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God's Hand Brings Us Together

Michael and I both accepted Jesus at a young age. I was baptized within a few days of praying a sinner's prayer. Michael was not baptized at the time of his profession of faith. I walked with the Lord and was active in youth group until I went away to college. While I attended an esteemed Christian college, I lived well over my means and did not believe God for the tuition. I failed miserably and left college the middle of my freshman year.

Michael occasionally went to church with other family members but no one in his immediate family regularly attended church. When he and I met in January 1999, neither of us walked in faith. When looking back on the past 13 years, I can see how much God had his hand in our lives, even while we were living in the pollution of this world.

God has brought us through financial struggle, which we felt was one of the causes of our extended engagement. We became engaged Mother's Day of 2000. In July of 2000 we had our first child, Adara Elizabeth. We have always looked at each other as husband and wife since the day of proposal and before. We agreed that we would like to raise our children in church and that we also would like to have our wedding in church with our loving church family. We visited several churches and after a few visits settled into a church we thought we could call home. We met persecution at every turn because we were living in sin with a child out of wedlock.

We left that church and Michael struggled with drug addiction. During that time our second child, Brian Farrell, was born. Once again God had his hand on us and Michael will be clean for eight years in November. While struggling through withdrawals, Michael sought help at a nearby church and was met again with persecution. The pastor turned Michael away, saying he had never handled a situation like his. We fell deeper into the world and while Michael never returned to the drugs, he and I allowed Satan to affect our relationship. We began to spend less time together and argue more often.

Another blow to our relationship came when I had my first miscarriage in June 2009. I struggled with shame after feeling relieved because I didn't want another child. Children are precious to God. I know that losing that baby was not my fault or Michael's. I also know that losing that child was my breaking point. I slammed the door on any kind of a relationship with God. However, once again God's hand could be seen in the struggle.

Through a church league basketball team that my children were playing in, I was introduced to what shining the light of Jesus really looks like. This person, now a dear friend, reappeared in my life at Fun Day at Peachtree Corners Baptist Church (PCBC). She invited us to visit church one Sunday. Knowing that I would probably never go, I thanked her for the offer.

I did, however, accept my parents' offer to attend church with them a few weeks later. Little did I know that I would come back to the Lord on that day in November, 2010. Remembering the invitation from my friend, we visited PCBC the following Sunday. We were met with immediate love and affection. I began to attend regularly and even attended a Bible study. The children loved all the fun-filled activities.

Sadly, though stress and discord continued at home. Michael very rarely attended church. He had a lot of anger issues that God was getting ready to sort out for him. Michael didn't grow up with his biological father and had never met him. This changed in August 2011, when he met his father, Pops, and formed a fast and tight bond. Michael then felt God tell him it was time to be baptized. Since his baptism on August 21, 2011, he humbly walks with God and strives very hard not to let the anger of his past cause him to stumble in his walk.

He met two brothers and one sister. We vacationed at Christmas with his Ohio family. In January we shared the joy of our wedding in our church with our church family on the 13th anniversary of our meeting. Every aspect of our wedding was from God. In February our church family grieved with us as I experienced my second miscarriage and Pops' cancer came out of remission. He passed on July 4, 2012. Michael was able to spend several days of quality time with Pops about a week prior to his passing

Over the years we have met many obstacles with a world view, but I can tell you that none of them compares to the struggles and issues that we have faced, endured and conquered in the loving embrace of God's grip and the refreshing grace of Jesus.

Michael & Penny Pikaart

God's Grace, Mercy & Love

My story demonstrates the wonderful story of God's grace, mercy, and love. Growing up a preacher's kid, I was in church all my life, pretty much every time the doors were opened. I went to a Christian high school and was well-versed in the Christian faith. In November 1982, I realized I had never made a profession of faith, so I did. This profession was not unlike many professions that others have made. It included tears and sorrow of regret but not repentance.

My profession, although not being a possession, led me to do many things in the church - song director, Sunday school teacher, youth director, deacon, chairman of the deacons, a faithful tither, and even a fill-in speaker for the pastor a few times. It was all just a good job of white washing and a good front for anyone to see. (Matthew 23:27-28 ) In fact, I was so good at it that I even fooled myself sometimes. Satan had me exactly where he wants all church members and attenders to be - a dedicated, devoted, involved yet disillusioned person, far from having a relationship with Jesus Christ.

Without the Holy Spirit to guide me, I became involved in online chat rooms and porn. I continued to the point that if you knew how involved I was, you would be dumbfounded because of all I was doing in the church. I realize that Satan is too wise to try and drop us in the midst of the sin. He starts small and then lets us continue on our own down that road by convincing us that we are okay because of how faithful we are in the church. All the while the lies he is telling us are enabling us to continue our pattern of lying to cover our lifestyle.

All of these actions led to several full- blown affairs, and finally in 2008 I was willing to leave the wife of my youth and my children to continue to pursue the ever-elusive dream of happiness and satisfaction. Yet, the amazing grace of God and the love of my wife, Lois, reached me. She had felt for some time that things were not right with us and had been diligently praying for God to work in our marriage and family. After walking and praying at youth camp, she asked me on Saturday night if we were going to make it. I responded, "I sure hope so."

She began praying even more for our marriage. Thanks to some amazing events that God orchestrated in my life, I ended things with the other woman. This cycle repeated itself at least three more times over the next four or five months. I started chatting and looking at pornography again, justifying that I was still married.

In January 2009, Lois told me point blank that she was concerned about and praying for my salvation. She showed me several scripture passages about the life of one that has a true relationship with Christ versus those who have been presented with a false gospel. Once we are truly born again and have placed our faith totally and fully in the completed work of Christ, the Bible tells us in 1 John 3:6 that "Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him." Again in verse 9 he reminds us, "Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God." God is light and in Him there is no darkness at all. When the darkness is presented with the light, it disappears or flees. This truth that I had heard all my life and had even memorized pierced my soul and the Holy Spirit convicted me of my need for salvation. February 1, 2009, I again shed tears, but this time they were tears of true repentance and not just regret. Jesus Christ freed me from my sin and the burden I had been carrying and created a new man.

God desires to be the Lord of our lives. When we die to ourselves daily, God releases us from the bondage of sin and renews us, making us what he wants us to be. He wants us to more than play church; He wants us to surrender to his Lordship in our lives.

Lloyd Parks

A Lost Man Before Christ

I was a lost man before Christ, but now I'm grounded and know my purpose.

I grew up Jewish and had my Bar Mitzvah at age 13. I was very successful in business and fairly happy for the next 32 years, but not content. While moving up the corporate ladder, I did, in fact, behave recklessly for many years. During the years before accepting Christ, I began to wonder why I survived, but now I know.

In early 2009, my friend Mark Austin challenged me to study Hebrew Bible to see if there could be any other Messiah other than Jesus Christ. I studied and agreed in my mind but not my heart. Nevertheless I started attending PCBC the summer of 2009. I bonded with my Bible study class, but I was still not a believer. During the five months of dedicated attendance I was tempted to accept the Lord many times but didn't.

However, on September 25, 2009, at the suggestion of Mark Austin, I attended Yom Kippur services at messianic temple Beth Adonai where God filled me with His spirit and I publically accepted Christ!

My brother, a convicted felon, accepted Christ seven years ago. He then attended seminary and became a pastor. He prayed for me and was, and is, a good witness to me to see how God changes lives. What are the odds that two Jewish brothers, both with very different lives, accepting Christ and having a deep desire to become pastors? Out of the 15 million Jews in the world, only about one percent believes in Christ. Out of those 150,000 Jewish believers, there probably aren't many, if any, brothers where one is an ordained pastor and the others desires to be.

To become more Christ-like, I spend many hours per week with the Lord, either in study, worship, fellowship or prayer. I have a passion to learn the entire living Word of God to connect how the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament are divinely interwoven.

I was baptized at PCBC on August 8,, 2010, and married on March 20, 2011. My wife and I met six years ago and for the first several years the subject of God never came up. Once I started to seek God and His truth, I learned she was, in fact, very spiritual. I'm so blessed to have met and married her. She has a unique love for God, family, friends, and even strangers. She is an awesome representative of Jesus Christ!

I'm grateful to so many other people, both new and old friends who have helped me grow spiritually. I'm also thankful to my mother, a strong and loving woman; Mark and Blanca Austin and their parents; my Bible study group; and the many other friends, pastors and rabbis in my life.

I know God is real because of what he has done for me. I am content and joyful. I am a work in progress. I'm grateful God chose to reveal His Son Yeshua to me, save me and sanctify me. I know these events were by His grace - not my works. I try to be a bold witness to both Jew and Gentile. I love God and others with everything I have, all for His Glory and His Kingdom's growth.

Keith Radousky

Everyone Thought I was a Christian

Growing up, I don't remember a time when my family was not at church. Anytime something was going on at church, we were there. So quite naturally, at a young age, I joined the church and was baptized. I remember how happy this made my parents and the other church members. They were proud of me.

However, as time went on, I began to feel a restlessness or unease at church, especially if someone gave a testimony or the pastor gave an invitation at the close of service. I couldn't wait for church to end so I could feel more comfortable. It did go away until l the next time I was at church.

It took several years for me to understand what was going on. The restlessness or unease was actually God reaching out to me, trying to show me that I needed Him in my life. Yes, I was a church member and had been baptized, but I did not have a personal relationship with Jesus. I knew all about Him – but I did not know Him. I believed He was God's Son and that He died for my sins, but I had never told Him how sorry I was for my sins and asked Him to forgive me for my sins and to come into my life and save me.

Once I realized the outward things, church membership and baptism, I had done were not enough to save me, I asked Jesus into my life. What joy I felt! A huge burden had been lifted from my shoulders.

I was so relieved that the unease I had felt at church for years would be gone. And it was – for awhile. But then I got a different feeling – an urging to tell my pastor and church about the change in my life. Instead, I kept quiet. I was already a church member. Everyone thought I was a Christian, so why bother? But the urging to tell others did not go away. I wondered what my family and friends would think. I didn't want them to be embarrassed. Mostly, I didn't want to embarrass myself.

After several more months of feeling an urging to tell my pastor I had become a Christian, I finally did. What had made it such a difficult choice was that the pastor was also my father. I was re-baptized and became a true church member. I was finally at peace. And my family and friends were happier and prouder of the courage it took to do the right thing. My only regret is that I spent years feeling restless, when God's peace is available TODAY!

Celeste Stough

Grew Up Without The Church

I did not grow up in a Christian home, which is ironic because one of my grandfathers was a pastor and the other was a deacon. Forced to go to church, my parents grew up adhering to man's laws rather than God's law. Because of constant misinterpretation of the Bible, my parents decided church wasn't for them and never mentioned church, the name of God, or Jesus in our home.

At the age of nine, my parents divorced. Before that, I didn't know that parents could decide they didn't want to be together. I missed my dad terribly and it wasn't long before I began to blame my mom for making him leave. This led to some long and troublesome teenage years when the deep desire to have a loving father figure in my life caused me to make some really poor choices which brought along some serious consequences and regret.

Entering high school, I couldn't stand the sight of my mother, didn't have any kind of healthy relationship with my father, and the thought of a God that loved me and would never leave me made me feel violently ill. I decided that there was no God and that my decisions about how to live my life were my choice. God was for weak people who needed something to give them hope. The idea of God infuriated me and anything about Jesus was simply a myth.

While in college, I spent four years drinking six days a week on average. Some called this alcoholism; I called it choice. I spiraled out of control, yet somehow graduated Magna Cum Laude in 1996. I took this as a sign that it was time to turn my life around. I didn't need God. I just needed to get my life on the right track and pursue a career.

After graduation I hiked on the Appalachian Trail to cleanse my mind and body. In Maine I was a calmer, less-angry, more-open person, and that's when God could finally work. I met a pastor who gave me a very small book entitled The Reason Why. I read it. It showed the probability of there NOT being a God. I found it fascinating! This book opened my eyes to the logic behind there being truth in a Creator. It was the first time I doubted my atheist beliefs.

Open to the slim possibility of God's existence, I left the Trail, came home, and worked for an optometrist. When Paul Liles walked into the doctor's office, I was smitten! I knew I MUST date this man! After a week, he called and asked me out on a date – to church! Who does that??!! Now, I was open to the idea of God being real, but I was in no way ready to go to church. However, because I was so incredibly smitten, I watched Paul seem to care more about what his pastor was saying than the fact that we were on a date. I watched how he took a stand for this Jesus and didn't appear weak in any way.

I only attended church with him on Sunday nights and at every service for two months the pastor gave an altar call. I always responded the same way - sweaty palms, shallow breathing, and heart pounding. I hated those five minutes! In April of 1998 I prayed the Sinner's prayer and accepted Jesus as Savior.

Paul and I have been married 13 years and have two wonderful boys. I have taught Divorce Care for Kids for four years. The relationship with my parents has been restored. God is real. He loved me when I hated Him. Jesus never gave up on me and protected me through the years when He didn't matter to me. He lifted my burdens, made me whole, saved me, loved me, waited on me, forgave me, and blessed me. Only by His grace am I worthy of all that He did for me, has done through me, and continues to do in me.

Kim Liles

Diagnosed with Stage IV Cancer

In January, 2003, I came on staff at PCBC in the youth ministry. It was an exciting time for us a family. Our son was 16 years old and we wanted him to be part of a thriving youth ministry. My wife and I were excited to work in the creative arts of music and drama at 24k. We loved the challenge of producing the 24k morning show every Sunday and planning the youth worship service each week. It was thrilling to see the Lord moving powerfully in the group of young people.

After an exhausting summer of student events, during the first week of September, I remarked to Chick, my wife, "Babe, look at this lump on my neck." She became alarmed by its size and said that I needed to see a doctor. I told her that it didn't hurt, but she insisted. After three different doctors, multiple procedures and seven weeks, I was diagnosed with stage IV Squamous Cell Carcinoma with the primary site in the base of my tongue.

Needless to say, we were stunned. I had always been a health nut, eating well and staying active. I prayed, we prayed, and warriors around the world prayed for me. I didn't know exactly what to pray. I thought that I had no right to escape illness when so many people around me were fighting battles of their own. I asked that the Lord would show me how to pray. I received assurance from Him that this cup (cancer) would not pass from me, but I would have to go through the fire. When I realized that this was going to be the battle of my life, I asked the Lord to teach me as I walked through the valley of the shadow of death.

From my diagnosis on October 22 through all the surgical procedures and treatments ending on February 4, 2004, God opened my eyes to the depths of His love for me, the riches of His incomparable Kingdom and His power to effect change in the lives of His people. What a rich spiritual time in my life! One day toward the end of the seventh week of what I jokingly referred to as "mis-treatments", I, just skin and bones at that point, lay in bed and remember saying to my wife, "Babe, as bad as all of this has been, I wouldn't trade one minute of it because of the time I have had with my Savior." The Lord showed me that life would go on without me, and that my life was given to me to invest in others. That was a significant turning point for me. Jesus carried me through that valley and I will never forget His abundant blessing of life - present and eternal.

My cure was miraculous, both to me and my doctors. God isn't finished with me. All praise and glory to Him!

Dennis Durrett-Smith

Serious Car Wreck

While Earl and Nancy Ramsey were en route to Earl's dialysis treatment on February 22nd, the driver of a truck hit the front of their car. Nancy sustained serious injuries, including a compound fracture. She was rushed to Gwinnett Medical Center Trauma Unit and was taken immediately to surgery. After an extended hospital stay and several weeks in a rehabilitation center, she required nursing care at home to help her with a full recovery.

Her physician diagnosed that she would not be able to put any weight on her foot for at least three months. People in at least four different states prayed for her recovery. The Rapid Response Prayer Chain assured them of the loving care of our church family. Cards and visits helped to brighten their days as they waited on God to bring healing. As only God can do, He provided healing for Nancy well in advance of the time frame given them by the doctor.
More than once, the Ramseys held on to the fact that Jesus is the Great Physician who works miracles in His way and in His time. The trauma of having a "bruised body" to accompany the compound fracture could have prolonged the recovery time. Whip-lash of the neck served to aggravate the arthritic condition of her back and neck. Already dealing with Earl's need for dialysis several times a week, life became more complicated and brought new challenges.

Nancy is still in rehab and Earl continues to receive dialysis. In and through it all, they remain convinced that God spared their lives and constantly thank God for the people who interceded on their behalf. Earl and Nancy sum up their ordeal with two words – "Praise God!"

Earl & Nancy Ramsey

Addicted to Drugs at an Early Age

I intimately know the dangers lurking and preying upon America's youth. Raised in a single-family household due to divorce, I fell into drugs and alcohol at an early age. Although I attended church regularly as an adolescent, I never understood what it meant to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ until late in my twenties. Today I am a living testimony of God's amazing grace in overcoming not only drug and alcohol addiction, but also suicidal depression, pornography addiction, and fear of failure. After accepting Jesus as Lord (leader) and Savior of my life, I met my lovely wife, Ashley, in a singles Sunday school class. We have now been married for more than six years and have one son, Noah.

It is the passion of my heart, in accordance with God's will, to bring hope, acceptance, and understanding to the next generation. Since responding to the call of ministry, I was licensed in 2007 by Peachtree Corners Baptist Church, and received two seminary degrees, the first, a B.A. of Religion, from Luther Rice Seminary and the second, an M.A. in Evangelism and Church Planting from Liberty University. I am also affiliated with the North American Mission Board as an MSC Missionary.

God has allowed me to travel around the US and the world to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I have been to Dearborn, Michigan, to work at the Arab Festival; Hungry Horse, Montana, three times; and the inner city of Charlotte, North Carolina, four times. I have been to Africa five times, Costa Rica and Turkey. I enjoy football and snow skiing. I also enjoy using my Culinary Arts degree to host gatherings at our home.

Amazingly, Ashley, my loving wife is in agreement with all of my interests. However, she loves Disney! Noah is too young to know all of my likes and dislikes, but our prayer for him is Genesis 6:9 . "Noah was a righteous man of his day and he walked with God." We pray for our son to be a mighty instrument for the Kingdom of God. We now see in him his love for God and people. After every prayer we say, he applauds and cheers. Nobody taught him to do this; he just started doing it on his own.Noah also loves to worship and dance before the Lord. Children are amazing blessings of the Lord, and we must teach them all we know about the love God has for them!

Matt Johns

Saved By The Grace of God

I was raised in a Christian home and knew all about Jesus, but did not know Him personally. I expected to find my peace and joy from family, friends and activities.

I lost my mother to breast cancer at a young age. I lost my first husband through divorce and, as a result of a car accident, lost myself with amnesia. I wanted someone to love me, take care of me and always be there for me.

Jesus saved me and everything changed. I had a Christian husband but still difficult situations came into my life. I lost five babies because of complications with my pregnancies, but the Lord Jesus gave me two special children through adoption.

I became involved in a Christian outreach ministry in the early 1980s. I felt the Lord was calling me to be an evangelistic speaker for the ministry, but I resisted and made up excuses as to why I shouldn’t follow the Lord’s calling. Soon after I committed to being a speaker in 1996, I was diagnosed with MS. I trusted the Lord would work it all out and began my ministry work. During the last 16 years I have been given the privilege of sharing Jesus with thousands of women so they can have that peace and joy through knowing Jesus Christ. More than 1,350 women have prayed to accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.

Through every trial the Lord has given me peace and joy. I know He loves me, takes care of me and will always be there for me throughout eternity.

Marilyn Sitton

Twins Given Little Chance of Survival

Shortly before I found out I was pregnant, God convicted me about sharing His Word with others. It wasn't that I didn't want to share the Word of God; I didn't know how I should go about it without leaving them confused, uninterested, and annoyed. In church one Sunday, the pastor said, "Share your testimony". After a week of pondering, I concluded, "Oh well, I'm off the hook because I don't really have a great testimony ... at least nothing that would interest anyone. It certainly would not be moving enough to lead anyone to Christ."

When I accepted Jesus at the age 10, I remember standing in front of the church with tears of joy running down my face. Throughout my life, God has answered many prayers and spoken to me through the Bible. I even witnessed a few "odd" things that surely non-believers would think I made up. I asked, "Who would want to hear that?"

When the topic of witnessing came up again, however, I asked God to give me a testimony. I was in no way expecting what I was about to receive. After having a very emotional week, I sat down to read the Bible. God spoke to me and told me "This is all within my plan." I had absolutely no idea what that meant. A few hours later, I felt the urge to take a pregnancy test. When I saw it was positive, I got so weak in the knees that I had to lay down. I was pregnant with baby #3! After the initial shock, we were very excited. At nine weeks, I went for my first doctor's visit which revealed that I was carrying twins.

At 15 weeks, a high-risk doctor told us that our identical twins were girls. I was so excited! However, he also told us that my twins may be developing signs of Twin To Twin Transfusion Syndrome (TTTS). Having already researched twin pregnancies, I knew what this meant. It was not good news. TTTS is a disease of the placenta that affects approximately 15-20% of identical twin pregnancies. When a single placenta is shared by the twins, abnormal blood vessels develop, essentially connecting the circulatory systems of the babies. The result is an unequal exchange of blood flow, creating serious complications that endanger the health of both babies.

I returned to the doctor weekly and at 17 weeks I was put on complete bed rest. At 18 weeks the TTTS had progressed enough to require a risky surgery, which occurred at 19 weeks in Miami. We were thrilled to see their hearts beating and legs kicking the morning after surgery. Although surgery caused contractions that were difficult to control, we were elated that our babies survived! Our goal was to control contractions and keep the babies incubated until at least 32 weeks. My never getting off bed rest was difficult for us with two young children and no family in the area, but I was willing to do whatever it took.

I realized, however, that God was not done with my testimony. I had been so strong, but I became physically, emotionally, and mentally exhausted when a routine appointment a few weeks later revealed that the smallest twin had fluid around her heart. I soon realized that I wasn't the one in charge. God wanted me to trust Him. I knew he had my family's best interest at heart. I believe in the power of prayer and that God can work miracles. I knew He could save my babies if He chose to. However, the rational, human part of me remembered that God doesn't always choose to work miracles the way we humans see fit. God's answer to my prayers was simply "Trust me!"

I prayed, had hope, and knew that God could spare the life of Maren, my smallest twin but part of me wanted to remain cautious. I gave it to God and surprised myself in the process! I felt honored that He loved me enough to build my character and my strength. I witnessed the power of prayer the entire time. My original thought of what the power of prayer meant was that God would heal my children. Instead, I was now able to gain strength and see that my interpretation was not HIS interpretation.

Once I gave it to God and fully trusted Him and His plan, I was able to give my children back to Him. I've always said that God has a miraculous sense of humor, and Todd and I witnessed that on several occasions. We became so "at peace" that when we received disturbing news that things were getting worse, we burst out laughing. I distinctly remember saying "Wow, God, I asked for a testimony and You are really determined to make it a good one!"

Things did get worse. On Sunday, July 5th, 2009, the ultrasound showed that Maren's little body was shutting down. She was dying. The twins needed to be delivered at only 29 weeks. Their prognosis was not too great because of the TTTS. Payton was born first weighing 3 pounds 1 ounce and Maren, a minute later, weighing 2 pounds 6 ounces. They were in such poor condition that they rushed them by me so fast I didn't get even get a glimpse of a tiny foot. I had to wait 12 hours to see them – the longest 12 hours of my life. Again, I had to TRUST!

A week and several blood transfusions later, my girls were surprising the doctors. Not only were they going to survive, but they had no lasting birth defects!! Praise God!! Payton was in NICU for six weeks and Maren was in for eight weeks. Both of them left the hospital without any monitors or tubes. Amazing!!

I know that God now expects me to do something with my testimony. He loved us enough to strengthen us and then reward us with two perfectly healthy, beautiful girls.

Rachael & Todd Wahl

I Was Lost But Now I am Found

I worshiped Allah three times a day. I read the Koran a lot and tried to be a good Muslim, but I can remember how my heart was hardened. I was living, studying and working with many goals in my life, but I did not have joy or peace. I could not find any reason for my life and was saying, "What an absurd life!!" because I had an absurd heart and mind and worshiped an absurd god.

I became depressed and took pills to help me sleep without nightmares. I was living in a deep, dark feeling of solitude that propelled me to less identity and an internal conflict. I worshiped a god that was so far and completely silent. I was afraid of him and his punishments because I knew some prophets and Imams (Muslim's leader after Prophet Mohammad) who died! Who could give my life purpose?

I decided it was better to end the living for nothing. While suicidal one day, I was watching TV and changed the channels. Suddenly I was watching a movie about a man on a cross with a bloody body and a crown of thorns. Others had tortured him and hammered him to the cross, but I heard him pray, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." Shocked, I said, "Who is he? " I also saw that the man on the cross was between two thieves. One of them asked Jesus to remember him. Jesus then said, "I tell you the truth. Today you will be with me in paradise."

After the movie Joyce Meyer preached that Jesus is alive and you can pray in your language and he will answer you. As though God put all things together like a puzzle and prepared everything for us, my heart was beating and a powerful presence surrounded me. I said, "Jesus Christ, I don't know who you are. She said you are alive, are Lord and love me. I don't have any idea about it, but if you are alive and love me, can you heal me?" That night I forgot to take my pills and slept deeply and comfortably

without any nightmares!! On the following day, I had a different kind of happiness in my heart and I felt that a heavy burden had been removed from my body. I had never known Jesus and worshiped him before but he knew me and my exact needs.

I followed the programs of the Mohabbat channel day by day and when my husband asked me about changing the sadness to happiness, I told him about Jesus Christ. We followed the channel's show and whenever we had a problem in our lives, the pastor in the program talked about the same problem. We could see that Jesus is alive! A powerful presence encouraged us to accept Jesus as our Lord. We decided to call Mohabbat TV and declared that we wanted to accept Jesus as our Lord and our Savior. Encouraged greatly, we knew all the problems were the same and all the people were the same, but we were not the same. We were changed in our hearts and minds. I could forgive and love people. Although life was full of problems, I could understand the new identity that the Lord gave me

While we were trying to find a church, we went to one on a Friday morning because we assumed Christians worshiped the same day as Muslims. We asked Jafar, the janitor and guard, to allow us to pray for a couple of minutes. We felt God's peace and power while we knelt and worshiped the Lord. Jafar told us that as he worshiped the Lord that morning, the Holy Spirit told him to give a gospel to people who would come to the church to pray. It was so amazing that God had prepared for us a gospel that was illegal in Iran!

We began to read the gospel all the time and began a new and beautiful journey with Jesus Christ. We started to attend the underground church and evangelize our family. After two years our pastor was arrested and we had to leave Iran for Turkey. For four years we served Lord in a Persian church and God blessed us. We have a great purpose for serving the Lord because we submitted to Jesus Christ. We believe that our identity is in Him.

Martha Masoori

Having a family

Having a family. It's what we talked about when we were engaged and what we hoped and prayed for after we were married. Achieving that dream has taken a route we would never have imagined or chosen. However, God knew every detail. When we couldn't trace His hand, we could definitely trust His heart.

We took for granted that we would just have kids and never anticipated that it would be difficult. After more than a year of trying and a little help from the doctor, we finally were pregnant - ecstatic beyond belief! At near term, our dreams were shattered when our baby girl, Elizabeth, was stillborn - a cord accident. We were shocked, devastated and angry. Our Sunday School class and church choir family lifted us up and carried us through. By God's grace, we made it.

After another year of trying, we decided to pursue adoption. We spent the day on the phone with adoption agencies and hospitals. The agencies said they would send out their paperwork but told us to expect a two or three-year wait. It wasn't the best news but at least we were doing something. Within 24 hours of these calls, we received a midnight call from an area hospital that a pregnant woman in labor had come looking for a family to adopt her baby. We hadn't even received the paperwork let alone filled it out. At 5 a.m. our son Jonathan was born and home with us by that evening! Adoptions just don't work that way but God miraculously does.

When Jonathan was approximately 18 months old, we decided to try again to have a baby. We had to seek medical help and were in the process of starting injections when Jeff's mother, a labor and delivery nurse, called. She had a patient who was looking for a family for her baby girl. God sent us another miracle – our beautiful daughter Olivia.

Our family was growing. Not at all in the way we thought it would but God had other plans. When Olivia was two years old, we became pregnant. We were excited and terrified at the same time. Everyone assured us that what had happened the first time was a fluke and would never happen again. About six months later, however, our baby girl, Julia, was also stillborn – another cord accident. The devastation and despair all came flooding back. Once more, our church family gathered round us. They were truly the hands and feet of Jesus.

Jeff thought two children were enough. We took measures to ensure that the pain of loss would not happen again. However, Lisa had envisioned traveling to China and adopting a baby girl she wanted to name Audrey. Again, God had another plan.

Approximately six years ago, a friend sent us an email with the picture of a little three-year-old, visually-impaired boy in a Russian orphanage who needed a home. Unless he was adopted soon, he would be sent to a special-needs facility where he'd receive only food and clothing – no education. He stole our hearts. Jeff's "no" quickly became "yes" and Lisa's itinerary changed direction. Once again, God was all over the details. We proudly brought home our new son, Timothy, only five months after that initial email!

Our adoption experiences are not typical but then neither is God. He works on His own timeline. Jonathan is now a 19-year-old college freshman; Olivia is a 17-year-old high school junior; and Timothy is a nine-year-old fourth grader. Having a family is definitely what God in His way has done for us. And who knows - maybe He'll send us to China one of these days!

Lisa and Jeff Cooper
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