The Journey Begins
My husband Barry and I eloped when we were eighteen. Shortly after we were married we spent a year apart due to military assignments. We reunited in England where we would be stationed for the next three years. For the first half of the assignment we visited a few churches, but didn’t like any of them. We were also into drinking and clubbing at the time, so the church scene seemed hypocritical.
I had just come off maternity leave with my first child and started working in a new section when I met a coworker, whom I now consider a good friend. She began to reach out to me and eventually invited me to her church.
I was skeptical about going. My previous church visits hadn’t left me with a good impression and I wasn’t up for another let down. I didn’t know my coworker very well, Barry was out of town on a business trip, and going alone was not an option.
I took my coworker asking me to church as a sign from God. Before Barry left for his trip, we had talked about finding church home. The birth of my daughter made us feel like we should get our lives right. We figured that we should start living better and doing more godly things. Hence, I decided to take her up on the offer.
Since I didn’t want to go alone, I called a friend and asked if she would join me. At first, she was against the whole idea. She believed that every religion was right and that they somehow all led to God. Church was the last place she wanted to go, but after much pleading on my part she decided to come.
I’ll never forget the first Sunday we visited. To get to the church, we had to drive down this long winding dirt road that was full of potholes. When we finally pulled up we saw battered tombstones in front of the church building. I had already made my mind up and knew that if any funny business was going on when we walked in, we would politely walk right back out.
There were only about twenty people there that Sunday and they all greeted us with a smile. When praise & worship was over a lady began to do a praise dance. My friend and I, in our immaturity, couldn’t stop laughing. Keep in my mind our backgrounds: I was Catholic and my friend didn’t go to church. We weren’t expecting to see a girl dancing to music before the congregation and in our opinion not doing a very good job. We were doing everything we could to keep our composure: nudging each other and bowing our heads. I know, we were just straight up WRONG.
After the announcements were made a woman donned the pulpit to preach. I had never seen a female pastor before, so it sparked some curiosity. I don’t remember exactly what she talked about that Sunday, but I was hooked. I couldn’t wait to get home and tell Barry about my experience and my friend shared the same excitement.
Barry returned about a month later and started attending the church, but felt uneasy about a woman being the pastor. After his apprehension left, we decided to join. It wasn’t long before God began a radical transformation in both of us. I purposed in my heart to live my life for God and my friend got saved. I decided not to curse anymore. I started watching what I was looking at on television and stopped listening to certain kinds of music.
Our new found love for the Lord couldn’t have come at a better time. Barry’s passion for music had become a constant source of contention in our marriage. He treated music more like a mistress than a hobby. There was no limit to how much money he would spend on equipment or anything he wanted for that matter. Late night dates and movies were replaced with him making beats and writing lyrics. I wasn’t used to sharing his attention with anything or anybody. I felt neglected and I wanted out.
We were at serious crossroad and I didn’t know how much longer we would be together. My daughter who was only a few months old was critical to the decision making process. I grew up without my father in the home and I hated the whole idea of my baby doing the same. I knew how nasty divorce or separation could be, but I couldn’t see toughing it out just for the sake of having a “family”.
I set up a meeting to talk to my pastor and I told her everything. I really just wanted her to validate my decision to leave and agree that his behavior was wrong. Some of my friends were already on board and thought I should do what would make me happy. After I shared my feelings, she provided godly wisdom on marriage and gave me examples of trials she had dealt with in hers. But what I remember most about the conversation were her parting words when she told me “Don’t leave him, the prayers of the righteous avail much”. I took her advice. I stayed and prayed.
A few months after our meeting, Barry went on a men’s retreat that was hosted by our church. He called me from the retreat to tell me that he was done with his music. After I realized he wasn’t playing, I was shocked. Music was his life and for him to walk away had to be God. He came home, threw all his CDs away, and got rid of every ounce of liquor we had. I can’t explain it, but his love for God made him more attractive to me. God answered my prayers in a mighty way and showed me His faithfulness.
My friend and I continued our pursuit for God. We bought new Bibles and read them every chance we got. We would call my coworker whenever we had a question or when a Scripture went over our heads (which was a lot). We decided to be baptized together and were the first baptismal since the church’s inception. My hunger for God was insatiable. The more I learned, the more I wanted to know. I couldn’t get enough of hearing, reading, or talking about God. I was in pure, baby Christian bliss for the next year.
I’ll never forget and will forever be grateful for the life changing experience while attending New Beginnings International. I learned so much and experienced tremendous growth in the Lord. The body of Christ there, as a whole, helped me build a firm foundation. The fellowship and love was so pure and genuine. I would soon see that not all churches were the same.