Through my childhood and teenage years, there were many occasions when I felt close to God and was curious about spirituality. When I was about fourteen years old, a missionary came to speak at my school. He shared about his work with the lost, and my heart felt like it caught fire. I wanted to be a missionary to the world. Listening to this man created a desire within me to please God and do what was right, and for the most part I did, but I still felt the Lord was far away from me. For years, I thought I earned my salvation through good deeds, but at the end of my senior year in high school, I started watching a television show called The 700 Club. They regularly prayed for and talked about miracles, and this fascinated me. I remember thinking, That is the Jesus I want to know! The Jesus who is alive and still heals people today, not just the One who suffered on the cross.
I was seventeen years old when my mother invited me to an evening service at a small church about fifteen minutes away from our house. That was the evening my life changed forever. I was raised in the Christian faith and went to an all-girls Catholic school, but we never went to church on Sundays. My dad told us he wasn’t accepted at church because he’d divorced his first wife. I realize now that the guilt and shame he carried haunted him, and that was why he didn’t take us to church as a family. I always believed there was a mighty God, but I thought He was distant. With these reasons and assumptions piled on my shoulders, I didn’t have a personal relationship with Jesus.
But at that evening service with my mother, I began to understand, really understand, what repentance meant and what Jesus did for me on the cross. The people in this little church appeared different to me. They were worshipping God in such a sincere way; some were crying, while others were quiet. Many were expressively worshipping God with their hands lifted high, as if they were trying to touch Him. I had never seen anything like it. They were in awe of God’s presence in that place. By the time they finished their worship time, I was already feeling something different in my heart. I was ready. My heart completely surrendered to the unconditional love and acceptance of Christ. The pastor gave a short talk on what Jesus did on the cross, and when he asked if anyone wanted to accept Jesus into their heart, I said, “Yes!” Two pastors, Jim and Tom, led me through the prayer of salvation. As I prayed, I repented and gave Jesus all my shame, regrets, feelings of impurity, and all my sins. I quietly confessed the wrongs that were done to me and the wrongs I had committed, and everything was taken away. I asked Jesus to be my Savior, my King, and my Lord; the Holy Spirit came to live in me and gave me eternal life through His forgiveness, freedom, and eternal love. This was the most amazing spiritual experience I’d ever had. For the first time in my life, I felt completely loved. It was like a bright light had touched my heart. Almighty God became my Friend that day. The only thing I wanted to do after that experience was love Him back and thank Him for what He did for me on the cross.