As promised, today we begin a 30 day journey into the stories of women who have experienced – or are on their way to experiencing – breakthrough in their lives. These are resurrection stories, testimonies of Mothers and Grandmothers, Sisters, Friends, and Daughters who have been through incredibly difficult things, and are still standing to tell of it all. These are portraits of the promise Jesus made – and modeled – when He rose from the grave and told us through Paul (Romans 8:11 and Ephesians 1:19-20) that the same power that raised Him from the dead lives inside of you and I, and is always working to deliver us from that which seeks to destroy our lives.
Dear Women of Breakthrough, this is going to be a powerful 30 days! My prayer for you, for us, is that these stories would not only bless and inspire us, but that they would call forth from our spirits a connection and a response to the power and purpose of God in our lives. I pray that these stories would call us up and out of our graves, into the lives Jesus died to give us. May we, like Lazarus, and like the little girl in Mark 5, arise and come forth, into freedom and fullness! May we come into our own resurrection stories, and become willing to share them with the watching, waiting world. Jesus is still alive, and the resurrection He promised does not come just once a year at the celebration of Easter. It is an ongoing, everyday promise. So let’s enter in!
Today’s story is the one which inspired these 30 days of testimony. This amazing woman has agreed to share her story with us, and I trust that it will stir your heart to wonder at the goodness, patience and mysterious ways of God, just as it did mine. Be blessed as you read!
“My name is Talitha. And this is my resurrection story…
Jesus’ resurrection was a real event that took place in history. The crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus gave us a way to be with God in heaven and is the fulfillment of God’s upper story plan. He fixed the relationship that had been broken with Him. We now can know him and speak to him as a friend.
But resurrection also has meaning for us in our daily lives. It is something that helps us in the present. Twenty-five years ago, I experienced for the first time what the resurrection of Jesus can do for the human heart.
I was born in a Caribbean island to an Asian father and Latino mother. Since my
mother was a Catholic, Jesus was a familiar figure in my life. I went to church, had
communion and went to weekly classes on how to be a Catholic. But my family life
was difficult from the beginning- My father drank and my mother had emotional
problems. I also have a younger brother and sister. I had lost hope.
My life at home was sad, scary and at times like living in a war zone. I prayed at
night for God to help me- to give me a new family. I prayed for Jesus to come down
and save us from our unhappiness. We moved all the time around the world which
made my mother become more unstable. And my father was gone most of the time
on overseas trips. Over the years our home life became worse. I cried myself to sleep
more times than I didn’t. We didn’t feel safe or loved. And I became a mother to my
brother and sister.
I began to question what I learned on Sunday. The things I heard in church did not
match the things that were happening at home. God didn’t answer my prayers. By
the time I was a teenager, I had grown to hate my parents and hate God. I stopped
attending church. I was angry that God did not help us. Because I didn’t feel loved at
home, I allowed others at school to abuse me. I began to do things that hurt me like
drinking and using drugs. I went out of my way to be mean to Christians.
By the time I went to college, my heart had turned to stone. I considered myself an
atheist although I managed to still be mad at God. I blamed him for all the bad things
that had happened to sister, my brother and me. I chose to live a life that went
against everything I had learned in church. I wanted to make God angry too. Our
family fell apart- my parents separated, my brother was committed to a psychiatric
hospital, my sister was isolated, my mother moved to Europe and my father moved to Asia.
The pain of my life had become too much- I wanted to kill myself my freshman year
But God sent a friend to stop me, and I lived with her for a summer. The next year I
met my husband. We got married after college, and I thought things were good. I still
hated God, but I focused on my new life. But when I became pregnant, I began to
think about God again. I wasn’t sure how I would raise my child. My neighbor who
had the same last name got my mail by mistake. One day she came over to give me
mail and to tell me about Jesus. I became angry and told her I wanted nothing to do
with God or Jesus. She was calm and kind and still chose to be my friend. Eventually
she convinced me to visit her church on Easter because they had great music. Since I
was a musician, I decided I wanted to visit.
I cried that day in church and didn’t know why. It had been close to 10 years since I had been in a church. Something touched my heart but I hardened it so I wouldn’t feel anything. I decided to go to church regularly after my son was born just because it seemed like a good thing for him. But my heart was still stone, and I had no interest in knowing Jesus.
When my second son was born, I was still working full-time. I met a woman at the
daycare with a baby the same age as my son. We became friends, and I found out she
was a Christian. Her name was Sheila Grace. She was 40 years old and had adopted a
baby girl. I loved her a lot even though she was a Christian. One day when I came to
drop my son at daycare, I saw everyone crying. They told me that Sheila had died
over the weekend. They never found out what killed her.
I was very upset. Something about her dying and leaving this baby alone woke up
my anger and sadness. I blamed God for Sheila’s death but I also remembered the
pain of my unhappy childhood and feeling alone. I cried for a week and decided to go
to her memorial service. I was going there out of anger- to mock God and to mock
the Christians. I wanted to tell them all that God is not good and that it is all a lie.
But when I got there the church was completely full. Person after person got up to
speak about Sheila. She was such a loving person; she touched so many people’s
lives. I couldn’t take it anymore. I cried out to God in my heart in the middle of the
service, ‘Why are you so terrible? Why did you kill Sheila and take away that baby’s
mom? You aren’t even good to the people that follow you. I hate you.’
At that moment, a vision came into my mind. I saw God. He was sitting on a chair
with Jesus on his right hand, and Sheila on his left. He pointed to Jesus and said,
‘Jesus is my son. Everything that He has said is true. Believe in him.’ And then he
pointed to Sheila and said, ‘Sheila is with me and everything is going to be okay.’
Then the vision disappeared, and I felt a warmth surround me, like a blanket. I knew
it was the Holy Spirit. At that point my heart began to turn to flesh- it was no longer
stone, and I knew that Jesus was my savior. I knew that he died and rose again so
that I could have a life with God. He was now in me, and I became a new person. I
felt his love for me. I knew that God’s spirit lived in me.
I went home and couldn’t speak. For almost two weeks, I didn’t know what was
happening to me. I cried and cried and felt the hardness and all the hate and anger
beginning to disappear. I became a better mother and wife. I wanted to do things
that pleased God. I even began to read the Bible.
But the story does not end there. I definitely knew that my heart had been
spiritually dead and now was alive. And God wanted to bring the power that
resurrected Jesus to the other dead parts of my life. I thought that some
relationships were dead and hopeless- like the ones with my parents and brother
and sister. But the Holy Spirit began to soften my heart so that I wanted to love
them and have them in my life. I reached out to them and forgave them. I organized
dinners and holidays. It was a long road but with lots of prayer and friends who
helped me, and for the last 20 years I have a loving relationship with my parents,
brother and sister. There has been much forgiveness and healing. We are a family
again. And I forgave the people that had abused me as a teenager. I no longer had
hate for them in my heart all the time.
And more recently, I discovered that God also wants to resurrect the parts of me
that were abused and the parts of me that did terrible things. I had cut those parts
off because I thought they could not be saved. So I pretended they didn’t exist- they
were dead. But three years ago, I started to allow God to bring those sad and terrible
years back. And now he is resurrecting those dead parts of me. And he is changing
the pain into something that will be new life for others. He is resurrecting all of me,
so that I can be the person he created and do the things that he has for me to do. I
have hope again.
So the power that raised Jesus from the dead is something that I need every day of
my life. Not only do I have eternal life after I die, but I have full life now. God sent
Jesus to die and then raised him from the dead so that he could take broken people
and make them new.”