My name is Stephanie Amadeo, and I am studying the Bible at the Christian Leaders Institute, a Bible college online (Learn more about online Bible courses, Click Here). I am 32 years old and live in Ogden, Utah. There are no restrictions on Christians in Utah. However, it is largely an LDS community, so few people I can share my faith with.
My Early Years
I grew up in a Seventh-Day Adventist church. My parents were not religious, but my grandmother took me each week. I went to the church’s private school for 2 years and was involved in all their activities. However, I was a non-believer. I was very skeptical of their teachings and had serious doubts about my beliefs. When I was about 12 years old, I asked the youth pastor about my doubt and what it meant. He responded that I just had to have faith. However, I did not know how to “just have faith,” so I decided none of it was real and quit going to church.
When I was 22 years old, my mother committed suicide. She was an alcoholic and drug user. I had been a heavy drinker for a few years, and my mother’s death was a real wake-up call. I saw myself going down the same path and thought, “If I keep up this lifestyle, that’s going to be me one day.” I wanted something better for myself. So, I quit drinking and enrolled in college. I told myself, “If there’s something better out there, I’m going to find it.”
Finding God and My Calling
Two years later, I dated a religious guy. I asked him one question about his religion. As he gave me an explanation, God’s presence fell on me for the first time in my life. I was hooked! Then, I started going to church with him, studying the Bible, praying every day, attending Bible studies, and anything else I could do to learn more about God. I could not get enough of Him.
My desire is to be close to God and help people interested in God develop their own relationship with Him. I have a few family members and friends interested in God but not going to church every week. When they have issues or questions, they ask me to pray about it and get their answer for them. I do not mind doing it. It is a lot of fun, but I want them to learn the voice of God and grow closer to Him.
I believe that God wants me to start a church. A different kind of church with a more hands-on and interactive learning environment based on a relationship with God and listening for His voice. If everyone can hear God for themselves, they will have everything they need to live a productive life and spread the gospel more efficiently.
Challenges and Growth
Religion caused a lot of obstacles for me in my walk with God. Listening to the preaching and trying to make sense of the Bible caused frustration to well up inside. It was not until I firmly established a connection with God that it made any sense.
I went to a Pentecostal church that put great emphasis on the ability to speak in tongues. But, no matter how hard I prayed, I could not do it. It made me feel like God did not love me, or I was not good enough to receive the gift of tongues like everyone else. They said that I did not have the Holy Ghost if I could not pray in tongues. So, I was terrified that if I died before I got it, I would spend eternity separated from the One I loved. While praying about this fear one day, God told me that love would keep us together. That is when I realized that religion without a strong relationship could be dangerous.
Before I knew God, I had anxiety so badly that my hands shook constantly. People frequently asked me if I had Parkinson’s disease. It was embarrassing and uncomfortable to live in a constant state of fear for no reason. After I learned how to pray and connect with God, the shaking, anxiety, and depression stopped. I felt free, strong, and happy for the first time in my life. God has saved my life in so many ways.
God became real to me when I prayed without feeling like I was talking to the wall. I felt His presence fall on me and heard Him speaking to my soul. When I prayed about issues I was having, I could see everything falling into place around me.
Then, I met someone that explained a deep connection and real relationship with God. I was intrigued. I had never heard of anything like it before. So, I started praying and searching for the things that were possible. I found it all and so much more. For me, it was and always will be prayer that connects me to God like nothing else. It is how I learned His heart and His desires for my life. It is also how I learned what He sees in me and what He wants for me.
Study at CLI: A Bible College Online
I hope to use my Christian Leaders Institute training to start a different kind of church. One that focuses more on a relationship and less on religion. I have some experience in ministry. I have taught classes and Bible studies, but nothing close to running a church. It is terrifying, and I do not feel qualified to do it. Christian Leaders Institute, a Bible college online, will provide me with the tools and knowledge I need to lead people to God.
Before I knew God, I got my degree in Criminal Justice. I wanted to help people and make a difference in my community. Unfortunately, it did not work out the way that I had hoped, and now I am drowning in student loan debt. Now that I know my passion and purpose, I have wanted to go to Bible college for some time. However, I cannot take on more debt to do it.
When I found Christian Leaders Institute, a Bible college online, I hesitated to start. Honestly, it sounded too good to be true. But, God kept bringing it up and pushing me to start classes. Finally, I had an email from CLI pop up on my phone right after asking God what my next step was. CLI, you are the answer to my prayers, and I am so grateful for this opportunity! Thank you, CLI!