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Penny Oesterling


I grew up Lutheran, attending Sunday School on my own. I believed God existed and periodically prayed to Him. When I was young, my father was a truck driver who was gone during the week and home on the weekends. Later he drove for a different company so that he was home evenings and weekends. My mother had serious emotional problems while I was growing up and much later was admitted to the psych ward of the hospital. By the grace of God and to the complete surprise of the psychiatrist, my mother was eventually returned to her right mind and was released.

As a teen, I sang in the church choir and taught the children’s Sunday School classes. After marrying and moving to another state, my husband and I attended another Lutheran church since both of us had been raised Lutheran. This church wasn’t as traditional as the one I’d grown up in and was more of a social gathering. We made many good friends and enjoyed our time together; however, the Bible was of secondary importance. In my early 20s, we had attended a Billy Graham crusade where I went forward during the invitation but hadn’t truly trusted Christ as my Lord and Savior.

After attending the Billy Graham crusade, I realized something was missing in my life. Even though I’d married my childhood sweetheart, there was a void in my life that I couldn’t seem to fill. After our first son was born, I asked God to bring some true Christians into my life so that I could understand what was missing. God moved us next door to a family of six, and the husband and wife were very committed Christians. The wife, Jackie, invited me to her neighborhood Bible Study. We became good friends and Jackie answered all my questions. When she didn’t know the answers, she had me come over when Bob, her husband, was home so that he could answer my questions. They spent three months, day after day, teaching me God’s Word and telling me about Jesus. Finally, I trusted Christ as my Lord and Savior.

Alan and I were still attending the same Lutheran church, and I believed I was to stay there to share Christ with my friends. After a while, a new pastor, Pastor Willmann, came to visit me and told me that he knew I had trusted Christ as my Savior and wanted to share that good news with others. However, he told me that he and I were the only believers in our church and that he had been assigned there to gradually help the church grow from a social gathering to one that dealt with spiritual truths. He said that it would be a very slow process, so for my own spiritual health, I needed to go to a different church where God’s Word was preached and taught. Bob and Jackie recommended a Baptist Church nearby. Alan was not yet a believer, but he was willing for us to attend this new church. After sitting under solid preaching, I knew I needed to be baptized as a believer. This church didn’t have a baptistry, so I was baptized at a neighboring church, where I made my faith public.

As an aside, when I shared my faith with my mother, she told me that everyone who was born in the United States was a Christian! Later when my dad was alone with me, he told me that he had trusted Christ as a young teen. Apparently, he hadn’t shared the good news with me for fear of what my mentally unstable mother would do. After I was saved, I was given a copy of a letter that my paternal grandmother had written to her husband, children, and grandchildren, sharing the gospel and asking them to trust Christ and one day join her in heaven. She said she had been praying diligently for us all. I had never met her as we were estranged from my dad’s family and she died before my birth.

Alan and I started attending CF Northwest (then called The Church at Blue Ridge) in 2019 after the church we had joined had a church split. We became members soon afterward. We are part of the Capps MC, and I have helped with some devotional writing and am serving with the Prayer Leaders Team.

Penny Oesterling
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