Enjoy reading these stories from MarJean, Joanna, Jessie and myself about how we came to know Jesus. When you’re through, please comment below and share your salvation story- if you have one! Have any prayer requests or questions? We look forward to connecting with you in the comments section.
MARJEAN- Christmas Day 1955. All my aunts and uncles gathered in my grandparents’s home to celebrate. I overheard them talk about Jesus in our hearts. I already loved God with child faith, but that day my cousin and I went into Gramma’s bedroom, knelt by her bed, and I asked Jesus to come into my heart.
At age nine, I stole towels from a public paddling pool with my friend to build a fort. The Holy Spirit greatly convicted me. I returned the towels, fervently asked God’s forgiveness, and sang, Into My Heart over and over.
By age thirteen I decided I didn’t want to be a “goodie-goodie” Christian. I wanted the acceptance of my classmates more than I wanted Jesus. Again, the Holy Spirit deeply convicted me and one night in church, I knew Jesus wanted ALL of me. I stood in response to the invitation and surrendered my life to Christ in the presence of many classmates.
The decision to surrender my whole heart to Jesus drastically changed my attitude and the direction of my life. I became more concerned that my friends came to Christ than about their acceptance of me. I stopped fighting with my brother and mouthing off to my parents. My mom noted the change, which surprised me. God did something within me that others observed. A desire to know God’s Word drew me to read it daily and I became more aware of His abiding presence. In college I discovered the power of prayer journaling, which began an almost daily recorded conversation back and forth with God—my thoughts, feelings, and prayers melded together with His words of comfort and direction from the Scriptures.
In sixty-plus years with Christ, I’m engaged in a life-long battle against the world, my fleshly desires, and the devil himself. Jesus said, “…In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33 NKJV). Every day I learn to trust Him, depend on Him, and love Him more. Every day I live in expectant hope of His soon return and deliverance from this battle. Until then I pray to walk in the light, abide in the Vine, and be strengthened to continue to serve Him. Every day.
In times of joy, I praise God because I don’t take joy for granted in this broken world. I remember, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13).
I sin in thought, word, and deed. Still. When I sin, I rightfully feel guilt and shame. I thank God for His Son who washes me clean again and reminds me, “If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. . . if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God” (1 Jn 3:20-21 NIV).
When I feel sorrow, I crawl into Jesus lap and nestle into His Everlasting Arms. He is the “Father of compassion and the God of all comfort who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God” (2 Corinthians 1:3-3-4 NIV. Experience teaches me not to medicate, fight, deny, or run from sorrow, but to allow pain to draw me closer to other people and to God who uses it to conform me to the image of Jesus.
Christ offers hope in the darkest times because “God said, ‘I will never leave you; never will I forsake you.’ So we say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid’” (Hebrews 13:5-6). Though age attacks my strength God still purposes to reveal His love and grace through me as long as I live.
JOANNA- When I was five or six, my mom put together a “Backyard Bible Club” program at our house. On the last day of the club, there was an invitation to receive Christ. Looking around at all the other little hands up, I shot my hand up as well. We were gathered together and led in prayer by a leader. As a child, that was enough. It was enough to believe what my parents said was true, as truth. So life went on, but then the doubt began to grow it’s way into my little 9 year old heart as night after night I was plagued by nightmares portraying that I would be separated from my family in death. Vivid images of the devil, being trapped and unable to get out, had me waking up in the middle of the night and running to my mother. I remember asking her “Mom am I saved?” and her telling me “I can’t tell you that Joanna. You have to come to that yourself.” I didn’t like that answer – I wanted the assurance from my mom. I wanted the verbal confirmation from someone I trusted that I was saved. God was suppose to love me, so why did I have this fear?
“If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Romans 10:9
Not long after that stage of life did I begin to struggle with friendships and my own self image. It’s amazing how early it starts. School began to be a challenge and soon enough the perception I had of myself was, I am unloved, unwanted, worthless and stupid. I grew bitter and angry, lashing out in anger to my family and to my peers. I struggled to trust in friendships and felt burnt every time I seemed to trust in another friendship.
“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:12
But then, when I was thirteen or fourteen I was shown grace and love simultaneously by someone. She always gave glory to God and it clicked – if she, in her love and grace gave glory to Christ then that meant…He loved ME regardless of what I looked like, how much I weighed and what I did. He valued me, no matter how smart I was or what I could accomplish. I was worth His death on the cross. It took one persons example and actions (as well as many prayers from my parents) in the name of Christ for it to click. If I accepted Him and repented, I was His child! If I was His child, not only was I a princess, but I was a priceless cherished daughter of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
“Yet to all who did receive Him, to those who believe in His name, He gave the right to become children of God.” John 1:12
Understanding truly what that prayer had meant as a child, I rededicated my life to Him and joy replaced my anger and bitterness. Light replaced the darkness and my life changed. Gone were the nightmares and the self hating perception began to break down.
“Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost begin, praise His holy name. Praise the LORD, my soul, and forget not all his benefits – who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion.” Psalm 103:1-4
I will never forget the day my mom noticed the change – because it revealed to me just how much God had worked in my life in such a miraculous way. In the kitchen one day, I began laughing at something my mother was doing. Shocked, she looked at me and said “Joanna, what happened? Your laughing.” We went on to talk about the change I felt and whether I had received the Holy Spirit the change was so distinct.
He was, is, and will always be the root of my joy.
My testimony doesn’t end here, God has continued to do a work in me – refining and sanctifying me. There have been times where I’ve struggled – I’ve sinned – but at every stumble, or mistake, He has been right there to pick me back up. He has always drawn me back from sorrow, from points of depression and has always given me a joy that can only come from him.
For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39
Knowing where I’ve been, is what helps me hold strong to Him and His truth today. Never wanting to go back, never wanting that joy to slacken. My joy in Christ gives me energy and passion that can only point back to Him and what He has done for me. He gave me my purpose, which is to bring His love and truth to all people – of every nation, tribe and tongue. I’m here to glorify Him and He allows me to do so through the avenue of working overseas as a missionary.
JESSIE- Even though I was only seven years old, I can still remember feeling burning heartbreak over the realization of my sin. That was coupled with hope that the only cure, was a relationship with an all knowing Father who loved me unconditionally. My mother was finally receiving a short but well earned rest after putting four children to bed and was disturbed but ultimately joyous at my outburst. “Mom I want to ask Jesus into my heart!!”
My relationship with God was immediately one of a deep love and trust, He showed me grace and I felt like a daughter to a very kind and loving “Papa figure”. In addition to this new kinship, I developed a deep burden for everyone I knew to know this Jesus! I shouted to all who would listen (and sometimes not) about the freedom of living and walking with Him daily. Compassion and kindness, though not naturally difficult for me to show, were now my entrance into deep relationships with others. I found through childhood and into my teen years I hoping for conversation that would allow me to share the message of salvation and the concept of eternal belonging to others. Looking back, I see how God blessed that young, unfettered desire to reach several for His kingdom.
Like all who walk this earth, sorrows, joy and deep pain have affected my walk with the Lord. In moments I run. Run so far I am unable to find my way back. In other moments, I refuse to yield to His voice that always is. I know there is always a whisper if i choose to listen.
I think back to a night of loss, it was just Him and I. Snow under my feet and the starry sky above and we talked, me with a scream and Him with an answer in the way mighty God answers His child back. With strength and an all-encompassing feeling of knowing me and knowing my heart. In Hebrews it says “ This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil.” This verse has offered me comfort many times and grounded and assured my faith.
He has told me about parts of my heart I don’t recognize. He has dried my tears. At times He has been patient showing me the way with clarity and peace. At other times, He has allowed me to choose the difficult path when I think the path to healing is unseen or unwarranted. He watches me crumble underneath the burdens I choose to pick up in my own strength. In times of abandonment, my mother’s death, the loss of a child, sickness, and the confusion of unhealthy relationships I wish my ever present thought was God always faithful and to look to Him.
However, when I relinquish my pride, return to Him and seek His face, He is there, available, merciful and Holy. In Malachai it says ‘there is healing in His wings…’
In this truth I walk forward, some days in faith and many others in doubt, but believing what Paul tells us in Romans 8:38-39 “For I am CONVINCED that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
STEPHANIE- Today I’m sharing the first chapter of my book, Renewed Joy, with you as a gift! You’ll read my salvation story and more. Simply click here to download Chapter 1 of Renewed Joy. I pray it encourages you. If you’d like to read the whole story then the book can be found in our online shop or on Amazon!