My testimony of encountering Christ comes in multiple layers. I was raised in a Christian home, I gave my heart to Jesus when I was just 5 years old. My mom homeschooled us and we were deeply involved in our small church in our small town. My dad owned his own business, and my mom poured her heart and soul into our home, laying a solid foundation of love, faith, and nurture for us 4 kids.
Our lives were turned upside down when my mom was diagnosed with cancer as a woman in her early 40s. I was 7 years old at the time she was diagnosed, and she passed away 7 short weeks later. As a young girl, I began to experience depression, panic attacks, and loneliness. I remember taking my mom’s hymnal book and sitting in my room, alone, just singing hymns out loud for comfort. I didn’t share these feelings with anyone, as I didn’t understand what was happening and I thought that others would think I was crazy. I wanted to be strong for my family, so I stuffed down my emotions and didn’t process them for several years.
As you can imagine, some tough years followed after my mom’s passing. My dad remarried 6 months after my mom passed away, and we eventually moved away from our town and from my mom’s family. Things came to a head for me emotionally during my teenage years, and I began to lose hope. At age 15, in an effort to numb my pain, I turned to drinking and partying, and I surrounded myself with friends who were just as broken as I was. I can remember coming home after weekends of partying, and I would literally cry out to God, begging him to help me and to forgive me… only to find myself cycling around again and again. I felt completely broken, lost, confused, and alone.
I began dating my husband during my senior year of high school, and we got married and moved to Tri-cities at 18 years old. 6 months later, I found out I was pregnant with my daughter. The news caused me to panic, as I realized I was nowhere near ready to be a mother. In desperation, I decided to visit the closest church to where we lived at the time, which was City Church in Kennewick, WA. I hadn’t stepped foot inside of a church in years, so I was a little hesitant at first. However, I will never forget that day as I walked in and sat down in the main auditorium. Before worship had even started, I was completely overcome with the Holy Spirit and I began to weep uncontrollably in my seat. I don’t know how to describe what was happening to me in words, other than it felt like the sweetest heavenly embrace. It was as if God was telling me, “Welcome Home.”
The next few years were a bit messy as I tried to figure out my faith again. I knew Jesus loved me, I knew that I wanted to live for Him, but I still felt something was missing. I still felt bondaged and broken in many ways. My husband and I moved back to Yakima after my daughter was born, and I decided to try out Stone Church. Within a few years of attending there, Stone Church started a ministry called, “Living Free,” which taught on how to walk in freedom in Christ. This ministry completely transformed my life. On one particular session, this sweet young woman (who is now a very dear friend) was praying over me. She did not know me or my story at the time, but she began to describe to me a vision that was playing out before her as she prayed. She said, “Sabrina, God is showing me a picture of you as a little girl alone in your room… I can tell you felt so alone! But, God wants you to know that you were never alone. He was always there with you! He sat right there with you, and He saw every tear that you cried.” As she described this, I was immediately transported back to those moments in my room. I had NEVER told anyone about those moments, not even my parents. The ONLY person who knew about them was Jesus! This encounter RADICALLY changed my life, as I realized that God not only cared about me and saw me, but I realized that my relationship with God could be two way. The realization hit me that He could ACTUALLY speak to me! I could actually hear His voice! I didn’t have to just send up prayers and hope He heard them, it was possible to have an authentic relationship with Him. This opened up a whole new life of freedom as I learned how to depend on the Lord and listen to His voice.
The scriptures below became life verses for me during that season of my life. I hope the truth of them will come to life for you as they did for me:
“My sheep listen to my voice, I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from me, for my Father has given them to me, and he is more powerful than anyone else. No one can snatch them from the Father’s hand.” – John 10:27-29
“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. I will be found by you, I will end your captivity and restore your fortunes…” – Jeremiah 29:11-14