My Testimony

My faith continues to be a journey, and I have seen some very interesting bumps along the way. Let me describe to you what my life was like when I was going through one of my rougher patches, before I found Christ. Let me tell you about 19 year old me.

Where was I when I was 19? I turned 19 while I was an exchange student to Brazil. I was in a long-distance relationship with a non-Christian man, which ended up causing me a lot of heartache. I had so many questions about God and had come to the conclusion that Christianity is not the truth. I had begun to study Islam and pray in earnest every night for God to show me the truth, because obviously (I thought) Christianity was not it. 

Islam seemed so similar to Christianity, but left out a lot of the things I had questions about. How could Christ be "the son of God"? Couldn't he have just been a prophet? Why do so many Christians pray to Jesus and not God the father? Isn't God the father the jealous God? These were just a few of all the questions I had.
19 year old me with some fresh coconuts in Brazil. This is the tannest I have ever been.
When I was 19 I spoke Portuguese nearly all the time, and had a difficult time speaking English with ease. I started to dress Brazilian, even going so far as to own a collection of Brazilian bikinis. My vision for my future was simple: I was never going to live in America ever again. Through my time living in Finland (before Brazil) and Brazil I had begun to see Americans as arrogant and self-consumed, unconcerned with their effect on the rest of the world. I wanted to study international relations and work for a non-profit helping Children. 

I was so adamant that I wouldn't live in America that when I returned home after my year in Brazil I went against my mother's will, and I moved to Istanbul Turkey to go to college. I enrolled in as a full-time student at a fantastic college and started the process of rebuilding my life abroad.  

And all along, the praying never stopped. I looked like a girl who had it all together, who was living her dreams, but I felt so lost inside. I begged and begged God to help me find the truth.
19 year old me outside of the Blue Mosque in Istanbul Turkey
Today, I am light-years away from who I was then.  You see, God started answering my pleas for answers. Those scores of prayers pleading for truth were being answered not in my way, but God's way. I had begged him to show me the truth, as I was starting to see holes in the faith I had been raised with (Christianity). I knew there was a God and felt his presence, but I wanted to know his truth, not man's truth. Was that Islam?

One day, as I sat in my bedroom in Istanbul, I suddenly felt this intense change in my heart. To this day I wish I could describe what happened to me, but I all of a sudden felt "filled" with God. I started crying because I knew this was the moment. After years of prayers for answers, God was finally going to answer me! I felt this sudden compulsion to read the Bible. Wait... The Bible?

At this point I was 21, and I had been living in a Muslim country for nearly 2 years. I didn't have a Bible anymore, so I went online and found an online one. I started reading the book of Romans, a book I had studied when I was a Christian teen. It felt like all of a sudden I was looking at everything in a new light! All of a sudden, things that used to be gray, were color. As a non-Christian, this was a radical moment in my life. All of a sudden everything in my head and my heart "clicked" together. All I can think now is that this had to have been the holy spirit working within me, because I sure wasn't looking for Christianity then. In fact, I had an entire list of reasons why I thought Christianity was NOT true. 

This momentous moment in my bedroom in Turkey changed everything. That same day I knelt next to my bed and begged God for his forgiveness. I accepted Christ as my savior again, and the act that had seemed so routine before all of a sudden took on an incredibly personal aspect. I had asked God for the truth, and when I was ready, he had shown me what that was.

Since then, I have not faltered in my faith. I still had a lot of questions and I started looking for answers in the Bible, and praying about those questions. It seemed that when I reaccepted Christianity, I started finding answers again. 

I realized I needed to live near Christians and get involved in a Christian community again. I realized my future husband would have to be a Christian. So in short order I made the huge decision to do what I had promised myself I would never do: I transferred my credits to a school back home and moved back to America. I still had reservations about living in America again, but I knew I needed to go where I could fellowship with other Christians. 

I was baptised last year in front of my church and cried like a baby the entire time. When the pastor asked me why I was crying, I responded "I am just so happy to be here". I am so happy God took me back! No matter the horrid things I said and did, no matter that I turned my back on my savior, he accepted me back! How great is our God?!

When I think about what 19 year old me would think of my current life, I can't help but laugh. 19 year old me would be appalled that I am married, that I am a very conservative Christian, that I am living in America, that I am planning to become a stay-at-home mother, and that I don't travel much anymore (mostly because I am working to get out of my school debt). 

But what about what I think now of 19 year old me? Personally, I feel a little bad for her. She does not know what she is missing and doesn't even realize how incredibly lost she is. She has an incredibly bright future, but she will have to go through a lot to become the person she needs to be for that future. If only 19 year old me were mature enough to appreciate who I am now and why. Because who I am now is just so much greater because I found Christ again.
19 year old me touring a cave church in central Turkey. I was not a Christian then.
Since then my life has again changed completely. It look me several years to come to an understanding of what this new Christianity meant, and how it should be reflected in my life. I have changed everything from my goals, my thoughts of my future, my style of dress, my behavior towards others, and my plans for the future. The thing is, I know I have finally been shown by God what is true.

If you have any questions about Christ and how he is relevant to your life, or if you simply have some questions for me about my journey, I am always happy to talk! Leave a comment or send me an email at Cornerjoyk@gmail.com

9 comments:

  1. Wow! What a wonderful testimony! And what a gracious God we serve! You can feel His joy in your writing! ~Jordan

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  2. Beautiful testimony, and so very encouraging! Thank you for sharing!

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  3. It's remarkable that you turned from Christianity to Islam and then back to Christianity! May I ask if you recited the Shahadah and began to pray five times a day before you converted back to Christianity? I would love to hear more about your reconversion!

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    1. Hi Mindy, I will probably write a post on this someday soon but it is one of those sore areas of my past I still have trouble confronting sometimes. I did recite the Shahadah but was not praying in the "way of the Prophet" as they say. I still believed in a God who loved me for me and loved my thoughts, so I continued to pray in a more informal way.

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  4. Dear Amy Joy,

    I too rebelled during my college years, I learned about other religions: Buddhishm, Islam, Zen, I even considered to be a Devil Worshipper once! But God touched my heart and brought me back to the religion I was baptized as a baby: Catholic. I realized then, it might not be a perfect religion, it might have its flaws (Christians are human, after all!) especially during the Dark Ages (I love history), but it's perfect for me.

    Ow, and I also stopped wearing micro minis. I don't know why, I just wanted to dress attractive, instead of attract-ing!

    Several years ago I went for a personal retreat during a difficult time, in a monastery at the mountains, and I learned lectio divina, praying before reading the Bible to ask for guidance. My oh my, after years of thinking that Bible is impossible to understand - except by pastors, maybe - God opened my eyes and suddenly He spoke to me through the verses. Again, I accept that there are flaws and inconsistencies in the Bible - especially if you see it with history background - but so what. Human are not perfect. So why can't God uses something imperfect to speak to us, so we'll be able to understand! That's why God sent Jesus as human, so we can relate to Him!

    Thank you for sharing with us here on the blogosphere.

    Visit me:
    LeeAnne, Style N Season
    http://stylenseason.blogspot.com

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  5. So good to read your blog. Warm and inspiring.

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  6. I hope I can have a conversion moment like you did... I used to be a devout Christian, had a bout of Atheism, and ever since have tried coming back to Christianity. I read the Bible, pray, etc., but I still just don't "feel" God in my heart yet. I'm praying for it constantly, but He has yet to answer. Someday, hopefully..

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    1. I'll be praying for you! I know how it feels to just be yearning for truth and not feeling that it is doing any good. Remember that no matter how you feel, the truth is still the truth. Sometimes we have to preach truth to ourselves. That said, everyone's faith walk is different. And though my conversion moment written above sounds so dramatic, it took me a long time to strengthen my faith and feel God's leadership in my life. I am still working towards that! I highly suggest you get involved with a group of local Christians for encouragement, and gorge yourself on Christian information. I listen to Moody radio online and read a lot (Francis Schaeffer, CS Lewis, Beth Moore (Love all her books and bible studies), Jennifer Rothschild, Nancy Leigh DeMoss). God gave us other believers and commanded us to get to know them for a reason. And just keep praying honey! Pour out your heart and soul on a daily basis and ask God for his guidance. He always responds, but not always when we want and not always how we want. But don't take his silence for inactivity

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  7. this is a very touching testimony. God bless you!

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I love to fellowship with others and hear what they have to say. I would ask, however, that you be mindful of what you write and try to be uplifting and respectful. Thank you for sharing!