This compelling testimony from Jennifer takes us on a lifelong salvation journey from an abusive childhood, worldly habits and single parenthood to discovering the peace and love of salvation in Christ.
My name is Jennifer and I have been on a salvation journey. I reside in the USA. I am a 35-year-old single mother of three amazing children. I was born and raised in Michigan. I have lived in other states as well, but I always seem to end up back in Michigan. I firmly believe God has work for me to do here. Part of that work includes taking these classes at Christian Leaders Institute to help me grow and develop into the Christian Leader He has created me to be.
Where I live, we need Christian Leaders for our youth and that is where my heart is. Being a Christian Leader for our youth is more than being someone to set an example; it is being someone who can set a Godly example, be a role model and a mentor to the young and growing generation. God calls us His children. We are “chosen”, “sons and daughters”, “righteous through Christ”, “healed” and so much more. My passion is to make sure we raise up a generation who know who they are in Christ Jesus!!
On my salvation journey, I was not raised in the church. My parents did not pray or even own a Bible. I had no idea who Jesus was, other than to say He is the Son of God. I did not have a clue about why we celebrated Christmas or Easter other than the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus; but what in the world did resurrection even mean? That being said, I also always knew there was something different about me. While everyone around me indulged in drugs and alcohol, I had absolutely no desire to partake in it.
While my mom and step-father fought constantly, I found myself begging God to make it stop. When my step-father turned to me to meet certain needs/desires – I closed my eyes and prayed to a God I did not really know anything about. When I was being beaten with broomsticks, kicked with steel-toed boots and thrown to the ground, I continued to call out to God. I was worn out, I was abused, I was completely broken, but I did not let it show to the outside world. I never told my mom about things that were happening. Because her life had been threatened and I loved her more. It was worth every second of the abuse to know her life would be spared. No doubt that was God in me.
So, why did I lose my way on my salvation journey? I would have to say it’s because I was ignorant of the truth of who God is and His love for ALL of His children. I didn’t understand why these things were happening. I related my heavenly Father to my earthly ones – both to my abusive step-father and to my absent biological father.
I was a quiet person. I avoided people, especially parties or anything that brought large groups of people. I grew to hate myself and because I hated myself I couldn’t stand to be around other people either. It wasn’t because I hated them at all, because I didn’t. It was because I was embarrassed and ashamed. It was because I didn’t want anyone to know the “truth” about me. It was because I was jealous of my perception of who they were and the lives they lived. I never considered that anyone else could relate to me because they smiled and had nice clothes. I thought “no one will ever understand.” So, I avoided people.
When I was 12 years old, my mom finally got up the nerve to divorce my step-father and we began life without him. My mom became, a single mother of five, working two jobs to support us. Life was hard, but not nearly as hard as it had been. To me, it was easier. I had already grown up my whole life taking care of my siblings, not having my mom around because she was working and now I was able to continue doing these things without the abuse. Thank you, Lord!
As I grew into my teens, I found myself starting to make new friends; my view of other people had changed. I found that I was tired of being by myself all the time, but my choice in friends was not the best. I started to hang out with the partiers, the drinkers, the “pot-heads” and the smokers. I began to indulge in smoking both pot and cigarettes. When my mom found out I was smoking pot, I never tried to lie about it. I told her the truth and dealt with my punishment – grounded for six months. Ouch! It was during this time that I found myself praying again. I did not really know why or even who I was praying to but I was doing it anyway.
Fast forward a few years and I am 17 years old, pregnant, no longer living at home and a high school drop-out. Wow, I sure never expected to be sitting in that place. I found love in all the wrong places. I never believed in abortion and was of the mindset, “I made this baby and I will raise this baby.” I married her father after finding out we were expecting our second child 13 months after our first daughter was born. Yet, another “learning experience”. We divorced two years later, and I remarried ten months after our divorce. Classic rebound. I was married to my second husband just shy of 10 years when we divorced. During this time of our marriage is when I really began my salvation journey in earnest.
At six years old, my daughter came home from school and asked me a life-changing question; “Mama, who is Jesus?” to which I replied with a puzzled look, “God’s son, baby girl.” This answer did not satisfy her. She asked me again, “No Mama, WHO is Jesus?” I had no answer and enrolled her into CCD classes at our local Catholic Church. I figured she would get her answers and I was done with it.
During this time, I began to have dreams about a baby. I had this dream for about four months and it was so real I started to tell my husband. I told him about the recurrent dream about a baby boy, with blonde hair, blue eyes and that he would be born on January 12th. No one believed me; not my husband, not my family, not even the doctors. Well, a few months later, I found out I was pregnant and I was due January 25th. I was insistent he would be born on the 12th. Then we found out we were having a boy and still, no one believed my dream. Well, we welcomed a beautiful, blonde haired, blue eyed baby boy into this world on January 12, 2008, at 3:03 am.
In 2012, we moved from the Upper Peninsula to lower Michigan. I basically did all the work by myself and was exhausted. I heard about a retreat that the church my friends attended was having and asked if I could go. I did not care that it was a church retreat, I just wanted the weekend away. God had a different plan. During this retreat, God moved big time. I was called out by the speaker, who was also the Pastor’s wife. She said, “I have no idea who you are, we have never met, but the Lord has a word for you.” As she began to speak I was in AWE! I could not do anything but cry. She began to talk to me about the things that had happened to me in my childhood and how God was there with me and heard my prayers. She told me how I was set apart and how loved I am. There was so much said I couldn’t possibly put it all in here but that was the pivotal moment in my life and salvation journey. This is when I knew God was real and I have been in church ever since.
I bought a Bible and began to read and study, I began to pray more than ever before and I still can’t get enough of learning about God and all of His goodness! Two months after that retreat, I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior. I am a children’s church teacher and I lead the women’s ministry in my church. I never would have imagined any of this in my life!! BUT GOD DID!!
This is why I am here at CLI on my salvation journey. I want to continue to learn and develop what God has placed in me. I want to be everything He created me to be. I want to change lives and shine the light of Jesus on a lost and dying world – especially our youth. I believe that we go through things in order to equip us for what will be. I believe God made me strong enough to endure those things so that I could reach a group of people who feel the way I did. I believe my passion for the youth is so strong because they are vulnerable and those teen years are imperative. It is my dream to work full-time with the youth. This is what has been on my heart since I was 16 years old and believe this is where I am called to make a difference.
It is the realization that God is real that has humbled me. It is learning about how much Jesus loves not just me, but how much He loves everyone. How could I ever be deserving that God would send His only Son to die for ME? I would not be where I am without Him. I have never known a love like that of Christ. I love my children more than I could even put into words and that love is still not comparable to the love of Christ. If that doesn’t humble someone, nothing probably ever will. I cannot do this life, nor would I want to, without Christ. I sometimes wonder how I made it as far as I did without knowing Him and even running from Him. The only thing that can get in my way in this salvation journey is me. Nothing stops me from doing anything else I want to do, so why would I let anything stop me from growing in Christ?
My hope in enrolling in Christian Leaders Institute training is to continue to learn and grow in Christ. I love to learn and I truly feel like we can’t ever learn enough. I want to grow and develop my understanding of Christ and how to become everything He created me to be. I want to be the best leader I can be and I do not want to do that by guessing or trying to learn everything myself; that leaves a lot of room for misinterpretation and misunderstanding that I certainly do not want to pass on to others. I want to live out, be an example of, and share nothing but the truth, the love and the Gospel of Christ.
Free ministry training, what a blessing! As a single mother of 3, finances are always a struggle. Trying to afford to take classes has been very difficult for me. To have the opportunity to have free classes at CLI is not only incredible but an absolute blessing from God. He gave me yet another opportunity to continue to study and grow in Him on my salvation journey!
Also, learn about Ordination at Christian Leaders Alliance