FEEL UNWANTED? THAT WAS ME!
Jesus Did It!
By: Leah Nyabango
Maybe you feel like you are unwanted. Maybe you feel like you don't fit. Maybe you feel like an outcast. Maybe you would rather just die!
I grew up feeling all these things ... and I want to give you some incredible hope! You are uniquely made and God has plans for you that are going to impact the lives of others for eternal purposes, if you'll let Him. Please take the time to read my testimony, if you feel you have no purpose for living any longer ... or wonder why you were even born. Allow me to share how God took a tormented girl who hated life and finally had her eyes opened to see something God had placed inside me that no one else but He could see. God has potential inside you that is waiting to blossom forth like a flower in the springtime! I am telling you the honest truth.
During some of my time in infant school I hung around with one girl in my class. It was just me and her. She wasnít very nice. I didnít really want to be a friend of hers, but I donít think I had much choice. She would force me to play games with her, go where she went, and do what she did. Anytime she wanted to do something or go somewhere, I had to follow. I had no say at all. I didnít like being around her because she didnít have a good attitude towards me. There was one particular game the two of us always played which I really hated. The game was to sit opposite, not too far apart, and roll a ball back and forth to each other. We would play this almost every day and I hated it. I hated being around her and I hated her. The few days I would spend without her were the best. I was free. Much to my delight, one day she left.
I was a very quiet child. Even the first day I attended infant school, and all the kids were asking me questions, I wouldnít say a word. If I did, I would be very timid. I was so shy I wouldnít say "boo" to a goose.
There was a time during break time when I was spat at in the face by another girl in my class. For whatever reason, I donít know, but I do remember her begging my forgiveness later on because I was very angry at her. Itís not a very nice memory to have but like I said before, some things you just donít forget.
I, along with the rest of my family, moved from Zimbabwe to London in December 1989. I was six years old, and as far as I know we moved for the education.
I spent my first few years of education at St Anthonyís infant school in Forest Gate, East London.
Some memories of my years as an infant in St Anthonyís are quite sharp. Just like with everyone else Iím sure, there are some past events in life that stay present in your memory and you remember them like they were yesterday. They donít go away! (Though if you forgive those who hurt you, the sharpness of the pain dulls dramatically, I eventually discovered).
I even remember our class standing in a line waiting to go to the main hall. Someone was always picked to count the number of us standing in the line. I remember one girl walking up the line counting the number of us standing there. She would be gentle as she counted everyone else but when she counted me she would be aggressive. People didnít like me! I guess I was an easy target.
We finally entered primary school (still St. Anthonyís) and the treatment towards me didnít get much better. There would be some people, during class time, on the same table as me who would always go under the table and tie the shoelaces of both my shoes together. So I wouldnít have one bow on each shoe, I would have one big bow in the middle. The aim of this was for me to trip and fall when I got up to walk. They would look suspicious and go under the table. But when I asked what was happening under the table they would assure me nothing was going on and would tell me to get on with my work. That I did, but I knew exactly what they were up to. I just pretended I didnít know.
Some of the time I never understood what work we had to do. I asked people around me to fill me in but no one would help me. There were even times when people would actually tell me I was doing the work wrong, but they would never tell me what it was that I was doing wrong. This left me confused and wondering. I wasnít one to speak out to the teacher either.
I was told by one girl to come to school in boys trousers the very next day. I nodded my head yes to her, knowing it was impossible for me to come to school in boys trousers the next day. She knew that too, Iím sure. She probably dreamed about it, knowing that if I did, I would be greatly humiliated. This was probably her aim Ė to embarrass me.
There was a time during primary school when I had short hair. I was asked, ďAre you a boy?Ē I replied ďNo.Ē The response to that was, ďThen why is your hair short?Ē That was one of the many remarks and comments shot at me because my hair was short. I was very embarrassed by that. People would look at me and laugh. They didnít like me. I didnít do anything or say anything to give people a reason to hate me, they just did.
I was never a loner. I had friends, or just people I hung around with. Although they didnít treat me as badly as other people, they werenít exactly the kind of friends anyone would want to have if anyone was in my shoes.
Maybe you, like me, have been verbally bullied. Maybe you have been physically bullied. I was made fun of because of my short hair. It may not have been at its best back then but Jesus says to us in Matthew 10:29-30:
ďAre not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Fatherís will. But the very hairs on your head are all numbered.Ē
You are so precious to God that you are constantly on His mind day and night. He even goes so far as to count every single hair on your head. When you grieve, He grieves! People will be horrible, but when you turn your back on God because of the doings of others, He grieves even more. The one thing God wants the most from you is for you to love Him back. To Him you are very precious indeed! The Bible says in Psalms 139:17:
ďHow precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand; when I awake I am still with You.Ē
Did you hear that? Godís thoughts toward you are more in number than the sand! Do you know how many grains of sand are on one beach alone? Itís impossible to count them all because they are countless, probably millions or maybe even billions. But Godís thoughts are more in number than that!!!
Two years prior to us moving to London, my mother died. I was four years old when she passed away. Seventeen years later I still feel pain from time to time to accept the fact that sheís dead. I used to question why she had to leave so soon and why she couldnít stay, but I've come to realize each of our lives are in God's hand. He gives life and He determines when each life is over. When we lose a loved one, it can almost shatter us, but the sooner we can come to peace that this life is very short compared to eternity, and that it is only really selfishness (or sometimes guilt) that prolongs our hurt after a loved one has passed, the better off we are. If someone loses a parent, so many years donít have to go by for you to move on. Life really does go on. I guess if someone is without God in their life it will be much harder. Even with God in your life it isnít always easy to let go of the past with whatever happened, but if you do have God in your life, it is easier to move on. Forgiveness is always crucial in getting free from the past. Forgiving God, usually, when a loved one passes. And asking His forgiveness for being upset at Him for taking that loved one.
During my younger years I always thought that bad things always happen to me and that is why my mother died. I was always scared that my father would go too. I forced myself not to think about it too much or else it might just come true and Iíd be left with no parent at all. I was young and many thoughts ran through my head at that time. God's enemy (Satan) plays many tricks on unsuspecting people, especially those like me back then, who didn't know God or what God says about Satan in the New Testament Bible. (Of course, I didn't realize back then either just how much influence the devil can have on a person's thinking, especially unsuspecting young people. He'll feed you with more lies to believe than a tall oak tree has branches).
Because I hated life back then, I always wished I was dead. I always thought of not having to wake up to life everyday because I just didnít want to.
For a six-year-old kid who just moved to a different country from the one she was born in, and having lost her mother two years prior, it wasnít easy. I remember being embarrassed at the fact that I didnít have a mother because everyone else had theirs. I absolutely hated Motherís Day! Even when I was at home around my other cousins I still hated it. There even came a time in my later years when I wished I had died instead of my mother. I hated myself very much and was very negative about everything and thought everything about me was negative.
Even after I gave my life to Jesus years later, I still struggled with hating myself and hating living. I always asked God why he allowed me to be born in the first place. I would even ask Him to take my soul. I knew it was wrong to think like that but because I had been thinking like that for a long time, it wasnít easy to just stop. Even when I realized I had to stop thinking like that, I couldnít. I even told someone about my problem and they did give me words of encouragement, but nothing changed.
Then one day I was reading the book of Jeremiah in the Old Testament of the Bible, and as I was talking to God about all these feelings I was having, I came across the words:
"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations.Ē -- Jeremiah 1:5
As I read those words...I physically felt something in me had dropped. It felt like something dark in me had now gone away. From that moment on, I never had those feelings again. I've since come to realize God wasn't just speaking to Jeremiah and just me. Every person ever born ... or ever to be born ... and that includes you -- God has a special purpose in mind for them on earth.
Maybe youíve lost a parent or maybe even two. I want to let you know that God is a Father to the fatherless. He is a parent to the parentless. The Bible says:
God watches over the strangers; He relieves the fatherless and widow. -- Psalms 67:5
Jesus said: ďDo not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven.Ē -- Matthew 23:9
Not only is God your Father. He is your perfect father. God does no wrong. He is patient, just, forgiving, encouraging, comforting, and a lot more. The Bible says:
ďTo us a Child is born, to us a Son is given; and the government will be upon his shoulder. And his name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.Ē -- Isaiah 9:6
He is a perfect Father forevermore. I was struggling with the fact that my mother was no longer with us. But when I realized that a relationship with God is far more important than my family and even dead relatives, it was easier to begin to let go of the past. Itís not easy losing a parent, and for me itís probably the hardest thing Iíve had to deal with in my life. I know that God is all we need. My family is still important but a relationship with God is the most important thing. The more you draw closer to him, the more you realize that nothing and no one else can give you the peace, joy and abundance of life we all need other than God himself.
Maybe you, like I did in the past, hate yourself and wish you were dead. You have to know that you are here for a reason. The Bible says:
"For I know the thoughts (or plans) that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.Ē -- Jeremiah 29:11
If you think youíre no good and want out, you have to know that if God didnít want you on this planet, he wouldnít have made you! He knew you even before you were conceived. God made you so that you could be in communion with him and so that you could spend eternity with him. If youíre worthy enough to spend eternity with God, thereís no reason why you should feel unimportant at all. The Bible says:
ďFor You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mothers womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; . . . Ē -- Psalms 139:14-18
God rejoiced on the day you were born, no matter any "supposed imperfections" or "physical defects" that other people might be able to see or hear, because even before you were thought of in your parentís minds -- or indeed even if you werenít -- He was expecting you. He made you with a plan and a purpose. You are not here by accident, God willed you to be here!!!
During my time in school Iíve had quite a few names thrown at me but the name Iíve had to endure almost all my life is ďB.O.Ē This started in primary school. I and some other girls was playing basketball in the playground one day when suddenly someone started saying ďWhatís that smellĒ and running away from everybody. Because everybody back then were followers, they too started running away. I - wondering what was going on because nothing was actually smelling - started asking people why theyíre running away. Someone had to be blamed for the make-believe smell. I guess because I didnít run away just like everyone else, whoever smelt the Ďsmellí started blaming me. Whether this whole thing was fixed, I donít know. All I know is it happened.
The name "B.O." was then my new name. People constantly made rude remarks, jokes and even songs about the Ďfactí that I Ďsmelled.í The name eventually stuck and has never left since. I guess you could liken it to being put into prison for something you didnít do. Youíre being punished for something that you just aren't!
Itís amazing what people will believe, especially when they can see (or smell) the evidence for themselves.
Even the Ďfriendsí I had at the time were joining in with everyone else and making fun of me. There was a certain girl especially in my class who wouldnít let it go. Almost every day she - and anyone else she could get to join her - was constantly picking on me about it.
People talk and these things spread and soon enough I had people from other classes asking me if I used deodorant.
One day I was walking home with another girl who was also being picked on by some, and she was asking me why they say I smell when I donít. I told her that I really didnít have a clue.
There was also a time when the class was doing P.E. (Physical Education) in the playground. I was standing near the girl who started this whole thing and she leaned over to me, sniffed me and said to me, ďYou smell nice today; is that perfume?Ē I answered ďYesĒ knowing that I hadn't put on any special perfume that day. It was all in her head, as with everyone else (or maybe she was smelling the Holy Spirit!)
This continued on into secondary school (St. Angelaís). Most of the girls that went to St. Anthonyís primary school moved onto St. Angelaís secondary school which is just five minutes away.
After P.E. in the changing rooms, people would laugh and make jokes about deodorant, talking to each other and making sure the whole room heard their conversation, which was directed at me.
There was one time in an art lesson when we were made to stand beside each other in a straight line. People got out of the line to go and stand elsewhere when they realized they were standing next to me. When one person did it, then the rest decided to do the same.
There was also a time in a textiles lesson when I was doing my work and a girl walked up behind me with a deodorant can in her hand and started spraying my armpits from behind ... thinking I didnít notice what she did.
People would say things all the time no matter where I was, not directly to me, but aimed at me.
What I would say to all the people whoever said I smelled, or even believed it, "That smell youíve been smelling all these years isnít me. Itís your character! Because someone with a character that stinks isnít interested in building people up. They bring people down."
I felt the need to say that because of the simple fact that itís true.
I used to hang around some certain girls. During class time they would often try to sit away from me and at the same time try and make me unaware of their actions. I remember overhearing one of them say, ďWhy do I always have to sit next to her?Ē ... seeing as she was the only one unfortunate enough to always be the one who ends up sitting next to me.
There was a time during the lunch break when they sent another girl in our class to tell me that I smell. They thought I was unaware of the fact that it was they who sent her. The girl came up to me in the playground (of course my Ďfriendsí were elsewhere watching) and told me she was sent by some people to tell me that I smelled and should do something about it. This same girl who was sent to tell me this also told me that when sheís around me she doesnít smell anything, and that she doesnít know what people are talking about.
Finally when school finished it died down, but not completely. By now this rumor reached my family.
If youíve been through, or are going through something like this ... or maybe worse, people will turn their backs on you, and be cruel and evil to you, but the Lord is full of compassion. The Bible says:
ďBut you, O Lord, are a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering and abundant in mercy and truth.
Jesus says: ďThe thief (the devil) does not come except to steal, to kill, and to destroy. But I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.Ē -- John 10:10
Satan wants you to be miserable, especially if he realizes there is something deep inside you that wants to please God. Heíll throw anything in your life to keep you down, and as far away from God as he can get you. His ultimate purpose is to get you to either hate God, and/or get you to believe anything but what the Bible says is true and Truth. Secondly, your parents or parental authority -- he wants you hating them, and he'll use them to help cause it to happen, sadly, if they aren't walking solidly with God. Thirdly, yourself -- he'll try to get you to hate living, period, and tempt you to take your life.
Jesus, on the other hand, wants you to have the best of life. He is patiently waiting for you to allow him to give you the peace and joy that you need. He wants to give you life abundantly, though you'll have to wage spiritual warfare against the devil regularly to keep it in this life.
Even if your familyís falling apart, or if youíre depressed, or if youíre suicidal, or if youíre at a dead end, if youíre unhappy, or if your life is upside down . . . only Jesus has the power to turn your life around. If you truly surrender your life to Him, He will not hesitate to wipe your slate clean and give you a fresh start. Itís your sins (unrighteousness, meaning: improper conduct toward God and others) that keep you away from God but the Bible says that if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (See: 1 John 1:9). That's a promise, by the way!
Even once you have given your life to Jesus (if you choose to do so, and be wise and please do so!) the tricks and temptations of Satan donít stop. At times it is hard, but if you have made Jesus Christ your Lord and Savior ... you then have the Grace of God which helps us through anything in life, no matter what trials God allows to come our way. I wouldn't be telling you all the truth if I said that trials will never come. Jesus promised His followers they would come.
Trials build character in us. Without trials, no Godly character would be formed in us. If I had never hated the people so much that hurt me growing up and had to forgive them since I've become a born again believer ... I may never have come to fully realize just how difficult it must have been for God the Father to sacrifice His Son on the Cross so He could forgive everyone who has hurt Him ... who has sinned against Him and others.
Would you like someone to call you "B.O." (Body Odor)? Think of how much it must hurt God when we use His name as a swear word. It must hurt much worse than calling him "The big Body Odor in the sky."
God said we will have troubles in this life. (See: Act 14:22). Trouble will happen and we cannot avoid it. It is better to go through lifeís struggles knowing that you can turn to God anytime of the day or night as opposed to going through pain alone. People will tend to turn their backs on you but God will never leave you or forsake you. (See: Hebrews 13:5-6). And heíll also give you a Church family to help you along the way, even if you are in a remote land and it's only one or two friends.
[Staff note: Many people having gone through great pain and suffering after they have become Christians can greatly struggle with Hebrews 13:5-6, because it is sometimes very easy to believe God has either left them and/or forsaken them. We encourage you to click on the following two links when you are done reading this testimony, for some insight on this issue of Hebrews 13:5-6, if you believe God has forsaken you, or someone you know is struggling with God.]:
I wrote a poem when I was in secondary school and it was about love. I actually wrote the poem to be able to love, or so I thought, at the time. I must have looked around me and realized that there was no one I could call a real friend, because the first line of the poem is Love is the only good friend to me.
Itís very easy to replace the word love with the word God in the poem. And also the things I write about describe Godís very nature. I John 4:8 says: God is Love.
People take love for granted. People who claim there is no God would never claim there is no such thing as love, yet what they don't realize is that if there was no God ... there would be no love either.
[I want to say something here, and then I'll get back to my testimony. There are some people in the "Church" (and out of it as well, of course) who know about God but donít know Him on a personal level. The "Church" won't Save you from your sins. Only the innocent, pure, shed blood of Jesus Christ will Save you from your sins ... and your obedience to New Testament commands as the Holy Spirit helps you. If you don't know God personally, you really aren't spiritually born again, as Jesus talks about in John Chapter 3, and you need to seriously seek God about whether you are truly even Saved -- meaning that you will spend eternity in Heaven with God. Don't let the devil deceive you, and don't deceive yourself. Scripture states that the demons know about God, and tremble, because they know that judgment has already been set for them, and it's just a matter of time before it will be fully executed. (See: James 2:19; Matthew 8:29). Remember ... there is a universe of difference (heaven and hell difference!) between being "religious" and obeying New Testament Biblical Truth. Obeying New Testament Truth is obeying Jesus Christ. Obeying Jesus Christ is obeying God the Father and God The Holy Spirit. The "religious" folks of Jesus' day crucified Him because they believed the devil's lie ... that Jesus was a false Messiah (the One who will save people from their sins). The demons Jesus confronted in Matthew 8:29 never called Him the false Messiah, did they?
We have a lot of "religious" people in our day as well. Learn as quickly as possible to discern who truly is a bonafied disciple of Jesus Christ and a follower of all the Truth of God's Word, not just portions of it to try to blend in with the true disciples. God calls these "spiritual terrorists" wolves in sheep's clothing -- disciples of the devil and haven't figured it out yet as many of the Pharisee's and the Sadducees hadn't figured it out either ... until they died.]
When I wrote this poem, I didnít know God personally. At the time, I didnít even know about Him! I was around 14 years old and I was still in spiritual darkness. I must have written this poem about God without my realizing at the time that it was about God.
Love is the only good friend to me,
Love has always been true to me;
Love has never been negative,
ĎCause I love love and I know it likes me.
Love has always been on my side,
It stands by me through good and bad times;
When I feel I canít go on any longer,
Love has been there to make me feel stronger.
Through sad times
Through happy times
Through tension and ease
Love has never stopped loving me
When a dayís been very tough
Loveís been there to cheer me up
It has always taken an interest in me
Itíll always be there through thick and thin
ĎCause I love love and I know it likes me
It has never wanted me for a little while
Love has wanted me all the time
It has never taken me for granted
Love has made me feel really wanted
Everyday now I wake up knowing
Love is there to keep me going
It has never intended to upset me
ĎCause I love love and I know it likes me
Without love I couldnít go on
So thank you love, youíve made me feel strong
Wherever I am, whatever I do
Love will always be here with me too
Itís been there forever and now I see
I love love and I know it likes me
Thereíll always be a place in my heart for love
Because without love I wouldnít be able to go on
It has always been there to comfort me
It has always been my friend
Itís the only thing on earth
I know will never end
The poem speaks for itself. Itís simple but effective. God wants you to know His nature and He has done so in this poem. Maybe you have a false image, or no image of God at all. God wants to challenge the way you see Him. Maybe youíve been hurt in the past and you might hold a grudge against God. You might be angry or bitter at Him. God is inviting you to come to Him as you are with all your past hurts. He doesnít want you bitter or angry. (That's what the devil wants for you!). God wants to relieve you of all the burdens that bitterness and anger can place on a person. And He can, and will . . . but you have to let Him. You have to ask Him for His help (He's a true gentleman) -- He never forces Himself on anyone. Be patient with Him also, as He's been patient with us humans for a long, long time. God's timing and ways of working in our lives are not always the way we might hope or expect, I'm sure you may realize.
Jesus says: ďBehold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.Ē -- Revelation 3:20
During my time in the world, or without God in my life, I always knew that God existed. I just didnít give Him much thought. I wasnít born in a Christian household and none of my family took God seriously. I guess they didnít give Him much thought either! I didnít know any better. I didnít know that you could actually have an intimate relationship with God ... which is what He desires with each of us.
St. Angelaís also has a Sixth Form centre and I stayed on from secondary school to do my further education at the Sixth Form. During my college years I became more aware of God's existence. Reason being, that while doing work, or just sitting at my desk in the bedroom, every time I realized I lost something, I would always find it without even having to thoroughly search for it. It was as if my eyes were directed to where that thing was. I always thanked God every time that happened. I always knew it was Divine intervention. I was still ignorant of the fact that I could have a relationship with Him, however.
I remember a time I was standing on the curb, waiting to cross the main road to get home. For no reason at all, and just out of the blue for the sake of it, I took a few small steps away from the curb. A few moments later a red car was abnormally speeding down the road. The car, in its excessive speed, slightly turned from the road to the sidewalk allowing the tires to screech along the curb where my feet were previously. The car then crashed into a then double Decker 25 bus, but only the bonnet (hood) of the car was damaged.
I also remember a time when I was sitting on my bed, saying in my head that I wouldnít allow what other people thought of me to get me down. I wasnít talking to myself; I was talking to God, because I knew He could hear me. I never prayed or involved God in any part of my life; I just knew He was there. I didnít know anything about accepting Jesus as a Savoir, or Him being Lord of my life (seeking to constantly strive to do God's will in accordance with New Testament guidelines instead of my own selfish will all the time, is what making Him "Lord" means, or allowing Him to be "Lord of one's life").
Because He is omni-present, I always knew He was always watching me.
There came a time when I thought that maybe I should do something "God-like." I couldnít just ignore Him completely, so at one point I started listening to a Gospel song every night before I went to bed. That stopped as time passed on.
For all of you reading this who donít personally know Him: God hasnít changed. He still intervenes in peoplesí lives today. Jesus isnít an old ancient Biblical figure. He is very much alive and working today, right now, as you read this. He is changing and has changed the lives of millions of people around the globe. He still performs miracles big and small. He still heals, and restores. He still brings light to darkness. He is the light. Your life is dark without him. You will never know peace until you know Jesus. You will never be a light bearer until you have Jesus in your life. His words will never be a light to your path until you surrender your life (which is surrendering your sinful, selfish, stubborn, unbelieving the Truth of the New Testament, prideful will) to Him. Following Jesus isnít boring, though trials will come, as will times of great joy. It's the most exciting thing you could ever do with your life on earth, once you've crossed over the line from spiritual darkness to spiritual light (and don't let bitterness and resentment toward God seep very deep into your soul for very long when you get tested). Testimonies that truly glorify Jesus Christ and Biblical Truth are never written with the Holy Spirit's blessing without first passing a test(s).
Tests to one degree or another are always painful ... but they are more valuable to us than all the earthly wealth, the Bible tells us!
In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love, though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith, the salvation of your souls. -- 1 Peter 1:6-9.
Some people don't realize this above scripture was written to Christian believers (disciples of Jesus Christ, in other words) at the time ... not unbelievers. Nothing has changed.
Finally there came a time when I decided to take God seriously. I wouldnít say I decided it was time. It felt more like it was time for me to come further. Itís like God was saying ďCome on now, thatís it; come to Me. There you go.Ē Maybe the thought just crossed my mind, I donít know. If that was the case, it was a very strong thought because I realized at the time that I should be doing a lot more with and for God.
This happened at the beginning of my second year at Sixth Form, around mid- September, 2002. At the time, the only Church I went to was a Catholic Church called St. Anthonyís, which is only three minutes away from the college. And the only time I went there was with the whole sixth form on occasions, such as Easter, Christmas, and the like. I never went to Church on Sundays or any other day of the week.
I didnít really know what I should do from this moment on and itís not as if I could go to anyone about it because everyone around me wasnít on the same page as me. They were still in the world (spiritual darkness, is what the Bible means when I say "in the world"), so they wouldnít understand.
I did only what I knew to do. I started planning appointments with God. So I decided that for 10 or 15 minutes every morning before I started college, I would go to St. Anthonyís Church. I wouldnít know exactly what it is I would do within that 10 or 15 minutes -- all I knew is that I was going.
The Sixth Form had a service in the Church to mark the beginning of the new term and terms ahead. Usually I was bored because the services were boring, but this time I was attentive because I wanted to know more about God from anyone who could tell me anything about Him. I guess I was looking for direction and thought that maybe St. Anthonyís would be my home Church.
Every September the Sixth Form has various things planned for the year ahead, such as groups people can join and stuff like that. I looked through the booklet with all the names and descriptions of the groups to see if anything would interest me. One of them was a liturgy group that was supposed to be held at lunch times on Wednesdays. The description of the group included something like: You will discuss topics related to the Bible and everyday life. It is a chance to meet others and make new friends in the Sixth Form. Join, and expect to be left refreshed after every meeting. That sounded good enough to me because it had something to do with God. So the following week, I went along to join the group which was held in the small Chapel, which was located on the second floor of the Sixth Form building.
On my way to the chapel I met Gertrude, who was also with a group of other people I didnít know. Gertrude and another girl called Stella held a Bible study every lunch time in one of the classrooms. This group was previously started by a girl named Ivy. The classroom where it was held happened to be on the same floor as the chapel. Gertrude told me all about the Bible study and invited me to come that very lunchtime.
It seemed interesting so I went there instead of the Chapel. I asked her if she went to the liturgy group and she looked at me as if she didnít know what I was talking about. I liked the group and kept going for the rest of the time I was at that Sixth Form. The meetings were very helpful because we learned a lot, and I also enjoyed them very much, we had a good old laugh! We would get taught the Word of God (Bible) and also have discussions. We would also meet every Friday in the chapel after lessons for prayer and teaching of the Word of God.
Gertrude went to a church called PIWC (Pentecost International Worship Centre). Through her, God led me to the place where, at the time, He wanted me to be. And it was PIWC.
Gertrude eventually invited me and another girl called Charlene to a service one Sunday. So we went. Charlene arrived at the bus station later than arranged. I began to panic because I thought we would be too late. I didnít really want to miss a thing. We met Gertrude halfway and we all went together. We got there in the end and the atmosphere was unlike what we expected. We were pleasantly surprised. We had never seen anyone praying the way they did. They were actually praying out loud and some people were speaking in tongues. Charlene and I looked at each other ... wondering what was going on. They were also praising God in ways weíve never seen before. They were lively, happy, joyful, and active. We both loved the service and were greeted by members of the Church very warmly. They were genuinely happy to see us.
During the service we were both given a Welcome Pack, which is given to newcomers who are asked to stand, and are given a round of applause. In the Welcome Pack, amongst other things, was a card which we were asked to fill in. On the card was one-line sentences with tick boxes at the end of them, which were: I am just visiting the church: I want to know more about Jesus: I want to receive Jesus as my Savoir; and: I want to become a member of the Church.
I ticked the member box and gave the card to one of the elders or deacons of the church. From that Sunday on I went to PIWC almost every Sunday, Thursday for bible study, and Friday for prayer meeting.
One Friday was an all night prayer meeting which I attended. In a room upstairs away from the main hall, Ivy - who held the bible study before Gertrude and Stella at the Sixth Form and who was the one who invited Gertrude to PIWC - was being taught about water baptism by an elder of the church (who goes by the name of Chris Dampare). I joined them because I wanted to know what was being taught. There was always a part of me that had a thirst to know more of God and get closer to Him. During the teaching, Gertrude also joined us.
At the end, Ivy mentioned to the elder a fact that I hadnít yet said "the sinnersí prayer" or as other's might call it, "the prayer of salvation." I had never heard of "the prayer of salvation" before. I didnít even know a prayer had to be said to be forgiven of my sins. I just assumed doing Christian things automatically forgave them!
He asked me if I was ready and I honestly not having a clue what these people were talking about at all . . . said, "Yes I am."
So - the four of us held hands together and he told me to repeat everything he said. He led me through the prayer of salvation, but of course at the time I was kind of confused as to exactly what it was that I was doing. Afterwards, it was suggested that I read the Gospel of John, which is recommended to anyone who has just given their life to Jesus.
The first time I understood that you had to confess with your own mouth and believe to the depths of your own being Jesusí death and resurrection for the sins of the world -- for my own personal sins to be forgiven (hence the personal "prayer of salvation") -- I said it straight away. Whatever had to be done, I did it -- no questions asked.
Here is where the Bible says we must do this, in case you aren't aware:
If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved, for with the heart one believes to righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made to salvation. -- Romans 10:9-10
Some people do the confession part of this prayer and believe and deceive themselves into thinking that is all that is necessary to be "Saved" from their sins. Obeying God after that is far more important than mere confessing. God makes this perfectly clear by the words of Jesus Himself in Matthew 7:21:
Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.
[Editorial Staff Note here before going on with Leah's testimony. Don't let the devil trap you into thinking you must obey the New Testament and the Old Testament Jewish laws as well. If you seek to obey New Testament commandments with sincerity and with humility and honesty, relying on God's grace, patience and the help and wisdom of the Holy Spirit to help you understand and obey them (Obeying the "letter of the Law" without mixing the applied proper understanding and wisdom of the Holy Spirit to the written Word almost always leads to spiritual bondage of one form or another, which is the devil's playground and delight!) ... you will automatically be obeying every command God gave to the Jewish people in the Old Testament that has any lasting spiritual, eternal significance.
In other words, if you are truly seeking to please God as a Christian, you will be empowered to obey the Old Testament ten Commandments as you mature in your relationship with Jesus Christ. (Even if you break one or more of the ten Commandments after you get Saved, you can receive forgiveness for it, and be back in good standing with God, if you confess your sin to God and mean with sincerity that you are sorry, and that's the Truth!)
As the Apostle Paul through inspiration of the Holy Spirit made very clear in Romans and Galatians, obeying the ten Commandments (let alone all the other commands and decrees God gave the Jewish nation to abide by) can never "Save" you from your sins, or "keep you Saved" from your sins. Trusting God that the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ His Son (who is and always was One of the three persons of the eternal Godhead) paid for all your past, present, and future sins (as long as you confess them to Him, of course) is the only thing that will "Save" you from your sins ... and keep you "Saved from your sins."]
There was a time during my latter years of secondary school when a bunch of us were at the bus stop waiting for the bus. A stranger came up to me, asking me if he could talk to me away from the group. He told me that God told him to tell me that He (God) had a great calling upon my life. I, not knowing what this man was talking about, thought this man was crazy and probably had one too many at the pub. I thought He must be hearing things.
Now I've come to understand differently. Everyone has a calling. Everyone has a purpose. The only way youíll find out yours is if you go to the One who gave you that calling, and begin to walk in obedience to Him. He didn't give you a chance to live just for selfish pleasure and satisfaction and the pursuit of happiness. God is not against those things at all ... but they are not to be life's pursuits unto themselves, as they can't help but be "gods" (idols) of our own making when we don't acknowledge that the death of Jesus Christ for our sins is what God wants us prioritizing first ... then seeking to walk in the fullness of the Holy Spirit (obedience to God's New Covenant Word).
New Covenant (New Testament) scripture promises that though we may have to give up some of this life's temporary pleasure ... we'll gain joyful pleasure for eternity for doing so!
Finally, as a simple yet sobering reminder: We were not created for ourselves. We were created to impact this sinful world for the cause of which Jesus Christ gave His life for ... to help sinners come to realize they can be forgiven for their sins just like we have been forgiven ... and to help disciples of Jesus Christ fulfill the call God has on their lives. Any pursuits that don't involve those two priorities in some fashion will only result in "wood, hay and stubble" on the Judgment Day, as 1 Corinthians 3:8-17 clearly warns, bringing us no eternal reward.
Thank you for reading my testimony. I pray that God will somehow use it to glorify Himself.
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Dear Reader - are you at peace with God? If not, you can be. Do you know what awaits you when you die? You can have the assurance from God that heaven will be your home, if you would like to be certain. Either Jesus Christ died for your sins, or He didn't (He did!). Are you prepared to stand before God on the Judgment Day and tell Him that you didn't need the shed blood of Jesus Christ on the Cross to have your sins forgiven and get in right-standing with God? We plead with you ... please don't make such a tragic mistake.
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