As I look back at the path of my faith journey, I can clearly see the imprint of my first footsteps in a little town on Narragansett Bay.
When I was six, I memorized my first Bible verse—John 3:16. I’d been attending Vacation Bible School with a friend at a little Primitive Methodist church in North Providence, Rhode Island. One day the teacher promised a prize for everyone who could say the verse the following day. I went home, learned the unfamiliar words, and recited them perfectly the next morning.
I don’t remember the prize, but years later, when I came to faith in Christ, I discovered that I already knew one of the most life-changing truths of Scripture:
"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
When I was eight, I was old enough to walk to church with my Portuguese godmother, Madrinha. Madrinha had a Texas-size heart in a Rhode Island-size body. The ultimate hostess, she always had cookies and soda in a jelly glass for me whenever I’d visit. But not on Sunday mornings.
“If you want to take communion,” she’d say, reminding me of the Catholic guidelines, “you can’t eat or drink for an hour before.”
I loved my Madrinha, and the chance to go anywhere with her was a treat, even without cookies.
Although I didn’t come to faith until years later, attending church with Madrinha was a valuable part of my spiritual upbringing. Later, when many of my teenage friends questioned God’s existence, I never doubted. Madrinha’s example of reverence and respect for the things of God taught me never to treat matters of faith lightly.
|My mom and Catherine (L-R) Aren't they cute?|
As a confused and struggling young woman, she sought answers in the Bible. The more she read, the more she realized how her sin separated her from God. Scripture taught her that God loved her with an everlasting love—so much that he sent his Son, Jesus, to die on a cross and pay the punishment for her sin.
She learned that instead of trusting in her good works to earn a place in heaven, she needed to trust in what Christ had already done for her. One day, all alone in her home, she surrendered her life to God.
Excited to share her newfound faith, Catherine opened her home to others who were interested in studying the Bible. From those studies sprang a vibrant, evangelical ministry that continues to this day. As I sang and worshiped alongside her, I marveled at how God uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things.
Everywhere I looked in Rhode Island I saw glimpses of God. I saw his creative genius in the pink blush of the ocean at sunrise. I saw his timeliness and order in the ebb and flow of the tides. I saw his bountiful provision in the family members who extended gracious hospitality. I saw his boundless love as I experienced his gifts of laughter, love, and relationships.
James 1:17 tells us, “Every good and every perfect gift comes from above, coming down from the father of lights.”
My trip to Rhode Island reminded me that God is always at work, wherever we are. From the Sandhills of South Carolina to the seashores of Rhode Island, he eagerly reveals himself to those who seek him. From the tiniest grandchild bowing her head in thanks over breakfast to the family matriarch seeking wisdom for her future, God’s ears are attentive to our prayers. And to every soul who struggles under life’s load, he calls,
"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Mat. 11:28-30).
What about you? As you look back at the faith steps you took on the road to a relationship with Jesus, which milestones stand out? Who did God use to guide and influence you? What experience are you most thankful for? I’d love to hear your stories. Leave a comment below and bless us all.
And if you're not sure you have a relationship with God, click here to learn more.
Finally, if you'd like to hear more of my story, click here for a video testimonial.
If you missed the other posts in this series, here are the links:
"There's Something Magical about Going Home"
"Going Home, Part II, Family"
"Going Home, Part III, Food"