While I was on vacation my grandma emailed me this testimony that a lady gave at a ladies meeting. She thought I might like it. It was very amazing. It was also convicting. Anyways I emailed the lady who gave the testimony, (her name is Angie) and asked her if I could share her testimony on my blog? She said, “It would be fine.”
I’ll post part of the testimony today, part of it tomorrow and the last of the testimony on Wednesday. I hope it will be a blessing to you like it was for me.
Php 3:10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;
Php 3:7 But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.
As I stand before you tonight, I know within this room are Christians greater than I. Women who have come through tragedies much worse than I can comprehend. You all have a story to tell. You have all in some way survived something you didn’t plan for your life. You’ve felt heartache that has shaken you to your very soul. You’ve had loss that no words can ever describe. You’ve experienced things that I never have. So what can I possibly share? I began praying for and preparing for this meeting in January that the Lord would open my mouth and my heart and give me what you need. What can my story do for you? How can God use me to help you? What do I want you to see? How open am I willing to be? Sharing your testimony is a fearful thing. you must be so careful that it is God that gets the glory, that you don’t betray yourself as a victim in life but as a victor in life through Christ. So many of you know me and yet don’t know me, you know what God is making me but you don’t know where He has brought me from. I want you to see His hand in my life. I want you to see His grace. I want you to see Him!
At times it seems as if I’ve lived a thousand lives in one and what part of my life do I share with others, what part will have the most impact. Will it be the beginning? Will it be seeing God’s hand on a sin sick teen, or will it be a young mother struggling through Bible college hoping that one day life would get easier! Should I share what it is like to wake up every day in pain knowing it’s never going away, or what it is like to watch my face and body transformed by a crippling disease, or do I speak of depression so deep that I think I may drown in it at times, or do I share the story of a young idealistic missionary that finds out she can be most used once broken by God? Well they’re all me and part of the many lives I’ve lived. So I will take a small part of each and my prayer is that you see my savior.
I was not raised in a Christian home. I don’t know if I ever heard the name of Jesus until I was around seven. My dad does not believe in God! He loves me and would die for me, but God is not part of his life. My mother accepted Christ when I was seven after nearly taking her own life. She had no hope until Jesus came. My father was a hard man, good and bad in many ways. He began dealing and making drugs when I was around six or seven. The drugs made him hard to live with, they change a person in many ways. On September 13 1985, I came home from school to find our yard filled with law enforcement. He had been caught. They seized our home and we were only allowed to leave with our things, but before we could leave, my mother received a phone call, threatening our lives if my father testified against the men he had worked with. So, we were loaded up and put into witness protection and even given a new name! Baker! Yes, I was once a baker!
It was a hard year. I watched my sisters lives destroyed, and sad to say but it was all more than my mother’s young faith could handle. She didn’t serve the Lord until years afterward.
In my little mind, I decided I couldn’t cry, I had to be strong for her. My mother, because of her hurt and poor choices in life began to teach me not to make those choices. She would say trust no one. You can do whatever you want without a man. Be strong, don’t let people walk on you. Do not be dependent on anyone! I think there was a part of me that turned to stone, the heartache, loss, and change seared my young heart. I began to hate my father and what he had caused.
At around 13 that hate I was carrying was becoming more than I could manage. I wanted to die my sadness was so great. I quit school when I was fourteen. You see I felt so old, I couldn’t relate to the kids around me. Depression is like living in a sink hole you can’t get out of because your focus is on yourself and not others. I was working full time by sixteen and just pushed through each day. By eighteen, I was tired, I really just wanted some peace from the hate and sadness that I carried in me but I had no idea how to find it. My sister asked me to go to a church with her. We went and found a little baptist church.
I didn’t get saved that day but they had something different, something I didn’t have and I wanted it so I went back the next week.
That day the preacher ( my future father in law) preached the Gospel. For the first time in my life I knew I had sinned against Almighty God and the thought of facing His wrath was more than I could stand. I went forward, took the preacher by his lapels on his suit and cried God forgive me, it seems an hundred times!
In that moment that burden I had carried just melted away. All I could do was smile and cry! I hadn’t cried in years. I like to say that I grabbed on to God that day and haven’t let go since, but if I am honest with you and myself, I have let go many times, but He has never let me go! Isn’t He a wonderful God, even when we let Him down, He lifts us up! Forgiving my father came and I love my daddy with all my heart but that’s another story!
I jumped into church with all my heart. I had so many habits to overcome and with prayer, preaching, and a lot of patience from my pastor, I began to grow in The Lord. One day at church I felt The Lord dealing with me about missions, I went to the altar half way through the preaching and stayed there until well after church was over. I surrendered my will that day to God’s call. Kenneth and I were dating at the time and he came and knelt beside me and asked what was wrong. I told him, God wants me to be a missionary. His eyes grew big, and then he said something that tore me in two, he said, “I think we should just be friends”. I laugh about it now but then at that moment, I lost the thing I loved the most here on earth , the desire of my heart, I remember thinking Lord God please no. But He just said leave him here, do you love me Angie? Yes Lord, you know I do. Then follow me. I did, I went home and left Kenneth on the altar. Before I knew it my “just friend” was coming over all the time, he was always at my house. It was while we were just friends that he asked me to marry him. Kenneth he melted my heart and still does by the way! Through God I learned to love like I never dreamed possible. Yes, I married that preachers son! How could God give me such a great gift? I would not understand the worth of that gift until much later. I trusted Him that day and He did give me the desire of my heart but on His terms not mine.
Six months after we married he surrendered to preach and off we went to Bible college! I have often said it was our hardest time. I battled depression so much while there. I had come from a little country church to a much bigger church. Everything from music to standards were different from anything I had ever known in my short time as a Christian. Kenneth was gone most of the time in a twenty four hour day, he may have been home about six hours each day, and that was spent sleeping and doing homework! Not the ideal situation for newly weds to be sure! I spent many many hours alone. I made friends eventually but you can’t move in with people! So I did the best I could while he was away. Learning you have an incurable disease and learning to adjust to all the changes that it brings and dealing with physical pain are very hard lessons to learn. There were many times, it all became more than I could handle, never more than God could though and He brought me through many dark times.
It was after Kinsey, my first child was born that I began to get sick. little things at first, then bigger and bigger until I couldn’t breathe. I was diagnosed with an aggressive form of polymyositis, a muscle disease. I was told I would be lucky to make it to forty and if I did I would be in a wheel chair! I couldn’t understand why but I told the Lord if He could use this sickness for good it would be worth it all. Kenneth had really just started Bible college,he said we could go home to Texas so I could have help but I couldn’t stand the thought of him having to quit because of me. No one will ever understand how very hard those years were or how much they prepared me for what was to come.
We yearned to go to the mission field but were told with the medicines I was on I would get too sick. So we got busy where we were! We did all we could for The Lord or so we thought. I began to improve but not until the medicines had caused me to gain over a hundred pounds and made me feel worse than the disease itself. I decided enough is enough and found a doctor to help me get off all meds! I was in remission or so I thought. Little did I know that a storm was raging inside of me.
After finishing college and serving in two other churches we started Gospel Light Baptist church in Rogers AR. I loved that church! I went weekly and had lunch with all our older widow women, I learned so much by ministering to them! I loved our teens and always had them over! I just loved it all. There was nothing better than being a preacher’s wife and offering the hope that I had been given. Then one day I thought Bolivia? Hmm. Why, I don’t know, but I went to the library and got every book I could find and devoured them! I asked Kenneth, what do you think about Bolivia? He was so busy, with our young thriving church, he just said, what, I’m busy here! And that was that! Till one day he preached about the widow of zarapeth and elijah leaving the brook and going to her! I knew in that moment, we were leaving our brook and going to Bolivia! I was thrilled! And scared but more thrilled, I’m weird that way, I just love the next new thing God has for me. When church was over and on our way home Kenneth said, I’ve got something to tell you, to which I replied, we’re going to Bolivia! We have always been connected that way, we can read each other like a book.
In 2003 we surrendered to go and we told our sweet church goodbye I thought my heart would break, never had I felt such loss, they will never know how much it hurt to walk away. Yet at the same time we had such a hunger to go to an unknown people. I remember lying in bed at night crying because my burden was so great it seemed we would never get there.