I became a Christian about fourteen years ago. I was raised to believe in God, in His son, Jesus, and in Jesus’s death (for my sins) and resurrection. In short, I believed, but these beliefs made no visible difference in my life. I did not have a personal relationship with Christ, nor did I allow the Holy Spirit any room to work in my life.
At nineteen, I was married and struggled through a difficult marriage for the next six and a half years. By the summer of 1995, I found myself divorced and raising my one year old daughter alone. A few months later, I started dating Bart Talkington, the man who is now my husband. He took us to church and, in the spring of 1997, I accepted Christ as my personal savior. On June 29, 1997, I was baptized. The Holy Spirit immediately began to change many things about me: I developed a hunger for God’s word; I developed a deep love for other believers -- but something was missing.
Fast forward to October 9, 2010 -- I was confronted with how unrighteous my life actually was. Through a series of coincidences (God’s work, of course), our family found ourselves at an event hosted by World Impact (A Christian Non-Profit Organization focused on the Urban Poor). The featured speaker was a man that we had only recently heard of – Francis Chan. God, through the words of Francis Chan, broke my heart that day. My husband tells me that when we left that event, I looked like I had seen a ghost. God showed me how lukewarm my faith actually was. He also showed me how little I was doing for a lost and dying world. I began asking God to teach me to love Him the way He created me to love Him. I asked Him to place on my heart the things that are on His heart and to take away the selfishness that I had been consumed with for so long.
God has been answering those prayers since the moment I spoke them. One of the first things He did was to light a fire in my heart for serving His world (and children). For years, I had considered working with teenagers. Since I had been such a broken and rebellious teenager, I knew I could relate to most of the challenges they face. I had also thought often about starting a support group for single moms, since I had been a single mom and knew the lonely shoes they walk in. I had thoughts about these things, but had never acted on them. One Sunday morning, just days after asking God where He would have me serve, I opened the FBC bulletin and, there in bold letters, was an opportunity for service that combined both areas I had been drawn to for years. It was a ministry for teenage moms – TOMS. I couldn’t believe it! I started to cry and when I walked out of the sanctuary after church that day, I ran right into Mikel Porter, who had started the TOMS ministry. She was walking with and talking to my oldest daughter. It was a divine appointment! I went to my first TOMS meeting the next week and have never looked back. The love that God has placed in my heart for these girls is the same kind of deep love He placed in me years ago for other believers. My family and I are now committing ourselves to His world in many other ways and as we do, He is turning our lives upside down, but I have never been more excited about the future!