Tiffany's Story

I was lost and broken. I was hurt and hurtful. I was sad and angry. But more than anything, I was searching for what it meant to be loved. At the age of 23 I looked back over my life and all I saw was a trail of brokenness and wondered how I had come so far from the fun loving, full of life child I used to be. 

For most people, they look back and wonder, "how did things go so wrong?" But for me, I can trace the path a destruction back to when I was 11 years old... Back to when my parents divorced. Prior to their divorce, I was a social butterfly, I was in sports, dance and AWANAs. However, all of that came to a screeching hault when my parents divorced. I was the first kid I knew who had faced this reality. I would stay up late listening to my parents fight, I would wake up in the middle of the night to slamming doors and screeching ties. I am the middle child of three, however, my older brother is on the autism spectrum so it was my job to step up and comfort our little brother on those nights when we didn't know if mom was going to be there when we woke up. When we didn't know if daddy would come home the next day. Those months when we huddled together in their bunk bed is when my childhood ended. 

After my mom, my brothers and I moved out of my childhood home, my dad moved his girlfriend and her daughters in, they took over my house, my room and my life. We moved into a little 3 bedroom apartment in the not so nice part of town and this is when life began to change for the worst. It was at this time that I began to back away from everything. I dropped out of dance, my favorite activity, softball, AWANAS... Everything. 
When my dad chose to walk away from our family, I lost both parents. My mom spiraled into a depression so deep that she became unrecognizable to me. My mom spent every waking hour on the Internet in chat rooms talking to men. I used to fall asleep to the sound of her nails clicking on the keyboard and wake up to the same sound. It became my responsibility to make sure my brothers were up and ready in the mornings for school. I became the adult in the house. We began seeing less and less of my dad and by the time I was 13, he had moved to California for his job and I saw him once in 2 years. 

I remember around the age of 15 beginning to blame God for everything that had gone wrong in my life. I thought, "what kind of God would let innocent children suffer the way we are suffering." It was around this time that we were evicted from our first apartment because my mom had become so deeply depressed that she stopped going to work and spent her days and nights on the internet. It was also around this time that the men started coming around. My mom began bringing home random men that she had met on the Internet and go off to her room with them for hours at a time. 

At the age of 15, I met the person who I thought was going to change everything. I started dating a guy who was a little bit older than me and lived a couple towns away. His house became my escape from reality. It was a place I could go and get away from the sad truths of my life. This relationship led me down a road filled with sexual immorality and even deeper self loathing. I dated this person for 7 years and created my identity in him. He was the person who would be there for me through it all. He was there through the times when I thought I couldn't take it anymore and attempted to kill myself. He was there through evictions number 2 and 3. He was there when I became homeless at the age of 17. He was also there to take my virginity at 16 because "that's what you do after you've been together for a year." He was there to cheat on me when he went off to college but then convince me that it meant nothing time and time again. He was there to introduce me to binge drinking once I followed him to college. 

For 7 years I was lost in this world and clung to it so desperately because it had been the only constant in my life. My identity was founded in who I was with him and after 7 years when it finally ended, I was more lost than I had ever been in my life. At 22 years old, 1 year away from graduating college, I had no clue who I was. I had travelled so far from the carefree child that I knew prior to my parents divorce. I had no relationship with my father, a broken relationship with my mother and no place to call home. After the break up, I spiraled even deeper into the hole I had created for myself. I began binge drinking every day, partaking in drugs, and giving my body to whoever wanted it. For 6 months I lived this way. I started dating someone around December of 2010 who was very into church and to appease him, I started going with him to church services on campus every Wednesday night. In the beginning I was still so cynical and skeptical but kept going because I knew it was important to the guy I was seeing. What I hadn't realized was that little by little, my heart was healing every Wednesday night. By May, I had broken up with this guy but kept going to church on my own. Something in me had changed and I knew that it was Jesus healing my brokenness. 

In June of 2012, my father reached out to me just before my college graduation. After more than 10 years of resentment toward him for leaving me, I decided to meet him for coffee. The conversation was strained and awkward but that was the beginning of healing between us. I know that had it not been for Jesus working in my heart, this relationship never would have been mended. In the 3 years since then both of my brothers have follows suit not long after me and reached out to my dad as well. We have a solid relationship and I visit him and his wife regularly. 

In 2013, after moving to Yakima, I heard Jesus calling me to find a church. I attended service at Yakima Foursquare on Mother's Day for the first time and never looked back. Walking into this church felt like the home I never had growing up. It felt like family and love and peace and comfort. In the 2 years I have been here, I have found a family that loves me, I have found my identity in Christ, I have become a leader and a mentor to others and just when I thought that was as good as it could get, God blessed me with a faithful man who loves Jesus just as much as I do. And He continues to bless us daily as our family begins to grow with a little boy of our own on the way. 
As I look back on my life now, at the age of 27, I can see God's hand throughout my story. Even when I had turned my back to Him, He never left my side. He was there carrying me through even the darkest of hours whispering His love to me and when I was finally ready to listen, He reclaimed me as His daughter.

Isaiah's Story

Before I became close with God, I was lost and broken. I knew there was a God, but was he for me? Did he really love me or want to get to know me? I grew up not believing this and it hurt. I felt that I didn’t matter and I didn’t belong. I would fail my parents, my friends, my family. But at my lowest point, I decided to do something. I started reading my bible, and then went to summer camp. I confessed everything, and gave it all to God, and that’s when my life started to change. 

Samantha's Story

Before I had this beautiful relationship, I was sad. Everyday I would wake up feeling disgusted with what I thought I was. Not pretty enough, not “cool” enough, just not good enough for anyone. I encountered a reoccurring thought, “It wouldn’t matter if I was gone, would it?” Ending my life became an option, but I never took it. Pastor Nick prayed for me, and I began to see my worth. I was shown the never-ending love of God, and I realized I had a purpose. I am an instrument of the Lord.

Alyssa's Story

Before Jesus became real to me, I believed many lies about myself. I believed I was too young, too shy, ugly and awkward to be used by God. I have been homeschooled my whole life and I thought I couldn’t be a light to or relate to most of my public school friends. When I encountered Jesus and he became real to me, he began to reveal to me the lies I’d been believing. Jesus showed me that I am not too young, and he made me exactly the way he wanted. He showed me that I am beautiful and I am equipped with everything needed to witness to those around me with authority and love. Jesus continues to reveal who I am and the truth about my identity in Him. 

Taylor's Story

I was in a dark place. I was bullied constantly for my weight and the way I looked. I went into a phase of depression where I didn't like myself on the outside. There were times where I didn't eat for a couple of days, and then I would eat as much as I could and throw it all up later. I was diagnosed with ADHD, Anxiety, and Depression disorders when I was in 4th grade; which is around the time the bullying started. It was so hard for me to find friends, or even make friends. It wasn't until I was invited to come to this church by my wonderful second family, the Chamberlains. I started coming to this church in January of 2014, then was baptized on February 23rd the following year. I know because of Jesus, my life has been changed for the better. He has shown that I am a leader among many, that I am important, and that I am worth dying for. 

I would like to share one of my favorite verses, Isaiah 12:2.
“Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the Lord God is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation.” 
To me this verse means that with God, anything and everything is possible. 
I would like to thank the Yakima Foursquare Church congregation, Encounter, and the Chamberlain Family for showing me that my story really does matter; no matter what mistakes I have made in the past. 

Thank you for letting me share my story today.

Lila's Story

My heart was filled with hatred.

Four things happened around the same time to cause this.

1: My (first) husband had an affair and a baby with another woman. 2: After their baby was born, my own mother would babysit for them telling me "It isn't that baby's fault that he was born.” I had not been able to have children and this situation playing out before me crushed me and destroyed my relationship with my mom for many years and it obviously destroyed my marriage.

3: During this same time, my step-father also had an affair with my 17-year old cousin who was living with my parents to "get her life together." Her own father had committed suicide and she was sent to my folks for a time of healing. Instead, my step-father began a process of introducing her to alcohol and then abusing her until she was under his control. They told no one where they were going and ran away to Canada for two weeks.

4: My mother was broken-hearted, embarrassed and yet accepted him back into her life when it became apparent that my cousin finally came to her senses and went home. I was so angry at both of them. Were there no consequences for doing wrong? The standard I’d always been held to demanded it. I was “punished” constantly growing up for every little thing. It enraged me that my step-father came back home with no hesitation by my mom. 

After these things happened, I was filled with rage and a murderous spirit. As hard as it is to believe it of me now, I wanted to kill both of these men – literally. We all lived in a small town and I could not take the gossip and disgust shown by friends and fellow employees, so I went to live with a friend in a town 3 hours away. This friend had met Jesus since the last time I had spent time with her. She witnessed to me for many months with it falling on deaf ears. Finally one night I agreed to go to evening church – just once - as there was a band playing that night (Daniel Amos.) I was in the car behind her when she was hit in a head-on accident. When I got to her car, her face was streaming with blood and she asked me to pray for her. I did not know how to pray and she made me promise I would go to that church service we were on our way to. The EMT’s assured me she was not seriously injured, that all the blood came from her mouth hitting the steering wheel. So I decided the least I could do for her was to go to the service that night. While there, a member of the band came to me and said “You need to know a good man, who is a good father.” He then introduced me to a man and a father that would never betray me, or embarrass me, or make me wish he was dead. I met Jesus Christ who cleansed me of my hurt, my feelings of betrayal and gave me a new life and filled my heart with love.
Three years later I met and married my husband, Kurt. We met in church and have been in love with each other and with Jesus for the last 33 years. He is the man of my dreams who makes me know how much God loves me by giving a sinner like me such a wonderful man to live out my life with. I am so blessed!