Oh, my. The testimony we heard on the second night was nothing short of ah-mazing! No names are used and some details may be changed to protect true identity, and also because my memory is faulty. You are reading the Extreme Reader’s Digest version, by the way.
What you are about to read is not so much a conversion story, but a life story filled with ups and downs, and ultimately a story that points to the faithfulness of God.
Picture this: A dynamic, sweet looking older woman walks up to the front of the room and tells you she is going to share her testimony. What immediately goes through your head if you’re like me? I’m thinking, “Her story is probably really boring, she probably returned a couple of library books late, and had a speeding ticket and then realized she needed Jesus.”
Isn’t that what we all do? Judge people by who they are now, after God has grown them for many years. While secretly on the inside, every one of us is saying, “If you only knew me then. If you only knew what I went through to get to this point.”
By the time this woman finished with her testimony, every woman in America could have identified with a part of her story. Here goes:
As a young girl, her family went to church and had a normal life. Her father dearly loved her and she always felt safe and secure with him, but he died young. After he died, her mentally ill mother kicked her to the curb as a young teen. Her mother didn’t even want her to live with friends, she wanted to see her on the streets suffering, and she never knew why.
She wasn’t able to finish high school, and in order to create distance from her mother, she moved to a new city where she thought a friend was living. She had no money, couldn’t locate the friend, and didn’t know what to do, so she asked her cab driver to take her to an inexpensive hotel. Turns out this particular hotel was affordable because of the business that went on there in the night time. She needed the money and so joined the ranks of the call girls at that hotel. She feared she had hit the bottom, and she tried to commit suicide, but God wouldn’t let her go yet. Her recovery was lengthy.
After that, she got out of that lifestyle and married a nice man. At least he seemed like a nice man. Turns out he belonged to the Mob. Yes, that Mob.
So, one failed marriage behind her, she set out for something new. She went to get a GED at the local college, and aced the test without even taking a class for it. The counselor told her she needed to go to college.
Somewhere along the way she met another seemingly nice man and they married. She had her first beautiful baby girl, and all was right with the world. She suddenly understood what unconditional love was about, as she adored this little baby girl. She grew closer to God during this time, but her husband began to get abusive with her.
She stayed in the marriage and soon he had a debilitating event. Suddenly he had become disabled and couldn’t work any longer. He allowed his wife to go to college because she would now have to support the family. She loved children and wanted to become a child therapist, and so completed her degree in that field. It was always touch and go in the home, but her husband seemed to be mellowing because of his disability. He had a reputation all over town as a mean man though.
One day she found out her brother had died and she desperately wanted to go back to her hometown for the funeral. Her husband told her that her doctor forbade it because she was 8 months pregnant. She defied him and went to say goodbye to her dear brother. When she returned home she saw her doctor and he told her he never told her husband she shouldn’t go, but to the contrary he advised she should go.
The couple had their second beautiful daughter not long after that. Another example of God’s faithfulness, she was a source of joy.
The years went on, long and hard. Her mother fell ill, and she went to see her. She got to talk with her and have the assurance that her mother had repented and was now trusting Christ for her salvation. Her mother died not long after that.
Her husband continued to try to control her, but she was finally in a place where she was able to leave, and she did for a while. He came to the realization that he needed to change, and he was changed by God as he trusted Christ as his savior. Everyone who knew him before noticed the night and day change in his life.
More years passed. The mental illness that haunted her mother turned out to be hereditary, and she learned that her oldest daughter had it as well. She did well on her medications, but didn’t like to take them. She died very young (in her 30’s) from a drug overdose as a result of the illness, and her husband died a few years later. But they were both reconciled to God.
The moral to this story? Life is hard. Being a Christian doesn’t make it any easier; bad things still happen. But God is faithful to the end.
This woman’s testimony (and I know I’ve left out a lot of it, my memory is not what it used to be) produced such fruit! She was so brave for sharing, and it affected everyone in the room. We witnessed TRUE broken and contrite hearts, REAL confession and heartfelt prayer. We strengthened relationships, renewed trust in the Lord to heal us rather than our trying to do it ourselves. So many tears were shed, but none of us would have traded that evening for anything.