Far Above Rubies

"A worthy woman who can find? For her price is far above rubies." (Proverbs 31:10)

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Sarah's Testimony

Before sharing my testimony, I would first like to thank all the lovely ladies of this blog for giving me an opportunity to share what the Lord has done in my life.

Consecrated (Leila) is my mother, and so, if you read her testimony below, you will understand and know a little bit better on my background. I have asked her permission to share some personal detail. You will understand why as you read on.

My brother and I were both born in Lebanon. Due to the civil war, my parents immigrated to Canada when I had just turned 7. And so, I can say that I have been raised in Montreal. You now know how my mother was brought to salvation. My father was brought up Roman Catholic, much like the Christian majority of Lebanon. He wasn't saved when my parents married. Though I attended a catholic school in Lebanon, when we came to Canada, my parents took us to a Protestant Church. In fact, it was an excellent church, even though we were there for one year. The church was a French King James Bible Believing church. It was somewhat confusing to me, since I was not aware of Christian denominations, being of a young age. Catholic churches are big and fancy looking in Lebanon. I thought that churches in Canada were just poor and that is why my church was small and remarkably different.

That year, my father (though I'm not certain of his salvation, and am in no position to judge, only God knows), and my brother got saved and were baptized in that small French church. That was even more confusing to me. I had always thought that only babies get baptized, and it was odd looking to me to see my brother, and my dad, a grown man, getting baptized. I inquired my mother when we got home. And so, at the age of 7, sitting in our living room in that first house in Canada, my mother explained to me salvation and the difference of baptism. I don't remember what really did it. All I know, is she told me that I was a sinner, and that Jesus loved me.

I went upstairs to my bedroom, and tears started rolling down my cheeks unctrolabely, and I could not understand why. I ran back downstairs, shouting to my mother that I was a sinner, and still in absolute hysteria. What was confusing is that I could not understand why I was crying so much, that's when mom shouted with joy telling me I had just gotten saved, and pretty soon, I knew it well too! We then kneeled and prayed in that same spot where she told me the gospel, and I asked Jesus christ to come in my heart and to forgive me all my sins. A few months later, I got baptized.

2Ti 1:9 Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began. (one of my favorite verses)

Here's where it gets harder for me to go on. I believe that when we get saved, we ought to bear fruit, there's a difference in us, our heart is on fire for the Lord. We are a new creature. My father did not bear any fruit, and had no joy in the Lord, neither in the church. The family was starting to deteriorate. It went from bad, to really ugly. That is a part of my life that I look forward to never remembering in Heaven, but for now I will use it for God's own glory.

I know that the Lord equipped my brother and I in getting saved at a young age. I will speak for myself, but I KNOW that had not been for my salvation, I would not have been able to get through everything that my brother, mother and I went through. My parents finally separated the summer I turned 12, my brother had just turned 14. That was the lousiest summer of my life. My salvation also kept me from having "regrets", since I was somewhat wild and wanted to only hang out with friends, I always had a voice in the back of my head convicting me and warning me. I could never figure it out why or what that was. Now I know that it was the Holy Spirit in me. It was God the Father that kept me and sheltered me underneath His precious wings.

My father moved back to Lebanon. Two years later, both my brother and I went down to visit him for the summer. My dad begged us not to leave and to stay with him. We both did not want to, but my brother took the fall for me. He decided to stay, in order to let me go. But even then, my dad kept begging me, to the point, I really thought I would never escape. Though I had not been walking with the Lord, because I was very ignorant and did not really know Him or know much about Him, I started crying to Him. I had done all the begging I could with my dad, but he would not hear. So I begged and argued with the Lord while holding my Bible tight every night. The only trouble, is that I thought I found God through the Catholic church....Nevertheless, not only did He hear, but He made sure I got back, without even having missed my first day of school.

It was nice coming back, but it hadn't hit me that my brother was staying there. It had not hit my mother either.....When I told my mother all that the Lord had done for me, and that I basically almost converted to "idol" worshiping (saint this and that), she screamed and said, you did what????? She explained to me through the Bible all the differences. But it wasn't till a few months later, when my mom and I went to NYC for Christmas to visit my aunt. For New Year's, I wanted to see the ball drop and stay out on the streets and party with all the wackos. My mother dragged me by the ears and took me to church. Who spends New Year's in NYC at a church? That evening, the Pastor preached the message of my life! He kept on crying out, and saying, look at all those people on the streets (where I wanted to be), what if Jesus were to come back tonight, where would he find you, in the streets, or in God's house on your knees in prayer. That did it for me! I walked up to the Pastor and spoke to Him. I also prayed with my mother again, and re-dedicated my life to the Lord! That was at 14, seven years after my salvation. My problem at the time was whether or not I wanted the world or the Lord, this following passage really put it in perspective for me, and is still a constant reminder to me that I ought not to be ashamed of my salvation and of my Master.

Mar 8:34 And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. Mar 8:35 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel's, the same shall save it. Mar 8:36 For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Mar 8:37 Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? Mar 8:38 Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.

My growth with the Lord is attributed to His Timing, His goodness and His Mercy. Since it was now "my mother and I", God provided a family for us through the church.

When I needed a family, He provided. The church was my everything and the people were my family. Sadly, three years ago, many problems arose in the church, and mom and I knew the Lord was calling us out of there. That was hard, but I'm so thankful we listened to His calling. That led to Bible Baptist Church, which I am very grateful to be a part of.
When I needed a family, God provided, but when it was time for me to grow and eat meat, the Lord, also provided. I have learned a lot more and certainly grown a lot more through the ministry of this present church.

Moreover, things got better during the first year of the church, and my brother was able to visit my mother and I two years ago for the first time in six years of separation.

Psa 27:1 The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?

I cannot imagine my life without the Lord, it would be void, empty and meaningless. Jesus Christ rescued me. He rescued me of pershing in my sins, two thousand years ago when he bore my sins on the cross of Calvary. He saved my soul, I have nothing to fear, and I will shout it to the millions that Jesus Christ is the Saviour! He lifted my head up high from the ground, and now my eyes look up to Heaven, constantly waiting for my blessed King Jesus' return.

Tit 2:13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Tit 2:14 Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Carey's Testimony

Like Leila, I was brought up with a religious background. Though we moved around a lot, my mother made sure that we went to church. For the first ten years of my life we wandered from church to church and from home to home. Growing up, my mother was my anchor; neither my father nor my older brother were saved, so I did not have a strong older male influence. It was my mother who taught me the Bible from a very young age. She told me that I "asked Jesus into my heart" at the age of five, but to this day I have no remembrance of this moment.

At the age of nine, I was a good little girl: I attended church and Sunday school with my mom, did almost everything I was asked to do, ate my vegetables, etc. but I did not have a serious grasp on salvation. I wanted to be baptized, so I went in for an "interview" with the pastor of the church we were currently attending. The first question he asked me was, "What is sin?" I couldn't answer that because I really had no clue.

That Christmas season, I went with a group of children to minister to the elderly at a nursing home. We sang songs, read poetry, and visited with the older people. One girl read a poem that particularly struck me: "Twas the Night Before Jesus Came" by Audrey Patricia Woolverton.

'Twas the night before Jesus came and all through the house
Not a creature was praying, not one in the house.
Their Bibles were lain on the shelf without care
In hopes that Jesus would not come there.

The children were dressing to crawl into bed.
Not once ever kneeling or bowing a head.
And Mom in her rocker with baby on her lap
Was watching the Late Show while I took a nap.

When out of the East there arose such a clatter.
I sprang to my feet to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash!

When what to my wondering eyes should appear
But angels proclaiming that Jesus was here.
With a light like the sun sending forth a bright ray
I knew in a moment this must be THE DAY!

The light of His face made me cover my head
It was Jesus! returning just like He had said.
And though I possessed worldly wisdom and wealth,
I cried when I saw Him in spite of myself.

In the Book of Life which He held in His hand
Was written the name of every saved man.
He spoke not a word as He searched for my name;
When He said "it's not here" my head hung in shame.

The people whose names had been written with love
He gathered to take to His Father above.
With those who were ready He rose without a sound.
While all the rest were left standing around.

I fell to my knees, but it was too late;
I had waited too long and thus sealed my fate.
I stood and I cried as they rose out of sight;
Oh, if only I had been ready tonight.

In the words of this poem the meaning is clear;
The coming of Jesus is drawing near.
There's only one life and when comes the last call
We'll find that the Bible was true after all!

I couldn't remember a salvation experience and was suddenly very afraid that Jesus would come back that minute... and I would be left behind! So I prayed another prayer.

My personal relationship with Jesus did not develop into a more mature relationship until I was thirteen. This is when I began to see that Jesus was not a baby in a manger scene, nor an angry Judge, nor some figure on a cross in a church. I realized that Jesus was real, and that I could have a loving, personal relationship with Him. I began writing about my journey with Him. Journaling has been an opportunity to see my spiritual growth over the years, as well as providing a way for me to read about my past mistakes.

This beautiful relationship has brought me through many trials: my dad losing his job, family issues, my parents nearly separating, considering suicide more than once, depression, eating disorders, and many others. The Lord was merciful to bring me out of these valleys of life stronger. He was there beside me every step, even when I didn't notice. But for the grace of God, I would not be here today. It is also because of His mercy that He brought my dad to a saving knowledge of Him last year and spared our family from becoming fractured. It was truly a miracle, and I still look back in astonishment.

I have discovered that the Christian life is not all fun and happiness, but without the Lord I would not have come out of my struggles alive. He is a loving father to the fatherless. Just like every other human, I am incomplete without Him.

Leila's testimony

I was officially saved at the age of 18 in a Bible believing Baptist Church. My salvation story begins with the Book. That Book has fascinated me from childhood and it played a key role in my salvation.

By heredity, I was raised a Greek Orthodox, but at school I was raised Evangelical at an English school which was renouned for its classic heritage and high educational standards. The whole school lined up every morning and we filed to Assembly Hall, each class in his rank, down the aisles into the pews where on a daily basis, we read the Bible, sang hymns, heard school announcements, and very often missionaries came from England and gave us the message of salvation.Bible education was mandatory. We memorized the King James Bible since childhood, and we were graded for that, and it went into our school average.

I believe with all my heart that God was at work in my life since I was in grade 1 and even in Kindergarden. Why my siblings and I were sent to an Evangelical English school in a country that is widely Catholic French speaking is a question I can only answer by saying it was God's providence. It was at school (not at home) that I first laid my hands on a New Testament. To me that small black book was just fascinating. I remember flipping through its pages and admiring the calligraphy, and the black border around each page. As I held that book I knew I was holding something very precious. There was something special about that book, something mysterious, heavenly. Oh I can't describe it. I still get goose bumps when I think of the effect it had on me in those days (grades 2 and 3) and still does. One day my mother was not home (you know how little girls like to go through their mother's wardrobe) so I found a thick black Bible, the complete book in her cupboard. I took it down and read it for hours. That Book just fascinated me, but I did not know much more than that. I thought these characters lived thousands of years ago, but oh how things have changed since then.

Years went by and the little girl was now about twelve years old when rumous circulated that the virgin Mary had been sighted on the dome of an Eastern Church (my mother's). My mother, bless her heart, gathered her four children and we went out to spend the night outside that church waiting for the virgin's appearance. Before we left home, the five of us (mother and 4 children) decided to ask the virgin for one thing if she appeared to us. Eternal Life.

No one appeared that night (of course) and we all went back home feeling desponded. Then came Easter and my Greek Orthodox father took us to the Greek Orthodox church where if we went under the flowery hearse (a greek orthodox tradition) we were told we'd get eternal life. Sundays came and went, and we burnt incense at home to drive the evil spirits out, we recited our Creed, and the rest of the shabang but I had not met the Lord yet. At school I was evangelical, at home Greek Orthodox, but I never realized there was a difference.

Years went by and I became a teenager but I was ready to give up. Although at school, I still bowed down and told the Lord I wanted to go to heaven at every invitation from every missionary, but back in the classroom, the girls were cheating in exams and I would allow them to copy from my papers, so I knew I had commited sin one more time. I wanted to be perfect for God. I tried to earn my salvation by my own goodness. At home I was getting fed up with religion. I believed that heaven was for nuns and priests. Often during the ceremonial celebrations of Easter I would be moved to tears of despair knowing that I am not going to make it to heaven. I didn't want to live like a nun, and I did not want to look like the religious girls in my class either. (I was in an all girls school).

What I had not realized throughout all those years was that Jesus had paid it all. I did not need to do anything to get saved. It was simply by believing on him and trusting his finished work on the cross. For some reason, no body had told me that it is as simple as can be. All my life I had been trying to be a good person, and to work towards pleasing God to save me. But praise God one night my uncle came to visit in order to talk some sense into my brother who was about to quit school. But my uncle who was a saved man started discussing prophecy. He got us hooked. We all loved prophecy and so the visits were repeated. All this time my uncle spoke confidently of his salvation. I asked him one night how come he was so sure of his salvation. My uncle said "Do you have a Bible?" Sure I have a Bible I answered. Go get your Bible and open to John 3:16, and Romans 10:10 and one by one he made read verses which showed that you are saved just by grace, it is the gift of God. It is not a question of what we do, but what Jesus did. It is finished. The Book had finally cracked the code for me. I did not need to earn my salvation. I liked that. I immediately said, "I want to come with you to your church." The next morning, he picked me up with my three siblings and we went to First Baptist Bible Church in Beirut.

Soon I was in the church choir practicing a chantata for Christmas, and one Sunday afternoon we were all standing on the pulpit practicing the hymn "Have you any room for Jesus". Our song leader was giving us instructions to look happy because we are giving a testimony to the congregation. As I sang the first verse, the truth suddenly hit me. I am singing to them, asking them "Have you any room for Jesus". Hey, it means I have room for Jesus in my heart. At that very moment, I felt a surge of Joy, unspeakable and full of glory, come over me from head to toe, and I realized for the first time in my life that I WAS SAVED. Finally, I am saved. The seed that was planted in childhood now sprang to life. I have Eternal Life. I ran down the pulpit into the pastor's office and asked to be baptized. I was baptized that last Sunday before Christmas in 1974.

All my life I had looked for it. The Book showed me the way. The Lord, he is God, he paid the price for me. I am now eternally his, and his alone. I want nothing else in this life but to glorify his name and to serve him and to declare his love to the multitudes.

That is why my name is Consecrated unto God.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Meet the Ladies

Each of the blog administrators will be giving her testimony soon.