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6/23/15

Linda Doermann

When Linda Doermann received a call from her brother, Scott, asking her to pick him up at 6 a.m. on a weekday morning for a ride home from St. Croix County Jail, she didn’t hesitate. 

Linda was used to receiving phone calls from officers of area sheriff’s departments with news about Scott or requests from him for help or support.

Linda was entrusted with closely caring for her brother from the time their mom brought Scott home from the hospital at two days old. She had weathered many ups and downs alongside him.

On the day Scott was released from jail, Linda took time off from work to pick up Scott and give him a ride home. After Scott got into Linda’s car, he asked for two things. He wanted to get something to eat and he wanted a ride to attend a worship service at Faith Community Church the following Sunday.

A small group of men and women from FCC had been leading an Alpha course at the jail and Scott joined them.  According to Linda, initially the appeal of snacks and an opportunity to spend an hour outside his jail cell caused him to join with the others taking the Alpha course. Although Scott told Linda that he didn’t understand everything discussed, he enjoyed being with the men and women from FCC.

“They were so loving and non-judgmental, so nice to him,” Linda described.

At the end of his first Alpha class, the group asked him if there was anything he needed. Scott gave them a list: reading glasses, stamps and envelopes, some money in his account and a Snickers bar. The men and women followed up with him, fulfilling each of the requests on his list. They also told Scott that they would have a gift for him when he visited Faith Community.

Linda agreed to give Scott a ride to FCC for a worship service the following Sunday.  As Scott entered the church, Linda pulled out a copy of that day’s newspaper, sipped her coffee and settled in to wait for his return.

“I didn’t want to be bothered,” Linda said. “I had a wall up around me.”

A few minutes later, a man walked by her car, smiling and waving at her. The man was Gary Nourse. He asked if she was waiting for someone.

Linda explained that she was waiting for someone already inside the church.

“I told Gary that it wasn’t my church,” Linda said. “He told me it was everybody’s church.”

Linda had experienced a great deal of loss and was very angry with God.

“I was very scared to go in a church,” Linda added. The only time she went into a church was to attend a baptism, funeral or wedding.

After chatting with Gary a few minutes, she found herself locking her car and walking into the church building. Gary told Linda that she could sit wherever she wanted.

“I kind of liked it,” Linda said. “It wasn’t what I was used to [at church].”

A few days later, Scott called Linda and asked for another ride. This time it was to go to Alpha Community Night at FCC. He asked her to go with him. He wanted to introduce her to some of the people who had led the Alpha course he attended in jail.

“I told Scott that I would give him a ride but would just drop him off at the church,” Linda said.

Again, Linda somehow found herself walking inside FCC’s church building and even staying for the full evening of Alpha, including dinner, Bible study and dessert.

Linda continued to go each Thursday night to Alpha with Scott. After about three to four weeks, one night at a stoplight on their way home to Stillwater, Scott submitted his life to Christ, crying as he confessed that he was a sinner.

Scott and Linda continued to attend Alpha and Sunday morning worship services at FCC until about two years ago when Linda received another visit from a sheriff’s deptuty at her work. He gave her the news that Scott had died as the result of a motorcycle accident.

The funeral service took place at Faith Community Church. Following the funeral, Linda called one of the Alpha leaders, Marty Best, to thank FCC for all they had done in support of her and her family. During their conversation, Marty asked Linda to come to the church building to talk with Pastor Larry Szyman.

“I was really saying my good-byes,” Linda said. “Larry told me that he was afraid for me.”

That night, in the depth of her pain, Linda cried out, “God, all I want is you.”

Since that time, she has been living for God and her family and friends have noticed the changes in her.

“I used to live all for myself.  I didn’t know my purpose, why I’m here. Now I do,” Linda said. “There are so many more people I want to share Jesus with. People will let you down. Jesus is the only one who won’t. He came to earth and didn’t sin and died on a cross for our sins. Jesus is the only one who rose from the grave.”

Following Scott’s death, Linda’s stepdad and two of her other six siblings also connected with FCC. Jim, who now attends FCC, began following Christ while in jail. Marty Best wrote letters to encourage Jim in his faith. Jim even started an Alpha course and led others to Christ. Now, he has a job, a driver’s license and is free of the substances that once were a stronghold in his life.

Linda’s brother Dave would meet Scott and Linda for breakfast after they attended a worship service. After Scott’s death, Linda found Dave sitting in his pickup in her driveway one Sunday as she was about to leave for church. Dave then became a regular attender, attended Alpha and gave his life to Christ.

Linda’s stepdad, “Bear,” (Rob), also started attending Alpha after Scott’s death. One evening when Linda and Bear were watching television, he grabbed her hand and asked her to teach him how to pray.

“He wanted to love God and glorify him,” Linda said.

Linda gave Bear a ride the next day so he could meet with an elder about some of the questions he had. Bear then went to a worship service at FCC for the first time. People he knew from Alpha greeted him as he arrived that Sunday morning. Larry Szyman, who preached that morning, even told Bear that he “was outdoing the pastor,” since Bear had come to church in a suit.

As they left that day, Bear told Linda, “That’s my kind of church.”

Linda helped lead her friend Darcy to Christ. Darcy would sometimes meet Linda for breakfast after Linda would attend a worship service. Darcy had also come to Scott’s funeral service. She is now a Christ follower and Linda baptized her this past year.

“People I know are curious because they see how I have changed. I share the gospel with them,” Linda said.

Linda also invites others to come with her to Alpha and worship services. Last year, Linda filled two rows of FCC’s auditorium with friends and family who she invited to the Christmas Eve service.

“I tell them,  ‘Come with me one time, and if you don’t like it, you never have to come again,” Linda said.

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