Testimony... its an often misunderstood word. Many people are afraid of it, simply because its so personal and so unavoidable. I know I'm just a bit nervous sharing such a personal story as I am about to with people all over the world that I have never met, and some friends that I know will visit this site that have never known these things.
What is a testimony? A testimony is a sharing of personal experiences. It often tells a tale of hardship, and many times a triumph. A testimony is always a work in progress. Since we aren't finished living, our testimony changes day by day. Pastor John Hagee says, "You cant have a testimony without a test!" Well, I've had a few tests, failed a few, but I'm learning now, and I'm on the right road.
|Well, I grew up in a Christian home,
but to make a very long story short, I had been looking for something more.
The Christian churches and religion, no matter how hard I tried, just
wasn't giving it to me. I saw so much hypocrisy, little church wars,
backbiting here and there, and people going to church on Sunday and
living like hell for the rest of the week. I just got tired of the whole
mess. I ended up going to a pagan chat room (this was on prodigy, before
IRC was a big reality) and originally went to witness to them. I was
still trying to be a good Christian despite all my wandering and general
unhappiness. After being there for a bit, I started noticing that these
people were actually nice, so I hung around and listened to them. Pretty
soon I changed my on line name to something a little less Christian so I
could blend in better and learn. Learn, I did! I learned a bit about the
philosophies, and started developing ideas that perhaps I hadn't been
told the whole truth. Also, I had been blessed with a gift called
sensitive spirit and word of knowledge/wisdom (called being
empathic/psychic in the new age world.) I had told my pastor about it at
one point, and he told me that it was of Satan, and that I should pray
against it. I didn't see why though, because it was a beautiful gift
that I used to help people. Well, these new agers encouraged these
gifts, taught me all about them. They started asking questions about
Christianity that I couldn't answer, and it started to make me doubt the
faith I had grown up with. As a result, I began studying witchcraft. It
talked about something different. It actually sounded good to my
searching mind. They talked about not hurting others, that we are all
gods (or part of that divine energy), and getting instant gratification
for casting spells... not to mention being able to read the future
through divination (Tarot Cards). I had also started seeing and having
contact with various spirits. Eventually, it came down to me having a
self-dedication ceremony and becoming Wiccan. Over time, I found some
local pagans, began spending all my money on pagan stuff (and hiding it
since I was still living at home), getting involved in several pagan
learning circles and clubs, and eventually into a coven. I raised in
"degrees" in that coven, then after time several of my friends
and I started our own coven. Eight years down the line, I was horrified
at the mistakes I made in becoming Wiccan. Its not that Wiccans are such
horrible people. It wasn’t like what they are doing/dealing with isn't
real. The problem was that it was all empty. What I thought was going to
fix the problem, didn't. It only made that emptiness inside bigger. It
did seem to fix it for a while though, but it was a temporal thing. I
looked so hard for something to fill that emptiness that I didn't just
get into surface paganism. I went deep, still looking for what was
missing. I became a high priestess, ran a huge website for pagans, ran a
coven, taught new pagans in real life and on line, read very accurate
tarot, and helped people using pagan philosophies as best I could. That
ran great for a long time... and then I met Mike (He was a witch also,
and we met on line). He moved in and then we moved out of Texas up to
New York. We ended up starting a coven there, getting involved in the
pagan community there, etc. Things were running good for a good while,
but then things started to happen... we had problems in the coven that
broke up several friendships, there were witches in the pagan community
too interested in fighting, and just everything ended up feeling empty.
Mike and I both started to feel like we didn't want to be a part of the
pagan community, so instead we practiced privately, and I read tarot
cards for friends and things like that.
Mike and I got married in a fully pagan ceremony by a pagan Priestess. It was a legal ceremony, and only our dearest friends attended, as well as Mike's family. My family would not come because they knew the wedding was going to be pagan. They had always prayed for me and never accepted my pagan lifestyle or Mike (since we were living together). Well, after the wedding, I thought that enough was enough, and drew the line in the sand. I told them that if they called me, then they would be accepting my husband and my life in fullness (including the fact that I was a witch). Needless to say, they couldn't accept that and still hold onto their Christian beliefs. They simply told me that they would always love me, and that I would always know where they are. They told me I was always welcome to call, and that home was only one step away.
You see, I was a good little pagan. It seemed to fill that emptiness in me for a bit, but it didn’t last very long. The missing part was never filled. So now, what to do? Christianity had left me empty, paganism and searching through other religions had left me empty... was I just doomed to forever be empty?
It was a hard place to be at, but I just stayed at that place for a while, simply existing and doing my thing.
Seven months after our wedding, Christmas had passed, Mom's birthday had passed, my birthday had passed, and Mothers Day was around the bend. We were sending flowers to Mike's mom and I asked Mike if I could send some to my mom also. He said sure, it was and always had been up to me. I did, and Mom called back. I apologized for being so hard nosed, and told Mom that I had been feeling very empty. Mom asked me about my beliefs, and I don't know why, but for some reason I had been so empty that I answered her that I was still seeking (After 8 years as a pagan witch and high priestess). This gave her hope, and one thing led to another... pretty soon I was coming down to visit them in Texas!
They had switched churches from a Baptist church to a non-denominational one that believed in the active power of the Holy Spirit. Of course, everyone at that church knew I was a pagan witch because they had been praying for me. I expected to have the same semi-cold shoulder I had gotten at other churches that I had visited with when visiting my parents. They had always been polite, but never warm, and just a little bit scared/standoffish. Well, that didn't happen at this new church. I went in and got hugs everywhere I went. people were warm and kind, and didn't preach at me. I looked in their eyes and there was a peace and fullness about them. They didn't look empty at all. The singing started, and that fullness got more full and invaded the room. I started seeing and feeling some kind of heaviness and a spirit moving about the room. I didn't understand it all then, but it was the Holy Spirit. I was just thinking to myself, "This must be a very open minded and cosmically aware church." I couldn't have been more misled. I found out later that this was really the fullness of the Bible, not some cosmic awareness and raising energy. Anyway, on with the story. I enjoyed the church, but still was determined that Christianity wasn't my path.
One thing led to another, and I asked Mike if we could move back to Texas. Mike, being the loving husband that he is, and caring about me that deeply, said ok even though he wasn't so thrilled with the idea. I was in such a hurry to move, that I wanted to work it out in the fastest way possible. We worked out a plan where I would go down to Texas a few months in advance, stay with my parents there, get a job, find a house, and then he could come down and find a job also. I ended up staying with my parents trying to "get the way prepared" for when Mike came down. During this time, I ended up going to Church with them and to small groups (Cell Group) with them at Jeff and Rose's house during the week. I really came to love it. I kept seeing that fullness and peace in their eyes, and they always welcomed me in full love. One Sunday after Church, my parents and I went to lunch with some friends. As we were sitting there munching on BBQ, Mom, Carolyn, and I were talking. Carolyn was talking about how God gave her a sensitive spirit to where she could feel the emotions of other people and how she used that in a spiritual healing ministry, and how God often gave her words about the future. I listened, hearing my gifts described within a Christian framework. I asked about it, and she told me that the Bible talks about these gifts, and they are from God. I cried. I realized that while I was a Christian before, I had missed so much!
I started wondering what else I missed. I did some studying and discovered that I missed relationship, and I missed the Holy Spirit. You see, I had been taught that the Holy Spirit was kind of this ethereal thing that was a "comforter". I didn't realize that He was the actual active hand of God in this world. I didn't realize that we could be spiritually baptized by Him and filled to overflowing! I didn't know all these things! That was the intense power I kept feeling in Church, a power greater than all I had ever dealt with in being a pagan. I realized that the Holy Spirit gives people gifts like mine and beyond. I learned that there was such a thing as spiritual warfare, where Satan takes those things of God and twists them and perverts them and claims they are of him, or even tries to paint himself out of the picture. I learned how spirits and demons disguise themselves as benevolent or as the departed and play on us. I learned how I could see the truth of those spirits through the eyes of the Holy Spirit, and how I could win over them. It was a whole NEW world! I learned that being a Christian was more than just believing in Jesus and going through the motions. I learned that religion was junk, it was relationship that counted! I wanted to learn about Jesus and the Holy Spirit. I was THIRSTY for fullness!
One Sunday Pastor Hagee was preaching about an explosion of Light... God's miraculous light... and at the end of the sermon, he asked that anyone that wanted an explosion of light in their lives to raise their hand. Well, I'm there thinking "I'm stuck away from my husband, I miss him dearly, I've yet to find a job, I need a car... pretty much things aren't so great... so yeah, I could use a miracle..." I raised my hand. Then Pastor Hagee asked for all those who had just raised their hand to come down front. I thought, "Uh-uh, no, I'm not going down." The guy at the edge of the row moved so I could get out, and I just shook my head no. He stepped back in, then a little bit later (it seemed like an eternity) I decided to go on up. It wasn't like I was becoming a Christian or anything, just saying I needed a miracle. Tons of people had gone forward that day, and by the time I got up there, I was at the back of the crowd stuck in the aisle. Somehow the person in front of me kept turning around with no prompting from me and placing me in front of them. This continued on until I was right up in the very front! Well, Pastor Hagee prayed a prayer over us asking the Lord for an explosion of light in our lives and a miracle. Then he just started saying, "Thank you, Jesus... Thank you, Jesus.... Thank you, Jesus... " One of the times he said that, the word Jesus just stuck in my heart, and I burst out in tears... I was crying uncontrollably... I could FEEL the name Jesus through my entire being, and it was such a freeing thing... light a weight had been lifted somehow!
After that prayer (again, another eternity) the pastor spoke, asking everyone to keep their heads bowed and eyes closed. He said, "Anyone wanting to give their lives to Jesus for the first time...." (I'm thinking, that's not me) "…or give their life back to the Lord Jesus after going astray..." (oh that one hit home) "raise your hands now." Before I knew it, my hand was up, and then I was staring up at my hand in complete bewilderment! I couldn't believe that I had done that! I took my hand down, but I prayed the sinners prayer with Pastor Hagee. I had ended up walking forward and accepting Christ all over again, however this time it was more than just Him, it was the Holy Spirit also! I could hear the Holy Spirit, I could feel Him.... I felt Him speak to my heart, in my heart. It was real, and immediately I was full! I was baptized that night, and later became spiritually baptized by the Holy Spirit! I learned that we have to constantly ask God's Holy Spirit to refill us, and we feed our spirit self with the Word of God, fellowship with other Christians, and walking in His light and love. I got full... and I'm still full, Praise the Lord! What’s more than that, my husband is full too! We both found the truth and fullness of worship in the Holy Spirit and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Since that day God has done a complete 180 in my life! I'm a new person in Christ! God has done miracle after miracle in mine and my husband's life! God's hand has been so direct in our life, but the most amazing thing to both of us has been God's love! We are still both in so much awe on how much God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit care for us... even to the minute details! Its beautiful, and each day we grow in Him, seeking His face... and the Holy Spirit is our best friend!