I’ve attended several different churches over the years and at some point in each service, there’s an altar call. This practice always seemed like emotional manipulation to me, producing false professions and giving false hope to those that are truly lost because they feel that the simple act of going to the altar gets them spiritually right with God. I struggled with this myself.
When I was about the age of nine, there were girls in the neighborhood that would beg me to go Awana with them on Wednesday night. The bus came and picked up all the project kids and took us to the church. It was there that my spiritual battle became and all out war with God as my enemy.
I was cornered by a heavy set woman. She pulled me aside and sat me down on this wooden pew like bench, asking me if I had been saved. I had no idea what she was talking about so I asked, ‘Saved from what?’She then asked if I believed in Jesus and if He was living my heart, explaining that in order for me to be forgiven of my sins and have eternal life though the love of God, I must have Jesus in my heart.
I sat there thinking about what she said. I knew who both God and Jesus were. My mother showed me pictures and revealed a little about them a few days after my brother and I told her about being lured in that boxcar and raped.
I’d been praying every day since then, plagued by guilt and weighed down by the shame of having been raped. I felt that God blamed me, that being the reason why He wasn’t protecting me. He didn’t approve of my improper behavior and my immoral acts. He saw me as the worst of the worst kind of sinners.
I knew very little about God and absolutely nothing about what it meant to be saved, or what it meant to have Jesus in my heart but whatever it was that I was doing wrong, I wanted God to change in me. If the abuse that I was suffering through was punishment for something I had done or was doing wrong, I didn’t want to misbehave like that again so I asked the woman what I needed to do to get Jesus in my heart.
She told me that I needed to close my eyes and asked Him to come into my heart and to live there forever so that is what I did, right there on the spot.
For years after that I walked around feeling spiritually dead and deceived because nothing changed in my life. I prayed every day but the sexual abuse continued. I felt betrayed; I became skeptical, even hostile towards the gospel because my prayers were never answered.
I started to question God in place of prayer, asking Him why I was put on this earth, what was my purpose? Did he give me life to be tormented? What were the reasons? I questioned Him a lot. I wanted to know what I had done to deserve the life that I felt forced to live. I blamed him. I didn’t need a reason to hate God because by the age of ten, I felt I’d had plenty of them.
Over time, I was awakened to my personal deception of not truly having come to Christ, that night. Yes, I asked Jesus to come into my heart but I really had no idea what that meant. I walked out of there expecting a super hero to save me, expecting God to swoop down, choke the life out of my abusers or at least break their necks to save me and when He didn’t show up I blamed Him. It was another promise broken to me, adding another brick to my fortress of walls and I hated Him with all of my being.
Since then, I’ve come to Christ, in faith, trusting in Him as my Lord and Savior with an understanding of what it means to have a relationship with Him but my fortress of walls remains, left standing to protect my heart.
I’ve thought about that woman a few times over the years. I never blamed her for anything. I see now that she gave me something more to believe in because as crazy as this sounds, no matter how angry I was at God, no matter how much I hated Him, I always believed in Him and a small part of that is simply because she reached out when no one else did.
She Reached Out When No One Else Did
From the personal journal of Kerri Bishop Reece
Healing Kerri – written January 12, 2004