I was born and raised in a close knit, loving, Christian family. Both my parents were involved in the church for as long as I can remember. My father worked for the Boy Scouts and as a result we moved several times during my childhood (Ohio, Illinois, Minnesota and New Jersey) but wherever we were my mom was involved in the church. I went to Sunday school, vacation bible school, and even youth retreats (at the beach) when we lived in New Jersey. I sang in the youth choir and was active in the youth group when I was in high school (New Jersey). I enjoyed church as a kid. It was a place that I felt I belonged and was comfortable. Most of the time we were members of the Presbyterian church but when we lived in Minnesota, our small town did not have a Presbyterian church so we went to the Congregational church. I didn’t notice that there was much difference and when asked one time, my mom told me the critical things weren’t different.
As a single adult with no children, I found it difficult to “fit in” in church. I tried a few times but was dissatisfied so I just quit trying.
I attended a small Methodist sponsored college in Minnesota and As part of my “liberal arts” education (I have a BA in Biology), I was required to take at least 1 religion course. The course I chose to take was a comparison of the major religions of the Western world (Catholicism, Protestantism, Judaism [CPJ]). This gave me my first serious look at religion in a much broader sense and introduced me to religious dogma that was, in some respects, quite different.
After college, I drifted away from regular church attendance and membership. As a single adult with no children, I found it difficult to “fit in” in church. I tried a few times but was dissatisfied so I just quit trying. I would go to church occasionally with friends or family but never found a place to call home and did not feel a need to go to a formal church. I saw myself as a good Christian because I tried to treat everyone the way I wanted to be treated (the golden rule has always been a good idea)and I thought of myself as a kind, compassionate, honest person.
When I was asked to write my faith story, my first thought was “I don’t have a faith story” or at least I don’t know what my faith story is. In the past few months as I have been thinking about this I realize that my story is actually in the process of evolving.
Traveling through Europe with 2 friends from college for 3 months on the “$5/day plan” also lessened my hold on any formal, specific church. We traveled through a dozen different countries and met and interacted with a lot of local people. I saw a lot of good but also a lot of bad that came from people who abused “religion”. I became leery of people who appeared to take their own “religion” too seriously, passionately. To me it tended to equate, “intolerance”. To be sure, at this time most of my friends were of the same mind so I became very comfortable in the “light, casual” relationship to church/religion.
When I was asked to write my faith story, my first thought was “I don’t have a faith story” or at least I don’t know what my faith story is. In the past few months as I have been thinking about this I realize that my story is actually in the process of evolving. I realize that my faith in God and Jesus has always been firm but it has always been more intellectual than emotional. The deaths of my parents, a very close friend and even the sudden, unexpected accidental death of my niece did not shake my belief in God, Jesus or heaven. I knew in my head and in my heart they were all safe and in good hands. I also think of God as benevolent.
Recently, I have found a church family and I have begun studying the Bible. It happened somewhat by accident. A lifelong friend who was staying with us said to me one Sunday, “Come on, we’re going to church.” My sister had been attending church since we moved to Delaware, but I had been content to stay home. One Sunday the music director said the handbell choir needed more members. I thought, “No, I wasn’t ready to get involved.” At the end of the service I found myself volunteering for bell choir! Not long afterward I was invited to serve on the church session. That idea was really scary, but here I am serving as Outreach Elder!
Although there was no sudden AHH HAA moment in my life that made me think “Wow that was God”, my faith has always been there.
More Faith Stories
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.
I was so surprised because my young child taught me much about faith – my faith – so I had to be faithful with my God.
I cannot explain to this day what happened next. Suddenly my car went out of control for no reason. I’m on the New Jersey turnpike and there’s a truck next to me, a truck behind me, a truck in front of me. I said, “Oh my God, I’m going to die.”
I remember her giving me a little booklet and there was a lot of singing. Then she gave me this picture of this beautiful man with a little glow behind him, and she says, “That’s Jesus.”
The people that were doing the auditions with the African Children’s Choir came to my church and they were looking for children that could sing. Because I was active in Sunday school, I was chosen to be in the very first African Children’s Choir in 1984.
I was 12 in a small Baptist church when the pastor made it very clear that a decision needed to be made to accept Jesus and to follow Him. It was a very sincere commitment to surrender my life to Jesus when I was 12.