This summer I was part of a community group through my church, and the curriculum we used was called Life As We Know It. I had worked on some long and short versions of my Christian testimony for various purposes in the past, but this curriculum brought up some different questions regarding topics that I hadn’t thought of including in my testimony previously. At first it was kind of overwhelming. I felt as though, upon answering the questions, I had far too much irrelevant information to attempt to include in my testimony. But then, after studying my answers over more and praying and hearing how some other people in my community group tackled their own testimonies, I was able to pull out some information that might be important that I had not previously included in earlier versions of my testimony. Anyway, I still can’t say for sure whether I recommend the curriculum or not; a lot of people in my group seemed to feel overwhelmed the way I did. At the same time, the prompting questions were kind of helpful. Anyway, the following is a version of my testimony:
I grew up in a Christian home and started going to church as a baby with my family. In addition to the spiritual influences of my family and church, my grandparents paid for me to attend a Christian school. One of my school friends, Nola, played a part in my coming to Christ. When the kindergarten teacher asked what we had done over the summer, Nola shared that she had asked Jesus into her heart. The teacher was really excited for her, but I was confused about what Nola meant. A few weeks down the road, I asked my mom about it, and she led me to the Lord in October of 1991 at the age of five.
Besides receiving such godly influence as a child, I also was hugely influenced by books. My mom and grandma would frequently write stories with me from the time I was three. Theirs were “real” stories with both words and pictures, while I would draw pictures and make up a verbal story to go with those pictures–until I was old enough to write words. I first declared that I wanted to be a writer someday at the age of six.
As a child, I had a rash that was spread in patches on much of my body, along with some other health problems. When the pediatrician’s advice did not seem to be helpful, my mom took me to a kinesiologist. He diagnosed me as having multiple food allergies and put me on some supplements, along with weekly chiropractic treatments. After following his directions for several months, my rash was gone. Although this was certainly not the first time my parents had chosen to try alternative medicine, I would say this was an important step in my own life in understanding that alternative medicine works. This experience, along with many other helpful run-ins with alternative medicine over the years, impacted my wanting to write a book with a large theme of alternative medicine—Illegally Innocent.
At the age of twelve, I experienced some doubts about whether I was a Christian or not, due to the fact that I had been so young when I came to Christ. I wondered whether I had actually fully understood the meaning of Jesus’ death and resurrection and the importance of confessing sin, and I re-committed myself to God at that age. When I was fifteen or sixteen (still at the same Christian school), an alumnus of that school returned to talk to us, and she mentioned that she had specifically asked God for the desire to get to know Him better. She referenced Psalm 42:1 [this is the NASB version]—“As the deer pants for the water brooks, So my soul pants for you, O God,” and said she had recently started praying for God to give her that desire because she felt like it was lacking. It had worked for her! This concept really appealed to me. Although I knew I was a Christian and tried to live a life pleasing to God, I also felt like other people (pastors, chapel speakers, missionaries, etc.) seemed to have a desire for God that was different from mine. At that point, I began praying for God to increase my desire for a deeper relationship with Him. It worked, just like the girl had said it would. I think this type of prayer is important to keep returning to in one’s life.
Also, when I was sixteen, my dad lost his job of nearly thirty years, and this loss had a large impact on my family’s finances. God can turn bad circumstances into blessings, though (just like my health problems helped to inspire the writing of Illegally Innocent), and one of the blessings that came out of my dad’s job loss was the fact that since our income was lower than it had been for much of my life, I was eligible to receive scholarships for college that I otherwise would not have been able to receive. These scholarships played a large part in my being able to attend the Christian university that was my first choice for college, Cedarville. My dad’s job loss also helped me and my parents grow in our relationships with God.
I was scared of getting baptized (because at the church we attended when I was young, you had to give your testimony in front of the whole congregation when you got baptized), but I knew it was the right thing to do. When I was seventeen, and we had been attending a different church for a few years at that point (one that simply required you to answer some questions with “yes” or “no” before going under the water), I finally got baptized and also became an official member of that church. Over the years, I have had several times when I’ve definitely been closer to God and more obedient than other times, but I am grateful that God has protected me from ever fully walking away from Him.