I would like to join a number of my brothers and sisters to testify of my positive experience in the church life. Given this opportunity to consider my experience, my heart is full of thanksgiving for the care and shepherding I’ve received. I’d like to testify particularly of some sisters who have been positive patterns in my life and give a testimony of my personal experience as a sister in the church life.
As a brief background, I grew up in the church life. I still remember a number of the songs we sang in the children’s meetings and also that we made crafts and memorized Bible verses. As I got older, my loving serving ones led me to develop a personal and affectionate relationship with the Lord Himself.
In high school I was captivated by the ministry of Watchman Nee and Witness Lee. The Bible was now opened up to me as one cohesive writing from God to man! I saw God’s eternal purpose and my part in His economy. It was as a high-schooler that I saw why my parents were in the church life and decided that I too would pursue the Lord here for the rest of my life.
In ninth or tenth grade a sister named Jill began inviting me to her home on Friday nights for home meetings, offering a ride both there and back. The first week I politely declined because I was a shy young person and didn’t know what going to her home meeting would be like. The following week she invited me again and I declined again with some excuse about homework and upcoming exams. By the third week I started to feel bad saying “no” so I agreed to let her pick me up Friday night.
After a number of weeks passed, I remember sitting on the couch with my plate in my lap seeing everyone in conversation around the house. I had, for the first time, a distinct feeling that I was at home and this was my family. I had been in many home meetings before but never as a participant in the fellowship, only as a child following my parents. If I had to pinpoint my personal beginning in the church life, I think of this experience with this sister as my entrance.
Another sister, Lisa, played an important role in fostering my function in prophesying. She started sitting with me at the Lord’s Day morning meetings. During my teenage years I was hardly ever the first to approach anyone, but I appreciated it immensely that she made the effort to ask me how I was doing each week. By engaging in these five-minute conversations, I got comfortable with her.
Sometimes she asked me if I’d stand up with her in the meeting because she wanted to speak. She said I didn’t have to say anything, but that it would strengthen her for her sake. Occasionally she also asked if I could join her in reading the verse she wanted to share. The thought of saying something myself was very intimidating, but just standing up or even reading a verse with her wasn’t scary.
Without anyone pushing me, I began to want to share my own experiences and enjoyment of the Lord and, without meaning to, started speaking of my own accord on a regular basis. Her pattern taught me how to speak in the meetings. Since then many saints have come up to me over the years to say that they needed my portion during the meeting that day and to thank me for supplying them.
After college I looked forward to going to the Full-time Training in Anaheim (FTTA) with all my heart. Every experience I had while in the training is precious to me.
I would like to share one here: I was placed on a gospel outreach team and I found it hard to be around one of my teammates. I started making up excuses to get myself out of situations where we’d have to be around each other. I even ditched a number of scheduled gospel times altogether. It got to the point that I was making it hard for my team to be a team. Eventually this came to the attention of one of our trainers and he called me to his office. He spoke to me in a very straightforward way that I had been placed on this team and must be present at our team activities.
Inwardly I was pretty upset with him and indignantly thought that he should not require me to be around this person I didn’t like. Yet even while my emotions were raging, I realized that he was right – the lack of responsibility I was displaying was not fair to my teammates. It took time, but I came to acknowledge the Lord’s arrangement. I repented for my behavior outwardly and for despising this member of the Body inwardly. I also opened to learn before the Lord how to coordinate with this teammate.
I am so thankful for this spiritual experience. I regard this trainer, and every trainer in the training, as a faithful servant of the Lord. I’m so glad that he didn’t let me give in to my personal preferences, but rather faithfully and righteously shepherded me to grow in the divine life.
It has been a couple of years since I graduated from the full-time training. I am married and recently became the mother of the most adorable baby girl.
These days, my life isn’t particularly “exciting.” I’m not a student anymore working toward graduation. I’m also not in the training anymore under a waterfall of supply. Nor am I serving full-time anymore, which I was until I hit my third trimester. I feel like I’m “just a mom” in an ordinary church life. But this is where the Lord has me for the moment and it is really normal and sweet.
I aspire to have the testimony expressed in these lines of a hymn:
Yes, all we have and all we are, we every day outpour,
For His tremendous purpose, ever dearer than before.
Hymns #1152, stanza 4
I feel that it’s only the Lord’s mercy and lovingkindness that I love Him and desire to live to Him (2 Cor. 5:15). I am grateful for my experiences in the wonderful church life, and for the faithful older saints who have helped me all these years.
Lamentations 3:22-23 “It is Jehovah’s lovingkindness that we are not consumed, for His compassions do not fail; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.”