My name is Barbara Bookhart and I can’t remember a time when I didn’t know God or Jesus. When I was a child, I would spend weekends with my grandmother and we would go to her church together – she went to worship and I went to Sunday School. My family attended a Presbyterian Church, where my sisters and I went to Sunday school and were confirmed. I always loved attending Sunday school and I still have the Bible I received in third grade which has stickers on the front inside cover for the verses I had memorized.
I have always believed in Jesus even though I didn’t always practice my beliefs.
After I graduated from high school, attending church was not a priority. I would go occasionally and on Christmas and Easter. I was married in the church and my boys were baptized in the church. However, after I was divorced, Sundays were for going to the grocery store and doing laundry. Although, I made sure that my boys went to Sunday school and were confirmed.
When I met Win, I wasn’t going to church on a regular basis. He would go to church every Sunday and was very active in his church. I noticed that there was just something about Win. I wasn’t sure what it was, but I did know that I wanted what he had. I thought it might have something to do with church.
So, in 1999, I made a New Year’s resolution to start going to church every Sunday. With the exception of a few Sundays, I have kept that promise. It is the only New Year’s resolution I have ever kept!
While we were dating, the pastor in our church ran a Bible study called, “Experiencing God.” I had never participated in a Bible study; so, I decided to try one. It was a small group Bible study with about 10 to 12 people. It is intensive Bible study with a portion of the time spent sharing with the other people in the group. During this Bible study, I learned, for the first time in my life, that I could have a personal relationship with God. And, that He wanted to have a personal relationship me. Imagine that! God wanted to have a personal relationship with me!
You see, I never used to pray for myself. I thought I was being selfish by praying for myself, so I would always pray for everyone else but never ask God for anything for me. This Bible study showed me that God wanted to hear all my prayers. God knows everything anyway, but you need to tell Him. I also found out that I can be mad at God – God can take it. You can yell at Him and question Him because God can take it. This revelation changed my whole life!
It was really an eye-opener for me – that God would want to have a personal relationship with me, a sinner. Being a part of that Bible study was eye-opening and life changing. The group would become very close because we shared everything during our sharing time. Since taking that Bible study, I have a closer relationship with God. It changed my prayer life and has enriched my life by reading the Bible and being part of other Bible studies.
He was patient and knew when I was ready to have a relationship with Him. I am so thankful that He never gave up on me and continues to enrich my life. Now I love the Lord and I know that He loves me.
More Faith Stories
I remember being in church and going up to the altar and crying. I was so tired of the life I was living. I needed help. I felt a sense of peace at that time and knew that if this Jesus thing can work for some of these other guys, then it can definitely work for me.
I said to myself, “Why should anyone envy me and want to be in my shoes?”
God has led me to amazing places in my life, so let me explain how God led me from South Carolina to Kenya.
We built the first church with great difficulty. We went back to the States and the board asked us to become mission staff with the Outreach Foundation. That was 25 years ago, just about, and we’ve gotten more involved with Kenya as days and years went on.
I am a chef by profession. I’m happy because I do what I love. Now I work at Villadise Tours and Safaris, where I meet so many different people coming from far. Being helpful is just a blessing to other people.
Then God started tugging on my heart. There was a church sermon series that was about taking your God-given dream off the shelf. I was like, “I don’t know what my dream is. God, if you have a dream for me you’re going to have to tell me what it is.”