A closed door has little
way of revealing what lies on the other side. Does it open to a second chance, a welcomed happenstance, or a dreaded circumstance? Or if it stays closed, was it a missed chance? One afternoon in 2015, Jarrod heard a knock at the door and opened it to find an ordinary paper bag filled with chips and salsa left on the front porch. It may have seemed like a casual gesture, but to the Browns, it was so much more.
Jarrod and Amanda married in 2006 and started a family in North Carolina. Amanda stayed home with their two daughters, Valen and Piper, and Jarrod excelled in his career with the military. With each new blessing, they knew their best moments together never came easy. Amanda unknowingly suffered from post-partum depression after Valen was born, Piper was diagnosed with a genetic disorder at 10 months old, and Jarrod’s deployments left Amanda to care for the girls alone during 60-70 day stretches. The daily stresses took a toll on their marriage and, furthermore, their family.
Jarrod and Amanda had barely stepped foot inside a church since their wedding day, so Amanda set out to find one.
In the summer of 2014, Jarrod was deployed and Amanda was desperate for some quiet time without the girls. She and a friend decided they wanted to bring their children to a vacation bible school so they could get quiet time while the kids were in great care. Jarrod and Amanda had barely stepped foot inside of a church since their wedding day, so Amanda set out to find one. Once she did and arrived at the doors only to realize vacation bible school had already happened, she settled for two hours of kid-free time during the Sunday service. After she got the girls checked in and walked into service, everything changed.
“The first day I went, I was overcome with all these beautiful songs and I started bawling. I just felt God’s presence and I gave my life to Jesus that day. I called Jarrod and told him I went to church but he didn’t understand why. Then he came home from deployment and said he would not be coming to church with me. Every Sunday I got up early in the morning and got the kids ready. He didn’t come with us.”
I mentally checked out of the marriage, but he had no idea.
That September, just two months after Amanda decided to follow Christ, her beloved father died suddenly and tragically. His passing felt like an earthquake as it reverberated through every corner of Amanda’s world. Even though she found solace in her church, grief soon took over and she fell into a deep depression.
In December, Jarrod’s job relocated the family to a fresh start in Texas but their struggles still came between them. “Jarrod was working more hours and pursuing his hobbies. We were not communicating at all. I tried a support group to help me cope with the loss of my father, but I felt Jarrod had a negative response to it so I shut down. I mentally checked out of the marriage, but he had no idea. I didn’t want to live anymore. I was ready to be done.”
I didn’t even know how to pray. I knew who I was praying to, but I didn’t really believe.
“There had been times we didn’t communicate well but I could tell this was different. Something was wrong. We finally started talking and I told her about the sin I had been living in. She knew I watched pornography while I was deployed to help me get through the time apart, but I finally told her that pornography was an addiction that controlled me. Then she told me months had been so dark for her that she didn’t know if she wanted to live anymore. In that moment, I prayed.
I didn’t even know how to pray. I knew who I was praying to, but I didn’t really believe. I had only prayed a couple times before while I was deployed- that I didn’t want to die in an airplane or in a foreign country away from my family. Then I would come home safely and never think about God another moment. But when Amanda told me she thought she didn’t want to live anymore, I prayed and said, ‘God, I feel like you’re calling me to do something. I don’t know what I believe, but if you’ll give me a sign and help me save her, then I am yours.’ A few days later, I found the chips and salsa on the porch with an invitation to visit Lake Pointe. I had thought about going before, but I never took the initiative until after I got the invitation.”
Jarrod and Amanda checked the girls into the Clubhouse and walked into service to hear the worship team playing “Good, Good Father.” They felt overwhelmed with love in realizing the God they wondered about all their lives is a good, good father. When they returned the following Sunday, they heard about re|engage and went to check it out. On the third Sunday, they walked into the Connection Center and signed up to get baptized.
We rebuilt our relationship with God and made Him our greatest priority.
In January of 2016, they were baptized and joined the church. They joined a Life Group in February and celebrated the completion of re|engage in June, a few weeks before their first mission trip to Ghana that July. It was a wild ride of a year. Currently, they serve as facilitators in re|engage, Jarrod is in his second semester working toward a Master’s Degree in Theological Studies at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, and Amanda is the Home Pointe Administrative Assistant at Lake Pointe.
“After we realized what was wrong, we needed to come together where we were broken. God has answered countless prayers since the one I prayed for Amanda. We rebuilt our marriage in re|engage but, more importantly, we rebuilt our relationship with God and made Him our greatest priority. I have grown as a husband by changing the way I speak, what I watch, what I listen to. I have submitted to God’s plans for my life.”
The more and more I see Jarrod strive for Christ-like behavior, the more and more I fall in love with him.
“God has absolutely redeemed our marriage. The more and more I see Jarrod strive for Christ-like behavior, the more and more I fall in love with him. The chips and salsa brought us to Lake Pointe Church, but our redemption started with God telling Jarrod to be kind to me in those moments where I was done. When Jarrod refused to give up on me, God used him to save my life.”
It was no coincidence that Jarrod opened the door to find chips and salsa that day. And by opening the door of their hearts to God’s family by walking through the doors of a church, they found healing in their souls, redemption in their marriage, and joy and purpose in their lives.
Written by Amanda Cunningham