I lived two lives growing up—one was a good girl who was active in a Southern Baptist Church with her parents; the other was a girl who tried to cover up for sexual abuse.
When I was very young, until I was seven years old, my parents took me to church. After that, I would occasionally go with some neighbors. When I was about 18 or 19 years of age, I was starting to wonder what religion was all about. At the same time, my girlfriend was urging me to get to know God. This drove me back to the church that I had grown up in. I attended several Sundays to hear what the pastor had to say.
My name is Michael Brooks, and this is my story. I was baptized as an infant in the Episcopal Church. My mother and my aunt served on the Altar Guild. They were both key in the coffee hour following services each Sunday. My uncle Roy sang in the choir and was the church sextant. So, as a boy, I thought I was well connected, and due to my family’s contributions to the church, we were good people, and of course, heaven-bound due to our good works.
If you had known me a few years ago, when I was a wild, drunk, popular entertainer in various bars, and then knew me now, you would insist you had met two different men. That is the difference that Christ can make in one’s life. My story demonstrates the great mercy and love of God to reach into the depths of hell to save a wretch as undeserving as I. Christ had to break my hard heart with the gospel. My name is Dale Stengele, and this is my story.
For over twenty years, I lived in denial. I claimed to be a Christian for most of my life, but my desire to do good would never last long. I would be stirred to obey the Bible, but after a time the zeal would go away. I would be back to doing the things which brought me great shame and heartache. My name is Becky Simmons, and this is my story.
I was born February 9, 1934, to parents of two different faiths. My father was an alcoholic and not a church-goer. Mother, on the other hand, did have some religious background, but did not have us children baptized when we were young. She thought it would be better if we chose our own religion when we were old enough to make that choice.
My name is Don Bellesfield, and this is my story. When I look back at my childhood, I guess I didn’t grow up much differently than most kids. The only difference I remember was that my parents separated when I was very young. Even so, I wasn’t without things to do, and I had the things most kids had.
My name is Jill Brooks, and this is my story. I was born in Massachusetts in 1961 and baptized as an infant in a Methodist church. When I was two years old, our family moved to New Jersey. We had a nice house in a nice neighborhood and went to a nice Methodist church. We were a nice family. My mother explained to me that God made the world and taught me to appreciate nature and all living things. As I grew, I had a lot of questions.
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