A Testimony by Sister Tonya Smith
When my youngest son was just under a year old, he had just started to learn to walk. As toddlers do, he would pull himself up on whatever he could grab ahold of. One afternoon, he decided to pull himself up on a shelf that held glass figurines. It happened so quickly that I was unable to stop him before the entire shelf fell over. There he sat crying with broken pieces of glass all around him. I ran to him as quickly as I could and scooped him up out of the middle of the broken glass. I held him up and checked him for any cuts. Thank God, there were none. I tell this story as it relates to my testimony of how God scooped me up out of the midst of my broken glass experiences. My broken glass symbolized poor life choices, bad decisions, and unhealthy relationships. On July 7, 1999, as I sat crying in the middle of my broken glass, I stretched out my arms in an act of surrender and cried out to God. And just as I scooped up my child out of the midst of that broken glass, the Lord scooped me, His child, up out of the midst of the broken glass that represented my life. In my Holy Ghost imagination, I could see Him holding me up and checking me for cuts. I’m sure He found plenty. Some cuts deeper than others. But, God healed those cuts. Every now and then, if I look closely enough, I can still see the faded scars from those cuts - my scars and the scars of others who unfortunately became collateral damage as a result of being too close to my broken glass. Over the years I have learned to embrace the scars because they remind me of where Jesus brought me from. Because of God’s grace and everlasting mercy, I am where I am today. God rescued me and saved my soul. I tell this story by way of encouragement to remind you that it doesn’t matter where you come from or what you’ve done, it only matters what God can do in your life if you trust Him. What’s your broken glass? What do you need the Lord to scoop you up out of? Stretch out your arms to Him and call out to Him and He will rescue you and save your soul. He did it for me and He can absolutely do it for you!
I appreciate this opportunity to share my mom’s and my experience with you regarding the Coronavirus. My mom contracted the virus first and she spent three weeks in ICU unable to eat solid food for that entire time. Everything with my mom was critical given her age of 84 and also being a dialysis patient. Mom was in the fight of her life and almost daily we were told that she might not make it through the day or night. My mom is quite the firecracker and she fought hard. I had to briefly tell mom’s story in order for me to move forward and tell my own since she was first to contract the virus. I traveled home to Georgia to spend an extended period of time with my mom to afford her the opportunity to remain in her home during the colder months. Well, I didn’t expect the turns that things would take. I ended up sick about a week after my mom was admitted to a local hospital positive with the Coronavirus. I never felt sick, but I went to be tested and isolated myself awaiting my results.
My husband and Pastor Teacher started making calls to find out where I would go for medical care, since I was out of the area, should I need to be tested again or be positive. He was on top of things as I minimized what was happening. So, it took the virus showing up in me before I got the initial results. I immediately went down fast. I recall I went to take a shower in hopes that I would feel better/refreshed. Well by this time I was feeling weaker and not refreshed as I had hoped. My baby sister Teresa stopped by and ended up calling our other sister Penny to tell her that she stopped by and I didn’t come up front to talk or see her before she left. My sister said that’s not like me so she ended up coming to make sure everything was alright. When she got there, I was sitting on the bed looking and feeling horrible with very little energy. I ended up calling out to her and she came back to my room. I was sitting on the side of the bed unable to lift my feet or recall how to get dressed for over 30 minutes. She immediately dressed me and somehow got me into her car. My sister said I was talking but then I passed out unconscious in the back seat of her car. She made it to Martin Army Hospital ER and after a few challenges a patient assisted her with getting me into a wheelchair and to the triage tent. I was tested and admitted to ICU with Severe Coronavirus and Pneumonia in both lungs. I was in a fight for my life and didn’t even know it. However, you all, my family, church members and friends went straight to praying for me just as you were doing for my mom. I was out of it for a couple of days but it was during this time that I felt wrapped in love. I could really feel the prayers and it was the love and prayers that made me fight. I do recall thinking and feeling that I wasn’t afraid to die. I also recall having to answer my primary doctor’s questions about having a medical directive, or power of attorney in case my condition worsened. I recall having peace and I knew that my peace was from knowing and trusting the Lord. Even with this peace I felt the prayers and love willing me to fight and overcome. It was so powerful and it was the prayers and love that started turning my life around. I ended up in ICU laying on my stomach for most of the time which allowed me to cough a lot of the junk out of my lungs. The other thing that the doctors credited my strength on was that I walked four to five days a week (walking made a huge difference). This helped so much with my recovery and lung function.
I spent a week in ICU and was discharged to isolation for two weeks. I was still positive and still had pneumonia but my oxygen level had stabilized and I was improving. The doctors want to move patients as soon as possible and if they can give the patient medications and detailed instructions on how to take them, they want the patient to be discharged for their overall health and well-being asap. Plus, I was ready to leave because my stomach, arms and fingers were all beat up and hurting because of all the blood draw, medication injections into the stomach and multiple IVs. Additionally, my mom’s condition and drastic weight loss sent her heart into cardiac failure. Everything for mom was looking bleak-and I wanted and needed to see and talk to her via FaceTime just one more time dear Jesus. My mom and family were told that mom would come home with hospice care. We were told she was just too weak and wouldn’t make it. But your prayers continued going up and the blessings came down because overnight everything changed. My mom was given the plasma from a surviving Coronavirus patient. Mom was discharged within 24 hours of receiving the plasma to home without hospice. You all have continued to pray and she has continued her fight and is now eating everything that she thinks she wants and we couldn’t be happier. She’s putting on weight, getting stronger and feeling much better daily.
About five days later I was scheduled to be discharged. I still had the coronavirus and pneumonia upon discharge. I was given medications to take and complete. I also had follow-up telephonic appointments with the primary doctor on my team. I had to remain in isolation at a hotel for two weeks and would only be cleared after achieving two negative test results within a 24-hour period of each test. I passed and received the two negative test results which allowed me to leave the hotel to home. We remain vigilant and limit our exposure to family members only and call our groceries in as often as possible. I continue to experience what’s referred to as Coronavirus headache, some taste and food texture issues and shortness of breath due to the double pneumonia. The Coronavirus is real and potentially life ending. Take it seriously and wear a mask, wash your hands, walk/exercise and have very small gatherings.
My mom is making a full recovery with a few lingering concerns. I thank everyone for keeping my mom and me lifted in thoughts and prayers. Also, I will be donating my plasma to help others as my mom was helped. I love you all so very much and thank you from the bottom of my heart for the outpouring of love.
"What God Showed Me About Me"
Sister Shirley Moses
In July, I made the decision to have a total knee replacement. The decision was not hard, but the post-surgery and healing process is "for real". My doctor tells me I am coming along very well (whatever that mean) but I feel I should be further alone than I am.
I looked back over my life at some of the things I overcame before this surgery. I asked myself, is there anything that ever hurt my heart to the core more than this surgery? The one and hardest thing I came up with was “At the young age of 17 along with my sister-in-law we planned my oldest brother funeral”. This surgery caused the same hurt but for a different reason.
Let me tell why I feel this way. My independence is at the heart of who I am. My family and friends know that I am not one to ask anyone for much, much less on needing someone to take care of me. This surgery put me in a position that made me cry day and night because I needed help from others. I needed someone to give me shots, change my bed, fix me food, pick up medication, and take me to my doctor’s visit. Me being me, nothing hurts me more than to have to depend on someone else for my well-being. God has been good to me and enabled me to do most things for myself throughout my adult life. In past surgeries I was able to be pro-active, I was prepared because I knew that I need this and that to get through a time. Well, I did the same thing this time, but little did I know, all my preparation did not prepare me for what was to come. Lord know it did not!
I talked about the hurt of planning my oldest brother's funeral. He was my heart and I was his baby, being twenty years younger than him. I lost a piece of me when he left me. Giving up my independence with this surgery was like losing a part of me all over again. It hurt me to my core just like his death. It made me take a “back look” at myself! If someone needed my help, I was there in a flash more than willing to help. I never saw myself through the eyes that someday I may need someone to help me. God opened my eyes through this surgery!
God made us interdependent in times of need. What this says to me is I do not have to be so independent, but can allow others to help me without feeling like I lost a part of the person that I am. It took this knee surgery to shake me. Sometimes we need things to happen in our life to wake us up. This tells me that I am depending on myself too much rather then depending on God to provide my needs.
I praise God and give him all the glory! I give thanks for all the people that took the time out to help me and some are still doing. I am ever so grateful to God for using this surgery to make me look at life through new lens.
by Darryl A. Williams
I have crossed a many of battlefields, on my days here on earth
Passing through life trying to determine it’s worth
All battlefields don’t consist of bombs and bullets
And even our own internal battles, full of black-holes and black-pits
The LORD has allowed me to go through all of this to see
How he protected , how he covered , how he loved on me
There is no greater joy in my heart, that I could ever feel
When I know it was the hand of the LORD that my situation was healed
There is a difference in being confident and speaking confidence
There is also a difference between bragging and boasting and having common sense
I was born and blessed with a gentle heart, to love and to care
And I took this with me, through my life everywhere
This gift came out when I started working back in my teens
That whatever the LORD places on my heart; was done, whatever it may brings
When given from GOD’S heart; I don’t trip like that
See, the LORD my GOD, ALWAYS replenishes it back (with interest ….he,he)
Now don’t get me wrong, my life is not perfect and I have many battle scars to show
My body is beaten and battered and sometimes a little slow
But the LORD has blessed me with a new and big house; some say it’s big, I ain’t never owned one you know
My bills being paid; and no OFF TO WORK I GO
I took care of GOD’S people, as he instructed me to do
My blessings are like showers and as sweet as the morning dew
Now I know this may sound corny but that’s ok by me
I thank God for leading and guiding my life and my steps. I am a proud veteran of the United States Air Force, retiring in October 2001 in San Antonio, Texas. In honor of Veterans Day, I want to share the story about the family member who influenced me to join the Air Force; my older brother, USAF MSgt (Retired) John C. Smith. We both retired at the same rank of Master Sergeant.
When I was a young boy, my mother, Lillian Smith, told me that my brother was in the Air Force. My brother is 17 years older than me, so we didn’t grow up together in the same home. At that time, not knowing much about the Air Force, I actually thought he flew airplanes. I recall looking into the sky each time a plane went overhead and would say, excitedly to others, “my brother is flying that airplane”! I did not learn differently until sometime later when he came home on his first leave and told me that he didn’t fly airplanes, and that his job was in logistics and supply for military aircrafts.
Nevertheless, I was so very impressed. I remember thinking that I wanted to be like him. I wanted to be in the Air Force and “wear the uniform with the stripes on it”. Even though there were only a few stipes on his sleeve at that time, in my mind that was huge! He was super important!
My brother relayed how important it was to serve and protect our country. Those ideas stuck with me throughout high school. I remember being asked on career day what I planned on doing in the future. My response was to “go into the United States Air Force like my brother”.
My father, who was an Army Veteran, had died in the Veteran’s hospital in Philadelphia when I was only two years old, so my brother’s influence on military service became even more pronounced in my life. He was the male role model.
I actually had the opportunity to visit with my brother on several occasions while we were both on active duty. I'm so very honored and thankful for his positive influence in my life. I’m even more thankful and proud that he is also a Christian.
In honor of Veterans Day, I honor my brother, MSgt (Retired) John C. Smith, and all those who have served and continue to serve our country.
I grew up in church right here in San Antonio, Texas. As a youth I loved going to church and participating in all the youth ministries. When I was 13 years old, I remember reading about the crucifixion of Jesus and thinking that the people who killed Him were so evil for doing that to Him. “How could they kill God’s Son?” That is also when I began to feel the pull of God, He was calling me to Himself. God began speaking to me in dreams, through scripture and through an inner pull that drew me. My desires began to change, and I had a hunger for God that I had never had before. Unfortunately, I did not really understand the fullness of His gift of salvation. As life happened, I grew up, got married and joined the military. I had discouragements and setbacks, I rebelled and was disobedient.
In 2003 while stationed at Fort Hood, we joined a large church in Killeen, Texas. After returning from my deployment in 2005 I wanted to renew my walk with the Lord. I was not sure what I needed to do. So, I did what I had been taught to do…I rededicated my life to Christ and to seal the deal I even got baptized, again. I was going to work to please God and He was going to shower me with favor. This was what I believed. So I did just that, I joined the choir and lifted my hands and praised and spoke in tongues (more accurately, incoherent gibberish) and went to prayer meetings and knocked on doors, attended every service, put money on the alter, paid tuition to attend an in church school that had no accreditation and any and everything else I was told I needed to do to be blessed.
During that time, still seeking, I also discovered this preacher by the name of John MacArthur with Grace Community Church. I would listen to his sermons through his app and some of his messages had a way of rubbing me the wrong way because he would contradict what I thought to be true. Not in the essential things but in small things and I would stop listening to him for a while. And I would go back and forth like this for some time.
About September or October of 2011, I joined the counselor’s ministry. In this ministry we would minister to the people that came to the alter after the sermon was preached by praying for them, laying hands on them, encouraging them, and whatever else we may be instructed to do from the pulpit. Every Sunday before service we would gather as a group to prepare for service. There was an emphasis for us to always be “in the spirit” and on one accord with the man of God. This scared me because in that hyper-spiritual environment, there was an expectation for one to be able to instantly discern which way the Holy Spirit was moving in any given service. You were told to build yourself up in your most holy faith by praying in the spirit. Which often was praying in tongues(again, more accurately, incoherent gibberish) . I did not particularly find that helpful in discerning the move of the spirit, so I thought something was wrong with me. What if I tried to lay my hands on someone and it did not work? And if it did not work, what does that say about me? So, to be ready in season and out of season, I began to study scripture like I had never done before, like my life depended on it.
I started by just taking the scripture that was preached on that Sunday and I would study it word for word, line for line throughout the week. I would pull out my concordance, my dictionary, other bible translations, read related scriptures and basically write out the understanding that was revealed to me. I quickly noticed that I was understanding things in a different context than how they were presented to us on Sunday. So, I would listen to John MacArthur’s sermon on that scripture to make sure I was not going into left field. To my surprise I was not far off at all. So, I continued this but just kept it to myself; however, little by little it began to transform my understanding of God, the church, and my role in the big scheme of things.
In 2012, some things began to transpire that caused us to leave that church and we eventually settled at another church in Killeen, Texas. But still, I relied heavily on the teachings of John MacArthur.
On February 12, 2013, I began MacArthur’s series on the book of Romans. Day in and day out I would just pour over that book, taking notes from the sermons and absorbing all I could. It was so refreshing and after months of going through this series, I broke down and just wept.
20 years later, at 33 years old, I understood what God had done for me, I understood how He loved me, I understood the gift and the sacrifice that was made for me. I was so grateful to God for Jesus, for everything. And I just prayed and thanked Him. And I had this new zeal to tell everybody I could about this wonderful gift. I am not a speaker and I have never had a platform to speak, the only way I knew how to share this gift was through writing. So, I created a blog called “Yeshua Is The Antidote”, and I would just post blogs, and poems, and prayers.
I remember feeling this love that is incomparable to any love I have ever known, and I did not have to do anything for it. That is how God loves me, I cannot describe it, I just know it. The freedom I found from the burdens of religion and extra-biblical activity were a game changer. I no longer worked to gain God’s favor, I served because of God’s favor and love toward me. God has made me aware of times where He has protected me from physical harm and death, like the mortar attack I experienced in Iraq. It landing right in front of my trailer but didn’t go off, or the time I was walking down the street as a youth and two girls that had never met me before, thought for a second to jump me because of the color of my skin. By God’s grace they did not. Countless times He has corrected me and countless times more He will continue to correct me. And I am so grateful He does not leave me the way He found me, but He is constantly making me into the image of His Son. Through every storm He never leaves me alone; He is refining me. And when I think of how He chose me before the foundation of the earth I am blown away. Who am I? Just an insignificant sinful person. But He loves me, period.
On Bended Knee
by Brother Jerry Coburn
I remember the day like it was yesterday over 15 years ago. We had finally gotten Randy into a medical program that would allow him to be seen by a doctor due to his chronic back problem. Randy had been unable walk or get up on his own for over a month and we had been seeking different options to find medical attention.
Finally, the day had arrived, we had an appointment with a back specialist in New Braunfels through the Indigent Care Program. It took us a good 30 minutes to get Randy into a wheel chair and into the car. We had to travel in separate vehicles to allow Randy the space he needed to lay in the back seat. So off we go down the 20-minute drive to New Braunfels. Sonja, my dad, and Randy arrived at the clinic and were waiting to be seen. It was taking a long time when finally, I went to the front desk to find out what was going on, only to be informed that they would not be seeing him regardless of the appointment that had been approved.
I asked why and requested to speak to someone in charge but they requested that we leave the clinic. I again insisted that we speak to someone in charge and showed them the approved appointment by the Indigent Care program but they advised that they had called the police. Needless to say, before I could turn around the Police were in the clinic with their guns out and trying to assess what was going on. The officer was bewildered since he did not see any disturbance going on in the clinic. I explained that my son had an appointment, that I, my wife and my father sitting, accompanied my son and now we are being told they will not see him.
The police advised that he did not see any disturbance but it would be better if I would step out of the clinic and not give “these people” the opportunity to make a case. That he could see what was going on and if we wanted to press charges that he would come to court and provide his dissertation. I explained that we really needed this medical attention, my son is unable to walk and is in agonizing pain.
The next thing I remembered was when I fell to my knees on the parking lot pavement, but I did not feel anything. And the next thing that happened, I was lifted up on my feet like air and something made me call the Indigent Care main office and see what our options were. The person who answered the phone said to call the health clinic, that they are open and today they have a doctor that would be able to see Randy if we made it there in the next 15 minutes. Otherwise, they are not sure when they would be able to get another appointment.
I called Sonja and said we are going to the New Braunfels health clinic and we drove down the road. I made it with just 2 minutes to spare and ran in ahead since I knew it would take extra time to get Randy out the car and in the wheelchair. The receptionist said, “you are lucky you will be her last appointment. This doctor is new to the clinic and this is her first time here.”
We took Randy in to see the doctor and it was like something I never experienced before. Randy was immediately at ease; he was no longer sweating from the pain and his face was like a child. The doctor in such a calm demeanor said she knew what was wrong with him and knew what care he needed. She was going to make sure he would be seen by everyone that could help him. I saw the look on my son’s face and it gave me peace that God was listening to my prayers for help and easing Randy’s burden. I felt helpless and now God provided the light of direction and hope.
In the next month, Randy was seen by the top doctors in Floresville and Pleasanton. Randy was appointed one of the top Neurologist in San Antonio to do his surgery and everyone at the medical clinic was surprised he was accepted. That in itself was another miracle and just a stepping stone to the path that God was paving for us. We visited the doctor and was provided the surgery plan of what was going to be done; but something happened and we were reassigned to his younger protégé, a bright and upcoming surgeon, to do the surgery. Off to Stone Oak Medical Center we go.
We arrive at the clinic to meet Randy’s new surgeon. I was a little taken back at first, this new doctor looked quite young and quite Nerdy. I wasn’t sure if he was going to be able to do this, after all, we did have the top surgeon already assigned. Hold on let’s hear what this young surgeon has to say.
Once he opened his mouth and started talking about what was best for Randy, “Mr. and Mrs. Coburn your son is a young man and large in stature we need to make sure we have procedure that will sustain him in years down the road that will not require him having additional procedures.” He explained, “the original surgeon was planning to do the standard procedure but we are going to place a cage around the spine to ensure it is sturdy and last.” Sonja and I looked at each other and knew he was the one that would take care of our son. God leading the way.
In the next three weeks Randy had his surgery and it was a success. God made a way out of no way and sent his Angels along the way.
We knew the next blessing was when we received a $200,000.00 bill in the mail from the hospital and it said paid in full.
Only God could:
I know in my heart GOD held me and helped me through this trial and tribulation and blessed my son and my family. He put Angels in my path and Made A Way out of No Way.
by Dr. George and Sister Bell Chocolate
We take these vows in the sight of God to be holy, we believe marriage is a total commitment. We believe that marriage binds two people together as one! We agree that we are inseparable, like gravy on rice, like jelly mixed with peanut butter. We are in love. God will never leave us because we know that Jesus is in the middle of our marriage. When we first met, the first words he said to me was “write your number down for me.” He had on this real nice Burgundy shirt, and he was wearing these classy shoes, then he gave me this great “million-dollar smile.” Wow! I thought, that smile really works for me, so I gave him my phone number. When you’re married you should pray together, and worship together. There were times when we disagreed, but we would always calmly talk it out and we promised each other that we would never go to bed angry. There were beliefs we valued about marriage that keeps us together. I would get flowers for no reason at all. I would place my hand on his lap while he’s driving. Sometimes I would set a romantic dinner table and I would light candles all over the house. We would have a date night or watch a movie. We enjoyed sitting on the sofa together watching sports. I would ask him questions about the games and he would happily answer them. He is a very intelligent man, real sharp, he knows current facts and events and he has these real cute dimples. My Honey makes me laugh every day. We read the word daily, and we enjoy each other’s company. We know that there is none above our Father God. We know that all of our help comes from Him. Because my husband follows Christ, I will follow my husband. My prayer is “thank you Lord for good health, thank you for the wisdom, the knowledge and the understanding that you give.” Then at times I pray “Lord please help me be a better wife.” I pray that out loud so my Honey can hear me, so he sometimes would say out loud, “God help me to become a better husband.”
We all know that life brings change. For example, he is now retired and we are both home all day. We are responsible for our emotions. No fussing or anger management classes needed here. God’s got this! Our world is in a crisis with a fatal Pandemic and vaccinations aren’t being administered fast enough. There are disgraceful attacks on our State Capitol. We sometimes experience physical pain and some of us take medication. We talk to our Father God, “heal this land, take away virus, disease, pain, and we ask please save the unsaved.” Now, in spite of all these dilemmas, we desire to make our marriage work! After forty-four years of marriage, I still get Valentine Cards from my Sweetheart husband, Yes! I once said to this sweet, helpful man, “honey we need to vacuum the floor,” he politely said to me “we!” That “we” usually turn into “me.” I stand on the word in Genesis where it says that two shall become one. As I was recovering from my second back surgery, my wonderful husband was right there with me. And as I survived cancer twice, he was always by my side. He takes real good care of me.
Thank you, Father God, Father Son, Father Holy Spirit, for your Love, for your Grace and for Your Mercy. Stay in the middle of our marriage. We need your presence every day. In Jesus’ name Amen…
“What Is A Christian Testimony? How Do I Tell My Own Testimony Story?”
Giving your personal testimony is a way to share the gospel with others by explaining your personal salvation experience. It gives others an example of how God changes lives. It is one of the most effective means of sharing your faith because, although a person can try to refute that Jesus alone offers salvation, they cannot refute the fact that you’ve found reason to place your hope in Christ.
During their journey to a saving relationship with Jesus, many people find that the most compelling stories about Him, and reasons for having faith, come from the Christians they already know. If you’re looking for proof of Jesus, ask your peers about their journey with Christ.
What they tell you is their own Christian testimony: The story of their coming to, or walking alongside of, Jesus.
A Christian testimony can be about a person’s journey to becoming a Christian—also known as a conversion story—or it can be a way in which God has shown up in a person’s life. Perhaps it is a lesson God has taught them or a reminder He gave. Sometimes it’s an answered prayer or a victory over sin. Sometimes it’s a way in which God provided extraordinarily in a tough situation. Can you look back on something in your own life and recognize how God played a part? These are all types of Christian testimony.
Testimonies come in all shapes and sizes! Some are very dramatic, with wild turning points and big “Ah-ha! I get it!” moments; some are far less so and have a slow build, but they are no less compelling. Some testimonies may involve great struggle and the story of how God helped the person through it. Some may involve different incidents that make far more sense after reflecting on them. You may not realize something is a testimony until much later, but when you think back, you can see the hand of God working in your life.
You’ll find testimonies from others to be fascinating, hope-filled, and a great way to get to know God and the power of faith.
How do I tell my own Christian testimony?
Your personal testimony is wildly compelling and is the most powerful tool you have to demonstrate the love of Jesus and how he has changed you.
“Here is a list of questions to think about when forming your story. This provides you a rough outline from which you can write sentences and paragraphs about your own experiences.
1. Before you met Christ, what were some of your needs, what was lacking, or what was missing in your life?
2. What solutions for your life did you try that didn’t work?
1. What were the circumstances that caused you to consider Christ?
2. Tell how you trusted Christ, and briefly include the gospel.
1. Give an example of how Christ met your needs or how He is now contributing to your life.
2. End with a sentence to the effect that you know that you have eternal life through Christ.
Yours may be a very complex story, but try to keep it short and succinct. Use the above guidelines to keep Christ at the center of your story.
Once you’ve written out your story, it’s time to share it! Who in your life would benefit from hearing your testimony?