Growing up. I always believed that God was real. I couldn’t explain why, but it just made sense to me that God existed, and I knew that I believed in Him, not just because adults had told me about God.
I thought of God as an authority figure, like my parents, except that God was bigger, a lot more powerful, and He could see whatever I did.
I had to go to Sunday school every week. I didn’t mind this, because I liked Bible stories. I thought that church was boring.
To me, being a Christian was all about rules. I did my best to be a good person, and do all the right things. I used to get bullied a lot, so I didn’t see why I had to be nice to anyone who wasn’t going to treat me the same way.
At school, one of my favourite things to do was writing. By the time I was twelve, I decided that I wanted to become a journalist when I grew up. I became very interested in news and current affairs.
I would sit and watch the news every night. I saw lots of stories about bad things that people did to each other.
I was a very curious kid, and I liked finding out answers to questions that I wondered about. I began to wonder why bad things happened in the world.
It seemed to me that a lot of bad things happened because some people were trying to run things their own way, and people got hurt.
I started going to church because I wanted to. When I began to listen to what was being said about Jesus, I realised that I’d been wrong about what being a Christian was. God didn’t expect me to be perfect, but I had been trying to live my life my way, and it was getting me nowhere.
Just before I turned fifteen, I made a commitment to stop living life by my own rules.
About four weeks after my fifteenth birthday, I went to bed one night with what I thought was a severe headache, and muscle cramps down the left side of my body.
The next thing that I remember was waking up in hospital.
I had bandages around my head, and I couldn’t move the left side of my body.
Then , one of the doctors told me that I’d suffered a massive stroke, and that I could have died.
When I could move again, I had to learn how to walk, and how to take care of myself all over again.
In the rehabilitation hospital, there were other teenagers who had had strokes, but I remember feeling like a freak, because I thought that I was too young to have something like this happen to me.
When I found out what had happened, I felt so scared, and angry. I would cry at night, and ask God,
That was nearly thirty years ago, and I have made a good recovery since then.
What happened to me when I was fifteen is going to affect me for the rest of my life.
I’ve always wanted to know the answers to every question I have asked, but I accept that I will never know why I had to go through what I did.
I do know that God loves me, because, even though I didn’t know it at the time, He has carried me through those times when life has seemed so unfair, and I felt like no one else understood me.
I just want to leave you with this question. Who will you turn to when things go wrong for you?
MY STORY (1974... Many Years Ago)
I came from a violent home, (drugs, alcohol, gun shots, being chased with knives, people thrown thru picture pane windows), in fact I was born three months early because my father kicked my mother in the stomach, and I weighed two pounds nine ounces.
As early as 7yrs old I was out on the streets till 3-4am, I was put in three orphanages... once my father snuck into our house, he put a loaded pistol in my hand and told me too shoot my sisters and my mother, it was crazy.
Thru all of this, (which I wouldn't change), I came out a fairly normal kid, I was involved in sports and didn't do drugs, or drink. I thought I was a survivor, wanting only too make it thru another day.
At age 16 (in 1974) I started too sense a need in my life, an emptiness that I couldn't explain.
I knew I had too find God/Jesus, but who was HE? I had no idea where too find HIM, so I went to the local library to find books concerning world religions, God, and the occult.
At the library I met an ex hippie (Gary Osborn) he saw my books and decided too share the message with me. Gary invited me to pray in the back of his V.W. so I did, I remember saying "God forgive me for my sins, and whatever you have for me I want it all".
Well at first nothing happened I expected, lightening or something. Gary said, "Just go home and praise God" I said, "What's that, mean" Gary said, "Just thank him" So I did just that.
The remaining is sacred to me, before I asked Jesus into my heart, I never heard voices, I never drank, and I never did drugs, but one week after meeting Jesus while in the middle of my last class (during high school) A voice, just as clear, as someone standing next too you, spoke, and as the voice spoke it said to me, "rod tell them about Jesus" I was surprised, but unafraid.
I put my hand over my mouth, since I didn't want anyone too think I was talking too myself, I said (to whoever spoke too me) "I don't know what to say" the voice said "don't be afraid, I'll give you the words to say" To this day I don't remember my words, but I spoke too those kids about Jesus and salvation, their mouths just dropped open and then, class was over, I walked out of that room, feeling like I had never felt before.
The next day was Saturday; I slept in the living room on an old couch. When I woke it was early and I decided too turn on the TV, to watch my favorite cartoon, the roadrunner.
As I sat there watching the TV, I got up and looked outside, everything was so beautiful, (I never appreciated nature, I just wanted too make it thru another day). BUT now it was so pretty, I sat back down on the couch, and as I did I was somewhere else.
I was sitting at a long rough hewn table, to my right was Jesus, straight ahead was the father, I couldn't see him, to my left was Satan, him I could see (he looked like a man only very big) then in front of each of us, but not Satan three bowls appear, filled with what looked like porridge. Now the father spoke and said Satan dismiss yourself, Satan stood and screamed, then vanished. Three bites were taken out of the bowl.
Then all at once I was watching myself from a distance, walking with Jesus up a grassy pathway. Jesus was speaking to me but from a distance I couldn't hear him, I could see myself shaking my head (like I understand) then thru my eyes I saw the house where I had been sleeping.
I didn't know what had happened; I'd never experienced anything like that, but I knew two things, I had too find a pastor to talk too, and I KNEW GOD loved me and wanted something from me...my total surrender, my life totally under his control, every second, moment by moment, and I was consumed with this one desire, to live too PLEASE HIM.
Let me give you an example: When a friend from school would come over and say, "Hey rod." "Let's go to a show" I'd say, "hold on." Then Id go in the bathroom and pray, "Lord should I go?"
Sometimes the Lord would say "go", sometimes "no" At times He was silent, when this happened I would look inside, to my heart, (Spirit), (see Colossians 3:15) if I had peace I would go, If not, Id stay home.
As I practiced this new desire, (surrender), I noticed the voice of the Lord became more frequent and clearer, (John 10:27). It always had to agree with scripture. The word of the Lord will always agree with the true meaning and / or the true interpretation of scripture).
I needed to get a bible, I went to a bookstore and I got the largest family bible Id ever seen, with pictures and everything. I was so happy. That night the voice of the lord said, "Read Matthew 5." I had to look in the contents; I didn't know where Matthew was. When I found it and started too read, the words became a ("Word of the Lord to me") they just jumped off the page, they seemed to come alive, and they filled me, with hope, love and peace.
Now I knew God loved me, and my sins were gone, I was forgiven...
As time passed I grew, sometimes Id walk into a busy office or building (like a D.O.L) and the Lord would say go sit by that guy, I would strike up a conversation, then say "you don't know me but I'm a Christian and God is going too share with me about your life" I don't mean simple things like "you have the flu" or "Headaches", but deep, personal things that others couldn't know or even guess. People would usually start to cry and ask "how did you know?" I'd say "I didn't but God knew".
One of the best lessons from the Lord concerning trusting Him happened like this; I was traveling from Philly to Atlantic city, I got on the road, and started to hitch a ride, (it wasn't illegal at that time) within one hour and twenty minuets I was in Atlantic city (which was a one hour drive!) I got 4 different rides, as I stepped into each vehicle I boldly proclaimed "Hi I'm a child of the King, and God's going to bless you for picking me up!" God gave me very personal details about each of those people and all but one came to Christ.
When I got to Atlantic City, God said "Rod, when you get to the prayer meeting tonight I want you to give all your money, to Johnnie Diaz". I said "Lord that's all I've got?" (About 300.00) God replied; "you take care of your brothers and sisters in the Lord and I'll take care of you." So upon arriving in Atlantic City, I secretly gave all my money to Johnnie, (this was to cover something for Johnnie that was very personal, so I know he didn't share this with anyone).
That night I asked myself "how am I going to get back to work, tomorrow? I didn't have a penny, not even enough for bus fare, and in my spirit I knew I wasn't to hitch hike, but instead the Lord wanted me on the bus. After sleeping that night and leaving the brothers house the next day, (where the meeting had been held).
I started walking to the bus station. As I got closer and closer, I was imagining, "is the drivers going to just "know" he's suppose to let me ride for free?" But as I approached the depot, a brother named "Chicky" came out of his house and said "rod I think the Lord wants me to give this to you." It was exactly what I needed for bus fare!
This has been a short summary of my life.
Hi there! I am going to start off by giving a bit of a backstory, and please hear me out by reading all of this because I am in dire need right now.
I grew up in a lovely home with Baptist parents who attended church every Sunday. However, I hit very traumatic times at about 7 years old, and now I am 16, going on 17, and my life is healing from the trauma of divorced parents, dealing with calling defax on my own mother for emotional, verbal, and sometimes physical abuse, hating my father for years due to my mother calling him unworthy every chance she got- only to find that my father did everything he could to make me realize he meant no harm, and all the mental issues which came with these life experiences. Shortly after turning 12, four years into my nearly 10-year real-life conflict, I found myself falling far from God. Although I had become fully saved according to the Baptist faith and believed with all my heart that God was my savior and my all at age 10, I fell far from Him only two years later. Two years later, at 12, and hardly 12 at that, I text my friend late one summer night.
"I don't know that I believe in God anymore," I sent her, crying my eyes out because all I needed right then was someone to pull me back to God and say that I needed to hold on. I desperately needed someone to grab my ears and pull me up saying, "Hello!! Jesus is alive! He is alive! And He loves you more than you'll ever comprehend!"
But, the reality was far from this. My friend responds less than a minute later.
"I am an Atheist."
My heart dropped at the message. But... strangely enough, it later was found with relief. I felt ACCEPTANCE for falling from Him! It sounds crazy because it is. I researched for a long time, mainly in the wrong places, and I found myself to identify as an Atheist. This lasted for years, all the way until a month or so ago to be frank. I am going to be 17 in July and going into the 12th grade next year, and I believe this all happened in the summer of going into 6th or 7th grade, which would have put me at 11 or 12. So for 5, possibly 6, years I have been very lost and falling blind of God. I fell into believing I was transgender, from female to male, to believing I was gay and dating a girl almost a full year. Many, many tragic things followed this initial start of trauma when my parents got a divorce at 7 years old.
Now, having all that said... I still feel a strong incomplete pit in my life, this being my relationship with God. I still question my sexuality today. I believe that being abused for all those years led me to believe I was homosexual because beforehand, I never EVER questioned my sexuality. I was your typical "boy-crazy" little girl who would go to their mom after school and say, "Guess what mommy! [Enter name here] talked to me today! I was so nervous!" I can tell you confidently now that I know I am a beautiful, straight female who deserves just as much as everyone else. In my heart, I feel that. However, I hesitate to answer so confidently in person because it takes denying my past conflictions to find my true self deep within me that, yes, I am that person. For a long time I denied this person that I was because of the many times my mother would tell me that I wasn't her daughter, I wasn't what she wanted, and I was a mistake through and through. I believe truly, within my heart, that abuse can cause lifetime problems such as this. Abuse, especially that in childhood, does not just affect your personality, your social life, and your way of coping with life situations. Abuse affects your lifestyle, your beliefs, and all the critical things of yourself.
I am stuck. My ex-best friend and I started talking recently. We grew up together and shortly after I went from a true Christian to Atheist, we fell apart from one another. In the past month, we found each other via social media and I have come to find, not to my surprise, that she is still very faithful and connected to God. Even when we were little and very close, I was inspired by her connection with God and trust in Him, despite our different beliefs. She was raised Apostolic Pentecostal. I was raised Baptist. However, now that we have reconnected, I have caught her up with everything that happened to me in the past years that we haven't talked. She amazes me still at her immaculate trust in God. She is now involved in leading many youth groups to teach the Bible to younger kids, as well as attending her own youth group herself. This makes me intrigued in her beliefs since I am currently not under any official belief besides that in which God does indeed exist. My mother is not much in the picture anymore, so I have free reign to explore all sorts of Christianity that I please without fear of being bashed or shunned for doing anything other than Baptism. I have been looking into Apostolic Pentecostal all day, trying to actually understand what the belief is all about compared to Baptism, since that is what I know best, and it makes so much more sense to me compared to what I grew up with. Is there anybody who is an Apostolic Pentecostal that could please help guide me and help me in understanding the beliefs? I am very intrigued by this way of praise and church-going. So please, if you read all of this, which I hope you did because it contributes so much to my reasoning behind this, and you are an Apostolic Pentecostal, please give me information on your beliefs and ways of praising and keeping faith. I am finding God again, and I do not plan on losing Him this time. Not again.