Written by Carolyn Acosta
[dropcap]M[/dropcap]y name is Carolyn Acosta. It is my privilege to come weekly from my hometown to serve and love the people at the Dallas International Street Church. How grateful I am for this opportunity, and for this ministry! I would like to share my story. I was raised in a liberal denominational church. The scriptures were certainly not presented as the inspired word of God, but rather as myths and legends. The miraculous stories of the bible were downplayed, undermined and explained away. The scriptures were interpreted only symbolically, including concepts of heaven and hell. Everyone after death would go to some sort of heaven no matter what they believed, or how they had lived.
This was my faith until I entered the University of Texas at Austin in my teens. For the first time I began to hear atheism. This was very troubling to me. I remember thinking, “Have I just believed a fairy tale all my life to believe in the existence of God? Are we really just here alone and there is no one, nothing?” And so I began to cry out deeply to God, “Do you really exist, and if you do, prove yourself to me, show me yourself.” And he certainly did.
The Lord brought me across the path of some Christian students from an organization called the Campus Crusade for Christ. They brought me into Jesus’ kingdom. I will never forget them. They were sold-out soldiers for Christ. They were not ashamed of his gospel in a very Christian environment. Every morning at five o’clock am, they met to pray for all of the students they were witnessing to. Revelations 3:20 was used a lot in their witness, which says, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come into him, and I will dine with him and he with me.” One day as they shared this verse with me, the Holy Spirit caused it to come powerfully alive to me. I could feel Jesus knocking at the door of my heart, and he said to me, “Carolyn, let me enter in and take over. Don’t worry about what you can’t yet understand or believe. Just give me the reins, and I will work it all out for you.” And so I asked Jesus to be my Lord and Savior. I was a new creation.
But then a great test had to follow. Shortly after my conversation, I met and married a young man who assured me that he planned to go to seminary and that we would have a Christian ministry together. Our children would be raised in the word of God. However, when we had been married less than a year, he completely denied and departed from his faith. Apparently, all that had come against all of us at the University had taken deeper root in him. He became an atheist. I was shocked and crushed. We had children come along. He made new friends.
He took our children and me to a small border town with his friends. They were complete unbelievers, drug users, and they practiced sexual partner swapping among themselves. One couple among them had participated with the communist party in Bolivia. They were getting drugs from across the border. I didn’t know this yet.
I had to stay with my small children among this group for two years, alone as a believer. God was very faithful with me. At a final stage of my being among them, they tried to influence my husband to take the children from me and run away to some sort of “hippie-type” colony in California where they would be “untaught” every trace of Christian faith. God did not let that happen, and my husband and I were divorced. I got custody of the children.
Then I began another and a very different kind of trial- the long lovely years of being a single mother of four. But God was powerfully with me in that too. The most significant trial of those years was the diagnoses of my son with a serious mental illness. Six mental health professionals told me that he could never live outside the hospital, but he has lived at home since 1992. He is a Christian believer as are all my children and grandchildren.
God has given me another husband who is a hard-working responsible provider and a Christian also. We go to church together. Most of all, God has blessed me with three ministries! My cup runs over. “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.”(Ps. 30:5). How I praise his wonderful name!