Melissa Vereen, Fleming Island, Green Cove Springs
I am the daughter of an addict and alcoholic, raised in a single parent home because of adultery that ended my parents’ marriage. I don't remember much from my childhood (truly, I have large black holes where memories should be but are miraculously not there).
I remember fighting with my mother on Sundays about having to wear dresses, but don't remember ever hearing about Jesus. When I was six, my mother became dependent on narcotics and alcohol. Her abusive boyfriend was so in and out, so it was just me - playing mom. Checking my mom’s pulse during the night was a daily occurrence. She would go through mean bouts where nothing I did pleased her. And she made sure I knew it. I wasn't enough. When I was eight years old, a 15-year-old boy murdered my uncle. I still have to check behind doors before entering a room. At 13, a grandmother died of cancer through the majority of her body. When I was 16: another grandma’s death, a brother’s death, migraines (hospitalized, six spinal taps and begging for death), and a classmate’s death.
In all of those things, people would say pray. My aunt told me to pray for the 15-year-old who wanted a car more than a human to stay alive. People would say pray. And I would say, to whom? I prayed to this invisible person who didn't think I was enough - like everyone else - so none of my "prayers" were answered. My life was a mess.
And then, I was brought to a youth group, which served as a welcomed escape to an abusive and destructive home. My youth pastor asked me to go to Sunday service. I told him I didn't think I could. I didn't believe. I have doubts. He said, "I can guarantee you every person in that building has had doubts. You can sit next to me. Pastor Cory Britt gave a Sunday sermon from Romans 8. I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior six months later on May 8, 2009, and was baptized August 8, 2010.
Someone wise once told me that God has turned my mess into a message. I know that to be true. God has taken what was once such a broken soul and made it something beautiful. Something with a hope and a future. God has held me in the palm of His hand through every step. And He continues to. We don't always see why things happen. But I know that in everything, God is working for my GOOD. My whole life, He was making a message that someone will need to hear. A message that will inspire others to share theirs.
Up Next Week…
Dan Christopherson, Englewood UMC, Englewood
The disciple shares about a transformation in Cuba: “Never before had the presence of Jesus Christ been so dominant in a location; I know He was there; I could feel His presence.”
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