In a town with a population of 1,200 and 5 churches, one can’t expect to find many members in each church. My Presbyterian church was one of two, served every Sunday by one minister. Before Sunday school the entire congregation, children included, gathered in the front part of the church on chairs adjacent to the sanctuary, to sing hymns before going to our classes. Very early in life I heard most of the old hymns and sang out very loudly.
Most of the time there were only two of us in my class. Out the window of the small room I could see my house, as my family lived in the church’s manse. There was no division between the properties. I could go out the back door of the church, across the yard and into the back door of my house. A common hedge fronted both buildings. I guess we were given priority to rent the home because my father was the band and chorus director for the school system, and also the church choir director.
Our home’s proximity to the churchyard and my introduction to the church and its music so early in life made me one of those persons who claim that they never knew a time when they didn’t believe in God. Didn’t have to be “saved.” Of course, as I have matured spiritually, I can look back and see the many ways, besides clinging to a loving source, I have been touched over and over by His grace.
Of course, as I have matured spiritually, I can look back and see the many ways, besides clinging to a loving source, I have been touched over and over by His grace.
Unfortunately, or maybe because of a very dysfunctional family life that was kept secret others, I came to look to God out of desperation. My father was sexually abusive and prone to tirades, breaking anything or kicking any pet in his way. To everyone not living with him, he was a likable chap. His foul language was not that of a choir director or later, as the Clerk of the Session, and an active member of the Presbytery. When I was three years old, the trustees of the church came to look at our broken coal furnace. They had removed the very large air vent from the middle of the floor, leaving a giant hole. As I gazed in wonderment at the space, I bellowed out, “Jesus Christ!” and was quickly snatched and shut up.
My mother sided with her husband and seemed ill-equipped to lavish love on or any interest in her two daughters, except to make it clear that our behavior should not bring any shame to the family. Although she touted her Presbyterian heritage with pride, she eventually stopped attending church. Once, when hospitalized, our minister blamed her back spasms on her lack of faith. While she remained at home on Sunday, she proclaimed to us girls, “If you don’t go to church today, you may not go anywhere else.”
By that time, we had moved to another small town four miles away. While my Dad remained at the previous church because of his role as Clerk, and my mother stayed at home, my sister and I attended one of two churches in that town. The Methodists had all the youth programs, and that’s where my best friends attended. For nine years I participated in youth and adult choirs, summer camps, and Methodist Youth Fellowship. My senior year in high school I was president of both my local and district Youth Fellowships.
In the meantime, as I reached college age, both my parents were drinking heavily. While I could have turned to destructive forms of rebellion, instead I drew closer to my God. At that time, my immature faith was one of, “If I try to do good, bad things won’t happen to me.” In the past 50 years, I have learned that suffering is just part of life, many times as a result of poor decision making. Yet, at the same time, and with more perspective, I have also learned that God intervened in my life with wonderful gifts that I no longer interpret as coincidence or just good luck.
After attending a teachers’ college chosen by my parents, I instead tried X-ray school, because I did not want to become a teacher. After a few months I quit, wanting a four year degree in order to enter the mission field. My parents were relieved and agreed to send me to a small college in North Carolina owned and operated by the Presbyterian Church, USA. My plans for the mission field led to a career in Child Welfare. I plodded through eight semesters of graduate school, saying in the midst of each one that I would not continue. I did receive my Master’s degree in Social Work. God guided me to use my talents in the way He desired, even as I rebelled.
However, my career was stunted by an affliction that I thought was due to the lack of self-confidence. I trembled all over whenever I had to counsel just two parents, let alone lead a group. I didn’t excel in my field because I turned down opportunities to advance. God had other plans for me. After having many roles in my church in Asheville, I was ordained as an elder. I longed to serve my fellow members and especially to be able to serve them communion. How could I possibly carry all those tinkling little cups in my shaking hands? But first, I had to appear before 32 elders to relate my spiritual journey. I was a gifted speaker, but only alone in my own home. When I mentioned the dread I had over the upcoming ordeal, a friend said, “I know what doctors take to be calm when they have to give a presentation.” When I went to my doctor for just one pill, he told me that I had Essential Tremor, an inherited affliction that could easily be treated. Just at that time in my life I was “healed,” so that I could continue in the role God planned for me. That was the first time I was able to see that God enters our lives in very visible ways to further His work.
After telling my faith story in the session meeting, I was asked to speak at a Family Night Dinner. Our church was in turmoil because our very gifted minister had been asked to leave after misusing the church’s discretionary fund. People were confused and sad. My ability to tell our members all we had accomplished during our interim time lifted their spirits. God was working in me. As a result, I had a life-changing opportunity when I was chosen to serve on the pastor search committee with a dedicated, selfless, spiritual group of Christian friends. Had I been more involved in my social work career, I would not have been able to spend the many hours during week-days, nights and on week-ends, as we faithfully went about our search.
More recently, I was forced to give up a ministry to a resident I had been visiting for two years at Broadmeadow Nursing Home. After a period of mourning, I was ready this time for what was to come along next. I was able to say to God, “Okay, I’m open to what you have for me now.” I was sitting at my desk recently, wondering what I would do if my current church had another frustrating year with the Stewardship campaign, and I found myself longing for a church with pews and organ music and, at the same time, knowing how I had come to love many of my fellow church members. At that very moment, the phone rang and the ID said the caller was from our Presbytery. It startled me. It was a blatant intrusion into my spiritual life, when I had so recently and reluctantly given up my visitation at the nursing home. The caller asked me to serve as a on a commission to help guide the direction of another Presbyterian church in town. This time I knew what was happening as it transpired, and I accepted the invitation!
I love my God not because I haven’t suffered. I’ve been divorced twice; I have bouts of depression; I’m impatient, and I am a social phobic. But now I have more perspective and can see how throughout my life how God has entered my daily reality, touched me, used me, and therefore blessed me, even when I didn’t know it at the time. I have many more wonderful examples, most outstandingly that at age 38, after being assured that my husband and I could “not in a million years” conceive a child, I gave birth to a daughter. I love Him for giving me the many precious dogs who have comforted me over the difficult years; truly an expression of a God who wants to delight us with his creativeness.
I love my God not because I haven’t suffered. I’ve been divorced twice; I have bouts of depression; I’m impatient, and I am a social phobic. But now I have more perspective and can see how throughout my life how God has entered my daily reality, touched me, used me, and therefore blessed me, even when I didn’t know it at the time
Finally, my family’s exposure to music, along with my early church experience, the many years spent in the youth choir, and later in other church choirs over the years, has given me a soul that rejoices at all times to hymns, carols, and symphonies. His grace makes me say, “Is it I, Lord?” and mean it.
I love God because he so obviously loves me.
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 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.”
I went into the ocean and was immediately swept off my feet by a riptide. There was nothing in the water for me to float on, and I was running out of energy. I asked God if this was how I was going to die.
My faith grew to have a focus on trusting in God’s word as assurance. To believe his promises are true. We experienced the faithfulness of the God who called us in many, many ways. In addition to joyous times, we faced grief and pain.
A child evangelist came to my church and, while performing some magic trick, made it very clear that Jesus loved us so much that He could take away the guilt I felt from my stubborn, rebellious ways.
In my job as a Maryland State Trooper, I asked God to guide me to those abusing alcohol and drugs. I prayed for guidance and protection for all of them.