My mom passed away from cancer when I was just three years old. Upon her death, my dad was left to care for eleven children. This was a daunting task for a poor farmer struggling to make a living in the late 1950’s. I was sent to live with my aunt Rose who graciously provided all my earthly needs, yet I remember feeling very lonely and abandoned. It was nearly two years before I saw my family again. So, when my dad came to take me home in the summer before I was to start school, I was elated at the reunion. But I soon learned it was not an easy or happy family life that I was re-united with.
In 1964 my dad sold our farm and moved our family to Seattle where he married my stepmom. She had lost her husband in a car accident, leaving her to support ten children. The move to Seattle was the first step in getting our family out of a life of poverty.
It was at the age of fourteen that I heard the gospel of Jesus Christ for the first time. If my parents had known what was being said behind the closed door of our bedroom, they would have forbidden my stepsister from visiting. So it was in these secret meetings and reading bible tracts that I learned God’s plan of salvation.
My world was turned upside down when my parents separated in my sophomore year of high school. I looked for security in relationships with girlfriends and boyfriends.
Upon graduation from high school God’s grace once more reached out to me through another sister and through her prayers. After much dragging of my feet the Lord won me over and I decided to attend Bible College. When I told my best friend (who coincidentally had come to Jesus by reading a bible tract that she found on the school bus), she decided to go to Bible College also.
Shortly after entering Bible College I was baptized and entered into a personal relationship with Jesus. I was studying the Word of God and through church sermons was learning to apply the Word to my life. I met and married my first husband and had two wonderful children. I was the happiest I had ever been in my life.
After graduation from Bible College, my life was so wrapped up in being a wife and mother I wasn’t reading the bible as much. I still loved the Lord, had an active prayer life and was involvement in ministries, but I wasn’t growing in the deeper things of God.
In less than three years time, all the things I placed my trust in (church, pastor, elders, husband, friendships) began to be removed from my life. Our church went through a devastating split but not before my marriage fell apart. After several pregnancies and abortions, I left the church and every friend I had behind. I wanted nothing to do with churches, or pastors and elders that lead the sheep away from God’s Holy Word. Sadly, I did not take my pain to the Lord. So, for nearly twenty years I did not go to church; I did not read the bible, I did not seek Christian fellowship; and I swore against ever marrying a Christian man.
I also had no idea how to deal with my sins that led to divorce and abortions and the consequences of those sins. I tried to hide from facing my sins by building a successful career. But my Heavenly Father was still watching over me with unconditional love and tender mercies. It was through the unlikeliest of events that God would draw me back to Him.
“I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5
God’s grace had been upon my daughter’s life through all that I had gone through. By the time she was in high school, she became involved with Young Life and was introduced by a friend to Calvary Chapel South. I attended service with her a few times and then off and on by myself over the next several years when she went off to attend College. One year for Christmas she bought me a new bible and as I began reading it, God gave me such a deep love for His Word.
One morning as I was sitting in my kitchen reading the bible, I heard this voice say, “Yvonne, if you were in the same situation today
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” Proverbs 1:7a
“But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.” Romans 5:20b
Calvary Chapel offers small bible group studies called eGroups. It was in one of these studies that I was introduced to Healing Hearts. I began receiving the Lord’s healing as He started uncovering the spiritual scabs that formed from the sins of my past and He began to apply the balm of Gilead, His holy Word. A few weeks into Binding Up the Brokenhearted, a bible-based study for post-abortive women, God completely changed my view of abortion (I had been hard-core pro-choice). God’s transformation of my heart also opened my eyes so that I might experience the work of Calvary and God’s forgiveness on the grandest scale. To taste of his unconditional love for me; for covering my entire life with the blood of Jesus; for I now believe my body is not my own, but has been purchased by Christ. I am now His servant, body and soul.
Even as I was going through the Healing Hearts studies, God had put within me a deep desire to see other women healed who have been broken by sin and hurts from their past. For this reason, I became one of several Healing Hearts leaders at Calvary Chapel South. I’ve never known such joy as I do now, walking hand in hand with Jesus, leading others to touch the Hem of His Garment and receive His healing.
That I might walk worthy of our Lord,