I grew up in a Christian home, being acquainted with the Christian faith as far back as I can remember. My father has been in pastoral ministry for over 45 years, and my mother has faithfully served at his side throughout his ministry. Their example and consistent adherence to the truth of the Gospel led me to desire the faith they lived out before me. At the age of 6, I remember asking my mother numerous questions about the Gospel and salvation. During one of those question times, she led me to Jesus, where I confessed my sin, expressed belief in the finished work of Christ, and asked God to lead and direct my life. At age 11, I followed the Lord in baptism after gaining a deeper understanding of its importance to the life of obedience all Christians must live. By the time I had reached my early teens, I was outwardly compliant with people’s expectations of what a pastor’s kid should be, yet inwardly searching for a way to make my faith my own. When I was 14, a good friend of mine died suddenly in an accident, and the impact of that event on my life was intense. I realized in a graphic way that life is short, and what I do with my life has eternal consequences. I started taking life more seriously, asking God to show me what he would have me do. Toward the end of high school, I sensed God leading me into ministry.
Through many ministry experiences and personal ups and downs, God has consistently graced me with His leading and forgiveness in my life. I’m learning more with each passing day that my life is really Christ’s, that I truly do not have personal rights to claim for myself, and that everything I do should be done for God’s glory alone. The opportunity to serve in South Africa is both overwhelming and exciting beyond description. As I look forward to ministry there, I recognize that I have been blessed far beyond what I deserve. The opportunities to serve in South Africa are many, and I’m excited to use my time in this unique place, equipping God’s people for His service.
Being born into a Christian family meant I heard the gospel starting at a very young age. When I was five, my sister often asked me if I had gotten saved. Even though I was young I knew if I “got saved” she would stop asking me. As a result, I raised my hand at the end of junior church one Sunday, and I went with a lady and prayed a prayer. Years later, as a teenager, the Holy Spirit began convicting me; and I realized I had been trusting in a prayer that meant nothing rather than trusting in the blood of Jesus. Because I was worried about what my friends and family would think when I told them I had never been a true believer, I didn’t do anything about it. At fourteen, I was at summer camp, and one evening the message was about salvation and our pride. It was during that service I again came under conviction, and I realized my pride was keeping me from accepting God’s gift of salvation. That evening I prayed and asked God to forgive me of my sins and to save me. I acknowledged that as a believer in Jesus Christ I would do whatever God wanted me to do with my life. Later that summer I was baptized by immersion.
Through the years my desire has always been to serve God in whatever way He chose. After college, that was getting married, having a full-time job, and being involved in church ministry where George was the youth pastor. After having children it involved the wonderful opportunity to be home with my children, being able to encourage others through a meal, and serving at church. Almost five years ago it became going back to work full-time, where I have had the privilege of serving in the administrative office at the Christian school my children attend. While my life has not always gone the way I envisioned, through each phase I have seen the Lord leading me. Now God is clearly leading our family to South Africa. I am super excited, a bit nervous, and occasionally overwhelmed; but I am also totally at peace. My peace comes from knowing that while my life might be totally different from what I thought it would be, doing what God wants will always be better than my own plan.
Being brought up in a Christian home has most certainly been a blessing. For me, it meant being introduced to the Gospel at a very young age. It was in my kindergarten Sunday school class that I first remember hearing the Gospel and understanding it for what it meant. Later that day, I asked Jesus for forgiveness of my sins. I believed in His death, burial, and resurrection and that He will someday come back to take all Christians home to heaven with Him.
As I got older, I started learning about baptism and understanding it. I was now in junior high and with my thought process, I didn’t really think baptism was that important. I was already saved, so why did I need to do anything else if I was already going to heaven? I knew God commands all Christians to get baptized, but I didn’t see the practicality and necessity of it. It wasn’t until my dad explained it to me that I understood the need to get baptized. He described it like this: every day that goes by where you don’t do what God says to do, you are disobeying. I immediately sought out a pastor who assisted me in the last steps before baptism. I was baptized when I was sixteen, and since then, I have had a different mindset on what God commands us to do as his children.
As our family approaches and prepares for our move to South Africa, I am excited to see what God’s plan for our family is. I’m especially excited about His plans for me personally. I will be starting college around the time of our move, so these changes will be very exciting for me. I trust that God will work out the details and circumstances in the whole process as long as I love and trust Him.
I was born into a good Christian home, went to church every Sunday, and have been in a Christian school since kindergarten. I’ve heard the Gospel all my life; that’s all I’ve ever known. I knew that I was a sinner and that God is holy and therefore cannot tolerate sin. My problem was that I thought my parents’ salvation would cover my sin because I wasn’t “that bad.” What I did not understand is that God counts all sin equal. I always thought that certain sins were really bad, like murder and stealing, and that sins such as being mad at someone or having a bad attitude weren’t as bad. The day I realized that I had it all wrong was just a normal day in first grade. That day’s Bible lesson was about salvation. My teacher talked about how every single person is born a sinner and everyone needs Jesus to save them, no matter how good or bad they are. That day I realized that “everyone” includes me, so, right there at my desk, I asked Jesus to forgive me of my sin and save me.
The first step of obedience after becoming a Christian is baptism. My parents told me that it was the right thing to do, but they did not force me into it. I had to make the decision myself. I pushed the thought of baptism away and tried not to think about it for a long time, but then God really started working on my heart. I became more serious about my salvation and realized that salvation is not just a once and done deal—I need to be living every single day for Christ. A couple weeks after this had started nagging me, there was a baptism at church. The pastor said that baptism does not save anyone, but it is a picture of what Christ did for me. What the pastor said next struck me. He explained that baptism is simply obedience to Christ. That was when I realized the reason why I needed to be baptized: because I am a child of God, I need to do whatever He requires of me. I met with a pastor some time later, and I was baptized a few weeks later.
Being a missionary to Africa has been on my heart for over a year now, and I am excited that this dream is becoming reality so soon in my life. I am eager to see how God will use me and my family in South Africa and how He will also use the people there to impact my life.
When I was three, I remember wanting to be like my sister. When she told me she was a Christian I told her I wanted to be a Christian even though I didn’t understand what it meant. I thought you could just say a prayer and you would go to heaven so that’s what I did. When I was five, I remember my Sunday school teachers talking about how being a Christian wasn’t just praying a prayer, but that you had to believe you were a sinner and believe Jesus loved you and died so you wouldn’t have to. They explained Jesus was offering us a gift, and we had to simply accept that gift. That was when I actually became a follower of Christ.
Occasionally, my parents would talk to us about baptism. Whenever they did, I would get nervous. I was shy, so I dreaded the thought of talking in front of the whole church. However, when I was ten, I realized that even if I didn’t understand why God was asking me to do something, and even if it was outside my comfort zone, I still needed to do it. I was a Christian, but until I was baptized, I was not being obedient to God. As a result I got baptized.
Recently, I was struggling with trying to do the right things, but being frustrated because I knew I would never get it completely right. I prayed that God would show me what was missing. He did! In chapel I heard a message about the fact that Christianity isn’t about actions but about a relationship. I realized that I’d been approaching my Christian life the wrong way. I’d been worrying about my actions and not about my relationship with God. From that point on I started praying more, not always asking for things, but just talking to God. I also started reading my Bible more. As I did, my desire to spend time with God, learn more about Him, and praise Him increased. I love Him more as I get closer to Him!
Now, as God is leading us to South Africa, He’s teaching me a new lesson – I can plan my life, but life doesn’t always go as planned. I thought I would graduate from high school with the classmates I’ve been with since kindergarten. Now we’re hoping to move to South Africa after my 8th grade year. No matter how different things go than I’ve planned, I’m excited to see what God will do next as we follow His leading to South Africa.