My Christian Testimony
By the time I was twenty-four, I had reached a place of realizing there was no reason to strive to succeed because everything ended ultimately in decay and then death.
I had grown up in a reasonably stable family. My grandmother formed part of my family from the time I was born. She and her half-sister, my great-aunt, were wonderful role models. In their eighties by the time I was ten or twelve, they showed me that women can be more than housewives and mothers. They had both gone to college in an era when few women of their generation did so. My great-aunt had had a career all her life.
But as I grew into an adolescent and then entered college, I saw what their end was. Slowly, their accomplishments dwindled. Though each one lived to a ripe old age, their world eventually diminished. The things they had taken such pride in like family name and genealogy, personal talents and accomplishments, independence, etc., all came to nothing.
What remained in the end were fear or bitterness, weakness, and clinging to what they couldn’t hold onto.
They each passed away right about the time I graduated from college.
My college years were a time of growing from an introverted, very insecure teenager to a young woman who discovered she could talk to boys if she drank enough. Thus began a journey of looking for love in all the wrong places—or more accurately, believing all those things young men will say when all they are really interested in is a one-night stand.
So, we come to my twenty-fourth year. After a dead-end job, I had finally landed an internship in a non-profit international development company. The position held some promise for a job. But after another disappointment on the personal front, and living back home—a place I thought I’d never come back to after leaving the nest—I sat one evening watching the movie The Day After, which described a nuclear holocaust.
I found myself, as Anne Shirley would describe it, “in the depths of despair.”
My mother, who had come to know Jesus as her savior about a year previously, had begun witnessing to me that my answer lay in Him. I brushed her off each time, telling her I didn’t want to hear about it.
But this time, as I cried over the hopelessness of the human condition, my mother asked me whether I wanted to receive Jesus as my Lord and savior. I caved in wearily and agreed.
It wasn’t that I hadn’t ever done so. I had grown up going to a variety of different Sunday schools. Once when I was about thirteen, watching a Billy Graham crusade on TV, I had even repeated “the sinner’s prayer” and for a few months afterwards received a New Testament and some literature, but after reading the gospels, the rest of it made little sense to me and I gave up.
By the time I got to college, I only attended church once in a while when I felt like wearing a skirt and crossing the street to the lovely white-steepled campus chapel. Afterwards I could feel “good” about myself, although no deep-seated needs had been met.
So, although I dutifully repeated the prayer after my mother that night, I had no hopes that that was going to change my life.
Yet, a couple of weeks later, crying over a “Dear John” letter from a long-distance boyfriend, I picked up a Bible. By that time, there were a lot of Bibles lying around the house, as both my mother and older brother had recently become “born-again” Christians.
I began reading the first gospel, Matthew, and oddly enough I felt comforted. Later that afternoon, as I was curled up in an armchair reading, my brother came by and invited me to church that night. I found myself saying “yes.”
The church was a rather large, Hispanic one. I had never been to a service like it: it was loud; the congregation lifted their hands and was quite vocal. The pastor (I had grown up in churches where they were “reverends”) was loud—and his preaching was direct and passionate. He exhorted the congregation to reach souls, to become missionaries for Jesus Christ. At the end of the sermon he gave an altar call for all those who were willing to go all out in being witnesses for the gospel of Jesus Christ. A good crowd rose and went forward. I went along with the rest.
I don’t remember exactly what I thought as I stepped out, but by the time I stood sandwiched between all those other bodies, I was ready to throw in the towel. When the pastor reached me more than halfway down that long row of people, he only lightly touched me on the head and prayed some short prayer over me. I, however, instinctively raised my arms—something I’d never done before in church—and addressed God directly. I prayed, “Lord, I’ve tried it up to now my way and it hasn’t worked. I’m willing to try it Your way.”
The pastor left me and moved on to the next person. I slowly lowered my arms, tears coming down my face. As my arms fell to my sides, I felt it: a supernatural force—the closest way I can describe it is a force-field of energy—covering my arms from the elbows all the way down to the fingertips. I had never had any kind of “goose bump” experience in my life, nothing remotely supernatural. But this was beyond a shadow of a doubt supernatural, something clearly outside of myself, wrapping itself around me.
In those seconds while it lasted, all I could feel was an overwhelming joy and a freedom from fear, for the first time in my life. I also understood the gift the Lord was giving me. He was giving me evidence of His reality. I knew in that moment, concretely, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Jesus Christ existed—that He was the person I’d learned about in Sunday school, the one the Bible taught me about. I had always understood the concept of “faith” as believing blindly and hoping some day, when we died, we’d know for sure. Maybe then we’d realize we’d backed the wrong religion, but it would be too late. All that effort giving up things for nothing. It was all a gamble. Maybe Christianity was the “way” but it could just as well be one of those other major world religions which had the truth.
But now I knew with certainty the Truth. I could only thank God for His free gift. He didn’t have to show me the evidence of His reality, and yet He had. I was completely awed. By the time I turned from that altar, my life had also taken a one-hundred and eighty degree turn.
About thirty years have passed since that experience, and in every waking moment, I have felt the presence of God. He is my constant companion. The lessons He has taught me have not always been easy to learn, but in each one has been a fullness of joy that nothing else could have given me.