“I can picture so vividly, when the nurse took Emery from me to take her to surgery I just lost it. Colby and Annie were there to be the hands and feet of Christ and walk with us when we could barely walk. We were in Virginia for 7 months, but Pillar surrounded us. We’re forever grateful for that.”
This March, Scott and Katie Groves took some time to sit down and reflect on their time spent between two Praetorian Project churches: Pillar Jacksonville outside Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, and Pillar Dumfries outside of Quantico in Virginia. They remembered how God had specifically cared for them in a time of great trial and suffering by giving them the gift of these Pillar church communities.
In 2016 when they were still, as Scott put it, “infants in the faith,” they stepped into Pillar Jax the first time and were welcomed by JD, one of the pastors. They remember getting plugged in right away to healthy, Biblical community that surrounded them and caused them to grow. Shortly after their arrival, Scott was already getting ready for deployment as part of the Marine Corps while Katie was expecting to give birth to their daughter. But through that year, other Pillar members and the elders supported this young family every step of the way, pointing them to the hope we have in Jesus.
Three years later, the family temporarily moved to Stafford, Virginia so that Scott could do some schooling for about 6 months. Landing in Stafford, they were able to connect right away with Pillar Church of Dumfries, a sister church of Pillar Jax and part of the Praetorian Project. They didn’t know it right away, but this connection would be a true God-send. “We didn’t realize this was going to be one of the most vulnerable times of our lives, “ Scott recalled.
One day shortly after their arrival, they noticed a lump on their 4-month-old daughter’s neck. After months of testing, the devastating results returned: Neuroblastoma–pediatric cancer. But they were not alone.
“When we found out, we let all the elders at Pillar Jax and Pastor Colby at Pillar Dumfries know by text. Within minutes Colby was calling me. Pillar Dumfries began praying fervently for her at every service. They were providing meals, surrounding us…people I never met were watching our kids. Everybody was so amazing, messaging us, checking in on us, everything,” shared Scott.
Katie continued, “Within a 2-3 week period she was getting testing to know how much cancer was in her body. Those were our hardest times, our lowest points, and the church just surrounded us. God gave us peace and sustained us through it. She was about to have a 6-hour surgery in Richmond, and we got a call, ‘Your pastor is here;’ Colby and Annie were there! God knew we needed their support!”
They were in Virginia for only 7 months, but through the whole ordeal, God showed them love and compassion through the elders and members of a church they had as yet barely been able to be a part of. God answered their prayers as the medical staff was able to get the entire tumor removed and no cancer had spread into her body.
When Scott’s schooling was finished, they were stationed once again in Jacksonville and returned to Pillar Jax. “It was like coming home to our family again,” Scott said. They jumped right in, hosting a community group in their home and praising God for all he had done in their lives.
“When you’re in suffering like that, you know God is going to use it but you don’t know how. When you’re outside of it, then you can say, ‘Wow, God did use it for his glory and our growth!’”
Now, the Groves family is living open-handed to be sent by God and used by him for his Gospel mission. They’ve experienced his love and compassion, and they desire to be his ambassadors wherever life, or the military, may take them in the future.
Scott explained, “The overall mission of the Praetorian Project and what God is using it for is spectacular in the military. It takes ordinary men with no formal schooling and equips them to be that light in a dark place, to speak on behalf of Christ in their workspaces, with their family members, in the barracks, and on base. I don’t think a day or week goes by when I am not having a gospel conversation of some sort…By Pillar’s leadership and growing in the Word, it was something that I learned to do.”
The Praetorian Project is proud to be a part of the stories God is writing in the lives of military members across the country and the world. It’s connections like these that the Project was created for–so that families could have a healthy church home as they moved from base to base.
When asked what’s next for the Groves family, Scott shared, “Where do we see ourselves? Wherever God takes us! We’ll go anywhere we need to spread the gospel and be faithful to that.”
“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.”
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