too and they began asking me about myself. This felt different. These people actually cared to know who I was. My soul felt a relief it had never felt before. In an instant, my fears of being isolated and disregarded had been silenced as their care, appreciation and love swept over me.
That night, I knew the Lord was blessing me immensely. I had no idea what all was in store for New Circle and what was in store for me at this church. But I knew I had just found gold from the Lord. The gratitude I have for my journey to New Circle and knowing Barry and Amy is soul deep. I wouldn’t know God the way I do today if I hadn’t given community group a try. I wouldn’t have the friends I have if I hadn’t met Barry and Amy. I wouldn’t be who I am today if Barry and Amy never followed God to plant New Circle in Indy. God is so good to me.