Stories of Hope
I grew up in a dysfunctional home with a step-father who was an alcoholic and my abuser. In 1985, I became a teenage mother and moved to the Bible-belt. I did not grow up in the church like my husband, so you can imagine the shame and guilt I felt knowing that people could do the math and realize we had not been married long enough to have a child.
A few years into our marriage, I had an affair. I was lonely. My husband worked a lot of hours to keep food on the table, and my go-to behavior was men. I told my husband about the affair, so we immediately called the Pastor. The Pastor's response was to talk about it that night and not bring it up again. Although we followed his advice, it was not the best advice for us.
Forward a few years, we moved even further south and got involved with a small church. I felt I had a lot to offer, so I jumped in with both feet. My resume included: Choir, Children's Choir, VBS Volunteer, Youth Group, Bible Bowl, Soccer Coach, and Fall Festival Outreach Coordinator. If the church doors were open, we were there. The problem was the Church was a social activity, and not a relationship with Jesus. Even thought I had this very impressive resume, I still never felt good enough to get into heaven. I always felt there was more I needed to do so that God would forgive me for all of my past mistakes.
The summer I was a youth counselor at camp, a speaker said something that really hit my heart: "If you were to die tonight, do you know for sure that you would go to heaven? Because you see in the Bible it says in Matthew 7, "And on that day many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did we NOT...'" and at that point, all I heard was my resume. Before I knew it, I was in the back talking to an older woman. At that moment, all I knew was I wanted to go to heaven, so I prayed the pray she told me to pray. Afterward, I was back with the youth group singing songs under the pavilion.
I returned home to tell my husband what happened at camp, but he didn't believe that I had not already been a Christian, so this created problems for us. As a new Christian I was eager to learn. I listened to the Pastor and took everything he said as truth without studying the Word for myself. This particular church was adamant about women submitting to their husbands. My best friend even gave me a book on submission. So instead of learning to submit the way the Bible teaches, I started to lose who I was as a person and eventually became a doormat.
During this time I became very unsure of myself, and my relationship with my husband took a turn for the worse. He had an affair with my best friend. I thought my life was over. But I turned to God and through prayer God redeemed our marriage and started us on a process of living our lives Against the Grain, which eventually turned into our God-given ministry.
Over the years, God had given me a powerful testimony, and I through God was done writing my story, until 2011, when I was the victim of a gang attack. I learned from police and clients that the attack was a warning to stop offering freedom to people held in the bondage of abuse, addiction, and negative cycles. That attack made me even more aware of the calling of God on my life, and how serious it is to be on the front lines for Jesus. After a few months of recovery, I was back ministering in the jails, knowing that my attacker, who was never caught, may one day walk into the class I was teaching.
Today God has turned my life around, and I feel He has me on a journey to help people who may not know where to start in learning who God really is, and now to break free from their past--all of the shame and guilt--and start finding HOPE.
Those who share their story are people just like you, who, at one time, felt lost and alone. Yet, their lives turned around by the hope and deliverance they found in Jesus Christ.
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