BENEFITING: War Child US
Three years before I was born, my parents were married and madly in love with each other. Everything was perfect and life was great. Then my parents found out that my mom was not able to have children, due to scar tissue on her ovaries from ovarian cysts. They tried for three years to have a child, and failed until October 12, 1994. My mom was in a 60 mile an hour head-on collision and went to the hospital immediately. They asked her if there was any chance she could be pregnant, and of course, she said “No”. The doctors wanted to make sure, so they did a pregnancy test on her anyways, and sure enough, she was pregnant with her first child! Eight months later I was born in Shawnee, Kansas at 5 pounds 9 ounces. I was their miracle baby. My parents were so excited that they were finally going to be able to have a child of their own.
At the age of 2 ½, I was blessed with a baby brother. My mother was a daycare provider and my father worked construction. We had a decent life then, money was never short and our family seemed like the average family. In 2001, our family found out that my mom was diagnosed with stage three thyroid cancer. This was devastating to not only my mom, father, brother, and I, but to the rest of my family, like my grandpa and grandma, aunts, uncles, and cousins. I can remember sitting on the floor in our house near the stairs and my mom explaining that she had been diagnosed with cancer. She explained that she would have to have surgery to remove her thyroid and that she would be gone for a couple weeks due to the radiation treatments she had to go through. This was such a scary time for everyone who was in my family, and knew my family. At the age of 7, I could only comprehend so much of what was going on with my mommy, but I stayed strong for my brother who was only 5 at the time.
After intense radiation, surgeries, and emotional repair, our family moved on. My mom has survived cancer! This is something a lot of people don’t get to say. As of today, my mom is now almost 12 years clean of cancer, and is in remission. Her life is so precious, and God knew it. After my mom fought the battle of cancer for a year, she decided she was going to quit her child daycare, and move our family one state over, to Missouri. However, I had grown up there, for the better part of my younger childhood.
When we moved to Missouri, my eyes became open to my surroundings. My mind had tuned in on my parent’s relationship and my family life. I started noticing the anger and frustration within my home as people would come home from work and school. I could tell the atmosphere was getting tenser and less loving. The first time I can remember my parents fighting physically was when I was only 11 ½. The events that took place after, like more physical abuse with my mom and cheating, but now mental and physical abuse towards my brother and I, led us to leave that life behind in the middle of the night while he was at work. We drove 18 ½ hours to Utah. I escaped from the abusive household, bad group of friends, and a life of horror.
Little did I know that the life I was given after we left was an answer to so many prayers, but I abused that gift. We had moved in with Keith, my mom’s now fiancé, and my dream dad. He had rescued my family from the horrible life that we had, and gave us a brand new start. Unfortunately, I was so emotionally traumatized at the things I had heard and seen back in Missouri, that I strayed down a dark and winding path of evil. At the age of 13 years old, I was caught up in homosexuality self-mutilation, and depression. I kept it hidden from my mom and Keith due to shame and blame for the life I had.
At age 15, I was engaging in homosexual desires, more self-mutilation, and depression beyond repair. I was a mess and I hated the world. A month before I turned 16, Keith’s job led us to Arizona. I hated them for making us move, because I had so much to hold on to back in Utah; the hurt, the comfort of the night when we first showed up from the abusive life, and the friends that were dragging me down. The things I held on to were my comfort, the comfort that I never wanted to let go of because it all had gotten me away from the abuse and life that I had before Keith saved us. When we moved to Arizona, I was forced to go to church. It seemed like all of my family had moved on from what happened in the past, but I couldn’t let it go – not yet at least.
Six months after I turned 16, the church we attend offered to take the youth group to Acquire the Fire. I was upset because I wanted nothing to do with God. I had blamed him for everything he put my family through, so why would I want to willingly go and worship him? I put up a fight with my parents, making all the excuses and nasty comments I could come up with; just anything to let me stay home from this event in Phoenix. Little did I know this would be the most life changing event, ever!
Growing up, my grandma would always take me to church, so I knew who God was, I just never believed in him. My “religion” was FRLDS, which is really Mormons, just without them claiming the title. I showed up to ATF totally unprepared about what was ahead of me. The first song that was played had me on my face. School of Worship sang the words, “Your love never fails, it never gives up; it never runs out on me.” These words hit me like a bag of bricks in the heart. I had no idea that Jesus’ love could be so filling, let alone never running out. The first prayer breakout session was when I could really reflect on what my life had consisted of. I looked at all aspects as Ron Luce spoke to the audience. I fell to my knees and began weeping. I had never cried so much or so hard in my life in the 27 hours that this event lasted.
I fell at God’s feet and prayed for his mercy as this little boy, probably nine or ten came over to me while I was on the ground crying alone while others were praying in groups. He touched my shoulder and asked me if I could pray with him. I whipped the tears that I could, away, and held his hand as he spoke out loud. His words were like bright lights in my head. Every word he spoke, every sentence he created, only brought more tears and sorrow to my eyes. I had never spoken to this little boy before that night, he knew nothing of my past, and he knew nothing of what I was feeling. He just knows I was hurting and needed him.
He began praying to Jesus to break the chains of evil that consumed me and to have me let Jesus into my heart. He prayed that I would find comfort in The Lord and that I would open my eyes to my surrounds, my life, my past, and my future. I cried and cried, not being able to stop, I held the boy in my arms, his little hands holding onto my shirt tightly as he cried with me… I had never been so touched in my life. I felt such a dark, heavy feeling lift off my shoulders and my heart. The little boy’s friend came over and joined us in prayer as I sat in complete awe at the feeling I had never felt before.
After the prayer group finished, we went back to our seats and the night continued. On December 02, 2011 at the end of the night, I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, and that I would promise to never stray from his side. I saw the light of joy and happiness over-come me. I felt whole for the first time in my life. After ATF was over, my family and I prayed daily and attended church regularly.
But my fire for The Lord was slowing burning out as society’s wicked ways crept back into my life once again… I could feel myself slipping away from Him, but I thought I could be strong enough to fight off my demons. I was completely wrong. I had let go of my God’s hand and strayed. I began getting involved in self-mutilation, alcohol, drugs, homosexuality, and sins that I am so ashamed of, once again. I let him go because I forgot that what I was feeling those 27 hours was REAL! After a year of living my life in filthy sin, I attended ATF for the second year, hoping I could relight that flame in my heart. I promised myself, and to God, that I would never turn my back on him again.
On December 02, 2012, I made my promise to Him; to never let go of His hand ever again, regardless of what life is to throw at me. He has blessed me so much within these last weeks of attending the 2012 ATF event because I have this amazing opportunity to grow in Him even more than before. My faith is stronger than ever now, and without Acquire the Fire, I would be in a very evil place and hurting more than the abuse I was put through as a child.
At ATF, an organization called the Honor Academy caught my attention immediately. The Honor Academy is a place for fellow Christians to meet and to grow in Christ. This program is designed to cultivate and develop the leadership potential in young adults while preparing them to impact today’s world for Christ. The scope of the program is extensive and includes classroom instruction, practical hands-on experience, and life-transforming events. All are designed to give each intern at the Honor Academy a balanced, strategic approach to Godly character and lasting leadership skills. I was so skeptical about this, because it’s held in Texas, 17 hours away from my family. But The Lord has laid this on my heart that I need to grow more in Him and to bring others like myself to know Christ.
In August of 2013, I have the opportunity to go to the Honor Academy for 365 days to learn the responsibilities of a Christian Soldier, and to teach others about Jesus. I am so excited that I have been given this opportunity to change my life forever, and to be able to impact others with the word of God. With the money that is needed, it covers the cost of food, room and board, events, and trips. Acquire the Fire is also a part of the Honor Academy that I will be participating in to share the experiences and faith for teenagers around the world.
I come from a single mother of four who was recently engaged. For me to be able to attend the Honor Academy, it costs $8,400. This cost is a burden to my mom but I believe that if God's will is for me to be there, then he will let this happen. I am reaching out and speaking my testimony to see if anyone would bless me with this opportunity for me to be able to go. This means the world to me; because I have had numerous things happen to me that have led me to where I am today. I believe that I can change this generation of teens around the world to grow and come to know Jesus Christ, just like I have.
God has blessed me so much throughout my life and I'm so thankful that I have realized that. He has had his hand in my mother's cancer's remission for 11 years now, I was blessed to have the opportunity to go to ATF for two years in a row, have my heart changed forever, & then having numerous chances to bless other people & bring them to Christ. I ask that if The Lord lies this upon your heart, that you will bless me in any way possible to let me have the opportunity to change the lives of teenagers who need it so desperately.