Shawn Thompson is a new addition to the River of Life family, and he is full of enthusiasm! He has been through a lot in life, and is grateful that God has brought him through everything He has.
From drug dealer to Spirit-filled,
That's how many years I wasted. 50 long years of unhappiness. When I stepped into River of Life Church, no one knew the mess I was. From the outside, I looked like an average, middle-aged woman. Inside, life had left me broken, rejected, and unbearably alone. My problem with co-dependent relationships made me stay with a man who gave me over 100 stitches, multiple black eyes, bruises and stabbings. Even the fact that my own husband prostituted my body wasn't enough to make me leave him. I just wanted to be happy and loved.
After I surrendered my children to adoption, I turned to drugs and alcohol to numb my pain. I stood aloof as they were adopted by a family, the only comfort I had was knowing that they were now safe. My life took a turn for the worst. Over the next 20 years, the profligate cycle would continue of relentless addiction, bad romances, binge eating, and many other struggles, only to find each time I was left even more empty than I was before.
When would it end?
Finally, in February 2010 (the month of Love), the Love of my life would change my world. My Lord, King Jesus, spread his arms of healing around me through the church body at River of Life. The Bible says you will know they are my disciples by their love for one another. We are not perfect here, but we will love you with all that we have. I'm not what I could be, I'm not what I should be... But I'm definitely not what I used to be! Thank you Lord for Your grace & changing my heart. I'm at peace with my life, and I want to spend the second half living for Jesus, my Rescuer and Comforter, my Healer, my Provider of all my needs. I finally found happiness!
After forcing God out of my life for 10 years and ignoring His calling, He called me back.
During that time, I took it upon myself to do everything I could to do things on my own. Recently, I was in a relationship where I always tried to take control of the situation so she could live a healthier, non-abusive life.
Come to find out, she was in control of her life. Not me or anybody else. At first, the frustration, confusion and anger I tried to manage on my own. Through this anger, frustration, and confusion, we went to counseling and would read books about psychology which resulted in little satisfaction. Fixing a carnal mind with a carnal mind is impossible because nobody can develop enough patience to deal with it on their own.
So God put a hunger back in my heart. I went to several churches, called numerous pastors and christian counselors, but always seemed to end up at a dead end. As much as I didn't want to, for whatever reason, I had one last option: coming back to the UPCI. When I did, the acceptance was remarkable. I felt like I was home as soon as I walked in the door (800 miles away from home and not knowing a soul in the building). I spoke with the pastor which opened my eyes to the possible peace through God, which I was very eager to pursue at that time considering what I was going through. It was next to unbearable. I viewed it as my last option and I had no other choice. The last thing I wanted to do was to leave the relationship, even if I was living in sin. But through God, I was able to overcome the guilt of leaving; to find peace by being righteous with the help of God for a change. A person I loved dearly, I had to leave, because I knew in my heart we were living in sin and unequally yoked. It was the hardest thing I have ever done. But if God can get me through breaking my own heart, I know He is capable of ANYTHING.
There is no turning back now. My carnal mind has transformed into a spiritual mind, which feeds off of the Word of God and clings to other righteous people. A week after the breakup, God laid on my heart that I needed to fast. During that fast, God opened my eyes to an unbelievable understanding of abusers, abuse victims, why this world is so terrible, and the difference between being carnally-minded and spiritually-minded. Not to mention how poisonous pride can be, and how it can affect a carnally-minded person and turn them into a monster. All I know is that there is POWER in prayer, fasting, and serving God. Even the carnal mind notices a person that is walking with God righteously no matter how much they deny it. This my testimony, and an answered prayer, but I know there is no possible way I can live without God in my life. I tried it, but it is impossible without Him!
December of 1996 is when I started serving God.
I had gotten baptized In Jesus name andrefilled with the Holy Ghost. I obeyed the Gospel according to Acts 2:38. The direction of my life started to completely change. I had been a slave to sin, and a victim to the lies and accusations of the devil long enough. Jesus delivered me from the tormenting thoughts of hopelessness, rejection, failure, and addiction, some of which were my own making and others, the enemy added to it. 4 months before I got baptized, I had gotten married to my second husband in August of 1996. Prior to that, we lived together and were messed up and bound by all kinds of things, but we still knew it wasn't right to live together, so we got married.
My husband got baptized in April of 1997. Then the stronghold of fear that tried to paralyze my ability to function and communicate properly popped its ugly head up, and the agonizing pain of not having my own four children around all the time to raise was surfacing. It would make me sick until I started to learn how to repent of that fear and take authority over it in prayer and give it to God. Things started to change. Three of my four children were coming around more often. We went to church got them involved where they could be. My youngest son, Alex, got baptized and filled with the Holy Ghost in June of 1998. My family was coming. I kept praying and thanking God in advance. I did everything I could to get Alex rooted and grounded in truth and to know the depths of God's love. I was one happy mama.
My baby was baptized, filled with the Holy Ghost, and loving and living for Jesus with all his heart. Who wouldn't be happy? I prayed and hoped the others would come. It wasn't long before my oldest son and daughter quit coming, and would barely talk to me. My second son never came. I didn't understand. What was happening?
But Alex was still coming, and I knew he had access to their home. We prayed over prayer cloths, we listened to preaching tapes, and we would sing, all the way back and forth from his dad's. He started to take ownership of his own faith. He was on fire! He was being nurtured even though he was only here every other weekend. He had such a desire to please God. There was a number of years that this went on. The more resistance their was, the more committed I became.
The more I got into reading the word and praying and connecting with the people of God and involved in furthering his kingdom, the more clearly I was able to focus on what God wanted me to focus on. I wanted my family saved. Then, slowly, Alex began to drift. I was devastated. My heart was bruised. By this time, I had been deep into commitments to God. I had poured myself into various avenues of the prayer ministry, cell group, etc. I fasted, and I cried out to God. Now what? He is the only one out of my children that has obeyed the Gospel.
He told me to increase my commitment and work more with the church kids. He reminded me that He sees everything. He gave me promises that if I made these commitments, that He would bless the ministries I am involved in and save my children. It was hard, but I loved the children like they were my own, and it helped me heal. I learned that God wants to be your first love. If you love somebody more than God, He doesn't like it. I kept on hanging on to those promises and I would pray daily for my kids. I kept committing them unto God. My husband has always been right here to support me and pray with me. I am blessed. My relationship with the Lord continued to grow - so did the prayer ministry - so did the kids group ministry and VBS.
Many answers to prayer would come filtering in. I was so excited to be able to be a part of what God is doing. He is a prayer-answering God. There are so many needs and there are so many people that need the Lord. And we have access to God Almighty that can take the impossible and make it possible by just a heartfelt prayer. People getting filled with the Holy Ghost, people being delivered from different things, families restored, many different healings, on & on & on. He gets the Glory! He never ceases to amaze me. Iknow all things work together for the good for those who love the Lord and are called according to His purpose.
Many years passed by, and I kept trusting God and stayed busy doing His work. My children are all adults now. My oldest son had a baby boy, and he called, and I was able to go see my grandson. I thought thank you Jesus for that precious moment. I received a couple of pictures via email, but again, no other contact. I didn't understand. What happened?
I just kept committing my children and grandchildren to God. I would receive a card every now and then and the occasional phone call, but all other contact had been scarce. The Lord kept encouraging me that your children shall be taught of the Lord and great shall be the peace of your children; you shall be the Mother of many nations. Spread out your tent and put your tent stakes down. You have a work to do here. In June of this year, Alex called and asked if he could stop by and visit for a little bit. I got so excited! I had just finished putting the Kids' group lesson together for that night, so it was perfect timing. We visited and I was just so happy to see him. They left and I went to group. The lesson that I was teaching had a scripture from Matthew 5:6 "Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled". So I prayed, "oh God, let them hunger and thirst after righteousness like never before, and let them not be satisfied with anything less.
A few days later, I got a text. It said "Mom, I have been extremely hungry for the Lord." Yes yes YES! I prayed "fill em up Lord. He is extremely hungry. Bring that scripture to life quickly. Quicken it. IN JESUS NAME!" I was in awe. I felt a rush of excitement penetrate every fiber of my being. He just kept calling and talking to me, and my husband, his relationship with God has been restored, his relationship with us is restored he is back in church, and he is living for God.