Written from an interview with Julie Hiott.
In 1988, I was one of 16,000 who received a call from Seacoast asking whether I went to a church, and if I didn’t, what my reasons for not going were. I’d been raised in a traditional church and had never heard of a church meeting in a theater. My reaction? I thought it was strange. I remember receiving a postcard from Seacoast as well. But I wasn’t in a good place at the time. My husband had a chronic drug and alcohol problem and we were moving out of town because of it…for a new start. But it didn’t really work and eventually we ended up moving back to Charleston.
I remembered Seacoast and it was the first church we visited when we moved back. And we never left. Right away I knew there was something different here when in the parking lot, Pastor Jerry McSwain walked up to us, shook our hands, welcoming us, and asked; “How can I help you?’”
Not long afterward, I answered a Seacoast ad for an administrative assistant for Support and Recovery, a perfect area for me since I have my degree in psychology. Even in high school, my nickname was Ann Landers—who, for those who don’t know, was a syndicated advice columnist. Long before I received any training, God gave me the gift of care, and a love of counseling.
I remembered Seacoast and it was the first church we visited when we moved back. And we never left.
My kids grew up here at Seacoast…in Kidscoast and youth ministry and in small groups. When my husband died from drug-related complications, Seacoast was there for us, especially Pastor Michael who took my son and daughter under his wing. We were surrounded by family and friends here at the church. They offered us the support and love we needed to get through a rough time.
For 18 years, I’ve been leading prayer and support ministries…and classes for growth and recovery. My kids served in Kidscoast and student ministries…and for a time, were even on staff. Everything the enemy has tried to use to hurt us, I’ve now turned back as a sword against him.
In answering that phone call back in 1988, I had no idea what an impact it would make on my life and those of my children.