Maribeth Ditmars has gone through child-loss, addiction, and adversity. She has learned that we all want God to use our gifts, but we also have to let Him use our suffering too.
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” (2 Corinthians 1:3)
We All Want God to Use Our Gifts, but We Have to Let Him Use our Suffering Too.
One summer day I had to ask myself this question: How do you tell a ten-year-old that he has cancer? My husband, Rob and I sat our son, Chris, down on the sofa in the family room to share the news. I remember glancing out of the sliding door that led to our pool deck. It was a beautiful June day and I could see the water toys scattered about, a super-soaker, an inflatable alligator, a few throw toys. But what struck me the most were the fingerprints on the glass slider.
Those handprints had a been placed there in rushed innocence, by the hands of a carefree little boy who had darted in and out while we called out “Shut the door—the air is on!” I swallowed hard as I gazed at those prints and smudges. Moments before, they had been annoying, now suddenly, they had become precious. They had become the fingerprints of a lost childhood.
This began my family’s four-year roller coaster ride into the world of pediatric cancer. A year battling for remission, two glorious years of relative health, and one final year struggling unsuccessfully to keep our Chris alive.
How do you tell a fourteen-year old that he’s dying? Well, in our case, we didn’t have to. Chris already knew. He took me aside and spoke softly, so his little brother, Jarrod, who was seven at the time, wouldn’t over-hear. Not only did Chris know before the doctors did, he had accepted it.
How is this possible? That a teenager, usually the most selfish and easily annoyed species that has ever roamed the planet, could be so stoic, so loving. It was possible because our Chris, in his short, powerful life, had learned 2 things. Two things that took me over five decades to learn. Two things that many people never learn.
Chris had learned to trust God, and he had allowed God to use him. Chris had claimed the promise of Philippians 4:7: “And the peace of God, that transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”
Let’s face it, we all want the Lord to use us, don’t we? We want him to use the good stuff—our talents, our successes. (Anyone ever prayed something like this?) Oh Lord, make my business successful so I can tithe huge gobs of money to the church. Here’s one of my favorites: Please make my books best-sellers so I can further your kingdom. After I wrote my first book, and my friend, Lisa, sent a copy to Oprah—I was sure that phone was going to ring! Not only did Oprah not call, her staff sent the book back, saying that they don’t accept unsolicited material.
God wants to use all of it, the good, the bad, the ugly. He wants to use our suffering. That’s exactly what Chris allowed Him to do. Despite his many months of grueling chemo, Chris spread laughter on a cancer ward. He told jokes. He did impersonations, and he never passed up the chance to tell us that he loved us.
Of course, there were many times when Chris felt extremely ill, and he wondered aloud why God allowed kids to get cancer. At the time, I wasn’t in the word, and I had no comforting scriptures to refer to. I had to admit, “I don’t know.” I still don’t know.
You see, until my brave 14-year old son stared eternity in the face, I had only been a nominal Christian. I had been raised in a household where we went to church on Sunday, but I had never understood what it meant to have a relationship with Jesus Christ. But Chris’s suffering made me a seeker.
I started speaking with pastors, chaplains, and clergymen. I learned that sin was not only in the hearts of humans, it had infected the entire world. One priest explained that cancer is the result of living in a fallen world. Chris and I discussed this at length, and he was able to accept it and realize that he wasn’t being punished. It’s like the story from John 9 when Jesus healed the blind man. The disciples said, “Rabbi, who sinned this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” And do you remember what Jesus said? “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” … “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.”
This happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him—that is what the Lord did in my Chris’s life. Over those four years, we watched in awe as Chris’s body grew weaker—his spirit grew stronger. He went to be with the Lord about a month after he turned fourteen. On his deathbed he thanked Rob and me for being such good parents. He told us repeatedly how much he loved us. He smiled and reminded us of the nicknames that he had for us when he was little—Daddio-Spaghettio and Mommy Meatball. He pointed to his schoolbooks on a shelf and said, “I won’t be needing those where I am going.” As the hour drew near, Chris could only speak in a whisper. He said, “Jesus is going to call me really soon, Mom and Dad, and I have to go.”
Chris’s faith was life-changing for me. Up until then, I had been just going through the motions of being a Christian. Chris’s peace and his assurance of heaven had not come from anything that we had taught him. It was a divine gift from the Holy Spirit. The Lord used Chris’s suffering to wrench open my heart. I realized that God wasn’t healing Chris in the way that I had expected, but He was healing Chris for all of eternity. Or as Chris said, “When I get to heaven, I’m going to get my hair back and my six-pack.”
I’d like to be able to tell you that I went on to make uplifting speeches and to help other parents who had lost children, but I didn’t. During Chris’s treatment, I had come to rely more and more upon my false idol—alcohol. And before I knew it, I wasn’t drinking because I wanted to. I was drinking because I had to.
That’s one of the important differences between an alcoholic and a nonalcoholic. Without help, we can’t stop. We obsess over alcohol. We plan our entire day around alcohol. And we aren’t always obvious. I still held down a job, and I didn’t wear a trench coat and carry a brown paper bag.
Here’s another example. We have all had to take medicine that has a warning label about mixing it with alcohol. Well, the normal person, the normie as we call them, reads the label that says: “Do not drink while taking this medicine. Alcohol may intensify the effect.” So, then he says oh, I’ll skip that glass of wine with dinner. But the alcoholic—we read that same warning and we go YESSS (hand gesture).
So, the result of my addiction was that I was using alcohol to numb my grief. I had not tapped into the power of Jesus Christ.
I’ll never forget the morning that I finally had a spiritual awakening. I was driving to work, and it was 8:30 in the morning. 8:30 AM and I was already bargaining with myself about how much I was going drink that day. At the time, I had this theory: Three drinks is the lady-like limit. You know—3 wishes, 3 wise men, 3 blind mice.
But then I realized 2 things. First, I never really poured 3 drinks. It was just one long drink that I continually freshened up—you know, like the bottomless bucket of popcorn you get at the movies. Secondly, and even more important, it occurred to me that normal people do not think about this stuff at 8:30 in the morning!
It was in that beautiful moment that I surrendered. I looked up to the Lord, and I said, “It’s got me. Please help me.” You see, to allow God to use us fully, first, we must surrender. He can certainly use us without our cooperation, but if we are to become that person that God designed us to be, we must be fully surrendered. Chris had been fully surrendered. Chris had discovered how to have a true relationship with Jesus.
Not long after I surrendered, I became active in a twelve-step program. Out of respect for its highly successful tradition of anonymity, I don’t name the program, but it has worked for me for the past 16 years.
Once I began doing the steps, I realized how Biblically based they are, and I threw myself into the process whole-heartedly. Now a number of years later, I have had the high honor and privilege of mentoring other women struggling with addiction.
For several years, I ran a recovery meeting at a women’s department of correction facility. When I walked in there for the first time, it looked like a room full of inmates. It didn’t take long for the Lord to open my eyes. Soon I was seeing, moms, daughters, wives, grand-moms, sisters.
In Mark 2:17 Jesus says, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners."
I began to see my alcoholism as a gift. It is a gift because it has allowed me to minister to these women. We share a common suffering, and I get to bring to them a common solution—the power of Jesus. Not long ago a woman approached me. I’ll call her Joan. She said, “Maribeth, do you remember me? I was at the jail where you used to do your meeting. I have a good job now, and I haven’t had a drink in three years.”
When I was doing my meetings in that prison, I told the women the story of how I ran marathons to raise money for cancer research in memory of my Chris. When I was in my forties and early fifties, I ran 7 distance events all over the world and raised $40,000 for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. I shared my running motto with them, “The older I get, the faster I used to be.”
When the women heard my story, it inspired them to organize their own relay. They plotted a track on the facility grounds, made t-shirts, and walked and even danced in memory of their loved-ones—some lost to cancer, many lost to addiction. They had teams that decorated their water stations with different themes. I remember my favorite one was called “Twisted Sisters”. The energy and the atmosphere was more like a college campus than a DOC facility. I looked up to heaven and said, “Chris, look what you started!”
Who would have thought that my son’s short, powerful life would have a positive impact on these precious children of God? Lord had taken our currency of suffering and exchanged it for grace. You see, when we allow the Lord to use our suffering in this way, our suffering becomes sacred. Our Chris didn’t make a global impact with his suffering, but I believe whole-heartedly that he fulfilled the unique role that out Lord intended for him.
This thought gave me comfort as we adjusted to life without Chris. We didn’t get over it. You never get over the loss of a child. Now our hearts forever beat with a limp. We still had our other two children, Erin, who was 18 when Chris died, and Jarrod who was seven.
Erin had been 14 when Chris was diagnosed so her entire high school experience had been overshadowed by Chris’s cancer. Erin was a good kid who was very involved in dancing, so we were grateful that she had that outlet.
We didn’t know it at the time, but it was during those years that Erin tried drugs for the first time. While we were distracted with Chris and learning to numb ourselves with alcohol, our beautiful daughter began dancing with the devil. She hid it for a long time, got married, had two kids, then got divorced.
After her divorce she and our older granddaughter moved in with us. The younger one went to live with her Dad and his Mom. Not long after they moved in with us, Erin lost her job. She was depressed and sleeping all the time. I started taking over the parenting role of our little Saradi, who was 6 at the time.
One day, I was putting away laundry and I walked into their room to put it away. I opened a drawer and found drug paraphernalia. Suddenly, it all made sense. We had been suspicious, and we had questioned Erin, but she had an answer for everything. Perhaps you’ve heard this saying: Do you know how to tell if an addict is lying? Their lips are moving.
We gave Erin 10 days to find a new place to live, and we told her that Saradi was staying with us. She didn’t argue. I think she was relieved. She knew that no one else could take better care of her precious daughter. So, there I was, a sober woman of grace taking care of a beautiful little girl. I think I was a better mom to Saradi, than I had been to Erin. We had Saradi for several years while her mom slowly got better. What a blessing that time was.
Saradi thrived at school and in the youth group at church. When we rode to school in the morning we would pray together. Saradi and Jarrod became like brother and sister, and we had laughter in the house again. Erin went to rehab, and slowly got better. We made her earn our trust back, and over time, we gradually released Saradi back to her. First, it was supervised visits at our house, then it was an overnight, then a weekend and so on. My own personal struggle with addiction had positioned me perfectly for the role I was playing. I am happy to say that today our Erin is drug-free and successful.
Our second son, Jarrod, was also transformed by suffering. Jarrod was funny, intelligent, and charismatic. But he was also extremely ADHD and impulsive. Let me tell you, this boy did wonders for my prayer life!
One afternoon, when Jarrod was about seventeen, I got an urgent phone call. “Mom, Mom, I’m in pain.” “What’s wrong?” I said. “I was riding my bike on a ramp at the skate park and I fell. My collar bone is poking out! Ahh, it really hurts!” “Jarrod, hang up and dial 911!”
Now, I have to say, I was touched by the fact that Mom was the first person Jarrod thought to call, but given the fact that I have no medical training, and we lived an hour from that park, I probably wasn’t the most logical choice.
But that was our Jarrod, by the time he was 5 years old we had lost count of the ER visits. I remember rushing him to the hospital one time, and he was so small he was still in his child seat. He had a towel pressed to his head to try to staunch the flow of blood from his latest gash, and he just said very calmly, “Mommy, how long do you think we’ll have to wait in the ER this time?”
One time, Chris had only been home from a chemo treatment for about an hour, and Jarrod had managed to run full speed into a door jam, leaving behind a substantial piece of flesh clinging to the molding.
It was this nonstop, dare-devil nature that eventually did Jarrod in. On July 4th, 2015, Jarrod went spearfishing against our advice. The conditions were extremely poor, and he was free diving with no air tanks. He was accidently shot in the head by another diver and he never woke up again. He was 21 years old.
So, I lived every mother’s worst nightmare again. But I wasn’t the same person that I had been back in 2001 when Chris went to be with the Lord. By 2015, I had been reading the Bible for 12 years. I wasn’t just reading the word. I was studying the word. I had been transformed by the renewing of my mind.
And I had witnessed this same transformation in Jarrod when he was 19 years old. He went out with some friends who were up to no good. They got caught burglarizing some unlocked cars and Jarrod ended up in jail. That same Jarrod who made everyone laugh with his impersonations of Johnny Cash, that same Jarrod who used to interrupt me to show me funny YouTube videos of people falling, that same Jarrod who called me “Mama-wah—he did this.
Do you know what the hardest part about visiting your child in jail is? You can’t touch him. Our visits consisted of a video image. But I’ll never forget the day I visited, and Jarrod told me about Ephesians 6:10.
“Mom, this is so cool,” he said, “Did you know that the armor of God has a belt of truth and a breastplate of righteousness. There’s a shield to protect you against flaming arrows of evil. Every single part of the armor has meaning.” He went to explain about the helmet of salvation and the sword of the spirit. When he spoke, he had a sparkle in his eye, not unlike his brother Chris had had 14 years earlier when he had told us that Jesus was coming.
So like Chris with his illness, and Erin and me with our addictions, the Lord had come to Jarrod in his brokenness, in his suffering.
After Jarrod was released, we had the best conversations. We discussed spiritual warfare, God’s plan for marriage, and what Chris must be doing in heaven. Out of our 3 children, Jarrod was our deepest thinker. Oh, how I miss our talks.
And Jarrod had developed a servant’s heart. One of the last things he did before his accident was to have a cookout for the homeless. He and a friend had caught dozens of mangrove snapper, and Jarrod had come home all excited and had asked Rob the best way to cook them. “Dad, we’re gonna get a portable grill and take them down to the homeless camp.” The light in his eyes reflected the joy in his heart.
When I was a child in the late sixties there were a lot of civil rights marches and Vietnam War protests. (Not unlike what is happening today.) Because of the rioting in New York, the mayor enacted a curfew. You might remember this famous public service announcement: “It’s ten o’clock and do you know where your kids are?”
Well, I can answer definitively. I know where my boys are. I can’t hug them, I can’t email them, and sometimes I pretend that they are away getting their doctorates at The University of Heaven. But I do know where they are. 1Peter 3:15 says, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” A lot of people in my position have lost that hope. Folks who have buried children, had their lives torn apart by addiction, bankruptcy, or they have faced adversity so overwhelming that they see no way out. I stand before you to tell you there is a way out, and it is Jesus Christ.
My family’s suffering has given me a platform to offer hope to others. It has also produced many amazing connections-or should I say, divine appointments.
I have a fireman friend named Bill Lavin. He was one of the first responders who entered the twin towers when they were under attack. Afterwards, the fireman received hundreds of letters from children all over the country thanking them for their bravery. When one of those schools was leveled by hurricane Katrina, Bill asked them what they needed the most. The answer: We have no place to play. So, Bill and a crew of volunteers traveled to their little town and built them a brand-new playground. This was the birth of The Where angels Play Foundation.
Since then, the foundation has built over 50 playgrounds all over the United States and even one in Rwanda. Most of the playgrounds are built in memory of children who have died, including 26 playgrounds built in memory of the Sandy Hook victims.
If you ever get a chance to visit beautiful South Lido Park in Sarasota, Florida, you can find playground number 48, nestled under the trees along the white-sand beach. It is built in memory of Chris and Jarrod Ditmars. The panels are adorned with original family artwork and that references our favorite scriptures. If you look closely at the helmet-like shell of the sea turtle you’ll see the words, “Ephesians 6: 10-18
7 pm each evening in New York City the residents go to their windows and clap for the medical personnel, the first responders, the caregivers, and everyone else who risks their lives during the Covid-19 pandemic. We are all united in our suffering.
Jesus’s suffering was necessary for our salvation. Without it, we’d be lost. I think that we become an authentic part of the body when we allow the Lord to use our suffering as well.
I have comforted other women who have lost children. I have lifted up suffering alcoholics. Rob and I gave our once shattered marriage to Jesus, and He healed it. I wake up every day and strive to walk the unique path that the Lord has set out just for me.
***Click on the photos below to be brought to Maribeth's ministry site & to purchase her books. She is available for speaking and school programs.***
Yancy once lived a life of fornication, using drugs, aggressive driving, and satisfying the desires of the flesh with no shame. It never crossed his mind that there was a judgment coming for the choices he continued to make and that he could repent of his sins until one day—God revealed Himself to him taking his life from rebellion to freedom in Christ.
Yancy J. Arrechea
"Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God." (1 Corinthians 6:9-11)
Before I gave my life to Christ in March of 2018, I was living a worldly lifestyle of fornicating, sleeping around, doing drugs, aggressive driving, and satisfying the desires of the flesh with no shame. I had no idea that there was a judgment coming to mankind or that I could repent of my sins. I was never told about the grace of God, the finished work of the cross, or witnessed to by a Christian. My journey began Thanksgiving 2017 when I was in my living room high as could be on drugs (marijuana, ecstasy), but as I looked up, I saw an opening in my ceiling that began as a white circle. When I looked again, I saw a man with a bright light coming from Him, and His arms were wide open as if to embrace me. Around Him were clouds and angels. It was the brightest thing that I have ever seen! I automatically knew who He was and I remember saying to myself “Jesus, What are you doing here?” Mind you, I probably never said His name before other than when I would use His name to blaspheme and curse. I'm talking about my dead days here when I didn't know Christ, but I knew who He was at that moment even though I was high because I had an instance of clarity that I will never forget! When this happened, I had no biblical knowledge, but this experience remained in my mind and heart until the Holy Spirit came to me a couple of months later and my whole life changed forever.
March of 2018, was a very tragic moment in my life as it was after the death of an uncle, the anniversary of my grandmother's passing, and the deaths of my pets. I was a mess as it very much felt that things were falling apart around me. So one day, I got high again after smoking about 5 joints back-to-back which was my coping mechanism—an addiction stronghold that had come down the generational line. The Holy Spirit spoke to me and said that the way I was living my life was offensive to Him. Yes, somehow I recognized His voice. God continued to speak and said that if I continued down this path that I would perish. Well, right there and then, I accepted Him into my life. He began to show me the things that He wanted out of my life such as, my lying and having sex with men. Yes, I was a homosexual and engaged to two men before believing the lie that I was “born this way”. I now understand that it was due to generational sins, curses, and Santeria/witchcraft from past generations. There was an open door for a spirit to infect me when I was yet in my mother's womb then, there were molestation's as a child from relatives. At this present time, I was still living with my then fiancee but for the first time in my life, I could see that it was wrong to be with a man and I wanted nothing to do with it. I want everyone to understand that when I was in the world, I was completely blinded and saw nothing wrong with the way I was living my life. I also would like to encourage those who witness to homosexuals, to do it out of love because you won't win them any other way. They are just looking for love in all the wrong places being deceived by the prince of the power of the air which is Satan and all his demons.
I was drawn to the King James Version of the Bible and began to read John 1:1. My mind was blown away, and I knew without a doubt that Jesus was God and He was talking to me all this time. It was Adonai, Elohim, and the Great I AM that had shown Himself to me as a burning bush as He did with Moses. By Thanksgiving 2018, God put the hammer on me and told me no more and that my partner had to go! I was still struggling with letting him go and my demons saw that I got saved and didn't want to let me go. It was a struggle, but I wanted Jesus a lot more, so I broke up with my partner. I kept the house and he packed his bags and went peacefully. God's hand was working mighty in my life and continues to do so. I had a lot of fear and worry about how I would afford all the bills alone, but I'm telling you two years later, the power and water never went off and I never went hungry. He has blessed me every single step of the way and has been so faithful even in my unfaithfulness towards Him. When alone, the Lord began to pull me away from people. I just worked and went home and studied the bible and prayed and little by little the Lord had delivered me from fornicating, pornography, and masturbating. Now, don't think that I didn't mess up because I did. It was a sanctification process. But eventually, those “big” sins were out of the picture. The Lord led me to Pastor Robert Clancy on YouTube from (The Narrow Path Ministries: Catch the Fire of Repentance Revival), and through his teaching, I learned about spiritual warfare, generational curses, binding, and loosening, and deliverance. It was just me and the Lord for a while. I wouldn't look at men or women, but then eventually I got bored. With this sudden drastic change, I was missing my old life. Let's be honest, this life of denial that we must live of not fulfilling the desires is not for the weak, but the strong. I'm being transparent here okay. It was around August of 2019, and I was living as holy and righteously as possible. I even got water baptized with evidence of speaking in tongues. I began to work a lot of hours which left me very tired and I was not taking the time to get alone with God and read the bible as I was or attending church. I became spiritually weak and when my birthday came around I thought…“one time won't hurt” and I relapsed using drugs. This was the biggest mistake ever! I got STUCK for almost 6 months smoking weed and taking meth and I hated every single moment of it! Everything from my past came back as I was secretly sinning badly. I ended up like King Nebuchadnezzar—he was so proud God needed to humble him by having him live in the wild on all fours. I feel I had the same experience, and I lost my mind. Now, that I look back, Jesus was right there with me the entire time and drew closer to me even though, I was in willful sin against Him. I honestly don't remember much from August 2019 to January 2020, somehow I still went to work, got paid, and I didn't kill myself or someone else out on the road. It was a miracle! You might be wondering if I had anyone to go to for help and the answer is no because nobody in my family was saved and when I would try to reach out to my pastor, the enemy would hit me with deep shame and condemnation. I had almost given up all hope. It wasn't until the Holy Spirit Himself put His right hand on me and broke all the chains of the heaviness off of me. When He restored me to Himself, I cried like I never did before. It was like I woke up from a 6-month nightmare. I wouldn’t wish what I went through on anyone. The healing process began all over again, and I had to regain all the ground that I had lost and come out of sin little by little as before. The Lord revealed to me that I wasn't rooted and grounded in the Word of God and He allowed certain things to show me my true self. I began to be able to recognize His still soft voice even more, and He had shown Himself in different parts in my life so I can get strong in Him. The thing that hit me the most is when He told me that this was my first major storm and it blew me to the ground and how great my fall was, but He stood by me—He held me by His righteous right hand and carried me when I couldn't walk. I'm telling you Jesus is amazing! Please, don't take advantage of Him as I did. I hurt Him so badly and so thankful He forgave and restored me. I learned a really good harsh lesson that I couldn't have learned any other way.
Please pray for one another and reach out to that brother or sister you haven't heard from in a while because you don't know what might be going on in their lives. Another thing I want to mention is that as I was coming out of sin, I had to suffer the consequences. And let me tell you, I sure did because for a while I would hear demons running up and down my stairs, they would shake my bed, make noises in the walls, and even growl, but God put in my spirit what prayer I needed to speak out loud to renounce, denounce, and repent of my wicked ways. I called down fire from heaven, and all the fowl unclean spirits went running out of my house after breaking curses. It was a difficult and tedious thing to go through, so I urge you to draw near to God and stay there. Stay at the feet of Jesus and don't look back to your past and open those doors of sin again. I learned that all my sinning gave legal ground for a very high-level powerful demon to kill me and that thing showed up at my house less than an arm's length away, and if I had not been under the precious blood of Jesus Christ it would have killed me! But God had mercy on me and the Holy Spirit rose from within me so powerfully that I prayed in the spirit so loud and so fast and powerfully that the Holy Spirit used my vocal cords and tongue to help me repent and cast that thing away. Ever since then, I have drawn near to God and I'm never looking back! The love, mercy, and compassion that Almighty God had towards me have helped me come to have a newfound fear and reverence of Him. He’s worthy to be praised and of denying self and taking up your cross daily. I'm back to walking in the Spirit, sober, back in the Word, and living a life that will honor and please Him. May God bless every single person who reads my story. I love you all, but Jesus loves you more. Repent and turn to Him for He can deliver you for He whom the Son sets free is free indeed. His words are the truth! God does not lie and He will never forsake you! There is no weapon formed or fashioned against you that shall prosper.
"Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed." (John 8:36)
"Every word of God is pure; He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him." (Proverbs 30:5)
"Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the LORD your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6)
"No weapon formed against you shall prosper, And every tongue which rises against you in judgment You shall condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, And their righteousness is from Me,” Says the LORD." (Isaiah 54:17)
Yancy was blessed by the teaching of Pastor Robert Clancy and it's my hope and prayer that his ministry can also help in your healing and freedom in Christ. Below are links to Pastor Robert Clancy's ministry site and YouTube channel.
“Through the life of Muhammad, I found DEATH.
Through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, I found LIFE!”
Sonia Azam"When my father and my mother forsake me, Then the Lord will take care of me." (Psalm 27:10)
“Through the life of Muhammad, I found DEATH. Through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, I found LIFE!”
I was Muslim–born in Islam and in a Pakistani family in Britain. The Lord Jesus began a good work in me and I know He's going to complete it until the day He returns! When I was a young Muslim–I used to read the Quran quite a lot. My dad taught me to read the Quran in Quranic Arabic when I was young which is very common with Muslim families. Parents are very important in teaching children everything they know about the religion to grow in the faith. From the very young age of five, it was my dad who taught me how to read certain verses in the Quran. We had to memorize the verses in the Quran in Arabic, not in English. Muslims pray and memorize scriptures in the Arabic and by the time I was in my late teens and early 20’s–I was reading the Quran, but it would puzzle me because I wasn't able to comprehend exactly what I was reading and I found out that this is often the case with many Muslims. We can memorize all the verses from memory–we have volumes of Arabic prayers and scriptures that we have memorized, but we don’t know what we are talking about because we didn't understand the language that it was being taught. It’s like learning the Bible in all Hebrew, but we didn’t understand the meaning because it's not our dialect. My parents speak or adore Punjabi, but mostly at home we learned and spoke English. There was just something about the Quran that I didn't understand because it was in Arabic. Eventually, I got to read the Quran in English because my dad gave me an English translation and it was in this, that the Lord Jesus began to work behind the scenes. God knows when one’s soul is longing to seek the truth. He's so faithful! The more time I spent reading the Quran in English, the more I would come across verses about Jesus. I began to compare and contrast verses in the Koran about Muhammad and Jesus and would question why He died on the cross. I didn't understand–it didn't make any sense. I couldn’t find any answers in the Quran regarding this person Jesus. He seemed so different–so special–really special–even in the Quran there's a testimony of Jesus! The true living God began to reveal Himself to me by sowing seeds in my heart.
I also thank God and grateful for street preachers on the train and London public transports for it was through these faithful preachers of the gospel, that would hand out tracts so I can learn more about Jesus. Honestly, if it weren't for them I don't know how long it would have taken the Lord to get me to believe in Him. This all began to happen at the same time when I was seeking the Lord and trying to understand Allah, Mohammed, and Isa. I was searching for the truth.
A little more about my family background–I was the eldest of four kids–a tomboy, and considered the rebel –the scapegoat–the black sheep. It was in my 20’s that I started seeking God in my heart. I wasn't a religious Muslim girl–I was spiritual you could say and trying to find out who Jesus was. Why was He so different than Mohammed? I would keep the amazing little gospel tracks that I received on the street and the trains, and I would keep them secret and safe from my family because in those tracks there were scriptures about why Jesus came and died on the cross. Then, I would think–the Quran says He didn't die on the cross, but Christians say He did, so to me, it was a contradiction.
Later on, I found out that historically it’s a proven fact that Jesus did die on the cross for our sins, but at this early stage of sorting things out, I had a lot of questions. I have a very inquisitive mind and I was very curious. At the time, of putting the truth together, I felt that I had no theological understanding because I wasn't very good with religion in that I didn't understand anything about Christianity or Islam. Everything I learned was from the Quran. Some of the things that the Koran shares about Jesus stood out to me because it says that Jesus is a Spirit of God and He's the Word of God. The Quran also says that the Word was in Jesus and He did lots of miracles. I learned that Jesus had a lot of power. Again, I concluded that there was something really special about Him and I desired to know more. It was because of the gospel tracks that I received that I learned even more truth. Keep in mind, that I still didn’t have a Bible and back then, the internet wasn’t a big thing to look information up as it was 2001. So, I would read the scripture verses in the tracks and compare them to the Quran. I also tried to talk to my god at the time Allah, but he was so distant and all I saw was blackness. I even began to question why Muslims say they worship one God but pray faithfully bowing down before a rock like a star in the Kaaba. This was something that never sat right with me even as a Muslim–I was very hesitant to learn about the prayer because there is just something about the Kaaba–the black shrine in Mecca because remember, that's their prayer point–the focal point for all Islamic prayers facing the Kaaba (black stone) in Mecca. I would see the picture of the Kaaba all the time on the prayer mat in my dad's room where he would pray and it would freak me out a little bit. I used to have a lot of problems with fear and I knew the spirit of fear was following me for many years. As a little girl, I never liked being in the dark and for some reason when verses of Jesus would pop up, it would do something in my heart and I wanted to know so much more about Him, but I wouldn’t dare get a Bible–it didn’t even cross my mind. Eventually, what happened was I got to the stage where I began to believe the reason why Jesus died on the cross and that He was the Lamb of God–He was sacrificed and He offered Himself up to die for all humanity's sins in the world. As a Muslim, I understood what sacrifice meant because of the animal sacrifices that are done when celebrating two different types of Eid’s. One of them is where they would commemorate Abraham offering Ishmael, not Isaac. Remember Muslims believe that they are the chosen people not from the Isaac bloodline they believe it is from Ishmael. So when I came across the scriptures about Jesus dying for the sins of the world and He was the Lamb of God–it began to make so much sense to me and the Lord was giving me understanding. Again this is without having a Bible and through having a few gospel tracts that I would keep safe by hiding them in my briefcase. In the next few months, I came to believe the Good News that Jesus Christ was God who came in the flesh–the Word of God because I had that testimony from Islam that He’s a Spirit of God.
Then one day around 3 am or 4 am, I waited for everyone to be sound asleep and I got out of my bed to kneel and talk with the Heavenly Father. It was there, that I surrendered to Jesus as I remember saying to Him…“Heavenly Father, I come to you in the name of your Son Jesus who became a sacrifice for my sins…I'm so sorry, please forgive me…help me and my family to see you and help us to know who you are.” It was at that point, that I crossed the line from being a Muslim girl to believing in Jesus—a breaking point. It seems cliché, but I’m telling you that I received the peace of God from that day onward. His Holy Spirit came and He started to live in my heart—I know it because it was right after this I desired to get a Bible and read what Jesus wrote.
In deciding to follow Jesus, I had no idea how bad my Muslim family would take it, so I kept it a secret for five or six months. My baptism happened months later. I end up doing some temporary work in my employment for extra cash. Bear in mind that I'm still living with my mom and dad and siblings while keeping Jesus a secret until the day came when I got this job, and I'm supposed to be helping the local community Town Hall. It was the general elections in the United Kingdom, and I was helping them with the ballots. It's the town in London called East Town. It’s still there and on my lunch break, I would confess to others that Jesus is Lord. I had no trouble with it and I knew He was God and eventually He would work it out–He would tell my family about Himself and would save my mom and dad. I had it all worked out in my brain. Well, during my lunch period one day there was a Pentecostal gathering of Colombian Christians in the town hall in the venue where I was working. I went into the main hall because I was curious and I peeped in as they were singing songs in Spanish or in the Colombian language—I wasn't sure, but I just had a good feeling about it so I walked in and they were so excited they thought I was Colombian, so they said to come on in. I thought they were celebrating a marriage or something, and then one of the girls by the name of Angelica came over and asked me if I was a Christian. I stumbled for my words—looked over my shoulders and whispered “yes I am”. She then asked if I would like to come in and if I had a Bible with me. I told her that I don't have a Bible, and I'm actually on my lunch break—I was making all these excuses because I got nervous as I was still keeping it a secret. She said to me to come over as she went and grabbed a Bible and gave it to me. I wish I could rewind and see this moment in history. I just grabbed the Bible and thanked her so much. After, I just wanted to run off and sneak it in my handbag, but I stayed in the service. Then the pastor or preacher began what we call an altar call for people to come up front and give their lives to Jesus. I saw one person than another walking up to the front to surrender their life to Jesus. I thought to myself that I wanted to do this because I knew I should make a public confession. Later on, when I got into reading the Gospels I learned Jesus said that if we deny Him before men He’ll deny us before His Father, but if we confess Him before men He’ll confess us before the Father. (Matthew 10:32-33) So I waited a few minutes for people to do their thing and I knew that I wanted to surrender my life to Christ. I was nervous doing it because again, I’m in a Muslim family and still considered Muslim and I knew if anyone was to see me there would be hell to pay, but I did it anyway because I felt that I was in a safe environment and I knew that God had to set this thing up for me. After all, He even had a stranger give me a Bible. There is no such thing as a secret believer in Christianity—we must boldly confess Jesus Christ—we must deny all false religions—deny idolatry—and publicly confess that there is only one God—there is only one name and that name is Jesus Christ. We must come to the place where we do this boldly and unashamedly. At the time, I was still very timid and nervous about this whole thing because I was keeping Jesus a secret, but I will never forget that it was a Saturday on June 2nd, 2001, that I gave my life to Jesus. After this, I was so hungry to read the Bible. I started reading the Bible from Genesis. I have heard that most people when they come to Jesus go to the Gospels or to the book of John, but I didn't have anyone to help me or say start here or go there, so I just figured the best way to start a book is in the beginning. I read the whole Old Testament in a couple of months and then began the New Testament. In between, I would go back to the Old Testament to check things out. I found the Bible fascinating and I was getting so many answers to my questions from why Adam and Eve were created and what the deal was with Satan because the Islamic view of the devil in the early stages of creation is peculiar and made no sense.
So when I was reading Genesis I went over to the books of the law and I understood a lot from all the books of the law which is Deuteronomy and Leviticus. During this time, I also discovered Christian cable TV and would watch some in the early hours while my parents were sleeping. I used to love Derek Prince's teachings and I learned so much from him early on in my walk with the Lord. I am so in love with Jesus it’s like fire as Jeremiah says His Word is like a fire—How can I hide it? How can I keep it a secret? I can’t! I would write love letters to my Heavenly Father and little poems of prayers and keep them in my bedroom. I didn't know how to express all this love that He was giving me—I didn’t know how to express all this love He was giving me especially while still living in a Muslim household. As some time went by, my mom noticed that I wouldn’t wake up early for Ramadan to fast, and then eventually, she found my prayers that I wrote to my Heavenly Father and saw my Bible that fell out of my handbag.
Once my family found out, everything began to happen quickly. One day my mom picked me up from the town hall where I worked and while we were driving home she began to ask me…What do the letters mean that she found? Who was my Heavenly Father? And, then she said that you’re not even fasting. I was really quiet and she started to get very aggressive and angry. This is how the demonic works—it wasn't my mother it was demons—Demons in my mom getting irritated with me. She said you're not even admitting and denying it! We do not call Allah our Heavenly Father and Jesus is not a Son of God! She was beating me as she was driving the car and then said…“You better think this through before you come home today—I'm going to drop you off and tell your father so you better reconsider because he’s not going to be happy! I got really scared but knew that I was going to have to say what I believe. At the time, I was still with my ex-boyfriend and he wasn't supportive or seeing the transformation going on in my life. In fact, he slapped me on the face for believing in Jesus. I learned that you could be in the wrong place at the wrong time, but Jesus Christ will always pull you out. Even though I was considered the scapegoat and black sheep in my family—the taunting increased. When I got home my dad confronted me and asked if it was true what my mom was telling him? Surprisingly, it was my mom that was more aggressive with me than my dad and after my father and I talked—my mom ramped up the attacks a lot against me in which she began to get all the relatives to come over to try to talk sense into me and interrogate me. Remember, I was only just beginning to read the Bible for myself and trying to understand the history where Jesus came from—I was very young in the faith not baptized yet—my family was coming over and putting me in the hot seat and asking me so many questions intimidating me. I would tell them that He’s the God of Abraham. They didn’t like what I said, but I shared with them what it says in John 10:1-11—“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. Yet they will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” Jesus used this illustration, but they did not understand the things which He spoke to them. Then Jesus said to them again, "Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.”
I then remembered that I read that same terminology before in the Old Testament about the Good Shepherd in Ezekiel 34, so I knew He was Jesus there's no doubt about it it's all over the book and that He is the God of the Old Testament—It has always been Jesus! Ezekiel 34:11-16 says—‘For thus says the Lord God: “Indeed I Myself will search for My sheep and seek them out. As a shepherd seeks out his flock on the day he is among his scattered sheep, so will I seek out My sheep and deliver them from all the places where they were scattered on a cloudy and dark day. And I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries, and will bring them to their own land; I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, [b]in the valleys and in all the inhabited places of the country. I will feed them in good pasture, and their fold shall be on the high mountains of Israel. There they shall lie down in a good fold and feed in rich pasture on the mountains of Israel. I will feed My flock, and I will make them lie down,” says the Lord God. “I will seek what was lost and bring back what was driven away, bind up the broken and strengthen what was sick; but I will destroy the fat and the strong, and feed them in judgment.” Jeremiah 23 speaks about the Shepherd as well.
So this is why I was trying to tell my family that He’s the God that has created everything. I said to my dad…“Don’t you agree because in the Quran it says that Jesus is coming to judge the world?” I continued …“Muhammad isn’t coming to judge the world—He’s dead.” This is when I would get slapped on my face. Jesus is alive—He’s the resurrected God—It’s so amazing, and the truth of the Gospel shakes everything you know. I was only beginning to learn, but He was going to show me much more.
So anyway, I dealt with my family members coming over for awhile, but then it culminated to the point where I was asked to leave the family home because they couldn't accept that I have become a Christian and an apostate in Islam. It was very embarrassing for the whole family, and my dad and mom would say that I was the only one who has ever done anything like this and it was the worst thing that could have happened to the family and it would have been better if they found out that I was doing drugs or something else because then they could contain and help me, but the fact that I've denied Islam and in doing this—I denied my family. They took it very personally. I shared with my dad, that he said that our faith lies in the roots of Abraham and in that regard, Jesus is the same God. I wanted my dad to read it for himself, but it was difficult. I knew that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit were one and I knew in my heart, that He was with me all along. It wasn't possible that Jesus could come and be physically present with me, but by His Spirit He's with me—He’s with us. His Spirit of truth gave me comfort in the midst of things becoming so heated with my family. I received and believed the truth of what the Bible says and found myself not knowing where I was to go for I had nowhere to go.
The Lord would speak to me through scriptures, and as I would be asking Him what to do, I would turn to a page in the Bible that would speak to me and would receive help from Him. How many times does this happen to us when we’re praying about something and we open the Word and boom—the Lord is talking to you? Many times! One of the scriptures I turned to was from Matthew 10:21-23 and it says…“Now brother will deliver up brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death. And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved. When they persecute you in this city, flee to another.” So I would read all these beautiful things that were encouraging to me, and God would speak to me through them that everything was going to be alright and I was doing the right thing. I learned that Jesus taught us that if we follow Him, people would reject and betray us, and if you’re going to deny Islam as I did and stick up for the name of Jesus, you can even lose your parents—You can lose everything. God tells this in His Word so we would be prepared.
By the time Christmas Eve came of 2001, my parents called the emergency doctor to come and visit me because of course, they thought I was losing my mind. They told the doctor that I was hearing voices and talking nonsense. I told him that I was absolutely fine and it was just a domestic situation at home with a disagreement we were having. The doctor said if I needed any further help to call the special number that he gave me. If I happened to be upstairs while my relatives visited, I would have to go downstairs and sit and listen to all the stuff they were saying to me in trying to talk sense into me. They would even say I would burn in hell and that I have become an apostate or a kafir and I should be dead by being stoned to death. I cried a lot because at the time, I didn’t understand why they were so hostile toward me. I was naive and I really came to Jesus with a childlike faith. I believed with my whole heart that Jesus was Lord—that He was alive and not dead because He came back to life, and that He was coming back again. The Quran actually says that Jesus will be coming back to judge the earth as well. I would rather follow a man that is alive than dead! God gave me some boldness even in the early days and I would speak what He was putting on my heart.
It was Christmas Day and my mom, dad, sisters, and brother were home. My parents wanted me to leave the family home, but I had nowhere to go and I didn’t have any Christian friends as of yet. My younger sister, who was around 12 years old at the time, shared my room and would often see my parents smacking and beating me so she was worried and would get really upset and cry at times not knowing what was going on. I would try to comfort her by letting her know that everything was going to be OK. My brother was in his early teens and didn't understand.
When the night would come, my dad would say to me…“You have to understand…What you have done is very bad and we cannot accept you this way. You need to make a decision. Either you continue with Jesus or you come back to your senses and we’ll get you married to a Muslim man, and you’ll be fine and you can forget about Jesus.” I told my dad that I cannot deny Jesus because He is God. I proceeded to apologize over and over again for all the bad things I did in my life and for giving them so much trouble as I was a rebellious tomboy.
I tried to encourage my dad to read the scriptures for himself on why I have come to know Jesus is God, but he couldn’t receive it, and they thought I lost my mind—we couldn’t reason with each other. They were sure that someone in my life was brainwashing me, and they wanted to know who told me Jesus was God. I was scared to say anything to them, but I needed to tell them that He clearly showed me the truth that in Islam, you’re worshiping an idol as paganism. My mom became very emotional as I am sure she believed she had lost her daughter. That night, I was slapped and beat and realized how serious the situation was. I sat at the edge of my bed talking to God telling Him that I did not know what to do or where to go and that I love my parents. I was always a homely girl and wasn’t independent like some teenagers and people in their 20’s. In fact, I went to a university a couple of years prior and dropped out because I was so homesick. I was terrified because I didn't know what to do so I opened the Bible and this is what I read from Psalm 27:10…“Though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me.” When I read this, I knew that the Lord was with me and was going to take care of me—Everything was going to be OK. How can anyone tell me that Jesus is not God when I'm talking to Him and He's talking back to me? That’s no coincidence! So I took a deep breath, and I said …“All right then, okay Lord, let's do it.” I had a suitcase which was full of things that I have accumulated over the years that I emptied as my little sister watched with concern. I told her not to worry and that it would only be for a short time and I will be staying with a friend. As I was packing, I remembered what Jesus said in the Gospels if you want to follow Him. It says in Matthew 16:24…“Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.” I wanted to stay with my parents as I had attachment issues, but the Lord was allowing me to surrender in His time step by step. It was around 4 in the morning, that I sneaked out of the house while they were all sleeping to catch a taxi. Three months went by and I was still very mindful of how upset everybody at home was as well as the Islam community. Once in a while, I went home to check in on my family to test the waters and see if they calmed down, but they were still very angry with me and there were just more arguments and they would say nasty things about Jesus and I would leave again. Unfortunately, I couldn't tell my family where I was staying because I didn't want them to know in case there would be any drama for the people that I was living with.
After leaving home, I started attending a church and soon was baptized. Of all days for my mother to look for me and find out where I was, it was on the day of my baptism. I was already anxious that anyone from my family would find out about what I planned to do. As I was getting ready to be baptized, I gave my testimony and began to cry. When I looked up, I saw my mom and auntie there. My heart sank and I thought to myself…“Not today! Not on the day that I’m getting baptized!” I then tried to tell the pastor to give him a heads-up that there might be some trouble because my mom was there. He said that it would be fine and it was good that she’s in church, but then as I was stepping down into the base of baptismal water she walked up and was screaming and cursing about Jesus and me. At the same time, Pastor Tony continued to baptize me while holding his hands over my ears so I couldn't hear what was being said. He then proceeded to say…“I baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” I was so excited to die to myself and rise up with Christ as well as saying my own prayers in my head trying to block out what my mother was saying as she screamed at the edge of the baptismal water. I asked the Lord to please forgive her because she thought I was lost and didn’t know what she was doing. The people that were at the church rose and began to pray in tongues. It was the first time I have ever heard what it means to pray in the spirit or in tongues and I realized what was happening was a spiritual battle. I was still sobbing my eyes out because I didn’t want anything to happen to my mom as she was so hysterical saying things like…“I'm going to burn this church down! I'm going to get your brother to burn this church down! You rejected Islam! You rejected Allah! You rejected the whole family!” The leaders in the church tried to calm her down, but she had what seemed to be super-human strength which was actually demons manifesting in her. After the baptism, I got dressed and stayed with a family from the church for a season. There was a rumor going around that the local taxi firm had my photo and gave it out to the drivers who were mostly Muslim to be on the lookout for me, so every time I would leave the house or go anywhere, I needed to disguise myself because I didn’t want anyone to recognize me.
Eventually, I moved up to north England in Derbyshire and stayed there for five years. In those years, the Lord isolated me so I can have time alone with Him to get grounded in the Word and grow in my faith. There were lovely people in the church and they looked after me and gave me a job. While there, I did keep in contact with my family and they tried and succeeded to persuade me to come back home, so I did. When I moved back, they forbid me from going to church, and unfortunately I compromised for the sake of saving them respect in the community and because they both were struggling with sickness. In fact, one night my dad collapsed due to his type 1 diabetes and we were concerned that he would go into a coma. I had memorized Isaiah 53:5 and I confessed healing over my dad in the name of Jesus. “But He was woundedfor our transgressions, He wasbruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed.” My dad came around and felt better before the ambulance came and he said to me…“I heard you pray in the name of Jesus for me.” I said…“You did?” and then, I thought he was going to hit me, but he didn’t and said…“Thank you for doing that.” A miracle in itself!
When I moved back home, my career and social life distracted me and my relationship with Jesus grew more lukewarm. I turned to music and dancing which as a little girl I always liked. Because of the prohibition my family put on me, when I would go to church they would find out. I didn’t want the church to get in trouble, so at the time, I thought it was best not to go. When I moved back to London, the Lord began opening doors for me concerning a documentary and opportunities to share my testimony on very popular media outlets under a different name than my own of course. My interests also grew in political things such as terrorism. I knew that the Lord had a calling on my life and for various reasons the enemy was trying his best to take me off track. Even from the early days, I became distracted from hurtful people that would come into my life, but the Lord still kept me close to Him even though for a bit, I had a pattern of drifting from Him and then coming close to Him again. In this, I learned that fellowship with other believers is essential not only for encouragement, but for our protection and support. Going to church too is very important in strengthening our walk with Him. Because I didn’t have this at the time, I threw myself into my career, music, clubbing, and getting involved in politics. I began to have many contacts in the media as I continued to do things “behind the scenes” fearing what my parents would do if they found out. All the while, I didn’t stop reading my Bible because I knew that God showed me so many things in those five years, and He began something special so I can help others by exposing truth and being a bold vessel for Him. But first, I knew I needed to get rid of my fear of man that always seemed to be there even though my heart burned for Jesus. As I share my story, it’s 2019, and I moved to California. Before moving, there was three to four occasions where my dad had me sit with the Imam from the Mosque because they were so worried that I was getting more stubborn in my faith with Jesus, and they thought it would take a Imam Mosque leader to talk with me about why I was wrong about Jesus and that I have been brainwashed into believing that the Bible is true. At the time, I didn’t know how to answer the questions that he was asking—as they were questions that only apologetic's and people like that would be able to answer. So I had no idea what to say, but I had my Bible in my hands and would tell him…“Well, it says here” to no avail as they would not listen. Unfortunately, there’s a blindness and an evil spirit behind this thing and twice, the Imam said to me that my punishment for what I’ve done was death and that I’m a kuffar or apostate and I need to die for it, but then he said something to my dad like well you know, this is the UK though. I knew the seriousness of what I’ve done to accept Christ and appreciated the concern of the Muslim community, but they don’t know what I know right now, but they will. Many from the Islamic community are coming to the knowledge of Jesus. In fact, Muslims are coming to Jesus in great numbers around the world because He’s appearing to them in dreams and visions. Those that have found Jesus are persecuted, but they don't care because they are saying… “We found everything…He’s our treasure!” Jesus talked about the treasure in His parable—He’s the treasure—He’s the world’s most precious treasure and no one can steal that from me ever again! “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” (Matthew 13:44) I want to serve Jesus for the rest of my life! I have to let my light shine like a candle in the darkness. I ask for boldness in Jesus name. We all are special in Jesus' eyes. He considers us so much that He even numbers the hairs on our head. “But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.” (Luke 12:7)
Jesus is returning soon—I'm so excited! A lot of hard times are coming, but we have to be strong. We can't let anything shake our faith. He’s the Shepherd—He’s the door and the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—there’s no other and I want to serve Him all the days of my life! “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)
“Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven." (Matthew 10:32-33)
“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. Yet they will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” Jesus used this illustration, but they did not understand the things which He spoke to them. Then Jesus said to them again, "Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.” (John 10:1-11)
‘For thus says the Lord God: “Indeed I Myself will search for My sheep and seek them out. As a shepherd seeks out his flock on the day he is among his scattered sheep, so will I seek out My sheep and deliver them from all the places where they were scattered on a cloudy and dark day. And I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries, and will bring them to their own land; I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, [b]in the valleys and in all the inhabited places of the country. I will feed them in good pasture, and their fold shall be on the high mountains of Israel. There they shall lie down in a good fold and feed in rich pasture on the mountains of Israel. I will feed My flock, and I will make them lie down,” says the Lord God. “I will seek what was lost and bring back what was driven away, bind up the broken and strengthen what was sick; but I will destroy the fat and the strong, and feed them in judgment.” (Ezekiel 34:11-16)
“You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.” (Exodus 20:4-6)
“Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.” (1 Corinthians 10:14)
Amanda Grace's life changed in an instant in August 2002, when she felt fluish, and then collapsed in her mother’s home starting a 16 year battle with a rare neuropathy and autoimmune disease. The Lord brought her back from the verge of death multiple times, and raised her up from being paralyzed in a wheelchair. This amazing testimony is truly a testament to the power, grace, and love of Almighty God!
What the Lord has done for me has been like a baptism by fire, and I believe what I've been through really shows the strength and power of the Lord because His strength is made perfect in our weakness. The more we go through—the more of His strength can be demonstrated in our lives. The Lord is everything to me!
From the time I was a child, I fought illness. At the age of four, my mother found me in my crib blue and rushed me to the pediatrician. It was discovered, that I had severe asthma. I found myself in the hospital a lot because I would get pneumonia and bronchitis often. At times, I would need oxygen tents because I couldn't breathe outside of them. Because I was in the hospital so much, I missed a lot of school work. Unlike today, the choices to treat asthma were limited. Two of the options were adrenaline shots and slo-bid which was like giving a child ten cups of coffee. When I was about six years old, nebulizer treatments became available.
I praise God for my mom because she's a strong woman in the Lord and she raised me to be the same—a fighter—one that perseveres and doesn't give up. My mom took care of me a lot when I was going through all of this. Unfortunately, my father wanted nothing to do with the Lord and everything to do with the world and worldly things. This caused a bit of a rocky childhood because the Bible talks about a house divided cannot stand, and because of my dad's choices, there were both spiritual and physical implications in our lives. So fighting illness, and dealing with this was not easy.
I was raised on the border of the Bronx, NY (the south end of New Rochelle), and by the time I was fifteen—we moved into Hudson Valley, NY. This move was a whole new ordeal for me because the high school was rough even back then to the point of needing security guards. I then went on to John Jay High School, which was another adjustment, and I began to have gastrointestinal issues—this was the secondary symptoms showing up before the primary symptoms.
I ended up having terrible gastrointestinal issues, and at the age of sixteen, my gallbladder had to be removed because it stopped working due to problems with the ducts going to my pancreas. By the age of seventeen, I ended up getting pancreatitis from all the gastrointestinal issues I had been fighting.
I began to attend Santa College in Lavelle, NY and while there, I was still very sick and thin because I couldn't eat a lot of foods due to my incredibly limited diet. The college was very accommodating with everything, but it was very frustrating.
By the age of twenty, my parents ended up getting a divorce. My mother tried she did, but there are just times that somebody is so set in their ways as my dad was, that it's too destructive and not good all around. With the divorce, my whole world changed and I found myself taking six classes while working thirty hours a week to try to support myself.
Nine months after getting out of Siena College in New York, I was working at Global Financial Services in Harrison, NY as a hedge fund accountant on a hedge fund worth hundreds of millions of dollars. When I interviewed at Globo, they had me take a financial IQ test. The highest score for this test because of its difficulty was a 40 out of a hundred—I scored an 80 out of a hundred doubling their highest score and they immediately hired me at very generous salary for a 21-year-old. It was a very stressful and intense job because a hedge fund that's worth hundreds of millions of dollars has different currencies. stocks, bonds, commodities, futures, you name it it's in that fund.
Because of all I had gone through as a kid, I stayed away from a lot of indulgences that other kids experimented with such as, drugs and cigarettes. I barely drank a glass of wine every now and then because of the health problems that I have been through—I was going to the gym, eating right, and doing everything I could to keep my body completely healthy. But nine months into doing all I could to keep healthy—I began to feel flush however, this was no regular flu—this was a killer virus and within seven days, I collapsed on the floor of my mother's bathroom and she rushed me to the hospital. The doctors did not know what was wrong and thought it might be Lyme disease or MS. They ran many tests, but couldn't find anything. In an instant, my life changed! I was unable to walk or talk well and I was very weak. I will tell you that this was an attack from the pit of hell!
Eighteen years ago, doctors did not know about viruses attacking the nervous systems and neuropathy—they knew much less back then than they know now about such issues, and so the doctors couldn't figure out what was wrong with me. I was released from the hospital and we started our journey of looking for specialty doctors. We went to fourteen specialty doctors in a year and a half to try to figure out what had happened to me because, it was clear that something was very; very wrong. I deteriorated more over that time, and by the time I got to Dr. Adam's a year and a half later, at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in New York City, he had to admit me to the hospital because my blood pressure was 70 over 40—I was thin and very weak. After testing, he thought that maybe I had pots syndrome (postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome), but he said…"There is something else going on here that we can't quite put our finger on…an underlying autoimmune issue that we can't quite diagnose yet." Then, Doctor Adam's told me that I had to go into rehab because I was too weak and my body wasn't functioning correctly. So, I was admitted to Burke Rehabilitation Institute in Westchester, New York. It's a fabulous rehab center and the people there were amazing. I spent over a month there which happened to be during Christmas and New Year's. Even going through this God was faithful! So many people came to see me, and they decorated my room for Christmas. One of my mom's friends made food for Christmas day. The young adult's group from Faith Assembly of God that I used to help came to see me too. God was faithful in sending all these people to support me during this time. Now, as good as the rehab center was, they had never quite dealt with nervous system issues like I was having so I will tell you—rehab was very intense and difficult.
I started rehab in a wheelchair, but when I left—I walked out of there using a cane—praise God for that. The doctors told me, that I couldn't go back to work in the field of finance due to it being too stressful—They felt it would break down my body, so I had to figure out how to rebuild my life. I was very shy at this point and even afraid to pray out loud because as a kid, nobody was allowed to talk about God around my father. He would get very angry, so I was very introverted about my relationship with the Lord until He helped me with this through this trial.
I ended up being very weak and frail for a long time and would go through bouts of sickness. The doctors had trouble keeping me healthy as I would keep getting infections, so it was one step forward and two steps back. Doctor Adam's decided that I needed to have white blood cell transfusions (IVIG immunoglobulin) which are put into your body intravenously, with about a four-hour drip. They started me on a regiment once a month for five days in a row. I will tell you, they give them to cancer patients too and make you incredibly sick and tired you're down for days after you get these treatments. Well, I had an anaphylactic reaction from the brand they put me on and needed to be rushed to the hospital, so they decided to put me on it once a week instead of five days in a row. I was very weak a couple of days after treatments and was in the house a lot—I did not have much of a life—I couldn't drive and had to have somebody watch me when I went out because my legs tended to give out on me.
For seven years, I slowly got better. I still couldn't work, but I was able to drive. I continued to fight intense pain with neuropathy. It felt as if, my limbs were on fire or I was being burned with cigarettes, as well as needles being stuck into my joints. It took a lot of mental toughness to push through. To try to ease the burden and the excruciating pain, my doctors put me on a pain regiment. Pain is stress on the body, and if the body is in too much pain, it will break down the immune system. They didn't want me in a more weakened condition and to be able to go out and live and function as much as I could.
In 2012, I got married and was attending a church called John 3:16 Christian Center in Burbank, NY. The Lord had brought some wonderful people into my life there. At this point, I was able to do some housework, drive a little and some other things, but would have to pace myself—one day on—one day off—so if I had to go out and do grocery shopping, I'd have to rest the entire next day because it took my body three times more energy and fortitude to do the simple tasks that everybody else takes for granted. A lot of times, when people get sick they don't feel useful and their self-worth goes down a lot because their identity becomes that illness. I encourage you to not let an illness you are fighting become your identity because you are so much more than that lie of illness that's going on in your body. God is greater than any illness—Jesus died for people to be healed—He died for our sins.
I had to keep reminding myself during this trial that my relationship with the Lord and faith in Him was growing. Unfortunately, other things were going on in my life that added more stress and for anyone fighting autoimmune neuropathy diseases/illnesses conditions—stress is one of the worst things for your body—it's toxic and can cause relapses and the body to break down. At this point, I was in such a weakened state I was not supposed to be around anybody sick and I ended up being around somebody that was sick and from that, I ended up getting pneumonia and needed to be rushed to the hospital—something was not right the morning I woke up on September 30th, 2012. I woke up that morning, and my limbs were involuntary, I was having a lot of trouble breathing, my chest was in pain, and I felt as if I had an infection. The doctor said that I had to get to the hospital immediately. So my mother rushed me to Putnam Hospital in Carmel, NY. By the time the doctors got there and examined me, my left lung had completely shut down and no air sounds were coming out of my left lung. Within 30 minutes, they had me on a heart monitor, an IV drip of antibiotics, and steroids which are like my nuclear option—I wouldn't touch them unless it's life or death—steroids are great for inflammation, but they have a host of unpleasant side-effects. Once admitted to the hospital, I was put in the cardiac care unit because of the neuropathy and autoimmune complications I was fighting, my entire nervous system crashed—my body crashed—I lost the ability to walk, my blood oxygen level had dropped to 90 which anything below 95, the doctors don't like to see because it tells how well your body is moving oxygen through your bloodstream. I was having a lot of trouble breathing, and even trying to get into my wheelchair to go to the bathroom my heart rate would shoot up to 170 beats per minute setting off all the alarms at the nurse's station (they put my room in front of the nurse's station for this reason). I was in the hospital for three weeks but wasn't completely stable and the doctors made a decision, that I had to go to rehab again to learn how to walk again. Well, let me tell you that during this time, I had a lot of conversations with the Lord about why He let this happen—"Lord why am I going through this again? Why do I keep getting sick? Why? Why? Why? I asked a lot of why's in that hospital bed, but I also knew that I had to cling to the Lord for dear life because He was the only one that was going to save me in this—He was the only one that could heal my body—He was the only one that could bring me through this trial. I have learned that the devil (enemy) will launch an offensive before the plans of God even come to fruition in your life to stop His plans. In the Bible, the enemy did this a lot even causing the fallen angels to go down and have relations with earthly women to create the Nephilim those Giants to try to interrupt the seed—the line that Jesus would be born through. So the enemy is known for launching offensives to try to stop the plans of God from coming to fruition in your life before they even come to fruition.
When they told me that I had to go to rehab again, I was crying—I was tired—I wanted to go home—I didn't want to be in the hospital anymore—and trust me, they were lovely people the Lord sent— amazing nurses, doctors, respiratory therapists—a pulmonologist, a gastroenterologist, a primary doctor—there were quite a few specialists involved in this decision. Before going to rehab, you're supposed to be stabilized however, the primary doctor made the mistake of sending me too early, and I was transferred by ambulance to Mid-Hudson Regional Hospital in Poughkeepsie, New York. When I arrived, I was in terrible distress and had a very difficult time breathing and then a horrible asthma attack—so much so, the doctor said that they didn't know if I was stable enough—they were angry at Putnam Hospital for sending me prematurely to rehab, and they said to me that they didn't know if I could endure rehab because of my lungs and all the pain I was in. Pneumonia had exacerbated the neuropathy and I was in twice as much pain as normal. The pain felt as though it was between an eight to ten 10 all the time. The doctors decided to put me on an IV pain medication to get me through rehab and on round-the-clock respiratory treatments. I was also given large doses of steroids which they had already done a Putnam Hospital. One of the unpleasant side effects of steroids is they make you gain a lot of weight and I blew up like a balloon. My face looked round and at 5'9" I almost weighed 220 pounds. Between the steroids and the heparin shots given to me in my stomach every day to thin the blood and prevent blood clots, I was black and blue—swollen—looked completely disfigured—Yes, I felt ugly and like a black-and-blue disfigured bloated pin-cushion! Emotionally, I went through a very hard time with how much this fight—this trial—the disease—pneumonia—and how the medication had disfigured me—It was very difficult to deal with.
I ended up starting a two-month stay at the rehabilitation center, and tied the longest record they had for rehabbing there. They put me right in front of the nurse's station. I praise God because I did have a lot of favor through everything. I had a private room and when the nurses took their breaks, they pulled the curtain and they would chat with me—my room was the happening place to be to hang out and chat. Other patients would come to visit me and I'd go visit them as well. The hospital gave me special privileges and one of them was to be able to decorate the wing for Christmas. I decorated my wheelchair too with all sorts of garland in the spokes and ornaments hanging from the handles then, go scooting around the floor—the nurses would laugh. The nurses were very attentive to me not only when I was in pain or distress, but also if I wanted special food from the cafeteria. I had wonderful physical and occupational therapists, who were dedicated to trying to get me well.
While at rehab, I was on medication to help my heart rate, antibiotics, steroids, and a cocktail of drugs that tried to keep me stable and alive. Then another complication arises from the steroids and weight gain—for the first time in my life, I became diabetic and needed insulin shots anytime my glucose level went above 200. I continually had IV's and then, they put a PICC line in me, running from my vein to my heart. I had to put my faith in the Lord and trust Him—I was walking through the valley of the shadow of death, but God was walking with me—I was never alone—He never left me—He never forsake me—He never allowed the plans of the enemy to come to fruition in my life—He never allowed the enemy to kill me— He always stepped in the way and gave me the grace because His grace is sufficient to help keep me pushing—"Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me." (Psalm 23:4) "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." (2 Corinthians 12:9)
I was at physical therapy for a couple of months and while there, they had to put metal braces on my legs from my knees down to my ankles—I looked like the bionic woman. These metal braces forced me to stand up and during therapy; I would have somebody behind me with a wheelchair and someone else on the side of me. At first, they had me walking a few feet then—I slowly progressed to the point where they sent me home in a wheelchair along with physical therapy. Let me tell you that it's a very humbling experience when somebody has to take you to the bathroom—when they need to help bathe you—wash and dry your hair—and dress you—count your blessings for the simple things you can do because if you lose them, you will see very quickly how important doing tasks independently really are.
I was sent home four days before Christmas on December 21st, 2012, and my husband, Chris, had put up a Christmas tree. My dog's Roxy and Gracie had no clue where I went for two months—they were dumb-founded and when I arrived home, they were happy and confused all at the same time. I do have to say, that I felt very insecure being home on my own because my husband worked and I was in a kind of incubator for two months with people around to watch and protect me.
To help at home, I got an aide three times a week and my mom would come to help as well, but I had to learn a lot on my own like how to slide into the wheelchair by myself and go to the bathroom. I also needed to learn in my weakened state, how to go get food out of the fridge and feed myself. Soon, I received a wonderful aide by the name of Mary, who was sent by the Lord to help me with everything including walking my dogs and the insurance company. With her help, I was able to get an electric wheelchair with all the bells and whistles. This helped me greatly, so I could get out of the house and walk my dogs around the property. Getting fresh air was another huge blessing! I knew that the Lord was providing these blessings to help me get through everything—He was giving me provision to help me endure the battle. I have learned that passionate people have a will to fight and being a feisty Italian girl who was raised in the Bronx—I had a will to fight!
It's a good thing I am a fighter because by Christmas I got sick again with such a horrible infection that I couldn't even sit up. My mom and dad came over even though they're divorced—which was slightly uncomfortable, but they both wanted to be there for me. My husband, Chris, was determined to cook Christmas dinner and my mom helped him. I was so sick I couldn't even get up to enjoy Christmas. I was bloated and something was very wrong because I couldn't move—perhaps I was sent home a little too early because four days later, I end up back in the emergency room with the doctors telling me that I had bronchitis and they had to admit me. All the progress I made for the two months that I was in rehab being able to stand up with the braces and walking a little bit was lost. It was like I was paralyzed from the waist down—I had no use of my legs—my body had completely crashed. I was back in the hospital depressed and beside myself and crying out to God from my heart..."Where are you? I need you! Why?" Over the next three weeks, the Lord did some pretty miraculous things. I had ended up back in the cardiac care unit and they had sent me to a step-down unit, which is when you're well enough to be out of ICU or cardiac care and they send you to a regular floor. My husband came early on New Year's Eve to see me, but he was exhausted and went home. I said to the Lord sadly…"I'm going to ring in the New Year all by myself in a hospital bed." Well, no sooner than I said that, the nurses from the entire floor came into my room with hats and noisemakers and said…"Amanda, we took a vote and we unanimously decided we all wanted to ring in the New Year with you!" This was an answer to prayer praise God—the Lord really heard my prayer about feeling alone, and all the nurses came in and put a party hat on me, gave me a noisemaker, and we all rang in the New Year together.
Every morning, I had a respiratory therapist come in and they would make me blow into a peak flow meter which would indicate how well I was breathing. A good reading is 400 or higher and mine was around 280, so my lungs were still not completely healthy. The one time I blew into the meter, it felt like somebody had plunged a knife into my chest sending my therapist running to get the nurses because I couldn't breathe. They rushed down the hall and brought an echocardiogram (EKG), which read that I was having a heart attack. Then they rushed out of the room and called a code. Because most of the doctors and nurses on the floor knew me, and the room number that I was in, they all came running. I was suddenly surrounded by twelve doctors and nurses. It was too early in the morning for my husband or mom to be there, so I was alone and scared as they were taking blood, putting things into my IV, making me put nitroglycerin under my tongue, got me on oxygen as they were rushing me back down to the cardiac care unit. I said a very simple prayer…"Lord, you're the only one that can reach into my chest and stop this heart attack—I'm scared—please help me." By the time we got down to the cardiac care unit another echocardiogram was taken, the heart attack had completely vanished! It just registered that my heart was beating a little fast, and the doctors and nurses were in the corner comparing the two EKGs saying…"How did this happen?" They checked the machine and it didn't malfunction—they were completely dumbfounded! The Lord miraculously stopped the heart attack that the enemy was trying to bring against my life! That is the power of almighty God! Yes, my heart needed to yield to what God says—that's how powerful the name of Jesus is because every knee must bow and every tongue confesses that Jesus Christ is Lord. (Isaiah 45:23, Romans 14:11)
They called my mother and in turn, she called my husband. She raced over to the hospital and when she got there and heard what happened she was just praising Jesus up and down—she was calling people—I mean it was truly miraculous! You know it is one thing to hear about miracles, but when the power of almighty God manifests in your life and miracles begin to happen it's a whole different ballgame—it's a whole different story. I was at the hospital another two weeks before they sent me home in a wheelchair. I couldn't walk at all and it was too soon for me to go back to the rehab, so I needed to go home and they had a nurse come to clean my PICC line. The nurse happened to be a gentleman who was about six foot five and 300 pounds—he was a very big boy! Well, my puppy, Roxy, who we rescued from a high kill shelter down in Georgia, had enough of people taking her mommy away and she was going to do something about it, so on this particular day when the nurse was washing his hands in our kitchen sink, I heard Roxy yelp, and the nurse yelled…"Your dog just bit my a**!" Shock and embarrassment came over me, like blood draining out of my face, and before I could yell at Roxy, she was doing a victory lap wagging her tail—head held high running around the kitchen and living room like she just did a great thing and from that day forward, that nurse never turned his back on Roxie again.
I was only home for about ten days when I woke up one morning throwing up among other symptoms. The PICC line in my arm was red, hard, swollen and oozing. I felt like I was going to die! My husband could see that there was something very wrong, so he called my mother and they brought me to the hospital which was a tough ride because I threw up the entire way. My mother called the hospital when we were on the way, so the medical staff was ready when I arrived. When I got there, they immediately put me into nausea medicine, pain medicine, and they pulled the PICC line out. When the PICC line came out, there was a hole in my arm that was oozing. They did cultures and sent it to be analyzed and it came back that I had MRSA. I became septic and found out it's so rare to get MRSA through a PICC line that I had to be reported to New York State. Now, I was septic fighting MRSA that kills healthy people and I am in a weakened state—my heart was weakened—my body was weak—I couldn't walk, and now here comes the third attack MRSA and septic. They immediately admitted me to the hospital and put me on a nuclear bomb of antibiotics that included multiple IV bags at once. The situation was grave—In fact, I found out later that the doctors didn't know if I was going to live because my body had little strength to fight off this very; very deadly infection.
My mother called everyone who could pray because God was the ONLY ONE who could intervene and stop what was going on. Well, something miraculous happened—within two days, the numbers on my blood work doubled and were near normal! Dr. Singh was so stunned that he came into my hospital room and said…"Amanda, I have to tell you—we didn't think you were going to live and it's incredible the turnaround you've made in just two days!" Well, because I kept on improving, I only had to stay there a week and they sent me home without a PICC line for good reason.
They couldn't get me back into the rehab facility, so I went home completely paralyzed from the waist down—I had no use of my legs whatsoever. The Lord had saved my life yet again—He had miraculously intervened yet again—No infection—No disease—No situation is impossible for God! I am home in a wheelchair, bloated from the steroids, black and blue from the PICC line, and disfigured but—I'm alive—Praise God! Once home, I had to adjust to life in a wheelchair. My aide, Mary, came back to work with me again and she would bathe me, wash and blow-dried my hair, help with laundry, walk the dogs and so much more. My mom was also working overtime to help out because my husband was not around during the day due to his job plus, it was like an automatic pilot for my mom because she's been through this with me since I was a kid. Even though Mary and my mom were coming over to help a lot, I tried to learn to do things on my own as well such as—doing the laundry, how to get in my electric wheelchair and walk the dogs, and how to slide on and off of the wheelchair without falling. It was rough, but I had to accept the fact that at that moment, I was in a wheelchair and paralyzed from the waist down. The Lord and His favor were so good because a physical therapist, named Gary, was sent to my house who was determined to try to help me walk again. Gary was Catholic who believed in the Lord but never has seen a miracle before, so God was setting up something pretty incredible. Gary was special because I had another physical therapist come before and say that I wasn't going to walk again and it wasn't worth trying. But Gary wanted to try and he had a lot of compassion on me—thank God.
When Gary came over, Roxy didn't want anyone to take her mommy away again so she would get up on her hind legs and try to push Gary away from me. God bless Gary—he had the patience of a saint with Roxy and worked with her till she trusted him. Roxy would circle the wheelchair and get anxious when Gary would work with me because, in her mind, I was supposed to be in the wheelchair at all times. If anyone tried to stand me up, I'd flop right back into the wheelchair because I had no use of my legs and my upper body was so weak from what I had been through for over five months. Gary worked with me on building up my upper body and moving my legs. Well, it was about a little over a year and I still couldn't stand up and still very sick and weak. I couldn't do a lot and I felt very useless and worthless because people had to do most everything for me, which is a very humbling and embarrassing feeling—Praise God I had the help, but it's a very humbling and embarrassing feeling, when you can't do many simple tasks for yourself like doing your hair, showering, going to the bathroom, and getting food. I was determined over that year to learn how to do some things for myself. It was now May of 2014, and on a particular day, the Lord told me to go to church, which was an odyssey because just getting ready to go to church was exhausting for me and an ordeal for my husband to take me in a wheelchair. That morning though, the Lord told me to go, so I got myself dressed which is something as that point I could do on my own.
Chris wheeled me into the church in which everybody already knew that I was parlayed from the waist down. Well, they decided that day for everyone to stand up and walk down to the altar meanwhile, I was feeling that the joke was on me—it was something about an exercise in faith. So now, I'm being wheeled in this line while everybody else can stand up and walk. I began to say to myself…"Oh yeah—simple for them—I'm in a wheelchair my legs don't work." So I get to the pastors and they said to me…"Amanda, Do you want to try to stand now?" I call this my "get out of the boat moment". Was I going to stay in the boat, stay in the wheelchair where it felt safe or was I going to have the faith that when I got out of the boat, that the Lord was going to meet me, and I was going to walk? Well, I was so desperate at this point and sometimes the Lord gets us good and desperate to increase our incredible faith to do what man deems impossible, and I said "yes", I want to try to stand, so they started praying as the congregation watched. Then I began to brace myself by putting my hands on the handles of the wheelchair and in my heart I said…"Lord I need you to meet me—I'm taking a step out in faith—I need you to meet me and as I began to push, I began to stand as my legs were trembling. They were holding me—not completely, but just balancing me and then they asked… "Do you want to try to walk now?" I can taste it—now the miracles happening—now the Lord is present—now I want it and I said "yes" and one by one, I walked up those steps with their help and walked across that stage fighting for every step with my legs trembling—my body sweating from working so hard, but the Lord was touching my legs and I was walking for the first time in over a year! I was walking and you could have heard a pin drop in the congregation—they were stunned because they all knew my condition—people began crying and praising the Lord. The pastors got on the microphone and said that this is what happens when someone takes a step of faith and truly trusts that the Lord is going to meet them—This is what faith in action does!
Remember Gary had no clue what took place at church and he comes on Monday for physical therapy. When he came, I was sitting in the wheelchair and I told him that I had something to tell him. I said over the weekend, I went to church and I was prayed over and I miraculously got up from my wheelchair and I'm able to walk. With that, he threw a walker in front of me and said…“Show me!” I stood up with that walker and walked 10 feet unassisted and sat down. Gary was so stunned and proceeded to say…“In my whole career, I have never seen a miracle this!” Mary was dumbfounded too! All of a sudden, Gary had a revelation… “How am I going to explain this to the insurance companies—How am I going to explain to them that you couldn't walk on Friday and now you can walk?” Gary then had a great idea…“I know what I'm going to do!—I will write it’s an “Act of God” in the reports!” It was a complete act of God and because God does nothing halfway—the insurance accompany accepted his report and told him to continue doing physical therapy with me until I could completely walk on my own. Praise God! Gary was with me another six months or more and I was able to walk with a walker quite a way. The Lord touched me and I continued to get better. During this time, there was a wonderful woman named Barbara Nelson Stone. The Lord brought her into my life eight years prior and she had been in the prophetic ministry for over thirty years. As I was getting better, God was also increasing me in prophetic gifts. From the time that I was a child, I had dreams about heaven—I would see angels in my doorway—and I would talk with my mother about events coming before they happened. As a child, it’s hard to know how to harness this gift God put in me. So over time, I got better and I became less introverted with my relationship with the Lord. Barbara prayed for my boldness to begin to pray out loud because I was shy and this poses a problem if the Lord is going to use you as a mouthpiece and vessel. I'll never forget that I was getting better in my health, my faith and relationship with the Lord was growing a lot as well—everything was growing together.
It was 2015 going into 2016, and I anointed our property and I said a prayer telling God that all the wildlife can come and live here and be blessed. Well, let me tell you—be careful about what you pray for because life and death are in the power of the tongue. The Lord taught me a very funny lesson about this through what happened within 24 hours of my prayer—I kid you not because my mom and my husband both witnessed it—hundreds of birds showed up, sixteen deer, about eight vultures, numerous forest critters all within 24 hours. I hid behind the couch while I was on the phone with my mother because it was like the attack of the birds. I told Barbara what was happening and she suspected, that the gift the Lord put inside of me from a little girl was beginning to flourish, so she prayed about it and the Lord put on her heart to mentor me. During her mentoring, she taught me invaluable lessons and I began to prophesy and seeking the Lord continually because the Lord would give me dreams about events to come before they happened. As my soul prospered, so did my health! "Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well." (3 John 1:2) As the Lord was continuing to prepare me, I began to prophesy in church and putting prophecies out from the Lord on Facebook that have come to pass such as the Spain attack, the earthquake in Iran, and a word shared a day before the election of President Trump. The Lord sees the beginning from the end and He shows His children what is to come so others can prepare and come to Him.
At the same time that I was getting better—the Lord started sending many animals to our property that has a pond—Ducks of all different kinds, geese, deer—you name it—they were coming! The Lord told me to begin to feed them, so that’s what I did. God gives seed to the sower—so I began taking my own money and sowing into the feed to bless God's creation, and the more I did—the stronger my legs got because I began to have to walk the property by getting outside to do manual labor. Then, the Lord sent me a Muscovy duck, named Jake, who ended up on my property. Jake was too domesticated to be wild, so he probably lived on a farm and illegally released. My husband, Chris, built a patent on our property for him, and then God sent other rescue ducks and a chicken named Jingles. Bald eagles began showing up too. The Lord kept on sending so many animals and I would faithfully feed and take care of them including a beautiful African Collared-Dove, who I named Grace and has become well-known on the broadcasts.
I encourage you to be faithful in the little things, and the Lord will give you bigger things to do. God honors our faithfulness in simple tasks because if the Lord can't see you can't do a simple task every day consistently how they expect you to fulfill the demands of a bigger task the same thing in your job the same thing in life be faithful in the little things those simple tests are important doing it consistently is important God does honor that so I'm going to encourage you to keep being consistent in the little things bless all of God's creation bless God wants all of his creation blessed people and animals he wants you to bless all of them he wants you to show his love to all of them he wants you to sew into all of them and if you are faithful in that God will give you bigger things God will honor you before men, God will make you an effectiveness so we are vessels we are instruments we cannot be played unless our Creator plays us like a like a saxophone or a violin or a guitar somebody's got to pick that up and play that instrument to make beautiful sounds to make beautiful music it's the same thing with our Creator we are the vessels he operates through us he is Almighty he is everything we are dust without him and to be an effective vessel for the Lord you have to know that you are a vessel you are simply a humble vessel that God has chosen to operate through you and whatever gift or task he's given you so please do the simple things every day read your Bible consistently every day your spirit and soul need the nourishment of God's Word as much as your body needs good food to run properly to be healthy simple tests read God's Word every day do it every day consistently I encourage you to do that because it will transform you from the inside out and I will tell you the Lord has completely restored me.
The Lord restored me from my head to my feet and inside out! I still fight some pain, but I am the strongest I have been in a long time. God will restore, but the thing about restoration is the old has to be torn down first and everything in my life in a way got torn down but, it has been built back up so much more beautiful and stronger than it was before. Are there some days that I get frustrated? Yes, but I have an open line of communication with the Lord and I tell Him how I feel— I tell him if I'm upset—I tell him if I don't like something but I continue to praise Him through it anyway. God wants an open relationship with us. He wants us to speak to Him—to walk with Him—to activate His Word speaking it out loud because the Word of God is a sword and whatever trial you're going through, you can swing like heck with that sword—resist the devil and he shall flee from you! It has been difficult looking back on these 16 years, but I know He gives and restores to us what the locusts and cankerworm have eaten. Yes, the years that have been taken—the Lord restores. He has restored everything to me—including my physical appearance. I am in the best shape that I've been in a long time, and that's because of the Lord and His grace and I continued to walk things out with the Lord with fear and trembling— dedicated to persevering even in the face of an impossible situation. I stared the mountain of the challenge down because through faith, my God moves mountains. Your deep grounded faith brings forth deep roots and will bring forth the most amazing miraculous events in your life. Today, I am a walking testimony—a living letter read by all men as to the power of Almighty God and what He can do for one—He can do for another. Keep fighting and persevering in the Lord. Do not give up faith—do not give up hope! The joy of the Lord is your strength. Sing praises to the Lord and speak God's Word and watch those mountains move in your life. God bless you all!
"And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature." (Mark 16:15 NKJV)
Amanda Grace is the founder of Ark of Grace Ministries LLC and Animal Sanctuary. She gives all glory and praise to the Lord for all He has done! Amanda Grace ministers to people around the world and helps animals of all kinds, including those with disabilities who need a place to call home. She also takes care of her husband, Chris, who suffered a traumatic brain injury in January of 2019. He is a walking miracle!
If God puts on your heart to give toward Ark of Grace Ministries LLC, and the Animal Sanctuary you may do so through PayPal—Information can be found on her YouTube channel.
Scriptures to Encourage & Build Your Faith:
"Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses." (1 Timothy 6:12)
“Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” (Psalm 23:4)
"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." (Jeremiah 29:11)
"But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me." (2 Corinthians 12:9)
"Everything is possible for one who believes." (Mark 9:23)
"The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit." (Proverbs 18:21)
"Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well." (3 John 1:2)
"I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come." (Isaiah 46:10)
"But Samuel replied: "Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams." (1 Samuel 15:22)
"Surely the Sovereign LORD does nothing without revealing his plan to his servants the prophets." (Amos 3:7)
"Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness." (2 Corinthians 9:10)
"Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." (James 4:7)
"Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much," (Luke 16:10)
"And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten, the cankerworm, and the caterpiller, and the palmerworm, my great army which I sent among you." (Joel 2:25)
"Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you." (Matthew 17:20)
"...for the joy of the LORD is your strength." (Nehemiah 8:10)
Corey Burns, thought he knew God even though, he was very far from Him. In college, he was caught up with the atheist crowd, learned a bunch of spirit science, “alien” secrets, masonic knowledge, drank, smoked, chased women and lived what he thought was a “good” life. Then, one day Corey learned from a terrorizing experience, that all he thought he knew was a lie.
"I waited patiently for the Lord; And He inclined to me, And heard my cry. He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, Out of the miry clay, And set my feet upon a rock, And established my steps. He has put a new song in my mouth--Praise to our God; Many will see it and fear, And will trust in the Lord. Blessed is that man who makes the Lord his trust, And does not respect the proud, nor such as turn aside to lies." (Psalm 40: 1-4)
Before I really knew Christ, I thought we had a special thing going on. Yes, I know I got caught up with that atheist crowd when I was in college, learned a bunch of spirit science, “alien” secrets, masonic knowledge, drank, smoked, chased women and frankly lived what I thought was a “good” life. In my mind, God would never judge me, or see me as unrighteous—after all, I didn’t kill anyone, and I took things day-by-day helping and loving people where I could. We’re friends, God and I. Yes, I believed that I loved my neighbors even though sometimes—I’ll get blisteringly angry with them and maybe—even hold a grudge or two for a few years, or ten. Yet, in my heart, the Creator God, the true one, the one who actually made everything, we had a good thing going on. How straight up deceived of the devil I was! Oh, and definitely don’t talk to me about Jesus, you can ask my mother about that. I give thanks to God for passionate born-again—blood-washed—redeemed-seekers because, I wouldn’t be giving this testimony if it wasn’t for all of their prayers.
My mother was praying for me for over a year, and I believed she had slipped off the deep end. I would listen about Jesus for a bit, but this was hardcore! She would continue to send e-mails and call me on the phone, but her messages began to get me thinking about this whole hell and Jesus business. One day, my mom and I had a war-of-words, and we didn’t speak to each other for several weeks which, really didn’t sit well with me since she is my mother. During that time, I was laying on the floor of my apartment—arms stretched out—thinking about my mother, and I’m not exactly sure what internal conversation was going on at that moment, but I said in my heart, “If she wants to talk about Jesus well—that is what we’ll talk about because—she is my mom, I love her, and I want more than anything else to talk with her while we can”.
I grew up in a family that was not well-to-do, and we suffered a lot. I didn't really have a background in faith or religion. I knew that this Jesus guy existed, I knew you should go to church, read the Bible, and try to be right with the Lord, but I choose to live my life the way I wanted to live and do the things that made me feel good. I had a lot of issues, but I was able to overcome them by developing a craft of photography which is something, that I love very much and make a good living out of it.
One night, after a very long day—I felt like getting some pot to relax. I went to the first weed shop and they didn't have what I was looking for—I went to the second weed shop and they were closed—then, I went to the third weed shop and for some reason, I wanted to get out of there as quick as possible! There was just something inside of me that said..."Get out of here! You don't need to be here!", but as stubborn in my way as I am—I filled out the paperwork even though signing it felt dirty. After buying my joint, I went home feeling some sense of victory.
Once home, I put on some YouTube videos and sat down to meditate as I would usually do while smoking my joint. All of a sudden in a blink of an eye, I had a vision and immediately I knew where I was—I knew this place was not a good place, I knew that I had somehow messed up badly. I always thought I was a good person and showed a lot of mercy to people especially to those I knew and cared about. I started begging for my life—begging; begging; begging like I have never begged before. Demons answered my begging with the most maniacal talking. They were saying...“Yeah, Corey you were a good man, yeah you were there, yeah you did call your grandma, yeah hum; hum." It was a gang of 3 or 4 of them, and they were each trading off in being extremely cynical. As I continued to plead—I mentally went through my life history, and I told myself…“but I loved people” and then, came a phrase that brought on so much terror—a deep in your bone type of terror as it came to mind, that I enjoyed the atheist crowd, learning about spirit science and “alien” secrets, Masonic knowledge, drinking, smoking pot, chasing women, and turning my back on people because I thought that I was better than them. As I looked back upon my life, there was a lot of shame! I can’t even describe into words when you go through your life and you actually see the moments, the times, places, spaces that you inhabited where you just didn’t have any kindness for people. Eternity is a timeless situation, and it felt like I went through a million things—a million arguments and all of them were maniacally shut down. It was to my understanding that I would be in my own terrorizing box of hell forever. I messed up and I understood when the punishments began, these creatures were going to cause indescribable pain upon me, and that’s what I was begging for them not to do. There’s a tremendous knowing in hell. I knew they were going to get me and it was going to be a party for them. They began to say “This is going to be so fun, it’s going to be beautiful; beautiful”. I knew they were talking about my suffering. I felt so sorry that I grieved God and that I didn’t have a relationship with Him. I used to make fun of Jesus. Yes, faith & religion were at the bottom of my list. I would go to church, so I could take pictures as a photographer and make some money, but I didn’t go to give glory to the King and Creator of everything. Very shamefully, I didn’t give any thought to this until now when it seemed like it was too late. I wanted to do what I wanted to do—I wanted to do what I wanted to feel. In this terrifying place—I came to know this all very well. While I was begging, I even noticed that there are no tears to cry because there’s no water in hell. I felt I was completely drained and there was absolutely no hope. I ran out of every excuse and argument that I made and finally in a child whimpering voice I said…“Doesn’t God love me?" Then, this voice rose up and I believed it to be the voice of Satan himself because it was bellowing and encompassed my entire being! Satan's voice resonated and said…“I am your god now and you will worship me!” It was such a sickening voice that it made me nauseous and then, something welled up in me with a serious boldness and I said…“You’re not God, You’re not Father God, Father God is Father God & Jesus Christ is the Savior who died on the cross and shed His blood & the Holy Spirit has defended me on no less than 3 occasions!” Then, all of a sudden, I was out of that place! I would have never known to say any of these things, so this surprised me. I immediately went to the front door of my apartment and sat down outside to pray to God “Father please forgive me! I have sinned and I want to give you and your son Jesus all the glory—I give my life to you!"
I know that I was shown my own little box in hell and if I really died—I would have spent eternity there without any chance of getting out because I didn't know Christ as my Savior. I don’t want to be in that horrible place ever again and I don't want you to find yourself there either. The rules in the Bible are there and very clear. You need to be of sober mind because you never know when the time will come that your life is over. You can’t be going around and doing anything you want to do and think that there won't be any consequences. Because of what I have experienced, I feel that I have a responsibility to warn others and share about Jesus—I want to do everything I can to give glory to Jesus Christ. I got washed in His blood and got baptized. I went to church not too long ago before this terrifying experience, and they offered me the body (bread) for communion and the wine for His blood and I turned away in a prideful way. There are many things that I’m not proud of in my life, but I want to share this testimony with you and encourage you to be on the straight and narrow. Father God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are working for you all the time. How would you feel if you’re working for someone day in and day out and you have no respect for them? I would feel pretty bad if I’m working for someone all day and everyday and I got no respect. My life has been saved on 3 separate occasions, and I never told Him thank you. I was so blinded and would make fun of people that were trying to talk about Jesus to others. It is only through Jesus that we get to go to heaven. A relationship with Him is one that you have to work at every day out of love for Him. This is not just a Sunday type of thing—this is a whole life type of thing because when they say everlasting glory in heaven, it is everlasting glory in heaven. It’s real and awesome, but few people will go there because this world tells us that it’s all right to live with sin. Sin is not only an activity—it's a living creature that's absolutely detestable to God. He has a zero tolerance policy on sin. If we continue to sin we are harboring these creatures giving them a safe haven, so they can in turn effect others and lead many others astray. I am so fortunate that God showed me the vision of hell because of my stubbornness; I would’ve never turned from my ways. It’s shameful that it took this extremely dark experience to turn to Jesus because we live in a country where there are churches everywhere telling about Him. My prayer is that you repent for your sins.
I want to help people see and know that Jesus is the only way to heaven. I encourage you to give your life to Christ and read the Bible. It’s a very narrow path.
Some Scriptures to Encourage You:
"She will give birth to a Son, and you are to give Him the name Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins." (Matthew 1:21)
"Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved." (Acts 4:12)
"For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people..." (1 Timothy 2:5-6)
Corey's Testimony on YouTube
Non-believer has a brief taste of his personal prison cell in hell, finally turns to Jesus and is saved.
Wendy Burpee grew up in a Christian home, but along the way...she strayed far away from God finding herself in abusive relationships, and choices made to abort pregnancies. Wendy's story is one of hope and redemption, in which she now uses the mistakes she has made to help many women chose life for their unborn babies.
"...but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy." (1 Peter 4:13)
I was raised in a Christian home and attended Christian school all my life. My Dad was very strict and the world seemed very black and white in those early years. I viewed God as a judge waiting to throw the book at me for my sin. On the surface, our family looked like we were put together. I have a half -sister who spent weekends with her father and then, when my Mom was 38, she announced she was pregnant which I had a hard time absorbing. A year later, she sat me down to tell me she was pregnant again. My sister had married and moved out by the time my brothers were born. I finished high school and left for Pillsbury Baptist Bible College in Minnesota. When I came home on break there was a lot of stress about whether I would return to college. My parents were in their 40’s with 2 toddlers and what felt like a whole different family. During this time, I started to hang out with a boy I knew from my part-time job. We were sneaking around to see each other. When my parents found out–they told me that I had to make a choice between him and living in their home. I didn’t want to give up what I thought was true love, so I packed my things and left. I stayed with his sister while we tried to figure out what to do. About 2 months later, I shared the news with my then boyfriend that I was pregnant. He didn’t seem happy, and to be honest–neither was I. I was panic-stricken that my parents would find out and then, I would never have any chance of being part of my family again. I had no one to talk to so, as terrified as I was, I walked into the Allentown abortion clinic and ended my pregnancy. My fear of having anyone know, that I had sex outside of marriage and got pregnant was more powerful to me than my fear of having an abortion.
I remember feeling numb afterwards. They told me as the medicine was putting me asleep, that when I woke up– it would be all over, and I could go back to my "normal" life. What an incredible lie!!! When I woke up the last of my innocence was gone, and I felt broken and damaged. I think my boyfriend felt guilty so out of the blue; he asked me if I wanted to marry him. I thought to myself..."Now, you want to get married–Strange response to what had just happened". Well, a few weeks later, we went to the courthouse and got married. After about a year together, our relationship fell apart. I realized that he was seeing someone else and within a few months he left. I was 21 divorced and alone. This is when God began to whisper..."I’m here, come back". But, while God whispers, Satan is hard at work. He sent a good looking guy into my life to distract me. He gave me attention that I craved after being divorced just a few months before. I felt wanted again. Everything seemed exciting and new until one night when I came home from work. My new guy was waiting by my back door. He walked up to my apartment with me. It didn’t take me long to realize, that he was very drunk. He began interrogating me about where I was all day, and thought that I was seeing someone else. My answers only seemed to fuel his response. You never forget the first time someone hits you. It went on for what seemed like an eternity. He choked me, suffocated me with a pillow, threw me across the room several times, called me filthy names and then assaulted me. Sometime before morning he passed out, and I managed to crawl across the floor and call the police. They hauled him away in handcuffs, and I thought..."Thank God it’s over". I didn’t call anyone or ask for help. Reaching out to my family or my church was in no way an option because surely, this was punishment for the horrible things I had done. I did the best I could to cover the bruises and went back to work. I shoved the experience into the box with the abortion and nailed the lid on tight. A few weeks later, one of my boyfriends friends came by and handed me an apology letter. It said how much he loved me and he didn’t mean to hurt me. He was just jealous and drunk. I felt guilty that he was headed to court and was charged with aggravated assault and rape. He might have to serve years in jail. He continued to send messages until–I caved in and dropped the charges. Not only that but, I agreed to see him again. My expectations for a relationship were now at an all time low. In fact, clearly there were no expectations. For a few weeks he was good to me and then, the drinking began again. He would push me and knock me down. The names were worse than the physical abuse. I can’t tell you why I stayed. I didn’t grow up in an abusive home. I knew my life had gone way off track, but somehow no matter how severe the abusive got–I would always give in to his manipulation and accept his ridiculous apologies. Two years went by, and then the unthinkable happened. I was pregnant again. The abuse instantly increased and his desire to see me miscarry was clear. I still remember the day he punched me in the stomach just aside a bar we stopped at so he could get a drink. When I got up off the ground, I told myself I can’t do this. Again, I drove to Allentown and let them convince me that the fetus was early and "just a bunch of cells". I knew in the deepest part of my soul, that was not true, but in that moment–I needed to justify what I was about to do. The next day when my boyfriend came home from work, I told him something was wrong and he needed to drive me to the hospital. It was Friday, so he was already drinking and using. As we pulled up to the emergency room he told me to go in and he would park the car. Well, he never came into the hospital because it was more important to him that he went back out to drink. No one was there as I was taken to surgery for a Dilatation & Curettage for a botched abortion. Now if you think the horror of my story can’t get any worse well then, you don’t fully understand how deeply the devil wanted to destroy my life. Just 10 weeks later, I was pregnant again. There was no saying no to this man anymore. I kept thinking this cannot be happening. I didn’t even think this time–I just went to Allentown, and became an official repeat offender. I was taking birth control, but because of the trauma and abuse–the pill was not very effective for me. I sat in that horrible place thinking..."How in the world did I go from an honor student in my Christian school to living in hell?" My life had spiraled out of control and nothing seemed to matter anymore. It very much seemed that the devil had won. After all, he had destroyed my heart, my emotions, and my will to want any better for myself. I began to accept the beatings like they were well deserved. Nothing mattered. And then, my friend, Joanna, from high school, looked me up and got in touch with me. Truly, God sent her just when all hope seemed lost. She told me to stop by so we could get together. So, I went to her townhouse and met her sweet funny husband who was a youth Pastor. They talked about wanting a baby and what the future would hold. I just sat there thinking..."I will never have a life like this". She kept in contact, and finally one day stopped by my apartment. She knew I was in trouble. She knew I would never admit how bad things really were. She saw the bruises on my arms and the pain in my eyes. She looked around and went back to her car bringing in an empty box. She started emptying drawers and asking me what was mine. So I asked her what are you doing? She looked at me and said there is no way I’m going to let you stay here with him another minute. I was terrified and sadly could not even imagine at that point a different healthy normal life, but somehow she convinced me to leave. I would return to my boyfriend one more time before making my final escape ending 5 years of pain and abuse. Over the months that followed I went to counseling briefly but struggled to connect with anyone. I never brought up the abortions in my counseling sessions. No one knew what I had done, and I was convinced if they did–they would be horrified. You see, I wasn’t like the clients that come to Genesis, which is the name of the pregnancy center, that I am blessed to be the director of in Pottstown, PA. I didn't grow up in a troubled home. I knew better. I knew what abortion was. There could never be forgiveness for someone like me right? I couldn't imagine why God would ever want to have anything to do with me. I already perceived Him to be a judge waiting to punish people for even the smallest sin. Clearly I was not deserving of anything good from Him after all I had done. This is where my redemptive story really begins. Over the months that followed, God sent people into my life that showed me love including, the man that would become my husband. Through this, I began to see a different side of God. Could it be true that He was a loving Father, and was it even possible, that God still loved me? I returned to church which was one of the hardest steps for me. My parents began to check in with me and my Mom and I really reconnected. Although, I never consciously decided to put away my past where no one would find it, it just kind of happened that way. A year later, I got married and 9 months later gave birth to my first son and 2 more children soon followed. I was living the life I never thought I would have. My husband had a great job and lived in a beautiful home. The past was gone. I had banished it. I had no plans to ever speak of those experiences again.
So now we move to 2017. My life is settled. I am married 18 years to a hard working husband and have 3 great kids. I was working from home for my brother’s insurance company as a successful sales agent. Our family has been faithfully attending Valley Forge Baptist in Collegeville, PA for over 10 years. I begin to feel like there’s something more I should be doing for the Lord. So, I start to pray..."God do something with my life". Take my story, and use it for your glory. Whatever you want–I will do. Now, let me warn you before you utter these words to God, be sure you will be willing to do what He will give you to do. A few months later, a friend from church who was volunteering at Genesis Pregnancy Center, told me about an opening for a director at Genesis. I was not very familiar with the center, and I told her that I didn't know anything about running a Christian non-profit. She strongly encouraged me to apply. After submitting my application–I began to pray, Lord if this is what you want me to do, I will do it. Now, I don’t really know what "IT" was yet. I’m intrigued by the thought but not really aware of what this job really entails. Only for the briefest of moments do I think I might be faced with my dark hidden secrets. I had asked the Lord to forgive me, but I still had decided not to bring those events out into the light. I pushed those thoughts aside and convinced myself I could leave the past safely where it was. I can’t tell you how excited I was to get the call that Genesis wanted me as their director. Now, Genesis has been around for 35 year. The previous director left the center before I came. The client advocates were on hold waiting for me to get my head around the job. The administrator had left and there were no volunteers coming. So with a key to get in and a prayer for God’s guidance–I opened the door to Genesis and the journey to this day had begun. I hired an administrator, called the advocates and did my best to get things going again. Financially, things were grim but since business was my strong-point, I was able to cutback to only necessities and work on getting out to the Pastors to spread the passion of our center to the churches to get support coming in again. There were challenges in those first 3 months. I was replacing a director who had been on the job for 23 years. Many of the churches were unsure of our future and were waiting to see what changes would be made. Our board of 3 expanded to 7, and the support began to come again. We finally were settling down and getting into what really mattered. THE WOMEN! I filled in as an advocate when needed, but the pace was fairly slow, and I spent most of my time visiting churches and finding new connections of those who may want to support us. However, on occasion–we had a women who came with a story of domestic abuse and eventually, I would be faced with an abortion-minded woman unsure of what she would do about her unplanned pregnancy. My mindset of keeping the truth of my story hidden was no longer possible. When sitting across from a young woman who may go ½ mile up the street to Planned Parenthood, and abort her child–my past poured out in order to change her mind, and see the reality of her decision. There was no question God wanted it brought to the surface in that moment. As the next year passed and Genesis began to grow again and thrive, God began to work on my heart. Healing is a personal journey and my dark secrets couldn’t remain hidden any longer. In time, I knew what God wanted me to do. You have to tell your story Wendy; I could almost hear his voice saying. Let me use you for my glory. My answer to Him–God, telling one woman in a room alone to stop her from destroying a life is not the same as standing in front of one's peers, and letting them see that part of you best left forgotten. After much prayer and consideration, I told my board and client advisor's bits and pieces of my life as to not overwhelm or shock them. I continued to pray if this is what you want Lord, please make it clear to me. I decided for several reasons to obtain the records from that first traumatic assault event in my life. As I sat in my office reading over the report–I quickly glanced to the top of the page and noticed the date, MAY 1, 1994. I lost my breath for a minute and sat there in awe. I had been invited to share my story for the first time ever at a National Seminar for Christian pro-life Directors and their staff in Michigan. WHEN? May 1, 2019, 25 years to the day since those traumatic events had taken place. The President of that group connected me to Jeanne Pernia. Jeanne like Abby Johnson had been the director of an abortion clinic in Miami, Florida. She had received Christ and is now a champion for the Christian pro-life movement. I sent for her book, and read it very quickly. Her story brought memories flooding into my head, that I thought were long gone. I reached out to her and we began to email. God brings the right people along to promote healing and encouragement when you need it. Is my journey of healing over? No, the process continues every day. I know the God of this universe has forgiven me and has allowed me to be part of His plan at Genesis Women’s Clinic. I don’t know what God has for me in the future, but I share my story with you today trusting that His purpose for my life is fulfilled in my willingness to tell the whole story. It would have been easier, so much easier to share just one abortion experience with you, but then God would not fully be glorified for ALL that He has done in my life. I don’t know why, but in those moments, I felt a rush of emotion about my past. You see it’s not about me and what people may think of me after I speak the truth–it’s about how God took a broken woman, a sinner; a Christian who came to know better and–redeemed her for His purpose. He does that in the Bible over and over so in reality, I feel honored to tell you today. I have suffered the trauma of abortion 3 times. I am a saved by grace and a follower of Christ who will fiercely fight for the lives and souls of the women in my community. God has forgiven me, and reached deep into my heart to bring healing to my life. He has placed me at Genesis, which truly has been His gift to me. Today, I bring meaning to the 3 unborn lives that walk the streets of heaven with my Savior. I give honor to them, and glory to my Lord for His redemptive, gracious, power. Since our medical launch this past May, we have saved the lives of 12 babies and ministered to their mothers. All the glory goes to God for His direction in my life and for Genesis. It is a blessing as well, to speak for the Christian pro-life community.
Sue Thomas faced overwhelming odds when at the age of 18 months she became profoundly deaf. With dedicated parents who refused to institutionalize Sue, they set out to provide the tools that would enable Sue to live and survive in the world of sound. It was imperative to them that little Sue would learn to speak, even though she heard nothing. This began years of speech therapy to give her the voice that would be heard around the world. "It is only in the silence that we will truly hear the still small voice of God, the silence will teach us, if we listen." ~Sue Thomas
"And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose." (Romans 8:28)
I have had an incredible life with an incredible story—God's greatest sinner saved and transformed by His grace and His grace alone!
Most who know me know two things, I am profoundly deaf and worked for the FBI as their secret weapon with my lipreading expertise and later—had the award winning TV series called Sue Thomas: F.B.EYE inspired by my life. The second thing you might or might not know is that I carry the FBI name in a very public way. I am Sue Thomas, (F)irm (B)eliever (I)n CHRIST.
I was born and raised in Youngstown, Ohio, and faced overwhelming odds when at the age of 18 months I became profoundly deaf. With dedicated parents who refused to institutionalize me, they set out to provide the tools that would enable me to live and survive in the world of sound. It was imperative to them that I would learn to speak, even though I heard nothing. This began years of speech therapy to give me the voice that would be heard around the world.
Deemed “a dummy” and put into the slow learner class throughout my public school days, I was finally discovered by my typing teacher who saw the raw potential that was concealed by my deafness. Through the life of this teacher, I went on to college where I studied Political Science, International Relations, and received my BS degree before doing post-graduate work in counseling at Case Western Reserve and Columbia Bible College and Seminary.
Being profoundly deaf, was the one thing that drove me to the Lord. For 35 years in spite of being successful with the FBI using my lipreading abilities to capture the bad guys, I resented and despised my deafness and the silence. My deafness kept me from the very thing that I love—people. Helen Keller said it best, "blindness separates a person from things and objects; deafness separates a person from people." How well do I know these words.
I tried to run from the silence in every way possible, alcohol, drugs, alternative lifestyle, you name it, I did it to try to find acceptance and live with the silence.
My parents taught me as a child that God never makes a mistake, but the older and supposedly wiser I got—I believed my parents were wrong, and that God did indeed make a mistake when He allowed the silence to over take me.
I left a successful career at the FBI to find God to make Him confess He made a mistake. I found Him in seminary in what is now known as Columbia International University in Columbia South Carolina. It was there at the age of 35, that I fully surrendered to God at the foot of the Cross in all of my shame and sorrow. It was there on that day, that the transformation of my life was to become complete for the very thing that I hated, despised, and rejected—the silence—would be transformed into my best friend, the thing that I loved the most—the silence. It is only in the silence that we will truly hear the still small voice of God, the silence will teach us, if we listen.
It was with that transformation thirty five years ago, that God placed in my heart to build a sanctuary in the wilderness where the silence would never be broken, "that God's people shall return from exile far away and will rest beneath His shadow, and be as a watered garden." (Hosea 14:8)
The Wonderful Sanctuary & Vision of WaterBrooks
WaterBrooks is a wilderness sanctuary nestled on 113 acres in the green mountains of Vermont. It's indeed a different kind of place. It's a refuge, a strong tower, a place where the silence is never broken, and a special place where one can come and know that He is God. WaterBrooks is not a church, but a place that God’s people can be strengthened and then return to their church to strengthen it’s body. We ask for your prayers in the days ahead that Almighty God will provide accordingly in the richness of His Son, Christ Jesus. Our needs are great as we build our first project for the lodge. Only God and God alone can bless our endeavors for His glory and the hope of His people.
The silence will teach us if we listen. Perhaps, just perhaps, the church bells will ring once again to call His people to worship.
Sue is the co-founder of WaterBrooks a sanctuary being built in the green mountains of Vermont and Operation Silent Night, an outreach to the homeless.
Sue continues to travel and be a witness for the Lord. Churches and Christian functions can book Sue through the Ambassador Agency and ask for Gloria at (615) 370-4700.
My life consisted of nonstop run-ins with the law, getting arrested, fighting, abusing my body with drugs and drinking, and even witnessing friends around me die that were living the same life that I was living. All along my stepfather never gave up on me...he kept bringing up this one name...Jesus...Yet, I continued to shrug him off.
Christopher J. Maskey
"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." (Matthew 11:28)
These are the words that were spoken by Jesus Christ—Yeshua Hamashiach—who has changed my life and this is my testimony.
Many of you know me from preaching the Word of God, and from helping lead others so they come to a place of accepting Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior. But, my life wasn’t always like this—my daily thoughts and motives weren’t always this way.
I grew up in a small town about an hour north of New York City, named Cold Spring. It was a quiet little town, where I would end up spending the majority of my time alongside, my mother & stepfather. My biological father and mother split up shortly after I was born, and my mother married my stepfather when I was around 5 years old. My father had problems with drugs and alcohol and when I was 6 years old we had received the phone call that he was found dead in his apartment from an apparent suicide. As a child, my mother wouldn’t tell me the truth of his death—she would just tell me that he was really sick. Even so, as a young child, it affected my life and was always in the back of my mind that my father was gone.
My mother was my best friend. She was the best mother any kid could ask for—on top of having a great stepfather, who was always supportive and there for me—it kind of took away some of the pain, I was experiencing with losing my father at a young age. As a kid, they both decided it would be best that I attended a Catholic school where I also took part in all of the required sacraments and was an altar boy. At this time, my mother & stepfather, were truly seeking the Lord in their lives, and became disappointed because they just weren’t finding what they were looking for inside the Catholic church. They eventually gave their lives to Jesus Christ and both became born- again Christians.
The majority of my childhood, I remembered my mother & stepfather reading their Bibles, going to church, and both living their entire lives for Jesus Christ in all that they did. They did all they could to lead by example, and to teach me the truth about the Word of God and Jesus Christ. As a child, I believed in Jesus Christ—but the temptations of being a teenager, and getting involved in the things of the world took precedence in my life.
During my senior year of high school, my life took a turn for the worse when my mother got the phone call that changed our lives forever. She found out that she had cancer and needed to be immediately rushed in for radiation treatment. While most of the kids were enjoying their final year in high school, and planning on where they were going to college—my mind was occupied day and night with the health of my mother and what my life was going to be like without her if she died. I noticed my mother and stepfather always were praying, and instead of me joining them—I hid behind drinking and using drugs to take away the pain of what I was feeling. At 17 years old, I was borderline an alcoholic and stared to experiment with drugs to escape from reality. I remember my mother would always keep a positive outlook, and her faith in Jesus Christ was unlike anything I’ve ever seen. Standing before these doctors who were showing her the cancer that was growing in her—she continuously, remained strong and trusted in her faith in Jesus to get her through it.
As the months went by, my mother went through numerous surgeries, radiation treatments, and she was now but a shell of the person she once was because of it. The cancer had literally destroyed her body—but it couldn’t touch her spirit. My senior year came and went, and eventually my mother’s cancer had gone into remission right before I was to start my freshman year of college. I went to a local college about 20 minutes away and was able to still come home and visit my mother and stepfather often to check up on her. Everything seemed to be getting back to normal—my mom’s health was improving, and my new life as a college student had just started. Shortly into my sophomore year—the cancer had come back, and as it did—I continued to seek comfort in drinking and using drugs. Coming home and seeing my mother smile knowing that she was struggling was tough to see, but one thing her and my stepfather always had was their faith in Jesus Christ. It was during my sophomore year, that I came out to visit my mother, and she had the difficult task of finally telling me the truth about my father—he didn’t die because he was sick, but that he indeed killed himself. My life was crushed, all the years of believing he was just sick now, I had to face the fact that he committed suicide—I truly wasn’t prepared mentally to walk around with this news. My mother and stepfather always would talk about the power of having Jesus Christ in their lives, but I ignored what they told me and tried to seek comfort in the things of this world.
Halfway through my junior year of college, the cancer was now fully attacking my mother’s body and was more aggressive than ever. I decided to drop out of school and move back home, so I could take care of her, and spend every day with her while she was fighting for her life. Shortly after, she was asked to come into Sloan Kettering’s cancer center in Manhattan for a last effort surgery to remove the cancer that was inside of her mouth and throat, but just an hour into the surgery the doctor’s called us down to let us know that the cancer had spread throughout my mother’s body and they knew there was nothing they could do. My life came crashing down at that point, and reality set in that soon—I was going to be losing my mother. We walked back up into the recovery room to see her sitting up smiling, and asking how she did—I didn’t have the heart to tell her the news the doctor told me, so I just hugged her and told her how much we all loved her. Throughout her entire battle with cancer my mother had her Bible right next to her. I couldn’t understand where she was getting this courage and comfort from just reading a book—she was staring at death and yet she wasn’t afraid at all.
A couple weeks later my mother finally passed away. I was now a 21 year old college dropout, no job, no money, medical bills coming in, and I just lost my best friend in the whole entire world. It was just me and my stepdad living together in our little home, and I remember how he used to tell me about Jesus, and how I needed to fully ask Him into my life, but—I still wasn’t ready. I was very angry inside—angry that my father killed himself, angry that God would take my mother away from me, depressed and at that point—I really didn’t care much about living anymore.
The drinking had fully taken over my life—drugs were taking over as well, and I began to seek ways to take out my frustrations in life, and I found it in the form of music. I had always been interested in hip hop music; it was my life for the majority of my childhood and as a young adult. The sound was very aggressive, angry, and the songs were full of violence which was exactly fitting for the way that I was living. I began going to the studio week after week, getting high on drugs, and creating my own songs. I was going on the radio performing, doing shows, sleeping with different woman every week—the life of a rock star as many would call it. The pain and anger in my songs was something that really made me stand out from the majority of the other artists, and I was quickly making a name for myself in the New York music scene. I had opened up for some of the most popular artists in the industry and it seemed as if my time was coming to be next. It seemed on the surface that I was happy, but inside I was full of pain. As the years went by, I had lost sight of who I was—the drugs and alcohol had fully taken control of me, and when I looked in the mirror, I couldn’t recognize the person I was looking at. I never once faced any of my problems. I buried them deep down inside—hidden behind a wall of drugs & alcohol, but I found out quickly that just because they are hidden, doesn’t mean they go away. My life consisted of nonstop run-ins with the law, getting arrested, fighting, abusing my body with drugs and drinking, and even witnessing friends around me die that were living the same life that I was living. All along my stepfather never gave up on me, and kept bringing up this one name—Jesus. Yet, I continued to shrug him off.
I maintained this lifestyle for over 6 years, and with no sign of any future or reason to continue living in my mind. Until the day that Jesus Christ finally got hold of me. I was coming down off of a 2 day binge just sitting in my room, and at my lowest point in life. Staring at a picture of my mother—depressed and upset at the thought of how disappointed she would be of the person I had become. I sat back on my bed and then it happened—I overheard in the other room my stepfather listening to a message from a preacher on the television. I walked closer to the door, and I felt something leading me to listen to what was being said. It was as if the preacher was talking to a whole congregation of people, but the message was directed towards just me. He started talking about sin, and how Jesus Christ died to take away our sins to give us a new life—A NEW LIFE??? That’s what I NEED!
He then started talking about the devil and how Satan wants us to keep seeking drugs, keep seeking alcohol and women. It was like everything I was hearing was about MY life. How could this be??? Then the preacher said the one scripture that forever changed my life. He quoted from the book of Matthew when Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are wary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Rest??? Nobody needed rest more than I did at that very moment. Rest from running away from my father’s past, rest from the pain of losing my mother, rest from the anger inside of me, rest from all the drugs and drinking that ruined my life—I was mentally and physically exhausted, and now this man is telling me that Jesus Christ can give me rest??? I wanted to stop, I wanted to change, but I was so scared because I didn’t know how—and, I didn’t think I was strong enough to leave behind my old life and fully trust in HIM. But I knew that I wasn’t going to last much longer if I continued, and it was at that point I fell down to my knees, and called out to Jesus Christ—with tears in my eyes I said, “I just can’t do it anymore—I was ready—I needed rest—I needed a new life—I NEEDED JESUS!!”
I can still remember the prayer I made. I said to Him that He could have my life, but I just ask that you find me someone that I can marry and have a child with to start over and have new life together. I remember asking for Him to bless me with a good job so I can provide for my family. And, I remember just laying down everything—fully giving my life to Jesus Christ that day. I felt like a new person, I felt like for the first time in years the weight of the world was taken off of my shoulders, and I just wanted to live every day from there on out for Jesus.
As I sit here and tell you my testimony, it’s hard for me to believe that it’s been almost 9 years already. Since then the Lord has completely blessed me with a new life, a happy life, a lot more abundant life than I could ever imagine. Shortly after I called out to Jesus Christ and asked Him into my life, He introduced me to an amazing woman, who eventually would become my wife. We’ve been together now for over 8 years, and have been blessed with a beautiful baby boy, and a 2nd child that is on the way in November. I was also blessed to land a great job shortly after meeting my wife, and I’ve been there for over 8 years as well. Literally, everything I asked for when I gave my life to Jesus Christ the Lord has blessed me with, and more! I look back at where my life was, and where He’s brought me from and I can’t help but praise the name of my Lord & savior Jesus Christ—Yeshua Hamashiach—for saving me. My change was not overnight—little by little He’s been removing my old ways of living and replacing them with His righteousness, changing me into His image, and He’s still working inside of me every single day.
For years now, I have been completely free from the hold of alcohol and drugs in my life, free from feeling the pain and anger that was inside of me, and replaced with His everlasting love. All along the answer to my problems was right in front of me—the same thing that my mother used in fighting her battle with cancer—the same thing my stepfather used to get through the tough times of losing my mother, and—the same thing I needed in MY life—Trusting in Jesus Christ and asking Him into my life.
Galatians 2:20 says, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”
Jesus Christ died not just so you and I can have eternal life, but He also died so we can experience true life on earth, the type of lives that our Heavenly Father wants us all to live! All we have to do is trust in Him and seek Him to give it to us—and it will be.
2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”
I urge anyone out there who may be reading and listening to my testimonial video below, to call on the name Jesus Christ. You don’t have to keep struggling—there is a way to obtain a new life. And it’s not by going out and trying to conquer your problems on your own. COME AS YOU ARE! The bible says “Come! Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” If He could change my life—He can change yours for it was nothing that I did, it was all in Jesus Christ. I was just willing to take that small leap of faith and call out to Him, admitting I’m a sinner, acknowledging that He died for my sins and was raised 3 days later, and then finally asking HIM to take over my life—HE hasn’t left my side since. If you are struggling in life, please don’t wait another day. NONE of us are promised another hour in this life. Jesus is the one and only way to eternal life—He’s the only way to bring about the changes we all are seeking in our lives on earth. I come to you as someone who was once in your position, and I plead with you to stop fighting these battles on your own, stop running—JESUS is waiting with open arms for you to come home—your new life is right before your eyes, and the power is all in the name of Jesus Christ and what He did on the cross! Don’t wait another day.
Ruth Almada, shares her incredible story--Strength in Scars--to give hope to ones's extraordinary circumstances--especially from the pain of generational abuse.
"Wisdom is the principal thing; Therefore get wisdom. And in all your getting, get understanding." (Proverbs 4:7)
In this life, we do not choose who we are born to or in what conditions we are born under. God knows what He is doing, and He never makes a mistake. In my book and story, there is nothing that is politically correct, ear tickling, watered down or sugar coated. It is as raw and authentic as it gets because that’s what this world needs more of-- especially, when sharing about the very REAL power of God in our lives.
My story starts off knowing, that we live in a fallen world run by the devil, and evidence of this is literally--in every single facet of the conditions that I lived in. It was most definitely not an easy journey, and with being born to two lost folks (my parents)--I was bound by decades of generational curses at the time of birth. However, Jesus had another plan.
A plan so powerful that knowing about it now, still very much leaves me in moments of sheer amazement and utter gratitude. A plan so powerful that I am able to thank God for our trials today. I have learned along the way, that Jesus is pulling many people out of the very same hell we endured. There are no words that can properly describe this other than GLORY to God in the highest!
Here is a summary of my story:
As a child, we learn based on what is poured into our lives, experiences and environment. There is a large family dynamic, that God has lovingly and powerfully touched that governs five lines of my families generation. From grandparents to grand-babies. The easiest way to describe it is-- the enemy has placed assignments on my bloodline for who even knows how long. This spans from decades of abuse in most-- if not all--forms that seemed to keep repeating over and over with each new generation.
My story talks about this from my own experience as a girl up until roughly eight or so years ago. I have experienced physical, emotional, sexual, and mental trauma most of my life and--on many different occasions. In many instances, I thought most of it was perfectly normal yet, knowing deep down inside there must be a better way. I remember thinking, I wish I was normal because normal people could cope with life far better than I could. I often felt that something was deeply wrong with me. This was the 4th grade me, who didn’t realize that in my terms of “most” I was looking at people, that had not endured what was occurring and--had occurred most of my life.
I gave my life to Jesus as a girl, but didn't realize until YEARS later the profound impact of the ultimate changes of my path would be based on this vital and literally life-saving decision. It was not until my painful past was attempting to replay with my own children, that a true consensus needed to be made no matter the cost and WHAT A COST it was! I am eternally grateful for Jesus, and owe him absolutely everything!!
I have seen first-hand unexplainable miracles in my life, and the very fact that I am even alive today is most definitely one of them! I have been raped, beaten, molested, mocked, and tormented all before the age of seven. Many of these instances happened other times even after this. I tried drugs for the first time at fourteen, and this was given to me by my momma. I also became a momma, right after my seventeenth birthday to a beautiful set of twins, that I couldn’t afford to care for.
With the deepest heart-felt intentions--I place them in their paternal grandparents home while, I served in the US Army--not knowing the real intents of these two people that I loved deeply. They did unspeakable things to my twins for the first few years of their lives. They wouldn't even let me have them back, and I had to fight for several years in court--with almost every spare dime, that I could muster to get my boys away from them. I never understood why until several years later.
There was a sick, dark, and sinister plan unfolding in my children’s lives that I didn’t even know was there. It was not until my precious daughter, Hope, had the courage at the very young age of three to tell me. The rest is in the book however, I can tell you this much, our story is NOT just our story, it's MANY people's stories. God has done such a work in my life and in the lives of my children, that the ripple effect has now spilled outside the doors of our home on to other family members such as, my siblings and parents and many others.
God has broken these curses all of them that included: pedophilia, rape, poverty, abandonment, abuse, word curses, and many others. He has HEALED my mind, body and spirit. He has HEALED my children. He has HEALED my relationship with my parents and YES--even with these grandparents that did this to my children. My heart and mind has been HEALED in Jesus name!! ALL THINGS are possible for those who love Him, believe in Him, and are called according to HIS will. Who the Son sets free TRULY is free indeed, don’t for a second just think that, KNOW IT!
Our story is a story of REAL hope that the LIVING God cares, and wants to set you free from past and present bondage. He truly wants to HEAL your deepest wounds and we are living breathing proof that it's in fact possible.
The other dynamic of this is that the God of this Universe is PERFECT in duplication. His seeds produce fruit after their own kind. He also gives us the unique ability to comfort others with the same measure He has given to us! If God can set me free from my horrible fallen past and use it to help someone else (which He has and still is HELPING MANY)--then my friend--He can, and will do the same with yours! Hang in there, because Jesus is coming for you and counting on YOUR breakthrough, so you can help many others too! What He has done in my life, He most definitely can in yours! Praise Jesus!!
For years, Simone Peer, lived a life of defeat. To fill the void, she began to dive into the New Age Movement in which she became a witch that practiced Reikre, Feng, Shui, Hinduism, esoteric healing, mind control, and a lot more. One day however, she began a relationship with Jesus and she has never been the same.
"For I,’ says the Lord, ‘will be a wall of fire all around her, and I will be the glory in her midst.’ ” (Zechariah 2:5)
Simone Peer Certified Professional Coach, Mentor & Trainer (Contact information is at the end of her testimony)
Growing up in the Bible-Belt—I was certainly no stranger to the presence of Christianity. There were plenty of churches on most corners.
My immediate family didn’t go to church; although there were some attempts to get my siblings and I to attend. My paternal-grandparents and great-grandparents were devout Southern Baptists. My grandfather was even a deacon at his church, but I can probably count the number of times, that I went to church or Sunday school with them on one hand. While on my mother’s side, the only presence of Christianity was that my step-grandfather was Catholic, and his biological children practiced the faith too. I didn’t view them as much different as "we" were—just in being allowed to drink. Even though both religions have distinct differences—for whatever reason, I saw them as bible-beaters, who had strict rules that were, extremely hard to live by. This alone, made me feel neglected, overlooked, and more like a burden. Sadly, I can’t say what got in the way of them trying to ensure that my siblings and I had Jesus in our lives.
I remember at one point, my mom got us involved with a church, but I think, it was more of a way to “dump the kids off” for a few hours, than caring about us learning about Jesus. I mostly remember waiting in the parking lot for a long time after church was over for our mom to appear in the station wagon to take us home. My aunt also brought us to Vacation Bible School one summer when I was staying with my grandmother. It was only one week, but it was memorable. She also got us enrolled in an outreach program that picked up wayward kids and brought them to church and Sunday school. That was 40 years ago! By the Grace of God, I still have, (and now use), the Bible I earned (for memorizing the books of the Bible). I also took with me a song: Blue Skies and Rainbows—the good parts anyway that help keep Jesus alive in my heart.
In my teen years, some dear family friends got saved, and they started to spread the word of salvation among their circle of friends. My mother, brother and I, joined in with great delight. My sister was already out of the house, so she didn’t come, nor did my father. I never knew why he had no desire for anything church or Christ related, but I always suspected growing up with his "Bible-beating" parents and family, that he must have gotten turned off to God and Christianity. He never spoke about the Bible, God, or Jesus, but—I suspect he knew all about them. There is no way he could have grown up in that household, and not read it a time or two. I’m left to wonder, if he called out for salvation before his remaining moments on earth.
The return to the church—with most of my family in tow—was the most memorable and powerful church experience of my childhood! At this time, I was 15, and found myself in a dynamic environment where the members were on fire for Jesus. It was a Pentecostal church where people jumped to their feet in the middle of service, used tambourines, and sometimes even leaped up to run a lap around the sanctuary shouting praises to the Lord. Folks also would drop down to their knees and spoke in a prayer language called "speaking in tongues. This church was alive with the Holy Spirit, and I wanted what they had! We had Sunday school and weekday Bible study classes. The pastor lived next door, and had an above-ground swimming pool. One night after service, I got baptized in that pool. I don’t remember how it came about, but I remember that it was dark outside and the idea of a whole new way of life was exciting. I wanted to speak in tongues, I wanted to be overcome by the Holy Spirit, I wanted to know Jesus the way they did. Much to my dismay, that didn’t happen—Sadly, it didn’t stick or rather, I should say, I didn’t stick to it. This would be my last attempt at knowing Jesus until He came for me about 34 years later. I remember being in Sunday school asking questions and feeling frustrated that the teacher didn’t have answers. In retrospect, I have no idea why I couldn’t satisfy my cravings or why I couldn’t get what I was looking for because now I see all the answers are right there, in the Holy Bible, but back then—I never got what I craved. I never spoke in tongues and that was a deep disappointment. After a few months of being active members, my mom, who was a hair dresser at the time, was called into a meeting with the pastor. He gave her an ultimatum—Stop cutting hair or stop coming to this church. Well, she stopped going to church. This was a devastating blow for me. My brother and I, continued going to church, but it was by the grace of our family friends coming to pick us up. We lived in the opposite direction of the church, so I imagine this was a bit of a sacrifice for them. Now that my mother was not welcome, I started to feel ostracized, like an outsider who was no longer welcome at the church, so it wasn't long that my brother and I stopped attending too. I suspect some of the things that led to us to leave was that we didn’t follow the rules. This was the kind of church where women wore skirts and dresses only, they didn't cut their hair, and they didn't wear any makeup or jewelry. I don’t remember if there were men rules, but the men did cut their hair, generally short and neat. They would call the television “the devil box” and encouraged members to not own TVs, nor participate in worldly things, such as bowling. The church was pretty strict; however, I recall at first, they said that our non-adherence to these things was not a problem, but I’m left to wonder what was really being said in private. In my opinion, they sent a whole family straight into Satan’s arms. WARNING: IF A CHURCH IS CONTROLLING AND MANIPULATIVE IN RULES AND REGULATIONS SETUP BY MAN--THIS IS NOT OF GOD, AND YOU ARE ENCOURAGED TO RUN AS FAST AS YOU CAN TO FIND A CHURCH THAT DOES THINGS GOD'S WAY.
When I was 16, my family moved across town and that meant new friends and opportunities. Somehow at my new school, I ended up going to a presentation in some kids’ basement that was on “backward masking”. I recall that he played Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, and who knows what else backwards and—we could actually here satanic lyrics. It was intriguing and creepy at the same time. I met one of my new best high school friend at that meeting, and thankfully she found the Lord way before I did, which was a blessing for her, and one in disguise for me. I had started experimenting with smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol, and with some drugs when I was only 13, (yes, even in the midst of trying my best to know Jesus). Unfortunately, by the time I was 17 or 18, I was high almost all day—every day. Somehow I started going to a group meeting with teens my age who were trying to get clean and it worked for awhile. I have no idea why I quit going or what happened, but I stopped.
I mentioned the church part of my upbringing, but I haven’t talked about the occult and New Age influences. My mom was a psychic and talking about ghosts, spirits, horoscopes, numerology, and energy vibes were all common place in my childhood. I don’t know where it came from, but we had a Ouija board “game”, which I recall playing many times. Other "scary" games we played with the neighborhood kids were Bloody Maryand Wanda Witch. We would share real-life, family ghost story experiences as well and this was all normal to us at the time. When we moved to a new house—the ghost and spirit activity followed us—Lots of incidents and things happened, and we weren’t exactly freaked out about it.
My personal fascination took a deep; deep dive into the occult a few years later. My brother had sold a car to a woman who read Tarot cards and when I was home on a visit from college, I called and made an appointment to meet her—I did and was hooked. She was so radiant and her eyes sparkled with love and light. WARNING:“For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light.” (2 Corinthians 11:14) It was during this time period, that I was drinking, getting high, and having way too much fun. Needless to say, it wasn't long before I wasn't doing well in my premedical studies. Then I became seriously ill, and didn’t have the energy to catch up, so I ended up dropping out from that semester, and a few months later moved back home.
Once I was home, I became a diligent student of the Tarot card reader. She helped me recognize that I already had “psychic abilities” and they just needed to be fine-tuned. I followed in her footsteps reading cards, but her primary lesson was to sharpen all abilities because “you won’t always have your cards with you”. She had several proteges and we each had our unique expression of our “gifts”. In addition to developing our skills, she also helped us develop businesses doing readings. I became a regular member of the myriad of psychic fairs, that were held locally and within a few hours radius of our home town. I became part of a growing network which included several occult and new age bookstores and magical art shop owners. I became a frequent flyer into these shops devouring all the knowledge I could get access to—I was building my arsenal of tools, spells, information and enchanted ingredients.
I remember walking to or from my mentor’s building one day, and receiving a “divine downloaded” message about the truth of Jesus—or so I thought. Only when Christ came for me and showed me who He really is, did I feel that lie leave my heart, forever. The message that I received all those years ago was—everything is light, we are all light, and God is light because we reincarnate for eons, and each lifetime—we have an opportunity to gain more light until in one final lifetime, we become "total light". In essence, Jesus was no different than me, except that as a teacher, He was more evolved than I was—He also had more light when He came here than I did, but eventually—we would both be part of the light, that was earned by each soul in the evolutionary process. I often signed my name with "Love & Light" because, I thought it was a tribute to this great and beautiful “truth”. I even had a tattoo, that I called the yin-yang of angels, that I thought was depicting light wins over darkness. I cried in repentance, and for Jesus to forgive me because the Holy Spirit revealed to me I actually had a tattoo of Lucifer/Satan. At the time, I thought it was beautiful and divine because the image had occult origins, but I was very blind to the real truth.
As I said, I was a sponge for the occult, and began to study witchcraft and practice magic. I became enamored with spells, herbs, oils, incense, colors, candles, sigils, crystals, channeling, psychic readings, ghost & spirit hunting, and channeling the power and knowledge of "the divine". I was a practicing witch and as such, was introduced to someone who would become my sister in the craft. Drawing more people into our circle, we all thought we were “white witches". I was into the power of sigils and spells and my sister, was more into practicing Wicca. I had an arsenal of candles, oils, dried plants, parchment, enchanted inks, crystals, incense and "sacred" items for my altar, and so much more. As I write this, I’m thinking how thoroughly deceived I was! I was into so much darkness, that I can hardly believe that I even thought I was an agent of “The Light”. The great deceiver is indeed good at his job!
In working with my sister witch, there were three others we called to us to work pentagram magic. Each of us identified with one of five main gods and goddesses aligned to the points on the pentagram for circle work, with elements and all manner of things that were designed to open us, and fill us with the spirit of the one's we picked; although I think we had already been chosen by the principal demon who had us, and were just playing out our part. I had access to the “heavens” as well as, the underworld and her influence upon me reigned as the power behind magical works of spell-craft, sorcery battles, and the ever-expanding—always mysterious—and always alluring supernatural.
Many memories flood my mind while sharing my story—part of me wants to include it all, and part of me wants to erase it all. I do remember at the beginning of this journey, that Jesus was there for me; even though I was not there for Him. He rescued me from something sinister and yet—it didn’t draw me back to Him. I think it shows that nothing happens without God’s approval—He let me go as far and deep as He needed and wanted me to go, but kept me relatively safe, so when I was really ready to live for Him—I was there to answer yes!
One of the times that God came calling, I was a Tarot card reader and working with crystals. I was at a physic fair and looking for a particular kind of stone. I spoke with some vendors, and one man in particular said, that he had some in his inventory at home, and he could send it to me. I signed up on his mailing list, and because it came up that my birthday was coming—he gave me some crystals. One was a very particular kind assigned certain tasks and properties. When I got home, I put them in my room.
That night, as I lay on my side in bed, that man or one of his demons came to me. He lay with his body and leg draped over me and spoke into my ear. I recall being unable to move, or speak. In my head, I was shouting for every piece of protection and then, I saw Jesus’ face before me and almost instantly—the demon was gone! I was relieved and shaken at the same time!
The next day, I took the crystals to a friend and she found a demon had been attached to the crystal with me as its assignment. That mission was not accomplished because Jesus did not allow it. She was an artist and drew a picture of the hideous creature. Sadly, my response to this event was not to come to Christ, but to double down in my quest for more occult knowledge; I never wanted to feel powerless or risk any degree of uncertainty about how to handle anything like that should it happen again.
I had built up a clientele for doing psychic and Tarot readings, and along the way—clients who needed and wanted magical warfare and protection began to find me. I found myself battling witchcraft and Satanism and built a reputation as someone who was not to be messed with. Meanwhile, the explosion of industrial Goth and “alternative” dance music clubs, and raves begged for the dark and mysterious. The most popular club in my town was in an old storefront in the abandoned downtown area, and I got myself set up to be the resident Tarot reader. I would set up a magical space in the storefront window and later one of the parlor rooms. Little did I know that this not only attracted fans and new followers of the arts, but also those that hate the occult.
This was the kind of place where all black, lots of leather, studs, kink and club kid regalia was the norm. There was a man that was a regular there and he was very quite. He always dressed in leather kink-wear, and danced by himself, so how we came to sit in one of the parlors and chat at length escapes me. He shared that he was a Satanist and described in detail his path. We shared and compared notes about the kinds of magic we did. Remember that I thought I was a white witch, so the black magic he worked seemed a far cry from what I did. In retrospect, now that I know ALL MAGIC IS SATANIC, I wonder if he knew there really wasn’t any difference between us. I’m not sure because he did say he didn’t like that I was a love-n-light witch, or that I was doing my thing in the club. As we spoke, we actually fostered something pleasant from there on. I tell this story because I remember thinking: “He and I are equal opposites", and I completely respect his position. I didn’t agree with it, but I respected his devotion to his craft as much as I was devoted to mine. I also thought I had more respect for him than I did for Christians because Christians were so hypocritical. They preached how people should live then would do the exact opposite. My disdain for Christianity was growing. I got to a point where I could not even say the words God or Jesus. In my mind, they were part of a system used to conquer and control the masses of the world. I laughed at the idea that Christian Holidays—ALL OF THEM—are pagan/satanic holidays celebrated by witches worldwide! When I finally came to Jesus, I learned that we need to live what He teaches to be a great witness to the world. Unfortunately, the Christians I came across both in my childhood, and during my days of practicing witchcraft—did not live out the scriptures as He teaches.
THE GREATEST COMMANDMENT
"One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’There is no commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:28-31)
I can see that God had His hand upon my journey, and the patience to get me to the point, that I could be His in an instant. Looking back to my journey out of witchcraft, I’m inclined to show how much deeper in I went. For a few months, I moved to London and brought all my light [dark] arts with me falling into crowds where everything I was into flourished.
One week after returning home to the states, I moved to a much larger city than I grew up in. One in which I had many friends and had visited many; many times. I already had friends there who were involved in dark arts and of course drugs and alcohol were still the norm. This city had a much larger cultural spectrum than where I came from and I was introduced to many new paths and forms of witchcraft. Pretty much everyone I cared to hang out with lived the same way. I recognized in some arenas, that I was the pioneer that led many others into this intriguing and mysterious realm. I continue to repent and pray for every single soul that I helped lead astray, of which there are many.
My first divergent path was into Santeria. The mother of a friend was a Santeria and I started seeing her for “cleansing”, or protocols to wash off “the bad stuff” and avail me to “the good”. Although, I don’t recall all the details the main thing that stands out is that these were limited to things that smelled good and included flowers. I was invited to attend her group meetings where I was asked to do water scrying (a basic method of divination).
I continued along my own path of witchcraft, psychic phenomena and new age “energy”, studying Shamanism (traveling into the upper and lower worlds and finding/using your power animals), and learning how to astral project. I was invited to a Native American sweat lodge because Native American practices had also intrigued me. This led to my deeper involvement into Native American and Mexican/ancient Aztec/Nahuatl practices which, included pipe ceremonies, vision quests on ceremonial lands, and lots and lots of prayers using tobacco and other herbs. There was always honoring of the ancestors. I was gifted with an eagle feather among other ceremonial treasures. This led to being introduced to a woman who practiced an ancient African religion known as Ifa. This is the origin of Santeria (as well as the Cuban, Haitian and Brazilian versions) and where my journey took a much deeper dive. The entree into this world included lots of readings with the Opele, which then led to rituals, ceremonies and initiations. This is where the rubber met the road for me, and I didn’t even know it. Animal sacrifices were a regular part of my path here. I had many ceremonies done in the darkest hours of the night with blood dripped over my head that ran down my face and onto my clothes, special herbs were then placed on my head and wrapped on for sleep. I would then wake very early to follow specific instructions to dispose of the head stuff and complete the ceremony. I had to follow specific instructions regarding disposing of the animal’s body: sometimes in a cemetery, sometimes in running water or a nearby quarry.
This morning when I woke up, I thought of how intriguing and compelling this kind of journey was and how I wished someone had told me that anything that needs to be done in the dark, need not be done! JESUS does everything out in the open—in the light for everyone to see. I listened to someone else’s redeemed Satanist testimony and he said at one point when he realized what he was involved with he actually asked…“Is this a satanic cult?” And the response was…“Yes, it is and you have already completed most of the steps for full inclusion—would you like to complete the rest?” He replied…“sure!” He wasn’t told what the other few steps included, just as many who get into deeper with their “secret lodges & societies” in order to lure members down the ladder which, leads to the threshold of no return. They get so hooked—intrigued—and likely don’t realize how dark, evil, and disgusting it becomes. They give up their freewill and give Satan a legal license to run & completely ruin their lives. Thankfully, there is a way out for them! Thankfully, Jesus took ALL sin and evildoing upon Himself and to the cross, so we might be free of the traps set by the great deceiver—Satan.
As an Ifa practitioner, I began to study the Yoruba language along with all the tale stories of the Orishas. I not only brought animals to be sacrificed on my behalf, I also did the killing as well as, ate of a sacrificed animals. I was taught this was honorable, sacred work to have gratitude for the animal taking my place. Ancestor worship was a large part of these practices, too. Along with “sacred” articles of initiation, I also had ancestor altars; everything had to be fed with prayers, food, liquor, palm oil and/or blood, regularly. I spent much time in daily prayers and practices and again—I loved it.
Because of the career I was just beginning though, I began to meet people who were doing different approaches to energy and spirit work, and like a good spiritual power junkie, I was hooked on the next new high. This new world that I entered, was actually an old one; one of the first books I had ever picked up when I began this whole journey would leap out, and lead the way into another aspect of the new Age (of Lucifer), I had not yet delved into too deeply.
Discord within the varied circles I participated in made it easy to move on. I happened upon a new thought church, and when I heard about what their beliefs were, I thought this is exactly what I believed. I didn’t know there was an organized body of believers, and what intrigued me most was the idea of omnipotence that made everything else I did seem like paltry child’s play. Finally, I was on a path that didn’t require a lot of pomp and circumstance in order to make things happen. I won’t say it was easier because the real work came in the realm of mental mind control.
“There is nothing more powerful than a trained mind”—this work did not focus on manipulating external influences to make things happen, but was put solely on the individual to live his or her goodness through thoughts that create things. The premise is that there is a “creative substance” in which all things are formed. The thought put and held in this substance—creates the thought in form, i.e. physical reality. Thus, think what you want in life and do the work to uncover hidden opposing thoughts—then root those out, so all of your thought energy is focused on what you really want. I spent a few years studying the underpinnings of this doctrine. The concept of God was referred to as the mind, universe, and the source which, is essentially terms to an idea of creative consciousness. It was the moment that this creative substance became aware of itself that creation began.WARNING: THE DEVIL KEEPS PEOPLE BLIND TO THE TRUTH.
SCRIPTURES OF TRUTH:
"Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God." (2 Corinthians 4:4)
"Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." (John 14:6)
I had embarkedon a new career path as a life coach and a few years in, I was invited by one of my mentors to participate in something that took on a whole new “thought movement”. It was like thoughts on steroids, and the work we did was completely focused on energy and its potential. I called this navigating “the invisible side of the visible world”. This was all about having living intentional consciousness on both sides and being able to call things into creation. This is where I experienced the black goo—it was a luxurious feeling—like a paradox of excitement and deep peace. I likened it to being like liquid, pitch black, silk velvet; these words hardly express the gloriousness of how it felt to both the energetic touch and to be amidst its presence. I also called it creative cosmic goo that you could just dip in and grab huge handfuls of and create reality from it. The “work” that my colleagues and I did felt cosmic—beyond enormous and miraculous. I traveled around the world to learn and be trained in groups—I then, became a trainer myself, and I was indoctrinated into “godness”. This evolutionary consciousness work was beyond anything I had ever experienced before and nothing ever felt so good again, until—JESUS.I was completely immersed in this way of living and working. Everything I did launched from this foundation/platform and from there, I packed my things and hit the road to refine my purpose and cultivate more intimate relationships with people who mattered to me at the time. My work was done on the phone and via computer, so going global was relatively easy. What I didn’t know was what God had in store for me. Someone recently asked… “Was it God or Satan who sent you on the road?” and, I wholeheartedly believe that it was God paving the way for me to be ready for Him...sometimes you have to go to rock bottom before you go up—or in this case—look up to the true living God who was calling me for years, but I kept doing my own thing as He continued to pursue me.
A year or two before I left for the unknown, my sister and I, were serving Christmas dinner at a large homeless center. This is something that we did each year, and this particular time—one of the guests, was straggling behind at the very end of the meal. I began cleaning up the trash & putting away the salt and pepper shakers when she came over to minister to me about Jesus. I could feel Him calling me again with the things she shared. Something inside of me wanted to say, “YES!”, but I just couldn’t. Something else inside said, “You don’t believe that about Him—you can’t say yes!” Well, all of a sudden, one of the workers from the center came to rescue me from possibly going crazy and say YES! I remember leaving with tears streaming down my face. Satan’s grip was extremely tight on me, and I now know that he sent one of his minions through someone else to get me away, and it worked. This memory, has puzzled me at times, because I have wondered what was in me that wanted Jesus so much—especially because He became OK in my eyes, as I came to think of Him as an enlightened master, but not higher than any other. WARNING: THE DEVIL IS A LIAR AND KNOWN AS THE FATHER OF LIES. In Luke 8:44 is says..."He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies."
When I hit the road, I sold most of my belongings and then, packed my car and put the rest into a storage facility. My plan was to accept a myriad of invitations, put them all together and travel the country for about two years. I expected by the end of the two years, that I would come to know something that I didn’t know and then, have a better idea where I should live.
The biggest things that stand out during my four and a half years on the road was that I got deeper into my spiritual/energy work AND—I got further away from truly coming to know the Lord. In removing distractions of everyday life, I was able to focus on “clearing out my inner clutter”. This meant a whole lot more of doing all kinds of energy things: past life regressions, re-birthing, reikie, feng, shui, crystal bed healing, esoteric healing, DNA reattachment, entity attachment removal and a few more. I also got drunk and high at a heavier pace than I had for some time. Yes, my focus was on making money and having a good time.
About this time, I started getting interested in “truther” research. At this time, I started to notice how the music industry was becoming so blatantly satanic, and it made me wonder what was going on. I began to feel, that many things were waging war against my mind, my body, and my spirit. This spread to deeper research about hidden aliens (I was already a believer in them), and reptilians, cloning, mind control, and so on. This rabbit hole got real deep—fast! That brought something to my attention, that really blew my mind: the New Age Movement originated as The New Age of Lucifer around the same time as the New Thought Movement. I learned that the founder of the esoteric healing treatments, that I had been receiving almost every week for over two years, was a part of developing this movement—I found this very unsettling. Although, I didn’t "believe in Satan", (which is hard to believe because of how much dark and evil I was involved with)—I didn't like the idea that something I found to be so much about love, light, and healing had its origins in something so purely dark and evil.
By this time, I had settled into what was finally and quickly becoming my new permanent home. As part of my settling in, I joined the Unity Church because I wanted to integrate into my new community, and it was the closest thing I was aware of in town that aligned with my beliefs. I went deep! In my opinion, I really grew in this community, that I jack hammered away at limiting beliefs, and went back to my new thought roots. While on search for a new minister, I gave the Sunday morning talk a few times, and each time—was a reminder into how much I loved this stuff. I was able to draw upon my historical teachings, blend it with the creative cosmic goo, and mix it up with my truly unyielding faith in God. I truly believe, at some point along the way—that I was always and earnestly seeking to know God. SERIOUS WARNING!!! I was looking for God, but in the wrong places. THE UNITY CHURCH IS NOT A TRUE CHURCH—IT’S A CULT!! This cult, teaches the principles that promote a way of life that leads to one’s health, prosperity, happiness, and peace of mind. They seek to “create their life” experiences through their way of thinking. To do this, they align themselves with specific mediation's. THE BIBLE WARNS US OF SUCH THINGS, SO WE ARE NOT LED ASTRAY AND, SO WE CAN TRULY COME TO KNOW CHRIST AS OUR SAVIOR. ANYONE OR ANY CHURCH THAT GOES AGAINST WHAT GOD TEACHES IN THE BIBLE, IS A SERIOUS DANGER SIGN TO STAY AWAY AT ALL COSTS!! A CULT DECEIVES PEOPLE FROM KNOWING THE ONE & ONLY TRUE GOD. AS SATAN DISGUISES HIMSELF, AND PEOPLE FALL FOR ALL THE LIES & FALSE MIRACLES—THEY ARE LED RIGHT INTO THE PITS OF HELL INSTEAD OF HAVING ETERNAL LIFE WITH JESUS.
BIBLE SCRIPTURES TO HELP YOU AVOID SATAN'S SCHEMES:
"For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine.Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths." (2 Timothy 4:3-4)
“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6)
"God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.” (1 John 1:5)
"For such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve." (2 Corinthians 11:13-16)
"The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception..." (2 Thessalonians 2:9-10)
"For they are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the whole world, to gather them together for the war of the great day of God, the Almighty." (Revelation 16:14)
A few months prior to Jesus coming for me, I signed up for a series of energy sessions that utilized a combination of techniques to help clear PTSD and trauma memory from the nervous system. The process was based on some particular body movements in conjunction with saying certain things. The result was to reboot the brain and clear the neural pathways. It relied upon Neural Linguistic Programming as well (NLP). The first session mandated an NLP script while doing the hand techniques that focused shutting the door on suicide—this obviously dealt with death which, I didn't do in awhile. The standard technique was done a few times a day throughout the week. After the first week or so, I started feeling anxious and restless. I was waking up in the night stalked by death. It was strange and disturbing. I reached out to my coach/practitioner and requested an urgent session, then she walked me through some other scripts, and then back to the “close the door on suicide one”, and something amazing happened. In my mind, I could see a room with a door that opened up to suicide. I also saw myself trying to pull it closed with all of my might while at the same time —a demon was trying to pull the door open with all of its might. The instant I realized what was happening—a bright light emerged causing the demon to instantly let go, and whooshed/sucked out into a big black hole of the universe. Again, Jesus rescued me—In fact, He kept on rescuing me—until, I was ready to be saved!
On Thursday, June 29, 2017th, I watched a video titled, The World Belongs to Satan which was a testimonial interview of Alice Cooper. (Video is below) Anyone growing up when I did, and doing the things I did—knew and loved Alice Cooper, so to hear him tell his story was the straw that broke Satan’s hold on my life. Alice mentioned something about a hellfire deliverance ministry, and as soon as he did, I pulled out my phone and started searching for deliverance ministries in my town. One link led to another, and I landed onBibleKnowledge.com.BibleKnowledge.com, helps people grow in their relationship with the Lord through teaching(s), and there's a variety of other topics that a person can search to find answers as well. As I read through the requirements for deliverance, I learned about breaking off generational curses. It was through deliverance, that I learned about salvation. The most important intimate relationship that I cultivated was the one I had with God. He turned my heart of stone into flesh, and I could feel it! When Alice Cooper spoke of deliverance, something inside of me said GO, and I could feel my heart cracking wide open, and Jesus was there. It was His love that was bigger than anything that I was looking for before.
Witchcraft and the occult is a lot like addiction; at some point you’re going to need more and more to see how far you can go. In reality though—Satan just keeps sweetening the pot and enticing people to go deeper and deeper until one day—there’s just no turning back. I can hardly believe this whole story is just a glimpse into my life, but all praise, glory, and thanks to God that it’s not now!
When it was all said and done, and I mean done—I cast Satan out of everything. With tears pouring down my face, life pouring into my soul, and peace pouring into my body—I said, YES to Jesus! Then I said to Him, “I don’t know what all of this means, so I ask that you to teach me”—and teach me He did!
One minister that really helped me understand how dark the path of “light”, I was living in was—Johanna Michaelsen. Johanna, authored the book The Beautiful Side of Evil, which demonstrates that Satan doesn’t really care about what kind of supernatural work it is because—IT ALL WILL KEEP US FAR AWAY FROM JESUS!! Her personal story, really opened my eyes to the truth of how evil my life had been.
The Holy Ghost just took me from one teacher to another, and I quickly learned about demonic/satanic legal ground and— just as in Acts 19:19, I realized that I too, had to get rid of ALL THE STUFF IN MY HOME, as well as—quit yoga because it’s Hindu god worship—no matter how one tries to spin it. Every pose in yoga is designed to worship, and evoke one of their many millions of gods. As much as I loved it, I quit on the spot even with two more months on my unlimited class pass. Acts 19:19 says, ”Also, many of those who had practiced magic brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted up the value of them, and it totaled fifty thousand pieces of silver.” WARNING—THE DANGER OF YOGA! Yoga is a 2,000-year old Hindu religious practice used for spiritual and occult purposes. It is pagan—it is part of the occult/the devil, and GOD STRICTLY FORBIDS IT!! All the physical postures of yoga, are keys to unlock the spiritual realm with the purpose of becoming "unattached from oneself and the world”. YOGA IS VERY DANGEROUS AND GOES AGAINST SCRIPTURE!!
BIBLE SCRIPTURES TO HELP YOU AVOID SATAN'S SCHEMES REGARDING YOGA:
“You shall have no other gods before Me.” (Exodus 20:3)
“Now the Spirit “expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons…”. (2 Timothy 4:2)
“Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” (John 8:12)
Within the first week of my salvation, I threw out everything in my home that I could find that had a connection to the occult or new age. Occasionally, I still find a little something here or there that for whatever reason went unnoticed; maybe just I didn’t have the eyes to see fully yet, or I had bypassed it in my flurry to purge my home of the enemy—when I come upon it now, out it goes! WARNING: Please DO NOT give any occult items to those you know or to thrift stores etc. because, it will only be recycled out back into the world, leading others astray from the truth of Jesus.
After salvation, one of the most critical factors is deliverance. Deliverance made way for me to put a lot of emphasis on spiritual warfare and to armor up! I think spiritual warfare through Jesus is one of the most powerful gifts of salvation, especially in order to live this life for His glory despite the enemy’s attempts to derail us. In the Bible, Ephesians 6:10-18 teaches about THE WHOLE ARMOR OF GOD. It is this armor that protects us from what Satan tries to do to us in our daily lives.
THE WHOLE ARMOR OF GOD: (Ephesians 6:10-18)
"Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints"—
The Armor of God
I hope that my story helps you avoid the many demonic pitfalls that I feel into. It is only through Jesus that we have eternal life, and I fall more in love with Him everyday! May you prayerfully consider to give your life to Christ as I did. It's the best decision, that I have ever made!!!
SOME HELPFUL SCRIPTURES FOR YOU IN YOUR DECISION TO FOLLOW CHRIST:
"If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (1 John 1:9)
"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." (John 3:16)
"For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 6:23)
Yes, Jesus Christ of Nazareth, King of Kings, Lord of Lords swooped into my life, filled my heart and drew me to an absolutely new way of life.
Saved, Delivered, Baptized, Testified, Devoted, and doing the best I can to obey, learn, listen, follow, and—everything else in God's plan for me. Meanwhile, after a lifetime of occult and new age spirituality, I've been busy doing what many do when they're on a coaching journey: walking a parallel path.
One is where I use the discernment I'm gaining with eyes to see and ears to hear to clean up the life I created and lived for over five decades.
The other path I'm walking opens up my mind, world, life, reality to experience what it is to really know Christ. To understand and exult in what it truly means to have a Savior. To be loved that much is kinda mind-blowing. It's all new to me, and I couldn't be more delighted, excited and blessed!
Professionally, I'm exploring what it means and how I can use my coaching and mentoring expertise and gifts for God's glory. I've got some ideas, but it's not really up to me, is it?!
Today, I find myself getting slightly grieved with conversations from those who have no idea about the lifestyle or mentality of the LGBT community. I find this grievance to come about, because of the lack of knowledge of this lifestyle. I take it personal, because years ago...I too was part of this community and here is my story.
"For nothing is impossible with God." (Luke 1:37)
As a young girl, I found myself to be different, not because of any skill or creative ability, but because at a tender age of 5 I started to have a strong attraction to women. Most people argue that this is not possible...but that's not true, and perhaps...it's the reason that there's hardly any awareness for children struggling with their sexuality at such a tender age. In kindergarten, I used to tell my best friend that I was a boy. I was not abused nor mistreated in my home, as a matter of fact, both parents were in the medical field and married; not to mention a big part of my life. I lacked nothing. My mother used to pray with my eldest brother and I...she taught us about Jesus, and how to hear the voice of God. As a child, I paid attention to the wise words of my mother, but there was always a voice that I would hear. I now know that this voice was Satan.
This voice tormented me, and would say that, I was going to hell. In my innocence...I took this as, that I was "going downstairs". I ran upstairs to tell my mother, while she was on the phone, and she turned to me and said...“Well, go downstairs”. She didn’t know what I meant, and I didn’t know how to express it, so I never said another word about "going downstairs". Fast forward to my preteen years...I began to flirt with the imagination of being with a woman, from having crushes on older women to telling myself what to dream about. I fantasied about being intimate with women, placing myself as the masculine figure. I then, joined online chat rooms, and started having relationships over the phone with women until high school, when my dreams became a reality. This is when, I entered my first relationship with a woman, that took my innocence. From years of that relationship...I entered into another relationship with a woman. This relationship was my longest, and it changed the woman I was, and I ended up in the darkest place of my life.
Although, I was indulged in a perverse lifestyle, I still considered myself to be a good girl, but this relationship took me down a spiral. Hurts, infidelity, down to stealing finances, I dealt with it all...right down to the fact that suicide had become a pleasant option. I would try to listen to songs that would keep me depressed, and for some reason Marvin Sapp's song---He Saw the Best in Me, came on an R&B station. It blew my mind because gospel hardly played on this station especially in the late hours, but God was speaking to me through this song. At that moment, my identity was broken and enough was enough.
I remember taking a shower and saying 3 words that changed my life forever; I said, “God, I’m tired”. I went on to say, "take it away", and I introduced myself to God as if, He never knew me. I told Him everything down to my favorite color. That was a Saturday and then, that Sunday...I gave my life to the Lord. I hardly got any sleep, and I showed up to service right at the very end...when the doors of the church were being opened. I thought I was arriving on time, but I guess you can say that I did arrive on time. Since then, God has restored my natural affection towards men, and not once have I backslid with a woman or looked back to desire that lifestyle. God set me free and changed my fragrance! I am happily courting and planning marriage in the soon future. I am here to say with confidence, that JESUS will and can set you free! He died for the homosexuals just like any other sin---He loves you, and He will make you brand new!
Tiara's Testimony on YouTube has reached many around the world!
George Carneal, was raised in the Bible Belt, by a Southern Baptist minister. Throughout his school years, he was tormented with physical and verbal abuse. George was called a queer, faggot, and a homo. Eventually, he turned his back on God, the church, and fully immersed himself in the queer culture. Today, he shares what God's love has done for Him so others can also break free from the lies and grip of sin.
"As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us." (Psalms 103:12)
George Carneal -- Author, Speaker, Singer/Songwriter
I’m a Baptist minister’s son who grew up in church and gave my life to Christ when I was seven years old. I also struggled with a same-sex attraction. Living in Tennessee, in the Bible Belt, in the 70’s, homosexuality wasn’t a topic I heard about unless some random person was making a derogatory comment about “fags.”
All through school I was tormented with physical and verbal abuse with one guy threatening to slit my throat. Being called a queer, faggot, homo, I didn’t understand how my peers were able to identify something about me that I hadn’t been unable to understand and come to terms with myself. This was confusing.
At church, the pain was compounded by the inevitable sermons on Sodom & Gomorrah. I felt condemned by God for something I didn’t ask for. On the inside I was filled with rage and told God I hated Him. I suffered in silence.
While heterosexual peers dated, I spent 12 lonely years yearning to be loved by a man. A random encounter with a guy out of high school confirmed this is who I was…a homosexual. Shortly after this encounter, my father was relocated to a church in Florida.
Not long after the move, I ran into a guy who invited me to a local gay bar. Walking into a bar filled with attractive men was overwhelming and exciting. I finally found a “home” where I wasn’t being bullied, could be myself, and be around other guys like me. I craved affection from guys and became promiscuous.
Since countless “loving Christians” insisted that God destroyed Sodom & Gomorrah because of vile perverts like me, that God created AIDS to kill queers, and that I was destined to burn in Hell, I believed that maybe God does hate me. So, I turned my back on God, the church, and fully immersed myself in the queer culture.
Sadly, after three years in the gay life, I was masking the pain with drugs and alcohol. Pornography became a part of my life, I developed a sex addiction, became a hustler (a male prostitute), struggled with depression, suicidal thoughts, and eventually attempted suicide. I felt no hope.
My journey would eventually lead me to Nashville where I met a guy, we became boyfriends, and moved to Los Angeles. I secured a job in the music industry.
After seven years, we broke up because I was still tormented and struggling with my faith and sexuality. I longed to be in church and eventually found a church home. I was filled with constant anxiety for fear that these Christians would discover my secret.
After church I cruised adult bookstores and bars because I was so hungry for affection and love. Random encounters meant quick sex, but I didn’t care…it was a brief moment of feeling desired by a guy. I couldn’t see it at the time, but I was searching for something to fill a void in my life. I had yet to comprehend that Jesus was the answer.
After a mild confrontation with a deacon over rumors regarding my sexuality, I left the church and found a gay-affirming church with a homosexual pastor. Surely, I would find the answers and come to accept that God made me this way. The turmoil was still there. Unable to find concrete answers, I left that church.
Working in the music business, I had the chance to meet and be around countless celebrities/rock stars/movie stars. In our celebrity-obsessed culture, many believe that fame and fortune will bring happiness. However, some celebrities weren’t that pleasant to be around and appeared to be just as unhappy as I was. I personally knew miserable people with immense wealth. It was clear. Money and fame doesn’t bring happiness.
I extended my search into the occult, new age and Hindu arenas hoping to find different paths to get to God. I still yearned for Him even though I wasn’t sure He wanted anything to do with me. I had no desire to serve Satan but wondered if God was holding out on information that Satan was willing to impart. Could I get to God through a supernatural means?
Casting love spells seemed appealing...as I desperately wanted a man to love me, but something in my spirit...compelled me, not to open that door so I didn’t. I spent countless hours in new age/occult/psychic bookstores, browsing through various books on “world religions”, while waiting to have my tarot cards read by psychics. I was desperate for answers yet became cynical when all they could provide was vague information about relationships and financial issues that could be applied to anyone.
The New Age emphasis on sacrificing ourselves for the good of mankind, fighting darkness that was consuming the world, appealed to me. The search for “ascended masters” to become more enlightened intensified….with no luck.
Attending a Hindu temple in Hollywood, the “teacher” read from sacred Hindu texts, even God’s Word. While Jesus was respected as a great teacher, He was also equal with other Hindu gurus. That was unsettling. No matter how confused I was, something was settled within me that Jesus was God’s Son and no one compared to Him. I also knew idols had no power and I certainly wasn’t going to bow down and worship them.
Additionally, the new age and Hindu (even Buddhist) teachings regarding reincarnation were distressing. My current life was one of misery. The thought of being reincarnated, coming back to live many lives over and over and over in order to become perfect, striving to reach moksha (Hinduism)/nirvana (Buddhism), without any knowledge of past mistakes in order to do better in the next life, brought about more despair.
Deep within me, I knew Jesus was the one, all-sufficient Savior who paid for my sins on the Cross. Instead of me having to do the work, Jesus did the work and that comforted me. God confirms that we live once, and then...the judgement (Hebrews 9:27). I eventually, rejected the Occult/New Age/Hindu teachings.
I wanted a relationship with God, but I didn’t want to be around Christians. I hated them. Church was a place of anxiety for me. The thought of attending church was like going into the lion’s den.
Disillusioned with life, one night I drove to a Christian bookstore in Long Beach. I searched for books on suicide, but from a biblical perspective. After one failed suicide attempt, I was ready to try again. However, I feared God would send me to Hell for taking my life. Suicidal thoughts were as common as what I thought about eating each day. The depression was brutal. I cried all the time. The voices in my head tormented me. I needed peace. Finding nothing on the subject, I sat on the floor and cried.
I went back to the bars and slept with men in order to mask the pain, the loneliness, only to struggle with constant heartache as I desperately searched for love.
Sitting at a dive bar in Hollywood one night...(among the prostitutes, hustlers, former jailbirds, drag queens, kids tossed out of homes because they were queer, women whose wrinkled faces revealed difficult lives, and old gay men getting drunk at the bar)...I faced the cold, harsh reality of life. This could be me. My heart hurt for those people. During this time, I was unable to share how much God loved them by what Jesus did on the Cross because, I couldn’t see it for myself thanks to mean-spirited “Christians”. I was a vile homosexual. I had no hope yet something had to change. I couldn’t do this any longer.
A television commercial from a local church advertised a Bible Study on the book of Genesis. I felt led to contact them and spent two years attending that Bible study. I hungered for God and enjoyed studying His Word. My view of God started to change. I eventually started to see that God didn’t hate me. He hated my sin. There was hope that I could have a relationship with God! I also met Christians who truly had the heart of Christ as I slowly immersed myself back into the church.
God eventually led me to a Baptist church through a retired pastor. The current pastor moved to have a class for LGBT individuals. I was excited because I would now have a safe place to meet others struggling with this issue. Unfortunately, the pastor and teachers were moving us in the direction of “Being gay is OK, we’re under Grace, God created you that way” and I was confused. Scripture is clear we are not to abuse God’s Grace (Romans 6:1-2; 14-15).
I had heard numerous stories of LGBT individuals whom God was bringing out of that life so I was perplexed as to why the pastor/teachers were pushing us into that life. I was now more confused. I was mentally and emotionally exhausted dealing with this issue, especially when I didn’t ask for these feelings!
I sat in my car so many times and cried, banging the steering wheel, yelling at God, begging Him for an answer, for peace! I often prayed this sincere prayer to God: “If homosexuality is OK in Your eyes, give me peace about it and I trust You will put a good Christian man in my life who will love me. If homosexuality is wrong under all circumstances, give me peace about it, help me to recognize it, and I will still serve You.”
As the months passed, wanting to believe that “gay is OK”, I was still tormented. I said enough and accepted that it was not in God’s will. I left that church, turned my back on the gay life, repented, and truly surrendered my life to Christ. The most amazing thing happened. God gave me what I had longed for my whole life...peace with myself, peace of mind, and finally...peace with God! The issue has been settled and I am no longer tormented in my mind or by my past! (Isaiah 43:25; Psalm 103:12; Romans 8:1)
Numerous LGBT individuals have accepted that homosexuality is not a part of God’s plan. Some LGBT individuals have transitioned successfully into a heterosexual life. Those who still have a same-sex attraction, like myself, have chosen celibacy. We desire to live a life that honors and pleases God. I’ve been on this path for about 13 years now.
The Apostle Paul asked God to “remove the thorn in his side” and God responded with “My grace is sufficient” (2 Corinthians 12:7-10). If this is to be my thorn, so be it. What matters is that God provided the healing I needed in order to have the strength to walk away from that life. My desire for sex with men no longer controls me!
This journey has been difficult, but I praise God for bringing me though it because I now understand God’s grace and His mercy. There is hope for everyone no matter what your bondage is….drugs, alcohol, food, sex, pornography, even issues of shame, rejection, abuse, rape, guilt of abortion, criminal activities, etc. If one is truly sorry and repents, God’s free gift of salvation is available to anyone who wants it (Romans 6:23). Jesus paid it ALL on the Cross at Calvary when He shed His precious blood for our sin. God desires to have a relationship with you but you must come His Way and that’s through Jesus. (John 3:16-17; 10:9; 14:6; Acts 4:12; 1 Timothy 2:5). Give your life to Christ today and know real peace. You matter to Him!
**In the back of George's book, he put all the talking points the LGBTQ activists and Christian liberal theologians use and he debunks them with Scripture. He says..."So if you have individuals in your life who are not willing to listen to this give them the book or at least get it and familiarize yourself with those talking points so when they do come at you and say no; no it's okay you can give them scripture because they are not going to sit down and study God's word to get the truth for themselves."