Joanna’s Testimony

THE LORD’S KEEPING AND LEADING
Receiving Christ and Consecrating to the Lord

I was born to Christian parents who meet with the church in Chicago. My parents always told me that their highest hope for all their children was for them to attend the Full-Time Training in Anaheim (FTTA, a two-year Bible school), which I attended from February 2014 to December 2015.

I grew up going with my parents to the church meetings and attending children’s meetings every Sunday. And so at a very young age, I had heard about the Lord and how to be saved. One day, when I was ten, I decided that it was time for me to be saved. I prayed to ask the Lord to forgive my sins and come into me as my Savior. He filled me with His joy, and I consecrated my life to Him. Since then, I’ve always loved Him. But I had not yet consecrated myself to the church life.

Drifting from the Church

When I was a teenager, I slowly drifted away from the church life. I wanted to see what the Christian denominations were like, and I tried out several of them on Sundays. I also had a boyfriend who was a Christian in name but not in practice. He was another factor that drew me away from the church life. I had many questions about God (which is a good thing!), but I was confrontational with my questions. For example, one of my questions was, “We don’t become God in life and nature. That’s not in the Bible. Why are you teaching something that’s not in the Bible?” I later discovered that this truth is, in fact, presented throughout the Bible.
In college, although I did not like to go to the larger meetings, I still met with some dear sisters one-on-one, which kept me going. My parents always wanted me to go to the church meetings with them. They would ask that I go with them for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, their birthdays, etc., as a present to them. Also, we had a tradition of going out to lunch as a family on Sunday afternoons, and they’d ask how I could join them if they were at the meeting hall and I was at home. So sometimes I would go with them on Sundays.

Softened Again and Enjoying Christ and the Church

Eventually, living on my own for college became too expensive, so I moved back in with my parents. Around that time, I also broke up with my boyfriend. As I spent more time with my parents, it became harder to run away from the brothers and sisters, especially when there were meetings at our house. I gradually softened toward the saints, and many of my theological questions were answered as I attended more of the meetings.

After two years of God’s softening work, I was back in the church life, enjoying the Lord with all the saints, and I completed my bachelor’s degree in bioengineering. After searching for a job for about five months, I took a night job in a laboratory, which lasted one and a half years. It was a difficult, fast-paced environment that put me under a lot of pressure. This caused me to grow very quickly spiritually, even though I couldn’t attend most of the meetings. I had a commute of about an hour each way, and I began to listen to ministry messages in the car. I listened to The Normal Christian Life on audiobook, and I’d immediately put into practice the things that it suggested doing, such as praying for the people around me, calling on the Lord, and having a set prayer time. Soon, I was preaching the gospel to my coworkers.

Being Trained in the Lord

Around this time, my parents began urging me to attend the FTTA on a short-term basis to see what it was like and whether it would be a good fit for me. I was resistant at first because I had some concepts of what an FTTA trainee was like, i.e., someone who prays and/or reads the Bible all day. Eventually, I agreed to go because I wanted to prove to God, myself, and my parents that the FTTA wasn’t for me.

I short-termed for a week in November 2013. While I was there, I stayed open to the Lord regarding whether He did want me to enroll full-time. By the end of the week, I knew that this was where the Lord needed me to be (and that my concepts about the FTTA were wrong)! I consecrated myself to enroll for the next term. In February 2014, I gave my two-week notice to quit my job, and came out to the FTTA. In the beginning, I was planning on only staying for one term. I thought two years would derail my life plans too much. But again, I remained open to the Lord and prayed frequently about how long to stay. About halfway through my first term, the Lord released me from my career ambitions and I committed to stay for the entire two years.

In the FTTA, I learned how to preach the gospel, study the truth, have consistent morning revival, and shepherd new ones. However, being a Christian involves a lifelong learning in the Lord, so I still have a lot to learn. I graduated from the FTTA in December 2015, and I am now looking for a job as a research lab assistant in my hometown of Chicago. I hope to be as active as possible in the church here and contribute to the building up of the church, the Body of Christ.

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