Ann Arbor Assembly of God Stories...
Toby's Story (added 12/21/2009); Aileen's Story (added 12/21/2009); Billy's Story(added 12/21/2009);
Carl's Story (added 12/21/2009); Daisy's Story (added 12/21/2009); Eleanor's Story (added 12/21/2009);
Leah's Story (added 3/22/2010); Ehi's Story (added 5/18/2010); Gary's Story (added 5/18/2010);
Heather's Story (added 5/18/2010); Josh B's Story (added 5/18/2010); Josh K's Story (added 5/18/2010);
Joe's Story (added 5/18/2010); Jodi's Story (added 5/18/2010); Judy's Story (added 5/18/2010);
Jim's Story (added 5/18/2010); Kari's Story (added 5/18/2010); Pastor Bill's Story (added 5/18/2010);
Pastor Jeremy's Story (added 5/18/2010); Sheila's Story (added 5/18/2010); Susan's Story (added 5/18/2010);
Tammy's Story (added 6/30/2010); Gerald's Story (added 9/8/2010);
I grew up in a Christian home, in fact I was a ‘PK’ (pastor’s kid). Both my parents were (and still are) actively involved in the ministry and as a little kid I loved God and everything about church. Even though I loved God and everything, I still hadn’t asked Him into my life to take over. One afternoon in June, I was about 7 or 8, my dad called me and we started talking and he had the ‘salvation talk’ with me. He asked if I had ever at any point asked God to be Lord in my life and surrendered to Him and I said no. That June afternoon, I asked Jesus to be Lord in my life.
I wish I could say that once I did that life became a bed of roses; unfortunately, that was not the case. A couple of months later, I started forming a really terrible habit of lying. By the time I was 9, I was a hard core compulsive liar. I lied about everything and anything. Thankfully, I had really prayerful parents who were always on my case and God dealt with this habit in my life. By the time I was 10, I was off the lying path and back on track and I rededicated my life to God.
Looking back through the years, I have seen God at work in my life. There are a lot of things that I would have done, which would have made my parents and God not very happy and messed me up for a while, but I know I have been protected from doing a lot of those things and for that I am grateful to God and also to the people who I know haven’t stopped praying for me! Yes, I know I am not perfect, and I probably won’t be until I see Him, but for 9 years of my 19 years on this earth, I have been able to lead a life that I know God is proud of (for the most part!), and even when I do mess up, He is always there to correct and love me. I have discovered that as long as my heart is right with God and my focus is on His plan and will, it’s all good!
It is because of His love for me (and for you) that He is always there, with His arms wide open, saying, “Come! Yes you have messed up, but I still love you. You still are my child.” It is also because of this amazing love that He sent His only son to die. So, if you haven’t, why don’t you invite Him into your life and see the awesome changes He will make happen in your life. Jesus definitely makes the difference!
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In the spring of 1983, the Lord called my family to serve him. I have to share the amazing story of how the Lord called my mother. On day, while experiencing chest pain, a bright light surrounded her chair, and a voice said, “Worship me.” She saw a vision of herself with her hands raised, praising God. God led my parents to an Assemblies of God church, where I met Christ.
A Sunday School teacher presented the gospel to me. At three years old, I dedicated my life to the Lord. I had the privilege of attending a Christian school from the first through twelfth grade. At sixteen, I was baptized; that day was the happiest day of my life.
I sought the baptism of the Holy Spirit since my pre-teen years. In college, I was blessed to attend a wonderful spirit- filled church, where I received this beautiful gift. God knew that I would encounter many challenges and questions during those next few years. He saw me through every one.
Since, God has blessed me with a heaven-sent husband and two sweet dogs. The Lord has seen me through every trial, sickness, and need. He’s always been there, and I’m very grateful for his presence in my life. I know that I’m nothing without him, but He has a plan and purpose for my life.
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My best friend tricked me into getting saved. I had just entered my first semester at college and recently broke off a two year relationship. I was having a hard time making friends at a commuter school, missing high school and the friends there, and it just seemed that no one cared in college. I was very lonely and depressed. One of my friends from high school and I kept in touch and we hung out every so often. During Halloween, there was an opportunity for me to get extra credit by attending a play on campus. My friend, Erin, agreed to go with me, but the night of the performance I was depressed and I told her I didn't want to go to the play. Erin wouldn't let me back out. She said she wanted to hang out and go to a play. Reluctantly, I agreed and Erin came and picked me up. As we were going to the play, I noticed Erin was not going toward campus. She said that since I really didn't want to see the play on campus, she was going to take me to see another play. It was at her church! I was irritated, but since we were already there, I went in and watched the play.
Nightmare on Embury Street put the fear of God into me and hundreds of others that night. The play showed a plane crash and what happened to the people on it after they died. As the people died, their names were searched for in the Lamb's Book of Life. When the names were not found, the people were carried off to hell. Even good people were getting sent to hell because they didn't have a relationship with Jesus, thus their names were not in the Lamb's Book of Life. Finally, one person's name was in the Lamb's Book of Life and God then welcomed that person into heaven with open arms. I wanted that - to be welcomed with open arms and loved. After the performance, the pastor of the church asked if anyone wanted to know, without a shadow of a doubt, that they’d be greeted with open arms in heaven when they died. He encouraged people to come to the altar. I wanted to go, but I couldn't move. There was heat and fire climbing up my legs and I literally couldn't move. Erin touched my shoulder and said, "It's okay." Instantly, the heat disappeared, and I felt a sense of peace I'd never felt before. I went to the altar, accepted Jesus into my heart and we've been best friends ever since. Life still isn't easy, college didn't get any easier, but with Jesus with me, it didn't seem quite so lonely anymore.
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After I attended one semester of college in 1950, I joined the Navy in order to avoid being drafted into the Army. I had no direction in my life and knew nothing about the Lord. My parents and family were nominal Christians.
In the Navy, I was trained as an aircraft mechanic and was stationed in the San Francisco area. I became good friends with another enlisted guy by the name of Bill. We hung around together at bars and clubs at night and worked at our jobs during the day.
At the time, Bill was dating a girl by the name of Lucy who lived in Oakland, California. Lucy, along with her mother, had found Jesus Christ as their personal Savior. They attended Calvary Temple in Oakland. Lucy invited Bill and I to come with her one evening to hear a young evangelist who was speaking in their church.
As we attended the service together the next evening, this young man told us how Jesus died a terrible death to pay the price for my sins. The realization that I was not only a sinner, but that I was not acceptable in God’s Kingdom in that condition, was made very real to me through the presence of the Holy Spirit. That evening His conviction caused me to accept the offer to come forward and accept Jesus Christ as my personal Savior.
My life has not always been smooth and painless since that day but, I can say, that looking back over the past 58 years, there is no question in my mind, that our Lord and Savior has directed my life and prospered my spirit. I am truly blessed by His Grace and blessed with a wonderful wife and family.
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I grew up attending a mainline Protestant denominational church. I knew all the Bible stories and sacraments, but did not know Christ as my personal Savior. The summer before my senior year in high school, I determined to be a better Christian. This meant to me that I wouldn’t cuss (which I didn’t do much of in the first place) and I’d attend church and youth group. I met a boy at school who asked me, “What is a Christian?” I realized I couldn’t give him a good answer. He invited me to his youth group (at Ypsilanti A/G) and there we watched a movie. While I didn’t go to the altar to receive Christ, my heart was beating so hard in my chest that I thought it would slam right out! Two days later, Nov. 2, 1984, I knelt at my bedside and asked Christ to be my Savior and Lord.
I look back and realize that someone somewhere down the road had prayed for me and the Holy Spirit was nudging my heart. I am so grateful that He did! (“You did not wait for me to draw near to you, but you clothed yourself in frail humanity/You did not wait for me to cry out to you, but you let me hear your voice calling me.”) I was a pretty good kid (good grades, respectful to my parents and family, no drinking, no drugs) so I can’t say what Christ saved me out of, but I am certain He saved me from some bad decisions I would have made in college had I not received Him in high school. It is amazing how He has been with me through trying circumstances and how He has changed me. (“There’s a peace I’ve come to know, though my heart and flesh may fail/There’s an anchor for my soul I can say, It is well.”) I can’t imagine living this life without having the stability I have found in my Savior. (“I’ll say of the Lord, You are my strength, my shield, my fortress, my portion, deliverer/My shelter, strong tower, my very present help in time of need.”) The longer I follow Christ, the more I realize that I not only need Him more, I want more of Him! (“Now my life to You I give/Hallelujah/Hallelujah/Let my lifesong sing to You.”)
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I was about 8 years old when I accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Savior. I do not remember many of the details that surrounded this event, however, I do remember I was in my Sunday School class and I was the only one there other than my teacher. I also cannot remember the Sunday School lesson or my teacher’s name, or, for that matter, what she looked like, except that she had shoulder length, dark brown hair. I do remember, however, her question to me, asking me if I would like to ask Jesus into my heart and my answer was, “yes”! I have always been so grateful that our Heavenly Father knows each one of us so well. He even knew us before we were born. He knows everything we are going to say even before we say it. He knows our personality, our nature, our beginning, and our ending. He knew that when I was 8 years old, that I was a very shy little girl. That is why, I am sure, He arranged the one-on-one situation on that day for me to say, yes to His invitation to accept Him as my personal Savior.
I am so grateful that I accepted Jesus Christ into my heart. I am also ever so grateful to Him that He baptized me with His Holy Spirit when I was 14 years old, as I am sure that it was the reality of this experience, as well, that kept me strong and focused on Jesus during those teen years and beyond. There have been many ups and downs in my life over the years, but I knew I could always come again and again to the foot of the cross for his forgiveness, mercy, and grace in my daily walk with Him. Mostly, I am eternally grateful to a Sunday School teacher with shoulder length, dark brown hair, that even though I was the only child in her Sunday School class that day, she chose to keep me there, to teach me, and to lead me to Christ. I don’t remember her name, but I know I will recognize her and know her name when I see her in heaven someday and then I will be able to say, “Thank you!”
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An account of the events surrounding my father's shooting on October 27, 1996
Cameras flashed in our eyes as the smiles began to ache on our faces. I stood there beside my eldest sister Jennifer in her long, white wedding gown, as we lined up for the pictures following the wedding ceremony. Each couple in the wedding party followed the other into the reception. My sister and her new husband, Joe, smiled as their picture was taken every few minutes.
The guests lingered throughout the large, decorative room; chatting and laughing with each other. My proud parents were teary-eyed with joy as they watched my sister Jennifer begin her new life with Joe. The long awaited day had finally arrived. All of the preparation and anxiety had paid off and everything turned out perfect. It was about 1:00 a.m. and my parents were chatting to each other on their bed when I came in to say good night. They couldn't have been happier with such an evening as their eyes sparkled and their expressions glowed with contentment. I climbed into my bed and closed rny eyes. My body was exhausted and my mind was soft and careless as I fell asleep.
At about 5:00 a.m. in the morning my ears were filled with unusual sounds. My eyes shot open and I was very angry at whatever it was waking me up. My sister Jodi and I, half asleep in our beds, muttered back and forth trying to figure out what was going on. I flipped over and tried to toss myself back to sleep. Darkness fell hard as thick white clouds floated across the field. My pajamas were cold and wet as my feet shifted rapidly in the soft and sticky dirt. My mind was running hysterically, though the rest of me could not move. I peered over what seemed to be a minefield. My eyes were racing around my head, searching for the nearest home to run to for help. Every few feet seemed miles away, as I stood there surrounded by darkness, an open target to anyone creeping through the dark, invisible night. The realism smacked me dead in the face, as I felt the closest to death I could ever imagine. He was lying in my house, groaning and moaning and tossing in his misery.
I had awakened to a dream and in it were my mother and sister wandering about the house. Their voices were faint and distorted, mumbling in panic, insanity....each trying to understand the others nonsense. I crawled out of my bed, curiosity and confusion guiding me to the chaotic scene. What I saw there, I saw in my sleep, in a terrible nightmare, I couldn't seem to shake. I couldn't wake and open my eyes with relief to find the peaceful comfort of reality. My body began to shake so hard I could barely stand. My mother, wide -eyed with fright, tried to explain as her high-pitched, panicky voice shook, "Someone came in here and shot Daddy!" I sat on the stairs feeling helplessly in shock, trying to drown out the terrifying sounds by losing myself in a helpless distant daze. My Mom stopped and tried to calmly ask my Dad, "Do you know who did this to you?" My Father, struggling for breath, muttered through his cries/' I don't know, I don't know." "Call 911, call 911", my Mother kept mumbling as each of us picked up the dead phone several times in panic and disbelief. "Get the church keys," my Sister and I ordered my mother. As she climbed up and down the stairs handing my sister the keys to the car, she continued this repetitively as we begged for her concentration. Finally, my sister grabbed the keys and left for help.
My mother ordered me up the stairs to be with my wounded father, groaning and dying before my helpless, frightened eyes.
I hurried back down the stairs trying to avoid the terrifying sight, as she handed me a towel and ordered me right back up. I stared out the window, my eyes anticipating lights and sirens racing down the long and winding driveway, reassuring all of us of hope, I was yelling, "Jesus! Jesus! Jesus! Jesus!," as fast as my tongue could possibly speak. He would cry out God's name in a long and low, miserable groan. "I'm dying, I'm dying." His voice repetitively shrieked, each time more faint than the last. Each sound would slowly drown in deep anxiety and misery. I held a towel indecisively over each of the holes punctured in his white and suffering body. As he began to say good-bye, I screamed,"! need you, Daddy!" my voice shaky, yet strong and demanding. "I need you more now than ever before. You can't leave me now!", as thoughts of my life without him flashed quickly through my terrified mind. He began to roll, and blood and fluid began to spill out of him more. "Stop it, please stop it!" I pleaded. "I can't help it," he moaned in agony. "God is here Daddy. He's here with you right now!" though I found it hard to believe myself as I watched his humble and honest life, purified and innocent, slowly being taken away from him. For in that moment I could clearly see the demented thoughts and irrational intentions of the killer, as the smell of gun fire and blood swarmed throughout the tormented room. My father began to repeat his last and most important words with the very little breath he had left inside. "Serve Jesus! Serve Jesus! I love you! Serve Jesus!" His screaming slowly began to turn into soft and unusual groans and murmurs, the sound of death settling in, nothing like anything I could ever recall, nor will I ever forget. Yet I answered him, "I know, Daddy, I know."
Soon my Mother raced up the stairs and ordered me to run to the neighbor's. So there 1 was, my pajamas cold and wet, as my feet shifted rapidly in the soft and sticky dirt. I was bawling in fear and pity, as my yard was laid out like a minefield before my eyes. I looked out into the long wet grass, clothed in fog and I ran. 1 ran so fast; I felt nothing, but adrenaline racing through my legs. I reached a line of houses, all dark and completely unaware of the chaotic tragedy taking place right behind their homes.
My eyes caught a light shining through my neighbor's window. When I found the door, I banged and pounded, gasping for the thick air around me. As he opened the door, I began to sob, "Someone shot my Dad!" I was feeling much like some character in a play as these words spilled off my tongue.. As the man watched me so dramatically lose myself in emotional fright and tears, he stood there confused, and with disbelief, he picked up the phone as I ordered him to call 911. I raced through his cupboards, turned on the faucet, and grabbed a glass of water without the stranger's permission. My mouth was so dry I could barely speak. He drove me back to my house, where the police had finally arrived. My sister had returned, more frightened than before. I tried holding her together and my strength at the same time. They carried my Father down on a stretcher, and my sister shrieked,"I love you, Daddy!"as she jumped up and down uncontrollably. He removed his oxygen and responded with a whisper "I love you too." He lifted his thumb trying to reassure us everything would be okay. The trees that lined rny house were bare and swayed in the cold and eerie wind. I stared out the window of the police car where we were parked in the lot of the church, facing my house. There I sat, impatiently, with a strange woman I had never met. The thought of my Father's death seemed very close and very real. I began to mumble on about my Daddy's awesome crown in Heaven. My mind was searching for consolation, as my stomach began to ache and turn with anxiety and despair. A sudden tragedy, happened so fast. I felt I had witnessed it in my sleep. I pictured the arms of God open wide and embracing my Father, saving him from this wicked world, he tried so much to care for. My tongue wandered on, my mind trying to collect and accept the truth to what I was saying, and the reality of what had happened and what could happen. The woman in the car insisted I stop and think positively, and hope my Father would stay alive. But I didn't know that and neither did she. God had a plan, and I had to trust that either way, everything would be okay. I would begin to sob and sometimes scream and half of the things I tried to say were strange and completely unable to follow. I felt emotionally destroyed and my mind completely twisted on how to react. I had awakened to a dream that quickly revealed itself to be a nightmare. The frightening sight, the unbearable smell, and the terrifying sounds would haunt my memory forever. The results that would unfold, whatever they might be, would linger throughout my mind for the rest of my life.
Daylight finally coated the sky in a dull and dreary shade of gray. With my sister Jodi by my side, we clutched hands and stepped into what seemed like a movie. My eyes caught a clutter of emotion that quickly grouped around us and squeezed us hard. We continued down what seemed to be a tunnel of cries and murmurs of "I love you" and arms draped around us from every direction. My intent was to be strong as my sister began to sob harder and harder. My face was flushed and my eyes were devastated and hung like they were exhausted from the half hour trauma to my heart. The hospital was reassuring, though the chances of death were still very possible. Anything was. I sat down in the surgical waiting room and glanced at my eldest sister wearing sloppy clothes and white heels from the night before. I felt eyes upon me, mostly very concerned; yet I felt obligated to react somehow. I expressed mostly anger and despised the awkward notion of comfort when I felt they had no idea what I had witnessed. Later, I had left the hospital with my boyfriend to change my clothes and maybe get something to eat. When we returned to the hospital, I met a friend of my Dad's outside. He told me my Father was out of surgery and I could see him. Then he looked at me very close, put his arm around me, and tried to warn me about the machines and tubes and not to be alarmed. I raced into the hospital and into his room, expecting him lying there peacefully and looking at me. Instead I charged in and my heart stopped. "Mom, what's wrong with him?", I asked. She was calm and tried to explain the medication as I watched his white swollen body shake vigorously on the bed. It appeared like any second it would just stop and he would be gone. The tears began to ache in my eyes as I tried to speak, "I love you, Daddy." He nodded through hi:- twitching and shaking and I knew he could hear me and wanted to say the same. The days thereafter were in a time zone of their own. I felt I was revolving in a world completely torn and isolated from, so it seemed, the civilized world. The world I lived and breathed it had my mind spinning carelessly around my head. I was trapped in an endless series of thoughts and questions that only seemed to tear at my heart, so quickly asking me to open my eyes to the cruel and unusual world around me that I tried so blindly to resist. The hours I spent at the hospital were few. I did not wish to drown myself in the insanity of the situation, as it seemed my family did, staying day and night in the waiting room with little sleep. They were frightened and emotionally and physically exhausted. My Father lay there in his bed with tubes in and out of his throat, his eyes opening and closing every so often as the machines beeped and flashed around him. My sisters and I would sing to him between mutters of cries and sniffles. Our shaky voices blended like children as we repetitively sang, "He's got the whole world in His hands." He would squeeze our palms as tears crawled through the corners of his eyes.
At that moment I was reminded of the late hours of night, with my Father at our bedsides, praying with us. When we were sick, he would clutch our hands and sing Hallelujah over and over again. As I stood in that ICU room, amongst the beeping of the machines and oxygen tubes, I came to realize the purpose of unity in family. It's not only about comfort, and love, but also about perseverance. I didn't completely appreciate the impact my Father made on my life, until the arms of death were so close to snatching him away. Never did 1 understand the real power of God, until I saw His grace laid so desperately upon my Father's life. Though my emotions ask many questions,my gratefulness to God is immeasurable. My Father was shot with a twelve gauge shotgun, leaving a 3" hole in his right side chest area. The one ounce of lead came through one inch above his liver and two inches from his heart. He lost seven pints of blood. Though the surgery came out all right, the chances of infection were very high, due to the surgery performed on his colon. But, there was no infection and the healing process was extraordinarily fast. Seventeen years before his being shot, my Father suffered a chemical burn to his lungs. For those 17 years he had only 40% of his breathing capacity. But just 9 months before the shooting, his lungs were restored to over 100% breathing capacity. During the trauma of the bullet, his right lung and diaphragm collapsed, meaning if his lungs had not been healed, he would have never survived.
The numerous circumstances surrounding this tragic situation seem to have grasped a hold of it, and somehow nurtured every little thing that could have possibly gone wrong. It leaves your mind in awe of a Higher Power that we as human beings can't seem to grasp or scientifically understand. But the results of the unexplainable seem to open our eyes... to a very real God, who is completely in control.
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Spring 1977 is a special time that I will always remember, that was when I invited Jesus to be my personal Lord and Savior.
I was raised in a religious home, we went to Anglican Church and we were very involved in church and church activities - baptized as an infant, sang in the choir, went to church very regularly, etc. My parents taught us good Christian value/virtues and tried to do what is right. But thank God for the influence of Scripture Union (SU) and for my oldest sister who became a Christian and started to teach us what it is to actually be a true Christ follower. Whose life are you influencing today? When I went away to boarding school, I tried to maintain my "Christian" activities and so I fellowshipped with my secondary school SU group. It was in one of those bible study meetings that the preacher taught about having a personal relationship with God and the surety of going to heaven when you die. Even though I was never really involved in the many worldly "vices," but as the bible said, "all (me too) have sinned and come short of the glory of God." That day as a young teenager, I gave my life to Christ and my life has NEVER been the same.
Jesus gave me my freedom and I became a brand new man. Since then through my high school and college, etc, I've being doing my best to follow my Lord and Savior Jesus. He has been there to provide and guide me through life's ups and downs. In 1989, I was involved in very serious accident that left me unconscious on the road side. God brought someone (still unknown) to take me to the hospital. My friend who was driving later told me that he had a hard time getting anyone to help because they thought I was dead.
I sought the baptism of the Holy Spirit for several years in many settings but never received because of fear, etc. But one day in the Summer of 1981, after studying the bible with a friend and praying in my room, I got filled with the Holy Spirit with evidence of speaking in tongue with this scripture song in my mind "he brought me out of the miry clay" Psalm 40: 2 -3. I publicly got water baptized in 1989. It has been an amazing journey of no regrets, instead more desire for me daily to be more like Jesus. My prayer always is that I decrease while Christ increases in me.
I have been blessed beyond measure, Christ has given me new life, a wonderful family, taken away my anger problem, love for people and the list goes on. But one of the blessings that I am most grateful for since becoming a Christian is that by His grace, all my immediate family are now Christians, including both of my parents because of the example they saw in me and my other believing siblings. God is good and His mercies endure forever.
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When I was a boy, my mom took my brothers and me to church every Sunday. I learned all the Bible stories and sang all the songs kids used to sing. When I was 8, I went to a week-long children's camp at Camp Barakel in northern Michigan. That's where my cabin leader led me in "the sinner's prayer" and I officially became a Christian. Nothing very dramatic about that.
When I was a teenager, I never really strayed far from my church roots. I had been reading my Bible every night since I was 9 or 10. I had a good rebellious streak in me, but somehow it never got the best of me. I got my hands on some pornography, but for reasons I don't recall, I got rid of it and kept away from it. I never did drugs. Never even had a beer. I have to credit God with all that, because he never allowed me to be tempted beyond what I could bear (I Corinthians 10:13). So no big deliverance from a pagan lifestyle. Nothing very dramatic here, either.
When I was 19, I went through the period that many of us go through where I was asking deep questions about life and the existence of God. I concluded that God is real, everything I learned in church was right, and I would not abandon Christianity. With that decision, I confirmed my commitment to God. I would follow him for the rest of my life. Finally, a trace of the dramatic. But you know what? I wouldn't trade my tame testimony for any story of dramatic deliverance from the depths of despair. God has displayed his power and grace in my life by keeping me solidly in His truth and love and keeping me out of darkness and deceit. That's a big deal.
When I was 31, I went to a church service in Grand Rapids. The worship team from Florida's Brownsville Assembly of God was there. So was a distinctly thick presence of God. After 23 years of being a Christian, I remember thinking, "Now I finally know the God I've been worshiping all this time." If you've had that experience, you know what I'm talking about. If you haven't, you have something very good to look forward to.
I thank God for his constant protection, perfect provision, and wonderful blessings (I couldn't dream up a better family), but I thank Him more for His Holy Spirit who continues to lead me away from darkness and into a salvation that offers so much power and depth and richness that a hundred lifetimes couldn't fully experience it.
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I was raised in a Christian home. I could recite the Bible and quote scripture with the best of them. And yet I was empty with no real relationship with Christ and in fact had no interest in having a relationship with Him. You see I a grew up in a home where abuse, both physical and mental, was justified by the scripture. So I didn't want anything to do with a faith that I viewed as nothing but hypocritical. I tried to fill the emptiness with everything except what could actually fill it. Booze, men, my career, these things filled my life and yet I was so very empty. Until one day, my brother asked me to come to church to help him do theatre make up for a musical they were doing. As I sat behind stage watching, Jesus began stirring my heart. I got up the next Sunday morning and went to church. As I sat there I thought in my head, "Ok God if you are real, show me". Immediately Pastor Bill came over and began to pray. He said "Heather God just wants you to know that He is real". And right then I met Jesus. Not religion. Not tradition. Jesus. Today, I can't help but praise Him for not only did He save me from my wretched sins but He has not stopped blessing me though I don't deserve it. He truly is amazing!!!
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Josh B's Story:
I have been blessed in my life with a family who has always taught me the way to live for Christ. There has never been a point in my life where I have hit "rock bottom", because I have always known what is right and been pushed to do stay on the right track. Like everyone though, there was a turning pint in my life which I knew that I was hopeless without God's power and mercy.
My family has always showed how much they loved and cared for me, while also expressing how God's love for me was even greater. But like many young people of this era, I was a child who experienced the pain of divorce. I am the oldest of three who went through this trial in life, and being the leader I witnessed and learned many of the reasons behind my parent's separation. The grief and betrayal I felt during this time was almost unbearable, but with the help of God I became strong and learned from others' mistakes instead of resenting them. The Lord also created stronger bonds within the family as a result of this. My step mother and sister were brought into the family and have truly been everything I could ever want.
Today I am a young adult who is trying to become something that God has planned for me to become. It is a difficult process, but I am able to look at what I have already been through in life and know that God is here; while I am striving to become a better man of God, he will provide for me. He will do the same for you. He loves you the same way he loves me, and wants you and I both to be successful in life. What a loving God we have.
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Josh K's Story:
I was born in December of 1979. Five years later, in November of 1984, my father passed away. It's hard growing up without a father, and my mom did her best to raise my brother and I in a Christian home. It was probably when I got into the 7th grade that I started to move away from my relationship with Jesus. High school brought sex, drugs, alcohol, and much more. I still kept one foot in the church, but I did my own thing.
It wasn't until the night of my 21st birthday that my eyes were reopened. As I stood in that room, wasted on alcohol and stoned on weed, surrounded by friends, family, and an exotic dancer, I saw the kingdom that I had made for myself for what it was, nothing. God also showed me the influence I had on my brother. I started to go back to church in January 2001. I recommitted my life to Christ in February of 2001 and was baptized later that year.
God has been so faithful in my life. He has not only brought me through many struggles and hard times, He has also blessed me with a beautiful wife and soon a beautiful child!! This life I have chosen, to deny self and live for Jesus, isn't the easiest one, but it is the most rewarding one!
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From my earliest memories I had a belief in God. This belief was instilled by my parents who took me to church every Sunday, and had me attend Wednesday night classes at a local catholic church. The catholic religion taught me about having a reverence for God, and planted a seed of God and His word in me. Once a teenager, and released from the obligation of going to church, I quickly became my own man. I took no notice of the bible or Gods hand in my life. During these selfish years, many strongholds were built up in my mind including depression, anxiety, and substance dependence.
Wow God! What mercy and forgiveness our God shows. He actually loved me when I was serving the enemy. God extended His grace and introduced me to Jodi (now my beautiful wife) who had a heart after God. Additionally, this woman had a father who happened to be Pastor Bill Peppard! The Peppard family was my first real encounter with followers of Christ.
In 2005 I made a public confession for my new life in Christ at Ypsilanti Assembly of God! In 2006, the chains of substance of abuse were broken, and I was set free! In 2007, I was water baptized. In 2008, I was baptized in the Holy Spirit. He is faithful. I am still a mess, but thank God I am not where I used to be. I know He has incredible plans for my future. This is going to be a fun ride. All glory to God. There is nothing better than serving our good shepherd Jesus Christ!
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I knew Jesus as my personal friend and savior at a young age. I grew up in the church and had seen first hand how God had touched my life in so many ways that were real and undeniable. As the teenage years approached, I found myself questioning Christianity. Teen years are already confusing, but trying to understand a loving God being represented by lofty looks and judgmental comments really baffled me. I made one huge mistake and I took my eyes off God and became burnt out by people with religious attitudes that I considered role models growing up. I remember thinking to myself, "If this is Christianity, I want nothing to do with it!" I began doing my own thing. Filling every void in my life with whatever filled it for the time, but found out the hard way nothing ever did. I only pulled God out of my box I was keeping Him in when I felt I really needed Him. It took many years, a broken life, a messed up heart, and a confused mind for me to finally realize what I was missing for so long. God. A loving, real, and true God. A merciful and compassionate God, not a legalistic and "turn up his nose" God when I messed up. A forgiving God. He began to renew my heart and mind and continues to do so, as I surrender everything to Him. He becomes more and more real to me everyday as I learn to trust Him and lean on only Him. He has blessed me with an amazing family, friends, community, church family and the incredible opportunity to serve the Victory Kids (who are amazing!) and the list goes on. I'm so glad I got rid of my box and let Him fill every area of my life! I now know I am an audience of one and as I draw near to Him, He ever so faithfully draws near to me. I now know I am a mess without Him, but it is awesome to know in exchange for my everyday mess, He gives me love, mercy, grace, joy, peace and freedom everyday! I'm crazy beautiful in His eyes! Wow! I just gotta' shout- WEW!
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"5'2, eyes are blue, born in ‘42". I was born at home. A house with no running water or a bathroom. I came out feet first and was born dead. My family warmed some water and submerged me in hot water, then cold water, repeatedly for 5 minutes. I finally started breathing after much crying and pleading to God by my mother for my life. I have 4 older brothers and therefore, my mother dearly wanted a daughter. At that time, they were unaware that I had Cerebral Palsy, that would be discovered years later. The doctor told my mother that I was not expected to live beyond a couple of months; yet here I am at 67 years old.
I grew up in a devout/strict Catholic family, but always knew there was a God. I wanted and needed a deeper/stronger relationship with God. It was not until I got married in 1976 and moved away from my family, that I could do anything about it. I met Pastor Jim Roberts, who taught me the Bible, gave me my first Bible, and brought me to church and the Lord. I was water baptized. I have always depended on people for help and I see nothing wrong with that. I feel no regrets in leaving the Catholic church. In fact, I feel closer and more personal to God.
I desire to live on my own, but realize eventually I will need to be in a nursing home, yet for now I am glad to be independent. I feel I have been able to be on my own for so long as a result of growing up with 4 brothers and being without my mother, who died two years after I was born. I am a tough cookie. Comfort and peace of mind have always been with me ever since finding God and becoming born again. I feel great since I've developed a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. I love A3oG and Pastor Bill very much, and feel blessed. I love the music, the way Gary plays the piano, and Pastor's powerful teachings.
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God has been a part of my life as early as I can remember. This began at Faith United Methodist Church in the Chicago area where I went to church until I was 18. My relationship with God has been one of slow, gradual growth.
One Easter weekend stands out as a time when God revealed truth to me about the gospel. Each year my family would attend church on Good Friday. This year the service was held in a dimly lit sanctuary with a large, wooden cross on the platform. We sang hymns and heard a short message that focused on the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. It was a somber mood as we recalled the price that Jesus paid for our sins. Then we were handed 3x5 note cards and a nail.
The Pastor instructed us to use the nail to write down our sins on the 3x5 card. We were to take time to pray and meditate on our lives and make confession to God through "writing" on the cards. Once we were done, we were encouraged to go to the platform, pick up a hammer, and nail our sins to the cross. After the instructions were given, I distinctly remember my father leaning over and asking me if I needed a few more 3x5 cards.
I spent some time writing down the sins and struggles of a 10 year old. While I was thinking and praying, the pounding of the hammers began. The pace was slow at first and then picked up in frequency. It took me back to what the sounds would have been like when Jesus' hands and feet were nailed to the cross. I was full of sorrow for what I had done that contributed to his pain. Then, I too, rose up to nail my sins.
It was a very emotional service for me. I was truly sorry and repentant in my heart. But it was on Sunday when great joy flooded my soul. That same cross stood in the sanctuary on Sunday morning but it was no longer littered with cards but was draped in a sash of purple and white speaking of his majesty and purity. The sins were gone! My sins were gone! The sights and sounds of that weekend really helped drive home to me what Jesus accomplished on the cross. He took my sins and left me his righteousness. What a great exchange! "Jesus paid it all, All to Him I owe; Sin had left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow."
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I have always known that something was different about me. I grew up in a christian home. When I was about 3, my mom laid me down for a nap. She tried waking me up after a few hours and I didn't wake up. When I did wake up, I told her I was in heaven and I was walking with Jesus. I saw our huge house and there were lots of toys there. She pointed to a picture of Jesus and asked if he looked like that. I said, "No." Then I told her he has a white robe on and a gold belt and white hair with something in his mouth. (They never told me what Jesus looked like and never read to me Revelation, they were still new christians at that time.
While growing up, I knew God was with me. My dad led me through the sinner's prayer when I was in 3rd grade. I had a cut on my pinky and after saying the prayer, I felt God enter into my heart and my cut was healed. I felt like running in the streets and praising God. There was so much joy I couldn't contain it all. I wanted to share it.
Later, my dad got laid off for a really long time. At the end of that time, God called me right before I fell asleep, just like he did to Samuel in the bible. He said, "Kari, Kari." I answered him and he said, "Your dad will be going back to work on May 1st." I asked if I could tell him and he said no, it's a secret. The next day, I completely forgot about it and my dad got a message on the phone calling him back to work. I started shouting and praising God and my dad just looked at me with a puzzled looked. He asked what I meant. I told him the whole thing, then he too praised God. He has been working ever since my 6th grade.
There are many more stories like these that God has done through me. I know he has annointed me to do great things, he told me. Although all these things are awesome and my life sounds like I never fell, don't be fooled. I'm human. Satan knew my weak spot in high school. I was quiet and everyone else seemed to be dating besides me. Well, I too started dating. God was still with me but I fell. I became pregnant after graduation. There were people in my life that were scared for me and said just get rid of it then nobody will know. I said no. Mike and I got married a few months later and were told by expressions it won't last. It hasn't been a cake walk. We have been married for 10 years this October and we have had many problems the first 5 years of it. But God is still here and is working in us to bring glory to His name. Being a christian isn't easy, especially in the times we are living in. There are many glitters in this world to catch us off guard. But when you ask Jesus in your heart and mean it, there is a constant drive that keeps pushing you toward that heavenly goal.
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It was late November of 1973 when I saw her. Wow, what a beautiful woman! On a dare by my dad and uncle, I asked her out. Of course, her response was, "I don't even know you!" But I had a line back, "How will you get to know me?" Less than six months later, Jo Anne Sapelak became Jo Anne Peppard! I wish I could say we lived happily ever after. But I can't! The next two years would be the toughest of my life. Loving someone so much and yet fighting with them about everything. Two years of verbal, emotional, and physical abuse on both sides! I had even tried to commit suicide and failed. Then in May of 1976, after two weeks of separation, Jo Anne and I decided to attend a Sapelak family picnic together. It was a disaster, another huge fight! Resulting in me taking off like a crazy person in my 1970 Trans Am. Hey, I had to make a statement! Then some 10 hours later, Jo Anne and I were on the phone together. Neither one of us remember who called who. What we do remember is that both of us agreed..."Only Jesus Christ could save our marriage." Instantaneously, each of us experienced Jesus' presence. It was as though He was holding us and letting us know He was waiting for us to invite Him into our lives, into our marriage, and into our family. The interesting part was as it was unfolding neither of us knew it was happening to the other. That was 32 years ago. Thirty-two awesome, wonderful, and incredible years! All because we invited Him in...
The drama, "Heaven's Gates, Hell's Flames" had just come to a close. A preacher stepped up to the microphone and said, "If you're sitting in this place today and you're not sure where you would spend eternity if you died today, and you would like to know you're on your way to Heaven, raise your hands."
I was 12 years old--a "church kid". I had heard many appeals like this before, but this one grabbed me. Everything in me wanted to raise my hand, but I held back. I wondered what my friends would think. Worse, what would my parents think? For a few minutes I sat there conflicted within myself.
If I had had my way I would not have come this night; but, my mother decided I was going. Frustrated, I had mustered as much attitude as I could and had sat alone in one of the back rows and watched the "show". But now, something was happening.
I realized that I was a rebellious kid. I was a sinner, and I needed Christ. Attending Christian school and having Christian parents wasn't enough to save me. Memorizing Bible verses, going to church, singing church songs, and even raising my hands in "praise" wasn't enough to save me. I needed a personal relationship. Jeremy & Jesus. I needed to repent-really repent and live my life for Christ.
As I resisted raising my hand, the appeal came again, "If you want to have a personal relationship with Jesus, and know for certain that you'll make it to heaven, raise your hands." As I held back my hand, I couldn't hold back my tears. I began to cry and, though I didn't move as the preacher called everyone forward, I too repeated the sinner's prayer. In that moment, I made a real and sincere decision to serve Christ with all of my life.
Despite the ups and downs of life, by the grace of God, I've lived for Christ for nearly 23 years. Cheri and I are living breathing testimonies that you can live for God through your teen years, through your college years, in to your twenties and beyond. God is able to save you when you've blown it; but he can also save you from blowing it. Keep Loving Jesus with all you've got!
I was raised in a Christian home and accepted Jesus into my heart when I was six years old. My relationship with my father, however, was a very rough one and throughout my teenage years, I vacillated between rebelling against my dad and pursuing God wholeheartedly. There were periods of time when I looked for love and acceptance in the wrong places, longing to fill this void in my heart. God was always there and I eventually learned, albeit the hard way, to trust Him for His will in my life.
It wasn't until I was much older that I realized how much my relationship with my earthly father had affected my view of my Heavenly Father. I've learned to let go of my flawed view of a critical, overly judgmental God and to fully embrace the truth that God loves me unconditionally no matter what I do or don't do. His love and approval of me are gifts that I cannot earn nor do I need to measure up to some perfect standard.
My life has had its share of ups and downs through the years, but I can say with 100% certainty that my God has always been faithful. His faithfulness has given me an amazing husband and two wonderful daughters and our lives are super-abundantly blessed in Him!
I came from a broken home. My parents were divorced by the time I was seven. I craved attention and wanted to be loved. My grandmother took me to church with her often and I knew all about Jesus. But I wanted relationship with Him and our church didn't teach that there was more than just "being good". When my mother was radically saved, she began taking my sisters and I to "Friday Night" church. I had never experienced anything like it. There was freedom in the worship. The messages were convicting. The testimonies of the bikers, drug addicts, and alcoholics were amazing. This was what I longed for all of my life. I wanted that kind of relationship with Jesus, to be radical for Him. I gave my heart to the Lord when I was eleven years old and was water baptized soon after. I knew that I was loved. Still, I craved more. I longed to be totally sold out for God, to not fall into sin or go looking for what I thought I needed. I wanted the power I read about in Acts. I began seeking the baptism of the Holy Spirit. At a small neighborhood bible study, I was baptized with the evidence of tongues just before I began my freshman year at EMU. What a change in my life! I was free of the trappings of the world. I was empowered and bolstered in my faith. Through bible study and involvement with Chi Alpha, I became a strong, sold-out for Jesus Christian. Through the last 31 years, He has healed me physically and emotionally. He has carried me through every storm. He has given me a phenomenal husband in a loving marriage. He granted me five amazing children even after doctors said I may not have any. I have been blessed beyond measure. All because I invited Him in...
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I grew up in what I considered a typical American Christian home. My family believed in God and went to church...sometimes. I was a "good" kid growing up because I lived in fear and anxiety. Fear that my family, my parents would leave because I wasn't good enough. So, I tried to do everything right. I didn't do drugs, didn't drink alcohol, got good grades in school.
I began going to church more regularly with my then boyfriend (and now husband), Gary. I learned more about God. Did I grow closer to Him? Not really. I still acted like a teenager, swearing and taking his name in vain. I really hadn't given my life to Him.
It wasn't until I came to E.M.U. for college that I began to turn things over to Him. I was still dating Gary and he took me to his Grandma's church (Evangel Temple :)). That's where my relationship grew with God. And that's when I realized I didn't have to live with my fears and anxieties. For more than 10 years, I had anxiety attacks. I began to see that the more I trusted Jesus, the more He would take my anxieties away.
I'm not complete yet, by no means. But the gripping fears I had are in the past. Even when new situations arise that could push me over the edge, they don't. When Jennifer and Garrison were in terrible accidents, God was there for protection for them and for support for me. God continues to complete His good work in me. "For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate me from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus my Lord." (Romans 8:38-39 ; personalized).
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My parents moved from Germany to California when I was 1 year old. After my father completed his Ph.D. we moved to East Lansing, MI. I grew up in a quiet neighborhood in Okemos, MI with many good friends. Two of my best friends were Christians and they shared the gospel with me on several occasions. Unfortunately, my skeptical mind and different cultural perspective made it difficult to receive their message. As I went to college at the University of Michigan and the Georgia Institute of Technology, I became more involved in various "isms", such as communism, Buddhism, Existentialism, and finally Atheism. This finally lead to a decade long state of being confused and in despair. To avoid dealing with my issues of finding meaning and purpose, I focused all my energies on work and travel. However, after a decade of heavy traveling for work, I became weary of the daily grind. During this period, God protected me from major sin and loneliness. I always had good friends, never drank alcohol, smoked, did drugs, chased women, or felt unloved. I was always struggling to find truth. In my mind and heart, if you did not have TRUTH you could not have love or relationship. One day, at the pool of my apartment complex, I met an older man teaching two young men the Bible. I went up to the older man in the hopes of convincing him that Christianity was a giant lie. Fortunately, this man was well versed in apologetics, the hard sciences, and European culture. He came to my apartment weekly for the next 8 weeks and shared and answered all my questions about Christianity. Ten weeks after our initial meeting I was born again. Three days after being born again I was baptized in the Holy £pirit, and 7 days after being born again I was baptized in water. Over the past decade since being born again, God has given me a great desire for His Word, a lovely wife, a thirst for righteousness, and a hunger for missions.
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