LIFE at Wheaton Bible Church

Home of Wheaton Bible Church's Quarterly Magazine

Discovering Grace: Mary Ann’s Story


God uses all kinds of circumstances to draw people to Himself. In Mary Ann’s case, God used her job and the people she met there.

Mary Ann is an activity coordinator in the healthcare center of Windsor Park, the retirement community on North Avenue in Carol Stream. Sometimes her work involves planning and leading activities for groups of residents. Other times, she will connect with individual residents, visiting them in their rooms or taking them for a wheelchair ride around the pond.

On one of those visits, an elderly woman known for her love of the Scriptures asked Mary Ann to read the Bible to her out loud, and Mary Ann began to visit the woman regularly.

Mary Ann was honored to be asked to read God’s Holy Word. She had faith in God but had grown up in a religion that did not encourage Bible reading. As she read aloud for this resident, she felt for the first time as if she was getting to know God personally from His Word. A spiritual hunger began to develop as Mary Anne opened her heart.

Ernestine’s Invitation

Sometime later, Mary Ann met another elderly woman, named Ernestine Scull. Ernestine, a member of Wheaton Bible Church since 1963, invited Mary Ann to join her and another resident when they met for a Bible study. The print in the Bible was small, and the women soon realized it would be helpful if Mary Ann read the Bible out loud.

Each time they met, Mary Ann read the Scripture passage and then listened intently as the two women discussed its meaning.

What she heard in those studies and what she read in God’s Word brought a change to Mary Ann’s heart. For most of her life, she had believed that if she was good and did religious things, she would earn God’s approval. Now, for the first time, she began to understand the meaning of grace. From the Bible, she learned that salvation is a gift that we can never work hard enough or be good enough to earn, but a gift lovingly and freely given by God.

Mary Ann Roa and Ernestine Scull—a member of WBC for more than 50 years

Mary Ann Roa and Ernestine Scull—a member of WBC for more than 50 years

Mary Ann remembers Ernestine saying, “We are saved by faith in Christ, not by our works.” Her dear voice still echoes in Mary Ann’s mind: Not by works . . . not by works.

One evening not long after, watching a Christian television program in her own home, Mary Ann prayed along with the speaker at the end of a message, bowing her head and saying the prayer aloud with him to accept Christ as her personal Savior.

In the days after that prayer, Mary Ann had a growing desire to learn more about Jesus, finding Christian radio and TV programs and a devotional book that helped her learn about God and His Word.

It is by grace you have been saved, through faith
—and this not from yourselves, it is the
—not by works, so that no one can boast.

—Ephesians 2:8–9

A Church Home 

During one of their conversations, Ernestine told Mary Ann about her church—just down the road on North Avenue. And in the spring of this year, Mary Ann attended a worship service at Wheaton Bible Church, encouraged by her friend Marti, a volunteer at Windsor, who accompanied her on that first visit to WBC.

Mary Ann came back several times, but initially she wasn’t sure this was the right place for her. She thought a smaller church might be better.

It was an experience during the Good Friday service that changed her mind. It was quiet that evening as she sat in the middle of the West Worship Center, looking around at the expanse of the room and feeling very small in comparison. The contrast reminded her of the enormity of God, and in that moment she felt His majesty and His strength. She felt God embracing her, and in His arms she was safe and secure.

In the weeks that followed, Mary Ann attended worship services as often as her work schedule allowed, even joining the Sunday-morning Alpha Course.

As she grew in her faith, she longed for her family to come to church with her. And on her birthday, that longing was fulfilled as two of her adult children were able to attend with her. She was overjoyed later that day at her birthday party to hear them tell their aunts and cousins how much they enjoyed their mom’s new church.

Another evidence of God at work? That same week, Mary Ann’s husband, Malit, who had not been to church in many years, accepted an invitation from a family friend who attends Wheaton Bible Church, to join him for a Sunday service. Since that time, Malit has begun attending services with Mary Ann.

Mary Ann is grateful for the way God has revealed Himself in His Word. And she deeply appreciates the women He used to introduce her to God’s grace.

“My family will tell you, I use to be a worrywart. I was negative, and I was easily panicked and easily discouraged,” said Mary Ann. “Now I am overjoyed that I have Christ by my side. I offer difficult things up to the Lord and surrender them to Him. I see things from His perspective. And I trust that He will bring something good out of bad situations. God can move mountains and turn things upside down!”

What caused this seismic shift in disposition? It wasn’t a new house or a new car. Life’s problems didn’t magically disappear. Mary Ann didn’t attend a self-help seminar on how to discover a new attitude.

No, it was as simple as hearing the truth of God’s Word and accepting His gift of grace—salvation through faith alone.

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This entry was posted on September 9, 2013 by in Fall 2013 and tagged , , , , .

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