But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
— Romans 5:8 (NKJV)
I came to know Jesus Christ as my personal LORD and Savior when I was 21. I did not grow up in the church. In fact, neither of my parents had a relationship with Christ, though my mother is still alive. We were a basic middle-class family and lived pretty well economically because my parents worked hard to give us all that we had. My father was an alcoholic, however, so I grew up in a fearful, violent, eggshell-walking, emotional rollercoaster-ride kind of existence. When I was a kid, my mother and I would leave on the nights when my father went into a drunken rage and then come home the next morning. When I was 13 we left for two weeks. When I was 19 we left for three years.
I was away at college during the three-year separation from my dad. I had an apartment off campus when I was at school, and when I came “home,” I was living at an apartment my mother was renting. Anyway, college is when I started hearing about Christ. I ran with the Christian crowd. Toward the end of my junior year, my friends started taking me to church. At the beginning of my senior year, I was sitting with my friends and the pastor said something to the effect of, “If we don’t accept Christ, we’re really rejecting Him.” That one statement hit me like lightning. The conviction was very sharp and sudden. I never knew I had been rejecting Christ my entire life.
I knew I needed Him, but I didn’t want to go up in front of the 300-person congregation. So I drove home that day, telling God all the way home, “I don’t want to reject you; I don’t want to reject you” over and over again. When I arrived back at my apartment off campus, I walked in, turned around, got back in the car, and drove all the way back to church. By that point, the congregation had gone home, and the only one left was the pastor. I grabbed him by the arm and said, “I need Christ and I know it.” At that point, he took me to the altar and explained what a relationship with Christ was so that I knew what I was about to do. Then he led me in actually quite a long prayer, not only about repentance, but the relationship I was about to undertake as well, so I repented for my sins, and asked Christ into my heart that day.
By that evening, everyone in the church knew I had gotten saved. By the next day, all my friends on campus knew it. And I wasn’t the one who told them. The word just spread like crazy. The local people in the church who were not part of the college didn’t know my name, so they just kept referring to me as “the girl who just got saved.”
I had been part of Intervarsity Christian Fellowship and the Baptist Student Union before I was saved, and I still continued to be part of them after I was saved. After graduation, I came home for a bit and then went on a Young Life retreat to Windy Gap, North Carolina. I ended up leaving for the retreat a few days earlier than I had planned, because at that point, I was fighting with my mother, so I just told her I was leaving and split. I stayed with a friend until it was time to go to Windy Gap. There was actually a lot of healing that took place on that retreat because many others came from backgrounds similar to mine. God really did a work there.
After the retreat was over and I came home for good, my parents got back together. My dad saw that I was going to church a lot and told me God would get sick of looking at me if I went to church too much. Even after I got my first apartment, my dad and I would always get into a fight whenever I went to do something at church.
Later on, he started asking questions about God, and I answered them as best I could with the “baby Christian” knowledge I had at the time. At one point, my Bible study group was studying the book of Ruth, and I told my dad the whole story of Ruth and the meaning behind it. Dad never found the LORD, however, and committed suicide when I was 27.
In the midst of all this, I was discipled by a mature believer, using Operation Timothy. We met once a week for a year. That discipleship process healed me of an awful lot of trauma as a result of my child-of-an-alcoholic background.
I have now been a Christian for more than 30 years. Out of His eternal love, He has not only saved me and delivered me from hell, but He has also delivered me from an awful lot of worldly, unhealthy mindsets. And just like any other growing Christian, He is constantly changing me and speaking to me through His Word. One of the great things I have learned from my walk with the LORD is that peace and “solid ground” are found only in Him. When everything else falls apart, He is the Word that stands forever in Isaiah 40:8, and He is the friend that loves at all times in Proverbs 17:17.
By the grace of God, He has used me in probably more ministries than I can remember at this point, including evangelism, missions, teaching, singles ministries, women’s ministries, photography, music, and most recently, online ministries.
And my story continues….
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