I gave my testimony at church this morning! I go to W.E.M., Wolgwang English Ministry, in Gwangju. It's about a 20 minute walk from my apartment and there are a hundred or so foreigners there, along with English speaking Koreans who love us. Today, we had a big fellowship service with lunch afterwards (Korean corn-and-potatoes-pizza and fried chicken, with sweet pickles and chopsticks of course). The pastor, Myoung, asked me to share my testimony during lunch. It's always powerful to hear what God does in people's lives, and it's especially powerful to look back at your own life and see where God has brought you. I love how much He changes His people when they seek him! I wonder how much He's going to do over this year in Korea. It's been a great few months so far, I know it'll only get better! Anyway, if you're interested, here is my story :)
Good morning! I’m Zara and I’m a Christian.
I grew up going to church; my parents made sure I was active in Sunday School and I got the opportunity to go to a Christian summer camp every year. When I was 13, I said a prayer to invite Jesus into my life, and that was really the first time I experienced a response to God’s call. Up to that point, my faith was just what other people had told me. So, I accepted Jesus as my savior when I was a teenager, but I still didn’t really know what that meant. Jesus rescued me before I knew how much I needed saving.
There comes a point in life where you look around at the lives of people around you and decide if you want your life to look like theirs or if you want to strike a new path. That was where I was in university. I went to college at Texas A&M University in College Station, TX. My faith grew tremendously over those years by joining a church, finding a small group, reading the Word, being intentional about my prayers, and being mentored by people who visibly loved Jesus Christ. The more I found out about my God, the more I wanted. And I found that the more I sought God, the more He showed up. It’s a great concept and it’s still true; it wasn’t just for that time of my life. The more I seek God, the more I see Him!
The next part of my story has to do with uncertainty. See, I was getting a degree in Construction Science, but I don’t know if you’ve noticed, I’m not even remotely in Construction anymore. I decided that it wasn’t for me about 3 months before I graduated. So I was like, now what?
I’ve always been a planner. Up til that semester, I thought I was fine. I wanted things to go the way I had planned, so if God’s plan for my life fell in accordance with my plans, we were golden. Kind of like a “here are my plans, Lord, and I’ll go to church and volunteer with the youth group too.” But then, all of a sudden, I had no plans and that was... okay.
That semester, I heard something that semester that has really stuck with me. A Bible Study leader mentioned that making plans is good, but he made sure to warn us not to freak out when God changes them. He said to hold your plans with an open palm. That way, God doesn’t have to wrench them out of your hands. His plan will be accomplished one way or another; this way, you won’t hurt yourself.
That spring was the season that I really gave God CONTROL of my life. I’d been calling Him Lord, indicating my service to Him, but expecting Him to serve me. That was an incorrect assumption on my part. I love God. I trust Him. Of course I’d be ok after graduation.
That’s the moment, the time I can look back on, when I started to live out my faith. Over the next few months, God taught me more about the gifts he’s given me in working with children and youth, showed me the beginning of a plan to use me to care for “the least of these,” orphans, foster children, and abandoned children. With that, I began a Master’s of Education that led me to work in an alternative school in Houston for a couple of years before bringing me here, to South Korea. I’m not completely sure how all of this will work toward the vision of orphan ministry someday, but I’m confident that God knows exactly what he’s doing with my life, if I’ll just let him have control. His timing isn’t my timing, and it never fails.
There comes a point in life where you look around at the lives of people around you and decide if you want your life to look like theirs or if you want to strike a new path. There are people who look at me like I’m crazy because I’ve held on to my principles, because my faith tells me that my actions reflect on the cross. What keeps me motivated to follow this God, this Jesus, is that Jesus rescued me before I knew fully how much I needed to be rescued.
The Good News is that we are saved by grace, through faith in Jesus, because he took the punishment for sin. He died a thousand times worse than he should have, because he loves us oh so dearly. God looked down upon his son on the cross, the human form of God himself, and allowed him to choose pain and suffering. When Jesus said “it is finished,” he didn’t mean just that his life or his suffering were finished. He meant that the punishment for sin, all sin, past or future, was finished. With those words, he gave us LIFE.
That is why I am a Christian. I see my life and am overwhelmed by the grace the God showed me. I am saved. I am rescued. I accepted that forgiveness provided by the cross and I am washed clean. No more destruction will come my way cause Jesus took mine. He took yours too, if you take him up on the offer. Heaven only admits the ones who come to him. CS Lewis writes “Only those into which Love Himself has entered will ascend to Love Himself.”
I pray that you choose His grace and His plan too.