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Jessica Smith


My childhood was a difficult one, marked by poverty, neglect, and abuse. We didn't really talk about God in my house, and we didn't really go to church. Our only relationship with the church was transactional. We went when we didn't have food, hoping the church would help. The churches we went to were Pentecostal and my sister and I were often terrified by the screaming called "speaking in tongues" and the convulsing on the floor we witnessed there. I developed this idea that God existed but after creating everything, He just stepped back to watch. I didn't understand how God could truly care about me when He gave me a family that didn't love me. I thought if God cared about me, he would intervene in my circumstances. My teenage years were spent in dark depression, searching for anywhere to stay that wasn't home and anything to make me feel better. I struggled to develop relationships with other people and generally felt alone and hopeless. My aunt and uncle were intentional about reaching out to me during this time and inviting me to church. I would go on and off and the Lord began to work in my heart to save me.

I was saved at 19 after my aunt and uncle began to share the gospel with me and invite me to church. As the Lord worked on my heart, there was a definite moment where the weight of my sin and the mercy and grace of the Lord hit me like a freight train. I immediately felt broken over my sin and simultaneously felt real love for the first time in my life. That very day I began reading the Bible cover to cover, longing to truly know my Savior. It was nearly a year later, in 2008, that I was baptized. Reading God's word, I couldn't reconcile what I read with what I saw in the Pentecostal church. My sister invited me to Newspring Church, and I briefly got involved there before also seeing a lot of incongruity. I became a bit jaded and stopped attending church altogether. A friend called that unacceptable and invited me to Forestville Baptist Church. I became a member and attended regularly, despite the issues I saw there as well. I still loved God and his word but became sure that even the church is corrupt and church people untrustworthy. This was only further cemented in my mind after the church split.

CFNW (TCBR at the time) was my last attempt at finding a church to attend. I knew that I needed to point the children in my care to Christ, and that I needed to take them to church. I don't even remember who invited me, but I do remember being greeted and that the next time I visited the greeter remembered my name. I also remember enjoying Pastor Ted's exposition. I decided to join when I continued to want to go back instead of feeling obligated to go. I also realized I would be adopting my son and knew I needed to find a church home. I believe if it weren't for my son, who is such a blessing from God, I would continue to pull away from the church. I still struggle to form relationships with people, and to trust people, but my son loves our church family and loves going to church. After joining, I began serving in the nursery and attending the Bartas’ MC. I'm thankful to have a church family that is focused on the gospel and discipleship. I'm also thankful to have a church that I don't want to run away from or hide from.

Jessica Smith
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