TESTIMONIES

Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story...

A Chapter of Sorrow

I am blessed with a loving and caring husband, Lee, and we have two beautiful daughters, Rhoni-lee and Jaeya. Some women go through life with their family planning all worked out, like it is a given. Firstly to fall pregnant, but secondly to have a live healthy baby. We approach having a family as “consumers,” with an attitude of “this is what I want, and this is when I want it!”

I was one of those “well God, I’d like to start a family when I turn 30. I’ll have two children, thanks. Oh gender? Hmm… you choose – thanks amen!” Many friends of mine, Christian and non-Christian alike, have experienced frustration and heartache when confronted with difficulty in falling pregnant or have experienced the unthinkable tragedy of a stillborn baby. Personally, I had no problem with conception, maybe it was my genetics? At last count, between my seven siblings and I, we have 33 children! Praise God, Lee and I had no problems with starting a family and I am convinced that as tough as life may get there is no greater joy than knowing we have two little girls to share this life with.

tears-verseSadly, for many years the joy of being a mum had been stolen from me. I was incapable of enjoying my children as I worked through debilitating grief. The reason for my grief was the loss of three beautiful babies; my little ones that I had to hold for but a short while before Jesus called them home. Waiting for me in Heaven are my twin girls, Jessica (stillborn) and Jasmine (passed away after 12 hours) and my son, Connor (stillborn).

Even as I write their names I feel an ache in my heart and tears begin to well in my eyes, it is an emptiness that will never leave until our reunion in Heaven. As Christians, Lee and I believe the promises of God, we believe in Heaven not as some religious mumbo jumbo but as a reality of what lies ahead.

I will see my children again and until that day I know they are safe in the arms of Jesus. We all experience pain and suffering that can seem unreasonable but I am convinced our suffering and testing is not without reason.

Although I have many unanswered questions, I know that God is trustworthy and He is good, therefore in spite of my earthly pain and sorrow I will stand firm on the promise made by the apostle Paul;

“For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory”

2 Corinthians 4:17, NKJV

What a glorious day it will be when our earthly pain will cease and God will wipe every tear away.

perfect love casts out fear
Perfect Love Casts Out Fear (Stacey’s Story)

Many evils confront the (consistently) righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.
Psalm 34:19

“You are nobody! You will always be nobody! No man will ever want you! You are crazy! It’s all your fault!” These are actual words I have heard growing up and in relationships. It seemed no matter where or who I turned to, the end results would be the same; a deep wound to the soul. So desperately longing to be loved, accepted, validated, I would subconsciously seek out relationships that would only solidify my already low image of myself.

Oh, I didn’t do this on purpose, mind you. But, when you have grown up with rejection, it does attach itself to you throughout your life, until something changes. The residue of rejection will torment you until God intervenes and you make the choice to accept His love and help.

I didn’t grow up in a church. There were a couple times I remember my aunt taking us to church for Vacation Bible School, but I never knew the Lord. The idea of a Jesus out there that could love me was hard for me to grasp. Not even my own father could love me, and if a heavenly Father, God, was anything like my earthly father, then surely He must be an angry, unapproachable, and a disappointed God of wrath too.

It is true, our first relationship with our father does shape how we view our Heavenly Father. Sadly, the representation here on earth does not always nurture a true image of a Father’s love.

This is what rejection does to you:

  • It causes you to hide.
  • It causes you to lie.
  • It causes you to fear.
  • It cause you to not trust.
  • It causes you to not know your own identity.

As a young runaway, I learned how to be whoever I needed to be in the given moment. It was a survival tactic. I had so many aliases, I didn’t even know who I was anymore. Living on the street, then cocktail waitressing in NYC at the age of 15, I met some shady characters. I also met some good people. You know, we do not always recognize the hand of God on us, or His protection, at the time. It is usually a hindsight, when we look back and wonder how we even survived.

Funny, the very thing I was running from, I ran right to. I ran from an abusive father right into a marriage with an abusive man. Having been on my own, mostly since the age of 12, I didn’t know what it was to be a real woman. I didn’t know what a healthy relationship looked like. I had my “idea” of what I wanted, I just didn’t know how to get there. I believe inside I didn’t believe I deserved anything better than to be beat down, abused, abandoned, rejected, cheated on, and used. I did not know what love looked like.

His Word says, “There is no fear in love [dread does not exist], but full-grown (complete, perfect) love turns fear out of doors and expels every trace of terror! For fear brings with it the thought of punishment, and [so] he who is afraid has not reached the full maturity of love [is not yet grown into love’s complete perfection].” 1 John 4:18 (AMP) I was covered in fear.

We all have a past, we come from different walks of life, different experiences, and most of us carry deep wounds that pierce even to the soul. The depth of the wounds can blind us to truth, cloud our vision, and distort our minds. But God!

I could probably write page after page of everywhere I have been, what I have done, or has been done to me. We could sit here and swap war stories all day, no doubt. But, I would much rather give God glory, because I was not an easy case, I was deeply wounded, scared, and in hiding.

Yet, He reached down and pulled me up. He did this, not because I was looking for Him, but because He was looking for me. What He has done for me, He will do for you.

And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.

Revelation 12:11

Of course, if I had a choice, I would have written a better life story. But, I do not regret one experience, because had I not experienced what I have, I may not be where I am now. I would not have the ministry I have now. Of course there are still some residual effects, but He is delivering me and healing me from it all.

I met Jesus when I was in my early thirties. It was no gradual introduction, either. I believe He speaks to us in a way He knows we will understand. He meets us right where we are. In our mess, He is right there.

He grabbed me, opened my eyes to see Him, loved on me, and changed me from the inside out. He did such a mighty move inside of me, I looked in the mirror and expected to see Him staring right back at me.

Where I was once surrounded by darkness, He shone His light. Nature was more beautiful, the sky was bluer, He gave me a love for people, and a hunger for His Word. In short, I could not get enough of Him. He planted me in a home church that mentored me and helped me to grow.

perfect love casts out fear

Fast forward… He called me as an Evangelist. I was in ministry and doing a good work for Him. It would be easy to think if you are doing a good work for Him and trusting Him everything would be easy, right? I mean, after all, I am a Spirit filled believer, chasing after His heart, seeking to do His will and believing every Word He spoke. But, there is a reason He has told us to pick up our cross… a cross is a heavy thing to carry. A cross is what He hung from. A cross signifies death. And there is death in carrying the cross, it is a death to yourself, to the world, and to what once held you in bondage. There were times I felt utterly alone and the only consolation I had was clinging to His promise He would never leave me.

Being saved and in ministry did not save my marriage. I am not saying it was His will for my marriage to end. But we all have a free will, don’t we. His love is unconditional and unending. There may be natural consequences to our choices, but He is not angry with us, His children. It seemed the closer I got to Him the more hell was raining down on me. The attacks were very real and came from those I loved dearly.

I remember one evening, looking into the night sky and crying out to Him. “God! Are You even out there?!” I was broken and hurting. I was tired of loss. I had no one else to turn to, I had only Him, and I wanted Him to intervene and make things all better. I was asking the wrong questions. I was asking Him to change my circumstances, I should have been asking Him to change me. So, I yell out, “God! Are You even out there?!” and immediately He answered, “I am right here.”

Ah, yes, He is right here. And with Him is peace that passes all understanding. The kind of peace that says, I do not know why things are the way they are, and I do not know what the future holds, but I do trust You have it all under control, I trust You.

Salvation is the greatest gift and testimony we could have. The testimony is, while we were far away from God He sent His Son to reconcile us and draw us close. Throughout our walk with Him in the flesh that dies daily, He does do marvelous works in and through us. His Word promises, He will never leave us or forsake us. Though the world rejects you, though those who you love dearly and trusted may abandon you, He never will. And how can we know this unless we experience it?

There have been many times the demon of rejection will come knocking on my door and I have to resist it. Perfect love cast out all fear takes on a new meaning when you understand His love is perfect. When we truly know and believe how much He loves us then we will not have to fear the loss of anything or anyone in this temporal life here. We will find true freedom in His love to know who we are in Him and what our calling is.

Of course I have not arrived to complete healing. The wounds from the past are deep. He takes me step by step, glory to glory, and together He and I unearth the wounds and He says, “Do not be afraid, I am going to walk with you through this.”

Romans 8:28 has become my life verse. For I know all things will work together for my good, because I love Him and I have been called according to His purpose. The key word is HIS PURPOSE. Not my purpose, His purpose. Think about that. We partner with Him for His purpose. He chose us!

There is a season for everything. We have seasons of rest and then we have seasons where we have to do battle and resist. We must remember, the battle is not ours, but it is His. We have to trust He will fight for us, protect us, and when we have gone through the fire we will come forth as gold.

Do not be ashamed of where you have been, or where you came from. Your past does not dictate your future. Once you have received Him you are a new creation. Only He is able to heal and deliver. Only through Him do we find wholeness, nothing lacking.

How wonderful that God, creator of all things, who has no beginning and no end, chose us! He is the same today, yesterday, and forever. The God who parted the red sea will go before you and make your path straight.

You are loved by Him, highly favored by Him, and in Him there is no shame.

Be Free & Stay Free

Fishers of Men

In the books of Matthew and Mark, Jesus tells Simon and Andrew that if they follow Him, He will make them “fishers of men.” Why would becoming fishers of men be of interest to a couple of fishermen? They were fishers of fish! And just how does one go “fishing” for men anyway? What bait should be used? How big would the hook have to be? Herein lies the story of one such man, or should I say “fish,” and just how it was that Jesus was able to catch him.

As a fisherman myself, there are several things you need to know in order to have a successful fishing trip. Without knowing what you are fishing for, how can you possibly succeed? The following is a short list of things one needs to know in order to catch fish.

  1. Know where the fish are.
  2. Know what equipment you will need.
  3. Know what fish like to eat.
  4. Know when fish like to eat.
  5. Know how to “present” the bait…the lure.

I have discovered that fishing for men is no different than fishing for fish. You don’t even need a license! And you can fish for them year round! In season and out of season. You just can’t keep them or fillet them. It’s strictly catch and release.

fishers of menWhen God set out to “catch” me, He knew everything about me. My deep, dark secrets, all of the mistakes I had made. He knew what things interested me. He knew the things I craved and the things I thought about when the lights were out and I was all alone. Points 1, 3 and 4 in the list above were already taken care of. He still needed Point #2 though…the right equipment.

Enter a good-looking, well-constructed woman onto the scene. Right equipment? Check! Presentation? Check! God had everything in place to catch me and I was totally oblivious to what was going on. I couldn’t even see the hook! That’s because The Holy Spirit cannot be seen.

Unbeknownst to me, the new friend in my life was a Christian. And she was fishing, just like Jesus had taught her to do. And NOT the way the world teaches.

The day of my transformation was January 15, 2006. I was sitting in church with my wife, the result of a guilt trip my new friend had laid on me. Or should I say the Holy Spirit did. I heard a message that day from the pulpit that was exactly what I needed to hear and I became a believer in Jesus Christ right then and there.

Psalm 37:4 says:

“Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”

Psalm 37:4

That is SO true. One of the first things I felt convicted about when I came to believe was not being a godly father to my children. I had failed them AND God in my opinion. But God is a God of many chances. And what do you think He would have me do? How about a volunteer with a youth group. My children were grown and out of the house but suddenly I had dozens of kids to guide and mentor. It was perfect. It was SO God.

Many wonderful relationships came out of the time I spent with those kids. And God was true to His promise. He gave me the desires of my heart. Both of my kids now go to church each week with their spouses – a blessing indeed! Do they believe? I can’t tell that, only God can. But the chances sure a better sitting in a pew rather than a recliner at home!

There is great joy in becoming a fisher of men. You should try it some time. I did. Oh, how I love to watch God pursuing these young people! They are a tricky fish to catch but God is a pro angler. He can even catch fish using old rusted equipment like me – a grandfather” to the next generation.

fishers-of-menHave you ever noticed what letter a fish hook looks like. Coincidence? I think not!

“Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will go with you.” They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. Just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, “Children, do you have any fish?” They answered him, “No.” He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in, because of the quantity of fish. That disciple whom Jesus loved therefore said to Peter, “It is the Lord!”
– John 21:3-7

 

Victory Over Infertility
And The Word Became Flesh and Dwelt in our Household

VICTORY OVER INFERTILITY ISSUES

We were married in 1982. At 20 and 22 years of age, we weren’t real sure what direction we wanted our lives to go in, but one thing we knew for sure was that we wanted children.

Although we discussed the topic briefly, the question of whether we could have children or not never came up. There was no reason for it to come up. Having children was the natural progression of life for us….or so we thought.

In the beginning, there was no sense of urgency to get pregnant. We knew it would happen eventually. In the meantime, we enjoyed unwrapping this new gift of marriage that we both were complete novices at.

A year came and went fast. We were still enjoying our new marriage but in the back of our minds we were beginning to wonder why there hadn’t been any signs or symptoms of pregnancy.

At the start of year number 2, we decided to make getting pregnant a priority, although at the time I didn’t know (and still don’t know) what more we could have done on our own to make it happen.

6 more months went by. 2 ½ years into married life and a little sense of anxiety began to set in each month. And each month our disappointment grew more and more.

We both made appointments with our doctor to find out if there was something medically wrong that was prohibiting us from having children.

After months of testing, our doctor told us that more than likely we would never be able to have children.
After months of testing, our doctor told us that more than likely we would never be able to have children. To this day I don’t remember how or why he came to that conclusion. Maybe the explanation was given to us and we were in such a fog that we mentally checked out after his opening remarks. On a positive note, at least we knew indeed that there was some sort of medical reason for our failed attempts.

We both got the feeling that our doctor was tired of seeing us. It was almost as if he thought we would have given up on the issue of having kids over the months that he had been seeing us. It felt like we put him in the uncomfortable position of having to tell us that there was no hope, because we were too stupid to give up on our own.

We shook our doctor’s hand and thanked him for spending as much time on/with us as he had over the previous months. There wasn’t a lot said in the car on the way home after the appointment that afternoon.

My wife had been raised in the church. I on the other hand had been a Christian for less than a year. In most instances, spiritual immaturity when you’re heartbroken and disappointed over life taking you in a direction contrary to where you want to go can be devastating. For me, this “challenge” provided an adrenaline rush.

Looking back on it now, I can see that I had several things going in my favor.

  • I had an insatiable thirst for the Word of God.
  • I had not been “churched” yet. Meaning that I hadn’t been around enough Christians to tell me that simply believing what the Word of God says is no guarantee that prayer will be answered.
  • I had an amazing Pastor/mentor during this first major test of my faith.

When we got home from the doctor’s office we talked about what we were going to do. I knew what I wanted to do; I suppose I just needed to know what direction my wife wanted to go in.

Praise God we felt the same about the situation! While we believed in medical science, we knew that medical science isn’t always the last word. God placed the desire for children in our hearts. These feelings weren’t something we conjured up on our own. I knew in my heart that there was no way I was going to be denied the son that I had looked forward to having since before I was married.

First things first

During this time in my life I was working on a job with split shifts. My lunch break was 3 hours long. I spent my lunchtime alone at San Antonio Park in Long Beach, CA soaking up the Word of God each and every day. I was captivated by it. Not counting the time I spend at church in the Sunday services and in midweek bible studies, I was getting 15 hours per week of good solid bible teaching.

Before we went before the Lord, I knew we had to build a foundation upon which to build our prayer. If the foundation for prayer wasn’t laid clearly and correctly, the enemy could cause doubt to creep in later on.

We searched the scripture and found Deuteronomy 28:11 (And the Lord will cause you to abound in prosperity in the fruit of your body…) and Psalm 37:4 (Delight thyself in the Lord and He shall grant thee the desires of thy heart) and we used them as our foundational scriptures.

We took our prayer before the Lord and settled our faith using 1 John 5:14-15.

Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 15 And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.
1 John 5:14-15

We left our prayer closet joyfully, knowing in our hearts that it was done.

Faith that Stands the Test of Time

1 year came and went. With each day, we thanked God for answered prayer, acknowledging that our son was on the way.

The 2nd year came and went. Still no signs of pregnancy. We shared our hopes and dreams with those around us. This was a big mistake. Those around us couldn’t see the vision we had of overcoming the challenge of infertility; therefore they inadvertently became more of a hindrance to our faith than allies of ours.

2 years and 6 months came and went. Now I’m beginning to get ticked off. My faith in God and His Word was growing by leaps and bounds. I knew that we were going to have a son and I was ticked off at the enemy for interfering with what I knew the will of God was for our lives.

Strictly as an act of rebellion, I remember coming home from work and proposing an idea to my wife. We first sat down and assessed where our fatigue level was, spiritually speaking. After all, it had been 2 1/2 years with no sign of answered prayer. I knew I was stronger now than I was when we began, but it was important for me to find out where her faith level was because I was about to take things to a new level.

delight-verse3I posed a series of questions to her first (so that she wouldn’t think that I was off my rocker!) I asked her, ”We prayed for a baby correct?” She replied yes. “We prayed for a son, correct?” She replied yes…

Well then if we can pray for a baby and believe, based on scripture that we will have one and if we can pray for a son and expect to receive one, then why can’t we pray and ask God for certain physical and personality traits that we want him to have?

What I meant was that if we can pray for the particular sex of the child, why can’t we pray and ask God for a certain complexion, eye color, personality trait etc.?

This type of prayer may seem presumptuous to some but you have to remember that all the time I was spending reading through God’s Word didn’t magnify what we can’t do. My eyes were focused on God’s Word and all I could find in there was what we could do. My focus was on scriptures like “All things are possible to he that believes, (Mark 9:23) and He that is able to do exceedingly and abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us (Ephesians 3:20).

I could tell that my wife was kinda skeptical, but after a few days of milling over the limitlessness of God, she excitedly got on board and we went before the Father with a modification request to our original prayer.

My wife and I prayed for our son to have hazel eyes. We prayed for him to have brown curly hair. We prayed for him to have a light caramel complexion. We prayed for him to have a calm, even demeanor. We prayed that there will be no “terrible two’s” in either our lives or his. We shielded him from birth with the protection of God that would follow him all the days of his life.

Please understand that this new updated prayer had nothing to do with us thinking that we wanted a “pretty” child or a kid that was striking in appearance to others. This new prayer had to do with a rebellious spirit aimed at the forces seeking to stop our blessing from reaching us. This new prayer was us snubbing our noses at the enemy and telling him that the more difficult he tries to make it on us, the bigger the testimony we were going to have at the end of this journey.

My wife and I asked for features in our son that are very difficult for two people with our physical attributes to produce. But at the end of the day, it is the Lord our God who would get the glory for doing what is impossible for man to do.

The 3rd year came and went. The 4th year came and went. The 5th year came and went. Then after 5 years and 6 months, my wife announced to me that she was pregnant. After having lived in anticipation of this moment for so long, the announcement seemed a little anti-climactic. I had lived in a state of expectancy to such a degree that when the day finally came, it seemed as though I had been through it already.

The pregnancy only lasted 8 months. During my wife’s 8th month checkup the doctor discovered the umbilical cord wrapped around the baby’s neck. He said that if she tried to give birth to him naturally, there might be complications so she went in for a planned C-Section.

daddysgirl3Then on December 4th, 1989 the Word of God became flesh in our lives in the form of our son Jonathan Randle Winfield at just under 10 lbs.

The journey which was impossible according to man culminated 5 ½ years after it began and we now have a walking, talking, living testimony of what faith in the Word of God will produce.

And remember that prayer request update that we made at the 2 ½ year mark? Every single thing that we included in the updated prayer request was granted to us. Our handsome young man is now 26 years old with a 5 year old daughter of his own and his own son scheduled to arrive in August, 2015.

Is anything too hard for God?

I can say emphatically NO! The only limits that God has to contend with are those placed upon Him by us. The photo above is of the Word which became flesh in my life, Jonathan Winfield holding his daughter and my granddaughter, Kylie Winfield.

Thank you for allowing me to share this testimony with you. I pray that others will find inspiration and hope in the words they’ve read here.

overcoming homosexuality
The Hard Step to Take – Michael’s Story

I‘ve been a Christian my whole life, and I have many stories of God’s love and miracles. I’ve personally experienced his healing power, both spiritually and physically. One of these stories, when God healed my lungs of asthma, was what I was planning to share when I was asked to share a testimony. But it’s not what God wanted me to share this time.

God wanted me to share something much more personal than that – something that I have moved past, but that I still have trouble speaking about, even to my closest friends.

I’ve always had the dream of being a father. I’ve always wanted to know that kind of love – the love a parent has for his children. But at the same time, I was scared of that dream. What if I wasn’t a good dad? What if I messed it up and my son or daughter resented me? These were fears I shouldn’t have had for many years yet, but they troubled me during heartbreaks in high school. I began to realize that people there weren’t looking for permanence.

So I blocked off my heart from feeling anything for girls, telling myself I would wait until I understood my calling and had room for a partner.

The problem was – and this is the hard part for me to talk about – I was a teenage guy, and my desires were no different from any other guy my age. And since I had blocked off my heart from running to any woman… I turned to men. There were other factors and reasons – mostly vain excuses – but the fact is that I became gay because I was afraid of relationships with women.

The whole time, I knew it was wrong and that I was giving up my dream of parenthood, and that made my pain worse – so in my pain, I turned to my already twisted relationships to try to alleviate my pain.

During my Discipleship Training School at YWAM, my leaders helped me turn back to God and free myself from this, and I thought I could leave it all behind me and still keep it mostly in the dark. But God kept bringing gay people into my life. I wondered if He was testing me, and why. It was like reopening a scar.

Part of my calling is to minister to the homosexual community
What gave me the answer was when I heard people saying that there was one single thing they told God they wouldn’t do, and that is exactly what God told them to do. That’s what God told me to do. Part of my calling is to minister to the homosexual community – that’s why they keep coming to me. I have agreed with God’s calling for me every step of the way until this came up, and I started fighting because I was afraid.

I’m still afraid.

But now I’m choosing to trust God, because I know He’s right. The fact is, I understand the reasons people decide to be gay, and I can use that knowledge to help them get out of the hole that I fell into.

overcoming homosexualityIn the moment, it feels right. It feels like you’re following your heart. But because I’ve been there, I know the pain, the shame, the fear, and the loneliness. More to the point, I know what God used to get me out of that mess. My heart breaks for those people and I want to help them.

I guess there are three reasons God wanted me to write about this. The first is to encourage you, the readers. That one thing in your heart where you said “no” to God… That may be what God wants for you to do, but it’s alright. God has a reason that you likely won’t understand until afterward, and it really is the best option for you and the people around you.

The second is to say that there is hope. If you’re caught in sin, there is a way out and God will use your past to reach out to others in the same situation. When you minister, you should be able to say “I know what you’re going through. I’ve been there.”

The third reason is more personal. I’ve never fully opened up to anyone on this topic, and I needed to take a step. As long as my past controls me, I’m not free, even if this stays in the past. So by writing this and signing my name on it, I’m finally taking a step forward into God’s freedom.

Michael Krantz