Posts tagged ‘acceptance’

February 27, 2011

Reborn, Into a family (Danielle)

Danielle sent me each of these testimonies in January, hoping to replace the first with the second one, but I think the two together give a moving look into the story of her journey with God over the past year. Thank you for encouraging us Danielle!

Reborn… (testimony #1)

I consider myself a born-again Christian; and a very new born-again at that.

I am still getting used to praying, reading the bible, and hearing God speak to me.

I grew up in a Christian home but unfortunately never got the true teaching I should have gotten.  For various reasons, I never grew up in the church nor had that core group of Christian friends.  Growing up, I always said I was a “Christian” but never really knew what that meant.  During high school, I had a major falling out with Christ.  I started hanging out with the wrong crowd as they say.  My grades started dropping.  My priorities in life were diminished.  I started hating life, hating my family, hating God.  I became in the mindset that life wasn’t worth living.  Why be alive in a world where I didn’t care for anyone or anything?

I cannot explain how or what triggered my mindset away from this negativity.  I left high school behind and entered college where I proudly said I was a Christian again, though still not realizing what this meant.  My last semester at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, I was lucky enough to find a new group of friends who happened to all be Christians. Perfectly, I found them during the best time ever.  I was spending my last semester in school with a “Yes, can do!” attitude.  I would say yes to a majority of the invites sent my way.  They asked me what church I was going to and I admitted I hadn’t been to church since I was the wee age of four.  They invited me to Church in the City so I went.


After a few months at the church, I realized this was where I was supposed to be.

On April 18, 2010 I asked Jesus back in my heart.

On September 8, 2010, I decided to get baptized in chilly Lake Michigan.

God is so good.  He is answering my prayers.  He speaks to me, shows me love, provides me blessings.  I cannot be happier having Christ in me.  I look forward to an eternal life with God’s love shining brightly in me.

~~

For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. – 1 Peter 1:23

…Into A Family (testimony #2)

I was privileged enough to be taught by Francois. He is awesome.
The worship band had a practice and teaching with him during his visit here in January.  We sang songs to Jesus and filled our hearts with His love.  The last hour, Francois decided to pray and prophesy over us individually.  He made his rounds with each person while I stood anxious for my turn.  I was fantasizing about the words he would give me; something amazing I hoped.  Or what if he got to me and gave me some lame two minute prophecy with no song to go along with it?

Francois finally stood in front of me and began his prayers.  I immediately starting crying, overcome with God’s love.  He started out by saying that this time in my life was a new season; a season filled with a new and fresh start.  God has been showing me new things and providing me with new things.  This was amazing to hear because I just asked God into my heart on April 18, 2010 and reassured it with a baptism in chilly Lake Michigan on September 8, 2010.

I am not to get frustrated, prophesied Francois, at the pace God is giving me blessings.  There have been a lot of new relationships, new opportunities, and new goods He has blessed me with instantly.  But I am not to get upset with God if He is taking a longer time to deliver His blessings.  In mid thought, Francois became silent.

I was afraid my turn was over.  No, please, that’s it?  That’s all I get to hear?

Luckily, he spoke up and makes a request to the rest of the worship team.  He asked them to just pray over me through the spirit out loud.  Fifteen or so people started praying, filling the room with such beautiful noise of tongues, words, and singing.  Again, the tears poured out, more heavily this time.  After the prayers silenced, Francois said he did this to show me the love and support I have right here.  He told me to stop fighting my battles alone because I have just witnessed the support that will help me.  He then asked one of the ladies if they could just hug me as everyone prayed over me again.  As I balled my eyes out, two of the most wonderful women hugged me and whispered, “Thank you, Lord” in my hear.

God does not call us to walk along the battlefield alone, so why am I?  I have been trying to be Miss Independent all my life so struggling spiritually has always been my own battle.
Christianity is a new thing for me so everyday is a new experience.  I cannot be happier to have God as my daddy.  I am thrilled to see what He has in store for me and for the amazing relationships He will bless me with.

Danielle

February 4, 2011

God Puts the Lonely in Families (Mel)

The following testimony sent by Mel V. is great stimulus for my New Years resolution: Be more conversational with strangers. I’m well over 12 years old now and it’s time to start talking to people I don’t know and see what God will do! Who’s with me?

stolen from the "girl at the coffee shop". Thanks Brittany!

I think this story may be more common for other Chicago residents than a lot of us realize. I grew up in the church: umpteenth generation Christian, my dad read devotions to us each night before dinner, church twice each Sunday, Christian school education, Bible studies and youth group retreats. And then college was done and it was time for real life. Well, graduate school at least, in a public university that was out of state. And I knew no one in the big city I was moving to. For a while, I tried to continue walking in faith. Having felt called to this degree, this program, and this city; I tried to press on. But the stresses of school, the homesickness, and lack of Christian community took its toll.

So my quiet times ground to a halt. I stopped trying to look for a new church. And then I stopped really paying attention to my relationship with Christ at all. I found new friends, in bars and clubs around the city. I went from never drinking due to personal beliefs and lack of interest to purposefully going out, on my own mind you, to drink as much as a I could to take away the pain of my loneliness and emptiness. Finally, months later, broke, sick from my poor diet and partying habits, and generally heartbroken, I fell on my face next to my couch, pleading with the God I vaguely remembered to place someone or something in my life to prove that He had called me here and still cared about me.

The next night I went out, looking for anyone to talk to who would listen to me, and I found myself talking to a coffee sample seller in the window of a coffee shop. A girl walked up, who I tried to encourage to take a sample of the coffee, just to have someone else to continue talking to, but she declined and moved on. I stayed for another half hour, irritating the coffee sample hawker I’m sure, until the girl actually came back. She asked me if I was going to go in and have a cup of coffee, which I blindly claimed “of course.” I walked in and she invited me to sit with her. Slightly confused, I accepted, and she started talking to me about her work, her family out of state, and her friends. She asked me questions about my life as well, about my school work, internships, and family. Abruptly, she asked me if I was a Christian. I must have looked surprised; she said she was wondering because of my necklace. Of course:the cross necklace my mom had given me for making profession of faith when I was 16. I never took it off. “Yes,” I responded, “I guess I am.” “Oh cool, I go to this church that has a lot of 20-somethings in school or recently graduated. I’m pretty new there, but I like it. You should come check it out.” She gave me the address where her church met, and told me to be there around ten if I was interested.

I decided to give it a shot (what else was I going to do on a Sunday morning? The rest of my “friends”were either studying or sleeping off the activities of the previous night). The service was pretty good,but I remember more being greeted by more than one person, genuinely interested in who I was and why I was there. After the service, a group of the girl’s friends were going out for a picnic and to play Frisbee. They invited me to come along and join in the fun. I did, and immediately felt more like I had a family than I had in two years. God provides what we need in His timing, and in, sometimes, the most surprising ways.

Thanks for the encouragement, Mel, and for being a part of the family! We love you! What a great God who loves us and sets us up to be loved by others. Stay tuned for the fascinating Prequel to this story involving 2 other people you may know and the same little coffee shop.

August 11, 2010

Love and Acceptance (Jon)

Here is an AMAZING testimony from Jon on how God has been working in his life over the past year. Incredible! Thank you, Jon. It’s so exciting to see God’s hand on your life. I live for this stuff! Keep Jon in your prayers as he has just graduated and is moving out to LA to pursue opportunities in film.

Hey all,

So I realized lately that I haven’t really shared my testimony with anyone at church in the city, excluding Tyler and Tommy, and in the past I have been reluctant to share it because I’ve been ashamed of it; however after the past few weeks I’ve gotten incredible breakthrough.

When I was about 3 years old my parents divorced and about two years after that, my father got remarried to a very conservative Christian woman who introduced me to Jesus, but it was never anything I took completely seriously. When I was about 6 my Mom converted to Judaism, and I converted with her, not completely understanding what all of that entailed. When my dad and stepmom found out they grew incredibly angry with me, and thus began a constant battle between my parents about how I would be raised. My stepmom would manipulate me by telling me that my Mom would be going to hell, and would try constant techniques to try and get me to convert my mother to Christianity as well as myself. I learned nothing of grace or mercy. My step family said all I had to do is believe in Jesus and his resurrection to get into heaven, but they made it seem more complicated than that. They made Jesus seem like someone I had to please, to beg forgiveness from, and that if I sinned and didn’t repent, there was no hope.

As I grew up I spent my week going back and forth between church and Hebrew school, until I had my bar mitzvah. After that Hebrew school ended and so did my attendance at church.

My Mom got remarried when I was 14, and for the most part my new step dad wanted very little to do with me since I wasn’t really into sports he just sort of gave up on me, while my Dad was there, he wasn’t really open for deep discussion. I had two fathers and yet still had no father figure.

When I was 15, I became incredibly confused about my sexuality. I had dated a few girls before then, but still had this odd confusion going on. My Mom and stepdad really didn’t care and I refused to tell my Dad and stepmom. Even after this supposedly liberating event, I still didn’t feel like this was the kind of life I wanted for myself, and also having heard constant homophobic remarks from my stepmom and her family, I thought I was doomed. I thought to myself, ” great if I had a hard enough time pleasing Christ before, now I’m doomed”. Since I felt barred from Christ, and my self esteem had been shattered, I began to look for love in other places. I started to surf hookup websites on the web, meeting strange guys and watching a constant stream of pornography. It was one of those “looking for love in all the wrong places” cases. I continued this through most of high school, little did I know I was destroying myself. I had friends who all were in relationships and I was the constant third wheel. It took a huge toll on my self esteem, ” why can’t I be one of these people in an awesome relationship?” I would think to myself. So I would continue going to hookup, hoping that I might find someone that way. The unfortunate thing is that many of my friends encouraged me to keep going throughout it. Friends whom I found out only later would constantly put me down of envy and jealousy.

Throughout this I would continue to pray and ask God for forgiveness, but I found no reason to stop, I was still doomed any way ( at least I thought so), even though I still loathed that aspect of my life.

When I entered college, I decided to try the Christian thing again. I met a great group of people who seemed to genuinely want to befriend me, but in the end I got scarred and gave up on them. I isolated myself, hanging out with only a few people that I met, and now that I was on my own, the hookups became even more rampant.

However, these Christian friends I had met continued to seek me out. I refused to reciprocate because I thought they could never accept this dark part of me, and they would give up on me or shun me as others had.

It was the end of my sophomore year when all this finally came to a breaking point. After a year of rampant hook ups with strangers, I got a call from one of them telling me they had just tested positive for stage 2 syphilis. I freaked, I found the nearest testing facility and went. I didn’t do my research very well and went to this pretty run down place called the core center near rush hospital. It was the scariest experience of my life, I was poked and prodded in every which way. After my blood test the doctor leaned over the table looked me in the eye and said, ” what will you do if it’s positive?” of course after the testing comes the week long waiting for results. Thank God in the end everything turned out negative.

It was after this I decided to give Christ another go. I took a shot at group of guys I had met freshman year. I went to bible study and sent all of them a message telling them what I had been struggling with, and God rewarded my trust. They all just loved on me and drew me nearer.

But it was Tyler who stepped out, and took me under his wing. I learned about grace and Gods love for me. It was the first time in a long time I felt that someone wasn’t giving up on me. Of course this is about the point when all of you come into the story, and finally on July 25th of last year, with Tyler at my side, I gave my life to Christ.

So I know this was kind of long, but I thought it important that I share it with all of you. Especially since it will be a year this month that I began my relationship with Jesus.

Yours Truly,

Jon