In part 1 of my testimony, I had survived college and was living the good life working on a cruise ship and God had answered my prayer in finding a new boss. Here’s the next major stage of my life as God continues to guide me in the right direction, but I stubbornly try to do things my way and listen to “false prophets.” (The song I mention is on a video at the bottom…)
My Faith Journey – Part 2:
Listen to the Podcast on Spotify:
I ended up working for three years on several cruise ships in various different jobs. Besides just about every island in the Caribbean, I visited Venezuela, Columbia, Panama, Costa Rica, Mexico. Did 3 trans-canal cruises and 2 summers in Alaska out of Vancouver. I also visited Seattle and Long Beach, CA.
After a while, I got tired of living like a gypsy and I wanted to settle down. I knew that I didn’t want to live in Puerto Rico soI decided to move to Miami. A friend of mine from the ship was living there and she was willing to let me stay with her for a few days until I found a place to live.
I also wanted to find a church and start working my way back to God. I stayed a few weeks in Puerto Rico with my parents as I planned my one-way trip to Miami. I started watching Christian TV shows and I started reading the Bible.
Now, we didn’t have a regular Bible in our home — we had one of those huge family Bibles that I think must’ve weighed about 50 pounds. It was the only thing I had so I started reading it. It was a King James in the old English — that was interesting. And I had no idea what I was reading.
So when I moved to Miami I started church shopping. I knew nothing about the different denominations who they followed or believed in. The first church I went to was the one where my landlady went to. I was renting a garage apartment. It was a Baptist church. Now, coming from Catholic background and going to a Baptist church, I was totally lost. It was a huge church and I started going to the singles ministry which met for about an hour before the service started.
Now as a Catholic, I was baptized when I was six months old. The people at that church kept asking me when I was baptized and I said when I was six months old. And they kept saying well, now, you need to be baptized again. But nobody explain to me why I needed to be baptized again. It didn’t make any sense to me.
When I moved to another apartment in North Miami, again I went church shopping and I went to a Church of Christ and they sing without music. Growing up, I always sang in the choir at school and in college, so I knew I wanted to sing in the choir and I played music so I liked music.
One Sunday, I try the church that was three blocks away from my house — it was a United Church of Christ (UCC) and very friendly people welcomed me. Once I sat down, the pastor walked up the aisle and introduced himself. And in talking later with the pastor’s wife, I mentioned I was interested in singing in the choir. She immediately said oh “We rehearse on Thursdays, we’ll pick you up.”
I told her I lived three blocks away I can walk. She insisted, “We’ll pick you up.” She wanted to make sure that I showed up.
So I started singing in the choir, going to Bible study on Sunday mornings before service. We studied the whole the Bible — the Good News Version — which was easier to understand. I felt the Catholic church had deprived me of the true Word of God. I was seeking and absorbing everything I could. I wanted to know God more. To “seek His face” as they say.
I reaffirmed my faith — which was basically admitting that I believed that Jesus Christ was the son of God.
But I was still missing something. There was something that I was not quite getting.
I got involved in the women’s ministry, the singles ministry, I sat on the board of a Christian organization, I was on the board of outreach for seven years, I was a Deacon. I figured that I needed to work for God, & that would guarantee me a ticket to heaven. Boy, did I have it wrong. I also got burned out.
I also wanted to find a husband, settle down and start a family. The biological clock was ticking. I dated all different types of guys from all religions and all walks of life. I had fun, but I wasn’t even close to finding someone I could live with forever.
In 1992, hurricane Andrew hit Miami. I was two weeks without electricity. It was bad. I volunteered to help an organization distribute food and I got to see the destruction first-hand. I was blessed that where I was, didn’t get much damage. However, Andrew made the verse that says “all that you see here is temporary” come to reality. I saw how temporary everything in this world is. That eternity is with God. But, I still wasn’t sure how to get it.
I was also very interested in Bible prophecy, especially when it came to the last days, Armageddon, Revelation, the end of the world. In 1995, the first “Left Behind” book came out.
It tells the story of people who are left behind after Jesus calls the Christian believers to heaven with him in what’s known as “the rapture”. The story opens with the pilot of an airplane, in mid air, when several people on the plane disappear, the people that were left behind were trying to figure out “Where did they go?”
The pilot returns home to find that his wife and son were gone. His daughter comes back from college and the two of them are trying to figure out where mom and little brother went. Now the pilot’s remembers that his wife was really involved with this church. She had been trying to get him and the daughter to go to church, but they didn’t.
So they went to the church to see if they had any information as to where they could possibly have gone. At the church they find one of the pastors who’s beating himself up because he got left behind. He kept saying, “I thought I knew it. I thought by doing good works that I would get to heaven. I thought I knew God, but God didn’t know me.”
He showed the pilot and his daughter a video that the head pastor had left explaining what was going on. That it was the Rapture. That the people who are gone were true Christian believers.
At that point in the book, there’s a paragraph that asks the reader, “Will you be left behind?”
I stopped and asked myself, “Am I going to be left behind?” I wasn’t sure.
Well not to leave anyone hanging, the book had a prayer there that people could pray and ask Jesus to come into their hearts. At that point I did, I got on my knees and prayed,
“Jesus, I don’t want to be left behind! I want to follow you. I repent of all my sins. Come into my heart. I want a new life in you.”
That’s when I became born-again. But it wasn’t complete. The church I was attending didn’t really teach what the true meaning of being born again was. So, I was still searching because I was still missing something.
I later moved to Palm Bay, a couple of hours north of Miami & transferred my membership to the UCC church there. I sang in the traditional choir and also in the contemporary music band. It wasn’t very long before I was tapped on the shoulder to become a deacon. I was also on the building committee for the new church. Again, I was doing good works, and still seeking.
One Sunday, the sermon was on John Chapter 3. That’s the conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus where Jesus tells him, “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.”
John 3:3 NLT
As my pastor tried to explain this passage, she said something like, “That doesn’t mean ‘born again’.”
That stopped me. Huh? But then she didn’t really give a good explanation of what it did mean, because she was lying to us. That’s what a progressive church teaches — a watered-down Gospel. It’s not the truth.
I started doing my own research and that ended up with my writing my novel, “Deo Volente”. As I sat through Bible studies, I wondered what it would be like to live in the 1st century as the church and the Good News about Jesus was spreading. I was amazed as the story just fell into place.
In August 2004, I had an appendicitis attack. Everything went well, but right after that, we were hit by two hurricanes, two weeks apart—Frances and Jeanne.
That did it for me. From my apartment window I looked at two huge oak trees that had fallen down barely missing my building. I said to myself, there has to be a better place to live. And I chose Phoenix, Arizona.
At the end of January 2005, I packed my two cats and a few things into my car and headed west. I wasn’t sure what was ahead of me. I had tried to get a job but, nobody would even talk to me until I moved there.
The only thing I could do was trust God. This song, called, “The Potters Hand”, was my theme song for the trip. I had to put my life in God’s hands.
I had survived college. I survived my appendix bursting. I survived 3 destructive hurricanes. I was sure God had a plan for me. My spiritual journey was not over.