Growing up in the state of Minnesota, I enjoyed an average life living in a small farming community in the west central part of the state. I went to public school, played sports, and hung out with friends. Religiously, I attended church fairly regularly being baptized and confirmed and everything in between. I joined the MN National Guard during my junior year, and the experiences I had in my military training made me really contemplate the realities of life and death. During my senior year, our high school had an outstanding year athletically. Both the girls’ and boys’ basketball teams won the Minnesota Class A State Championship. Though the memories and excitement were terrific, deep within my heart, I still felt an emptiness I could not explain. Through those experiences, I sought to know where I stood with God as I considered eternity and my life’s purpose.
After my senior year of high school, I attended Minnesota State University-Moorhead in Moorhead, MN, and tried out for the university’s basketball team. Miraculously, I made the team and redshirted my first year. While I thought making the team had fulfilled a dream of mine to play college sports, the Lord had other plans.
On that basketball team, I had a teammate who talked to others about the Lord and would share with them how God changed His life. One day, we had a conversation about spiritual matters and he asked me questions I had never before considered; questions about my own standing with God. He asked one question that stuck with me, “If I were to die today, was I 100 percent sure I would go to heaven?” I remember thinking I wanted to say “Yes”, but in my heart I knew I couldn’t truthfully say that despite the religious training I had received growing up. His understanding of the scriptures intrigued me. He eventually invited me to visit the church he attended in Fargo, ND, and I agreed to go. I went to services and began learning things about the Bible that made practical sense. I never knew the Bible said a person could have complete assurance about going to heaven when he/she died, which was wonderful to hear, I John 5:13, “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life…” I was always taught my good works would have to outweigh my bad works; and that I wouldn’t know if I made it to heaven until after I died. My interest grew in the Bible and I started attending the church’s on-campus Bible studies as well. Through those Bible studies and church services, I began to realize something was not right with my life. The Word of God spoke to my heart and showed me that I was not as good of a person as I thought, “…There is none righteous, no, not one” (Romans 3:10), and not going to heaven like I had hoped. As I heard the Word of God and studied it for myself, I came to understand that in order to have forgiveness of my sin and assurance about heaven, I needed to be “born-again” like Jesus said in John 3:3, “…Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” I came to realize that I couldn’t do anything personally to get myself to heaven according to Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace are ye saved (born again) through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” I learned the Bible says if I simply turned from my sin and placed my trust completely in Jesus Christ to pay for my sin I would become “born again.” I did that on April 4, 1999 and I received God’s forgiveness for my sin and my life changed. “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (II Corinthians 5:17). Since then, and based on the promises found in His Word, God has given me assurance that when I die, I will go to heaven. Not on my own merit, but because of what Jesus did for me. Also, God showed me the real purpose for life that brings true fulfillment; and that is living my life for Him! As I discovered, God has answers to our spiritual questions, and desires to give people forgiveness, purpose and assurance of eternal life.
Growing up, I had a very blessed life. I had what most people would consider very desirous to have: a loving home, wonderful and supportive parents, great friends and good health. When I was in high school I was on a successful volleyball team where we won the ND state championship, was captain of the cross country team and was chosen to be on the homecoming court. On the outside looking in, most would say I “had it all”. However, through it all, I was always insecure, fearful, and self-conscious. I didn’t have peace in my heart and I didn’t know why.
I began to become very self-focused and wasn’t satisfied with things in my life. I wanted to be a “better” version of myself. This led me to believe if I could lose a little weight I would be happier. What started off as losing a few pounds led to an addiction that I couldn’t stop. I became fixated on the next pound. I began to go to every extreme to experience this new “thrill.” Along with the “joy” I received by losing a pound came an intense fear of gaining it back. Anorexia and bulimia became my life. I hated living that way, but it controlled me and all my decisions.
I began to live a life full of lies trying to cover up my problem. My sports began to suffer, my relationship with my family became strained and I was sinking deeper into depression. My friends didn’t know how to help and I would become angry when they tried. I was a slave to my behavior. I avoided social gatherings, cancelled plans and made excuses for my actions. I ended up being admitted into an outpatient program at the Eating Disorder Institute in Fargo, ND. I had weekly visits with my doctor, a dietician and therapist. I was told by them that I was slowly killing myself and that I may never be able to have children. I didn’t believe them though. Instead, I got angry at them for wanting me to gain my weight back. Despite all these appointments, my life was not improving, but rather getting worse. My satisfaction of losing weight was no longer satisfying me. It was no longer fulfilling me as it did when I started. I was miserable and hated who I had become. I wanted to change so badly but had no idea where to even start.
Then came a day where I hit rock bottom. I went to extreme measures to continue in my goal of losing weight: exercise, vomiting, pills, etc…and I thought for the first time that I might die. It scared me to think of dying as I had no idea what would happen to me after death. I didn’t really have a relationship with God at that point. I believed in Him and knew that He was real but I didn’t actually KNOW Him. I became fearful of dying. I cried out to God that day and asked Him to allow me to get through that day and I promised Him that I would start searching for Him.
Well, the Lord graciously got me through the day and reminded me of my promise to Him. I began to search for Him. I started to attend a variety of different churches, went to a couple Bible studies and even began to try to read my Bible. But it wasn’t until my freshman year of college that I was invited to a church where I began to really understand some things in God’s Word. For the first time, the Bible came alive to me and spoke to my heart. The very first message I heard preached was on a passage from the book of Mark about a woman who had a serious health problem. She went to the doctors for help but things only grew worse. It was only when she was touched by Jesus that she was healed. I could hardly believe the message that day. God showed me that I was just like that woman. I was trying to fill a void in my life with everything but Him.
I learned that I needed to have a personal relationship with the Lord and through that relationship, He would meet all the innermost needs of my heart. To get that relationship, I learned that I must be “saved.” To be saved, I had to repent (an attitude of turning away) of my sin and place faith in Him alone to pay for my sin. On June 10th, 2001, with an attitude of repentance and a heart of faith, I asked the Lord to save me and He did. I became a new creature that day (2 Corinthians 5:17). He changed my desires. He changed me from the inside out. I was no longer empty inside. My hunger for peace and joy had been filled. I was no longer starving…physically or spiritually. I discovered He alone satisfies our hunger and grants us abundant, eternal life. Will you trust Him today as well for salvation?
“If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth”.
1 John 1:8
God used this verse to reveal the condition of my heart during the winter of 2005. I grew-up in a wonderful household and had the “All-American” childhood. I went to church on Sunday where I learned how to be a good person by obeying my elders and loving others. I diligently sought to obey my parents and teachers because I wanted them to love me. I believed that impressing others by what I did caused them to like me, so I tried to do things above and beyond others in my age group. For instance, while other classmates were attending Sunday School, I was teaching Sunday School.
As I grew-up, I still wanted to impress the authorities in my life, but I also wanted to impress my peers. I quickly realized I could impress both groups at different times. I continued to be faithful on Sundays at church, but I also started to hang out with people who partied. I didn’t really like going to parties, but I kept going to impress those around me. Soon I was living two lives, one part of me was a good girl, that tried hard in school and loved Jesus and another part of me lied to my parents about my actions, laughed at dirty jokes, drank alcohol, and made fun of others. The “two” parts of me were such opposites that by high school I became depressed, rebellious and viewed life as hopeless.
Once I started college, I signed up for a campus Bible Study where I first learned about having a personal relationship with God. I didn’t pay too much attention because I thought I knew all about God already having taught Sunday School. When my roommate stopped attending, I decided to stop going too. I went home for Christmas break and fell into my old habits. After partying one night, I woke up feeling guilty about what I had done the night before. I believe this happened because I had learned a little about God during my two months at campus Bible Study and a little of His light was shining on the darkness of my actions.
I was still feeling guilty when I ran into another girl that attended the campus Bible Study. I agreed to go again because I wanted to impress God to feel forgiven. The lesson was on people that claim to be Christians but don’t act like it (1 John 1:8). God spoke to my heart about the fact that was me! I continued to attend the Bible Study and learned about the fate of good people trying to impress God with their works. Matthew 7:21-23, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I [Jesus] profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity”.
One day while driving and listening to a sermon, the speaker asked, ‘if you died tonight would you go to heaven based upon your relationship with Jesus Christ?’. Based upon my life, my answer was a “NO”. I said I love Jesus and others around me thought I was a good person, but based upon my lifestyle and God’s word, Jesus did not know me. I discovered that real Christianity is not about being a good person, but about having a relationship with Him. This starts when a person is willing to repent of his/her sins and put 100% faith in Jesus Christ to pay for his/her payment for sin. On July 10th 2005 I asked God to forgive me for my pride in good works and sinful lifestyle. I put all my trust in Christ Jesus as the only payment for my sins. Now I know with 100% certainty that I will go to Heaven when I die; not because of good works, but because Jesus knows me. Plus, I now have a personal relationship with God that is real, personal and special. My desire is that everyone has one too!
One day, when I was 16 years old, I was biking past a graveyard and began to wonder where I would go when I died. That thought drove me to seek answers. I started reading the Bible that summer, and one of the first passages I read was Matthew 7:21-23:
“Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”
This passage really spoke to my heart as Jesus said people existed who called Him “Lord” but He didn’t “know” them. These verses made me wonder; Was I going to be one of those people? Did He know me? How would I know if He did or didn’t? These questions motivated me to seek further for answers.
At one point, I read an Old Testament story about God giving an Israelite king the opportunity to ask for anything he wanted. I decided to ask God for something I wanted, to truly know Him. I prayed; “God, if I could have only one thing from you, it would be to know You, and to know that I am known of You.” Within a year of that prayer, while in college, God brought me to a Bible study that He would use to answer my prayer.
I attended the weekly Bible study on campus as well as church services. Through these means, God began answering my spiritual questions, even ones I had never told anyone. The answers weren’t always easy to accept, but I knew they were true because they came straight from the Bible. I began to realize truths about myself I never considered before. The Bible says, “There is none righteous, no, not one” (Romans 3:10). “All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) That “all” included me. I came to realize I fell short of the glory of God, though I had always tried to be “good person.”
I knew I needed to get right with God. The alternative was God’s judgment (Revelation 20:11-15 & 21:8). I saw from the Scriptures God’s plan of salvation that would enable me to be right with Him (John 3:3). God’s plan states that I needed to repent of my sin and place faith alone in Christ to pay for it (Acts 20:21). However, deep in my heart, I didn’t fully understand God’s requirement of repentance and wanted to keep my life of sin. But I wanted to avoid God’s judgment, so I prayed a prayer. I used all the Bible verses I could to make my prayer sound good enough for God to hear. Despite that prayer, I still wondered if I would be one of those people in Matthew 7. Afterwards, I prayed many prayers, but I still received no assurance because my heart was unwilling to embrace God’s terms for salvation. I began trying to reassure myself by doing all the “good things” I could, but still had no peace within my heart.
This inward struggle for assurance went on for about 2.5 years until an impacting life decision was presented to me. I wanted and needed God’s guidance, however, as I sought for His help, I couldn’t get it. I realized then I had to get my relationship settled with God. During that time, God took distractions out of my life and gave me a week of quiet time, away from everything, where I could seek Him out of His Word. As I sought Him, God revealed to me the horribleness of my sin and my need to turn from it. I discovered I had pride, selfishness, self-righteousness, prayerlessness and many other sins. At the same time, I started to see God as righteous, which means He does only right. He hates sin because it ruins our lives and our relationship with Him and others.
I came to the point where I cried out to Him, “Lord, all I want is to know You. If I am truly saved please show me and give me peace about it. And if I’m not saved, show me how because I want to be. I don’t want this to be an escape from hell, or something where people accept me at church. I just want to know You and to turn from my sin.”
It was then that God cleared up the confusion in my heart and helped me understand that, though I was praying prayers, my heart had been unwilling to accept His terms for salvation. I came to realize I had no assurance of salvation because I was still trying to attain it my way; through the good works I did. He showed me that my good works would never pay for my sin and I needed to trust Jesus to do that for me. I finally came to the point I was willing within my heart to repent of my sinful ways and trust Him alone completely to save me, and I did so. He gave me peace, assurance, and joy in my heart that He truly does know me!
When I was young, going to church with my parents was more out of duty; not because I wanted anything to do with God or religion. I merely attended services so my dad wouldn’t be by himself. As I got older, I started making poor choices. I became involved with drugs, alcohol, gangs & criminal activity. My strong family upbringing held me back from an all out gang-life because I knew I would break my mom and dad’s heart. I knew, however, I needed to change.
I made the decision to move to Guatemala to get off the path I was heading. With a desire to change my ways and be a good person, I became more involved in my religion to get in touch with God, so I thought. My spirituality was put to the test in 1995 when I was involved in a major bus accident that crushed my pelvis. As I dragged my body out from underneath the bus, I found myself lying on the ground surrounded by strangers and feeling hopeless. Out of all the outlandish things that I had done in the past, I wasn’t able to walk away and laugh about this event. I was potentially dying. I realized that in spite of all my religiosity, faithfulness to church, and attempts at being good, I was not ready to die, I had no idea if heaven would be my home. I was scared that hell was going to be. By the time I got to the hospital I had lost so much blood my body was in severe shock. Because of being overcrowded and understaffed, they placed me on a gurney in the hallway and I felt like they left me to die. Fortunately, I was transferred to a better hospital and they were able to stabilize me prior to surgery. Through this time, I reflected on my spirituality and told Jesus that if He allowed me to live, I would find out who He really is. After major surgery and two months later, I went back to my church to find solace in my religion. Unfortunately, all I found was spiritual emptiness. It was at this time that I went on a quest to figure out who the Jesus of the Bible is.
I returned to the United States and graduated high school. After that I attended a tech school and met a Christian man who befriended me. We attended a revival service at a Christian church and I heard the gospel preached. I realized that no amount of good works would ever merit me heaven but only the shed blood of Jesus Christ could cleanse me from my unrighteousness. I also realized that by His death, burial, and resurrection I would be free from the bondage of sin through repentance and faith in Jesus. I went to the altar in humility and faith. I asked Jesus to forgive me for my sins, save me, and give me a new heart to serve Him for the rest of my life. He did just that on December 24, 1997.
Being born again has been a wonderful journey. My life is not perfect and I still go through trials but I have a friend (Jesus Christ) that sticks closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24). Not only did Jesus miraculously save my soul from eternal damnation, but He has also blessed me with a godly wife and given us three lovely children. God has used our family in many ways to be a blessing to others.
The day I was born again, I was shown a very special promise found in John 10:27-30. It’s a wonderful promise that is available to anyone who will be born again like I was. I’m so thankful for Jesus saving my soul and transforming my life from the inside out.
“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. I and my Father are one.”
I was a deacon’s daughter and lived next door to our Baptist church. I vaguely remember Sunday services as a young girl, though I knew that my family was actively involved in the church. That changed though when my parents got divorced. I went from being a part of a faithful, active church-going family to a girl that became a stranger to the church. My security and confidence in myself and my surroundings grew small and my trust in others became scant.
After the divorce, I found myself often wondering what church was like. I found relief in being at home, in fear that if I visited church with my neighborhood friend, I would have to answer questions all about the Bible. She would often invite me to church but all I could do was make excuses, as she’d say. She was right and yet God faithfully used my dad’s Bible studies, during his visit times, to feed my desire to know more about God and the Bible. I became very God-conscious as I wanted to please my parents and God but knew I was a sinner. I learned through the Bible studies that I could not make it to heaven on my own by any personal effort.
It was not until I was 12 yrs. old, one morning during my seventh-grade year, that I surrendered my will to His--knowing I could not get to heaven with any good that I have done. That morning I called upon the Lord to save me from my sins as I turned from them and placed 100% faith in Christ to pay for them. The Lord taught me this at a young age that I was not about to enter a season of religious sacraments and other duties that may “earn” my way to heaven. I was not allowed to become a member of a church until I was at least 18 yrs. old so I knew church attendance was not my way to heaven.
I learned that my decision, that day, was about a personal relationship with the Heavenly Father. I longed for truth, security, and a Father that could always be there for me. I needed to be 100% sure that my faults and shortcomings were forgiven through Jesus Christ alone and that I was on my way to heaven. That day I received that assurance. I also desired and asked God to help me be faithful to Him by reading my Bible and talking to Him daily so that I could grow close to Him.
My life was changed forever on that Fall day of 1992! My personal identity was now found in Jesus Christ alone and I knew, at that point on, that I was eternally secure. Though my dad could not be around much, I gained my Heavenly Father. Though I lost my identity and confidence in myself, I gained the closest Friend I could ever have. He became my Confidence as I slowly learned God-dependence over self-reliance. The very person I was becoming was not as a result of being a victim of family divorce or lack of church attendance but, rather, a person found through Jesus Christ.
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.”
God changed me! He prompted me to read my Bible daily to understand Him more. He encouraged me to memorize Bible verses to get me through each day and each challenge. He, later, gave me the courage to tell others about Jesus in my public, gang-infested high school. God’s power and existence became very real to me. Joshua 1:9 was my verse for courage--one of the first verses I memorized as a young girl, “Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee withersoever thou goest.” I claimed God’s word because I knew it would be the only antidote against my sin and the trials surrounding me. As I now take each step of faith, I grow in my relationship with Him that He may gain glory in my life.
God used the undesirable circumstances of divorce in my family to show me my personal need for a Savior. Christ’s sacrificial love and faithfulness compelled me to seek Him. I thank Him for saving me!
Perhaps, you have experienced an undesirable set of circumstances in life that has kept you from moving on in life. I encourage you to seek Christ as the Answer to all your insecurities, personal identity, and eternal hope.
I always believed that God existed, but I never really knew much about Him. I didn't go to church, I didn't read the Bible, I didn't really pray; unless I needed to get out of a bind, of course. I never knew I could have a relationship with the Lord personally.
I had a troubled life growing up and into my adult years. I had children while I was a teenager and I didn't graduate high school. I struggled with feelings of rejection that grew worse as I got older. I felt my life continually SINKING lower and lower without much hope. When I was 29 years old, I went through a very negative period of addiction which cost me my family, my career and my home. My addiction ruled my life despite the fact I became homeless and poverty stricken. I was at my lowest point in life. I knew there was something more for me than this life of despair. By some miracle I was able to get clean and sober, but life still wasn't fulfilling. I got married and had 2 more amazing children. However, in 2015 my marriage had serious troubles. At that point, I considered my options, would I go back to drugs or seek help from God? I could sense Him reaching out to me, but I didn’t know where to start or what to do exactly.
I started attending Metropolitan Baptist Church and began doing Bible Studies with the Pastor’s wife. She helped me by answering many questions I had with Bible answers. Questions like; “What exactly does believing in Jesus mean?” “How does one get right with God?” “What does it mean to truly repent and turn from my sin?” There was a problem though; the insecurities I had about my past and who I was really held me back from believing I was worthy of God’s love and grace. However, God clearly spoke words to my heart that reassured me of His love for me - 2 Corinthians 12:9 – “My Grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.”
On October 2, 2016 I called upon the Lord to save me (Romans 10:13). I repented of my sins (Acts 3:19) and I trusted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.
I now have a close, growing relationship with the Lord. He is the one I lean on and trust in my life, especially when things get tough. Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him and he shall direct thy paths.”
God now directs my life through prayer and reading his Word. God doesn't promise a life without tribulations, but I have found in God I can find refuge during troublous times instead of drugs. I don't need to turn to those paths of destruction anymore. Psalm 94:22 “But the Lord is my defence; and my God is the rock of my refuge.”
I no longer feel trapped by the weights of addictions or hide in the embarrassment of my past. 2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold all things are become new.”
Now after many years of being free from drugs, alcohol and cigarettes, I am free and striving to live for Christ. I desire to help others discover how they can experience what I have in the Lord. I've found that this one Bible verse explains how Christ has transformed my life. 1 Corinthians 3:11 “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” I always felt like I was sinking in life, but now, with Christ as my foundation, there is NO WAY TO SINK as I follow Him! He will never lead me back to sin, but to life everlasting.
For the majority of my life I knew about Jesus but only had a small understanding about Jesus and His Word. I came from a “Christian family” and went through so-called “requirements” in order to go to Heaven. I was baptized as an infant, confirmed, attended church, went on five mission trips throughout the United States, and occasionally prayed and read my Bible. To sum it up, I was a self-righteous person. I didn’t see any need to be saved. In fact, I had never even heard of being saved. I knew there was sin in my life but I didn’t see anything wrong with the way I was living. I believed I was right with God. I went through a bunch of steps and thought I had done what was needed in order to go to Heaven when I die, so I just went on living life the way I wanted to.
When I started to attend college in Moorhead, MN, I came with only school in mind. I had no desire to find a church to attend. My mother however encouraged me to start attending a church she was attending. I started going to services mostly to say I attended church. I also heard of a Bible Study on campus and began to attend that as well.
In the months to come, I heard things about the Bible I had never heard of before. The messages I heard at church and Bible study really caught my attention. I began to realize how much I didn’t know at all. For the first time in my life, I learned about being saved by grace, not by works (Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God. Not of works, lest any man should boast.”), why Jesus died for us (John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Romans 5:8, “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”), that no one is righteous (Romans 3:10, “There is none righteous, no, not one.”), and being born again (John 3:3, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”).
As I learned more, God was breaking me within about my condition before Him. Finally, on September 20, 2012, during a Bible Study, I fully grasped the fact that I needed to be saved. The lesson went through the Ten Commandments. As the leader went through each of the commandments, I realized that I am a sinner (Romans 3:23, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God”), was condemned to go to hell (Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death”) and that my sins had separated me from God (Isaiah 59:2, “your iniquities have separated you and your God”). I realized that I was helpless, unable to save myself. I needed a savior. After the lesson was over, I was a broken person. Not long after I made it back to my dorm room, I fell on the floor in tears, confessing my sins to God (1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins”), repenting of my sins (Luke 13:3, “except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish”), and asked Jesus to save me (Romans 10:13, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved”).
Today I live my life for Christ and have assurance that I am going to Heaven (1 John 5:13, “These things have I written unto you…that ye may know that ye have eternal life”). I continue each day in learning more and growing spiritually. Every day I am in God’s Word and in prayer. Through these means, I am developing a real relationship with God that has helped me so much.
Thank you Lord Jesus for saving me.