I’m 47 years old. I’m a daughter, a mother, a friend, a sister, an aunt, a teacher, and many other things. I grew up in a Christian home, with Christian values, but I was on my way to Hell. I was a sinner. Now, I hadn’t done any horrible crimes or anything, but as the Bible says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” I made a profession of faith when I was twelve, but I continued to have doubts.
I went off to a Christian college and did all the right things, but I still had doubts about my salvation. I worked for a Christian school, but I still had doubts. I had the identity of a pretender. I got married, had children and taught them about Christ’s love, but I still had doubts. And, I had pride. What would people think of me if they knew how long I’d pretended to be a Christian?
I went through a rough divorce in 2005 after being married for 10 years, and it nearly destroyed me. When my ex-husband got remarried almost right away, I was very hurt and angry. That hurt and anger turned to bitterness, and the bitterness took over my life. I still went to church, because it was the “right” thing to do, but I was mad at God. I had no relationship with Him at all. I didn’t want to live any longer. I stood on the edge of a bridge, ready to jump, when a friend of mine called me and told me that God loved me, that she loved me and wanted me to live. I was still depressed and fought that for years.
My ex-husband eventually took my girls away from me, partly due to my unhealthy depression. And, although it was the most difficult time of my life, it was what the Lord used to show me that I needed a new identity. I needed Him. He showed me my depression and anger. He showed me how I’d been pretending for far too long. In November 2011, after 30 years of pretending, I saw who I truly was – a daughter who needed the Father’s love. So, I asked Jesus to forgive my sins. I was God’s daughter. I grabbed on to the hem of His garment and let Him love on me, like the woman in Mark 5 who knew that if she just touched the hem of His garment, she’d be made whole. Jesus looked at the woman and said, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace, and be healed of your affliction.” He healed me of my sins.
And, he began healing me of all my wrong “identities.” He started with “unworthy.” He showed me that I had worth in Him because I’m made in His image, Genesis 1:26-27. He showed me that I didn’t have to be a failure, because I was a new creation in Him (2 Corinthians 5:17). But, the biggest thing he showed me was my need to forgive, to release myself from the captivity of unforgiveness. I was all tied up in anger and unforgiveness. Christ showed me that I could be free from it. It took some time. But it happened.
Forgiveness is a noun that means “A debt cancelled.” Biblical definition: absolution of sin through confession and repentance. Personal definition: letting go of your right to be angry or vengeful. We want to hold onto hurt and anger until we feel the one who hurt us or angered us has been punished. But our forgiveness is supposed to look like Christ’s forgiveness. His forgiveness is free for us, but it cost Him His life. He suffered a horrible death on the Cross to forgive my sins and yours. What does it really cost us to forgive? A little pride? If the one who has hurt us has asked forgiveness, we must give it. Even if the one who hurt us doesn’t ask forgiveness, we should still forgive. Otherwise, we’re the ones hurting. Forgiveness means you let it go. Forgiveness is rarely easy, but we have a perfect role model! Jesus asked God to forgive those that were crucifying Him (“And Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.’” Luke 23:34). So, “even as Christ forgave you, so you also must forgive others” (Col. 3:13).
As I began to forgive my ex-husband, God began to heal the hurt inside me. He has healed the relationship with one of my daughters. God is faithful. I truly believe that one day, in His timing, the relationship with my other daughter will be restored as well.
On my first mission trip to Peru in the summer of 2014, the Lord made it clear that He was opening the door for me to be involved with ministry there. See, for as long as I can remember, I have had a heart toward missions. I have gone on a couple of mission trips over the years (Ivory Coast and Romania), but I knew that my mission field was somewhere else. Four years ago during my daughter’s junior year in high school (2014) my daughter and I discussed the possibility of going on a mission trip together. I contacted a friend who grew up as a missionary kid in Peru about the possibility of going with her and through prayer the Lord confirmed that this is where we should go. That summer, we joined with several churches that were serving through Hope for Women Ministries by sharing their testimonies and teaching at women’s conferences. I absolutely fell in love with the people, the country, the need, the “all” of Peru and firmly believe that the Lord has placed a burden on my heart to return. Last summer I returned to Peru and again served the women, teens, and children in several cities in Peru. God affirmed the call on my life, specifically to the Chanchamayo Province in Peru (my “home base” will be in San Ramón).
The Lord has called me to serve in San Ramón, Peru, and He has said that now is the time to GO YE. On July 4, 2018, I left Mississippi and moved to Peru. I am home.
I am sent from my home church, Country Woods Baptist Church, and am an affiliate missionary with Light for Living Worldwide Ministries. If you or your church is interested in supporting my ministry, please contact me here or at my email address, stephaniecrawford@hrt4Peru.org. You can also give by going to Light for Living at give.MinistryLinQ.com/LightForLiving.
My “motto” for my ministry, if you will, is “I was a mess…. But God…. Sharing His healing with hurting women.” Women are hurting. They need to know the love of Christ heals. My heart is to help other women experience the healing that can ONLY come from Christ.