My name is Ali. I'm a twenty-five year old college student. I wanted to be a veterinarian, maybe even work in Thailand rescuing elephants. But now I have a heart for people, especially children. I'm considering nursing.
If you knew me as a teenager, you would have doubted I'd even be alive today or not in prison. At times I wished, even prayed, that I would die, but God had other plans for me.
My parents separated when I was 13. I was already an out-of-control, rebellious kid. I was angry at everyone especially God. I was estranged from my mother and living with my father who gave me a free pass to do anything I wanted.
I stayed out late and got wasted on the alcohol my father kept openly in his house. I wanted him to stop me, to be a father figure to me, but he couldn't be bothered.
One day after making my first purchase of cocaine, I came home feeling so guilty. I promised him that I hadn't tried it. I wanted him to be proud of me for not using, for being honest about it and telling him. But he made it seem like it was no big deal. He almost seemed glad that I was experimenting. I used "coke" for the first time right there in his living room.
Just before my sixteenth birthday my father died of cancer, only a month after learning of his diagnosis. I became completely lost. The pain I felt was overwhelming. I was so angry with God for taking him before I could confront him about so many things.
After that, I did everything I could to escape from my life through alcohol, drugs, and men. It led to homelessness and despair. My life spiraled downward into a darkness that consumed me. I lost all self esteem and believed I was worthless. I abused myself and let others do the same.
I was in and out of rehab and sober living, never able to stick it out. I lived on the streets or with anyone who "said" they loved me. I felt so lonely and hopeless and broken that I prayed for God to let me die and go to hell like I deserved.
I was in jail twice for possession and knew the third time would mean a 3-year sentence. The second time I was in, they examined me and said I was pregnant. Without a thought at the time, I got rid of it. Somehow God was looking after me and a gracious parole officer took my side saying I was "the victim."
I "said" I was clean for the necessary amount of time and got a job at a rehab center. I checked out Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous and they were good, but not good enough. My boss became my boyfriend and when I quit the job, I moved in with him. I started using again, and brought him down too. Finally I decided I had to "go cold turkey" if I was ever to quit, and I went home.
My mother and I looked for a church to attend, and went to several, but it wasn't enough. There was no Bible reading, just positive quotes and assurances that we were good. We even tried a Buddhist Temple. It was all drudgery. I knew that "something" was missing but I didn't know what.
At the community college I started attending, I met Danny. In study group we talked about the struggle to find a church and God. He invited me to the Christmas service at his church. I said no. The whole Christmas thing was just too much. But our conversations made me think. I kept the invitation card he gave me in the center console of my car and it kept speaking to me.
I finally ran out of excuses and since I had nothing better to do, I went for a Sunday morning service. I didn't know what it was then, but I found the "something" that was missing. It was the Word of God, the Gospel.
The youth pastor's wife invited me for lunch at their house. They had five little girls and I couldn't believe that she would ask me. I knew I was such a bad person and feared if I were to even hold little babies I would ruin them! But Danny was invited too, so I went. "Who are these people?" I wondered. "Why are they so kind? What is this love they show for me when they don't even know me?" At home I had to earn love. Here they just gave it to me!
I kept going back to the church. Danny gave me my first Bible – an easy reading version so I could understand what I read. I couldn't put it down. I kept reading it.
The youth pastor preached a sermon at the Good Friday service that really made it all clear to me. God convicted me so bad! The weight of my sin piled up on me. "I'm...so...sorry!" I cried, tears flooding my eyes and running down my face.
A warm sense of forgiveness overcame me. "I love you," God said. "This is why I forgive you: I sent my Son to carry your sins." I realized that I put Jesus there. I could "see" him carrying the cross, being hung on it, and the blood and pain. I caused that pain! God sent His Son to die for ME!
I accepted that it WAS for me and my intense bawling for sorrow turned to weeping for joy. All of a sudden, the songs we sang were so meaningful and true to me. I'd looked for love everywhere and tried to earn it, and now God's love was freely given to me. I had such peace. I was saved on Good Friday, and oh, what an awesome Easter Sunday it was!
My life has drastically changed since that day. God truly gave me a new heart and breathed new life into me. I quit smoking in one day after trusting God for it. My cussing disappeared. I couldn't stop reading the Bible and I wanted to share it with everyone.
Because of His great love for me, I try to live my life for His glory. I've stopped searching for comfort in worldly things because Christ is my Savior and Comfort. I realize now why I walked through all that I did – so I could share God's love with others in the same dark places. I am so amazed by God's love. I now have a rooted heart desire to serve others and share Christ's love with the lost.
Ephesians 2:1-10 tells my life story.
"And you were dead in your trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience, among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.
"But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved – and raised us up with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages He might show the immeasurable riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
"For by grace you have been saved through faith. And it is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them."
Would you like to make Jesus the Lord of your life too?
If so, you can pray this prayer - Lord Jesus, I believe you are the Son of God. Thank you for dying on the cross for my sins and rising again. Please forgive my sins and give me the gift of eternal life. I ask you into my life and heart as my Lord and Savior. Please help me grow in you and live for you. Thank you for coming into my heart.
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