STORIES OF SALVATION & GRACE
When Jesus Takes Control
Katherine Johnson (Anchorage Good News Church)

I had to resign from my job in May because I was having a lot of health issues. For a long time, I suffered from hypothyroidism, osteoarthritis, psoriatic arthritis, depression, and on top of all of that, a year and a half before I resigned, I fell off a ladder and fractured my foot. As I was healing from the fracture at home, I accidently fell down some stairs. The doctor told me that because of the extent of the injury, my foot would never heal properly unless I have surgery. I still had a lot of swelling and pain, but I would continue to go to work with my arthritis and fractured foot pain. Because of that, I was having a lot of depression issues and the doctors had to keep adjusting my hypothyroidism medication. I was having a lot of problems just trying to remember the small things in my every day activities and life. This was becoming a huge problem at work. I would be standing there, trying to remember how to work the POS (Point of Sale) system that I had worked on hundreds of times over and over. I knew that something was wrong with not being able to remember things. This added stress and fatigue, and I knew I had to do something. I didn’t want the business to fail because of me, so I surrendered my 51% ownership of the gift shop at that time. It was very much an added relief for me after I quit. I was able to let my body somewhat heal. The stress and fatigue was being eliminated slowly, although I was still having a lot of the arthritis pain. It took several months for me to start feeling okay again.

During my recovery I got connected with the church through my neighbor Kay Landon. I've known Kay for about 10 years now. It started out when I would run into her while she was working at Walmart. We would always strike up a conversation when we saw each other, and this would happen periodically through the years and through neighborhood garage/yard sales. The neighborhood was having our annual garage sale, and Kay was participating in it, so I went over to say, hi. I told her a lot about what was going on in the last couple of years, and said that I quit my job. So for about 5 years now, she’s been trying to get me to come over for coffee, and I told her that I finally have free time to come over and speak to her. She told me we should get together for that cup of coffee. And so I started going over for coffee, and the pastor started coming over to talk to me about the Bible.

Then, we started talking about what Jesus had done for me and how he paid for my sins. I started accepting the Word, little by little. Now on every Tuesday, I get together with the pastor for our Bible studies and through that I started having more faith. The words that came to my heart strongly are the words in 1 Corinthians 6:11- “And such were some of you: but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the spirit of our God.” This is the verse that came to my heart and spoke to me. The Bible says, if you ask, then you shall receive. Through the past many years, I have had a lot of health problems, such as hypothyroidism, arthritis, depression, high cholesterol, psoriasis, and was on so many different medications. However, one day, I decided that I shouldn't have to take any of these medications anymore. The Bible says that I am washed, I am sanctified, I am justified, and I believe these words. Now, I believe that He took all of my sins away and all my sicknesses away as well. Since the middle of October 2014 until today, I have not taken any medication. Through the pastor, and the Word that he preached to me, I gained the faith to quit all of my medication.

Before being saved, Jesus wasn’t working actively in my life; in fact, He could not because I was not saved. Now, I’m learning to let Jesus take control of everything. I can’t succeed in anything without my Lord and Savior. For most of my upbringing, I was raised Baptist. I was always taught that I had to repent for my sins and ask for forgiveness. Now, I know the true meaning of God’s Word, that when Jesus died on the cross, He paid for all of my sins.

I hope to see everybody in my life to know, trust, and have faith in God’s Words. I have a question for everyone- If someone is knocking at your door with loads of gifts of all kinds of treasures and blessings, are you going to keep that person waiting, or will you answer the door? I pray that you answer your door. I also pray that everybody that you know will answer their doors as well. God is waiting. I hope to continue speaking to the pastor and to continue to grow in faith. I also hope to glorify God through the church.

Jesus Defeated Sin for Me
Esther Nyamekye Asare(Good News New York Church)

Before I met Good News Mission Church, I was very confused about life. Even though from the outside everything looked good, my heart was not at peace. I struggled with sin. Even though I went to church and read my Bible every day, I still felt very far from God. I grew up in a “Christian” home. Both my parents are ordained pastors, and so going to church was a priority. I was part of every Sunday service and activity. From a young age, I memorized the books of the Bible and every occasion at church my mother made me sing a solo. I really thought that Christianity was showing off what you could do, and that God only loves those kinds of Christians who prayed a lot, went to church often, read their Bibles daily, etc. I tried to be that kind of Christian. It was my goal that someday, I would be able to speak in tongues, randomly quote scriptures from the Bible, and even heal the sick. I thought that if I could not accomplish this, then that would be the end of me and my relationship with God. It created fear in me because honestly, I did not have it in me to give myself to God. Reading the Bible scared me as well, because it reminded me of my sins and how I was not measuring up to what the law required. I saw and understood the words in the Bible as instructions that I had to follow, but still did not know what I was going to accomplish with that. My life as a Christian was full of pretense and hypocrisy. I was literally pretending to be a “Good Christian” just to save my image. I did not want the people in the church to criticize or judge me, however I was guilty of doing the same to others.

My dad was someone I really looked up to because I thought in my mind that he had reached perfection in God. Everyone admired him, because from the outside he looked like an angel. I also believed this because this man lived and breathed the work of God. He would leave my family for church retreats, go to church members’ houses and pray for them, and more. Everyone loved him and he was really admired. Something happened to this same man who everyone thought had not ever spoken a curse word in his life. My dad who has been a pastor for almost 35 years committed adultery. When this news came out I laughed and thought it was a joke. I thought to myself, “How could this saint do such a thing?” I really thought he was being framed, but as the rumors kept spreading, I realized that it was true. I had put my faith in this man; I foolishly thought that since he was so good that maybe his goodness would allow me to go to heaven. So it really crashed down on me when it happened. The church couldn’t have him anymore and he was asked to step down as the pastor. So there I was, even more confused than I was before. It became clear to me that my chances of ever making it to heaven were gone. I became churchless, continuously depressed, my parents fought constantly, and I felt this dark cloud all over me. I remember one church pastor had once said to my dad that if he worked hard to ratify this situation with God, then the sin he had committed would not become a generational curse. What he meant by a generational curse was, either one of my sister’s, or all three of us would end up sleeping around with other men or that our husbands would find somebody to cheat on us because of what our father did. It made me question God’s grace. Why do I have to suffer for someone else's sins?  If being a Christian is this painful and hard, then why did Jesus die for me?

Two years after the incident at my previous church, I met the Good News Mission Church at my school, Stony Brook University. I remember this day so well. I was having lunch by myself when I was approached by a student who introduced herself as a short term missionary. She introduced the IYF program to me but I was not interested, and at the time they were having a Bible seminar and she invited me. I said yes, and decided to go. I do not remember precisely what the message was, but the fellowship I had with the pastor afterwards really sent chills to my body. I could not believe what he was saying. He read the words from 1 Corinthians 6:11, “And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” The verse before also talks about all the sins we committed, but yet, though I am that person, what Jesus did on the cross has really washed them all away. I could not believe my ears. I really could not wait to call my dad to share this news with him. I really felt bad that he was going to hell because of what he did. So I told him that he was justified by the blood. He said he knew this, but I got to know later that it was only knowledge to him. He did not really believe in this message, and he was still trying to make up for his sins. All my life I saw God as this Supreme Being that only loved perfect Christians: Christians that tried their best to be like Him. I wanted to be that so bad that I ended up being the worst of them. I remember my mom always quoting this scripture, “Fight your salvation with fear and trembling,” but this part was never mentioned: “For it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” I thought it was all dependent on me. Even though I failed at all my attempts to be good, I still did not want to give up. Anytime I felt guilty about something I did, I would try my best to overcome that guiltiness by doing something extra good. But I realized after that was solved, I would sin again. It gradually became a vicious, never ending, and painful circle of trying to win my place with God. God has slowly shown me, through this precious church that He already fulfilled the Law that I have been fighting tooth and nail to obey. When he screamed on the cross that “It is finished!” it was really finished. He finished everything so that I would not have to rely on myself. He saw how incapable and afraid I was, and that was why He shed His blood for me. My past, present, and future sins were all taken care of on Calvary’s cross. The Gospel might seem unreal when we try to understand it from the human point of view, but this is why we need the power and wisdom of God to believe in it. He truly finished it all and left nothing behind for us to complete. We can now live a life that is pleasing to him because now we are not the ones living a righteous life, but it is Jesus Christ who lives in us. Jesus Christ is the only one who is capable, he was the one that overcame sin, and sin could not defeat him. It is better I rest in this peace and assurance I have in God, then to believe in myself. When you read 1 Timothy 1:15, Apostle Paul said, “I am the worst sinner of all,” even though he had accomplished so much for God. Why did he say this? He realized who he was and had become was only by the grace of God. Now I know: I am washed, sanctified, and justified because of what Jesus did. Really, he finished it all for me. Praise God!

 

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