My name is Edie Boles from Ohio in the USA. I am a student at the Christian Leaders Institute to study to be a licensed minister (Learn more about studying to be a licensed minister and studying the Bible online, Click Here).
As a youth, I grew up attending Sunday school in our small town. Our dad dropped us off before Sunday school started and then picked us up after. When my brother and I got a bit older, we lived close enough to the church to walk. We attended most of the functions designed for kids such as Bible school, Christmas plays, youth group, etc.
As a teen, I drifted away from Sunday school and church. I went down a road that could have turned out to be a bad one if I hadn’t already known about the love of Jesus. After I graduated high school, I married a man I met on that bumpy road in my youth. I also had two daughters with him. Unfortunately, he suffered from alcoholism. Which caused him to be very abusive. This abuse and controlling nature from my spouse slowly made my life chaotic. I felt lost and all alone.
Loneliness Got Me Back to Church
In my lonely state, I found Al-Anon. For some people, Al-anon is a great program, however, it was not for me. As an extremely shy person, it was more of a challenge for me than a help. Because of that, I remembered a place where I felt loved and accepted. So with my daughters in tow, I went back to church. Slowly, I became more and more involved in church activities. One Sunday, we had a missionary visit. She was a beautiful woman named Meryl Esenwein. She spoke during the worship service. Meryl also taught lessons that she called “chalk talks.”
On this particular Sunday, I felt like she was talking directly to me. Meryl asked us if we had asked God what He wanted us to do for Him. For me, it was a mind-blowing question that stirred in me. Finally, one day, I got on my knees and asked God what He wanted me to do for Him. Now, if you ask God what He wants you to do, you better be ready for His answer. The next thing I knew, I was a substitute Sunday School teacher. Then, before long, I was teaching every Sunday. After some time teaching, they asked me asked to be the Sunday School superintendent. So, I continued growing in my faith and stepping out in service for Christ.
Struggles and Return to Faith
Not long after that, my mom suddenly passed away. Even though we were not close, her death hit me hard. It made me very angry at God. I had all this faith that God was going to heal her, but she still passed. However, at that time I didn’t understand true healing, which is the healing God had for her. Through my pain, I allowed my anger to put a wedge between God and me. So, I stopped going to church, praying, and reading the Bible. I plummeted into a very dark place. It was the most miserable time of my life. Even the chaotic life of living with an alcoholic was better than where I was without God.
Speaking of my ex-husband, at this time, his drinking cheating, and abuse were at an all-time high. At this point, I was so lost, lonely, and depressed. Life had no meaning. However, God had a plan. That plan involved my youngest daughter, Amanda, who was a light in my darkness. She convinced me to go back to church. In Amanda’s words, “Our church.” It was a few weeks before Easter that I finally listened to my baby girl and went back to church.
When I walked into the sanctuary, I knew I was home. God filled me with a peace that I hadn’t felt in a very long time. That was the moment when I took a personal relationship with Christ seriously. I returned to teaching Sunday school and attending Bible studies. For the first time, I read the Bible from cover to cover. I not only read it, but I also devoured every word. The more I served God, the closer I felt to God, and the more I wanted to serve Him.
My Calling Struggle
One Sunday, we had a guest speaker. On this particular Sunday, preoccupied with some things going on at home, I was having a hard time focusing on the message. It was at this time when I heard a voice (that I know now was the Holy Spirit). The Holy Spirit said, “You will be a pastor.” I was taken aback because I thought I was the least likely person to be a pastor. I was shy, had an alcoholic husband, and was a “hot mess” as my daughter said. Confused and frightened, I thought I must have misunderstood. Believe it or not, I even tried to pass this calling off on my ex-husband.
However, I continued to hear the Spirit calling me into pastoral service. So I prayed about what God wanted me to do. The whole time praying, that same voice said, “You will be a pastor.” Yet, I continued to doubt. “Why me, I am not what God wants, I can’t preach, I can’t even talk to people,” I responded. This struggle went on for a while. The Holy Spirit spoke and I denied it with some excuse. All the while, I prayed for clarity. This struggle went on for about two years.
My Call Confirmed
At this time, our church had a Wednesday evening program for the youth called “Logos.” The leaders asked me to look into a sister program for the teens called “Alpha.” They wanted me to attend the training. At this training, my call was confirmed in my heart and I finally obeyed.
Even though I felt called to be a pastor, I was anxious about it. So I kept my call to myself for a while. One day, while talking to the Pastor of my church about some youth events, he mentioned a friend of his was going into the ministry. Without a thought, I said, “I feel called to Pastoral Ministry also.” It came out of my mouth as if someone else was saying it! It was like watching a video of myself where I couldn’t press rewind.
After that, I enrolled in a program through my local church. I took some classes that didn’t pan out. The old doubts came flooding back. “God didn’t call me into pastoral ministry.” So I prayed again for clarity from God and for direction. One day, God led me to Jeremiah 29: 11, “I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you plans to give hope and a future.”
Ministry Service and Study to Be a Licensed Minister
From then on, this passage has been a source of my strength. After this, the Spirit led me to an online study. Upon completion, I received a certificate. With a certification in hand, I got involved with a ministry called Characters Out Loud. This ministry helps those who are in the midst of a crisis. We worked mostly with the homeless and those who suffer from addiction. Since then, we disbanded, but still, look for ways we can be of service to the homeless. We hope that one day we can revive the program.
Currently, I serve a church as a pulpit supply. I have been there for four years now. However, pulpit supply is limiting. I cannot administer communion, baptize, or perform weddings. So, I feel my call is in licensed ministry. I found the Christian Leaders Institute online and am studying to be a licensed minister. I am thankful for this tuition-free study opportunity to become a licensed minister.
Every day, I feel God’s grace. Grateful for all the lessons He brought me through, I would not trade any of them. They helped me to grow in faith and into the person I am today. In Him, I find my strength. God has a plan, and it’s a good one full of hope and a future. On this, I stand strong. God Bless!