Running Got Me Nowhere - Jackie’s Story
The volunteer knew something more was going on in my life when she began to see me in the Green Room every Sunday. I would come up there with a Ziploc bag and fill it with food. After observing this for several weeks, she pulled me aside to ask about it. I told her "I need help. I need food for my family." I was scared to ask for it, but I was hopeful once I found Newspring.
I grew up in a group home in New York after being taken away from my mother. I always wondered if my life was the only one that felt strict, harsh, tormented and abusive. I loved my mother, but not her abuse. I turned to many things to feel loved because I was lost, angry, confused and broken-hearted. I pursued fleshly desires including sex, drinking, partying and even food in an attempt to fill this void in my heart. I felt unloved by everyone—especially God. I knew my actions were considered sinful and thought, "Surely I have sinned too much for Him to love me."
A New Life
I continued to struggle even after moving to South Carolina to start a new life. The drinking and partying led to irresponsible choices and I found myself in jail. I was incarcerated for five years. My first encounter with Jesus occurred when a church came to speak one evening inside the jail cells. My immediate reaction was a willingness to attempt to understand God's word and who He was. I thought I received Jesus into my heart that day, but ultimately my desire was to just be a "good person." All I wanted to do was get out of jail to start a new life. Deep down, I felt the crime I committed was far too much to ask for the Lord's forgiveness. The gospel reached my mind that day but not my heart.
After my release from jail I fell back into my old habits. I moved to Anderson, S.C., and my desire to "belong" somewhere outweighed my desire to be a good person. I did whatever it took to feel acceptance from others, especially men. I gave my body away in ways that were utterly demeaning to me. By 2009, I had four children without a father figure and no stability. We moved from place to place, shelter to shelter, doing anything we could to get by. We were homeless. I was angry. I thought God had done this to me. I hated Him, but more than that, I hated myself.
I turned to a local food and prayer ministry for help, and it was there I heard about NewSpring Church. I wondered if people would accept me there. To my surprise, they did. I met volunteers, like the lady in the Green Room who loved and encouraged me. When Pastor Perry would give the invitation to ask Jesus into our lives, I knew I wanted to change, but I felt so ashamed. I continued to hold back my heart from Jesus, apprehensive about taking this next step, which I knew I needed to take. I visited the church with my children for about a month before I accepted Christ on August 21, 2011. I was just so tired of running and struggling. I finally relinquished control to Jesus, realizing I couldn't go any further in life without Him.
I was baptized a month later and became an owner. Since then, I've taken many next steps such as attending equipping and growth classes and pursuing financial coaching. I volunteer with the children's ministry as a greeter which has been incredibly rewarding. Every week I am able to connect and develop friendships with other individuals like myself who are imperfect and are different from me in many ways. We all have one thing in common: we are in Christ.
NewSpring has helped me grow in so many ways, drawing me closer to Jesus. God is not finished with me! He doesn't only desire I become a better person, but He wants me to know the depth of Jesus' love for me, no matter what.
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