God has done a phenomenal work in my life. Jesus truly saved me from myself. About 12 years ago I was a floundering, scared, anxious, often depressed alcohol dependent bulimic diagnosed with ptsd who found my worth and value in sexual intimacy with men. I had been in and out of a roller coaster relationship with a drug addicted man who abused me physically, emotionally, and mentally for nearly 9 years and I was absolutely emotionally devastated. I was so lost and hurting, my world was a dark place to put it mildly.
I was saved when I was 12, baptized in water and had a wonderful experience with our God for a very short time. Then when I was 15 I met a man who introduced me to new age spirituality and that fit the life that looked so appealing to me, so the enemy began to dominate my world. From that age all through my twenties I worshiped alcohol, partying, and men all the while struggling deeply with an eating disorder, which were all significant of the true issue, my lack of self-worth, self-esteem, self-confidence and most of all self-love. I had no value as a person until God moved in a big way in my life back in 2002.
I went to a Christ centered treatment facility that year, the Salvation Army treatment center in Harrisburg, PA and when I reflect back that is the year I called on God in dire desperation, at a bottom I had never dreamed I would experience. While I did not complete my treatment there it had a big effect on my life. Later that same year God paved the way for a geographical move from my home town of Johnstown, PA with a bar on every corner, to the place I live today, Zebulon, NC with a church at every country mile. While I continued to struggle with the old habits of alcohol, bulimia and men for a few years, I clearly see that God was working in my life all along the way.
I hit another bottom in 2005, at which time I fully surrendered my life to Jesus, in utter knowing that the alcohol and bulimia owned me, fully assured that, that behavior would bring me to a certain and untimely death. I will never forget calling out to Jesus once again in absolute desperation, like only a dying woman would do. It still amazes me to see how He answered! He wrapped his arms around my life and my world and guided me as I held onto Him for dear life every step up that mountain of healing.
I stand on top of that proverbial mountain today, still leaning on Him so completely, all the while He shines so brightly in and through me! Today I am 9 years free of bulimia, 7 years, 1 month and 15 days sober and going strong. I am fully committed to celibacy as I date at 40 years old. I am at this place, instead of being 6 feet under, all because of the phenomenal redemption power of a loving relationship with our most perfect savior, Jesus Christ. I have a very stable life as a single mom of two beautiful daughters, ages 7 and 21 and an amazing 2 year old grandson. My relationships with my oldest daughter, mom, and my siblings have experienced the love of Jesus and are fully repaired; while my youngest daughter has had an entire life of the benefits of a mother who knows how much she is loved by Jesus Christ. I have a very good and stable job in my accounting career. I am in the process of buying my very first home in a gated lake community with lots of wonderful amenities, none the less. I am working on my degree in Psychology with a dual major in Christian Counseling and Addiction and Recovery at Liberty University Online. All of these amazing blessings for a woman who 12 years ago was homeless, living in a recovery center, while my oldest daughter was being cared for by one of my older sisters.
With tears in my eyes and unspeakable gratitude in my heart, I am alive and abundantly well to testify that my life today in the loving embrace of our most perfect savior is like having a piece of heaven right here on earth, while I continue to hold onto Him, embracing Him so very tightly through this now beautiful, faith filled journey. Our God, through Jesus Christ, changed me on the inside, in a phenomenal way! He loved me so very completely when I could not love myself and that changed everything for me. Today I am a humbly confident lady who knows her worth and value in the Lord. I am the righteousness of Christ and for all the amazing work our God has done in me I stay forever grateful. Thank you Jesus!
I asked Jesus into my heart when I was in kindergardener. My teacher, Miss. Barns had asked if anyone wanted to receive Christ to talk to her during recess. She showed me how we have all sinned, and are separated from God using colored hands. I loved Jesus with all my heart, and was taught much about Jesus and the Bible by my Grandpa.
When I turned 13 I moved to Ventura, Calif. to live with my mother. I quit going to Church and had lost the box my Bible was in on the move down. I soon found drugs and alcohol, so I was lost too. For the 15 years I spent my life running away from the God, finding no real happiness in anything. The drugs no longer worked and I could not get drunk enough anymore to drown out the pain. At the age of 29 I started on my road to recovery. During the next 3 years I would stay clean for a while and then go back to the bottle. The Lord started putting in people in my life to guide me back to Him. I thought I could fill the void, that empty place in my heart with material things. All during this time I started thinking I needed to go back to Church, I needed Jesus back in my life. I had a great fear that if Jesus were to come back today would I go with Him? I didn’t know!!!
My sponsor, Charlie, had been inviting me to go to Church, and telling me about Jesus. One day she called and asked if she could come over on Saturday afternoon and practice her homework from Evangelism. I said “O.K.”. That day, January 18, 1997 I gave my life back to Jesus Christ! I started to read my Bible and praying for someone to come into my life to take me to Church. On my second Bible study Charlie brought an older lady, Marjorie over to teach me. I really began to search (thanks to the Holy Spirit) and ask questions about Jesus. My prayers were answered. Marjorie would pick me up Sunday for Church.
In the few weeks that followed I could not read enough of my Bible. I started praying regularly and told the Lord I was His to use however He could. My life was His.
I no longer fear death. I know if I were to die right now I would go to be with Jesus in heaven. I am ever so grateful to Jesus. He never forgot about me and I pray everyday that I will never forget about Him again and what he has done for me.
Jesus answered, “ I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6
I will give you some information about my life that you can pass on toanyone you like.
I was raised in a Baptist Church close to where I attend now. I was raised in, Maryland and have never left. I was baptized when I was 10 years old, after a revival, with about 15 other children (my older brother was one of them - 11 months older). Maybe it was the excitement, maybe it was because everyone else was doing it, maybe it was because my brother did it and I had to be "one up" on him. At the time, I'm not sure that I realized what it meant fully.
As time passed, my parents separated, my father would not pay child support for four children, and my mother had to work 2 - 3 jobs to make ends meet. Therefore, we (the four children) were left home alone alot - late at night on weekends because my mother was a bartender.
I suppose to find love in the wrong places is what led me to the drugs. I went along for three years hanging out with the "crowd" before I actually did anything. At 16, my brother was the one who actually got me "turned on" to marijuana. And from there is was onto anything that anyone had to get high. I stopped going to church (mainly because I had to sleep off whatever high I was on the night before) and I didn't search for God (although I know He was there the whole time.)
I wound up in an abusive relationship when I was 17 and stayed in this relationship until 19 (almost even married him). He beat me almost every other weekend, and I hit back. Finally, through much prayer on my mother's and grandparent's part, and I'm sure alot of other people, I broke up with him. This was a great relief to those who love me. But it was still not the end.
I met and married another man who was also into the drug scene. He didn't hit me so everyone thought he was great. I lived with him for a year before we got married. Even before we married, I knew it was wrong because I had feelings for someone else, but the wedding plans were already in the process and I didn't want to disappoint anyone.
Shortly after we were married, we decided to have a child and I became pregnant. I smoked marijuana during my pregnancy, and luckily my first daughter was a healthy child. She did have a low birth weight, though, and collicky too. Because of drugs, we had to sell the trailor we lived in and move in with his parents for about a year.
I knew being married to him was wrong and left him (went to stay at my mother's for a couple of days). Then I found out that I was expecting another child and went back. This time, I did not smoke anything and had another healthy girl, higher in weight.
When our second child was only one month old, I was freebasing cocaine and freaked out. I kept checking the girls, thinking they were going to stop breathing, looking outside for the cops, etc. It was the longest night in my life! I prayed to God that night that if He helped me get through the night I would never touch any drugs again. And HE did! And I Did!(Stopped doing drugs)
I left my husband when our second daughter was only 5 months old because he wouldn't stop doing drugs and we were in serious debt. Also, because I wouldn't do them with him anymore, he was going out/sleeping with another woman.
I finally divorced him - he gave me a really hard time about getting the divorce. I talked to my Pastor at the time, struggling with the "Till Death do us part" thing, but knew in the end it was best. I did not date anyone until I met my present husband (after I had been separated from my first husband 1 1/2 years). We dated for two years and married. He was not into the drug thing, only smoked cigarettes. I have been married to him now 10 years. During that time, I have constantly gone to church and looked to the Lord for guidance. It's wonderful how loving and forgiving the Lord can be when you've spit in his face for so long.
My husband came to know the Lord in September of 1994, was baptized, and is an active member of our church. We now have 4 daughters altogether. Our youngest is five and she knows nothing but going to church on Sunday mornings and evenings, and Wednesday nights. She even prays on Wednesday nights at prayer meetings! My oldest daughter is now 15, and thinks that people who do that kind of thing to themselves are stupid, and searching for something. I have always been honest about my past experience with my two oldest daughters, hoping that it will help them decide not to do those things. So far, it has worked.
It's a joy to see what the Lord can do with someone who thought they weren't worth much. I am now our Sunday School Director (4 years now), our VBS Director (this year will make 9), and the church Secretary. And I totally enjoy my life.
Looking for love in all the wrong places got me nowhere. Looking for love in the Lord gave me so much more!
I hope this helps!
In Christian Love,
Freedom came to Barbara Pack in the confines of a jail cell. Though still a prisoner, she found release.
The Woodward, Oklahoma mother of three girls began a path of self-destruction at the age of 12, when she attempted suicide and spent nearly two years in mental institutions.
The open door began with a Gideon bible and a visit from Sharon Jackson, the wife of a Gideon and a member of the auxiliary group for women. But before that day in 1998, Pack lived a life of drugs, danger, hopelessness and misery. "All of my life," says Pack, "I felt abandoned, rejected and unloved. I was put into a foster home and adopted when I was three, but I never bonded with my adoptive parents. And I couldn't trust or accept love."
Pack was 15 when she returned home, still very rebellious, angry and with no self-worth. Her adoptive mother blamed her for the stress she had caused the family and told her to leave and not to come back. She says, "I remember the door slamming and I was miserable. I thought there was something very wrong with me."
As a 16-year-old, she moved in with a 21-year-old man who robbed to support his drug habit and his alcoholic mother. Barbara hated it and again called her adoptive mother with a plea to return home. The answer was no.
Nearly one and a half years later, her boyfriend was arrested and sent to jail. With nowhere to go, she checked into a drug rehabilitation center for adults. She stayed a while and then moved on.
She was 18 when she checked into the Griffin Memorial Hospital in Norman, sick and in danger of dying from the ravages of drugs. But the drug use continued despite marriage and the birth of a child. Eventually she was jailed on seven felony charges.
Barbara had reached a dead end and faced 60 years behind bars if convicted on all counts. She thought suicide seemed like the only way out. She says, "That's when I started reading a little Bible that had been placed in my cell. Around that same time, two women came to my cell to visit. We called them church ladies, and they knelt down by my cell and prayed."
Before moving on to the next cell, Sharon Jackson assured the young prisoner she could ask Jesus to come into her heart right there in her cell and experience a joy and peace promised to those who trun to Him (Jesus). Alone in her cell, Pack turned her life over to Jesus Christ.
She was sentenced to 10 years probation and ordered to complete a drug and alcohol program. Barbara shares, "I had never completed anything, but despite my present fears and past failures, I went to a treatment center. Once a week, two pastors came to visit and taught the Word of God. I was given my first Bible, and I asked the Lord for three things."
She asked the Lord to deliver her from addiction to lead her to the truth of her adoption, and to give her a family where there was love and a willingness to serve the Lord together. In time, each prayer was answered. And as her old life faded away, the focus was no longer on herself.
Sharon Jackson didn't know of the effect her prison visit had made until one day as she was going through a buffet line at her church, and a pretty young woman spoke to her. Jackson didn't recognize Pack as the prisoner she had visited during ther Gideon women's auxiliary ministry. Pack told Jackson that she was the one that had led her to Christ. Sharon says, "She is a gift from God to encourage us to go back and visit the jails every week."
As a member of the First Baptist Church in Woodward, Oklahoma, Pack teaches a single women't Bible class. She works with the Baptist General Convention in Oklahoma to speak at seminars, and she still delivers messages of hope to femal prisoners. Barbara Pack says, "Some of the women do accept Christ, and that is the beginning of everything. He has redeemed my life, and nothing has been the same since."
A Testimony from Mike Hawkins
Now Present with the Lord Jesus Christ
Why would someone CHOOSE to be a homosexual? Why would they choose a life of rejection and scorn from so many different areas of society and God? Why would they become involved in something destined to bring so much heartache to their life? Many believe, as I did, that there is no other way; that they were born that way and must accept that there can’t be any other way for them.
There were many influences which made the “gay” life-style seem like my only option. since I was a small child I can remember being attracted to other males. I wanted desperately to find friends of the same sex to identify with and just play together. As hard as I would try, though, it seemed I could never fit in. I wasn’t athletic or very coordinated physically, so if all the guys were playing sports I was always on the outside looking in. when teams were formed in school, I was always the last to get picked because if I was on the team, they usually lost. Because of this, I was ridiculed often and teased about being a sissy. Over and over again I was made to feel as if I was not worthy of being a boy, so I played with the girls. I began to act more and more like a girl, which only brought further isolation from other boys in my school and neighborhood.
As I became more isolated from other males, it became the one area of my life where I had the greatest need. I needed guy friends and wanted their friendships so badly. I wanted to be a part of what I saw all the other guys around me doing. Learning of my sexuality in adolescence, I mistook my desire for bonding with other males as a sexual desire and felt a great deal of guilt, which only served to lessen my self esteem, making me feel even more unworthy to be a man. With my masculine identity destroyed, the next step to becoming involved in sexual activity was easy. I found an outlet to soothe my need for compassion and friendship with other guys. The more I became involved in homosexuality, I began to believe that this was what my life was supposed to be. Since I had desired male friendships since I was so young, I believed that I had been born a homosexual and had no other options to fulfill the need for same sex love that all of us have.
I was raised in a Christian home. I had been taught the Bible since I was a child and knew what it had to say about homosexuality. But I couldn’t imagine that if God was love and all I was wanting was love, how could homosexual love be wrong? I struggled with this issue most of my teenage years and into early adulthood. Eventually, I chose to abandon my faith and seek out fulfilling my homosexual desires. I felt that I would find love and fulfillment there, since all the church had to offer for my needs was condemnation and guilt.
My parents were heartbroken at my choices as I told them I was living in a homosexual life-style. They responded differently than I had expected in many ways, though. My dad, being involved in church work since I was 8 years old, was very conservative in his faith. He devoted himself to his ministry and his faith with such conviction that I knew he would reject me and never want anything else to do with me. I was certain that I had been “disinherited” from the family. But, he and Mom surprised me! They said, “We can’t accept your life-style and what you have chosen for your life. We believe it is sinful and wrong and it hurts us very much. But we will never stop loving you. We want to be a part of your life, so please don’t shut us out. We love you and will be here for you when you need us.”
I put that promise to the test many times over the next few years and brought my parents a great deal of pain in the process. They never did abandon me, no matter how much I hurt them. They demonstrated the true love of God that they believed in with all their hearts. I know this was not easy, because I would tell them how much I despised and hated them. I would do things deliberately to make them cry and to disappoint them over and over again. But they were always there for me. I slowly began to see that what I was looking for in homosexuality was never going to be realized apart from Jesus Christ. It was His love, displayed through Mom and Dad, that I needed to fulfill my desire to be loved and to give love.
I finally came to the realization that my homosexuality was a choice and that there were other options for my life. I could find the fulfillment I needed in male-to-male friendships without homosexual expression. In I Corinthians 6:9-11, a verse that had often been used for condemnation, I found redemption and salvation. Verse 11 says, “And such were some of you, but you have been washed, you have been cleansed, you have been sanctified by the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.” I saw in that verse that there had been people even in the earliest church who had been homosexual, but Jesus had delivered them. It was possible to change.
Abandoning Homosexuality was not easy. But, the closer I grew to Jesus, the easier my battle became. There were many who loved and ministered to me and who stood beside me the whole way. I can think of one friend, Keith, who was just a friend. He spent time with me, prayed with me and taught me in many ways how to reclaim my masculinity. He helped me find my worth as a man. People coming out of homosexuality need to learn how to develop relationships, and as Christians we should be like Keith, ready and willing to reach out and embrace in the love of Christ those who need His love through us.
I stand free of homosexuality today by the grace of Jesus and His power to truly change our hearts. David says “Create in me a pure heart, Oh God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will turn back to you.” Psalms 51:10 - 13 (NIV)
God truly has created a pure heart within me and I am eternally grateful for His love. About a year after I made a commitment to leave homosexuality, I got the dreaded news that I was HIV positive. HIV is the virus which causes AIDS. God knew of my commitment to change my life. Why did He have to allow this to happen to me? AIDS is a frightening disease, and I assumed my life would be over instantly. As I began to learn about this disease, I discovered that I had several years left. One of my biggest fears was whether or not I could potentially infect those I loved. I soon learned that casual day to day contact would not put anyone at risk for infection. The only way I could infect someone else was if they came into contact with my blood or through sex. One of the strongest emotions I felt was anger. Anger at God for allowing this to happen in my life. Anger that I would have to face the homosexual issue seemingly for the rest of my life. Anger for the shame that I felt. This anger produced rebellion and for a while I really struggled to find my identity all over again. but god is gracious and provided key people in my life to guide and direct me and pull me back into His loving arms.
In December of 1991, I was diagnosed with full blown AIDS. This meant that my immune system was no longer able to fight off common infections in the environment. I had become infected with a disease, histoplasmosis, that people with healthy immune systems could easily fight, but my immune system was no longer strong enough. This infection ravaged my body and within days had begun to destroy every major organ in my body. Finally the doctor told my parents that she didn’t think I would recover and that it was time to call the family to come and say their last good-bye.
Up until this time we had told no one that I had AIDS. We were so afraid of the rejection that we might face that we just kept it to ourselves. Now, my parents and I were faced with a burden we could no longer hide and we needed to have the support of our friends and loved ones. We began to reach out and tell others that I had AIDS and was not expected to live. Instead of the rejection we expected, we found that our church, our friends and our family rallied around us and gave us the support we so desperately needed. People began to pray. They began to pray that god would heal and preserve my life. All across the nation prayers began going up to God that He would step in and do what the doctors couldn’t. God answered those prayers and a few days later I was well enough to go home from the hospital. God healed me of histoplasmosis and has preserved my health since. I still have AIDS. I have almost no immune system at all, yet God’s grace continues to keep me healthy and active most of the time. Now my question is not, “Why did God allow this to happen to me?” rather, “How does God want to use this in my life?” In II Corinthians 12:7-9 He showed me the answer. “...There was given me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me lest I should be exalted above measure. Concerning this I entreated the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He has said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.’ Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my sickness, that the power of Christ may dwell in me.”
God has provided many opportunities for me to share my experience with others. He has taken the tragedy and despair of AIDS and turned it into a powerful tool of his grace and mercy. In sharing my story with others, I have seen many come to a deeper relationship with God. I have seen young people commit their lives to waiting until they are married to have sex and avoiding the risks of also becoming infected with this virus. I have seen my own relationship with God take on a new intimacy I might never have experienced without AIDS. While AIDS is a disease of death, it also teaches us how to really live! AIDS has brought me closer to my family and has been a catalyst to repair so many relationships. That is what Paul means about power perfected in weakness. That is why he says ‘I will rather boast about my sickness...’ I have learned that God is bigger than all life’s problems and troubles. He is bigger than homosexuality. When I thought there was no way out he provided the way. He is bigger than AIDS. When I thought my life was over he taught me how to live and continues to protect my body from death.
AIDS has become more than just Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. In my life it now is an... Adventure In Divine Submission.
AIDS has taught me that if I will just submit my life, my frustrations, my problems, worries and fears to God on a daily basis, He is faithful to meet all my needs and I am able to ‘boast about my sickness that the power of Christ may dwell in me.’
(If you have a testimony you would like to share please send email to firstname.lastname@example.org)