… a firsthand account of God
God’s work in our lives naturally brings forth a testimony. He has called all believers to share it. Our testimony shows the love and personal nature of our Father. When we share our testimony, we are not only encouraging others, but ourselves as well.
In Philemon, verse 6, Paul states, “I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ.”
When we share our testimony, either orally or written, we gain a “full understanding of every good thing” because we are pressing in and reminded of all that God has done. We end up feeling bolder and more full of the Spirit than before we began.
In the video below, I share how I was a believer for many years before God’s love fully captivated me. I’ve also included the testimony I wrote as a new congregant at my church in Prague. So I encourage you to join #testifynow and share your testimony on YouTube. I’d love to hear from you, so please leave a comment or send me a message!
We are all diamonds in the rough
How wonderful it is that the God of the universe would care about you, and about me. We all, who believe, were once far away, but have been brought near and grafted into the family of God. Isn?t is so interesting that God?s call on Believers lives is so uniform and yet profoundly unique at the same time? Those who know Christ have gone through the same process: Recognize we are a mess, confess our sin and need, accept Gods redemptive plan through Christ, and set our hearts on following Him. However, God?s love bursts forth in the details! He sovereignly and supernaturally coordinates people and circumstances to collide at the precise moments that will ultimately press us to confront the most vital question, ?Who do you say I am??.Prior to 1998, I would have said, Jesus was a good guy, but Christianity is just another way to control. Like many youth from an abusive and divorced home, I was making life on my terms. Authority had already done me wrong and I wasn?t going to give it anymore power than I had to. I firmly grasped the idea of humanism and believed I could find, or make, my own happiness. Most of these chapters in life do not end well, or maybe they do not end at all. Some people live their whole lives caught up in the cycle of poverty, abuse, and addiction. Others may get out, but only to live a life of numbness or indifference to spiritual matters. Still others, like my brother, never make it out at all.There have been times that I have wondered how or why I have been chosen. I am not aware of anyone in the history of my family who believed in Christ. For a short period of time in my youngest years, my great-grandparents love shined out like a beacon before their passing. Unfortunately though, I have no recollection of any conversations or introduction to the one true lover of my soul. Instead, I was raised believing all ways are equal (except for Christianity of course) and the key to happiness is found within yourself. Eastern religions, tarot cards and psychics had been the cherry on top that provided more specific direction throughout ones soul searching. However, I am deeply aware now, that someone, somewhere was praying for me and I excitedly look forward to meeting this person, or persons, in heaven!Enter January 1995. I had stopped doing drugs and my drinking had scaled back considerably. My son, Jarrod, just turned 5 years old the previous month and I was thankful to only be working two jobs, instead of three, since Christmas was over and the tree farm closed for the season. At the time, I was also in a serious relationship, but he was not the committed type. Mr Surfer Dude, loved the Outer Banks of North Carolina. His interest prompted me to make a few trips there myself from our hometown in Maryland. Then, one day, as I was laying on the couch, I had the strongest distinct feeling I was supposed to move there. I could not explain it, but I felt pressed to go.
Living under the pressure of our own guilt
Until polished and shined
By the masters hands
Besides working several jobs, I had also been attending college and trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. I did not have family support and was very alone. I decided to take a discovery trip to Wilmington, North Carolina. It is just south of the Outer Banks and has a college there. ??I could continue my studies there after a years break; which I needed to do to in order to gain residency and in state tuition. During that short visit, I found a place to live and thought ?why not?! I signed a years lease and went back to Maryland to pack up and move. Settling into beach life was not hard to do. Every morning, Jarrod would ride the bus a mile down the road to kindergarten and I would begin my day with a walk on the shore watching the sunrise. The apartment complex hired me for various cleaning assignments. Since I lived in a tourist town, it was easy to find other cleaning jobs. I stayed booked with vacation rentals, regular homeowners and some commercial sites. My time was my own and I finally had a good balance of work and play.Life was moving along swimmingly, when one evening, while cleaning a commercial site, the Vice President (VP) of the company was working late. I?d like to think it wasn?t just because I was a fit, bronze, blond that he took interest in me. Nevertheless, we started dating. And while I admittedly appreciated his age (12 years my senior) and the security I felt with him, what was even more touching was how he defined me; a diamond in the rough. Someone finally saw value in me.
?Even though VP worked in Wilmington, he owned a house two hours west in Raleigh, North Carolina. This was his home base so that he could live close to his son (who happened to be 6 months older than mine). Our relationship progressed and after a year of me living in Wilmington, I moved to Raleigh to live with him. Our sons became great friends and spent a lot of time together. VP?s ex-wife, Mary, always welcomed Jarrod. In fact, she was surprisingly gracious to me as well. It did not take long to realize that, even through her occasional teary eyes, her kindness and love was genuine. I wasn?t privy to the details of their divorce, but could tell that she longed for the better days of their marriage.As the boys time together moved from play dates to overnights, Mary asked if she could take Jarrod to church on Sundays. Even though I didn?t subscribe to Christian tenets, I had no problem with him going. Strangely enough, our friendship grew as well and we found ourselves laughing over dessert and coffee on many afternoons. At the time, I could not comprehend how an ex-wife could act as she did in the midst of her pain. I grew to understand the incredible strength Christ had given her. She was able to see me as one who was lost and in need of love, Christs love.After about a year of cohabiting, feelings of discontent started to cause division between VP and I. Then one afternoon, I came in to see him crying and apologizing to me. He tried to explain a dream or vision he had and stated that there were angels everywhere around us in the room. I don?t remember much of what he said, but I later understood he was overcome with conviction. (I had not previously paid attention to the fact that he had been a Christian and wandered away through his separation and divorce). VP then proceeded to tell me that what we were doing was wrong, we needed to end our relationship and he would help me find a new place to live. Scared and devastated, within a few weeks, I moved into my own apartment that was on the same side of town as Mary. She had grown to be a great friend even though she was the same age as my mom; yes 8 years older than VP. In no time, I started going to church with her as well. My life was filled with being a mom, working, finishing college and growing in new relationships with women she introduced me to. Then, one Sunday morning in the spring of 1998, with sweaty palms and a racing heart, I walked to the front of a 3000 seat hotel ballroom to give my life to Christ.One of the biggest revelations immediately pressed upon my heart, was that I was part of a global family. I realized I could go anywhere in the world and have an immediate connection with people in the church. It was a surreal feeling that I knew I would physically experience one day; and here I am in Prague 22 years later.
The lie started subtle enough with a skewed concept of spiritual disciplines. I have sat under some excellent teaching and, in no way, blame anyone but the enemy. My mind created distortions that started with: ?A good, growing Christian would (do this or that)? or ?If you love God, you will (fill in the blank) and He will be happy with you?. Don?t get me wrong. I loved going to church whenever the doors were opened. I loved the Bible studies and worship I participated in and led. I loved doing all the stuff. However, I couldn?t understand why, if I was doing all the right things (and enjoying them from the heart, not just checking off tasks) life still so insanely frustrating and hard? Why was I not changing from the inside out like I had hoped? For years, I begged God for revelation and secretly hated myself even more than before I was a believer. Why do I do what I don?t want to do and don?t do what I want to do?! Then one day, during a time of great refining, God said to my heart, ?Because you are stuck in a cycle of guilt, shame and condemnation. When you sin, in word or deed (no matter how bad), come to me, stop running from me.??He then helped me to understand that people have been this way since the garden. When Adam and Eve sinned, they immediately felt the same, and ran and hid. But God, graciously showed His love by going to them in the garden and asking ?Where are you?? He whispered to my soul, ?Christy, I want you, just the way you are. The enemy wants you to feel bad and run away from me. Then when time has passed, and the guilt has worn away, you feel you can be close to me again. Only soon after, you trip and fall into the same cycle. Instead, when you sin, no matter how bad you feel it is, I want you to run TO ME. I will cleanse you with my love and set you right again.? WHAT? How can I run TO HIM? But the truth is, even before a word is on my tongue (or temptation in my heart) He knows it completely and loves me anyway.So regardless of how devoted I was to study or serving, my heart was not able to change until I grasped this reality of who He really is to me. I knew the truth of God would set me free, but I didn?t know how to personalize it in this way. The enemy is always looking for opportunities to destroy us, but God says He will use everything for the good of those who love them. What a relief, because the years after my conversion were fraught with some pretty tough times. December of 1999, my son asked that I help him reconnect with his dad. During that initial conversation with Jarrod?s father, I found out he had recently accepted Christ. Surprised, I invited him down to North Carolina for a visit, which extended into a two week stay due to a historic snow storm. In my excitement, I was quick to make seemingly logical conclusions instead of asking for direction from the Spirit. While we had the makings for a dramatic story, neither of us paid attention to the red flags, and we were married 6 months later.In the 16 years we were married, I was blessed with 5 more children and worked toward having my life long dream of a farm. I didn?t realize the vows I had made as a hurting child: 1, to have a big family that would be full of the love I longed for, and 2, to have a farm in which to make a home. My grand vision came to a crashing halt when I lost the farm through our separation. Words do not contain enough depth to describe the intense anguish I felt. The rage I had been trying to contain and manage erupted into a full blown disaster. I helplessly submitted to the idea that God was obviously against me and I was never going to find joy and peace.
Two decades have passed since I accepted Christ and I have to say, it has been nothing like what I expected. When we begin our new found relationship, we bring varying degrees of baggage. Some issues we drop immediately, while others we work through with Him on a longer time table. Additionally, we can have misunderstandings and lies that have to be sorted out. It is a little painful to admit, but I spent the majority of my walk under the cloud on one big lie: Life is so hard, I must be doing something wrong and my Father is not happy with me. I somehow had the misconception that ?now that I know the God of the universe, and He was my Father who loves me, life will get easier?.?
?In 2016, after several years of reverting back to my old life, God tenderly reminded me of a vision I had during a bible study back in 2004. I had been in a group working through Believing God, by Beth Moore, which followed Abraham?s call. In my mind, I saw a cartoon image of the United States, with dotted lines going around the country, indicating a long road. There was a camper on the dotted line in the north west area of the country. God pressed upon me a question, ?How would you like to go camping across the states??. At the time I had 3 children under 4 years old and thought, ?Wow, that would be cool ? at a later time.?I was stunned when God brought the vision back to me. It was the first major ?reconnection? I felt with Him since life unraveled after the farm. Following multiple times in prayer, I understood He was calling me to buy a camper and go cross country with the kids. There are so many details I would love to share, but suffice it to say, it was a huge spiritual learning experience. The main theme that God wanted to impart to me was that no matter what, He sees me, He is with me and provides for me. After a 6 month stint traveling through the northern part of the US, He sent me back east. However, it would not be to North Carolina, but to West Virginia.We settled into a modest house outside of Morgantown and lived the standard American life. After several months of difficulty finding a suitable job, God used a random Facebook ad to bless me with a stay at home job. I began teaching English to Chinese students online. Through this opportunity, He reminded me of my initial passion for missions when I first became a believer. Through prayer and Internet searching, I came upon Christian International School of Prague. I spent many months talking with an agency about the prospect of working there, when suddenly I felt like I hit a wall. God pressed the pause button and led me to head off cross country camping again. ?There were many reasons why I knew the second time around was going to be much more challenging. Foremost was the ongoing theme of refining. As a mom, I desperately wanted to be settled in a home with my children, but I could not ignore the increasing internal pressure to go. I knew there was a purpose I could not see yet. So, in June 2018, almost two years to the day, we set off again, knowing I was to make it completely to the west coast this time. Once we made it to Washington State, I had planned to travel south along the coast. However, God was not guiding me to go past Oregon. Winter was coming and I needed direction. One day during prayer, I heard the Spirit whisper, ?Do you want to go skiing?? I thought, surely that was not from God, but the more I pressed in and researched, the doors were to easy to walk through. So instead of heading south through sunny California, we wintered in the northern panhandle of Idaho?. in a 28 foot travel trailer? with 5 kids, 3 dogs and a cat. Yea, I can?t believe it even as I write it. Yet, God made it so clear and normal to me at the time! I?m sure you can imagine all sorts challenges we must have faced. I look forward to sharing those with you sometime as well. There were blessings of course, like season lift tickets to ski resort a mile down the road and I met some wonderful people at the local church. It didn?t matter, how cold it was outside, it was blazing hot with the refiners fire inside that camper. God was doing a work, and quite frankly, I hated it. It brought out the worst in me, but I couldn?t run. On several occasions, I would cry out to the kids, that I too wanted to hitch up and high tail it back east, but I couldn?t because doing so would be outside of God?s will. It did not escape me that we were staying in the Silver Valley and I went to church in Smelterville. The area had been known for its Silver Mining as well as (at one time) having the largest smelting facility in the world. During our stay there, I was then prompted to revisit the idea of moving to Prague but not with an agency. Through some trial and error in understanding, I realized I was to go self funded with my online work and volunteer at CISP (The Lord has since opened the door for me to partner with a mission agency; of which I am currently raising support). The idea was insanely crazy to me. I had never been overseas, much less go self funded as a single mom. Even though I constantly battled doubt in my head, I continued to move forward with the next step. It was evident that God had been uniquely preparing us for what I termed ?Book 2? of my life. Before turning those pages though, part of burning off the dross was burning through some long held lies and beliefs; about myself and Him. It was then, that He revealed the cycle of thought that held me back from the abundant life I longed for. I finally realized, in the midst of my many failures, that I no longer needed to run from Him, but He DESIRED me to run TO Him. Not to be beat over the head with condemnation, but to wash me with His love. We have now been in Prague just over 8 months. There were times in the beginning that were excruciatingly hard. God has poured out an astonishing amount of grace to get us through and settle our hearts. Even now, with the uncertainties of Covid-19 and quarantine, He brings us peace inside our four walls (not withstanding the boys bouncing off them throughout the day). I am so thankful we have been led to PCF. I truly appreciate the love and acceptance that has been shared, and just as equally, the openness to have people develop to their full potential in Christ. ???
The following are testimonies of fellow believers in my church and those that inspired me from the Internet. I encourage you to share your testimony as well.?https://youtu.be/gZm-HRyK9eghttps://youtu.be/9yaLW1Dphhshttps://youtu.be/38YjBOPLBo8https://youtu.be/Q9ov09ifc5Uhttps://youtu.be/kmJr1wGPK-khttps://youtu.be/xVBFsClmi6Ihttps://youtu.be/AoOJ79A9XL8https://youtu.be/qasH9y5eUdshttps://youtu.be/F2J4hPVLt8I
What about you?
You don’t have a testimony? Would you like to have one? Are you longing for a love you can’t seem to find? Are you at the end of your rope? Exhausted from living life on your own terms? Do you feel like your life is without purpose??
I’d love to share with you what life is like with Christ.
Joyce Meyer’s shares what it
means to accept Christ.
Josh McDowell, a former skeptic, tackles some tough questions.
(click on the image)
If you have accepted Christ, or you have questions,
I’d love to chat with you.?