In one month, Jordan Anderson’s entire life totally changed. In May 2015, he accepted Christ at his parents’ church, met David Langley at the Windsor Heights Fire Department where they both worked, and eagerly accepted David's invitation to Community Group at Walnut Creek Downtown. Jordan immediately felt like he was where he belonged.
“It was the first time I felt like people genuinely wanted to know me, and they genuinely wanted the best for my life,” Jordan said of his first Community Group experience. “I just felt that instantly from everyone in the group. [David] was the man I needed in my life at that moment.”
But as in the parable of the sower in Matthew 13, Jordan’s new faith was threatened by the allure of his former life. After returning from serving in Afghanistan with the United States Army, Jordan developed a dependency on alcohol to cope with the pain and loneliness he felt.
“For years, my life was, ‘I just want to forget everything. I just want to bury the pain.’ So I drank heavily. If I was sober, then I would think about everything. I felt like I needed alcohol to be happy, but it was really ruining my life,” Jordan said.
Even after accepting Christ, Jordan felt the same pull toward alcohol, and after one drink, he felt unworthy and tried to withdraw from fellowship.
“I felt like because I had messed up, just like the rest of the world, when you do something wrong, you expect people to reject you. That was my understanding of what the world was like, and that’s what I thought I was going to get from everybody in the church. So I stopped coming for about two weeks," Jordan said.
Much to his surprise, men in his Community Group reached out, reminded him of the gospel, and asked him to come back. Jordan did and committed himself to sobriety. That was two years ago.
“The only response that I got from them was the exact response that Christ would give to us,” Jordan said. “They just showed me so much grace. It blew my mind. That was the moment where I finally, completely understood what Jesus had done for me and what grace looked like—mercy, patience, love. They love me through my shortcomings, through my flaws. It’s the kind of love that’s unconditional. I don’t have to do anything to earn it, it’s just there. It’s freely given.”
"They love me through my shortcomings, through my flaws. It’s the kind of love that’s unconditional. I don’t have to do anything to earn it, it’s just there. It’s freely given.”
Jordan remains grateful for the men and women in his first Community Group and the love they showed him. Before coming to Christ, Jordan thought the strongest bonds he’d ever feel in relationships would be those he shared with his comrades in the Army.
“You trust the man next to you, and you know that this man is willing to die for you. I thought, ‘There is no stronger bond between anybody than this right here,’” Jordan said of his time serving in Afghanistan. But after becoming a Christian, he learned that the relationships he was forming in the church had a greater force behind them than any other relationship he’d ever known.
“The greatest expression of love that anyone has ever had for anyone in all of mankind is Jesus Christ and His sacrifice on the cross. He resides in our hearts. So the way that these people love me is not that of which a man can love me, it is something much greater. It is the love of Christ. That has just changed me incredibly. It has shaped my life,” Jordan said.
Being able to do daily life with the men and women in his group showed Jordan just how unique the body of Christ is.
“Everyone in our group was so different but all gifted in so many things. It’s just an expression of God’s character and all of His qualities,” Jordan said. “What a brilliant, perfect thing to be a part of, the way God has designed and created that.”
A Legacy of Faith
Jordan now serves as a college ministry leader for Campus Fellowship at Des Moines Area Community College. He helps teach a weekly Bible study, disciple students, and share the gospel on campus where almost 15,000 students attend.
The care and knowledge Jordan’s early Community Group leaders showed him became the model he uses to influence others for Christ. While men in his life were making him into a disciple, Jordan became inspired to do the same for others.
“It has developed my desire to know who Jesus is, to want to make disciples, because of the way they showed me. They were using their lives and teaching me the Bible, and it continued to shape me as I continued to pursue the Lord,” Jordan said. "It’s created a perspective on looking at people differently than I would have before knowing Jesus. I want to reflect who Christ is, and that’s what they were doing."