I grew up going to church with my family. I did not have an earth- shattering experience when I accepted Jesus. My family moved several times when I was young. The first thing my parents did was to find a church near our home. We were involved in all the church activities. At that time in my life the church was our recreation. We attended Sunday Worship, Sunday school, suppers on Wednesday nights, Youth Group and Summer Youth Camp. One Sunday in church, I believe before I was seven, I met and saw Jesus walking down the aisle and accepted Him. I believe that encounter has made me able to never doubt there was a God and Jesus was His Son. No one could ever convince me otherwise. During the summers we went to Kentucky, where my Uncle was a Baptist minister, so we were still never away from the church involvement. I know my father knew the Lord. I had to witness to him for homework in a Bible Class (called Evangelism Explosion). He loved Jesus and lived his life as a Godly man. We had a good laugh because, of course, he answered all the questions correctly. That was my first witnessing experience. However, I believed church was just “the thing I had to do” for me, an expected way of life. I did not know the Lord in a personal way. Even when my husband died and God assured me he was with Him, I did not realize what I was missing or what God was doing for me. One weekend I had a life-changing event. A husband and wife team were at my church and I was asked if they could stay with me. I was shocked that I was worthy of them staying in my home. However, God had a reason, as one day after dinner, they prayed for me and I felt the Holy Spirit descend on me and the weight of the world lifted off my shoulders. (I realize that most churches believe the Holy Spirit descends on you when you accept Christ). After that I became aware that I was not leading the life God would have me lead. I felt I had been leading a dual life. I lived the way I wanted to live during the week as opposed to the way God wanted me to live every day instead of just on Sundays. I came to realize how much God loved me because He waited for me to come back to Him. All the while He was still loving me and watching over me and providing for my daughter and I. This had made a big difference in how I get through difficult periods in life. I realize I still do a lot of things to make Him unhappy, but it is an ongoing process of learning and being open to His guidance. Now, having a closer walk with the Lord helps me to openly talk about Jesus and share my Faith. I am not what I call an Evangelist out on the streets, etc. but I share with friends, doctors, clerks in stores, etc. about my Faith. I love Missions trips as I can share Jesus of all nations and backgrounds. I have the assurance of one day being with Him and He will help me live from day to day here on earth.
Joan C. Cowan