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By Carolyn Hittenberger
A Person with a Past
As Theresa prepared to take the exam that would qualify her for ministerial credentials, that recurring question surfaced once again. “Can God call a person with a past?” She’d studied diligently through Global University’s Berean School of the Bible to complete the required courses. She knew the credentials would validate her ministry. She welcomed the accountability that would be required of her, but would other people recognize God’s call on her life and accept her ministry?
Broken from Birth
Her past did not present a pretty picture. Almost from birth she had been broken. Fear was an unwelcome but frequent visitor to young Theresa. One night when she was three years old, she felt an evil presence in her room. She cried out for God to help her. God heard a child’s cry
and took this opportunity to introduce her to His love. He sent a “tall, bright angel” to light up the night. When he touched her the fear was gone and she fell into a peaceful sleep. From that time, at a level no man can reach, somehow Theresa knew that Jesus loved her. Her alcoholic father verbally and physically abused her and her two sisters. When her mother entered a mental health facility the three girls were placed in foster care. After three years of beatings and sexual abuse in several homes, they were returned to their parents. She and her sisters attended a neighborhood church. Cookies and juice were a strong incentive for hungry children. They quit going when they became teens. Her father taught her to curse, smoke and drink, buying her first hard liquor when she was 15.
Looking for Love
Theresa was lonely and looking for love in all the wrong places. At 17 she met and fell for a man who lured her into intimacy before marriage. Only after she became pregnant did she realize he was a drug addict. He never acknowledged or accepted responsibility toward baby Samantha.
A few years later Theresa pinned her hopes on another man. She was charmed by his sweet talk and trusted him. Soon she was expecting his child. He helped with his son, Mark, until he was deported back to Mexico.
In 1996 Theresa met Bashir, a barely-practicing Muslim from Pakistan. They married at a courthouse and shortly thereafter went to Immigration to get his green card. Bashir was an alcoholic, unfaithful and abusive. Together they had a son, Abraham. The cruelest blow came when she found out that he was already married and had a family in Pakistan. From the start, their marriage was a farce.
Rescued and Restored
Theresa considered her cousin, Sissy, a “religious nut.” In 1997 she invited Theresa to go with her to Oak Creek Assembly of God in Oak Creek, WI. She just couldn’t get away from Sissy’s persistence. She finally went. Pastor Jerry Brook’s message spoke to her and to five year old Samantha. Both accepted Jesus as Savior and Lord that morning.
Though he was not a faithful Muslim, Bashir was incensed that Theresa had become a Christian. She states, “The more I grew in Christ, the farther we drifted apart. Finally, after years of abuse he stood in my kitchen and said ‘Choose me or Jesus. If Jesus is the Son of God, tell him to pay your rent.’ I chose Jesus. He left me and walked away from his son. One week later God spoke to a woman to give me $500.00.” Although it was a difficult decision, after 21 months of separation, Theresa filed for divorce from this marriage that had never really been a marriage.
Theresa experienced an ever increasing sense of God’s call to ministry. How would she prepare? In 2002 a friend and mentor encouraged her to study Global University’s Berean School of the Bible classes she was teaching in her church. Since this was not a residence school, Theresa didn’t have to move or leave home. She was able to study and take care of her family. The cost was also far less. This was just what she had been looking for. She says, “It worked for me.” It wasn’t easy. The curriculum was challenging and she applied herself faithfully. Introduction to Pentecostal Doctrine, Evangelism, Relationships and Ethics in Ministry, Acts, Effective Leadership, Homiletics, Church Administration, Pastoral Ministry, and Conflict Management are just a few of the many courses she studied. Her favorite course was The Life of Christ.
God’s Will, God’s Way
Alone with three children to care for, Theresa had a deep desire to have a real marriage with a man who loved God and would love her children. Stronger still was her determination to serve the Lord. She has a heart to see people saved and restored. She prayed, “Lord, if I never get married, you are all I need. “ She states, “I gave all my desire for a husband to Jesus.” In God’s time He brought Rev. John Allen into her life. He is a loving husband and father. They are living out her dream of a happy marriage and a real family.
called and Confident
As she waited to take her exam for credentials, God answered that recurring question. You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name he may give you. John 15:16.
Just as the fear had left her that night when she was three years old, she was able to face the exam and the future, confident that God would use her.
Forgiven and Forgiving
Theresa was so bitter toward Bashir that the mention of his name made her angry. God impressed her that she must forgive Bashir, though he’d deceived, betrayed and abandoned her. She asked God to take away the resentment.
Recently Bashir called her to court, requesting his required child support be reduced. To his amazement, when she came to court, she not only granted his request, she forgave several thousand dollars in past unpaid child support. She says, “I owe a big bill to God that Jesus cancelled for me, so the little bill Bashir owed me, I freely forgive. Forgiveness is powerful!”
A Person with a Future
Having completed the required courses and receiving her ministerial credential, Theresa plans to continue studying to keep herself fresh in ministry. She believes Proverbs 4:7. Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom though it cost you all you have. Get understanding. She applies what she learned through Global University studies as she ministers. She says, “I love teaching my girls in MPACT GIRLS. As I teach them the foundations of Christianity it keeps me grounded, as well.” She also ministers to senior citizens, does street witnessing and encourages people through God’s Word and prayer.
“Global University changed my heart and when my heart changed, my mind changed. My experience with Global caused me to grow in my love for God, His word and people. It helped get the Word of God integrated deep within me. I would recommend GU to anyone who has a call on their life. GU will help you grow in Christ. It will prepare and empower you for ministry.”