BLOOD OF JESUS
(The Lizzie Ann Troyer Story)
Jesus Did It!
By: Lizzie Ann Troyer
If you would like to view Lizzie Ann's Testimony on video, click on the following links: Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4
I grew up in a church that stressed rules, good works, and living a lowly lifestyle. They preached eternal fire of hell more than anything else. They actually discouraged studying the bible too much, lest it messes up your head. I had an older cousin who studied it a lot, then he had mental problems because of it, or so they said. There were other similar examples, of people who studied the bible a lot becoming 'weird'. Their greatest concern with group bible studies was that people would end up leaving the church. This was considered worse than death, and such people had to be shunned until they repent and come back into agreement with the church. At our home a short session of bible reading was a duty on those Sundays we didn't go to church, but otherwise it was not generally considered normal. It was considered strange to discuss the bible or spiritual things very much. That was the preacher's job to teach in church. Sometimes parents would teach their children.
Every evening and morning the family would gather and kneel at chairs for prayer. The father usually read a prayer out of the German prayer book, written by our Anabaptist for-fathers. In church one of the ministers would read a rather long prayer while the whole church knelt. They were great prayers, but could not suffice for a personal and up-to-date relationship with God. Also it was often read in a sing-song tone that was difficult to discern the words, besides the fact that it was in high German. We studied some German, both at home and at school, but our everyday speech was called Pennsylvania Dutch. Our church used Luther's German Bible, which we learned to read, but most people lacked in fluency. Our every-day language became so mixed with English that it is hardly recognizable as German, but even further from English, so we called it Pennsylvania Dutch. We learned English when we went to school as most of our studies were in English.
I have pleasant memories of summertime playing on the farm, and of the play-house my brothers built in the woods. We all helped gather the old rails from what used to be the fence around the farm. We called it our log cabin. We raided the neighborhood dumps for our furnishings. We found a lawn chair, a steel thing we used for a pretend fireplace, and dishes. Some of them were barely chipped, and they were our treasures. It was a sad day the next spring when we went back and found the cows had broken down our cabin. We milked the cows by hand, and I learned to help when I was 6 years old. We had chickens and sold the eggs to the hatchery. We had pigs and geese too. It was especially fun when the animals had babies. We all got to help feed them, and that was fun to watch them come running and eating. I thought it was so special when we had ducks, and one hid her nest full of eggs in the straw stack, till she came out with her brood of ducklings!
In wintertime, after school and carrying in wood for the stoves, feeding and bedding all the animals, gathering the eggs, milking the cows, and eating supper around the long family table, we would play a game or sing, until 8:30, when we had to wrap things up and get to bed by 9:00. Mom usually washed the dishes in the evening, but in the morning we girls had to do them before we left for school. I remember one summer day at noon my younger sister Lydia and I slipped out right after lunch as we often tried to do, because we did not want to get stuck with doing the dishes. We saw Mom coming after us, but we ran around Grandpa's house. I looked back, saw that she was still following us, and thinking 'I'm going to get a spanking', as I jumped off the concrete porch. I scraped my leg on the edge of the concrete and I still have a dent in the bone on the front of my leg. I did not get the strap that time, but I learned not to run away from authority.
We had lots of cousins and had fun when we got together. Especially with one family, who was from a more liberal church. They had tricycles we could ride, and the older ones had bikes. They had real dolls, which we were only allowed rag dolls.
We were living in Ohio, at that time, where I had very good friends in school and I loved it. We walked one and a half miles to our one-room Parochial School. We had one teacher and around 40 students ranging from First to Eighth grades. The teacher depended on student helpers a lot and she was also the disciplinarian. We never had a Principal but she kept an orderly, and learning atmosphere. The parents generally supported her discipline, with some exceptions. We had great times at recess and learned to help one another quietly with our studies. But for the most part we learned to read directions and study independently. No whispering was allowed without permission.
Several times I was allowed to spend the night at a friend's house. One time my parents went on a trip for about two weeks, and I had the greatest time of my life, staying with friends. They were from more liberal Amish churches than we were, and I always found the more liberal church people to be more friendly, kind and polite. So I thoroughly enjoyed my friends' families. I longed to learn their habits of politeness. Of course, I know it was a concern to my parents that we are being tempted with things our church did not allow, when we were with our friends. At my friend Rachel's house, her teenage sister played her guitar for me. I thought that was so awesome! Their church actually did not allow guitars either, but they kinda' let some of those things slide for the teenagers. She played and sang as I remember:
'I was once in Egypt's bondage. But the Son has made me free!
I am dwelling now in Canaan For the Son has made me free!
Free from condemnation, Jesus' blood avails for me
I am dwelling now in Canaan, For the Son has made me free!'
I always wanted a guitar but knew I could never have a real one. I made a toy out of cardboard cut to shape, tacked around a piece of wood and wrapped in paper that I colored brown all over. I added hooks for the rubber band strings.
When I was 10, at the school Christmas program my friend Rachel had my name in our gift exchange. She gave me just what I wanted, but did not really dare hope for' an etch-a-sketch! I was so excited and I noticed people were excited for me. Then we had to take turns to go up front and show our gift to the whole crowd of people, say whom it was from and 'Thank You'! I held it up, inside the box, too straight, so it fell out on the floor and the buttons broke! I was in shock, but caring people decided that my brother could maybe fix it, which I was not sure about, but he did it!
I read some Danny Orlis books, in which the characters were children, who would always be solving a mystery at a summer camp. In each book they would also lead someone in the sinner's prayer. I realized I needed to make a decision for Christ, so I prayed that prayer. I didn't have anyone to make my confession to, but I made a commitment to try to live right, according to the training I was under. That led to a great deal of confusion in the years that followed.
Then we moved to Missouri and our family had a hard time adjusting. I was big for my age and felt clumsy. My next younger sister was small and cute, as I always wanted to be. My family usually let her have her way, which I believed was because she was smaller, and the fact that she could talk circles around me. I learned that the easiest way to get along was for me to shut up. I was stressed about a lot of things and withdrew into a shell more and more. Once in awhile I would assert myself forcefully with all my pent-up feelings. The cousin girls around here were all younger and they and my younger sisters ran around the house among the adults in such a way as I felt too big and self-conscious to do. My older sister hung out with the boys and I was not invited with them either. A couple times we all played something together which was very special to me.
Praises and hugs were foreign to our home. I was the odd-ball of the family. Not only did I read the bible at odd times, but I also tried to hide to make little gifts for my seven sisters and three brothers. At least my little sisters appreciated what I made for them. I was usually daydreaming and mentally uninvolved in what everyone else was doing. Because I tried to do private things without a private space, they laughed at me. I tried to dream up ways to bring happiness, without much success. It just made me more weird and self-conscious of my own family. I even set the alarm at 4:00 or 5:00 A.M. to have some private time, when I was 12. A few times I went out and milked as many of the cows as I could before anyone else got up. But I was not consistent and often lagged behind in doing my share of the work, as well. I believe my emotional problems were primarily from thinking too much about myself. Those thoughts always fed my pride, or my discouragement, because I was not able to live up to my own standard of acceptance, or be recognized as well as I wanted to be recognized. I found out later that is what self-consciousness is all about and that it is pride in disguise! I had not learned to let go, and let Jesus Christ be my identity.
Once I heard my older brother's hidden radio, and was in a dilemma about telling my parents. I did tell, because my oldest brother was getting baptized into the church, and I was afraid he would go to hell if he joined church with a radio in his room. I was already troubled knowing that he had been bribed into joining church, in the first place. The church taught that a radio was one of the most evil things you could have, and they would shun you for having one if you were a church member. But I knew I would be rejected more than ever if my brothers found out I had told. (Actually my youngest brother who was just older than me retained a normal attitude toward me, and sometimes we had real talks.) Then, when my Mom told me she had found the radio, I thought she had a smirk on her face. That totally devastated me; I didn't even want to know about it. I considered suicide, or running away, but I thought I would go to hell for either of those options. I often wondered why I had to be born in the first place. I stuck it out, through my teen years, which I call the 'dark ages'. I must qualify here that my Mom does not think she laughed. Years later when we girls had such a rebellious attitude toward Mom, Dad finally asked us to talk to her about what the problem was. I told about what happened when I was 12, and Mom was shocked! She apologized if she did something wrong, and I forgave her. Mom really did try to raise us right, and to do things to make our home happier. Dad tried too, but they both had a hard life and had their own issues as well. Dad had a nervous breakdown once and struggled with it a lot.
I got along great with my four little sisters, which were from five to twelve years younger than I was. I think I was their favorite babysitter. I was so excited when my youngest sister was born on my twelfth birthday. Also for a while my parents let me live with a very kind elderly couple and go to school from there. I think my parents knew I was better off there than at home. I was there to work, like carry in firewood, etc.. but it helped me through that critical time when I felt rejected by my oldest brothers and older sister. Then I worked, living in, for several different young families with lots of little children. It was very hard work, and long days, but the appreciation, and personal significance I found in it was worth it all, to me.
I had childhood fears like many children do, but I would not tell anybody. At night it felt spooky going out to the outhouse alone in the dark, because, of course, our church did not allow indoor bathrooms. Sometimes one of my sisters wanted to go at the same time, but I did not want to be 'too chicken' to go alone, as well. Sometimes a flashlight was available too, but if not, I was determined I could find my way around just fine without one. When out there in the dark the fears pounded my mind, so I learned to constantly repeat a prayer silently to fill my mind and crowd out the 'what if' thoughts. The prayer I chose was from one of our German songs, and translates; 'My God, I pray through Jesus' blood, only make my end good'. That got me through.
My eighth grade year at school was very special. Our new neighbor Glen was our teacher and we had such good times, just talking. At lunch he would get the whole school into a discussion and we would talk for the whole noon hour. That was better than playing. He limped from having had polio as a child, but he was always positive, and made everyone feel accepted. His Dad was the Bishop, and he preached the love of God with such passion that I could have sat on our straight, wooden, backless benches all day, listening to him. They soon moved again to another church district, to our great loss. Their whole family has now left the Amish and Glen pastors a Baptist Church. They are still friends of mine.
At age 14, I was through the eighth grade, which is as far as we went, except for going back once a week for another term to review and help the teacher. One evening after my weekly day as 'teacher's helper', my Mom sent me with the horse and buggy to help out a family I had never met. It was dark by the time I got there and I had to light the oil lantern hanging on the side of the buggy. They were so appreciative of my help, which made it all worthwhile. But although I could hardly believe the challenge before me, I was determined to do my best to live up to what was expected of me. Jake, the man of the house was deaf, but he was pretty good at figuring out what was up. He took my horse to the barn and I found his wife in the house in bed where she had been for two weeks. A toddler-age little girl was running around the house. The two boys were around age ten and twelve. Their mother was trying to talk them into going out to the barn to help their Dad with the evening milking etc. So I offered to go help to encourage them. After milking a cow I went into the house and talked with the mother about what needed to be done in the house. She asked if I knew how to bake bread. That was no problem, I baked bread a lot at home. But I had never done the laundry by myself, and there was a two-weeks pile of it, besides all the diapers to pre-wash by hand.
First I washed up the dishes piled on the counter, and made some soup for supper. The boys translated sign language for their Dad and me to chat around the table a bit. Then I made preparations for the busiest day of my life on the morrow. In the morning after breakfast and packing the boys' school lunches, I heated water for the laundry on the wood burning cook stove in the kitchen, while I baked the bread in the oven. Outside the temperature was close to 0 degrees Fahrenheit. The ringer washer was in the unheated woodshed, and the gasoline engine to run it would not start because of the cold. I went out to find Jake, who understood as soon as he saw me. He got it going for me and I conquered that huge pile of laundry. There was of course no dryer as the church did not allow modern conveniences. I hung some laundry out to freeze-dry but most of the drying had to at least be finished up in the house. It took several days to get it all done. The second day I baked the pies and made other preparations to have about a dozen men for dinner, as they were coming to help Jake shred cornstalks the next day. Several of the men brought their wives, so I decided to be a little girl again and let them oversee the cooking and serving, and I just helped, but did not have to make the decisions.
In the springtime I was driving as many as six horses in the fields, pulling the farm machinery, when I was home. I enjoyed the long days in the fields, with only the horses, God, and myself. It relieved some of my stress. Most of the time I spent singing at the top of my voice. I learned many good gospel hymns by heart, which helped me to believe in a loving side of God, and later on in assurance of salvation.
Also we raised strawberries and picked them to sell as a cash crop. We were very competitive, and always racing to fill the most quarts. My parents paid us five cents a quart, which was very special. Normally we never got paid for working until we were 21.
In the summertime we had to put up hay which was always a problem for my back. It was better for me to work for other families who needed help in the house, which I did a lot.
In the Fall the big job was husking all the corn by hand before winter set in.
In this community everybody was expected to join the church at age 17. This was accomplished by faithfully going through instruction classes with the ministers and submitting to their scrutiny that we satisfied the rules of the church, like dress code, etc. Then if the church voted that we were doing good enough, they baptized us by pouring a bit of water on our heads.
Well, I thought they had things turned around a bit with their tradition that everybody gets baptized at the same age. I thought we should make that decision ourselves, on an individual basis like they did back in Ohio. So when I turned 17, I set out to break this tradition. I quietly refused to join the class for a couple of weeks. The ministers and the neighbors came to talk to my parents about it, so my parents put pressure on me day, after day, after day. I finally concluded that I'm disobeying my parents not to join the class then, and that it was not justifiable to disobey God's command to obey my parents, just to break this tradition. I told my Dad, 'I want you to know that I'm doing it because you said to'.
I was almost 19, when I started teaching church school, out of State. But just before that, we didn't have a milk market for a while, and had very little income. So I was able to persuade my parents to let me go for three months to Pennsylvania, and work at the cider press that my friend's family owned. I was paid a record-breaking wage for a girl, of $15 a day. I sent it home, except for the cost of the trip. I was glad to give them the money because I had always felt like I was a burden on my family. I had never been able to work as fast as my older sister, and I had often complained of too much backache or headache, to work. They had probably spent several hundred dollars on doctor visits, only to find that my problems were from too heavy lifting on the farm, besides just my nerves. Here was my chance to pay them back and feel better about myself. Anyway, in our church we were expected to work for our parents, or give them the wages we earned until we were 21.
I was so happy to get to go to Pennsylvania, primarily to be able to visit my best friend. Her family had moved there about the same time we had moved to Missouri, seven years earlier. We had been writing letters all that time, which meant a lot to me. I had a good time there too, and she was an example to me of how to better relate to one's own family and other people. Actually I met my husband-to-be there, in a limited and casual way. Three years later when he was ready, he visited our community in Missouri. As usual, I was not only away from home, but was out of state, teaching school. Eventually he got my address and sent me a letter. We wrote many letters to each other all delivered by snail mail, before we got married the next year. We had no phones, nor e-mail either, but we traveled by greyhound bus between Missouri and Pennsylvania several times before we got married the next year. We loved each other so much more than anything I had ever known, as I really had not fully experienced of the love of God as yet.
As far as I was concerned my husband was my life, and all that I wanted out of life. I thought that being with him and his community would help me be a better person before God as well. I really tried to be a Godly person like my husband was. But I soon had a problem with his family, which led to a problem with him as well. I became more and more bitter, and felt convicted of the unforgiveness in my heart.
I also lived in constant fear. I had the wrong fear of God. I still understood Him as a stern Judge more than as a loving Father. I was afraid He would take my husband away, and I worried that I could not accept that without getting bitter at God. That would make me guilty again, and really, my greatest fear was of being found guilty before God. I knew God required our full commitment, without any reservations. I always had reservations so I felt condemned. But finally, when I could not take the burden any longer, I broke down before God, and confessed, without holding anything back. He took the load off me, but then came time for commitment. I had always understood that I have to promise to live right and prove myself over time in order to deserve God's forgiveness. But I was tired out from trying to be a better person, and I had no confidence left in myself, to be able to face life as a humble child of God. So instead of the usual commitment to live a better life, I told God, 'Whatever YOU have planned for me, YOU are just going to have to TAKE me through, because I can't promise ANYTHING of myself!' I know now that it was the Holy Spirit that dropped this demanding prayer in my heart, and I said it before I thought it over. Otherwise my religious mind would surely have convinced me that I couldn't talk to God that way.
But I knew God was not mad at me because I had such peace and freedom within. I was free with my husband again too. I reconciled the issue I had with him, relieved to lay down the pressure my strong opinion had caused. I was beginning to really know God as my loving Father. He gave me the priceless gift of reconciliation with my husband at that point. Those three days were the best goodbye we could have had, although we of course did not know they would be our last days together on this earth. I am forever grateful to my all-knowing Heavenly Father for bringing us to that place of total peace between us. It is such a comfort to know he left this earth with the knowledge that all is well between us. I put my issue with another person on the altar and made a commitment to talk it over with him, only if he says he has time to talk. When I asked him he said 'no', so I assumed it is not my responsibility to tell him how he hurt me. I just made the choice to forgive and gave it to God. I have found that these things have to be placed back on the altar as often as they slip off of it again however. But that is the process of walking out our liberty, and it is better than carrying the load.
Then my husband was instantly killed in an explosion at work, which was his Dad's home business, and we lived there too. I stood beside his broken, bloody body, as the rescue people worked on him. I knew people were saying, 'He was a good man'. Indeed he was the best man I knew. But I knew he was not perfect, so I needed a better answer as to his eternal destiny. I asked the Lord to show me how I can know that my husband is saved. He reminded me what my husband's confidence was based upon. It was not on being a good person at all. He had recently confessed sin to me. He had also told me how he had cried out to God because of a sinful lifestyle he was caught in earlier. After he was free, in his letters to me, he was always rejoicing in the Lord. He wrote, 'It's only by the blood of Jesus that we will ever make it.' And he, 'so longed to meet his Lord.' Then in my mind's eye, I saw Jesus bleeding on the cross, and I finally knew that He alone was the answer. I had assurance of salvation for my husband. Then I realized, 'WOW!,' I can claim that for me too!
The Lord carried me through that time with a deep inner peace, like the bible says, "peace that passes understanding". I used to think I would struggle with hating God if he should take my husband. Instead I would wake up nights after a dream of my husband, and weep in thanksgiving to Jesus for taking care of my love, when I was helpless to do anything for him. He had given His own body to bleed and be broken to save him, as well as for me, and all people. I did miss him terribly, but Jesus was my comfort. Also I had our one-year-old baby girl, and our son who was born eight months later. They gave me a sense of purpose to live for, and a sense of connection still with their Dad. I was surrounded by family and friends who cared, and helped me with my needs. I didn't know I had so many friends till this happened. Everybody was sympathetic and it seemed like everybody cared about me as their friend now, including all of my own family. My parents tried to persuade me to move back with them. I declined as respectfully as I could, as even the thought gave me nightmares.
But even though there were caring people, I still have been lonely a great deal, and none of these friends were really with me all the way, on this whole journey, of Faith. Some in the family have rebuked me for becoming worldly, by saying Ben believed in staying Amish, or at least the strict conservative lifestyle. But I do not receive that condemnation. I do believe Ben was ahead of the rest of us in coming empty-handed to Jesus, and trusting in His shed blood alone for his ticket to heaven. But I have refused to plunge into the temptation of speculating what choices he would have made at every decision point I was faced with. I have full confidence that he would only want me to seek to follow God with my whole heart. My heavenly Father is patient, when I do make mistakes and when in my ignorance or lack of faith I make wrong choices He gives me another chance. I trust Ben would be that way too.
The tragedy had a great impact on many people. Some young men in the community realized that they would not have been prepared to face death so suddenly. So they began studying the bible together and found that Assurance of Salvation is in the bible. People were having 'new birth experiences', as we learned to call it when someone got saved. The church could not tolerate such boastfulness, as they considered it to be, when we were so excited about the Bible, and people getting saved. Friends tried to convince us to just be quiet about it, and not to cause trouble. But we read in the Bible all the time how we should 'confess the Lord Jesus Christ', 'praise the Lord for His goodness', 'and encourage one another with these words'. The bishop began to preach against Assurance of Salvation at every church service. That made it very difficult for my brother-in-law as he was a minister and had to bear witness to the message whether or not it was scriptural. He could not give a clear testimony to it. Also twice a year we had a special service in preparation for Communion service, in which we all had to confess agreement with the church, or get in trouble. So we had to leave, splitting the church in half. Sixteen young families left the strict bondage of religious tradition, to be free in Christ. We had our own church and school. I was the teacher for awhile, and the only single adult for years.
Actually before the church split, Lester Schrock, a single man, moved into the neighborhood with his parents, and we were visiting regularly, getting to know each other. Our first personal meeting occurred out of necessity. My brother-in-law had given me his big workhorse to hitch to our buggy as I did not own a horse. He was clumsy and had no horse-shoes on his hooves. There was a drizzling rain, making the smooth blacktop slippery. As my children and I were starting down the little hill in front of the Schrock's house the horse skidded and plopped right down on his hind end. Then he made a big lunge to get up, but he overdid it and his back end went over his head, which went down as his front feet slid. He was still firmly hitched to the shafts of the buggy so tightly that he could not move, as he lay there in the middle of the road. Neither could I budge any of the harness to loosen him. I first got my children off the buggy and the road, then started toward the Shrocks' house screaming 'help!' Lester, his Dad, and his younger brother were all in the house, so they got the horse loose in a few minutes, with barely a scratch. As we were watching, my three-year-old daughter Ruthie asked, 'why do they have three Dads?' She always wanted a Dad and every other family had one. (At least one!) She suggested to me after we got home that for a Dad 'we could just use Lester'. He did come over that evening and asked if he could visit, which became a regular thing until the church split. Lester was shy and a very nice man, but his oldest brother was just the opposite. Actually it was his brother's harsh attitude against those who were splitting away, and the meekness in which it was received by our group, that convinced me which side had the spirit of God. Up to that point I was holding back, believing we should stay and work with the Amish if at all possible. But here I clearly saw darkness against light. In my heart and mind the light won by not retaliating. At first Lester was going to go with us too, but his older brother talked him out of it. I was sorry about that, but I knew what was right for me and he had to make his own decision. I sure would not have wanted to be married to a man who could be manipulated by a brother like that.
We found a group of very conservative Mennonite churches, which believed in assurance of salvation. They did have cars, but only black ones, also electricity and phones. We had a hard time with such modernism because of the offense to the Amish people. We wanted nothing but clear scripture to stand between us. But we compromised and most of us moved to Kentucky to be under their church covering and mentoring. Our group bought a 280-acre farm and built about a dozen homes on it. First, we still did not have cars and electricity ourselves, but soon we began to see the futility of holding on to the old ways rather than simple practicality. Especially in the hills of Kentucky with its narrow winding, but paved roads, I really do not think it is safe to drive a horse and buggy. I did not get a car for five years and I was the last one in the group to get one. That was in part because I could not afford one, so we would occasionally get a ride with someone to town, etc. Otherwise, we walked around the neighborhood. School and Church was right there. Actually while I was teaching, we lived in the School and Church house. I shopped for a couple of months supplies when I went to town with someone. Of course we always had our gardens for fresh vegetables and fruit in summer, and canned food in winter. It was such a treat when we got electricity and freezers, to have frozen food instead of canned all the time! Also it did not seem to help our relationship with the Amish by avoiding changes. Our confession of faith was the real offence to them. So we made adjustments as we felt best for our own families. I got my first car when I started taking in foster babies, as I saw the need to have my own transportation. Now especially I would be responsible for more errands and I could not keep asking others to provide our transportation needs. We had a baby boy the first three and a half years of his life, till he was adopted along with his brother and four sisters, by a wonderful Christian couple. They accept us as extended family and we visit them whenever we travel down that way. He is a very good-hearted child; sweet, active and smart too!
Step by step the Lord showed us, however, how we were still in bondage or in a religious box. We all came to see the error of basing church membership on compliance with the Mennonite booklet of rules. Instead, we based on a personal testimony of salvation by Jesus' blood alone, counting all self-motivated works as filthy rags like Paul in Philippians 3 described his. Furthermore, we regularly shared with each other to make sure we all still had an on-going relationship with the Lord to match our revelation of dying to self, and living unto God. So to this day we are shunned by the Amish for promoting assurance of salvation, and by the Mennonites for dropping the rule booklet. The Amish still try to hold us accountable to our promise at baptism. They required us to promise to remain true to this church even if it costs us our lives. But first they asked us if we believe and confess this to be a true visible church of God? I decided at age 17 that I could answer "yes" to the question, so the promise was no problem. But now, since they went against the most basic element of the Gospel, Assurance of Salvation, I could no longer agree that they were a true church of God. Therefore, I believe the commitment to remain true to it, is void as well. I must qualify here that many new Amish communities have sprung up since we left that do at least to some extent allow Assurance of Salvation. Some here in Michigan even teach it! I was at my uncle's funeral close to Fremont in 2001, and the Bishop clearly preached salvation by the blood of Jesus only. This was the first time I heard that in an Old Order Amish church.
I still had a lot of struggles in my spirit after we left the church. I felt like people judged me falsely or harshly, because they misunderstood me. I would try to explain myself so people would respect me more. But when I focused on myself, I didn't have the joy of the Lord, so it seemed people thought I was guilty. One lady in particular challenged my new birth experience. So I asked the Lord, 'what if I am not born again, what can I do about it?' I immediately knew the answer; 'Absolutely nothing! But trust in Jesus' shed blood alone, it is finished!' If in my mind, I add or subtract any works of my own, I offend God. The Lord taught me that whenever I have a doubt about my salvation, I may come to Him and ask him to take over my life, just like getting saved all over again. Because the Bible says, as you have received Christ Jesus, so walk in Him. When I reached bottom, I knew I could look nowhere but up, for understanding. God so humbled me especially when I was rejected by trusted people and I made the decision to quit worrying about what people thought of me, or to try to change their minds. I finally just focused on God, thanking Him that He understood and accepted me. Pretty soon I felt more respected by people again.
I still had not learned to open up emotionally with people, which caused a lot of misunderstanding. Seven years after my husband's death my brother-in-law and his wife lost their one-year-old baby to a horrible drowning. They were so transparent with their emotions and the whole church mourned with them. It had an effect of putting me in touch with my emotions. I reread my husband's letters and could not sleep at all for two weeks, as I grieved. I shared my heart with people more than I ever had. I expressed myself by writing a song, which I had done a number of times before in the middle of the nights. But this time I could not let it go until I had written 22 verses, to get it out. And this time I shared it with all of my family by mail and with others around me, to give them a chance to understand me emotionally. This was not easy, but it was important. At that time I had a dream in which I saw Jesus coming in the clouds. He swooped down, put His arm around me and touched my heart. Gradually then I let go of the past and have found the Lord to be sufficient for me. Now I thank God for allowing me to be alive in this generation, which I believe will be a part of the greatest revival the world has ever seen! I am in awe of so much Bible Prophesy being fulfilled before our very eyes. Surely our glorious King is coming soon!
Eventually, we went separate directions for our spiritual fellowship, as we could not agree on further revelation several groups of our people believed. Especially most of them cannot accept my revelation, but I am committed anyway to endeavor to go all the way with God as He opens the way. I discovered that musical instruments are actually bringing glory to God in true worship. We had always been taught they were worldly. I learned about healing and the prophetic movement through books. My father-in-law, one brother-in-law, and his wife would find these precious books and pass them on to me. I had bought my first little tape recorder, and my sister-in-law gave me two worship tapes. I put one in and was overwhelmed with the praise. I looked up the scriptures that were quoted to see if it was true. I found it all in the bible, so I kept turning that tape around and listening to it all day for a week. I still treasure worship tapes. After that we had learned about a good Christian radio program, so we cautiously and prayerfully began listening to the radio. Next we got The Jesus Film, and found out we could use the TV & VCR set-up at the library to watch it. Soon we watched others there too. I felt a great responsibility, what I take my children to watch. It was hard to know what was O.K. because I had never seen movies before.
We also read about the baptism of the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues. We prayed and waited on God to be filled. I had a hard time believing that what I was speaking was the real thing, till we visited a church in Indiana. A missionary from Mexico was there and told of the most incredible miracles you can imagine, including dead raisings. But what moved me most was how whole villages who had been hostile to the gospel, would suddenly all get saved after one of them was raised from the dead; or an insane person was set free from demons; or a witch doctor would get born again, because Jesus proved Himself as alive and stronger than all the demonic powers they were used to. Then the missionary asked the church to stand and praise the Lord. I jumped up and praised the Lord in tongues out loud along with everybody else. After that I had no doubt that I had the real thing, even though I did not always feel the same inspiration.
I hardly knew how to function in public, much less raise my children out there. I spent a lot of time searching for what was scriptural teaching. For years I looked for a church where I could raise my two children to fit in, but that they also would be encouraged to love and go all the way with God. It required a lot of prayerful studying to try to understand what God's priorities are, for me to stand firm on, or what I can really compromise on. Religion can seem so Godly, even careful to follow the Bible, and still have no spiritual life in it. Gradually I was led away from the Amish and Mennonite dress codes, out of conviction that a religious dress code welcomes in the religious spirit. Jesus had more problems with the religious people than He did with the prostitutes. Sure, He told them to go and sin no more, but they easily recognized their sin. When they got to know their loving Savior they were forever changed. The religious leaders however resisted Him, because they valued their religious position, of being recognized as better than the average person. They were blind to the Truth, Jesus said. The same way today, the more steeped in religious tradition a church is, so much more blind they seem to be to the Truth. So I have made it my top priority for the last 20 years, to learn, as Paul learned, and says in Phil. 3:8,9,&10:
"Yea doubtless I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for Whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ. And be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God, by faith. That I may know Him and the power or His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death".
We started going to Charismatic churches in which my daughter and I were the only ones wearing head-coverings. That was our firm conviction until the Lord showed us that we were drawing attention to ourselves by being different and this was not glorifying God. Here is the answer I sent recently concerning the changes we had made and I was challenged for doing so.
you asked a fair question, and I will do my best to answer it as I understand
the word and character of God. First, yes I would feel awkward at my jobs
wearing Amish clothes. I don't know about not being accepted as much as just
that it would be a distraction.
As for your
question why the more spiritual people pay less attention to the command to wear
head coverings, I have searched for answers myself. I find that Jesus paid no
attention at all to it, but focused His message on knowing Him as, 'The way'
to eternal and abundant life, and sealed it with his blood.
Paul also focused his writings primarily on the same, and I believe everything he wrote agrees with that concept if we understand it in the setting and context he was writing. History indicates there was a cultural 'command' in place for women's head-covering, but some in Corinth questioned it. Paul in 1 Cor. 11 gives meaning to the custom, discourages contention, and points to the churches of God. The context of chapter 10 is avoiding offense to another's conscience, and 'whatsoever you do, do all to the glory of God.' Also in verse 33, 'Even as I please all men on all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit if many, that they might be saved.'
Today I think Paul would still point us to the custom of the churches of God as it would be a distraction from the 'Glory of God', drawing attention to ourselves to wear a head-covering in most churches. If we are walking with God, He will teach us to come into unity with the churches of God, not to cause a distraction from what God is doing there.
The basic mandate Jesus left to the church is, 'this Gospel of the kingdom shall be preached to all nations'. Where are the churches carrying out this mandate? By their fruits ye shall know them. I see the fruits of changed lives to godliness and souls saved. He also said, 'these signs shall follow them that believe', naming the same miracles Jesus performed. I see this too among the Christians I am affiliated with. I pray that I will never be a distraction to what God is doing through them. God forbid that I would stand against them to save my life! Many are being killed for this faith in other countries today. More Christians have been killed for their faith in the last 100 years, than in all the1900 years before that. I understand in the last ten years it has greatly increased again.
It is shocking to see what the most widespread religion around the world is like, which requires women to wear head-coverings, though no knowledgeable person would identify the Amish and Mennonites with them. The Moslem religion, or Islam, is the greatest threat to freedom and safety the world has ever seen. Islam is the source of world terrorism, and most of the persecution of Christians and Jews wherever they are in power. Their 'holy book' teaches not love, but hate and war. The only promise it gives for salvation is if one dies trying to kill Christians and Jews. They are taught that they must take over the world for Allah.
I also had to consider making a living. As long as we lived in the country, in a community of people from our background, they would help us if we seriously needed it. The men got together and built us a small two-story house. That is, the frame, and things we could not do. They would not take pay for most of their help. My children and I put the shingles on the roof, built all the partitions in the house, and put the sheet rock on the walls. I built the staircase and did all the perfa-taping and painting. My son Ben was six years old and he pounded a lot of nails into that house. He loved it, but his sister always struggled with the fact that her Mom was doing men's work and that we did not have a Daddy with us like all the other families did. She was insecure, feeling inferior, about our family being different, so she always looked for and got confirmation from other people. I did not know how to be the Mom she could really look up to, which led to difficult years in her teens.
We joined the Seventh Day Adventist Church for a while, because they taught their doctrines, with more Scripture backing than I had ever heard an organized church doing. Yet, in spite of all their bible studies, it was just another religious box. I mean, they had everything figured out what they thought is good and evil and what God would, or would not do. This limits God to just be God to us and move among and through us as He chooses. We must remember that His ways are above our ways as high as the heavens are above the earth, and we must not throw out everything our puny minds do not understand. Rather the Bible teaches us to judge by the fruit. We know from the Bible that God's will is for all to come to the knowledge of the Truth, which is Jesus. In Hebrew his name is Yeshua, which properly translated is Salvation. So the fruit I look for in any so-called move of God is this; are people born again as a result, and are the captives set free as Jesus commanded and set the example? Is it glorifying God, or man? I left again for the same basic reason I left the Amish. I found the same Religious spirit coming from their teachers, and my children were not being taught according to the concept that I believe is most vital; that the only righteousness that avails before God is Christ's righteousness given to us as a free gift, and it is an affront to God for us to try to earn it. We had even moved to a Seventh Day Adventist boarding school, where they provided housing and I worked on staff. We left after one term because I knew I had to get my family away from their influence. This was very difficult for my daughter, leaving all her friends, at age 15, and she was furious with me. That is when we moved to Northern Michigan, because my children had one uncle and family there that believed in the pure Gospel of Salvation by the blood of Jesus only, as well as the gifts of the Holy Spirit. I thought I had to be close to someone I could count on for my children to spend time with. There was another family we knew that used to be Amish as well, and that pastored a small church we were a part of.
We had some very difficult times when I felt so helpless, to reach my children. Many times I just gave them to God, and I marvel at what God has done! Only God could have orchestrated the kind of friends my daughter met at Spring Hill Camp where she started to work. They invited her to go to conferences she was not open to go to with me. She has learned to appreciate the Gifts of the Holy Spirit again, and she is very dedicated in her walk with God. She is now engaged to be married on June 7th to a stable young evangelist. My son also met friends at camp and at college that have inspired him to seek a deeper relationship with God. He leads a small Bible study group, is active in the larger worship group at College, and they are having revival. A few years ago he was mad at me because he thought I was trying to make him a preacher, but now he has a great desire to preach! He also has a very nice mature, responsible, and spiritually devoted girlfriend.
God has provided them with several very good spiritual youth leaders, who have inspired them to be missionaries to their generation. My children were always careful to be respectful and got along very well with all their teachers and their bosses they worked for. So they are doing very well. They have had their rebellious streaks with Mom, where the guards were down. But many times I simply would not know whether I should be allowing them to do the things they wanted to, or not, out of pure inexperience and ignorance on my part. So I told them that I do not know and cautioned them to pray about it themselves. They knew more about what they were talking about than I did. I think it helped them learn responsibility toward God, and to build a trust relationship between us. Now we have a very good relationship; actually almost more like I'm their sister than their Mom.
I moved to Grand Rapids in September of 2001, because my children were both moved out and in college. I don't want to keep up a country home by myself, and I came looking for more spiritual Fellowship. I also took a few college classes myself last year. I was usually the last one to finish a class project, and I thought my teachers might flunk me because my papers were quite contrary to the postmodern views of the books. But they all gave me a 4.0 final grade! It was a good experience but I decided it would require too much of my life to go on and get my teaching certificate. After substituting as a para-pro last year, I wasn't sure I wanted to teach a public school anyway. The teachers are so limited in what they can do to keep order for a good learning atmosphere.
So I am just working part-time, as a Home Health Aide again, to have more time for my real passion... to know the Holy Spirit in a deeper way! I spend my Saturdays in the Healing Rooms on the East side of town, because the presence of God is there. I feel like I'm in God's training school and I don't have time for a lot of the world's training. I've already raised my family, and I don't think God wants me to tie myself down too hard. God is calling me to intercession for revival, and for the people on the front lines of it. My greatest desire is to be effective, to help bring light to a dark world through the connection of the Holy Spirit. He is saying to me FOCUS, FOCUS, FOCUS! He is so much greater than all that the world has to offer. He is a light to me far beyond the issues of life that I deal with from day to day. I used to be all bound up in the religious spirit like the dark ages, but in that sense I have been raised from the dead. Like in the reformation of the Middle Ages light came in stages and brought division again and again. God is still teaching me, but at least now I am free in Christ. I am so blessed that He will use even me, in this revival, and I thank God for His faithful Ministers and Missionaries of the Gospel all over the world.
For the past ten years I have had a number of dreams in which a dead body would begin movement, and eventually rise again. Several times they got out of coffins, and these were Amish people. I see dead religion as a coffin, and God is about to raise the religious dead! My experience showed me that not only is the Amish religion like a coffin, but there are others as well, they are just more fancy coffins! God is pouring out His Spirit on all flesh, and He is looking for the body of Christ to come into unity with one agenda. That is to take this Gospel of the kingdom into all the world. It is not God's will that anyone should be lost, but that all should come to the knowledge of the truth. To be washed in the blood of Jesus, allowing Him to iron out our wrinkles, as we confess our faults one to another and pray for one another that we may be healed. Behold the Bridegroom cometh, go ye out to meet Him!
Thank you and God bless you for taking the time to read my testimony. If what I have shared with you has touched you in some way and you would like to contact me, I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I have never desired to go back to the spiritual darkness of my past, even in the most difficult times. I am determined to keep seeking to go deeper with God. I did not give up all of my society to come out and settle for anything less than going ALL THE WAY WITH GOD!
PLEASE HELP SHARE THE BEST NEWS GOD HAS FOR EVERY PERSON!
"And this gospel of the
died for sinners] shall be preached in all the world for a witness
unto all nations; and then shall the end come."
(Quote from Jesus Himself: Matthew 24:14).
Consider how many children in "all the nations" have never heard YET what Jesus accomplished for THEM at the cross? PLEASE HELP SPREAD THE GOOD NEWS TO THE LITTLE CHILDREN!
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JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT!
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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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