I was raised in the Catholic Church and went through 12 years of school in West Philadelphia. I remember living in fear during those years, afraid of being late or missing school or mass if there was no good reason for it. I hardly ever got in trouble in school; I think I may have only been hit on the knuckles with a ruler one time in my eight years (that’s what the nuns did to punish you), and in high school I received maybe one demerit. I’ve never got into any trouble with my parents. I was considered the good little girl, or as my sister would call me, “goody two shoes” (whatever that means!).
After high school, I went to work at PNB Bank (now Wells Fargo), where God went to work on me right away, as three of my coworkers were Christians. We would do things together and hang out a lot. We would spend a lot of time at one girl’s parents’ house and really enjoyed the time with her family. They were very sweet and loving. It was like the family from the “Leave It To Beaver” TV show, and they were Protestants! Growing up Catholic—you didn’t associate with the likes of them.
My three friends started inviting me to church. One was a Baptist and the others were Catholic but attended charismatic prayer meetings at a local Catholic church in Secane. I would continually turn them down and would give them a hard time. I didn’t see the need. After all, I was a good girl and never missed mass. My friends remained faithful and continued to invite me. They invited me to a charismatic mass at the Spectrum on New Year’s Day. I thought, why not—what harm could it be? It was a mass, and besides, I would be fulfilling my Holy Day obligation!
During the mass there was a prophetic word (I didn’t know what that was at the time) that the Lord wanted to heal someone that struggled with homosexuality. And that kind of hit me hard, as that is something I dealt with. It made me think that God really knows me and sees my struggles. After that, I would wait every morning to see if he healed me overnight. I knew God used that message to draw me to him, and it gave me a desire to know him more than just Sundays at church, which was just a formality.
I began attending the Catholic charismatic prayer meetings with my friends and thought this was okay because the priest, nuns, and even a Bishop attended! I knew the Lord was drawing me during this time, and I would sing a song from the Beatles titled “The Long and Winding Road” and pray that he would lead me to his door. Well, he did!
During one of these prayer meetings, we had the baptism of the Holy Spirit, and I knew my heart was changed that night. I experienced his great love and peace like never before.
I joined a Christian ministry called Gospel Outreach and then became a member of Covenant Fellowship in 1987. It was during this time that I realized what Jesus did for me on the cross, the sacrifice that was made for me. I realized I am a sinner saved by his amazing grace and in need of grace every day–not by works but by faith!
P.S. God did not heal me miraculously overnight as I anticipated, but instead provided me with the care of pastoral counsel, godly women, and my community group leaders, who have walked alongside me. I am thankful for the journey through the struggle, so thankful for the Lord’s great faithfulness in my life over the many years.