By Lisa Samuels
My name is Lisa and I practiced Buddhism for 30 years. It was not challenging enough to continue and I felt spiritually disconnected and lost. My family are Christians, so I thought I’d give that a try.
This is how my journey to Christianity started. While seeking the way and visiting churches my experiences were similar to what I found frustrating with Buddhism. I prayed, “Lord, if you want me to be a Christian, I need your help to show me the way.”
God answered my prayer!
At the time I was working for the Bergen County urban League as a certified housing counselor. The first client that morning gave me a Christian prayer book. I was so happy to receive this gift, I began reading the prayers each morning.
One afternoon a client came in and her presence illuminated the waiting room. Amazed, I asked her what was it that made her shine so brightly. Smiling she said, it was God’s love and His Holy Spirit. Then she shared her testimony.
It was awesome to see what God had done in her life!
Before leaving she invited me to a Her Life Speaks women’s small group that studied the Bible. After a few sessions, I felt at home with these beautiful, compassionate women studying and sharing.
My new friend was so happy I was enjoying the study group, she blessed me with a beautiful Bible. While studying God’s word, I was calm and at ease even though my life was falling apart due to loss of employment and very little income.
Every Her Life Speaks study session ended with prayer requests. I asked for prayers for my finances. These understanding and compassionate sisters made it easy to ask for prayers without embarrassment. Whenever I was with my HLS sisters, I felt in my heart we were one with one another in God’s love.
During the first year I learned to pray and how to relate the Bible lessons to my life. The first study topic was Breaking Free by Beth Moore and it was at this time my business partnership dissolved. I felt misled and controlled by my business partner but continued to pray and study God’s word daily. The Breaking Free lessons spoke about “Beauty from Ashes”.
“All who mourn in Israel, He will give a crown of beauty from ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks the Lord has planted for his own glory.” Isaiah 61:3
Understanding and believing how broken my life was, I desired God to heal me. I continued to read Isaiah 61 “They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated for generations.” This verse was the truth of my life! I meditated on this verse and it felt like a miracle was happening in my life.
I was so grateful for meeting these enlightened women of God and to be a part of the Her Life Speaks sisterhood. Through it, God brought me joy and hope for the future. From the lessons of Breaking Free, God restored my confidence and trust in Him. I believe God loves me and I am beautiful in His eyes. I was able to see how God could and did work in my life by blessing me with a solution to my financial problem and a solution to my spiritual problem!
God is my Deliverer!
Being a part of Her Life Speaks these past two years and attending retreats has been a revealing journey for me. God has blessed me with abundance. I love studying the word of God with my HLS sisters in faith. When a problem comes along, I have God and my sisters to pray me through. I am so blessed and honored to be a part of this growing ministry.
I sat across the long solid wood mahogany table with a lump in my throat. I could see the lips of the lawyer moving but I had stopped hearing the words she spoke after she had said, “I believe it will cost conservatively $25,000 to get your son in the right school placement.”
Did she just say $25,000?
We didn’t have $25,000. Nowhere even close.
After the lawyer shook my hand and said, “ I look forward to hearing from you soon,” I stumbled to the car in a haze of anxiety. I knew our son needed a different school placement but I had no idea how we would be able to afford this lawyer to help us get what he needed. I felt utterly helpless.
Over a sink full dishes, I relayed the news from the lawyer to my husband that evening. He shook his head and said “We don’t have the money to hire her.” Tears streamed down my face as I said, “I know… but what are we going to do? Our son needs help.”
For several nights I tossed and turned in my bed. My mind was preoccupied with trying to find a way to come up with the money to hire the lawyer. What could we sell? Should we take out a loan? Could I pick up another part-time job to make it work? I battled through many sleepless nights... and on one particular sleepless night, I remembered that Her Life Speaks took prayer requests through their website online. So, I hopped on the site and asked for prayer.
Within less than 24 hours, I received beautiful prayers through emails of women I had never met. I wrote every verse down in a journal we keep for our family. I was moved by the prayers that the Her Life Speaks prayer team sent me. I could tell that they had really heard my cry and they had taken time to wait on Jesus to see what they should pray for. As I read through their prayers, I realized that we were not alone this fight for our son. Others had kindly volunteered to stand with us. This not only encouraged me…it empowered to believe that God would do something miraculous on our son’s behalf.
My husband and I decided to not use the lawyer but to simply ask our school district if they would be willing to pay for our son to go out of district for his education. If you are familiar with special needs education and IEP’s, you are probably saying to yourself, “That’s crazy! Districts rarely if ever agree to an out of district placement on their dime!” It’s true. They usually don’t... but we believed Psalm 121 for our son’s school situation:
I lift up my eyes to the mountains--
where does my help come from?
2 My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
3 He will not let your foot slip--
he who watches over you will not slumber;
4 indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The Lord watches over you--
the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
6 the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.
7 The Lord will keep you from all harm--
he will watch over your life;
8 the Lord will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.
We walked into our IEP meeting and we asked the school district to send our son out of district for his schooling at the district’s expense. Without hesitation, they said “yes!” Not only did they say “yes”, they were so kind and helpful in helping make the transition as soon and as smooth as possible! There was no denying it: God had made a way! He had been our great Help!
I am so thankful for Her Life Speak’s firm belief in the power of prayer and for their willingness to stand with me in prayer. At times in life, we may feel helpless… but we are never hopeless. Prayer opens the door for all kinds of miraculous possibilities. We can put our hope in the Lord who can make anything possible!
On March 9, 2018, our Lord blessed Her Life Speaks’ 10th Annual Retreat with themes such as unity and love. Our guest speaker, Deidra Riggs, after giving her own life testimony, shared words of truth and His love for us from scriptures. She proclaimed to us the testimony about God that ultimately moved women’s emotions to a higher climate, just as the apostle Paul wrote in his letter in 1 Corinthians 2:1, “And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God.”
Serving as a table leader that day, I was surrounded by multi-cultured Christians and non-Christian women. Throughout the retreat I heard comments like, “Deidra is not a powerful speaker” or “I’m not sure if she is filled with the Holy Spirit”. I realized that the speaker was not fulfilling their personal expectations they came for, so I started praying in the Spirit to my Abba Father, saying “what is going on, my Lord?” “I know your (His) presence is here with us, and your cloud of glory upon us”. Then I heard in my spirit Jesus saying, “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A weak reed, swayed by the wind, what did you go out to see?” Matthew 11:7-8. Then the Holy Spirit showed me a scripture from 1 Kings.
The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by…" 1 Kings 19:11
A great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake...
After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a still small voice"1 Kings 19:12
Then my Lord continued to speak to me, “is there any greater WORD than my words of LOVE?”
Our Lord spoke to us this day with a still small voice, a gentle whisper.
So many of us, as Christians expect our revival meetings to have a form of charismatic movements of wind, earthquake or fire (our Lord will show His manifestation of His glory as He wills, as He has done so stating it in the book of Acts until now) yet, let us be careful not to miss His unique ways of revealing, convicting and transforming those who have the ear to hear what the Spirit says to His church or to the believer.
As I continued meditating on those words of revelation in my spirit even after our retreat, my Lord awoke my spirit to the fact, to be careful regarding signs and wonders because in the last days the deceiver might use these to deceive even the very elect. My experience at this retreat was one-of-a-kind in regard to the message:
"Unity with one another through love, and to serve one another through love by washing each other’s feet" John 13:1-17
Her Life Speaks Prayer Leader
By, Rebecca Sliwak
I grew up in a very traditional church where Sunday attire included a dress and heels, a few hymns led by an organist and songs led by a choir. The rest of the service followed the same standard of formality. I dreaded singing along to these ancient songs so I would opt out and follow along silently. Although I knew it was part of worship, I still had a difficult time letting it out in this way.
I carried this bias against worship music up until I was 22 years old when a friend invited me to a more contemporary service. The service started out with a live band! This four person band was jamming out to Christian music and at first I was taken aback. I had never seen Christian worship music played this way before. I was intrigued, although found myself once again following along rather than participating with the congregation.
That afternoon it registered in my mind that I really wanted to participate with the rest of the congregation in this way. My eyes or should I say, ears, were open to another way in which to worship and even though I still felt a bit uncomfortable I wanted to make it work. I made it my mission to worship God through using my singing voice and to try and find a way to like it.
I went straight to Pandora where I literally typed in, “Christian Worship”. I scrolled past the old-school hymns and looked for a young contemporary band. This is where I was introduced to Elevation Worship.
I started following Elevation Worship and downloaded their album, “Here As In Heaven”. Although I still was a bit hesitant, I listened to this band on my thirty minute commute every morning into the city. Quickly, their words started to become a sense of comfort and prepared me for my long day ahead.
Eventually I found myself singing these songs and knowing every word. What a beautiful thing to sing God’s words and have them instilled into my mind and heart!
My attitude towards worship music completely changed after forcing myself to search for something I could relate to. For me, Elevation Worship allowed me to make room to worship God in a way I never had before. Now I am not uncomfortable singing along during worship service on Sundays and glorifying God in that way.
Did you know the Bible calls us to do this?
Ephesians 5:19 “Speak to one another with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your hearts to the Lord”
Psalm 95:1 “Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the rock of our salvation”
With this new found love for contemporary worship music, I’m open to recommendations from you all. Please comment below some of your favorite Christian artists you love to listen to. I’m looking forward to hearing from you!
By Maryann Barattia
Director of Membership & Community
“We Love Because He First Loved Us”1 John 4: 19
What is it that draws women and girls to the Her Life Speaks ministry? After each of the four annual Lenten Retreats I have attended I hear, “What inspired you to return as an attendee to this ministry?” Without hesitation every woman young and older replied “the genuine smiles, love and friendliness of the women who greeted and welcomed me!”
How do they do it? How do they display genuine care consistently? Is it a new perfume or cosmetic treatment, a successful marketing strategy? As one who has experienced this at a time when I was lost and broken, I can truthfully say it is the unconditional love of God. It fills the hearts and souls of our sisters who share his love with everyone they welcome to Her Life Speaks.
Attending my first small group bible study I noticed a women who was looking in my direction. I was captivated by her bright eyes and welcoming smile. Every encounter over the last five years has been the same, welcoming and genuine. We are God’s representatives to all through the sharing of his love. It is a promise that he has made to us.
“Though the mountains be shaken and the hills removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed says the Lord, who has compassion on me.” Isaiah 54: 10 NIV
Although I didn’t feel worthy, I heard the Holy Spirit’s call to share my spiritual gifts with others. I didn’t know I had spiritual gifts and was fearful I would make mistakes. It was through prayer the Holy Spirit helped me understand when you answer God’s call he equips you with the grace you need to use your spiritual gifts. “But I’m so busy and this is so out of my comfort zone!” The Father’s love enabled me to feel secure in his calling and I am blessed by each seeking heart I welcome to HLS ministry.
“Your love never fails, never gives up, never runs out on me.” Romans 8: 37 - 39
When God calls you to serve as sisters in Jesus that is where it begins, welcoming others by sharing his love. Sit in stillness listening for the Spirit and he will reveal God’s plan for you, to use all things for good, to give you hope and a future.
There are many ways for you to serve him and in the discovery you will receive a great gift, to become an instrument in furthering God’s kingdom.
Will you take the first step to join us in welcoming women and girls who are seeking his love?
Her Life Speaks is all about Her testimony, Her life, and who God is in Her story. Here we write our stories in hopes of helping other women find their relationship with Jesus Christ.