Over the past two years, we’ve gotten to know Rachel and her family. Just over a week ago, we had the privilege of celebrating in her baptism. It was one of those super-special moments when you know the veil between heaven and earth is thin and you sense God’s presence in a profound way. This is a bit of Rachel’s story in her own words.
My name is Rachel, and I have been coming to Crossroads for about two years. I was raised in Tauranga, in a Christian family, went to church every Sunday, but unfortunately, there were some people in various churches that, well, put me off! I never felt a personal connection to God, and actually felt a bit jealous of those around me who did. A longing for that love and connection is what got me into a pretty serious relationship with my now husband, and was what made me move cities!
I thought I could “do” life without God, living in sin. I felt like I was lacking purpose and deep down knew that I wasn’t OK with the situation, but I had two children before getting married. Once I got married, I really thought that I would feel better. Little did I know that I needed to pray, to ask for forgiveness to actually feel that way.
A couple of years later, we were expecting our third child. After she was born, I suffered Post Natal Depression (Post Partum Depression). I sought professional help, but it wasn’t really what helped, turns out I needed something/someone stronger! Once I returned to work from maternity leave, an older gentleman came into my retail store, started chatting to me about life, his faith, his church etc and was honestly starting to frustrate me as he was keeping me from other tasks. Once he left, I saw that there was a $50 note on the floor. I checked camera footage, and realised that the man I was talking to was the one who dropped it. I hadn’t caught his name, but from our conversation knew that he was on the pension (social security) and that he went to a church on Pukete Road. I barely slept that night as I was so convicted to attend church the very next Sunday so I could let him know where his money was.
It turns out that he actually went to the other church on Pukete Road, but I felt so at home and at peace walking in the door to Crossroads that I have barely missed a Sunday (apart from having to work 1 in 3 weekends). I am so grateful for God’s not so subtle way to get my backside into a church, and know that this was all part of His plan.
He continued to show me that he was in control, the very first sermon I heard Pastor Jaron preach was about how God armed his servants with a tool in one hand and a weapon in the other – to continue doing His work while keeping enemies at bay. It was just what I needed to hear as I knew that there were going to be some close to me who would scoff at me going to church, but that I needed to keep coming and getting to know Him as my Saviour.
Shortly after starting attending church, one of my wisdom teeth was infected and needed to come out. It was busy at work, money was tight, and I didn’t even have a dentist in Hamilton, but God made it all line up and got my teeth out within a week. It truly was a miracle, and was an answer to my prayers – first time I had really ever prayed about anything! God has continued to bless my family and I, and has been a pretty amazing cure for my mental illness!
Recently I had been convicted to up my offering to a tithe, and then in a church membership class I just knew it was time, and God was tapping me on the shoulder telling me exactly how much it needed to be. As soon as I changed my automatic payment, blessings started rolling in. As Pastor Elizabeth always says, God will stretch that 90% further than you could stretch that 100% on your own. I was a bit stressed about how to make finances work, but I knew it was totally in God’s hands. I had just ripped my only work skirt and that Sunday, I got a $10 birthday voucher emailed from the shop, then it was on special so it literally cost a few dollars. I then went to get groceries, and had $130 cash in my budget, but was sure I had gone over budget and was going to have to use my card for the extra $40 or so. But, it cost $128.50. Hallelujah! Even this past weekend working, I was feeling guilty at spending a bit more than budgeted on school holiday activities, and get to work to find a $20 grocery voucher! Seriously, this stuff doesn’t just happen!
God has also blessed me recently with a trip to Australia for work, where I managed to sneak in a few days with my sister too. We had an awesome time enjoying God’s creation, each other’s company and also going to a Sons of Korah concert. They are a band who sing the Psalms and it was as if Psalm 51 was aimed directly at me. Hearing the words sung was like words from my soul being lifted up, begging for mercy and forgiveness “as I know my transgressions, my sin is always before me” asking to be “washed as pure as snow”. With my Baptism coming up, I really mediated on those words and through asking the Lord Jesus into my life and getting baptised last week, my heart feels so full and I feel at peace.
My relationship with God has changed my life so much, I am literally eternally grateful that he sent His Son to pay for our sins, and that even a sinner like me, like all of us who believe, can live forever in His Kingdom. I am still in total awe of God and long to grow more in my faith every day Revelation 3:16 – “because you are neither hot nor cold, I am about to spit you from my mouth.” I long to be forever hot, and although there are seasons in life, some tougher than others, I know I have an amazing God who has it all planned out! I am so grateful for all who have supported me on this journey, and am extremely lucky to have two awesome Pastors who have become friends and are on the sideline cheering me on in my walk with Christ. I have got prayers and support from my Mum and her husband and their church, my sister and her church and then our awesome Crossroads family. I am so blessed and can’t wait to see how God plans to use me to be a blessing for others too!