Most importantly, I am a daughter of the King of Kings. And my worth is found only in Him. If we try to find our worth in anything other than Christ we will find ourselves on the self-esteem yo-yo—up one day, down the next. This was a lesson I learned the hard way in life. Let me share.
When I was about nine years old, I put my faith in Jesus to be my Lord and Savior. I loved Him so much. He was my Best Friend. I loved to hear all the stories from the Bible about Jesus. One of my favorite stories was about the apostle Peter and his claim that he would never disown Jesus. Listen to these words:
“Peter said to Him, ‘Even though all may fall away because of You, I will never fall away.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Truly I say to you that this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times’” (Matthew 26:33-34, NASB).
Before Peter knew it, Jesus’ words came true. The rooster crowed, and Peter wept bitterly with his denial of Christ.
I remember how this story affected me. I was quite upset with Peter. How could he disown Jesus? He had walked by Jesus’ side and knew Him personally. He had witnessed His miracles and had heard all of His life-changing teachings. How could Peter then just deny Him? It just did not seem possible to my young heart.
I will never deny you!
I remember claiming, “I will never deny You, Jesus!”
As the years went by, I continued to love my Savior. However, looking back I realize that there were two extremely important truths that I was not taught as a teen. These were truths that I was seeking, and one would have thought I would have found them in a church setting. It is because of these two truths that the Lord has given me a heart to teach today. Perhaps I can help someone not make the same mistakes that I did. Better yet, perhaps I can help someone become all that God created him or her to be.
The first truth I was never taught was that God’s Word is alive and relevant for our situation today. I always wrongly assumed that the Bible was great for my grandmother’s generation but not relevant to modern life. Partly because I wasn’t taught how to apply the Bible to my life or how to study it—or even that I needed to open it—I just assumed it was unimportant.
The second truth I was never taught as a teen was that God’s Word has a lot to say about purity and sexual immorality. How I wish my youth leaders had not been afraid to open up the Bible and tell us what God had to say about sex! Youth group was more a time for us to get together and play games instead of a time to get together to learn about God and His Word. Please understand that I am not trying to make excuses for what I did or shift the blame to someone else, but I do want to lay the foundation of who I have become and why.
As I reminisce about my teenage years, one particular day stands out in my mind—the day I came to a fork in the road. I was praying, and daydreaming, and asking the Lord, Do You know who my husband is? Is he someone I know, or is he a complete stranger? That same day, I walked across the street to hang out at a friend’s house, I remember saying hello to one of the guys there. He was a real nice guy who was quiet, and shy, and kind of cute. As I greeted him I remember thinking, Lord, why don’t I date a nice guy like him instead of the one I am dating?
God loves us so much that He gives us free will. He does not want us to be little robots. Nor does He expect that from the moment we accept Him as our Savior we would follow Him and do everything perfectly. No! He loves us so much that He allows us to make our own choices—even choices He knows may hurt us. Unfortunately for me, with each choice I made I was walking further and further away from the Lord. Walking away from the One who could actually give me my heart’s desire—to simply be loved for who I am.
That day, I thought this cute, quiet guy would never like me (I thought like this because I hadn’t taken the time to learn the truth about who I am in Christ), so I continued down the wrong path that would lead to some very wrong choices. I am sure that to the Lord, I sounded very much like Peter when he claimed, “Even though all may fall away because of You, I will never fall away” (Matthew 26:33, nkjv).
Well, to make a long story short, because I was looking for love in all the wrong places, and putting my worth in being accepted (and not where I it should have been which is only in Christ), I found myself pregnant and alone at the age of sixteen. What is even worse, I chose to believe a lie as a means to take care of my “problem.” Little did I know that that “choice” carried with it some very heavy consequences.
Out of Control
Soon my life was out of control—alcohol and drugs only numbed the pain for so long. I was caught in a downward spiral of sin, sin and more sin. Before I knew it, I was considering suicide as a means to set my broken-heart free. But it is only God who can do that! And praise the Lord He met me in the depths of my despair.
Jesus had always been my Savior, but during that time in my life He was not my Lord. I had denied Him for so many years. Like Peter, when I began to realize the depth of my denial of Christ, I wept bitterly.
But I also began to pray again and seek Him with all my heart, my mind and my soul.
One night, my friend was having a birthday and everyone was going to a restaurant with a nightclub called the Red Onion. I really did not want to go but this was a good friend of mine, so I felt I needed to go.
As I was walking through the disco, I passed a group of guys and heard one of them say, “Hey, I know her.” I turned around and saw that nice, quiet, shy guy that I had known from five years before. You remember, the one whom I had seen after I had prayed and asked God if He knew who my husband would be. But now, he was one nice-looking young man!
I bet you can guess what happened next. Keith became my husband in 1983 and he is still my best friend. Do you want to hear an even quirkier part of the story? The building, which was the Red Onion, where Keith picked me up in our heathen days, is now our home church! Don’t you just love God’s sense of humor! He renews and restores! He can even take the areas in our lives that we have blown it the greatest and turn them into powerful ministries. That is exactly what He has done in my life.
Revealing, Restoring, Remolding the Heart
He revealed to me the depth of my despair—(Psalm 139:23-24).
He restored to me the joy of my salvation (see Psalm 51:12).
He took my heart of stone and remolded it into a heart of flesh so that I could become all that He created me to be (see Ezekiel 36:26).
He wants to do the same for you! If you are where I have been:
“Why should you be beaten anymore? Why do you persist in rebellion? Your whole head is injured, your whole heart afflicted. From the sole of your foot to the top of your head there is no soundness—only wounds and welts and open sores, not cleansed or bandaged or soothed with oil” (Isaiah 1:5-6).
My Prayer for You
My prayer for you is this: that you will come to know in a more intimate way the “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6b).
He loves you more than you know!
God healed my broken heart. He set me free. He then called me to help heal the brokenhearted by teaching them what He taught me.
This is why I write, speak and teach. It is because of what He has done in my own life. He gave up His life for me—can I offer Him anything less?
Heal the Brokenhearted
It was in 1993 that this ministry began—a ministry to help heal the brokenhearted, to set the captives free. This is my life’s calling. To help each one of us recognize what is truly taking place in the depths of our own hearts. You see, I have discovered that hurt—no matter what kind of hurt it is—that is not handled in the manner God intended will eventually turn into anger, anger over time will turn into bitterness and bitterness will turn into a bitter poison that will infect our whole life.
This is what causes the consequences of guilt, shame, fear, anxiety, bad memories, depression, rage, over-protectiveness, relationship difficulties and various self-destructive behaviors. It doesn’t matter what the issue was that originally caused this hurt (it could be anything—big or small—rejection, abuse, abortion, rape); what matters is how we handle the hurt deep within our hearts.
God wants to set us free. He has the answers that we seek. He never intended for us to stuff these hurts deep within. My dear precious friend, if you have been struggling I pray that you take the time to listen to some of the various messages you will find on this website or watch the first session of the DVD Disciple Me below, which will take you through the Go in Peace Biblical Discipleship Curriculum.
If it touches your heart—order the curriculum! I literally have been amazed to see hundreds, if not thousands, of lives changed through the powerful message it reveals—all because it is based 100 percent on the Word of God. Plus it teaches you how to apply His Word to your life so that you can truly become all that He created you to be.
Well, much to my surprise it was that same year (1993) that the Lord took me to Eastern Europe on a short-term mission trip. The only problem was, I left part of my heart there.
God opened an amazing door for me to share one evening at a church service. As a result of this, I saw how hungry the believers were to learn the truth about difficult issues in life from God’s perspective. Soon I was returning every year until the Lord impressed upon my heart to move there. Pretty scary! But in view of Christ’s sacrifice for me—can I offer Him anything less than my whole life?
Although my husband when I first share the idea with him said, “never!” it was in the year 2000 that our family gave up everything, jumped on a plane—in faith—and moved to Bulgaria. Our hearts desire was to go and make disciples (see Matthew 28:19-20). Within a few weeks we were asked by a Bulgarian pastor to pray about opening a foundation to help heal the brokenhearted.
In actuality we thought he was crazy! We came to make disciples not start a foundation. But after eight months of prayer, and waiting upon the Lord for His perfect will, God spoke to our hearts through Revelation 3:8.
“I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut.”
So it was that the Truth and Hope Foundation was established in 2001 in Sofia, Bulgaria. Our vision is to help heal the brokenhearted and to train up leaders in how to minister to their own hurting people. We first meet the people through weekly Bible studies, seminars and annual retreats.
God is so amazing. When we first went to Bulgaria I couldn’t figure out how God would knit our ministries together. I teach women and teens while my husband is a sound man for pastors and worship teams. Our main spiritual gifts—mine is teaching, his is serving. But what better blend! For years now, Keith has been the sound man at all our women’s retreats and seminars when we are overseas.
Although Keith and I currently live in the States it is our desire to someday move back. For many years it has been our hearts yearning to have a house in Bulgaria where we can host Go in Peace Weekends.
We visit Bulgaria at least twice a year for our annual retreats and various seminars, as well as, to encourage our staff who continue the weekly Bible studies and individual discipleship in our absence.
As you can image it is quite expensive to finance a foundation in a foreign country. And one of the things I truly am uncomfortable with is trying to raise funds. (Please don’t misunderstand me—I don’t think it is wrong when ministries or missionaries try to raise funds. It’s just really difficult for me.)
In view of this, in 2008 Keith and I began Sunflower Press. We began this business as our tent-making business. (This model is learned from the apostle Paul who received funding for his missionary work from both financial support of others [see 2 Corinthians 8:1-4] as well as his employment as a tent-maker [Act 18:1-5].) It is our hope and desire to be able to, at least in part, fund our missionary work through the sales of the books and curriculum found on this website.
This is why words cannot express how bless we are with each and every sale of my books!!! Isn’t that just like God—He multiplies everything. You get a book that hopefully will help you to grow in your walk with Him, while at the same time helping another to grow as well.
This last paragraph is only for those who feel the Lord’s prompting to be a part of our missionary work. Although it is difficult for me to try to raise funds, I know that it is biblical for others to be a part of God’s work through giving. (See 2 Corinthians 8:1-4.) In fact, as confirmation that the Lord wanted me to keep this paragraph, the very morning I was writing this portion of the web page a friend at church asked how she could tithe to our missionary work. In view of this, I’ll just put the donate buttons here and explain about each. There are two different ways you can be a part of our work.
To the Least of These
As you can tell it is my heart’s desire to ministry to hurting people, but many times there is a cost involved—whether it is for a weekend retreat, seminar or providing curriculum. I personally cannot afford to cover everyone’s way, but I do desire to provide sponsorships. Therefore, if you would like to be a part of this work—which is available to both women and teens in the states and abroad please click on the donate button—To the Least of These. Funds from this account go 100% directly towards sponsoring individuals to be discipled.
If, on the other hand, you are a woman or teenagers who would like either to attend a Go in Peace Weekend or be discipled by me through the DVD Disciple Me—Go in Peace Curriculum please contact me. In your email please specify “sponsorship.” Please don’t use the lack of finances to keep you from the healing the Lord has for you! God always provides the way!!!!
To the Uttermost
If you would like to be a part of our missionary work abroad click on the donate button—To the Uttermost. Funds from this account go 100% to our missionary work at the Truth and Hope Foundation Sofia, Bulgaria.
*Portions of my testimony were adapted from Go in Peace. Copyright © 2000, 2011 by Cherie Fresonke, as well as, Go in Peace Biblical Discipleship Curriculum. Copyright © 1999, 2004, 2006, 2012 by Cherie Fresonke.