Photo by Nicole Tarpoff
My God story happened my freshman year of college when I woke up in a fraternity house. Unclothed and unaware of thestranger sleeping next to me, I was flooded with confusion and guilt. I abruptly got up, went to my dorm, balled my eyes out, and thought: “I feel disgusting. What am I doing?” I then thought, “I feel like God probably has a purpose for my life, but I don’t think this is it. Why am I here? This is not what I was made for.”
In that moment, something in me switched. Little did I know, that little thought was really Jesus knocking at the door of my heart, saying, “Let me in. Come. Come know me. Come taste and see.” So I came. In the beginning of this journey, I started to attend our campus ministry to get my life together. I didn’t want to feel so horrible about myself anymore. What I didn’t expect was for God to transform me from the inside out. But that’s what He did.
When Christmas break came around, my Bible study leader dragged me to a conference in North Carolina where I heard Marian Jordan Ellis, founder of Redeemed Girl Ministries, speak for the first time. She was gorgeous, full of life, and she spoke with authority (and a little sass). I loved it. After her sermon, she kicked all the guys out of the room for “women’s time” where she shared her full story with us. She let it rip. She was so real and raw with us, and as she was talking, I felt as if she were speaking right at me. She was pointing out all the shame that we had felt, all the hurt, and all the heartbreak. After being rocked by the fact that our struggles were so similar, she began to talk about her love: Jesus. As she talked about Him, she got choked up and teary-eyed simply telling us how beautiful He is and how He had changed her heart forever. Hearing her speak about Him as if He were so close, I realized that this woman really knows Jesus. This woman really loves Jesus.
I thought to myself, “Okay, I don’t feel as guilty and dirty as I did before, but I feel like there’s more to this Jesus thing than I thought there was. God, I want to know you like that. I want a heart that loves you like that. A heart that loves you more than anything else in the world.”
WOW. Never underestimate the power of prayer. I soon realized that God will never say “no” to a prayer that asks to know Him more. This revelation caused transformation in my life. As I sought Him, He showed up. He opened my eyes to see, and He started blowing my mind. So I prayed for more. “God, I can’t really understand the Bible without you. Please give me understanding.” Prayer answered. More and more, God broke off my chains of guilt and shame, awakened me to His love, gave me understanding of His word, put a fire in my heart, immersed me in amazing communities, gave me true joy, showed me that He SPEAKS to us (WHAT?!), let me see Him miraculously heal my friend’s broken foot right before my eyes (WHAT?!), and brought LIFE to my dry soul. A once depressed, shameful freshmen girl became a new creation—a set free, redeemed, and cherished daughter of God. My life went from complete darkness to light in one year of college.
But He didn’t stop there. As I was reminiscing on that powerful memory of hearing Marian Jordan Ellis, I stopped by her website to see more about her ministry. I noticed that she hosts events all around the nation that gathers college women to hear her story, and it said to contact the “redeemed girl” email. I sent an email, never expecting a reply. Shocked, I read her response: she would be able to come in January 2016.
Following this email, God did all the work. He provided funds to host the event, the venue, and a team of 25 college women from all over campus to lead, plan, and pray for this event. Believe me, I am not administrative. God did all of this. After a semester of prayer, growing in confidence and leadership, and getting the word out, Redeemed Girl Ministries arrived in Lexington, Kentucky all the way from San Antonio. At 7 p.m., we opened the doors of our classroom building to almost 400 college women who showed up for this “Girl’s Night Out” with Marian Jordan Ellis. Boy, they didn’t know what they were stepping in to. After her fun and energetic introduction to these sorority women, Marian, once again, let it rip. Her testimony brought this room to tears, and the Spirit of God encountered these girls. Light hit darkness. Desert souls tasted living water. Jesus walked into these girls’ lives, and hearts were opened. People realized—many for the first time—that they are worth dying for. Over 100 University of Kentucky girls accepted Christ for the first time that night.
God has been bringing waves of revival to Lexington this year, and this was one of them. And it all started with one lost girl whom God gave eyes to see. Thank you Jesus. You’re not finished with us yet, and this God story is not even close to finished. “For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour my Spirit upon your offspring, and my blessing upon your descendants. They shall spring up among the grass like willows by flowing streams.This one will say ‘I am the LORD’s…’ and another will write on his hand ‘The LORD’s…” (Isaiah 44:3-5).
A Million God Stories is a Christ-centered ministry which offers a platform for Christians from all streams of Christian faith to give praise for how God has worked in their lives. Christ heals in infinitely creative ways and we acknowledge that His way of helping may differ from person to person.