BEFORE I WAS SAVED
I was born into a very strict Catholic family and I had a rigid upbringing in that I was taught the Catholic faith and believed with all my heart that if I even spoke to a "protestant" I would be in danger of God sending me to hell. My mother used to slam the door in the faces of door to door evangelists because she feared God's wrath.
I was about ten years old when my father began to pray to Mary to tell me that he was dying because he didn't want to be the one to inform me. One day, out back of our house by a bush, there appeared to me a woman who seemed to be eight to ten feet tall. She was dressed in blue and had a veil but it didn't quite reach my understanding that she was the "Blessed Virgin Mary" or so I would be told. I just knew I had seen a very tall lady who told me my father was going to be in heaven one day soon. I ran home to verify the information and it was indeed confirmed.
A few months after that, my grandmother awoke me in the middle of the night with the words, "The angels have come for your daddy!" I clearly remember the night I watched him die. A priest was in the house standing next to me. At the moment they covered my father with a sheet and I began to cry, the priest patted me hard on the back. I felt a definite surge of power go through my body like electrical currents and I was not capable of crying from that moment until a long time later.
We were a religious family but not one who understood what it means to have a relationship with God.
Over the years my mother experienced ESP power that saved us from auto wrecks, an explosion and many other horrifying events. We learned to rely on the evidence of these powers as signs from God and our faith only became stronger but it was not founded on the Rock of Ages.
When my mother was in her seventies and my husband and I were ministering salvation on the radio, she asked for me to come to her bedside. We had been estranged many years. She told me she wanted to be saved and prayed with me one week before she lapsed into a coma for thirty days and went to be with the Lord. God is faithful.
At the age of eighteen, right out of high school, I went into the convent to be a nun. There I was taught deeper teachings of the Catholic Church but I was not told how to have a relationship with Jesus.
Eight years later I left the convent, a disappointed person who had wanted to serve God without understanding how.
I had to go through many trials and tribulations designed to break me down for I had a great fear of God striking me dead if I listened to anyone who was not a practicing Catholic.
I was teaching school in Duncan, Arizona and going to classes taught by a priest after school in the evenings. I thought I was happy but I was empty and I was seeking God.
I had interviewed for a job in Magdalena, New Mexico and the contract for a few thousand dollars more than what I was making in Duncan was sent to me in the mail. I received it and took it to a friend's house to share the good news.
While there, the phone rang and it was Arizona State University calling me for an interview on campus. They told me a principal of a school one hundred miles out of Phoenix was coming in for the interview and asked if I could be there. "How did they get this number?" I wondered aloud and I was not given any answer. Could I come to the interview? They pressed me and so I said I would come. I was just plain curious and decided to visit my mother and make it a day.
Later, I would be told that ASU doesn't make calls for interviews and when they researched it because I insisted, there was no record to be found.
I went to the interview and the principal brought his wife along who was the Reading Specialist and supervised the elementary and primary teachers.
I was bored with the interview, wondering why I even bothered to come since I was going to go to Magdalena anyway or so I thought. I hadn't even mailed in the contract yet.
I started to make an excuse so I could leave when all of a sudden I felt warm water being poured out over my head, down my shoulders and covering my body. I felt such a desire to go to this little desert school in Wenden, Arizona that I could hardly contain myself. And I was sure I had "blown" the interview by my lack of interest.
Although this was a public school, the principal and his wife were born again Christians and they let me know, asking if I would have a problem with that. All I knew was I HAD to go to THIS school. My very life depended on it. What I didn't know was that my very soul depended on it.
I returned to Duncan telling everyone I knew that I was going to teach in Wenden. I had been given no word to that effect. I had been told they would call me. I didn't know I was confessing what God had ordained for my life. I called Magdalena and happily told them I appreciated their offer but I was going to teach in Wenden. I began to pack and make ready for the big move.
When I received the call accepting me, I was not at all surprised. I remembered the warm shower but didn't know it came from God.
Mrs. T., the principal's wife began working on me right away. She left tracts for me to read and asked me questions about my faith. She would say to me, "What does the Catholic Church teach about...?" Then she would say, "How interesting! Where is that in the Bible?" And always, I would have to say that I didn't know. I began reading the Bible to find the answers. I asked priests too but their answers were not satisfactory and I could tell that they felt backed in a corner by my questions. This was new to me and I began to question some points myself.
The pastor of the little non-denominational church in that small desert town came to my house one day and told me he was concerned for my soul, that I was going to hell.
To this day, he says he would never say that. He says he would say I might miss heaven. I was going to go to hell is what I heard and it made an impression on me.
I became angry with him and couldn't wait for him to leave. Then I argued with God about what he had said. I kept hearing this voice in my right ear; "What if you are wrong and he is right?" I scoffed and laughed at the idea but the nagging thought refused to go away. Finally, I submitted to God (thinking he was laughing at me for my "stupidity") but I said the sinner's prayer just as this pastor had instructed me to do and just as I had read about in all those little tracts left around for me.
I fell into a very peaceful sleep and when I awoke I was filled with joy. I went to school and told all the teachers, my principal and his wife, that I had said the prayer to be saved. I was confessing what had happened but I didn't know it was scriptural to do that.
A couple of days later I went to the county dump. I was thoroughly disgusted at the filthy conditions that I observed while there. Nothing had been burned for days and spoiled food was piled high with flies smothering the rot. It was a most filthy place. I sat in my car and looked at the scene. Suddenly, I began to cry and I said to God, "How can you love me when I am just like that garbage, inside of me?"
It was then I saw to the left, coming down from the sky, a waterfall. And that waterfall covered over all the filth and garbage until it could no longer be seen. That waterfall was a waterfall of blood and I was given supernatural knowledge of the Blood of Christ as I heard the words, "This is why I shed My Blood for you!"
I no longer thought salvation a laughing matter. I fell to my knees and prayed the sinner's prayer again without thinking God was laughing at me but this time I prayed with understanding and I knew without a doubt that I was cleansed by His Blood, right there in front of all that rotting garbage.
I was saved in December 1978 but I still had a lot to learn. Mrs. T. began discipling me and I became a member of the little non-denominational church in the small town of Wenden. When I was baptized in water, the lady at the piano played my favorite song which was Amazing Grace. Mrs. T. was with me, helping me to change from my baptismal garment when I pointed out to her the song that was playing. She too heard it. But later, the lady playing the piano said she never played that song and that she wouldn't have anyway because her son had written a rock and roll melody to the song and she preferred that version. She would not play her preferred version in church and she staunchly denied that she had played any version at all. So I guess the Lord had His angels play and sing the song for me at my baptism.
Because I was raised Catholic and baptized as a baby by sprinkling of water, the Lord made this event one to remember so I could stand on it and proclaim to others that to be baptized into the Kingdom of God, one must be able to confess that Jesus is Lord.
Not only did He do the miracle of the Amazing Grace song for me, He did something else equally impressive to me. For years (I was thirty-seven at the time) I always had to have cream and sugar in my coffee just like my mother before me. The morning following my baptism, I awoke to the sweet smelling aroma of coffee and set about fixing my cup as usual with cream and sugar. I could not swallow it. It was completely distasteful to me. So I fixed a second cup with less sugar, a third cup with even less sugar and so on. Finally, there was no sugar and I was able to drink my coffee. Now twenty-three years later, I still drink my coffee with only cream. I never put sugar in my cup.
A small thing? Yes indeed, it would be a small thing to most people but to me it is the ever present sign of God establishing His covenant with me for I was buried in the water and resurrected as a public sign of my faith in the risen God; a new creature bought and paid for by the Blood of the Lamb, co-heir with Jesus Christ!
God continued to work with me in amazing little ways so that I would understand certain teachings that challenged the Catholic teachings archived in my mind. He taught me about good works when he quickened to my spirit how he reached down from heaven and brought mankind up to Himself. No works could accomplish that. He gave me pictures in my mind when I studied the Bible at Bible meetings and by myself. He gave me dreams and I heard words and phrases in my head that confirmed His truths with understanding. I was so deeply rooted in Catholicism that it apparently was necessary to supernaturally deal with me. And He did!
He dealt with me to start a prayer group and I put it all together under his direction uniting two churches that weren't on the best of terms due to a disagreement on the belief of the doctrine of the baptism of the Holy Ghost.
I did not know about this friction but there was sudden unity as answers to prayer came. Years later, I am still being informed of answers to requests placed with our prayer chain. We had literally hundreds of prayer requests for salvations and healings. To this day, I can truthfully say that over 90% of the requests were granted in marvelous, miraculous ways. And nearly 75% were answered in the first two years.
Once I saw this and understood this, how could I pray to Mary and the Saints? I realized that the saving Blood of our Saviour flowing first through Mary's veins did not make her co-redemptrix of the human race and that it wasn't until He shed His Blood on the cross and arose again that there was any salvation available to us. I understood that Purgatory could not exist if we are absent from the body and present with God and that we cannot atone for our sins once we are dead. Finally, I felt betrayed by the Catholic Church and became angry for the years I spent in their chains, as I saw it.
God was patient with me in teaching me to forgive. He was merciful to me in showing me that there are many sincere hearts in the Catholic Church who wish only to serve Him and that He did not make me their judge. Today, all these years later, I see the errors but I also am grateful for the many years in which I was taught the literal truths about the Trinity, the Deity of Jesus, and more.
Finally the Lord allowed me to proclaim His Gospel to all with confidence. In 1986 I met and married my husband, a Guinness Book World Record Breaker Entertainer, saved and teaching the Word of the Lord, evangelizing through preaching and music.
God has blessed me in that my husband and I have been able to work together, side by side in ministry, fulfilling His purpose for our lives.
Since 1986 we have been blessed to be able to minister salvation on the radio and television, in parks, swapmeets, churches, one on one and group evangelistic encounters and sidedoor evangelism through the teaching of our phonics-reading program in live classes and on the Internet.
On the radio we were blessed to interview many well known Christian leaders with the program's focus on salvation, like Jack Hayford, Hal Lindsey, Bill Bright, D. James Kennedy, Richard Roberts, Sheila Walsh and Ben Kinchlow from the 700 Club plus others. We opened up a prayerline and gave our home number. The phone rang night and day with reports of salvations and healings. We counseled and encouraged many and saw hope arise out of hopelessness. We offered original dramas, spoke of current world affairs and related it all to the Word of God. Our radio programs reached into the homes of twelve million souls in California every week.
Our evangelistic outreach ministry took the Gospel in music, teaching and prayer to the unsaved and unchurched at large outdoor swapmeet market places, and public parks. We also ministered to the homeless and the lost as we proclaimed the Gospel of Our Lord on the streets and sidewalks of some of the largest cities in this country. The results produced the establishing of home Bible studies and new evangelistic outreaches by others who desired to follow our example and felt called of God. We saw broken marriages and families restored and people set free from drugs and alcohol. We saw many miracles and witnessed God's amazing Grace through changed lives.
In 1994, we started holding free phonics classes at our church in California as a community outreach. And by this sidedoor evangelism, we reached many unsaved and unchurched people who, because they were grateful for our classes, began to trust us and ask questions about the Bible and church. After two years of requests for our free materials in other parts of the world, we determined to put our course online. Since then we have taught over 30,000 students and supervisors who have enrolled and used our resources in achieving improvement in English reading skills. Although our course was not designed with Special Education in mind, God has blessed us with multiple testimonies of how our course has worked successfully with At-Risk students. Every day more reports of blessings come in to us and we praise God for every life He has allowed us to touch.
When I was a little girl, I had no idea of what God had ordained for my life and I took each new day as it came. But when I recall the events of my life so far as in this testimony, I understand these lyrics even better:
How sweet the Sound that saved a wretch like me;
I once was lost but now am found;
Was blind but now I see!