Here is the testimony of how Christ came in to my life, and how I finally was convinced of His love for me.
I was raised in a Christian home with parents who loved Jesus and served Him with all of their hearts. We grew up attending church on a regular basis, and being involved in all of the programs it offered. My parents lived like Christians at home as well. They prayed with us, taught us Bible stories, and spoke daily about Jesus. I was a good church girl, and grew up knowing that God was real and that He sent Jesus to die on the cross for my sins. When I was 8 years old I went to a Bible camp, and felt that God had called me to be a missionary to Russia, and for a long time that is what I was on track to do.
Then the teenage years hit. I become more interested in finding acceptance with my peers, than I was in accepting the unconditional acceptance of Jesus. I began to compromise my beliefs, and question the faith I had as a child. Even though Jesus sacrificed for me, I was not willing to sacrifice my popularity or reputation for Him. The cost of following Christ was too much in my adolescent estimation. I had a group of friends that I was close to, and they began to make some big life choices that I knew were not right for me. I was able to abstain from most of the temptations, but it was beginning to effect me. My strength to say "no" was slowly being chipped away, and my feet were on a wide path leading to a destination far apart from God.
In early November of 1994 my parents had grounded me from everything but breath in response to some of my rebellious behavior. One thing they did let me do, was go to youth group. In the later part of that month the youth group at Calvary Church in Naperville was going to an overnight convention. My parents allowed me to go, and because it was the first time I was going to be let out of the house, I willingly went.
I sat there for two services with my arms crossed, and my heart closed. I was surrounded by thousands of youth worshipping and listening to the preacher, but I wasn't going to have any part of a God who had made my life so miserable (or so I thought).
On the second night there, the preacher called people to the front who wanted to give their hearts to Christ. I didn't budge. My youth pastor came over and said, "If you go up there, I'll go with you." So I went. I knew deep down, my life was in shambles not because of God, but because I was living my life without Him.
That day changed my life. I went back to school on Monday a different person. I was no longer ashamed of my faith, and instead of hiding my relationship with Christ, I told anyone who would listen about how free and peaceful I felt. My social life did suffer, and I went through a tremendous period of loneliness. I knew that I couldn't surround myself with people who didn't support my faith, because I wasn't strong enough to remain uninfluenced. I sacrificed friends. I sacrificed social security. I sacrificed my reputation. But something amazing happened. All those things I "gave up" for Christ, really weren't sacrifices. They were acts of worship that I was honored to give back to a God who gave it all for me.
To this day, I have never been without friends. I feel like because I gave friendships up to God when I was 16, He has blessed beyond measure in that area. I am blessed to call many people friends. Those that love me for me.
That night in November, I was also filled with the Holy Spirit, and called in to full time ministry. I had a "Damascus Road" (See Acts 9) type of conversion. I was living life for myself, and as a result was depressed, heavy, and a slave to others. I met Christ, He lifted my burdens and carried them for me, and continues to do that until this day. He gives me a peace that passes all human understanding, and my eternity is secure, because my eternity is destined to be with Him.