My Conversion Story:

I grew up as a military brat and raised in a traditional Southern Baptist family who went to Sunday School every Sunday morning.  Sunday school was followed by a three to three and a half-hour church service, depending on what was going on.  The sermons were always delivered in a “fire and brimstone” manner that left me frightened as a child and respectfully fearful as a pre-teen. 

When I entered high school, my father was sent to Viet Nam and my mother, sister and I returned to St. Louis where we joined another Southern Baptist church.  There I joined the choir, served on the teen usher board, accepted Christ as my Savior and was baptized.  I was certain that I had been saved and entered high school “smug as a bug” because I was a “good Christian.”

I graduated high school trying to be invisible and faking my faith.  I went away to college to study medicine and where there was no adult making me attend Sunday School or Church, so I simply stopped going.  I was a year younger than my peers at college, so I spent most of my time trying to fit in.  I latched on to the first guy to show me attention, decided I was in love and entered a physical relationship with him even though I grew up believing that nice girls saved themselves for marriage.  Because of this relationship I was determined to marry him even though he had been physically violent with me.

The school I entered was newly integrated and racial tensions were high.  I was immediately ostracized for being different because of the way I talked and my willingness to share my beliefs with classmates who were from non-religious families.  I quickly learned that the best way to avoid the negative attention was to pretend an indifference about the painful jabs thrown my way and I even went as far as to profess some agnostic beliefs even though deep down I felt there was something more.

A year into the relationship I dropped out of school, moved in with my boyfriend and ended up pregnant.  I counted myself lucky because we rushed and married at the courthouse.  From that time on I went through a series of trials that included a difficult pregnancy, more physical abuse from now husband, and my leaving him, taking my one-month-old baby and fleeing home to St. Louis.  I began going to the same church of my youth, but I felt worthless and afraid.  The fire and brimstone preaching from the pulpit no longer had meaning, and I didn’t believe prayer would help…in fact I believed I deserved everything that happened to me. 

I was one angry young woman.  I was angry at the unfairness of life, angry with my husband and very angry with God because I felt like he deserted me when I needed him most.  I never once took responsibility for the choices I made, nor did I seek God in the intervening years filled with poor choices.  I hopped in and out of relationships for four years until my son’s father re-entered our life after successfully completing counseling to address his abusiveness.  We reunited just long enough for me to get pregnant again and for me to decide I didn’t want him in my life either.

After giving birth to a beautiful daughter I decided I didn’t need a man to survive and I certainly did need God’s help.  I became extremely prideful and determined to succeed.  I joined the Army and set about raising my children in a religion-free household.  Over the next 24 years I fell in and out of relationships, married and divorced three more times, excelled in my career, getting promoted to Sergeant Major, saw my two children marry and I married one last time.

Once I retired from the military, I saw my current marriage began to struggle and realized that I needed to look at myself, but I just didn’t know where to start.  By this time my daughter and her husband had become disciples in a church where they were living.  It was during one of my visits to see them and my three granddaughters that I was invited what they called a Bible Talk.  I was unprepared to be so warmly welcomed by the members in attendance and I immediately jumped to the conclusion that my daughter was in a cult because there was absolutely no way a bunch of strangers could be so genuinely nice.

Over the next six years I continued to be exposed to disciples from my daughter’s church and visiting disciples from their churches around the world.  I found each encounter to be prayer-filled and spiritual, and no matter where the disciple came from, the message was consistent.  Then in February of this year a Church was planted in Atlanta and my daughter introduced me to an extraordinary women that I immediately saw in her eyes that I was not going to be judged by her, that all she wanted from me was to show me that God’s grace was abundant.  Even though I was resistant in the beginning, my eyes were finally opened.  At the Memorial Day service in park, I felt so blessed and joyful that God’s disciples had led me home.  I committed then and there to begin my studies and make Jesus Lord of my life.

One week later I was baptized into Christ on June 2, 2019.  Although new to my walk with God, I am determined follow the teachings of his son Jesus Christ and be the right example for others seeking God.

To God be the glory.

Amen. 🙂