I accepted Christ into my life at the age of 10.  It was a Friday night “get together”  with the college students from my church.  My mother was helping with the fellowship that night, so I was invited to sit in. After a time of fellowship, there was an altar call. Along with several others, I answered the call to the altar and asked Christ into my life that night.

From age 10 until about 17, I was very active in my church and one of the teen leaders in our youth ministry. The church that I had attended for so many years was not in my community, so my church friends were not my school friends.  With that said, the pressures to fit in at school were heavy.  Along with being the goody-2-shoes church girl, I also carried the baggage of a failed marriage between my parents.  Feeling abandoned, unwanted and unloved I began the search (at any cost) to fit in somewhere!

Right before my 18th birthday I KNOWINGLY moved away from the Lord.  I remember saying at that time that I no longer needed Him. He was doing nothing for me but leaving me alone, friendless and pitiful.  I did all the things a lonely teenager may do in order to fit in with her peers.  Twelve years later I found myself MISERABLE! Along the way I had gained a husband and 2 children that I was slowly drowning in my self-made misery.  For 12 years I had searched in the bottom of a bottle for hope, love, and acceptance or at least to forget about it for a while.  I was truly at the end of my rope!

My husband had tried and tried to get me to see the error of my ways and the last straw came…”I am leaving….and I’m taking the kids”. Even now that thought brings me to tears! My husband had done all he could and now it was time to save the rest of the family he had left and that did not include me!  Completely devastated, I scrambled…I spent that day searching and calling every number in the phonebook under therapists.  I was going to find someone to help me that night and no was not an option! Thankfully I found someone that must have heard the devastation in my voice and got me in that night!  I was so scared when I went to that appointment, but there was a part of me that had hope.  During my appointment the counselor  had helped me find a support group to get me started and it happened to meet that very night at a place called North Arundel Church!

With no other options I went that Wednesday night to North Arundel Church @ 7:30pm.  I walked in and was directed down a dark hall to a locked room in the back of the church…they were late! Now was the time to run…change my mind…I don’t need no stinking help!  Something told me to stay and wait! So, right outside that room was a nice cushioned chair from the worship center (to this day I have never seen another in the hallway again)….upon that chair was the weekly bulletin.  I could hear down the hall the worship team practicing for the upcoming Sunday.  The music sounded nice, I liked it. So I picked up that bulletin and sat in that chair and waited.  When I sat down I turned the bulletin over and began to read the scriptures on the back about becoming a christian.  As I type now my eyes are flooding with tears as I remember the overwhelming presence of the Lord at the very moment….everything finally made sense! He was calling me back. I had pushed Him out, but that night He led me into the doors of NAC and asked me to come back to Him!

The funny thing is that the meeting I had been waiting for was the wrong meeting.  It didn’t matter, I left that building overjoyed. I had turned my will over to the Lord in that hallway and He took away my burdens! So I decided to go to NAC that next Sunday and I never left! I told pastor James about how I got there that Sunday…recounting the mistake I made by coming there for the wrong meeting…he said…”God doesn’t make mistakes!”  So God has had me at NAC for almost 3 years now and I know that I know that I know that God wants me here. So when James came back from his retreat in Ocean City and said, “God wants us to start a capital campaign”, without hesitation I said…”Where do you want me?”  From here to where God will lead us!

-Toni Salvatore

 

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