Sheila Carpenter's Testimony

I grew up in a strife-torn home. My parents were finally divorced after 25 years of fighting and tension. As the oldest of two children, I reacted to this by trying to be "perfect". I was an "A Student," did hours of homework each day, and was involved in countless activities. In Church as well, I strove to please others by teaching Sunday school, teaching Bible school, singing in the choir, and putting on a happy exterior while being tied in knots of fear inside. I really did have a hunger to know God and His Word. I read the Bible from cover to cover and sought to understand it and the Author as best I could. As I cried myself to sleep, I would beg Him to change my home. His Spirit was definitely drawing me; but I was not yet in an intimate, saving relationship with Him.

As I graduated from high school, my church organist and choir director (Rose) gave me a gift of several Scripture paraphrases and Christian books. She also told me that years earlier she had "adopted" me as her "prayer child." I thought it wonderful and amazing, but was not fully aware of the life-saving impact her prayers were to have. The first 3 years of college were busy. I excelled academically. I still felt unloved and rejected on the inside. I was active in a college group sponsored by my denomination and still felt much hunger to know Jesus, but also was full of pride. About six months before graduation, I became involved in an immoral relationship. I was very guilty and felt shame. I knew I was in sin but could not find the power to extricate myself from it. There was little enjoyment, but much misery. After graduation I immediately secured a teaching position and soon thereafter learned I was pregnant. The father of my child insisted that I get an abortion - I refused. He threatened to leave - I still refused. He did leave for a month and then came back. He promised to marry me if I would have an abortion. We went to an abortion clinic, but I still could not go through with it. I was in total agony. I felt such despair and was almost suicidal. I cried an ocean and cried out to God. He was trying to bring me to repentance, but still I resisted His grace.

My baby's father and I did marry. It was disaster from day one. We had three sons, and I experienced much abuse at the hands of this drug addicted husband. One day in my kitchen, God removed the veil and I saw, really saw my need of His cleansing and forgiveness. I repented, I surrendered, I decided to follow Jesus. He has never left me nor forsaken me. My husband beat me and I separated from him. He divorced me and was imprisoned for selling heroin. I suffered physically, financially, and emotionally as consequences of those years of rebellion. Yet the Holy Spirit truly does comfort and restore. Today, my sons are ages 11, 13, and 15 - all have accepted Christ and attend Church. My ex-husband died four months ago, after making his own peace with God. Jesus Christ is faithful and utterly trustworthy - He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.