My name is Tina Sipp, and I’m from Spokane, WA.
I actually became a Christian when I was 12 years old. Though we had gone to church services at a military base Chapel, it wasn’t until I was 12 in a small Baptist church that 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. I would say I was more compelled to make the decision because I wanted to do the good and right thing, and not so much based on a perceive need for grace. So I made that commitment during a church service. As life has played out, I believe God honored that 12-year-old’s sincere decision.
The church where I became a follower of Jesus continued to invest in my spiritual growth as a young adult. I had great Christian teaching, great Christian role models and mentors – very solid discipleship. I went on to a Christian college where, again, I had great instruction and Christian adults I looked to as examples.
However, in my 20s, I made some poor decisions and chose my own path for a time. This eventually brought me to a place where I was desperate for a clean slate – a new start – and this is when grace met me.
I was so grateful for His gracious forgiveness and this propelled my faith.
In my 30s I would say there was another line drawn in the sand of my commitment to Jesus. I was watching many people get married but I was always going home alone. This hurt became “the thing” that caused me to question God’s goodness and pushed me to a decisive crossroads. Either He was good and deserved the entirety of my life, or He wasn’t and I should just pack my bags and go my own way. God’s patience and grace in walking me through that time ended up becoming a very significant turning point in my faith. I truly believed He was good and could entrust my life to Him, regardless of my outward circumstances.
During this time I had been serving the Lord through a college campus ministry. Though I hoped I was depositing truth and godly character into the lives of those college students, I’m pretty certain God was using THEM to grow ME. The level of commitment and discipline in their Christian walk within the setting of a large secular university was a beautiful tool the Lord used in my life to further shape my faith.
It was during this time of campus ministry that one of the students introduced me to the African Children’s Choir by taking me to my first concert. Having not ever been particularly drawn to children, I was quite surprised to be so mesmerized by the children on the stage that night. Over the course of the next 15 years in college ministry, I saw the choir a few more times and had the same magnetic draw to them. Just at the time when I knew the season of college ministry was coming to a close, I saw another choir and knew it was time to pursue working with the organization. A year and a half later I was out on the road with my first choir – and that was 19 years ago!
The beauty is that I have now worked with some of those children who were on the stage the night I felt called to serve with this organization. It’s become a full circle, and now here I am on this Ambassador Tour with one of the children that was in my very first choir.
The Lord has used my time with the choir to continue shaping my faith through the lives of our African brothers and sisters: the way they express themselves, the way they live life, the way they live out their faith, and how they live in community. It has really challenged me. It’s helped me see beyond my Western perspective and culture, and I would say, to live more biblically.
So, why do I love Jesus? Because God has used so many different things to grow me and to reveal Himself to me over the years. I have seen His commitment to draw that little 12-year-old girl to Himself, to keep me close, to draw me into deeper waters with Him. It’s nice to be in my 60s looking back and seeing how all the pieces have been used to develop a purer love for Him.
My faith is not a “youth group” faith, it’s not my parents faith, it’s not just a part of my church culture. It’s in my heart to love Jesus and to protect and honor His name. I want to make His name glorious. He’s changed me. I’ve seen it and I embrace the coming changes. The future is bright because there’s still so much to learn about Him. I look forward to the process of seeing my heart shaped to be more like Him.
More Faith Stories
If you draw lines from wide to long, and deep to high, they form a cross. On the cross I behold a love that went infinitely wide to forgive, infinitely long to finish the work, infinitely deep to be forsaken, and infinitely high into glory. Only Jesus poured out a love like that!
He said he would love to take my virginity from me. So, as my friend, Michelle, watched, he did, bent over me in the kitchen. It seemed as if only thirty seconds went by, and then it was over. I couldn’t understand the big hype. But I found out I could get pregnant in those 30 seconds.
I’d been drinking all day long and pulled out into the path of an oncoming vehicle with a with a woman and all of her children packed into this car. They T-boned me and at that moment everything went blank.
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!
One Sunday afternoon I was sitting drunk in a bar, and I’m looking around. The only ones in the bar were the bartender, some shady looking guy in the corner, my ex-boyfriend’s mom, and me. I heard this voice in my head say, “What am I doing here?”
This past year I found a black dot on my thumbnail that looked like a pencil point. Nothing much to it. Then it became an abrasion at the end of my nail. My doctor referred me to an orthopedic surgeon who found it to be malignant skin cancer.