Carol Carpenter Fisher
I feel blessed to have grown up in a family where there was never a question that my needs would be provided – a home, an education, and all the basics. My father died when I was young, and my mother did her best to meet all the needs of our family. And yet, I always seemed to want more – a love and joy that was unending and unconditional, no matter what.
My family moved several times around Virginia when I was growing up, but we generally landed in a Presbyterian church wherever we were. The church became a place of support for me – a place that welcomed me no matter what, and I went through Confirmation Class in high school. I was required to attend classes for many Saturday afternoons, with homework each week. Although I was diligent in my work, I never quite received that for which I longed – true love and acceptance, combined with a greater knowledge of the Christian faith.
It wasn’t until I joined a non-denominational fellowship group during my senior year of high school that I came to experience the joy of true koinonia – the communion and fellowship of believers in Christ where love, unity, struggles, and blessings were gladly and joyfully shared with one another. I finally experienced the love I had longed for, and soon afterward I began college.
While in college, I attended a local Presbyterian church and I felt led to begin a variety of Bible study and Christian fellowship groups on campus. Although my college was small, we had occasional staff support from Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship and Campus Crusade for Christ, both of which I enjoyed, and from which I greatly benefited. I even spent the summer following my sophomore year at Virginia Beach with college students from around the country who wanted to deepen their faith, as Campus Crusade for Christ staff led us to become more comfortable with sharing our faith stories.
I was a French major in college and I spent my junior year abroad – a year that I will always fondly remember. I don’t think I ever knew exactly what I would do after college to support myself. And so, during my senior year, when I began dreaming of my future, I had no idea of serving God in the church professionally, but God had a plan for me that I had never imagined. Through this phase of my spiritual growth, my faith was deeply emotional, and I knew that I needed more knowledge to strengthen it and balance it out with intellectual knowledge.
While talking with a Presbyterian pastor, I learned of the Presbyterian School of Christian Education (P.S.C.E.) in Richmond, VA. I felt led to obtain my M.A. degree in Christian Education, imagining myself serving the church as an educator. While there, I got to know several students from the seminary across the street, and I began imagining obtaining my Master of Divinity degree and serving the church as an Associate Pastor, thus allowing me to serve in several additional areas of ministry. Each step of this journey came with some stretching and opening my mind ever wider. I had been a quiet, shy child who never enjoyed speaking in public. And yet, now God was challenging ME to become a pastor! Who could have ever imagined such a thing? God did.
I never imagined being called to serve God and the church in so many ways and in seven different states.
I did serve three churches as an Associate Pastor, but friends, family, and the Holy Spirit kept nudging me to consider serving in other ways. When my children were young, I never envisioned serving as a solo pastor, but as my children grew older and more self-reliant, I began to become more open to new possibilities. As a result, I attended a Face-to-Face weekend event where representatives of churches and pastors met with each other to discern God’s plan for them. In two days, I talked with folks from 16 different churches, trying to be open to whatever God had in mind for me. I came away feeling called to serve as a solo pastor, which I now have done in four different congregations.
I never imagined being called to serve God and the church in so many ways and in seven different states. And yet, I feel blessed to have had the privilege and opportunity to become part of so many families across our country. I believe that God prepared me to be flexible by moving a good deal as a child, and my husband, Jay, and I have been blessed to gain so many new friends, some of whom became family to us.
Even though I attended a woman’s college that led me to believe that there were no barriers for women, I had never known a female pastor, and I had no vision of serving as one. Any yet, step by step, the Spirit of God led me to open myself to serve in ways I never could have imagined on my own. God blessed me with a spouse who, even though he is Roman Catholic by persuasion, could not have been more supportive of my call to ministry. I believe that the churches I have served have been blessed by his support and involvement as well.
We are at the close of the year 2020. It has been a year none of us could have anticipated with COVID-19. It has allowed and encouraged each of us to reflect on where we have been, and where we may be called to serve in the future. I give thanks for how the Spirit of God has touched my life, and hopefully through me, the lives of others. My life is dedicated to love, serve, and give of myself in whatever ways God may call me to serve, in order that God might be glorified. I never would have dreamt of all the roles in which God has used me, or all the places God has called me to serve, and I remain ever open to whatever might be next. To God be the glory this day and forevermore.
Your partner in ministry, Carol
It was normal around the people I ran with in my neighborhood. It was accepted. Matter of fact, it was worshipped. You know, hurt people hurt people.
I didn't see the consequences of my actions spiritually or in my environment until years later. As a result, I’ve been through many Cognitive Behavior Therapy programs in the State of Delaware. I've been in juvenile justice. I've been in Gander Hill prison. I've been in the CREST Program for convicted drug abusers.
By this time I was I was no longer selling drugs. I had been consuming prescription opioids for a long time, buying them on the street, and then going to the methadone clinic. I did methadone for about three years and Suboxone and Xanax. Always took other drugs with it. So I weighed about 145 pounds and woke up one day in Christiana Hospital.
My brother, Jeremy, by then had had a long stint in Narcotics Anonymous and ironically showed me the road to recovery. He was sitting at the end of my bed. I had such an overwhelming feeling of shame that I couldn't even look him in the eye when he was talking to me. He said, “The doctor was in here. You died twice. They brought you back to life.” I had seizures from benzodiazepine withdrawal.
Waking up in the hospital was not strange to me. It wasn't odd, it was normal. I lost my girlfriend, Ashley, and my dad in active addiction. I woke up next to people who were dead next to me. My mom's best friend's daughter, who I was dating, died. It felt like God reached down and grabbed for me, but missed. I was ready to go, you know, but He had other plans for me.
As soon as I got out of the hospital I got high again. My parole officer, Officer Denunzio, an Angel dressed in the probation and parole uniform, arrested me and he took me to Gander Hill prison. I’d been there many times. Back then the prisons didn't put you on medication or treat your drug problems with another drug. You went to the infirmary and you withdrew there.
I came out of the cell and a guy I knew from the street who was noticeably high shouted, “Hey, Zach Bibb.” Right then I did something different. I made a decision to turn my life around. By the grace of God I survived. It took every bit of it to get me to surrender when I was 29 years and 10 months old.
More Faith Stories
There are people who sometimes have a stomachache and think it's cancer, they think it is a terminal illness. Sometimes people think there is no solution, but it is only a stomach discomfort. It's something bad that you ate that upset your stomach. It is that people that are losing their faith. They get concerned about so many things. They wake up and see the car with a flat tire, and it is a bad day.
There are more important things we need to learn. We need to seek the Lord, because time is short, time goes by quickly. I've got three children: my first daughter is 25 years old. My son is 21 and my other daughter is 16. I mean, time goes by fast.
This means this is an opportunity for you to devote your heart to Jesus Christ, so that He can save you, so that He can be your guide, so that He can be your path, so that He can be everything in your life. Listen to this message, share it with your family. If you do not have a family do not think you are alone. God is with you wherever you are. God will be with you come what may.
Now, what happened with COVID two years ago was unbelievable. God put us to the test. Many people died, and that's something that's coming ahead. There will be more illnesses, there will be more regulations. But if we keep our faith in God, if we continue to trust in God, He will give us the peace we need, the peace the world needs.
Sometimes in the community, there are a lot of people who are watching their backs. For their own protection they hire bodyguards that watch over them night and day because they feel insecure. But we have God to protect us. Day after day, God protects us. God takes care of us. God gives us strength.
I strongly encourage you, I dare you to seek the Lord. This Why I Love Jesus ministry goes across the globe spreading the word of God, telling the world Jesus Christ is real, He is not dead.
There have been many stories in this world which were looking forward to changing history, but we have this story of faith that we believe, come what may, the Lord will be with us.
So if you have relatives, share this experience with them: brothers, sisters, parents. If your family has never been in contact with Jesus, now is the time for you to tell them to embrace Him, to embrace God. Tell them about the story in the Bible that says there is a man in hell, being burned there, and he would like to have a chance of getting out of there. But unfortunately, he has already lost the opportunity. In other words, there is no way he could leave hell.
And you who are there watching this testimony, this word of the Lord, this is the opportunity that you get. Maybe we don't wake up tomorrow; we don't know what will happen tomorrow.
This is the moment for you to say, "Lord, forgive me. I have failed a lot; I've failed in several things, but I want You to be my Savior, I want You to be my shield, I want You to be my strength, I want You to be everything in my life."
Make your decision. Sometimes in day-to-day life, we make decisions, many of them, but this is the most important decision you should make in your life. That is to devote your life to Jesus Christ, commend your life to Jesus Christ, so that He can be everything in your life. May He be your peace, your strength.
At times, people have enough money in the bank and think with that they will change the world, think that will be their protection. But money is only an ordinary piece of paper. In the end, the paper will run out, the money will run out, but treasures we did will remain when we're in heaven.
So let's make this an invitation. Let's hope this message will reach someone in need of it. So you who are out there, this message is meant for you.
My stepfather was an alcoholic, and we had a difficult life. But God changed us. When I began going to this church in 2000, God changed me. God changes you, and God wants to do great things with your life.
So, I mean, maybe you are also having a hard time with an alcoholic father, an alcoholic mother. Let me tell you, I had bad thoughts in my head about finishing him, killing him, destroying him, so that it all would end. But when I got to the feet of Jesus, when I started going to church, God made changes in me. God makes changes in you. God changes your mind.
When God entered into my life, and I looked at my stepfather again, I saw him in a different way. I held a grudge inside my heart, but nevertheless, God was working on me. God worked on me and gave me peace. I was smart enough not to commit a crime. God showed me the way I should live.
In addition to being at peace with God, He gives you intelligence. God gives you wisdom to be on the side of right every day in our lives.
So, this is an invitation, whether you're a woman, or man, or youth. Young people sometimes make decisions which scar their lives forever. To put it another way, if you are young, make your decision to accept Jesus: don't wait until tomorrow and say, "No, I'd better wait before accepting Jesus Christ, before accepting God in my heart. I've still got a long way to go. I want to live my life, and I want to do things. When I'm older, I'll see whether I change." But we don't know what happens tomorrow, so you should make up your mind today.
I've had some friends who made their decisions too late. I had a friend who said he was going to drink his life away. He was going to drink, that's what he was going to do. He was going to do drugs, to live a totally careless life. He thought he was being cleverer than God. But he wasn't, nobody is smarter than God. At the end of his life he was going to seek God's forgiveness.
Had God been given the opportunity, He would have forgiven him, He would have indeed. But my friend didn't take the trouble to get to that point. He was doing his drugs, drinking and whatnot. Then he grabbed a gun and shot himself in the head.
I mean, we don't know what was the last moment in his life, whether he asked forgiveness or not. We only had the word he killed himself by putting a bullet in his head. Odds are he didn't have the opportunity of begging God's forgiveness, and he lost his life. Or better expressed, do not let the enemy fool you. The enemy hampers your life.
That means to move on and accept Jesus Christ. He is going to give the answers. He is going to give you the peace you need. That's my testimony, and I know this is on behalf of God, so people would turn to Him.
People get lost, people haven't wanted to recognize their faults. God has a plan for your life. That means if He gave you this plan, accept it, accept it. We have free will, people make their own decisions. God has already chosen some individuals. God has predestined people. Whether you are predestined or exercising your free will, make your decision and follow Jesus Christ.
Your life will change, He is going to transform it, and He is going to help you in every way, be it economic, social, psychological, whatever you need, God is going to help you.
Thank you for your time, thank you for this opportunity that God gave me to share my faith. I come from Houston, Texas, but I've been working here in Delaware, and this is an opportunity God has granted me to share good news and continue to spread good news. We're the ambassadors of the word of God. So thank you for this opportunity, and let's move forward with this testimony which is for the benefit of society.
I had to be broken for the light to get in. God had started working in my life. He had taken the desire to use drugs away from me long before I asked Him to, so that He could work on me with a lot of other things.
My son died at age 28 following a long illness. I was angry, very depressed, and in pain. But at his funeral a sense of calmness came over me.
In May of 1982 Carolyn and I went on a Lutheran Marriage Encounter Weekend. Here was where God opened my eyes and heart to his role in my marriage and life. That weekend changed my relationship with Christ.
God has given me my dream of serving as a choir director. I see lives change as we are singing. Singing correctly is sometimes less important than letting the Spirit come to us as we practice.
I remember an incident when the Lord rescued me from a person who intended to do me harm. God’s protection was a miracle in my life!
I wasn’t raised in a church; so I knew nothing about Jesus or God. I did go to Vacation Bible School in the summers and heard and loved the song, “This Little Light of Mine.”