Several years ago, I made a decision that, at the time, I didn’t realize would change the rest of my life. I did not grow up going to church. The times I did go, when I was around the age of 5, my parents would just drop me off at the doors and then come back a few hours later to pick me up. My parents were supportive of me going to church, but they never wanted to go with me. I eventually stopped going to church because I got tired of going by myself and people asking me where my mom and dad were. As I matured, I drifted away from church more and more, and started getting into trouble. For years, I was doing so many things to fill a void in my heart that I didn't even know was there.
However, things started to turn around the day I put my two girls into a Christian daycare through a Nazarene church. At ages 5 and 10, they were learning Bible verses before and after school, which they would come home and recite to me. They would repeatedly ask me if we could go to church on Sundays, but they always heard the same answer: “No.”
After two months of asking the same question and hearing the same answer, my girls asked one last time, “Can we please go to church Sunday?”
I replied, “No, we are not going to church on Sunday, so stop asking!”
After a short pause, my then 10-year-old daughter said, “It’s not fair that we can’t go to church to learn about God just because you don’t want to.”
I stood in silence. My girls walked away, and I felt a huge knot forming in my stomach that made me feel so much guilt and shame. I remember thinking I was such a rotten parent. A few days later, I was sitting on my sofa in silence, thinking about my life. I felt such heavy conviction about so many things. At the time I really didn’t know how to pray, but I began to have a conversation with God. It mostly consisted of me just telling God that I knew He created me and that I was so sorry for everything I had done and asking for His forgiveness. I asked Him to please take away all addictions I had and mold me into the woman that He had created me to be.
I didn’t feel any different after my conversation with God. But the next morning, I remember waking up and seeing the sun shine on my bed. The brightness from the sun was brighter than I had ever seen it. I looked out my window, and the sky was bluer and more vibrant than I remembered. The grass and flowers were more radiant and colorful. I was scared and thought something was seriously wrong with me. I felt different. I called my sister-in-law in a panic, and she giggled and said that God had cleansed me from head to toe!
God knew my heart and knew I was ready for a change.
God did a 180 on my life—a complete change. I began taking my kids to church every Sunday where I started to develop a heart for serving. After five months of going to church, I felt like I was being pulled into the ministry as a pastor. I fought with God because I didn’t know why He would be calling me, someone who didn’t grow up in the church, over others who have gone to church their entire lives. I continued to fight with God and ignore His calling.
A guest pastor preached one Sunday morning, and in the middle of her sermon, she stopped preaching and said: “There is someone in this room right now that God has been calling into the ministry, and He is telling you to stop running and just say yes.” After church, I walked up to the guest pastor and told her that the person she was talking about was me. She said that she had already known. From that point on, I obeyed God and pursued ministry. It was the best decision I have ever made. Thanks be to God!
Amy Byerley is the senior pastor of Bridge Fellowship Church of the Nazarene in Brooksville, Florida, USA.
Please note: This article was originally published in 2021. All facts, figures, and titles were accurate to the best of our knowledge at that time but may have since changed.