Understanding the CLI’s bible institute concept of being mentored, and then becoming a mentor, is wonderful. Just like Jesus, He mentored His disciples, and then He sent them out to mentor others. The old saying, “Give a man a fish you feed him for a day; teach him to fish, you feed him for a lifetime.”
Bible Institute Student, “don’t seek the gift, but seek the giver of the gift.”
My name is Marla O’Neill from the United States of America. For as long as I can remember I’ve been aware of Jesus. My grandmother was a woman of faith who taught her children to love the Lord. She and my mom helped to raise my brother, me and my baby sister. Mom and dad divorced when I was two and a half. Mom worked and went to night school. My granny tended to us.
When I was about seven years old, I gave my heart to Jesus and was baptized in a Baptist church. At about twelve years old, I received my prayer language in a little Pentecostal Church. It was quite an experience. I remember watching my sister and my cousin, dancing in the spirit, as they praised the Lord. I was down at the altar praying. Ladies were around me saying, “Hold on,” and then they’d say, “Let go.” I didn’t know what I was supposed to do. Finally, when nothing seemed to happen, they went on to pray for someone else. Thank the Lord. I prayed silently, “Lord, what’s wrong with me? Why can’t I receive the Holy Ghost?” He spoke so tenderly to me and said, “Don’t seek the gift, but seek the giver of the gift.” I began focusing on Jesus and who He was. I started praising Him. All of a sudden it was like a bright light shone down on me and I began speaking in heavenly languages…not just one, but many. For three and a half hours I lay on the floor praying to God in His language. They even had to carry me to my mom’s car. I remember all through the night waking up and praying in the Spirit; glory to the Lamb of God.
At thirteen I felt called to become a missionary. We’d go to downtown Tampa and hand out gospel tracks. I sang solos in my church and wanted to serve the Lord more than anything. But as I grew up, I wondered away from the Lord. I was married at eighteen, right out of high school. We had four wonderful sons. After twenty-five years of marriage, we grew a part and divorced.
For the next fifteen year,s I ran and ran and ran from the call on my life. I made many wrong choices. At forty-five I was diagnosed with diabetes. And in 2010, I was diagnosed with Lupus. God gently wooed me to him over those years. I’d go to church, I’d cry, and I’d pray. But I just couldn’t forgive myself. I had too much guilt and shame because of my broken home. The Holy Spirit spoke to me once and said, “Divorce is not the unforgivable sin.” But I just couldn’t forgive myself. Finally, I came to the end of me. Alone, broken, sick and tired, I prayed, “Jesus I can’t take it anymore. I surrender. If you can still use a beat up middle-aged woman, take my life and use me for your purpose.” I was living with my mom when God brought Bob O’Neill into my life. After 40 years, at our high school class reunion 2012, we connected and were married on March 13, 2013. My life has been blessed ever since.
We’ve been praying the prayer of Jabez every day for the last four months. (Oh that you would bless us indeed, and increase our territory, that your hand would be with us, and that you would keep us from evil and that we would not cause pain. -I Chronicles 4:10) Since then, I received my last labs for Lupus which came back negative; the doctor said there is no sign of the Lupus. Praise God, a miracle. I published my first book, Sing Sarah Sing, I received my Ministerial Ordination Certificate from United Christian Church located in (Cleveland, Tennessee) and I was led to Christian Leaders Institute (CLI). And we are now involved in a non-denominational church called, Journey Christian Church.
I had been praying for an online bible institute. Becoming friends with my doctor’s receptionist, we discovered we had the same maiden name, Shaw. It was a God appointment for sure. Linda told me about her daughter who writes poetry so we connected on Facebook. I noticed Gena Bethune McCown, had CLI listed on her Facebook page so I googled it and found it was a bible institute and it’s free. I signed up and love the mentorship concept.
I can see God’s hand leading and guiding Bob and I. It’s truly amazing. All it takes is faith and work! West Palm Beach, Florida (USA) is a beautiful place. People aren’t very friendly though. No one makes eye-contact or speaks to you. That’s pretty much how the world is today. But Jesus said, “Come follow me. I will make you to become fishers of men.” And so as we follow and obey His call, no doubt we’ll face trials and testings, but oh what joy.
I’d like for CLI’s bible institute to pray that we will continue on our journey with Jesus so that we can learn God’s word and teach others. I know beyond a shadow of doubt that Jesus’s return is very, very soon. Pray, that just as the harvest truly is plentiful that the gatherers of the harvest will be faithful and steadfast. Some plant, some water, but God gives the increase. Don’t become weary in well doing, for we will reap if we don’t get tired and give up! Amen? Amen!
I’m praying for CLI, that God will send laborers with a true heart for souls who will study hard and serve the Lord with all their might!
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