Sundays With Rae

a blog for women by a woman who is trying to get her life together while still loving Jesus

Testimony Tuesday: Jasmin

Jasmin is one of those people you meet and don’t forget. You can tell she loves what she does as a teacher and even when I met her and she had what most would call an “active” class full of first graders, the love of God still flowed through her. Growing up in a Baptist church, Jasmin was always familiar with God. Her grandmother did the work of an evangelist, her mother and sister sung in the choir, and her grandfather cooked in the kitchen. At the age of seven she accepted Jesus as her Lord and savior and after leaving her hometown of Upland, CA, to pursue her undergraduate degree, she still attended church faithfully. But, it wasn’t until after college that she truly cultivated her relationship with God. She began to develop a greater understanding of who God is and who the Holy Spirit is, and the role He plays in her life. The truth of God giving up His only begotten Son so she could live became very real for Jasmin and she started to live like it.

With this new knowledge, life still happened but there was a hope Jasmin continued to cling to. After graduating from college, Jasmin longed to work in the field of juvenile justice, but bills had to be paid so she started working at a car dealership. Within three years, she worked her way up to a Senior Sales Advisor position. Although the money was good, the hours were long and she knew this was not a forever job so she started taking classes to become a teacher. Jasmin always enjoyed working with kids and felt God leading her in that direction.

After completing her Master’s degree, she got a teaching job! Or so she thought. They would later call and tell her they could not hire her as a full time teacher but she could work as substitute due to a technicality. We all know a substitute teacher and a full time teacher is very different pay. Just when it felt like everything was falling into place, her world began crashing down. Thank God for praying mothers. Jasmin called her mother, they prayed, and within the next few hours, the school called back and said they would be able to hire her as a full time teacher. Jasmin knew it was only God that worked the situation out in her favor and it served as a reminder as to how real He is.

Jasmin will be the first to tell you that she spends a lot of time at church. There were moments when she felt as though she could be doing other things with her time but she came to the conclusion that it was more fulfilling to work for Christ than to focus on the things of the world. When faced with adversity, it can become difficult to stay faithful and not grow weary, but God has shown Jasmin time and time again the power of her faith and His consistent faithfulness, so she chooses to hold on.

For fun, Jasmin likes to shop (y’all she’s one of the most stylish people I know), spend time with her god babies, and mentor. She also serves as a youth minister at her church and can often times be found there serving the people of God in some way. She enjoys traveling and going on mission trips. Jasmin is currently a 1st grade teacher in the Atlanta area. You would never know it, but she is a MAJOR introvert.

Jasmin’s heart for God’s people speaks for itself. She has no idea how much she impacts the people around her and I’m grateful I’m one of those people. When I was considering buying my own home I was nervous about taking on such a huge responsibility but I thought about Jasmin. We never had a conversation about it but I remember hearing her talk about getting some stuff done around her house and I was encouraged to move forward with the process. Thank you for shining your light Jasmin!

Testimony Tuesday: Caleb

In today’s world, everyone wants to start something, but not many people are willing to see it through. Insert, Caleb Deas. I’ve met a lot of people on this faith walk, so I’ve had a lot of practice in trying spirits, to know whether or not they are of God and Caleb is definitely of God. Growing up as the son of a pastor in the Atlanta area (Lithonia), he always saw a Godly example in his home, but when it comes to a relationship with God, it takes more than seeing to believe. Caleb learned later in life that nothing compared to experiencing God for yourself. His loyalty to Christ fuels the man he is today. Though difficult times have come in the form of doubt and depression, Caleb has always found rest in God. God has proven Himself to Caleb time and time again. He knows it’s not a coincidence or by chance that prayers have been answered. Caleb knows it’s because God is real.

Lots of people call themselves a Christian, but when asked how many people are living the life of a Christian, the number gets smaller. As Caleb put it, “we’re the minority,” which can make this faith walk difficult at times. You can feel alone and maintaining your commitment to Christ can become a task you no longer want to take on. But then, you stumble and perhaps fall, and grace steps in to save the day. You look around and realize you’re not doing this by yourself. God places people in your life to encourage you to keep going. For Caleb, this is the benefit of being in relationship with Christ.

Caleb is very busy but you would never know because he’s so humble. He is currently pursuing a master’s degree in school counseling and he is also a musician (he basically plays everything). He works at a print shop and has a brand called Kingdom Writers. Kingdom Writers inspires creativity through Christ-centered, creative exposure, hosting events that include The Intersection; which features live writing sessions and music where creativity, intellect, and worship intersect. One day, Caleb hopes to merge his counseling experience with his creative endeavors, bringing healing to the world for God’s glory through the arts. In his spare time, Caleb enjoys walking outside, playing music, and writing. A random fact: he doesn’t like stickers.

One of the many things I love about Atlanta is there is always something to do and because of people like Caleb, there is something for saved people to do. There are other things Caleb could be doing with his time and money, but he’s choosing to invest in doing the work of the Lord. Not because he has to, not because it’ll make him rich, but because he saw a need that has become his heart’s desire. I’m grateful for the time he took to talk to a stranger and share his story.

Instagram:

@calebjdeas

@kingdomwriters

Facebook:

We Are K Writers

Twitter:

@WeAreKWriters

Testimony Tuesday: Rebekah

You know the person that always seem so happy and bubbly, like nothing can ruin their day? Everybody who meets them, loves them? Rebekah Evans is that person. The self proclaimed celebrity of her family, Rebekah is the eighth of nine children. She was the good version of preacher’s kids. She explains that as the preacher’s kid you either get talked about for doing all the wrong things or you’re expected to know the whole Bible. So with all the attention on her, Rebekah chose to be the “goody two shoes.” She went to church, prayed, even went to the altar, because of course, that’s what good Christian girls do.

But at the beginning of Rebekah’s senior year of high school, that was no longer good enough. The Christian school she attended would occasionally have speakers come in to motivate students and Rebekah had grown weary of hearing the same old speech, especially from other preacher’s kids. “I had to build my own relationship with God.” “I could no longer live this life for my parents, but I had to experience God for myself.” It sounded so cliche but Rebekah was those people and those people were Rebekah. Not too long after, her church held a conference and Rebekah experienced God in a way she never had before. The freedom in calling on Jesus for herself and not because people were watching or because it was what she was supposed to do, but simply because she needed to. Years of church had told her she couldn’t live a fulfilling life without God and on October 18, 2013, she decided she wouldn’t.

Rebekah had faked being saved for so long, that when God truly did give her a new heart, she took it seriously. She strived to learn more about God by reading His word and she uncovered a lot of truths about herself that weren’t so nice. Although she’s always been outgoing and friendly, she was also prideful and arrogant. Every action required her reaction. It is so easy to overlook these “little things,” and pat yourself on the back for not doing the “big things” (fornication, lying, drinking, etc.), but Rebekah knew all of the above impacted her relationship with God. The Holy Ghost has taught her she doesn’t need to say everything that comes to her mind, she doesn’t have to be the source of everyone’s entertainment all the time, and turning the other cheek may be difficult but it’s necessary. “Being saved comes with more trials but there are also more blessings.” For Rebekah, being saved means giving up complete control of your life to God. His plans overrides everything. Although scary at times, He’s always working for them that love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).

Rebekah is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in directing and producing for film and television. In her spare time she enjoys going to art galleries and museums. She also enjoys traveling. And a little known fact about Rebekah: she loves sports! Her favorite teams are Duke, the Minnesota Vikings, and although I had to drag it out of her, she kind of likes the Chicago Bulls.

I’ve only known Rebekah for about two months but I’ve already decided we’re going to be friends forever. I look forward to hearing her name when the topic of great filmmakers comes up. She will be the example people can look to when asked can you serve God and excel in the entertainment industry.

Testimony Tuesday: Raynard

You can’t quite put your finger on it, but you can’t help but notice. It’s sewn into every fiber of his being, and he’s seven so he doesn’t understand it like you do. You sum it up by saying, “God’s got His hand on that little boy’s life.” As the year go on, you watch him grow into who God has called him to be and you say to yourself, “I knew it.” This boy was Raynard Brant and although I did not know him during his formative years, this is the story I hear from everyone who did. And to know him as a man of God, today, I know it to be true.

Born to a father who was an alcoholic and a mother who Raynard described as abandoning him and his brothers, he was “a statistic waiting to happen.” During his early years of life, Raynard lived in a pretty volatile environment. When his mother was around, she and his father would get into it, and if it was just his father around, he would find himself treading lightly due to his father’s alcoholism. With such a rough start in life, this instability could have led to Raynard ending up on drugs or dropping out of school or a number of other things, but God had other plans.

Raynard would end up being raised by his aunts on both sides of his family. And despite the odds, he was a typical church kid. He spent a great deal of time at church and when he wasn’t there, he was trying to convince his brothers and cousins to play church with him at home. Raynard always felt different from other kids his age. He was never really into sports, wasn’t the best student, and although he knew a lot of people, he wasn’t exactly the “cool” guy on campus either. But church was different. He was in his element when he was there. From an early age, Raynard took God very serious. While in second grade, he once told his classmate that her grandfather, who had just passed away, was in hell because he didn’t have the Holy Ghost (he got a phone call home that day lol). Raynard knew God was everywhere and that God saw everything, but soon he would find out what it was like for God to live in him.

Our church's national convention (June 2015)

Our church’s national            convention (June 2015)

As all church kids do, you grow up shouting because it’s fun, but one day it was no longer just fun for Raynard. He was eight years old at the time, and had been attending a Baptist church and a Holiness church (having been raised by both sides of his family). While attending the Baptist church, the appeal was made for individuals to come and give their heart to God. Raynard wanted to but was told he was too young. The following Sunday, he went to the Holiness church, and the altar call was made and Raynard asked could he go and after being told yes, he called on Jesus and received the Holy Ghost.

Life with the Holy Ghost was pretty good until age fourteen. This may not be a big deal for some people, but at fourteen years old Raynard found himself drifting away from God. He started listening to secular music and his relationship with God did not feel as familiar as it once did. Around this time, his uncle and cousin had gotten saved, and Raynard knew he didn’t want to go to hell and didn’t feel he was on the path to heaven. One Sunday morning, Raynard made up in his mind, he wasn’t coming back home the same way he went to church. It was a regular Sunday at his local church and he could barely pay attention to the preacher because he couldn’t wait to get to the altar. He spent almost the entire service on the edge of his seat, waiting for someone to say, “if anyone has believed the report of the Lord, we ask that you come.” Before the preacher made her way to her seat, Raynard was at the altar with tears streaming down his face, crying out to God, telling Him how sorry he was. Since that day, Raynard has never looked back.

I asked Raynard about the impact that day had on his life:

How has life changed since being saved?

To say my life changed when I got saved is the understatement of the century. I began to live when I got saved. I needed stability and being saved provided that. It made it okay for me to be different from the other kids. I didn’t feel the need to fit in with everyone else. I was in Christ and that’s all I needed to be. In the absence of my father, God became my father and taught me how to be a man. I needed to be reassured that no matter how bad things got and no matter what I did, I would not be abandoned. And God has been there every step of the way. I have learned to forgive my mother who to me, had left me out there to figure out life for myself. I forgave her. Being saved has literally saved my life. I found purpose, direction and hope.

Is being saved difficult?

I wish I was so spiritual that I could say that being saved is not difficult. But the absolute truth is at times my walk with Christ has been a struggle. I struggled with reconciling the truth of God’s word with the social expectations of the world around me. But, I’ve come to understand down through the years that the struggles that I experienced during this Christian walk was not with God but rather with MYSELF. Now that I know that, “Everyday with Jesus gets sweeter as the day goes by.”

What do you do for a living?

I am employed as an admissions coordinator at a residential chemical dependency treatment center.

What do you do for fun?

Long story short, I LOVE to eat good food. I am not a very good cook but I like to cook. The only thing I love more than going to eat somewhere I’ve never been is doing it with my family. Family comes second to none in my life.

Something unique about yourself

I can read my brother’s mind. Since we are twins, we can basically communicate without speaking.

Raynard and Robert (June 2014)

Raynard and Robert (June 2014)

If you know me well, you probably have heard me mention him. You probably thought I was his shadow at one point, because everywhere he was, I was. Almost every year since I’ve known Raynard (oh goodness, it’s been over seven years), I’ve gotten him a Father’s Day card. Even before my natural father passed away, Raynard has always showed me that no matter how irritated I get with him (or he gets with me) or how rude I am (he calls it rude, I call it direct lol), he wants me to be the best me and will do and say anything to make that happen. I’ve never met someone with such a heart for God and His people. Although he is a pastor, this is bigger than that for him. He truly lives his life trying to help everyone get into heaven.  I’m so honored to call him a friend. And he’s going to kill me for saying this, but ladies, he’s single 🙂 (and guys if you’re interested in me, be prepared to go through a screening process with him lol)

Raynard’s Instagram: @pastorraynard

Testimony Tuesday: Devaughn

I met Devaughn in September 2014 in Nashville, TN, a day in which the temperature read high 80s but it felt like the low 100s. He seemed quiet but confident moving through the crowd at our church’s national youth convention. I admit, I was hot so I didn’t bother to make conversation but after connecting on social media, I knew I wanted to hear more of his testimony. If I never believed God was able to meet people where they are, Devaughn Stephenson, made me a believer.

As church people, we often forget God can save anyone, anywhere, at any time. We put limitations on what God can do and how. In our minds in order to get the Holy Ghost you have to have a lifetime membership at a particular church or certain people in your family need to be spiritual. We think you can only get it if you are at a church or during a state convention or a revival, but that is not how it happened for Devaughn.

Growing up, he never went to church, didn’t know much about prayer, was just going through life Godless, but at eighteen years old he had decided to start going to church. At this time in his life, he had just loss his best friend to gun violence, and a few days later, his younger sister passed away. Most of us can’t imagine going through one loss, only to have to face a second loss in a matter of days, but this was reality for Devaughn. To cope with his pain and relieve some of the stress that comes with loss, Devaughn did what seemed logical to him in those situations: smoked a blunt.

Although he had never read the bible’s description of hell, during this high God revealed to Devaughn what life would be like in hell. From demonic torment and internal crying out to the rocks to fall on him and kill him, to the infestation of maggots, it was a physical pain and misery he could not compare to anything. He distinctly remembered hearing, “If you don’t turn your life around and give it to me, this is where you’ll spend eternity.” He begged and pleaded with God to spare his soul. He kept asking his friends if they heard/experienced what was happening and trying to explain to them that they couldn’t keep doing the same thing; they all needed to change, but they were uninterested in doing anything different. Initially, Devaughn thought this was just a strange dream, but after this experience, he decided to stop smoking and ended up turning to drinking, which, of course, didn’t make anything better. He tried to pick smoking back up but it just wasn’t the same. Eventually, Devaughn would give up everything before he received the Holy Ghost.

Me and Devaughn (2015)

Me and Devaughn (2015)

Fast forward eight months after Devaughn joined his church (initially he started attending church, trying to get in good with the family of a girl he liked, but after experiencing the loss of his best friend and his younger sister, he wanted answers from God and later joined for the right reasons), he was at home and getting ready to go to his girlfriend’s house when something told him to go back inside. Unsure of what it was but obedient nonetheless, Devaughn went back to his room. As he lay down in his room he started to get goose bumps and thinking he was cold, he tried to get under the covers but he heard the voice of the Lord say, you’re not cold. Then, his stomach felt weird and he thought he might throw up but that same voice said you don’t have to throw up.

The Spirit started to reveal things to Devaughn and one thing in particular that stands out was God telling him, “I don’t love, I am love.” This was a big deal for someone who had experienced so much hurt and loss; the concept of love almost seemed foreign. It was as though the scales were falling from his eyes, as described in Acts 9:18. Although he did not realize it in the moment, his life was forever changed that night. The following Sunday, Devaughn’s pastor talked about the Holy Ghost and as she began describing what it is and how your body responds to it, Devaughn realized she was describing his experience; he had received the Holy Ghost.

I asked Devaughn the following questions relating to his experience of being in Christ and here are his answers in his own words:

How has life changed since you have been saved?

Before, life was a constant cycle of stress, depression, anger & misery. The scars from my childhood birthed a monster and I had to live with those demons daily… Suicidal thoughts, drug addiction, kleptomania, sex addiction, what I would call “a heart of a killer,” and countless other deeply embedded sins. I became so used to these things that around the age of eight, it became a natural part of me. It became my life. But now, with God’s Spirit dwelling within me, I’m never lost. I’m never depressed. I literally know and converse with the Creator of the universe on an extremely personal level. That brings me great peace and joy. The closer I get to God the less room there is for anything not of Him. My life is the exact opposite of the one I used to live. I have been supernaturally delivered from the wanting of those things that God opposes (which makes life a lot easier). Now, I actually enjoy life.

Devaughn (2015)

Devaughn (2015)

Is being saved difficult?

I have two words to describe this life: Beautiful Struggle.

It’s beautiful because what God gives you is worth more than anything. I can’t physically express how glorious He is on a daily basis. But on the other hand it is a struggle because the majority of the planet hates what you stand for or they are on the fence, so they don’t support you either way (John15). I have even lost my closest friends for God’s sake, but God tells us that from the very beginning. I didn’t really believe that it would happen that way but that just goes to show you that God’s Word always stands true. If you let the Holy Spirit guide you, you will have all you need and you’ll be able to get through anything. But let me reassure you that my greatest loss for Christ doesn’t come close to my most minimal gain from Him.

What do you like to do for fun?

I enjoy traveling, watching SportsCenter and hanging out by the water (Sidenote: I had to force this out of him, acting like all he did was go to school and church lol)

What do you do for a living?

Currently in school studying psychology

Random fact

I’m an extremely picky eater. Before I eat something I don’t have the taste for, I’d rather starve. If it doesn’t look a certain way, I can’t eat it. If I’m eating a certain type of sandwich, it has to be on a certain type of bread. Sad, I know (the struggle is so real lol).

Devaughn is truly a man who lives out the life he talks about; he is a living testimony. I am forever grateful to Devaughn for being so transparent and genuine (and for putting up with me harassing him with multiple questions lol). Thank you for allowing God to use you so that others may see Him.   

Devaughn’s twitter and instagram: @Sanctified_Og

 

 

Testimony Tuesday: Jocelayna

I was president of a bible study in college called The Pillar

I was president of a bible study in college called The Pillar

1. When and how did you come to Christ?

I remember being in middle school and my church having a revival. The revivalist asked if we had any backsliders and if so to come to the front and I went. Previously I had confessed being saved but lately I hadn’t felt close to God; didn’t feel like I was living as a saved person should. Although I didn’t curse, wasn’t having sex, didn’t lie, cheat, or steal, I knew there was something missing. That night at the revival I called on the name of Jesus and received the Holy Ghost and have been running ever since.

2. How has your life changed since coming to Christ?

I will be the first to say, I tend to forget a lot of stuff from childhood; not because it was traumatic or anything, I just simply don’t remember. Being saved so young, I did not experience much, but I do think I am a nicer person because I’m saved (I have a friend who tells me, I might be saved but I’m still mean as a rattlesnake and I respond by saying imagine if I weren’t lol). The main thing I remember being different in my life after coming to Christ was not listening to secular music anymore. I honestly can’t remember my reasoning behind stopping. I probably thought I wasn’t doing anything else “bad” so I have to give up something. In high school, I eventually did start listening to secular music again (don’t judge me lol) but I was certainly more conscious about what I was listening to.

3. Is walking with Christ difficult? Why or why not?

At 25, it really has become a way of life for me; not to say I don’t stumble or have to ask for forgiveness but it is very much a part of who I am. When my whole world seems to be falling apart and one thing after another goes wrong, I’m grateful He lives in my spirit and there is a peace that surpasses all understanding. But then there are times when I would like to say whatever comes to my mind and not season my words with grace but the Holy Ghost won’t let me. There are times when I feel left out because I’m not doing what other people my age are doing, but overall this walk is not difficult. It allows me to be confident with who I am and what I am about. Man will let you down in some way or another. I never have that worry with Christ. When things don’t go my way, I may pout about it for awhile (mostly because I’m stubborn and slightly spoiled), but then I rest back in His arms and let Him handle it. There is no pressure with God, either you’re going to live for Him or you’re not, and He gives you that choice. Sometimes other believers (and non-believers) put pressure on each other to behave in a certain way, but if you are consulting God (and not man) about what your next word or next move should be, this walk is quite easy. To be totally candid, I think by getting saved so young, I did not fall into certain things (by the grace of God), so I was not exposed to certain things others may struggle to let go of after coming to Christ (sex, alcohol, smoking, cursing)

4. What do you like to do for fun?

Read memoirs (Awkward Black Girl, The Wave), watch television (Chicago Fire, Chicago PD, CSI: Cyber), travel

5. What do you do for a living?

Family Therapist

6. Random fact about yourself

I love natural sunlight but I have a thing about people being able to see in through my apartment if my blinds are open so it’s a daily battle.