Wednesday, 22 February 2012 04:40
Growing up, I never heard the glorious story of how Jesus loved me, and how He came to earth and died on the cross to save us. I lived in complete darkness and separation from God.
When I was about ten years old, I asked my mother, "How did we get here on this earth? Who made us?" She replied, "God did." I had no idea who God was. I then asked her what church was. She said, "People go there to praise God." I then asked if we could go and if it cost any money. Mom didn't respond because my dad came around the corner and gave her "the look." Later that night they got in a fight, which resulted in my mother getting thrown to the floor while I hid in my closest. I promised myself I would never ask about God again if it was going to hurt my mom.
You see, I grew up in an abusive family. My dad physically, mentally, and sexually abused my mom, my sister, and me. This scarred me deeply. I was afraid of people so I kept everyone at a distance. Sure I had friends, but no one knew the truth about my life. Outwardly, I kept a smile on my face; inwardly, I was screaming out for help.
My place of comfort was a dark, messy closet where I would cover my ears and rock myself back and forth until I fell asleep. But hearing my dad hit and throw my mom around eventually became too much for me in that small, dark closet. One day when dad was unleashing his anger on mom, I stood up for her. With tears streaming down her face, she screamed at me to leave the room, but it was too late. Dad's anger turned my direction and I suffered for it. This cycle of abuse went on for years. I could go on and on sharing heartbreaking stories, but this is a testimony with victory!
In 2001, my dad left the state of Arizona where we had lived for eight years and took me with him. This was an adventure to me. We were going back to Texas. What I didn't know was that this was a kidnap, which left my mom and sister in an absolute frenzy.
In Texas, dad tried to make it on his own. We stayed with his mom and then his brother. Finally, he decided Texas wasn't for us and so we headed back to Arizona. Throughout our journey, my dad sold our family valuables, using me to do it. He said that people would trust a little girl over a bearded man. We sold our family heirlooms to antique dealers, and when we ran out of gas he made me ask truckers if I could siphon gas from their trucks. At rest stops I would sell jewelry. I could sell just about anything.
When we arrived back in Arizona we stayed with some people in a crowded, filthy trailer. The area was swarming with gangs and drugs. My father was involved in both.
One night, two police officers showed up at the door. They had come to take me home. My dad had filled my head with so many lies that I kicked and screamed all the way to the police car. Dad said he'd come get me in the morning and told me not to worry. We said our goodbyes then I watched him and our two dogs disappear from the back window of the police car. Around the block sat another police car with my mom and sister inside. Once I stepped out of the car, they ran towards me with tears streaming down their faces. But instead embracing them, I kicked, screamed, cussed and spat at them. The police officers had to separate us. They eventually calmed me down and I went home with them. I was filled with pure hate. I had no idea that the police had been searching for us. My mom tried to explain that my dad had kidnapped me, but I wouldn't listen. I kept waiting for him to come back for me, but he never did. Later, I found out that he had schizophrenia.
My mom had to start all over again so we moved backed to Texas to live with her parents. This was a much different experience than I had with my dad. We had food, shelter, and clean clothes. The very next day we went to church with my grandparents. This was my very first time going to church. I was thirteen years old. I had no idea what to expect. My mom had a huge grin on her face the whole time, watching my reaction. People at church were excited to meet us. They knew our story because my grandparents had asked the church to pray for us. I was invited to attend the youth group that night. I went and met some wonderful people who are still in my life today. I learned about Jesus and all the basics that every Christian should know. But no one ever asked me if I knew Jesus personally or if I had asked Jesus to be my Lord and Savior. But I knew in my heart that I needed to ask Him, so one day I did. I finally understood that He loved me and that He died on the cross for my sin. I was so happy. I was finally a Christian!
I had no idea, however, that the devil himself would oppose me giving my life to Jesus. When I changed my life, he got angry, very angry. I suddenly began to see dark figures in a room, and a dense feeling surrounded me all the time. I didn't tell anyone because I didn't understand what it was going on. People would have thought I was crazy. After weeks of feeling down on myself and throwing huge pity parties, I decided to take my own life. The day I intended to do it, my plans got messed up because I ran out of time, so I decided to do it later that evening, after I got home from a revival service with my youth group.
Little did I know what was about to happen. The evangelist who spoke that night was Steve Hill. When he gave the altar call, I literally felt Satan's demons gripping me, holding me in my pew. With the last ounce of strength that I had, I forced myself off that pew. When I arrived at the altar, Steve Hill was right in my face. He prayed for me. Let me tell you, when he prays, God listens! The power of God hit me and I fell to the ground. When I came to, I didn't know what had happened except that the oppression was totally gone! My chains were broken! I was free!
I was no longer:
Taylor, the broken girl from a broken home.
Taylor, the girl who was abused by her dad.
Taylor, the girl who was kidnapped.
Taylor, the girl with the sad eyes.
Taylor, the girl who cried herself to sleep in a dark closet.
Taylor, the girl who cut herself.
And Taylor, the girl who was going to commit suicide.
I was now:
Taylor, the forgiven child of God. (Romans 3:24)
Taylor, the set-free child of God. (Romans 8:1-2)
Taylor, the accepted child of God. (1 Corinthians 1:2)
Taylor, the made new child of God. (2 Corinthians 5:17)
Taylor, the loved child of God. (Ephesians 1:4)
Taylor, the close child of God. (Ephesians 2:13)
Taylor, the victorious child of God. (Romans 8:37)
My Christian journey began when I was thirteen years old. Times have been hard since then. I have gone astray and left God twice over the years. The first time was when I was fourteen when I had an abortion. My family had disowned me due to the fact that I was pregnant. I was so angry with myself. In turn, I blamed God for my decision. Grief-stricken and depressed, I turned to my youth pastor and his wife who helped restore me and deal with the tremendous guilt I had over my aborted child.
The second time I walked away from God was in 2007 when my mother was killed by a drunk driver. I was by her side in the ICU as she was taken off life support. She had every tube imaginable to help her breathe, to monitor her blood pressure, to drain the blood that was coming out of every orifice. Her internal organs were lying on top of her, being held together by a medical device. When they took her off life-support, I watched her lips turn from bright red, to blue, to purple, then to white. Something inside me broke. I was officially broken. My mother had just died right in front of me. I was enraged. I deliberately ran from God. How could He let this happen? Why? I had so many questions that I never stopped to hear Him answer.
My husband and I were in our first year of marriage at the time. He was the boyfriend who I had been pregnant with. He, too, was a prodigal. At the age of twelve, he was called into the ministry. We were both running from the Lord. God was our answer and we knew it. Finally, when I let down my wall of blame, God revealed to me His plan. Watching the nurses work on my mother in the ICU put a fire in my heart. God was calling me to be a nurse. A nurse who worked in His name. I have followed that calling and in just a few months will be graduating from nursing school.
My husband had been away from the Lord since his teens. Several years ago, he heard Steve Hill preach at our church in Columbus, Georgia. Like the prodigal son of old, he came home to Jesus that night and has never been the same.
Steve Hill has shaken us both awake through his God-fearing preaching. We still have much to learn and are willing to listen to God now. We are His servants and will do what is asked. Philippians 1:12 is now my banner that I raise high, "Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel." This could not be truer! And, "Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." (Phil 3:13-14)
God has called me to do great things in His name. My hands and feet are eager to go to the ends of this earth to bring the Good News. I want the world to know that God has done in my life, He can and will do for them.
My story does not begin happily, but it ends victoriously. My husband and I speak often of Steve Hill. We give faithfully to his ministry. We both owe him a huge debt of gratitude for answering the call of God upon his life. I don't know what would have happened that night if I hadn't gone to that revival where he was preaching. I'd probably be dead. Thank you, Steve Hill, for being such a dedicated man of God. You saved my life!
Monday, 07 March 2011 20:57 | Marlene Bell
In mid-February of 2011, I rededicated my life to the Lord after being away for around 30 years. Numerous attempts had been made to come back to God. Maybe my heart had been hardened because of years of abuse to the Lord's generosity. God took a prodigal minister's wife and put her back in the kingdom of the heaven. I was a hindrance to my husband's ministry without meaning to be. It is scary to think of how far away Jesus had to reach to pull me out.
Even though the Lord delivered me from pornographic materials a few years ago, I was never able to get back to Him, and still suffered the consequences of that filth, had become discouraged that He many never let me come back home. There were several things that the power of Jesus delivered me from, such as, a spirit of anger.
Getting drunk or high off margaritas was the bomb and a certain prescription medication that gave me a buzz. Not being able to reach God, feeling like such a fake, and those feelings of inadequacy drove me from the church. Since Hurricane Katrina, I'd been to church five or six times, until recently.
I wouldn't allow ANYONE to witness to me!!! I would've told them off or made them stop. Everyone was supposed to just leave me alone! Where no one else could get through, Mrs. Hill did. She did her best to be encouraging, pray for, and guide in the right direction. If it weren't for her prayers and support, I might not have made it back. In a short time, the wall I couldn't press through, just fell flat with the prayers of that God fearing couple.
Jesus has performed a total transformation on me and turned my life completely around. The job has been so incredibly thorough. My joy has been restored. There's a spring in my step and I bounce when I walk. Our Lord took away all the shame that I felt and I can face other people again. He put such completeness on it that I'm looking forward to the Baptism in the Holy Spirit. He's coming and it's going to be awesome! It's quite a change from being in 30 years of misery! No more!