LIFE at Wheaton Bible Church

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My Story by Sally Hoelterhoff

My Story

I grew up going to church—once on Wednesday and twice on Sunday. I went to Christian summer camp and Vacation Bible School. I knew all the stories about God, from Creation to Jesus. I remember saying the prayer to accept Christ as my Savior during summer camp one year when I was 10 years old. But I said it then only because the camp counselor wanted me to be sure I had asked Jesus to come into my heart. I said it, but it didn’t change me.

As I grew older, I continued to call myself a Christian. I tried not to get into too much trouble. I thought I was a pretty good person. I would pray when I needed something or when someone was sick. But the whole time I was really just making my own decisions and living my life the way I had thought was best—the way I wanted to.

When I was a junior in high school, my parents became missionaries overseas. I saw some miraculous things happening among the native tribes in Brazil: people coming to the Lord, healings, and miracles that couldn’t be explained in any way other than that they were miracles. But while that was all amazing to me, I still didn’t have a personal relationship with God. I never understood.

When I was pregnant with my third child, I was looking for a preschool for my oldest daughter. I hadn’t gone to church on a regular basis for about 18 years, but I was familiar with Wheaton Bible Church because my brother had attended there when he was a student at Wheaton College—back when the church building was located in downtown Wheaton.

Around that time I had started getting a nagging feeling that I really needed to start using my life for good outside my own little bubble. I wanted to help people and thought church was the best place for that. On top of that, I wanted to find a preschool for my daughter, one I could trust to care for her in the best possible way. When I met the preschool director, I felt a peace that this was the place for my daughter and also a place I could explore.

Tina at her Baptism, with Pastor Chris McElwee

Tina at her Baptism, with Pastor Chris McElwee

I began going to every seminar offered and started attending church as many Sundays as I could. I was looking for answers. I always felt there was this roadblock or mountain I had to climb to “get to the other side” and be a “good” Christian. I desperately wanted to do that. I also desperately wanted friends who would understand what I was searching for—friends who wanted more out of the day-to-day lives we were living.

One of the preschool moms I had gotten to know suggested I go to Alpha. I went faithfully, and during one of the sessions, we were asked if we wanted to pray the prayer of salvation. I did, and my table leader prayed with me. That day I truly accepted what Christ had done for me. That’s when I knew it wasn’t about what I did, or how I acted, or what I could do for others. It was about what Christ had already done for me. I didn’t need to do anything else. He had done it all, and I had accepted that. I wanted to live my life for Jesus from that point on.

I still sin every day. That will be a part of me as long as I’m on this earth. But I now know that what the Bible says is real and trustworthy. I know that God sent His Son, Jesus, to die on the cross to save me from my sins. I know my relationship with Christ is real, because I became a different person.

My family saw the changes, and I started to talk about God more and more without feeling uneasy about it. And now, Wednesdays are my favorite day of the week, because I start out the morning in my Bible study group and end the day helping at Awana. God has also given me a desire to live the kind of life described in Colossians, which tells us, “Get rid of anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander and dirty language. Don’t lie to each other. . . . Clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. . . . And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts” (Colossians 3:8–9, 12–13, 15, NLT).

I am still a sinner, and I will never be perfect, but now I want to live for Christ.

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This entry was posted on March 14, 2014 by in Spring 2014 and tagged .

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