If someone would’ve told me 20 years ago that I would someday be a Christian AND a missionary, I would’ve laughed in their face and told them they were crazy.

In my younger days, God or religion wasn’t even on my radar.

I grew up in a non-Christian home, with an atheist dad, a Catholic mom and two sisters. My parents had decided early on in their marriage to never discuss God or religion, because they didn’t want to spend the rest of their lives arguing about it. So the bible was just another dusty book on the shelf, and nobody ever talked about God, Jesus, or salvation.

My mom did occasionally take my sisters and I to Catholic Church though. There I saw people going through the motions. Stand up, sit down, say a prayer by rote, stand up and sit down again…but the rest of the week they acted just like anyone else. The empty religion and hypocrisy that I saw caused me to assume that religion was just a cultural thing, with no actual truth attached to it. So I didn’t believe any of it, and when I was old enough to make my own decisions, I stopped going to church completely.

I started drinking when I was around 16. We lived in San Diego, just 15 minutes from the US/Mexico border, so on weekend nights my friends and I would go barhopping in Tijuana, since they didn’t card there.

Even though I was drinking and nightclubbing as a teen, I was extremely immature and naive, especially when it came to boys.

The combination of alcohol, naivety and not knowing God was a recipe for disaster. One night, I got myself into a bad situation that led to losing my virginity through date rape. Even though I tried to push my feelings away, it was a wound to my heart, and there would be many more wounds to come.

For many years I lived a life that was very far from God. Getting drunk on weekends, partying, materialism, falling for the wrong guys and of course sexual immorality. There was much pain and heartache, which changed the person I originally was, into someone who was insecure, wounded….but sort of numb at the same time.

In addition to the worldly lifestyle, there was also a lot of irresponsibility and screwing up in general. I was terrible with money, and got myself into debt. I was going to college, but I didn’t have much direction in my life. I wasted time doing stupid things. I was a mess, but at that time I didn’t realize how lost I was.

behold-a-pale-horseAround that time, I started becoming interested in politics. Little did I know that this would be the avenue that God would use to lead me to Him. I read a very controversial, hard-to-believe, but fascinating book called Behold A Pale Horse, by William Cooper. That book opened my eyes to what was going on in the world and changed my outlook completely. It talked about how we’re heading toward global government – the New World Order. In the book, I noticed there was a quote from the book of Revelation…I thought that was interesting, but I didn’t think much of it beyond that.

I also had a political website (exposing the scandals of former president Clinton) and because of that site, I was always doing research. I was genuinely amazed at the things I found. The corruption at the highest levels of government was even worse than I imagined, much worse than most people realize. I learned that it was not limited to Clinton, but to other presidents and to those who are really in charge…the ones behind the scenes, who have the real power.

Learning about the evil and corruption in this world caused me to start thinking about the deeper questions of life. Who is really in control of this world? What’s life really about?

The day I began to believe is one that I’ll never forget. I was in my room and I was thinking to myself, “How can it be that the most powerful people on this planet are so evil and corrupt? How can it be that the person who is running the country is someone I wouldn’t even hire to work at McDonalds, because he’s a total crook? With all the people in the world, isn’t there a true leader who we can actually look up to and trust?”

I could see that the world wasn’t all bad. Yes, there was evil, but I could see that truth and goodness exist too. Even though I wasn’t a believer, on some level I knew that those things – goodness, truth, justice – must stem from a source. But I still wasn’t thinking about God at all.

As I kept asking that question in my mind – “Who is above these corrupt leaders?” – that was when God opened my eyes. He gave me the answer. It came to me in a flash, but in a clear, powerful and deep way. God is above these corrupt leaders! JESUS is the true leader of this world. Wow. Mind blown. Some scriptures suddenly came into my mind. Jesus is the King of kings, the Lord of lords, the Prince of Peace…He is the true power of this world! It all started to make sense.

I was stunned because I had rejected all that stuff my entire life… but it’s true. The Gospel is true. Not religion. Not the going-through-the-motions cultural stuff I saw as a child. But the simple Gospel. Jesus is the Messiah, the true power of this world, the living God… And He seemed to be “knocking on my door” so to speak. That realization was the biggest turning point in my life.

But I didn’t jump into Christianity right away. I knew that if I were to become a Christian, my life would change in a huge way. I thought to myself, “What if I become too religious and I’ll have to get all new friends? What if this changes my life completely?” I was going to San Francisco State, I had a job I liked, I even had a public access TV show that I produced (long story). My life seemed to be pretty good to me, at that time. I certainly wasn’t looking for God or religion. But I sure found God. Or I should say, God found me!

So I said to myself, I’ll look into Christianity, read the bible, but not jump into anything until I’m ready.

Christian testimonyIt took 2 years from that point until the day I surrendered my heart to Jesus and became a Christian. July 9, 2000 was the day that God forgave me of all my sins and I became a new creation.  When I walked out of the church that day (I had gone to my friend’s church and after the service her pastor led me in prayer to receive Jesus) I was filled with so much hope, joy and a desire to learn more about God and His word.  I knew it was the first day of an entirely new life and new path!

A few years later, I clearly sensed that God was calling me to world missions. I was told about Youth With A Mission (YWAM) an international  missions-sending organization that also offers training for new missionaries. I took a life-changing class called “Discipleship Training School” (DTS), in Kona, Hawaii. I can’t even put into words how great that class was. After the 3 month lecture phase, I went on my first missions trip, to Indonesia and Malaysia, another huge learning experience. After my DTS, I continued my training with YWAM, and I did a bible school (School of Biblical Studies), two biblical counseling classes, and a digital media class.  Most of the classes were in Kona, and one was in Switzerland. The funding for those classes was an amazing demonstration of God’s provision.  Much of it came in truly miraculous ways.

I later served on the mission field in Mexico – in Tijuana del Mar and Mazatlan.

The process has taken time, but God has healed me, restored me, taught me important life lessons… He has given me wisdom, a new heart and even a new name! (You can read about that here if you want).   God has shown me who I really am…my true identity. My identity is in Christ, and I have learned through experience (sometimes the hard way) that God’s ways truly are best, and wisest.    I’m still a work in progress though. I’m continuing to learn, grow, and walk with God…not just on Sundays but on a daily basis, in every aspect of my life. It’s about a relationship with our Creator, not religion.

Even though life in this world is not a bed of roses, I have the peace and security that comes with knowing I belong to God, and that He loves me with an unfailing love.

If anyone reading this isn’t a believer, my prayer is that when God “knocks on your door” you will not keep it closed. He created you and loves you and wants the absolute best for you. Surrendering your life to Him will be the best and most important decision you will ever make!

Much love and blessings,


Lily Marie
Lily is a native Californian who has lived and traveled all over the world. She loves doing anything creative, learning, having interesting conversations, traveling and reaching hearts for God. Lily is a blogger, freelance web designer, missionary-at-heart, and founding editor of Faith + Testimony.
  • Diana

    Love it Lily, thank you for sharing your amazing story…