… stories of life change
Lift People Up
When I met Peta~Gaye, and her daughter, Victoria, I had been a Christian for all of 2 months. I remember playing guitar along with them, and worshipping. I played one of my songs for them, and they told me that I had talent, but I was wasting it based on my subject material. I remember feeling shaken, and convicted all at the same time. I’d never met anyone so genuine in my whole life. Somehow, despite the criticism, I felt like there was truth behind what was being said. Over the next serveral months, Peta~Gaye became a spiritual mother to me. I would go upstairs to sit, and we would talk for hours, but, mostly, I listened. Gradually, I learned how to live out my faith. I paid attention to the example that the members of The Surge gave me. I spent hours talking about the Holy Spirit with Susan, but the power of the Spirit was more easily seen when she would serve everyone selflessly.
Push People Forward
As I grew in my faith, I gained wisdom and understanding. Gradually, I found myself spending less time at the Surge’s house being ministered to, and more time going out into the world so I could minister to others. The Surge supported me as I learned from my time at 2xSalt during Urban Life, and celebrated with me when I was hired by 2xSalt ministries. I learned from them how important it is to celebrate the achievements of our brothers and sisters in Christ, because their achievements are the manifestation of what God is doing in the world. I will always remember how excited The Surge is to hear about what God is doing through the people they know. In fact, a large part of the ministry I will be doing at 2xSalt involves giving volunteers a platform to have their own ministry: empowering them to empower the kids we work with.
Alas, God called the Surge away from Charlotte for the next season of their lives. I admire the way Peta~Gaye, Susan, Laura, Matthew Tyler, Victoria, and especially Julia have handled the transition. The Surge’s willingness to do whatever God wants has been incredibly impactful in my life. I will remember their example when following God’s call becomes difficult.
Having lived in the same building as the Surge for a whole year, and getting to experience life with them, I could never write down all that they mean to me in words. I pray every day that they will grow in wisdom and understanding, and that God will bless them in everything they do.
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.
On Wednesday, March 6, 2013, I was asked to attend a unique worship experience in Uptown Charlotte by my boyfriend, Alexander. At first I anticipated this would be a typical small group Bible study, however, what I witnessed exceeded my expectations on a magnificent level!! The Surge is a group of people who seek to encourage, equip, teach, PRAY and glorify God in every aspect of their lives. Love becomes a verb in this ministry!! That night was the first time I felt the Holy Spirit move in a powerful way; lives were changing, healing was present, and I witnessed a deep surrender in the group. The worship moved me to tears as I saw people of all ethnicities and ages raise their hands for the Love of Jesus. As a new resident in Charlotte, I instantly knew God was connecting me with a powerful community where He was moving. Every Wednesday, Susan graciously prepares a meal for all the guests; her humble heart inspires me!! Julia shares Scripture passionately. Laura is very talented and takes time to produce a worship experience we won’t forget. Victoria leads us into His presence through her gift of worship. Psalms 98:4 says, ‘Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth; break forth into joyous song and sing praises!’ Then there is the warrior, Peta~Gaye, her spirit shines when she begins to teach the Word. You feel the love pouring out from her fingertips into each and every particle of the room. This was the closest encounter I had experienced since the worship I saw on a mission trip to Honduras. The people of Taulabe rejoice, weep, and collapse in the presence of God. Each heart is so set on Jesus everything else fades away in their time with Him. The same thing happens on Wednesday nights at Prayer n Praise.
The moment we finished that evening no one moved… It was like everyone wanted time to stand still!! This devotion to the presence of God glorifies Him on so many levels; it is an honor to see a faith that ignites passion. I made a decision to attend every Wednesday from then on and have tried to honor that commitment. This time has impacted me on so many levels including allowing the Lord to lead me to a place of surrender, personal forgiveness, fellowship, accountability, leadership, knowledge, wisdom, and PURITY found in Him. God is using this season to teach me how to humbly stand before Him while I commit to love Him with my whole heart through serving Him in obedience and honor. I believe God is using this season to train and equip me to go to the Nations and make disciples. God is doing a great work in this ministry and I can’t wait to see what HE does next!
Here is the commentary from my Bible! It just screamed The SURGE to me and I’m so glad I have the opportunity to share it with you. May it always be an encouragement in every phase of the wave! 😉
Acts 6:7 [AMP] And the message of God kept on spreading, and the number of disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem; and [besides] a large number of the priests were obedient to the faith [in Jesus as the Messiah, through Whom is obtained eternal salvation in the kingdom of God].
The word of God spreads like ripples on a pond where, from a single center (JESUS!!!), each wave (Peta-Gaye, Victoria, Tyler, Susan, Laura and Julia) touches the next (all of us whom you encourage and elevate!), spreading wider and farther (to the nations!!!). You don’t have to change the world single-handedly — it is enough just to be a part of the wave, touching those around you, who in turn will touch others until all have felt the movement (this incredible movement of GOD!!!). Don’t ever feel that your part is insignificant or unimportant!!
Love you guys,