Stones of Remembrance
Testimonies of God's faithfulness through the years
Written by: Holly Schmidt
Standing close to front of the sanctuary, my heart raced. It felt as if it was going to thump right out of my chest. I had been listening to story after story of missionaries sharing the hope of Jesus with others. They spoke of incredible hardships and sacrifices. Yet woven in between each testimony, a glimmer of hope sprung up.
I couldn't escape this internal shaking. My mind racing. I wanted to go. And then the theme song of the missions conference started up again. The chorus of music burrowed deeply within my spirit.
I knew. I knew in the very depth of my being that God was calling me to go. Every part of my mind, my body, my spirit was touched. No escaping this draw. This pull to go. To be sent. To tell of the good news of Jesus Christ.
Here I am! Send me.
We had only been married a few years. A rough start brought us together. Drinking buddies. We met and started dating when Tom was still married to the older woman with her kid closer to his age then she was. An open marriage. Yet, deep inside I still knew it was wrong. It would be several years and quite a bit of hardship for this rocky beginning to work itself in our lives so we could move forward.
Several years later, married with a baby that had been diagnosed with cerebral palsy, I desperately was seeking God. Asking this God in the sky if he was real.
Famished. My thirsty and hungry spirit begged to know more and more of God. We were so alone. Looking back now, I see it as the divine hand of God but then I thought we had moved to Georgia for a job. I had laid prostrate across the floor of our extra bedroom/office crying, "God, if you a real show yourself to me."
Several weeks passed but we soon found ourselves as first time visitors at The First United Church of Marietta, Ga. The pastor, Charles Sineath, led a 5,000 member congregation.
"Good News, Good News, Good News" was the mantra of Pastor Charles. It was indeed good news.
That first Sunday at Marietta FUMC, as the choir sang, "Just as I Am", I sat in the pew and thought to myself, 'Do I go up front?' I had given my heart to Jesus countless times over the years, always walking to the front, praying and kneeling, starting over. But that Sunday back in 1991, something was different. A still small voice, that I didn't recognize then, spoke to my heart. 'You are okay. You are mine.'
Fast forward 18 months, Tom and I had dived right into everything the church had to offer. We signed up for every conference; every Bible study. We immersed ourselves in the Word of God. We were sponges and eager to sit at the feet of great Bible teachers.
Oh but we were young. Still I wonder what these folks saw in us. Soon I was on the church and society committee and learning from wiser more experienced followers of Jesus of what it was like to partner a large church with para church ministries within the city, nation and world.
February 1993, two significant milestones on our journey happened. I began to work at The Clay Home, a home for pregnant teenagers and I became pregnant with our second child. Little did I know then that those two events would mark the beginning of the race that God had set before us.