Callie MacLeod, Harvest, Bradenton
It is impossible to over-exaggerate the magnitude of antagonism toward Christianity in the household in which I was raised. My mother practices witchcraft and taught me to believe that Christianity is a religion based on lies, greed, and guilt and that Christians are mindless door mats. The toxicity of that environment marked me and left me feeling empty and incomplete as an adult. Holding on to these views well into adulthood, I suffered deep depression for many years.
I searched for many ways to try to feel better, whole. When I looked at the people in my life who seemed to have joy and peace, I discovered that every one of them were Christians. At a very low point, I made a conscious choice to explore a faith I didn't understand and was taught to hate. A friend told me, "just believe,” not knowing that very first step was a hurdle the size of Mount Everest for me.
I decided to start by visiting a local church. The pastors at Harvest were not scary at all! I also decided to read the Bible. I began in Genesis and made it all the way to Numbers before I almost gave up. One night I was lying in bed reading the Bible, about to cry if I read one more "aroma pleasing to the Lord,” when I just closed it and prayed—really for the first time in my life. "God, please give me something I can understand," and I let my Bible fall open. It opened to John 3:16. It was something I could get on board with.
The next Sunday, Harvest was having a celebration of reaffirmation of faith. It was a cool morning in February, the "dry" season in Florida, made drier that year due to drought. As people were coming forward, I suddenly found myself walking up to the font, standing in front of Pastor Steve telling him I wanted to be baptized. As he poured the water over my head, rain started to pound on the roof of the gymnasium where we met to worship. I felt so welcome, so accepted, so clean.
From that point forward, I have seen the world with new eyes. God welcomed me home and I have tried to respond in faith. I still have low points, but now I know I am never alone.
Up Next Week…
Amy Buggle, Murray Hill, Jacksonville
In her story about starting a child care center for those with disabilities, the disciple affirms that God calls, then equips. “I learned quickly not to rely on my own knowledge, but to keep my eyes on Jesus. I would start to panic over financial difficulties, but would remember to say a prayer, and the phone would ring with a person wanting to donate.”
The Florida Conference of The United Methodist Church
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