When I was 9-years-old my Mom and I moved out of my Grandparent’s home and into a new house. I had been moving a lot over the past few years, but my homes were always within a 5-minute drive from each other. This allowed for me to always be living in the same neighbourhood, and more importantly, stay at the same school.
When I was 11-years-old my Mom signed me up for camp at Bramalea Baptist Church. I had been attending camp at Precious Jewels Daycare from ages 6 – 10 (talk about needing to move on!) I was now too old for camp at the Daycare, but there was a camp run by the church, which was in the same building. I didn’t know anybody at this camp, and I’d be spending my entire summer there. I was anxious, and nervous, but I was 11 and had no choice.
After my first day at the new camp I quickly learned that this was not Daycare anymore. It was a much bigger camp, and the activities were a lot...cooler. I have always been naturally shy, and so I gravitated towards the Counsellors and CITs, and decided to make friends with them. There was a girl at this camp that was the same age as me, but had been clearly attending for a long time. Her name was Ashley, and when she saw that I was friends with all the Counsellors she immediately insisted that none of the campers be my friends (clearly, she had a lot of pull around there). Ashley was my Matron of Honour at my wedding and had been my best friend since after we stopped hating each other (not sure when that happened).
One of the weeks at the Day Camp was called Vacation Bible School. It was a big deal and everybody seemed really excited about it. In the mornings we would learn a lot about Jesus, and there would be a ton of people there. Since I had grown up at Precious Jewels, I already understood most of what they were saying (namely that I am a Precious Jewel in the eyes of Jesus). However, I had never heard the Gospel presented in the way that I had at VBS. Suddenly, I found myself responding to an Alter Call. Suddenly, I found myself accepting Jesus into my heart, and agreeing to live for Him for the rest of my life.
I honestly don’t think I truly understood the decision I made that day. But, Jesus did. I’m incredibly blessed that the Counsellors (and my friends) all encouraged me and helped me to know what it means to love Jesus. If I didn’t have people encouraging me that way, I know I wouldn’t have known what to do! I started reading my Precious Moments Catholic Bible from my Christening as an infant. Eventually, I bought a Teen Bible that was more suited to me. I started attending the Youth Program at Bramalea Baptist. I started making friends with other Christians and learning what it means to live daily for God. I prayed... A LOT! I attended church services, sometimes riding my bike across the City of Brampton just to attend.
My life was completely transformed that summer. I had a new life in Christ. When I read my journals from that age, I know that the Holy Spirit had filled me that day. I was on fire for Jesus, and nothing was going to stop me (and trust me, a lot tried to stop me). Somebody that I trusted and loved once told me that too much of anything is bad. I was obsessing over Jesus and needed to control myself. I was devastated when I heard this. Was I doing something wrong? I prayed to Jesus, and immediately opened my Bible. This is what I read:
“You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” Deut 6: 5 – 9
This is my favourite passage of the Bible, because it encourages us to be obsessed with the Lord in a way that we simply don’t care how crazy, ridiculous, or strange we look. When I was 11-years-old I was a very, very strange child. Just ask anybody who knew me. My best friend was my Religion Teacher. I got excited when my Mom bought me a Devotional Book. I was obsessed with the DC Talk books about people getting martyred and used to dream that one day I’d be martyred for Christ (sorry to say I don’t really have that dream anymore...)
I know that people cringe at the word “Born Again Christian”, but when I was 11, I was born again. I was no longer that shy and timid girl who didn’t know what to do or say, or what was right or wrong. I loved Jesus and that’s all that truly mattered in my heart. Jesus gave me boldness and I shared my testimony with over 1,000 people at church one morning. I didn’t stop there, I continued to share my story with others. The following summer I spent my year in Servant Leadership Training. The year after I became a Camp Counsellor at the Camp that saved my life.
But, my story was far from over. The Lord had tested me much in the years after I was “born again”, but at the age of thirteen, right before High School, I would have my greatest test yet.
TO BE CONTINUED...