Virtual Groups, A Very Real Option

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Virtual Groups, A Very Real Option

Many have asked about Living Free’s online groups and often the questions are the same, is this really a group? Are group members really connecting? Are most group members consistent in meeting together on Zoom?

It was easy to be skeptical until we had no choice. Because of COVID, we started offering online groups to meet the need during the pandemic. Would people be just going through the motions on a screen, with no real connection? 

Kristina, a facilitator of the online Understanding Depression group had this to say; “You know I’m not a fan of Zoom, and it does present a couple of challenges but I’m a fan of embracing the challenges and difficulties and making the best of them! It required a little extra work, but that’s ok.” Kristina provided additional visuals with YouTube, sent encouraging worship songs via e-mail, and offered diagrams to help the group.

Kristina had already facilitated this group in person at her church and was eager to begin the online opportunity as the need was evident. Kristina asked a friend, Beth, to co-facilitate, and the weekly Zoom meetings began for a full hour and a half each week for 10 sessions. Only the Lord knows the full results of the group, but here are a few testimonies that show the impact online groups can have on the lives of the participants.

“The Understanding Depression online group was a nonjudgemental environment where I could come to work on my depression. Before this group, I was taking 2-hour naps every single day and struggling with having any motivation. I haven’t napped since the second session and my motivation is back. I realized it’s okay to reach out for help and to admit I had depression. Thankful for this group!” (a single parent now leading an Understanding Depression group in her hometown)  

“The Understanding Depression group was healing, and sometimes an excruciating journey of imperfect souls. We started as strangers and morphed into interdependence, and in my case, profound respect for my group members. The homework and scripture reading renewed old truths that had been covered with the dust of life and the cholesterol of living. The group meetings made it real as we worked at figuring out how to love and lift one another by reducing isolation and giving transparency a try. The Holy Spirit and God’s Word warmed and grounded each session. Did I receive healing? Absolutely, but it was not what or how I expected. Depression is now on the defense instead of offense, and I know how it all ends.” (From one of the group members who had been extremely hurt) 

Understanding Depression is one of the most intense groups that Living Free offers. It takes a very experienced and observant facilitator and co-facilitator to navigate this very tough subject in a group setting. The need is great, and the virtual platform provides a “buffer” and “safety zone” among group members. 

These testimonies are verification that these online groups may not be a new concept, but lives are being transformed through compassion and connection.