I was raised in a church-going home. So, I thought I was a Christian. I claimed to be, when it was convenient. But I KNEW there was something more to being a Christian than church on Sundays because I had some Christian Friends and some Christian Family. As a teen, I even attended some functions with some Christian friends and I saw the joy in their lives. They talked openly about the Lord and what He has done for them. I was intrigued by this, because where I came from, we only talked about God on Sundays. I remember going to a retreat with a friend and in my journal claiming Jesus Christ as my personal Savior, but I’m pretty sure I wasn’t saved then, because I didn’t acknowledge myself as a sinner. I was a pretty good kid… so I thought.
Actually, the truth of the matter was that I wasn’t a good kid… In fact, I was rebellious and deceitful. Most people thought I had it all together and was a “good person,” because I was active at school and got good grades, but at home I was openly defiant and caused a lot of turmoil in our home. I had a terrible temper; life was my way or the high-way.
By the end of high school, I was drinking pretty regularly on the weekends. Through college I was drinking pretty much every weekend, plus one or two nights through the week. I still can’t believe I graduated from college with honors looking back at my habits. I spent nights at the bars and couldn’t remember walking home or other events through the nights. I knew the Lord was calling me even then, because in the beginning of college, one night I went out drinking and the next night I went to Campus Crusades for Christ and I remember thinking here is another group of people on fire for Jesus. I had a choice to make… I knew that I would be better off with these people than in the bars, but I let sin win. I praise God that my life didn’t end then.
After I got married, we (Kevin & I) still went out most weekends. We didn’t see it as a problem at the time, because it didn’t interfere with our jobs or school. But I know sin leads to sin and I can only imagine where we’d be if we would’ve kept on that path. My guess is #1 divorced and #2 alcoholics. Kevin and I had a rough start to our marriage because our priorities weren’t straight. We placed our hobbies, sports and partying in front of our responsibilities. Then we moved to Findlay.
I KNOW it was the Lord that brought us here. #1 Living here away from our family and friends MADE us examine our relationship and realize that if we were going to make it work, we had to be committed. #2 If we would’ve stayed in Toledo, we probably would’ve stayed in the church we went to there. After living here a year, we started “church-shopping” because we thought it was the right thing to do. I had gone to church all my life and I guess I wanted to keep “religion” a part of our family. About the time we started “shopping”, I got involved with some friends in a business adventure. The couple that led our meetings were Christians. Again, they would talk about how the Lord was answering prayer about this and that and they would pray before their meals and again I was intrigued. At this point we had tried out some of the churches in the from the denomination that I was familiar with and we weren’t real thrilled, same-ol‘ same-ol’ . We noticed that our friends were excited about Jesus and we wanted to know why. So we asked them where they went to church and they told us and invited us to go on Sunday. We went, and we were overwhelmed. The people were happy to be there, they weren’t going to church because they “thought they should” or out of duty. They were there to serve the Lord and praise Him. Every aspect of the service was exciting and people were getting “saved”. We didn’t even really know what that meant. I have to admit, it all was a bit overwhelming considering where we had come from, but we were open minded and came back. We heard preaching on sin, on heaven, on hell, on living for the Lord and The Lord kept drawing us back. One week, they had a guest preacher for 3-4 nights speaking on prophecy, the rapture of the church, the Millennial Reign etc. The first night, Sunday, the Lord spoke to me in a BIG way. I knew that night if I didn’t confess my sins, and accept Jesus Christ as my Personal Savior I was going to hell or if Jesus came, I would not be included in those who were going to meet him in the clouds. But I didn’t respond. I was afraid of what my friends would’ve thought if I went forward at that service. Boy, talk about grace, what if we would’ve died that night, but we didn’t accept Christ because we were afraid of what people thought!!?? Talking with Kevin afterwards, he was feeling the exact same conviction I was and we talked with our friends. They explained that Jesus was calling us and that the next time we should respond. We didn’t go to the Monday night meeting, but on Tuesday again we heard preaching on prophecy that had been fulfilled and what was to come and I KNEW I had to do it that night! I went to the altar and started confessing my sins. The pastor came over to me and asked me if I knew I was a sinner and I said, yes and he asked if I wanted Jesus Christ to be my Personal Savior that night and I said yes. Jesus came into my life that Tuesday night in May 1997. That in itself is enough to rejoice about, but after I was done at the altar, I noticed my husband, Kevin, also at the altar and he also accepted Christ as his Personal Savior and Jesus came into his life that night too!
We left there elated. I felt as if a HUGE burden had been lifted off of me. I was excited about what Jesus was going to do in our lives.
After getting saved, the convicting power of the Holy Spirit began to change us, but unfortunately people in the church weren’t acting very Christ-like and we became discouraged. There was gossiping and back-stabbing going on and we decided that church wasn’t the place for us. So there we were, saved, baby Christians on our own. We didn’t know we needed to be in God’s Word to grow. We didn’t even realize the importance of being in church at that time, so we didn’t really get back into church until some friends asked us to come one Sunday to their church. Again, we saw the joy of the Lord on people’s faces, in singing and in response to messages. We heard convicting preaching from God’s Word. God started to change us, slowly at first (because of us, not God) and then like the effect of a snowball, faster and faster to the point we almost didn’t recognize ourselves. We realized the importance of being in God’s Word, being faithful to services, surrounding ourselves with Christian friends and we grew and we are still growing. What has God done for me since getting saved? Well, do you have an hour?? For starters, God touched me to ask forgiveness from people I had hurt in the past and has mended those relationships. God has brought Kevin and me closer than we have ever been, God took the desire for the partying scene out of our lives, but best of all, God saved me from spending eternity in Hell and Jesus is preparing a place for me right now!! (BTW, this was written in 2000).
I said before that when I got saved, I was excited about what Jesus was going to do in our lives. I never would’ve guessed the ministry!!! As far as the ministry goes, I was burdened for lost souls the same night I got saved. I was so excited about getting saved I wanted everyone I knew to know about salvation. The Lord opened doors for me with family and students (even though I was teaching in a public school, I felt prodded in certain situations to “go with the Spirit” when things came up) to share what He had done for me and was doing in my life. I have always love working with young people. I became a teacher and a coach to work with teens. My heart was with that age group, and I love and care about teens. It was my hope that I can just let the Lord work through me and touch young lives to come to know Jesus and to live for Him.
Since becoming a Christian, I felt like the Lord wanted me to do more for Him, but #1 I lacked in self-confidence thinking that I couldn’t possibly know enough to lead people to Him, and #2 I wanted to do it with Kevin. God has shown me that He can and He WILL use me. I prayed that that Lord would burden Kevin’s heart like He did mine and that we would serve the Lord together; in our marriage, in our family. I prayed God would make him a godly husband, father so we would have a good Christian home. God answered that prayer, He turned our lives around, He changed our hearts to live for him as a couple, as parents, in the workplace… but Ephesians 3:20 says that “[God} is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think” and that came into play early in the Summer of 2000. Kevin shared with me that he felt the Lord calling him to work with youth. I thought, that’s awesome. A couple of weeks later, he shared with me that he felt the Lord was calling him to be a Youth Pastor. I praised the Lord for this and never would’ve imagined that God would turn Kevin around so much that he would call him into the ministry. Kevin talked with our Pastor, and he decided that he would start Bible School as soon as possible and applied to Bethany Bible College to start correspondence classes. Now, don’t get me wrong, I had some anxiety about all of this, here we were “established” with Kevin working and we had two small children, but Proverbs 3:5 reminds us to “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart” and I knew that The Lord was in control and would take care of all of the details.
To be continued…