The Value of Groups – Ginny Achilles

We all know the value of meaningful relationships, but good things don’t always come easily. Ginny Achilles can attest to this. Mother to 10, she has homeschooled, gone through a divorce, built her own house, run a business, and dealt with the loss of a husband. Twice. With her faith firmly intact and her spirit upbeat, she’s not one to shy away from hard things. And yet she’ll be the first to tell the truth about the tension around pursuing community: “It is very hard.”

2015 1011 Ginny-kids still at home-Richard front- Danielle-Philip

After the loss of each of their spouses, Ginny and Wayne met, married, and moved to southern Georgia. There they began the challenging process of not only blending their families, but helping each of their children grieve the loss of a parent. Ginny had been collecting Andy Stanley’s message DVDs, and watching them as a family helped them heal.

When they learned that Access Church, the closest North Point partnership, was an hour and a half away, Ginny was excited and undaunted by the distance. But joining a Community Group was another story. “It was easy for Wayne,” she said. “He made friends very easily, but I did not. With raising kids, homeschooling, and building a house, I had no time for friendship in the past.”

As an added challenge, Ginny is extremely hard of hearing. “We would attend group and, on the way home, Wayne would share with me what had been said,” she said. Refusing to give up, Wayne and Ginny persisted and found a group where they felt comfortable. With time, Ginny’s courage paid off, and deep friendships began to develop.

Fifteen months later, while away with two of their boys, Wayne suffered a fatal heart attack. In shock, Ginny called some of her Community Group members. “All I could say was, ‘Wayne has died. Wayne is dead,’” she said. The Community Group moved into action, helping financially, providing meals, and lending emotional support. “The greatest thing that they did for me was listen and listen and listen some more,” Ginny said.

Knowing Wayne wouldn’t be there to tell Ginny everything that was discussed during group, the group members surprised her with an amplifier and headphones so she could take part in group discussion. Ginny said, “Wow! My group is the greatest.”

Recently Ginny hit a low point. “I was ready to give up on church and on group,” she said. “I just didn’t think I could cope, but my group was there. I got texts and calls, and when one member showed up at my house, I melted. It’s gotta be love when someone drives one and a half hours one way to find out what’s wrong and tell you they love you.”

Meaningful relationships are invaluable. Good things don’t come easily. If you’re considering joining a Community Group or are wondering if it’s worth the wait as relationships develop, Ginny says, “Give it a try, an honest try. You can’t make close friends and feel free to share the more intimate things in your life in a short time, but eventually you will, and that’s what makes group great.” Ginny won’t tell you it’s going to be easy, but she will tell you it’s worth it.

If you’d like to learn more about Community Groups at Access, check out our adults page. They best way to join a Community Group is by attending our GroupLink event Sunday, January 24, at 4:30pm. Learn more about GroupLink, and sign up today!