Now: Sisters in Christ
ALEJANDRA’S PERSONAL TESTIMONY
Good Catholic in Colombia
My name is Alejandra. I was born in Colombia, South America. From a very young age I knew there was a God. Growing up as a Catholic, I was told that I had to be a good person to reach the kingdom of God. To me it was as simple as following the sacraments and being obedient to God’s Word. I was also very involved in church activities and followed their regulations. I attended church every Sunday, but when I had to confess my sins to the priest, I never felt like God had truly forgiven me. There was always a lack of peace.
Missing Something My Friend Had
A year before coming to the United States, I met a young girl, who called herself a Christian. She was different compared to other girls in my class. We became very close friends and I started going to her house. Many times her mother would invite me to go to church and hear the Word of God. While I never had any intention to go and always said no, deep inside I knew I was missing something they had. Little did I know it wouldn’t be in Colombia where God would make things clear to me; He had another plan.
A couple of months after moving to the USA, I was attending a public high school in Philadelphia, where my Spanish counselor invited me to some gospel meetings. Without knowing what these meetings would be like, my mom and I were more open this time and we said yes. While attending the meetings, I was able to meet Melvin and Rachel Mendez. Rachel was very kind and persistent and she kept inviting us to more meetings. As we continued to attend the meetings and established a good friendship with the Mendez’s, it became clear to me that my relationship with God was broken. The reason I had come to this conclusion was the ‘guilt’ I felt each time when Mr. Mendez talked about the things God did not like – sin! I felt like I had failed Him over and over. It was clear to me that I was a sinner, and needed to accept Jesus as my Savior.
Teenager’s Death Brought Realities into Focus
It all came to a head on the day of the funeral of Lucas Santos. He was a young teenager from the local assembly of Christians, who had died very suddenly. It was in 2008, a month before I graduated from high school that the veil of blindness came off and I was able to see with new eyes what the Lord had done for me. That evening, David Curran and Melvin Mendez preached the gospel at the Santos’ home. While listening to them, I was still very shocked from the sudden death of the sweet and adventurous Lucas. Many thoughts were going through my head and I just started thinking about my own death and my brothers and I started questioning if I was ready to die or not. I started to cry and couldn’t stop. I was devastated, mostly because I knew that I didn’t want to die without accepting Jesus as my Savior. I knew that if I died at that moment I would go to hell because of my sin.
Through John 3:16 I Was Saved
After the meeting was done, I told both speakers that I wanted to talk to them. The three of us went to the porch and sat down to read some verses from the Bible. Through my tears, I understood from God’s Word that there was nothing I could do to get to heaven but that God sent His only begotten Son to die for me and “that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16. Thankfully, that was just the beginning of the Lord working in my life. He not only saved my soul, but He began to show me that He wanted me to make Him the priority of my life.
Eternally Saved but Not Perfect
After starting college, I began to distance myself from the Lord. However, during the summer of 2009, I promised myself that I would be baptised as a Christian and be publicly identified with my Lord before starting the fall semester at college. I also wanted to join the local community of Christians in Olney, a neighborhood in NE Philadelphia. I prayed without ceasing for guidance so that God would restore me and bring me back on track spiritually. Soon after, He opened the doors and I was able to fulfill my promise. After that, my ongoing desire was to learn more and become a living testimony for Christ to my friends.
Friday Night Light Bible Study
It was at that time that Rachel Mendez told me about the Friday Night Light Bible Studies at the Pennsauken Gospel Hall, led by Don Draper. I decided to attend. To my surprise, after I started going to these Bible studies, my two best friends from high school, Johana and Pamela, also showed an interest in attending the studies. It was there that both of them realized they too needed a Savior and were saved by God’s grace. After so many years of knowing each other, I never imagined that God was going to bring us even closer together as sisters in Christ. I am grateful for what He has done in each one of our lives and I pray that He may protect us and preserve us for His honor and glory.
JOHANA’S PERSONAL TESTIMONY
Not Very Religious but Hoping to Earn Some Credits
I was born and raised in Colombia (South America) as a Catholic by not very religious parents. I was baptized as a baby; I attended Catholic school and did my first communion when I was 10 years old. I always believed in God but never really had an interest in establishing a closer relationship with Him. Overall I was a good friend, sister, daughter, student, and I thought God would give me credits for being good to society.
Struggling in USA
During the middle of my teenage years I came to Philadelphia. I was struggling with self-esteem issues, the divorce of my parents, adjusting to a new country, city, culture, language; working at a very young age, and taking over responsibilities in the house to cover the absence of my father.
God Working in My Life
Thankfully, everything wasn’t BAD! God was working in His miraculous ways and making connections without me knowing it. The Lord brought Alejandra, a Colombian girl my age with the same background and struggles into my classroom, at Lincoln High School in Philadelphia. We became great friends and today we are sisters in Christ. Alejandra and I always went up to our counselor Mrs. Estela (Spanish speaking lady from Panama) with questions about classes and credits. Our conversations were long and included religious beliefs. One day Mrs. Estela invited us to her church meeting, but Alejandra and I worked every Sunday therefore we never did attend; however, Alejandra’s mother did go once and enjoyed the service. Eventually, Alejandra started to attend meetings every Sunday with her mom. Years went by and Alejandra and her mother both trusted Jesus for salvation. All these events took place, yet I still wasn’t grasping much about my Creator and Savior’s love for me.
Feeling Incomplete and Empty and Alone
Towards my late teenage years I was enjoying everything the world had to offer, yet I felt incomplete, empty, and alone. I had no inner peace. I knew something was missing, but I just couldn’t understand what it was. One Friday night, I called Alejandra to invite her to the movies. In return, she said: “I was invited to a Bible study and I promised I will go; would you like to come?” My response was: “No thanks! I will find someone to go to the movies with.”
Movies or a Bible Study on Friday Night?
Surprisingly, I did not have anyone to go to the movies with, so I took Alejandra’s offer. The Bible study had already started when we got to the hall. On the white board, in red ink, were the words: ‘The 4 Gospels’. Throughout the discussion I was very lost because I did not know what the word ‘gospel’ meant. After the session, everyone was very welcoming, food was great and games were fun. I left with questions that night and went back for answers the following Friday. Those answers brought more questions, and from question to question, I noticed my need for salvation. My interest started to grow and Friday night Bible study became the place where I wanted to be every Friday evening.
Special Night and a Special Bible Verse
John 1:12 says,”But to all who did receive Him (Jesus), who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God”. This verse made a difference for me on October 18, 2009, when I understood I was created by God, but I was not His child because I had not yet received Him. That night I appreciated Jesus Christ, the One who became flesh; He had come into the world and gave Himself as a sacrifice to save me. (1Peter 2:24). The One who knew no sin yet became sin for me. (2Corinthians 5:21) I rejoiced because His blood cleansed me. (1John 1:7) I understood the meaning of love and I’m glad that I can say I love Him because He first loved me. (Galatians 2:20). The only wall that separated me from God was my sin. (Isaiah 59:2). I accepted that although I was good to society by my own moral standards, I was still a sinner before God. (Romans 3:23). I repented and received the Holy Spirit. Although I did nothing to deserve it, neither did I earn it with good works, I was given eternal life and a purpose in life. It was through faith in Christ alone that I could now see and it was by grace that I was found. (Ephesians 2:8-9) It was all done for me!!! It was all paid in full!!! It was free!!! He can do the same for you!!!
Salvation is a Personal Relationship with Christ
Shortly after my salvation, Pamela (my best friend for many years) also trusted Christ and she has been able to testify of her faith through many trials. Thankfully, I now know God’s miraculous ways and that He continues to work and to save others. He can do the same for you. He is knocking at the door of your life. Will you open up and let Him in?
PAMELA’S PERSONAL TESTIMONY
Getting Settled in Life
Growing up, my family and I had moved around at least fourteen different times, throughout three different countries. I have had the chance to meet so many people and learn about so many different ways of life, but over those 21 years of my life, nothing can compare to October of 2009.
A Christian in Name Only – Not a Real One
Though I did not have a very religious upbringing, my mother had instilled in my brother Spencer and me that a God did exist, and we were His creation. I considered myself a Christian, simply because I celebrated Christmas and Easter. But when it came to Jesus, I never understood what He did, or who He was. When I tried to read the Bible, it seemed almost foreign to me. When I tried to make an effort to pray, my prayers seemed empty; I didn’t believe they were being heard. I hesitated a lot with my purpose in life. Because of all the moving, I always had a sense of instability and I thought of this as the blame for the emptiness I felt inside.
Emptiness and Heartbreaks
I considered myself good – morally and ethically. I tried my best to do what I thought was right and I always felt a need to please others. I yearned badly for people to accept me into their lives. While I made friends at each place I moved to, nothing seemed enough. I encountered more heart-breaks with friends, more rejection from my family, and more failure from myself. My priorities bounced from friends to school, but my priorities always seemed insufficient.
The older I got, the more I understood I needed something to fill the emptiness I had in my heart. I felt unsatisfied and alone, even when I was surrounded by people who cared for me. I felt depressed at times, and hopeless. I depended on material things to bring joy to my life. Though there were plenty of times that I thought life was great and I had everything I needed, yet I knew it wasn’t enough.
Searching for God and Thinking Religion Was the Answer
I began to search for God, but I just didn’t know how to get to Him. I searched for Him through meaningless prayers, different churches – even different religions. I was seeking for an answer – an answer to my question: “What should I do?” Little did I know then of what He had done for me and what He was doing for me.
My two best friends, Alejandra and Johana, began to attend a Friday Night Light Bible study at the Pennsauken Gospel Hall in New Jersey. During this time, I was in the process of converting to another religion. I believed that I finally had it! I found God. I thought that by converting to a religion and practicing the religion I would have a link to God. I didn’t feel a need to go to the Bible study. But I wanted to know why my friends spent their Fridays at a Bible study, so I went to find out.
Totally Confused at a Bible Study
It was at the Bible study that I sat through one of the most confusing times of my life. Nothing made sense… written on the white board was just one word: SALVATION. Throughout the whole Bible study I kept repeating to myself in my head that I didn’t have anything I needed to be saved from! There was no way that my little sins would cause me to go to hell. I started to compare myself to people who I thought were worse, and in a way, I was looking for explanations to confirm that my sins were not as bad as the sins of others. I never did any wrong to anyone. I went home that night saying to myself and to my friends that I had no plans to return.
Unsettled and Unsure
A week followed and I began to question myself. I began to feel that I wasn’t so sure about the path that I was on. What if I were to end up in hell? And how does Jesus fit into this? Why did they say that Jesus died on the cross for me? I never understood what Jesus’ purpose was and why He was crucified. I didn’t understand why, at the Bible Study, people were speaking of Jesus as their Savior. I began to read the Bible again, but now I was reading it to learn about Jesus.
During this time, I was reading two different doctrines that both claimed to be the Word of God. But slowly I found myself reading the Bible more and asking more questions about Jesus. After a couple of weeks, I knew which path I needed to follow. I knew that I needed salvation, but I struggled with how I would become saved.
Really Wanting to Be Saved
My prayers were constantly pleading to God to show me what to do to be saved. I was frustrated, but then the week before my 21st birthday in 2009, I realized that I did not have to do anything; it was already done. (John 19:30) I learned that because of sin, we are born separated from God, but through the sacrifice on the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ, we are able to receive the greatest gift – one that we can’t even place a value on. (Romans 6:23)
Christ had died on the cross for MY sins. He endured all the pain on that cross to provide me with salvation. Salvation saved me from my sins, and allows me to have a personal relationship with God – one that I had been constantly seeking, but never found, until I opened the Bible, the only Word of God. (1Peter 3:18)
Almost Missed the Greatest Truth and the Greatest Gift
It amazes me how close I had come to turning away from the greatest truth of all time. The exact month that I had decided to convert to a religion that completely rejects the truth of Christ, God brought me to a place where, for the first time, I was told of who Christ was and what He had done for me, and for all others who would receive Him.
All along I thought I had been searching, but the Lord had been working at my footsteps. My life went from a life without meaning and loneliness to a life with a purpose and a personal and eternal relationship with God.
Have you found peace yet?
You have just read the personal testimonies of three people who found peace through Christ and are enjoying a personal relationship with Christ. They have found the meaning in life and the fulfillment that can only come from a ‘right’ relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Their sins have been forgiven, their future is bright and they look forward to an eternal afterlife with Christ in God’s Home – so often called Heaven.
What about you? So many people just have religion and rituals – their belief system, their church or mosque or synagogue or temple? Have you personally experienced the joy of a personal relationship with Christ and a ‘right’ relationship with God? Do you have a moment when you consciously placed your faith in Christ and received eternal life – the abundant life?
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