02Mar

Joel is a sinner saved by God's grace. He grew up in a broken home and turned to drugs to fill the hole in his heart for 28 years. In Teen Challenge, he came to know the love of Jesus, which transformed his life forever!

    Joel Jakubowski 

Men's Ministry Director at The Potter's House Addiction Recovery & Discipleship Ministry 

"The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever.”  (Isaiah 40:8)

Hello, my name is Joel. I am a sinner saved by grace, God’s grace, that is. I am a man who has experienced deliverance from the grasp of darkness. And today, I walk upright in the light of Christ.

My parents divorced when I was pretty young. My sister and I continued to live with my mother. After my father’s departure, my mother succumbed to mental illness. Unfortunately, this left my sister and me to “raise ourselves.” The torment of loneliness, abandonment, and uncertainty permeated my innocent heart and soul. At the age of eight, I had become disillusioned with this life and the love it was offering. It was only a matter of time before I reached for the hand of Satan in the form of a marijuana cigarette, and this marked the beginning of my near-fatal sin-induced demise. After the succession of poor decisions, misbelief, and compromises, I became a full-time crack addict that lasted twenty-eight years. Eventually, it was painstaking to acknowledge my skeletal reflection in the mirror, a mirror that so bitterly mocked my bondage. And then, finally came God’s miraculous light. My sister had been delivered in Christ for several years, bringing the Teen Challenge program into my seemingly hopeless world of degradation. And just in time, because thoughts of suicide were now becoming the center of my attention.

On June 16, 2003, I entered the Teen Challenge induction center in the heart of Newark, New Jersey’s urban jungle. I did not come to search out Christ’s heart but only to attempt to stay clean for a year. But much to my exceeding joy, I can say now that Jesus was there waiting to search my heart. I did not know it then, but I realize now that God had given me the so precious and necessary gift of brokenness! He had prepared in me a receptive heart to receive this life’s only truth: His Son finally. Little did I know that the hole in my heart was Christ-shaped all along.

I gave my life to the Lord in a public confession only ten days after arriving at the center. I graduated from the induction center and began a more exhaustive pursuit of God’s heart. Here at that training center in Rehrersburg, Pennsylvania, I fell in love with Jesus. I then began to study the scriptures and learn of God’s promises. I found that my faith in His Word and in His love had the power to “repay me for the years the locusts have eaten.” (Joel 2:25) I found that He had a plan for my life, “to give me a hope and a future”. (Jeremiah 29:11) Praise God! He said I was a new creation in Christ! (2 Corinthians 5:17) At last, I had finally found TRUTH!

Then it began--God restored the trust I had betrayed among my loved ones. He restored my wonderful mother’s mind and our once strained relationship. He renewed my heart and transformed my entire perspective of life and my fellow man. He gave me His love, the only love that cannot disappoint or fade away. He gave me a calling and taught me the meaning of life--To love and serve God. As a result of my devotion, He has continued to bless my socks off to this very day!

Again my name is Joel, a sinner turned saint saved by loving grace. May God bless you!


Joel is a Men's Ministry Director at The Potter's House which is a safe place for men & women to recover from addiction, to experience Christ-centered discipleship, and embrace their God-given destiny for their lives. For more information please visit their ministry site at https://thepottershouselancaster.com/

Purchase Joel's book by clicking on the book cover below.

Joel's testimony from the VictoryEmbraced book was featured on CBN's The 700 Club 


28Feb

“One decision, one single moment, can have such a detrimental effect on so many people, living and dead, born and yet to be conceived.” ~Melissa Ohden

Melissa Ohden

Founder & Director of The Abortion Survivors Network, Author & Speaker

"But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God." (Acts 20:24)

Abortion is a decision that has a detrimental effect on many across generations. In August of 1977, my biological mother entered St. Luke’s Hospital in Sioux City, Iowa, to undergo a saline infusion abortion. Little did she know that this one decision, and this one moment in time—would have a far-reaching effect on so many peoples’ lives.

A saline infusion abortion involves the injection of a toxic salt solution into the amniotic fluid surrounding the pre-born child in the womb. The salt solution intends to scald the child to die from the outside in. Suppose you ever look up ‘saline infusion for abortion’ or read about children like me who are aborted by saline infusion. In that case, you will find that we are called the “red-skinned” or “candy-apple” babies because it turns the child’s skin red as it burns it, peels it, and moves internally into the body to burn up the organs.

After the toxic salt solution was delivered into the amniotic fluid that surrounded me, I was bathed in the poisonous salt solution for approximately five days. Truly, this solution should have burned me to death while I was in my biological mother’s womb, and she should have given birth to a dead child. Instead, on the fifth day of the abortion procedure, labor was successfully induced, and she gave birth to a live child—me! 

Over the years, I have been told that it was initially known that I had been unsuccessfully aborted. It has been said that after I was delivered spontaneously at the hospital, I was believed to be dead. I was even left for dead and placed along the bedside table. Nevertheless, by the grace of God, a nurse was tending to my mother, noticed that I was making grunting noises and small movements. The doctors and nurses then started to provide the medical care I needed to sustain my fragile life.

Medical documents indicate that my mother thought that she was approximately 18 to 22 weeks pregnant with me when she attempted to abort me. The fact that I survived and that I weighed 2 pounds, 14 ounces, indicates that she was at least six to seven months pregnant. One of the first documentations in my medical records states that I looked like I was “approximately 31 weeks gestation.”  

Despite my miraculous survival, the doctors did not believe that I would live very long, and if I did live—I probably would be disabled. After I survived the failed abortion attempt, I suffered from numerous medical problems, including jaundice, severe respiratory problems, and seizures. I had to undergo multiple blood transfusions. I was too weak to suck from a bottle, so I was fed intravenously through my head for an extended period of time. My future was bleak, but I was alive! Most people would never guess by looking at me today that I suffered what I did as an infant. Today, I am the picture of health. Miraculously, I am healthier than most. I have no long-term physical consequences because of the abortion procedure and my premature birth; I am one of the blessed ones.

After I survived the failed abortion attempt, my biological parents made a courageous and loving decision. I am forever grateful to them for ultimately giving me life despite the initial attempt to end my life. I am even more thankful that they made an adoption plan after I survived. I often hear people say that it is wrong to ask a woman to carry a child to term and make an adoption plan if they feel like they don’t want to or can’t parent them. I understand the well-intentioned place in people’s hearts this comes from. However, I am a living testament to the selfless beauty and love of an adoption plan, and I have seen firsthand how adoption is a choice that EVERYONE can live with. To some—abortion appears to be a solution to the problem. Still, I have seen throughout my life that abortion is not the solution, and it is not a choice that women can live with the rest of their lives without physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual consequences. As hard as it must be to make an adoption plan for a child, it is ultimately a beautiful gift for many—the child, the biological parents, and the adoptive family.

My adoptive parents first met me when I was still in the Neo-Natal Intensive Care Unit in Iowa City, Iowa, not long after I was born. Despite the poor prognosis that the doctors had for my life, my adoptive parents did not hesitate for a second to come to visit me. My adoptive parents share that the first time they laid eyes on me, lying there in the incubator, they thought I was the most beautiful baby they had ever seen and fell in love with me. That always makes me smile because looking at baby pictures of myself, I know that I wasn’t what most people think is a beautiful baby. I was tiny, my head was shaved, I had IV ports in my head, I was in an incubator most of the time, but my adoptive parents were able to look through all of that and see the inherent beauty of God in me. 

I was blessed to go home to my adoptive family within two short months of surviving the failed abortion attempt. I went home to them before I was probably even supposed to be born! I know that the love of my adoptive parents and the nurses and doctors who cared for me helped me not only survive but also thrive. Over the years, I have remained in contact with one particular nurse who cared for me in Iowa City. Mary shared how she helped name me when I didn’t yet have a name, how she and others knitted me clothing, and how they nurtured me and believed in me during those months that I was in their care.  Growing up, I always seemingly knew that I was adopted. I grew up in a home where adoption was just a normal part of our lives. My older sister is also adopted (from another family), and our parents had always let us know how special and loved we are. After almost fifteen years of trying, our adoptive parents finally had a biological child of their own. Just as I’ve been told that there is no medical reason I have survived the failed saline infusion abortion, our parents had been told throughout those fifteen years that there was no medical reason to be found for why they couldn’t conceive. We know that it was simply God’s plan for them to be available to be our parents.  

Just as I had always known that I was adopted, I also knew I was born prematurely. It never was an issue of concern to me, as I knew many other people who were born prematurely. However, it wasn’t until I was 14 years old that I found out the truth about my life. I wasn’t just born prematurely and adopted, but I had survived a failed abortion attempt that was meant to end my life.

Just as God had His hand on my life while I was in my biological mother’s womb, I believe He planned for me to find out the truth about my survival in the manner in which I did. The Lord may not have intended for my older sister to become pregnant while she was still in high school. Still, He indeed used that experience to help all of us in our family truly understand the preciousness of every human life. My sister’s pregnancy enabled the truth to come out, as our parents felt driven to share with her the story of my survival so that she could fully understand God’s plan for every life, and recognize the beautiful importance of her giving life to her child. I can’t imagine what it was like for her to find out the truth about my life before I did. Still, I am forever grateful that she encouraged me to ask our parents for the truth about it. She is even more thankful that she fully embraced motherhood and is the mother of four amazing children today.  

Sometimes, people ask me if I’m somehow angry with my adoptive parents because they didn’t share the truth about my life sooner or without my sister’s intervention. To answer it honestly, no, I am not angry with them. I can’t imagine what it was like for them all of those years to know the truth and how much it would hurt me if I found out. As a parent, I can understand how they felt the need to protect me. Honestly, there was probably no other way that my adoptive parents would have told me the truth, knowing how much it could devastate me, except through the working hand of God in our lives.

It devastated me the night that my sister encouraged me to seek answers from our parents. I will never forget the look on my mother’s face when I shared the discussion that my sister and I had. It was a look of such anguish. I will also never forget the words that she spoke that changed our lives forever: “We just always thought you knew—There is no easy way to tell you this—we never meant to keep it from you—we love you, and we’ll always love you, Missy.” (That is what my family and close friends call me.) “Your biological mother had an abortion during her fifth month of pregnancy, and you survived it.” 

Looking back on that night, I can’t even put into words how hurt I was. For years, I had felt so special and loved. My biological parents had given me life and made an adoption plan for me; then, suddenly, I found out I had survived a lethal attempt on my life. I was devastated! I had never before even fathomed that my biological parents would have considered aborting me. For the first time in my life, I was angry with them. At 14, I couldn’t comprehend how they could have done that to me, their child. However, as mad as I was that night, my anger quickly washed away into great sadness for them because they somehow felt or were put into the position that abortion was the only option for them. Despite their decision to end my life, I love my biological parents and their families unconditionally. Jesus Christ died for them just as He died for me, and we are all sinners. I am no better or worse than they are in the Lord’s eyes, and it is not my role to judge or condemn them.

People often ask how I felt when I found out that I am an abortion survivor. Truly, I felt every feeling that’s possible to feel. I was angry. I was sad. I was scared of who I was and what this meant for my life. I felt so different and alone. I felt embarrassed and ashamed to be an aborted child. Yet, at the same time, I felt the intense love of God, the understanding that He saved me from certain death and had a plan for my life, and that I was special and wanted by Him and my adoptive family.  

Although, I was blessed with the love and support of God, my adoptive family, my  friends, my church, and school, I struggled on the inside with tumultuous feelings  about who I was and what the world said about children like me. I only had to turn on the TV or radio and open the newspaper (this was before the Internet came along) to see what the predominant culture says about abortion. The prevailing culture says, “It’s just a clump of tissue—it’s just a blob of cells—it’s not a child—it’s a choice—children who are aborted would otherwise be a drain on society—you can get rid of that one; another one will come along again when you’re ready to be a parent.” These statements weighed heavily upon my heart and by the time I went away to college, I had learned through experience to stop talking publicly about being an abortion survivor. The hurt and ridicule were just too much for me to bear at the time.

For many years, I was silenced by shame and guilt. I felt guilty for a long time that I survived when so many have not. Over 53 million children have lost their lives to abortion, and I am one of just a handful of survivors around the world and in the U.S. alone in the past 48 years. However, I knew that God intended for me to learn through my time of silent suffering and teach me how everyone is affected by abortion. Abortion silences many in our world particularly women who have had abortions and men who have played a role in the decision. I know God intended for others to learn by my experience(s) and that we must not be silenced by speaking up and speaking out for those who are rendered voiceless by abortion.

During the first couple of years of silence, I started a journey of faith that has truly transformed me. This journey has enabled me to become the person that the Lord created. I am a woman who God saved to share the gospel of life with the world and shine a light into the darkness of the pain and death caused by abortion. From the moment I learned the truth about my life as a survivor, I knew that the Lord had saved my life to testify to the truth about abortion and His redeeming grace. However, I spent many years living in fear of what He was asking me to do. I could hear Him saying, “Melissa, it’s time. It’s time to come forward and share your story with the world”. Although I knew that I needed to do it and someday would, I spent many years questioning God on how I would be able to fulfill His purpose.   

Through His grace I was able to grow in my understanding of Him and heal from the pain that I suffered emotionally and spiritually. By His grace, He has blessed me with the ability to understand others’ pain and help them find healing. After ten years of trying to find my biological parents and obtain my medical records (the two things I knew I needed to do before coming forward with my testimony), I finally succeeded. I have become stronger and bolder than ever, and I was able to find my voice after so many years of silence. 

It was certainly bittersweet to obtain my medical records. Although it was affirming to see it written in my records that a “saline infusion for an abortion was done but was unsuccessful,” it was very difficult to read about how my life was supposed to end and how I had to fight to live. Through my birth records, I quickly learned who my biological parents were. Within minutes, I discovered that not only was my biological father alive and well, but we were living in the same city as one another! How great is our God! Even though I knew that Sioux City, Iowa, is where the abortion took place, I could never have fathomed that my biological father would be living there decades later. I had not grown up in Sioux City; I had moved there during my search process to finish my Master’s degree.  

After months of praying, I decided to reach out to my biological father. Secretly in my heart, I always hoped that he didn’t play a role in the decision to end my life. In 2007, I sent him a letter to his workplace. In the letter, I told him that I knew the truth about the abortion, I had forgiven him a long time ago, I had led a beautifully blessed life, and we were living in the same city as one another. I also shared with him that if he ever wanted to communicate with me or have a relationship, I would be waiting to hear from him. And wait, I did!

Once again, in my life, I struggled with the pain of feeling rejected and alone when I didn’t hear back from him. God’s grace truly is enough, and His love runs more profound and broader than we could ever imagine, but sometimes things happen in this world that eats away at our self-esteem and self-worth. I am a living testament that nothing but the Lord can overcome that pain and transform it into something beautiful. I quickly turned over my hurt and pain to God, and about a month after I reached out to my biological father, I contacted my biological mother’s parents. Even though I knew who my birth mother was, I could not determine her maiden name or where she lived. However, I was desperate to reach out to her, so I contacted her parents in the hopes that they would share my message of forgiveness with her. Since I had never heard back from my birth father and had met my share of rejection in the world, I never expected to get a response from the letter that I sent to my maternal grandparents. But within just a few short days, I received a letter from my maternal grandfather! 

It was a great blessing to receive this letter. I am still thankful that my grandfather was kind enough to respond to it and that he was willing to share so much with me in it. Through the letter, I learned many things about my biological mother’s side of the family and the circumstances leading to my mother’s pregnancy with me. I learned that my mother dated my father throughout her teen years and that they were together for four years before becoming pregnant with me. After the abortion took place, my birth mother went on to marry someone else and had other children. Sadly, I learned that she never told anyone about me, or probably about the abortion. I certainly understand why she kept this a secret. By and large, we live in a society that doesn’t want to talk about abortion. I meet women and men every day who carry the secret of abortion and the pain, shame, and regret of it throughout their lives. It breaks my heart that my biological parents and so many like them suffer the silent pain of abortion for a lifetime and never find healing or forgiveness.

During that same period of time that I was reaching out to my birth family, I finally came forward publicly with my testimony as a survivor. The first time that I spoke was on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., with ‘Feminists for Life of America’. It was an empowering experience for me. All of those years that I had suffered silently, felt ashamed, embarrassed, and guilty were redeemed. I know that I have nothing to be ashamed of or feel guilty about. I am proud to be a survivor and chosen by God to do His work on this earth. Although that first speaking experience was exhilarating, it was also nerve-wracking for me. For some reason, I didn’t feel like myself and chalked it up to bad nerves. HOWEVER, what I was experiencing was a bad case of morning sickness! I was just a few days pregnant with our daughter, Olivia, the very first time that I spoke out about my survival and spoke out against abortion. 

It makes me smile every time I reflect on my first time speaking because I know that it was another excellent example of the Lord moving in our lives. For years, I desperately wanted to be a mother. The Lord blessed my husband and me with a child when I became fully obedient to Him in answering His call for my life—it was at this time that it became so clear that I was doing exactly what He intended for me to do. The Lord continues to bless Ryan and me abundantly in our lives, and I genuinely believe that our faith and obedience to the Lord continues to bring us favor.  

I delved into pro-life advocacy and speaking during my pregnancy with Olivia. I started to speak mainly on college campuses across the U.S. and Canada, sharing my testimony and encouraging campuses to take a closer look at their environment to see if they were friendly to men and women who are pregnant or parenting. And although my pregnancy with Olivia filled me with the greatest joy imaginable, some days were difficult for me because I was made infinitely aware that my own biological mother had experienced those same changes in her body during her pregnancy with me. She still made the decision to abort me.  

Throughout the past couple of years, I had learned that my birth mother really didn’t have a choice when it came to the decision to abort me. Research indicates that over 60% of women report being coerced into having an abortion. My biological mother fits these statistics. From what I’ve learned in recent years, it was likely one of her parents—my own grandparents who decided for her. It deeply saddens me that we live in a world where abortion is seen as the solution to the problems women face and that so many people call abortion a “choice,” even when both the statistics and experiences of many women reflect that most of them don’t have a choice when it comes to abortion.  

Unbeknownst to me, my biological father passed away suddenly early in 2008. I wasn’t even aware of his passing for a couple of months. I just happened to come across my father’s obituary online one night when I “Googled” his name on the Internet. I was devastated to discover that he had passed away. Despite my deep faith in the Lord, I questioned Him a lot that night. How could He let this happen? I had been looking for him all of those years, and then after I found him, he was quickly taken from me. I couldn’t understand, but I promptly was given peace about it as I heard the Lord reminding me that He is the creator of all things, and He had a plan—a plan greater than I ever could imagine.  

In the culmination of these events, I gave birth to Olivia. On April 26, 2008, she was born at St. Luke’s Hospital in Sioux City, Iowa—the very same hospital where my life was supposed to end 41 years ago. God is so good! Through His grace, the hospital that held such terrible memories for me now holds the most beautiful memories of our lives.  

A couple of weeks after Olivia was born, I first heard from my biological father’s family. Little did I know that when they cleaned out his office after he passed away, they found the letter that I had sent him tucked away in his top desk drawer. I had not heard from him all of those months; I wondered if he received the letter and if he did if he believed that I was his daughter. His family believes that because he had read and kept the letter, he knew he was my father and that someday he would do something about it.  

As devastating as it was to lose my father so suddenly and then to find out the secret he had kept all of those years, his family ultimately reached out to me around the time Olivia was born. I was blessed to meet my great aunt, grandfather, and cousin. I even had the opportunity to speak to my grandmother on the phone and to my father’s wife through email. Since then, I have continued building a solid relationship with my great aunt and grandfather. Both have met my adoptive family, and we get together as often as our schedules allow.

Sadly, these are the only two solid relationships that I have with my biological father’s family despite living in the same community as a number of them. I understand the depth of the other family members’ grief, the complexity of our lives considering the circumstances, and the shame and pain that the abortion should have ended my life caused them. It saddens me that so many families, like mine, are forever changed by abortion. Relationships become strained, secrets are hidden, and the pain and shame last for decades. I see these circumstances in families around the world through my work. I understand how our culture of death silences people who are hurting from abortion, but it’s time we break the silence and heal. I refuse to be silenced by abortion anymore, and I encourage others to step forward and break free from the chains that bind them.

I am often asked if I wish the circumstances of my life were different. Of course, I wish that my life and well-being wouldn’t have been threatened by abortion; however, I’m deeply grateful for the journey I have walked through. I am a survivor! I have experienced more than my fair share of pain and struggles, but I have become a wiser, more compassionate, and more obedient woman. I was fearful of what would happen if I stepped out of the shadows to be a light in this world for years. I desire to reveal the truth of the Lord, and the devastation of abortion can no longer silence me. I know that I don’t need to be ashamed of who I am. I am not a burden—I am a blessing. I am not simply a child who was aborted, but a woman who was fearfully and wonderfully made. 

No matter who my birth family is and how they may have felt about me early on in my life, I will always know who my Heavenly Father is and that He has great plans for me. 

“For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord…” (Jeremiah 29:11)


Melissa is the Founder & Director of The Abortion Survivors Network


To purchase Melissa's book please click on photo below

More About Melissa

Melissa is a frequent contributor to pro-life and conservative news outlets and a regular guest on radio and television programs around the world including Fox News, Focus on the Family, Hannity, The Eric Metaxas Show, Huckabee, and more. Although Melissa’s heart is for providing help and hope to all affected by abortion, she also strives to humanize the unborn through activism. She has testified before Congressional committees numerous times, as well as lobbied, and even met President Trump in the Oval Office in 2019. Fulfilling the purpose that she believes God set out for her when He saved her from the certain death of the abortion attempt, Melissa is truly a voice for the voiceless.

24Aug

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.

The Maskey Family

New Addition to the Family

Link to Purchase Christopher's book, “It Shall Be Given”   


Christopher's Video Testimony:  "Last Call to Calvary"  &  YouTube Channel


Christopher's New Christian Rap Songs:  






27Oct

Connie, grew up in a dysfunctional home with an abusive alcoholic father. His actions, left her with emotional scars which caused her to believe lies about herself.


Connie Tresedder
Author; Breakthrough Coach for Christian Leaders, Entrepreneurs, & Coaches

"I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth."  (Psalm 139:14-15)

The third born of three and only daughter in my family, I am an out-going, funny, joy-filled lover of people. I love to teach and interact with others. I have taught at the college level for over 20 years; taught junior church at my local congregation for about 15 years; and a youth group for high school and college age students. I currently lead a women’s group which encourages us to find and move forward into our God-given passions and purpose. What most people don’t know is that I suffered from low self-esteem for much of my life. People who know me now would be shocked to hear me say this. By listening and watching me speak, most would think I’ve never had a problem with confidence. Just the opposite is actually the truth.

This is because I grew up in a dysfunctional home where my father was an alcoholic. When he wouldn’t come home after work, we knew he was at the local bar drinking. My mother, two brothers and I would spend the evening with a knot in our stomachs. We never knew when he would come through the door but we knew it wasn’t going to be pleasant when he did. I went to bed scared many nights. My father never physically abused me, but those of you that have suffered verbal/emotional abuse know that this leaves scars as well. My father would become physical sometimes with my brothers and mom. I don’t remember ever sleeping through the night if I went to bed when my father was still at the bar. He was loud, angry, and cussing when he would return home. Often he would make my brothers get up and out of bed. I would lie in my own bed listening, worried for my brothers. He usually just opened the door of my room and swore at me as I pretended to be asleep. Besides speaking words to me that I cannot imagine uttering as a parent, my father never seemed to have any use for me. I did not feel valued by him in the least.

These types of nights weren’t the only thing that caused me to be nervous as a kid growing up. I felt the need to keep all of this from my friends. It is not an easy secret to hide when you live in a small town. What would my friends think if they knew? I was convinced their parents would put an end to our friendship if they knew what went on inside my home. I felt ashamed for having a father who drank and acted the way he did. I was in elementary school when I realized the way my dad treated us was not “normal” compared to what I witnessed at my friend’s homes.

I will be forever grateful for one of these homes I was invited to for a neighborhood Christian kid’s club. I attended every day for a week when I was in 5th grade. The gospel was shared with us through stories each day. I remember on the last day having the opportunity to invite Jesus into my heart. I had never heard the “Good News” before. Though I had been baptized in a Lutheran church as a baby, we had never attended church since moving to Michigan when I was six years old. Little did I know that day when I raised my hand while all heads were bowed, and prayed the prayer of salvation, that my life would be changed from that moment on. But, that is exactly what happened.

The challenges in my life did not magically disappear but everything felt different. I knew I was not alone. I knew there was someone to help me get through the challenges. I knew there was hope for my future. I asked my mom to buy me a Bible and she got me a teen version of the Living Bible. This was so easy to understand and had devotional type readings throughout. I devoured the Word like someone receiving water in the desert. Looking back at my life I see so many answers to my first prayers. God had a specific plan for my life and he has been so faithful leading me along my life’s journey. Each chapter has built upon the last. In this season, I am being used as a Christian life coach and speaker to bless others. As God would have it, I end up being blessed as well. It is exhilarating teaching and encouraging others to step into their purpose for this season in their life. I am so humbled when God uses me to help someone identify and move past what has them “stuck” in one area or another. This includes facilitating inner healing for past wounds at times, or helping someone re-wire their brain so that worrisome, negative thoughts don’t hold them back. I am discovering God puts us in community with others so that we can all keep moving forward in His plan for us.

Back in 5th grade, the same family that invited me to the Christian kid’s club, started bringing me with them to church. It was a Bible teaching, evangelical church where I soaked up truths about God like a sponge. Though I strayed somewhat in high school, I still read my Bible every night. I know now that Jesus never left me, but just patiently waited for me to turn back towards him, which I did when I found promises in His Word that I couldn’t deny. I remember thinking, "Why am I making choices that go against God's Word when...I could be living for Him completely, and receiving ALL the blessings He promises?" I had no mentor or adult helping me come to this conclusion, but I’m convinced people somewhere were praying for me. John 14, is what He used to get my attention. The whole chapter is full of promises, but my teenage heart really soared at the truth of verse 13, “And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son”. Truthfully, this verse still makes my heart soar. I now know the power the Comforter promised in this chapter. I know how to listen, be taught by, and receive the peace offered by God’s Spirit. I understand that God intends to do life together with us and that his plan is above and beyond anything we can imagine.

When I was a young college student God started the process of supernatural inner healing for my childhood wounds. I came to the revelation that the way my father treated me was more about him than me. I understood that my father was broken inside and probably full of self-loathing.  Though I don’t know what events or circumstances played a part in my father’s brokenness, God taught me that hurt people, hurt others. God cultivated a compassion in my heart for my father and I was able to forgive him. When I look back now, I realize this is nothing short of a miracle for God to give me so much grace to act maturely at this young age. This was such a blessing because the last three years of my father’s life we became closer than we had ever been. I had finished my undergraduate degree and got married a few years before my father was diagnosed with cancer. He stopped drinking and underwent surgery and treatments. The next three years, was a roller-coaster of emotions. He would respond well to a treatment, and we would all be filled with hope only to have the treatment stop responding several months down the road. Up and down we went, but I am so grateful for the time I and my husband had to spend with him and my mother. We enjoyed time together doing fun things like playing cards, going to movies, and eating good food. My dad was fun! Who knew? He absolutely loved my husband, and I felt like my father was proud of the woman I was becoming. I cherish the memories from this season and am so thankful I chose forgiveness over bitterness.

How could I not forgive my father when my heavenly Father forgives every one of my sins beginning back in 5th grade? I knew full well that Jesus had paid the price for not just my sins but my father’s sins, as well. I am confident that my father is in heaven because he was able to receive this great gift. This isn’t to say I haven’t had to deal with some issues throughout my life. I explain in my upcoming e-book, how all our experiences throughout life make us believe things. Unfortunately, a lot of the time the things we believe are lies!  The tricky thing is, when we believe a lie, we don’t realize it’s a lie because we believe it! I love helping people uncover these lies and receive healing like I did myself. When my own father didn’t value me, I believed the lie that no one else would. Why would anyone find value in what I taught or shared? How convenient it would have been for satan if I had continued to believe this. He could have stolen my calling, my voice, and my purpose, but that wasn’t my story. Healing and re-wiring our brains is a continual process, and I am ever so grateful to God for allowing me to be a part of people's spiritual growth and healing.   

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11Aug

Dana Repetti, grew up in a dysfunctional home filled with hate, fear, alcohol, abuse, and witchcraft. Her childhood caused her to have overwhelming fear, and she became a people-pleaser with a very low self-esteem. At the age of seventeen, Dana had her first abortion. Through it all though, Dana, has learned about the beauty of God's love, forgiveness, mercy, and grace. She is now helping others to do the same and has written a wonderful personalized devotional called "Being Immersed in the Father's Love".

Dana RepettiDana Repetti

“I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.”  (Psalms 27:13)

“Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”  (Romans 8:1)

I grew up in a very dysfunctional home. I was a very depressed child and full of fear. My perspective on life and how I processed life was through a very negative lens and filter. Even though I was saved at the tender age of twelve, there were a whole host of strongholds that I would have to take captive to the obedience of Christ throughout my lifetime.

When I received Jesus as my Lord and Savior, my mom prayed that the memory of what I had endured as a child would be wiped clean. That all I would remember was from Salvation onward. I must confess I only have glimpses of my childhood.

What I do remember is that my dad was a very angry man. He was very scary to me when he got upset. Growing up in my house there was a saying, “Children were to be seen and not heard!” and I never felt as if my opinion mattered, or that I had a voice. My self-esteem was very low. I really did not know how to think for myself. I was very much a people pleaser. As long as I did everything right, I was a good girl, but if I did something wrong or that appeared wrong, I would pay the consequence. As a little girl, it felt as if it was the end of the world. I always wanted to do everything right. This perception would carry on well into my thirties. It would take a very long time to find my voice and for God to bring me into what His thoughts were towards me and what His word says about me.

My mom was a very depressed mother and wife. I always had the feeling that she hated me. When I would look into her eyes, they appeared very dark and I saw such hatred. It felt as if she wanted to kill me. I’m sure that was not the case, but it was how I felt during those years of my life. I hated going to sleep for fear that in the middle of the night; something or someone would come in my room and hurt me. I would sleep with the covers up to my neck; face the door so I would be able to protect myself, still totally frightened. It felt as if I never slept. This went on from the age of five, until I was twelve.

My mother dabbled in the occult. She would have séances, levitate, have premonitions, consult palm readers, psychics, read tarot cards and play the Ouija board. There was a lot of demonic activity in our home to say the least. She also was an alcoholic and was suicidal. I would come home from school and find her at the bottom of the basement stairs blacked out, not knowing if she was dead or alive. I remember being afraid all the time not knowing what the next day would bring.

My parents would argue and fight, which seemed like all the time to me. It was very intense and very loud. There were so many sayings in my family growing up like; we’re loud, we’re Italian, that’s how we talk, if the truth hurts, each followed by very negative, outspoken comments. No! All of which consisted of arguing and verbal abuse, yet while not understanding that as a child and living through it. I thought that was normal. There was one time my father came home from work and found my mother sitting on the floor in the corner of their bedroom, in the dark with a scotch glass in her hand. She was drunk and they began to argue. This argument must have been so intense because it is etched into my memory. My mom threw the full scotch glass at my father. I ran to my room like so many other times and would pray that God would make it stop, that they would not get divorced. I was always so frightened and living on the edge. I did not realize at the time that I was a depressed little girl as well.

I was raised as a Catholic while growing up and went to a Catholic school. Very often before heading to school, my mom would play a song from Helen Reddy, “I am woman”, and she proceeded to tell my sister and I, never to forget that we were women. There was one day my mom was so angry, I can’t remember why, but she told me she hated me and to go, get out of the house and go off to school. I remember feeling devastated. My fears of her hating me were becoming true. I was so broken that I hated the day I was born. I remember saying to God, “why, why was I born into this family. I wish I had never been born.” Sad I know. Around this time in my life, I was in a store and I saw a keychain with a witch on it. So I purchased it and I gave it to my mother and said, “This is who you are to me” and sang her a song called Witchy Woman. After I told her again saying, “This is who you are to me!” She said,”I know.” and proceeded to hang it on the knob of the kitchen cabinet. So there it stayed.

As I stated earlier, I don’t have a lot of memory of my childhood, but I remember feeling very dirty whenever my dad would hug me. As a little girl, I remember finding Playboy magazine’s under his bed on his side. For some reason, I always was able to relate to someone who was sexually abused. I only have glimpses of certain things and questions as to why I would feel so hated during those years. Before my dad passed away in 2010, I felt impressed by God to speak to my dad and released him from any torment he might be going through, from guilt of the past. I was so nervous, but I knew it was something I had to do. My dad had leukemia and meningitis to the point that it affected his brain. In the past, if I would have brought this up, he would have been on the defense and reacted angrily. Instead, he allowed me to share all my questions and concerns. I told him that God wanted me to come to him so he could be released of anything that may have taken place in the past that if anything did occur, I had forgiven him. It was the most loving and freeing time I had ever had with my dad. He had no such memories. I am sharing this to show the goodness God has to tend to the issues of our hearts. He took care of my father’s heart as well as mine. I watched God be faithful to His word in Philippians 1:6, “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” My dad went to be with the Lord two weeks after my visit. Gods timing and ways are perfect. I have learned to trust and obey Him even when it’s scary.

At the age of ten, I was about to make my first communion. I always loved God. He placed within me a heart that loved Him and always wanted to help people despite what I was living through. The night before I was to make my first communion, I prayed that God would allow me to die in a car accident. I thought if I died on my communion day, then I would go straight to heaven and would not have to go to purgatory. My understanding was that people had to pray you out of purgatory; after all...my mother was a drunk and she hated me, while my dad only went to church on Christmas and Easter. In my mind, I would be stuck in purgatory forever and never make it to heaven. I prayed and prayed and was so disappointed when it did not happen.

Two years later, I am now twelve years old. My mom made the decision that she is going to take her life. She said that she had such a sense of peace in making this decision, and we were all better off without her. That day, God interrupted with His divine appointment. She was in a store that morning and she ran into a cousin of hers that just moved into the area we were living. Being polite, my mom invited her over for a cup of coffee. Her cousin had given her heart to the Lord and was a born-again Christian. She began to share with my mother about how much Jesus loved and cared for her and how He died to take away her sins and redeem her life. The whole time her cousin was talking, she thought she was crazy, while she knew the plan she had in her head to take her life. As her cousin was leaving, she said to my mom, “Marge, Jesus loves you. He truly does. Just give Him a try, ask Him into your heart and to forgive you your sins.”

That evening, my mother could not get out of her mind what her cousin shared with her earlier that day. She cried out to the Lord and said, “Ok Jesus, if you’re real like Alice says you’re real, I ask that you forgive me of all my sins and come live in my heart.” She began to feel a hand go over her mouth trying to suffocate her. During this struggle, she kept hearing her cousin’s voice in her mind saying, “say Jesus is Lord!” She began to scream in her head, “Jesus is Lord, Jesus is Lord!” At the end of the struggle, she saw in her mind’s eye a vision of Jesus with His arms wide open saying, “Marge, come to me. You’re my child.” The next day, my mom poured out all the alcohol we had in our house (we had a fully stocked bar) and threw away her cigarettes as well. My father thought my mother had a nervous breakdown and he was very angry. After all, that was a lot of money to throw down the drain. My mom’s old man (spirit) died that night and she became a new creation. The power of sin and death over my mother was destroyed that evening, through the blood of Jesus Christ. My mom went to her cousin’s house the next morning, banging on the door saying, “What did you do to me?” Her cousin began having bible studies with her, praying and taking her to church. One night after my mom got home from church, my father put my mother up against the wall and said, “It’s Jesus or me!” my mom said, “It’s Jesus” and he let go of her. So now we are going to check out this church my mother is going to, making sure she is not involved in a cult. My dad would say,”I was born a Catholic, I will die a Catholic.”

In July of 1974, a Friday evening, we visited the church my mother was attending on Tuesday’s and Friday’s. I was amazed by the love, joy and peace these people had. I wanted what these people had. I asked my mother if I could go to the altar and receive Jesus in my heart. At first, she said “no”, nervous of what my father might do. My father would not think twice about hitting someone if he felt like they were bothering him or his family. He grew up fighting people his whole life. I asked again and this time my mom said “yes.” As I went up, a young man asked me if I wanted to receive Jesus as my Lord and Savior. I responded yes!

Well, my dad was furious. He went up to the altar to grab me away from these crazy people and when he went to grab me, I immediately got filled with the Holy Spirit and he fell. My father tried again twice to get me and each time he kept falling down. He would look around, but there was nobody there. God was trying to get his attention, and that He did. My father gave his heart to the Lord that evening as well. God is amazing.

The Lord answered my prayer that evening. When I was ten, I wanted to die and go to heaven, fearful of being in purgatory. Two years later, my old man (spirit) died when I received Jesus as my Lord and Savior. I was forgiven, redeemed and had the promise of eternal life. I no longer worried about not making it to heaven.

I continued to live in joy and happiness like I never experienced before. Things were so much more hopeful and peaceful. I would attend church every time the doors were opened. I was involved in Sunday school and went on to eventually teach the two-to-four year olds who attended. I was also, involved in a youth group and helped with VBS. Life was good.

Then at the magical age of fifteen, this young man liked me. I was so flattered. He was four years older than me and on the worship team. He asked me out to the church’s Valentine’s dinner. The only problem was, I wasn’t allowed to date until the age of sixteen and I was only fifteen and a half. So I did what any teenager would do; I pleaded my cause. What magically happens in six months? After all, I will be sixteen! He’s on the worship team! I wore them down and they gave in. This would be the beginning of compromise entering my life. Slowly he became my everything. I lived to please him. In April of 1980, in my senior year of high school and at the age of seventeen, I became pregnant. I was full of fear and wanted to marry him and have the baby. We were both terrified of what my parents might do. He said my parents would kill us. So the spirit of fear drove us to make the horrible decision to have an abortion. I truly wanted to be married and have this baby. While we drove up to the abortion clinic, there were people with signs outside and one especially, stood out to me, “Mommy, don’t kill your baby”. I was sick. I wanted to die. I wanted to run from this place and I really wanted to be married and have the baby, but fear had the loudest say. This so far, was the most horrifying experience of my life. I came out of that room so sick and hatred immediately filled my heart. I would not be the same person for many years. I still wanted to die. I struggled with thoughts of suicide. The only thing that kept me was the fear of going to hell. I went into a severe depression, where guilt and condemnation were always present within me. My father told my boyfriend that he was to stay away from me, that he did not know why his daughter was so depressed. This caused more hatred to fill my heart towards my parents. I told them I hated them for breaking us up. In my mind, the only way to make what we did right was to eventually be married. This is how my seventeen-year-old mind was processing everything at the time. The enemy had me believing so many lies. I felt as if I could never be forgiven. I murdered my baby.

I continued to spiral downward. I told no one of what I did. The only people who knew were my ex-boyfriend and me. I lived with shame, guilt, condemnation, self-hatred and offense towards my ex-boyfriend for a very long time. This secret seemed to be with me every moment of every day. It was my constant companion, a continual reminder of what a failure I was and that I didn’t deserve to be forgiven. The enemy had gained access of my thought life and I believed every lie he spoke. My heart became so calloused and hardened. I began to run from my thoughts by living for whatever gave me pleasure at the time. I wanted to fit in to this new world I was about to experience. The world of sinfulness. I began to drink, party, do drugs, go clubbing and do whatever I wanted to do. I hated myself. I wanted to hide from anything that had to do with the Lord. This continued for about seven years. The only problem was that God never stopped pursuing me. I couldn’t hide. I had a praying mom and I was continually convicted by the choices I was making. Psalms 139:7-8 & 11-12 “Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? 8.) If I make my bed in Sheol, behold You are there 11.) If I say, “surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me” 12.) even the darkness will not be dark to You, the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to You.”

I had no rest or peace. My parents were always praying for me. The Lord truly leaves the ninety-nine and goes after the one. At this time in my life, even this disturbed me. My parents would make me go to church and of course, God was always pursuing me, but I would choose to resist. There was a visiting evangelist this one Sunday and after he spoke, he had an altar call. Of course this altar call was for me, but I would not go forward, so he came to me. He said, “Jesus forgives you, now forgive yourself.” I thought if you only knew the extent of my sin, my secret, you would not be saying this to me. I murdered my baby; this is the most unforgivable sin in my mind. I could not receive what this man was speaking to me at this time in my life. My secret had me bound and truth could not enter in.

I grew tired of dating and the life I was living and I decided to pray to God, not believing He would want to even listen to me, but I prayed. I said, “Lord I am tired of dating. If you can hear me, let the next person I meet be the one I marry. I don’t care how long it takes or what he looks like, it can even be ten years from now, just let him be the one. Please, I’m tired.” The very next week, a client who went to the hair salon I worked at, asked if I wanted to go to a Fourth of July party. He was nice to talk to, but definitely not my type. I thought well, God totally did not hear my prayer but I had nothing else to do, so I went. In my rebellion I thought, my parents never like who I bring home...let me bring someone home they truly would not like. After all, I didn’t even like himHe was nice as a friend, but in no way was he boyfriend material. He was extremely wild. The stories I heard scared me. We began seeing each other more and more and before I knew it, we were dating. Then when I brought him home, my parent’s loved him! I said you have to be kidding me; I don’t even ‘like him - like him’. They said, “There is something in his eyes, he seems genuine.” About a month into our relationship, we slept together and I got pregnant. I told him I was pregnant and that I was having an abortion. I had already made plans and my girlfriend would be taking me. He said, “Are you sure that’s what you want to do?” I said, “yes” and I have already made the arrangements!” I did not even care what he thought. I told him, “I already had an abortion from my first boyfriend, and I am not ready to be a mom!” My heart was so cold, calloused, hard and selfish. My secret was out. He was the only one I had ever told about my first abortion. I went on to have that abortion and we never spoke of it again until...well, I will get to that a little later in my story.

Things began to get serious between my boyfriend and me. He wanted to get married. We were living a partying lifestyle, drinking, smoking pot, snorting cocaine. It was crazy to say the least. All of this while knowing what God wanted. Even though I was living like this in my mind, I could not marry anyone who did not receive Jesus as their Savior. Crazy I know, so I took him to church to see what he would do. I knew in my mind if he did not believe the same way I did, I could never marry him. He was the type of person that would never do something he didn’t want to do. So I knew if he were to receive Jesus as his savior, it would be because he truly wanted to. Well, you will never believe this, that traveling evangelist was at my church again and had an altar call for Salvation. I turned to my boyfriend and said, “Would you like to leave”. He said, “No, I want to check this out. I want to go up front.” I went with him and he accepted Jesus as his Lord and Savior. The evangelist said to him, “Is this your wife?” and he said, “No”. The evangelist nodded his head and said, “someday!”. John drove home that evening and said this was better than any high that he ever had. God had answered my prayer that one night when I said I was tired of dating. John and I have been married for 32 years. We have three children and four grandchildren at this current time.

I would love to say that we immediately served the Lord after John received Christ, but that was not the case. We continued living a compromised lifestyle. Got engaged, got married and four months into the marriage, I was pregnant with our first daughter. We discussed living right before the Lord, now that we would be parents. We had a friend that would come by every Saturday and bring over cocaine. This was my husband’s drug of choice. This one Saturday evening he was over, I went into the bathroom and began to pray. I said, “Lord, we promised to stop this and live for you. Please show up. Let us never do this again. Deliver us.” I started praying in tongues in the bathroom. The gifts of God are truly irrevocable. I went out into the living room where they were waiting for me and I was filled with words of knowledge. Our friend could not open his hand to put the cocaine out on the table. He was flipping out as God was speaking through me. He kept saying, “Man, I can’t open my hand.” John was getting very angry saying, “Put it out!” and his friend kept saying, “I can’t”. Then John told me to “SHUT UP”. Filled with the Spirit, I remember saying, “Satan would love for me to shut up, but I am going to speak what the Spirit tells me to speak”. I continued to speak whatever the Spirit had me speak. At the end of this encounter, John’s friend opened his hand to put the cocaine out and it was all melted. John got delivered that night and we have never touched any drug again after that evening, nor returned to a compromised lifestyle. His friend came to church with us the next day, as he was blown away at the events that took place that evening.

Our journey with God began after that evening. I had asked God to forgive me of my sins, but forgiving me was a lot more difficult. Now would begin a process of many strongholds breaking off my life and my mind being transformed, renewed through the word of God and confession of my sins. I no longer kept what I was struggling with a secret. When we moved to Pennsylvania and got involved in a church, around the age of twenty-eight, we were asked to become youth leaders. My conscious would not let me be free to do ministry with the guilt I carried around of having two abortions. I confessed to my pastor what I had done. He led me in prayer and gave me the scripture in 1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” I read it and thought it was good. It wasn’t until I meditated on what it truly said, that I was set free from the guilt of my sin. It said, “ALL”, unrighteousness, not some. The word ALL jumped off the page. All means all, not some. I began to reason in my mind. If God can forgive and cleanse me from ALL unrighteousness, how can I not forgive myself? Am I greater than God? No, of course not. So I prayed and said to the Lord, “Jesus thank you for forgiving me of ALL unrighteousness. No matter how big the sin, I choose to forgive me! Enable me to love and serve you all the days of my life. I did not deserve this grace and mercy, but I receive it in full measure. I Love you with all my being and I am eternally grateful to you.” It is the truth of God’s Word that sets us free from our own reasoning and the lies of the enemy. God is truth and there is no lie found in Him.

At around the age of thirty-six, John and I went through a program called Cleansing Stream and that was the first time we ever spoke of the abortion we had when we only dated for a month. God brought much healing into our lives at this time.

James 1:2-4  “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, 3.) knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4.) And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

I have lived through many trials throughout my lifetime. There would be too many to write about in this testimony. From 2008-2015 John and I walked through a very difficult season in our lives. During this time, I chose to rise up in my Spirit man and declare the goodness of God in the land of the living, regardless of the circumstances or outcome. John and I lost our home of twenty-five years due to the economy affecting his business. I was in a car accident in 2012, with no health insurance and during that time, lost four family members to cancer and illness. Out of this, God would have me write a personalized devotional, “Being Immersed in the Father’s Love” in obedience to the Lord’s directive. This is His heartbeat to all His Children. It is a personalized devotional that Immerses you into His kind intentions towards you through His word, no matter what the circumstances. Whether you know the Lord for one day, one hundred years, or not at all, this devotional will touch your life in an intimate way. He is a good, good Father! He orders our steps. The good steps and the hard steps. Receive His love, His truth, and His promises. May every lie be broken and cast down in Jesus name! Amen!   

 


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Description of Dana's Ministry in Her Own Words:

"Come and be immersed in the overwhelming love of God the Father. Encounter His desire and the kind intentions that He has for you through the personalizing of scripture presented in this devotional. Picture a waterfall of God's promises washing over you and fully immersing you through the faithfulness of what He has promised to you in His word. Where negative mind-sets and perspectives will be washed away and replaced with great worth and value. Experience how you will be enabled to have victory in your life even while encountering difficult trials and circumstances. Your trust and faith will increase as you engage with Him. He is desiring you and is willing to give you all that He has promised. Come and encounter the goodness of God the Father and allow Him to lavish His love upon you. All you need to do is be willing to receive what He is providing. He is trustworthy and will not disappoint! Come and be immersed!"      

~Dana Repetti






 




 


10Mar

A couple of months ago, Abby Dopio, had a severe car accident---It was on this day, that her perspective on life changed forever.


"I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt to be your God. I am the LORD your God."  (Numbers 15:41)




On December 28th, of 2017, my life changed forever. Before then, I was so happy—so excited to go back to college. I have met some of the best friends I have ever had at college. So let’s just say my life was pretty awesome. Today, I know that I shouldn’t be alive. On that horrible day, I had angels surrounding and protecting me. The odds were not in my favor. The impact of the car accident caused a massive blood clot on the right side of my brain which, caused it to shift from the center a great deal. The days following the accident, I was in a coma and my parents had no clue how I would wake up. I could have lost the ability to form sentences—I could have lost my eyesight—I could have had no recollection of my family—I could have not been able to sit here and compose my testimony right now. The list goes on and on. I cannot even imagine how terrifying this was for my family. When I awoke, I was confused for a few days and had no memory of what had happened. Eventually, I was told that I had a car accident and was airlifted to the local trauma center. When I heard this, I knew that my life just got a little more difficult.


These have been the worst two months of my life. I was depressed and cried everyday because I couldn’t fathom all that had happened. Most of all, I didn’t understand why God would pick me to survive this. I thought there are so many people out in the world much more special than me. But somehow, despite my sadness—I had the strength to move forward and go to physical therapy everyday even when, I would have rather just sat on my butt and cried. I continued to move forward and found strength and motivation even though, I felt as though I had none. 


Fast forward to today. I still get sad sometimes. But I am so thankful to be here and get a second chance at life. People always say “live life to the fullest” and that statement never truly hit home until now. Now, I understand how important it is to live life to the fullest and be happy in the present. Life can truly change in an instant! One day you’re alive and thriving and the next day you could be clinging to life. Life is so precious to me now. And, my new found relationship with God is something that I hold true inside my heart. I have never felt stronger in my life—I have never truly felt more beautiful inside and out, even with a bald head! I found strength in myself, my family, and all of those that prayed for me since the very beginning. I know that I wouldn’t be here without all the prayers and love! I have been given the gift of a second chance of life. I want to encourage you not to waste your first chance—live everyday like it might be your last. Be spontaneous and happy in the present. Yes, life is short and the world is tough sometimes, but with God and prayer we always become tougher! 


***Abby's story behind her favorite scripture of Numbers 15:41*** 

"When I was airlifted to the hospital, the trauma doctors gave me the nickname, "Egypt" until they knew my name because, I did not have an ID with me at the scene of the accident. It is now my favorite scripture!"


"I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt to be your God. I am the LORD your God."  (Numbers 15:41)


Abby's story was written in a book by her mother, Felicia.--Please click the link or the book cover to purchase.