Born into a STRICT Seventh-Day Adventist household, my parents raised me to follow all of the commandments of God and to devote myself to his service. From a very early age I understood that the work of the Lord had priority. I was already a very active member of the church @ the tender age of 4. I was the little poet, story teller and star dancer at our cultural programs. As I got older, I continued on in the way that my parents and church leaders set out for me. At 14 years of age, I held the title of Associate Youth Leader and have since been through the ranks of Senior Adult Sabbath School Secretary, Young Adult Sabbath School Associate Director, Family Life Youth Liason, Women’s Ministries Council Member, Singles Ministries Coordinator, Communications Council Member and a member of the church and school boards. You could say church was my life. It was all that I knew.
I was brought up to believe that what one did in and for the church defined who you were and whether you truly had a RELATIONSHIP with God. If you weren’t active in church and in the limelight, you were treated as a nobody and looked upon as “not-there” with God. I was always the church’s princess and though some would love the attention, I HATED IT. It brought added pressure and made it very difficult to form true friendships. I didn’t like the limelight but I had to do what I was told in order to remain the “Good little Rachel”.
I continued to walk in the path everyone set out for me. My life was all planned out by my church family. I was to become a nurse or doctor and marry a Seventh-Day Adventist pastor and boy did they have quite a few in mind. I felt like I was a pawn in a game and I HAD NO CHOICE. I almost followed through with the dreams of my church members until it ALMOST GOT ME KILLED. I wanted so much to please my “church family” that I almost married a man who had all the right stats but was beating me. He was a doctor, a youth leader, a SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTIST but HE BEAT ME! I finally made the decision to walk away from him two months before the community’s big and glorious wedding (notice I said community and not my wedding..lol). As expected, I dealt with a lot of criticism and disappointed looks and upset stares, but I knew I made the decision God wanted me to make. It was at that moment that I decided to live my life for God and not my church family.
As the years went on and they got over the break ups, (yes, I broke up with another dream man THEY had in mind for me.) I continued working in the church. Funny enough, I started to feel like something was missing. I kept saying to myself, There just has to be more to it than this. There has to be more than keeping the dietary laws, the Sabbath and knowing the prophecies like a book. I had read the books, I graduated from the prophecy programs and I observed the laws but I was still feeling empty. The more I searched within my heart, the more I kept hearing that still small voice whispering to me – THERE’S MORE!. One day as I communed with God, I realized that I had spent years WORKING FOR GOD BUT, I DIDN’T REALLY KNOW HIM. We didnt have a personal relationship. I was keeping the rules of the church, following the doctrines and living up to the expectations of the “church family” but I didn’t know GOD as my personal Savior. This really cut me deeply because I truly thought that I was gung ho for Jesus. Afterall, I was putting on great programs, I LIVED IN THE CHURCH and was an active member.
The realization that I had been working the gospel instead of living the gospel inspired me to plunge into the Word of God. I was determined to get to know the one I claimed to be working for. I not only studied the doctrine of the church I claimed to be a member of, I delved into the Word of God and researched things myself. After my research, I realized that I was representing something I didn’t fully agree with. I was born a Seventh-day Adventist, but I didn’t agree with some of the beliefs. How could this happen? What was I going to do? I was at a loss for words. This was all that I have ever known. How would I survive? I mean I am the SABBATH SCHOOL TEACHER, HOW AM I SUPPOSE TO TEACH SOME OF THE VERY THINGS I NO LONGER BELIEVE? Lord, HELP ME PLEASE!
I continued to study and soon realized that I, like many of my friends and colleagues, had a religion but no relationship. Yes we prayed, yes we served, yes we knew the Word and the prophecies but, WE HAD NO PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP. This was my turning point. I decided that I wanted a relationship with God and set out to develop one. As I got deeper in the Word, the Spirit of God made the Word of God plain. I realized that the Gospel of Jesus Christ wasn’t as complicated, complex and vague as I was brought up to believe. It was simple. IF I AM TO BE A CHRISTIAN, I AM TO LIVE LIKE CHRIST. IF I LIVE LIKE CHRIST, I WILL KEEP GOD’S COMMANDMENTS (and not just the 10 in Exodus, but also the one that says LOVE THY NEIGHBOR which is the greatest commandment of all). IF I LIVE LIKE CHRIST I WILL SERVE GOD WITH ALL MY HEART. This simple GOSPEL was not emphasized as much as the understanding of the prophetic messages and history of the church. It saddened me to see that I was teaching about Christ but I wasn’t delivering HIS message. After weeks of remorse and regrets, I realized that God didn’t reveal all of this to me so I can have a pity party, HE HAS A HIGHER PURPOSE.
Since this revelation, God has worked wonders in my life and I am extremely grateful. I have a deeper understanding of HIS Word and now have a personal relationship with God. He has changed my life and is taking me on a journey that is calling me to leave everything I thought I knew, everything I’ve ever known and FOLLOW HIM. This journey has been rough as I have been and experienced the hand of God in places that I was taught that God did not reside. God has called me to reject all I have ever known to learn ALL THAT HE HAS TO TEACH ME. I learn knew things everyday and I am humbled that God is willing to use my broken vessel.
It was hard walking away from what I knew, but I am grateful and blessed to KNOW what I KNOW and BELIEVE NOW. I am grateful for the foundation received @ the Seventh-day Adventist Church. I will always credit them for training me in the ways of God. I respect and enjoy attending their church services. However, I am on a journey with God that is leading me to where He wants me to be and because of this I must go where He sends me. Today, I am no longer Rachel the multi-leader @ a Seventh-Day Adventist church in Brooklyn, I am now a vessel in the Hand of the Almighty God.
So, who am I?
I am a Christian and that settles it!