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As is often the case with grace, Nathan and Rebekah's story moves from struggle to joy, with many highs and lows along the way. After helping New Life plant and being members of the core group as college students, the Forbes' set out to serve at Fundaninos Orphanage in Guatemala. As a young newly married couple with child-like faith, they desired to serve the Lord Jesus by serving the least of these.
“ We went through some of the greatest highs and deepest lows of our marriage during our time at Fundaninos,” Nathan says.
Soon after the Forbes arrived in Guatemala, Rebekah herniated a disc in her back. Surrounded by the needs of the orphans she was serving, Rebekah remembers this as one of the lowest points in her walk with Christ. “I just remember feeling like such a failure. There was such a high need to care for the children, but the work was so taxing on my back. I felt a pressure and desire to help but was physically unable to. I carried a lot of guilt and shame for what I saw as failure, and this was reinforced, in ways, by our relationship with the directors.”
The Forbes often point out that this season of life was especially draining for them because of the lack of community that was available to them. “When you’re doing hard things for the Lord you kind of have this expectation that the Lord will be just so near to you, and he will supply you the strength to make it through. I think we discovered through our experience at Fundaninos that doing hard things for the Lord does not equal a close relationship with the Lord. Community is so vital. After we returned from Guatemala, we truly started to invest in the community at New Life.”
The passion for community the Lord instilled in Nathan and Rebekah through their experience in Guatemala galvanizes their leadership as life group leaders and is evident through their tireless encouragement of true community. “Seeing lives transformed in our life group has been one of the greatest blessings over the last few years whether it’s seeing people come to know the Lord for the first time or seeing long-time believers grow and mature,” says Rebekah. “Taking ownership is invaluable, for pastoral care, for discipleship, for everything,” says Nathan. “We only have certain spiritual gifts, and there are many tasks that others can do better than Rebekah or me. I will say that one person that has been invaluable to our life group is David Hagen. He has been such a behind the scenes blessing.”
In addition to serving the church as life group leaders, Nathan worked this past year as an eighth grade bilingual science teacher, owner of a lawn care business, and was recently voted on staff at New Life as part-time elder and pastor. “When it comes to work, the gospel brings purpose and meaning to what I’m doing. I’m not just working to make money, but to serve Christ.”
Anyone who has been in the Forbes' life group can say honestly that they have been encouraged by the vulnerability and authenticity of the Forbes as leaders. Their willingness to share their struggles is both encouraging and challenging, and allows those under their leadership to see them as fellow believers striving alongside of us for the immeasurable joy that is ours in Christ Jesus.