My name is Tonia. I serve as the Benevolence Counselor at the Christian Mission Centers. I would like to share a bit of my journey with you. I was raised in a home where I had no doubt that I was loved. My parents were great! They taught me the value of hard work and what it looks like to sacrifice. I always knew that there was a higher authority, a creator, named God. I went to church and knew that God was the one I was to call on when I was in need. My mindset, however, was that if I worked hard at being good . . .perfect. . .that God would accept me to live in Heaven one day and not send me to Hell. This led me to beating myself up for my failure to achieve the perfection that I perceived was required to be acceptable to God. One night of desperate loneliness, I experienced something that is very difficult for me to express. An unexplainable, gentle peace saturated my entire world. God whispered to me in the darkness of that lonely night and over the darkness of my soul. He simply said that He wanted to be my friend. Through tears, I surrendered to His control. I didn’t know what that meant. All I knew was that I wanted more of the peace that I was experiencing at that moment. Having no idea how to be a friend to someone that I couldn’t physically see, I just carried on with my daily life. However, things were different. Life wasn’t different. None of my circumstances were different. I was different. I progressively saw my circumstances through God’s eyes rather than through my own. I acquired a growing desire to read the Bible and soak in His Word. I wanted to learn more and be around others that knew Him. I can’t say that from that time forward life has been “rosey” or even pleasant at times. I can’t say that I have evolved into that perfect person that I perceived necessary. I can’t say that “mistake” hasn’t been my middle name. But I can say that He is my dearest and very best friend. My parents’ love for me was great. The life lessons they taught me were invaluable. And the sacrifices they made were amazing. But the love that I feel, the lessons that I have learned and the sacrifice that Jesus made for me absolutely blow me away! I am not at all worthy. I certainly do not deserve anything greater than Hell. Yet, because I agreed to let Him be my friend, I can see life through God’s eyes and am assured eternity with My Daddy in Heaven.

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