When I first moved to Charlotte in July 2011, I knew I had heard from God. Everything fell into place confirming that my one-way trip from Dallas, TX to Charlotte, NC was divinely orchestrated by Him. The only thing I did not know was “why”? I had been walking faithfully with Him for 15 years. I thought I had gone to the depths with the Lord, but I had no clue about the new work He was beginning in me.
I grew up in church, and for the most part, I was a good kid – straight A student, no real trouble, popular, kind and so forth. But as I approached my teenage and college years, I began straying from God to explore my own desires. I was secretly angry with my mother who I felt had always chosen men over her own children. I was mad at my step-father for being mean and unloving toward us. I was jealous of my friends, who seemed to have the perfect family lives. Mostly, I was mad at me because somehow, no matter how well I performed, I always felt “not good enough.” This inadequacy manifested in drinking, partying, and promiscuity which ultimately led me to flunking out of college. When I was 23, I rededicated my life back to Christ and put my past behind me…well, at least I thought I did.
Once I got to Charlotte, I was isolated from everything and everyone I knew. I found Elevation Church, and immediately got involved on the production team. I met two amazing brothers in Christ named Jonathan and Alex. For months, these were the only people I knew. I slowly fell into a dark depression as God’s voice grew distant and for months silent. I couldn’t understand why He would tell me to do something, provide a way for me to do it, only to leave me in the cold once I obeyed. For months, I was on an emotional roller coaster. I couldn’t see how or if God would ever be God again in my life. I began to doubt His love, power, and concern.
It was the day before my birthday, June 2012 when my friend Jonathan introduced me to his Aunt Peta~Gaye, her daughter Victoria, and her best friend Susan. Honestly, I thought they were too good to be true. I had never encountered anybody so happy and so in love with Jesus, and I had been around Christians all my life. They exuded what it truly meant to walk in love with everyone. Over the next few months, I started spending more time with them through casual invites. It became more apparent to me that they were the real deal! They lived and breathed Jesus!
I was so intimidated by them that I was scared to let down my guard because of my insecurities and past failures. I thought, “Why would they want to spend time with me. If they only knew how I really was, they wouldn’t want to be around me.” But every time I was in their presence, I felt only love. Something was different about them – they had so much power, yet they were so gentle and loving.
In October 2012, Peta-Gaye took over the Elevation Uptown Prayer Team. She asked me to be on it, and I said “yes”. God began to show me that I needed them in my life, more than I thought I did for reasons I would soon understand. I’ll never forget our first prayer meeting. I left speechless. The Presence of God fell in a supernatural way that I had never experienced with other believers. It was through these prayer meetings, God started undoing all the lies and inadequacies I was hanging on to and started planting His seeds of truth, acceptance, goodness, and love. Secretly, God was meticulously healing my soul the more time I spent with this body of believers.
Over an eight month period, I grew in courage and strength, and I finally surrendered everything to God. Peta-Gaye and Susan continuously poured words of wisdom and love into me. I had never experienced such acceptance, forgiveness, and love. They let me spend Thanksgiving with them, and on Sunday’s I would hang out after church. My most dramatic life change happened Christmas night, when Susan and Victoria performed a beautiful interpretive dance to “Now Behold the Lamb” by Kirk Franklin. I couldn’t contain the overwhelming joy I felt as I watched them dance. Now I had heard that song a thousand times, but for some reason all I could do was cry like a baby. In that moment, God’s love consumed me, and I finally felt released to open up about my past. All I could hear were angels singing, “Why you love me so, I shall never know…The precious lamb of God.” God had never left me. He was always there. His silence was drawing me closer to Him so that He could show me how much He loved me despite anything I’ve ever done or could do.
At the next prayer meeting, I confided in Susan that I had an abortion in high school, and she prayed for me. I had so much forgiveness of myself, which explained my rage and insecurity with others. I was so tired of keeping it all together, and the Holy Spirit prompted me to give everything to Him. The SURGE stood with me as I shared my testimony at a Wednesday prayer meeting. I was terrified of others judging me, but the Spirit ministered to all of us that night. I felt a new brand new freedom! The SURGE’s love and acceptance helped me to hold my head up high no matter what people thought of me. Through them, God was showing me how much He loved me.
One day, I just felt anew. I found myself being a SURGE in my family and friends’ lives. God had blessed me so much through The SURGE’s constant encouragement, hospitality and love that I desired to do the same for others. Today, I understand exactly why God moved me to Charlotte. Words cannot articulate the life change I’ve gone through since The SURGE rolled into my life. These women are blessings from God – angels from heaven. Their presence changes atmospheres. Yes, it is true that God places the lonely in families. That is my testimony. I have found a new family in Christ. I have found deliverance. I have found the power of prayer and agreement. I have found authentic fellowship. I have found a small glimpse of Heaven on earth. But most of all, I have finally found the Father’s Love.