True Stories by Teena Myers
Beth accepted Christ on Easter Sunday when she was eleven years old. Three years later, her mother stopped attending church. “I had to take two buses through dangerous neighborhoods to get to the church,” said Beth. When daylight savings started, I was afraid to ride the bus at night, so I stopped going. But the desire to be in the presence of God never left me. During high school and my first year at college, I occasionally attended mass at a Catholic church near my home, but I never committed to following Christ.”
Beth had lived at home during her first year of graduate school, but the commute proved difficult. The following year, she decided to live on campus. A white bookcase and Bible waited at the front of the door to her suite when she arrived. “My roommates told me the items belonged to the former occupant and I could keep them. I attended church with my Presbyterian roommate, but remained uncommitted to following Christ.”
She graduated with a master’s degree in dance education and accepted a position with the New York Board of Education. She loved her job and thought she would spend the rest of her life teaching. As 1997 drew near its end, Beth heard a voice in the depths of her soul say, “I want to draw you back to me.” Recognizing the voice as God’s, she made a New Year’s resolution to return to Bethlehem Church, where she made a commitment to follow Christ when she was eleven.
“I walked into the church and said to God, ‘I’m here.’” This time Beth was serious about fulfilling her commitment. As she spent more time in God’s presence, the gentle voice of the Holy Spirit led her to make changes. “Changing the way I lived was difficult but not a struggle. Anything the Holy Spirit convicted me about was gone with no looking back.”
Nine months later, Beth attended a women’s ministry conference. Reverend Joan spoke about her work at a Christian college in New Orleans. “When Reverend Joan spoke about the school, my heart leaped within me,” said Beth. “I didn’t pursue attending the school, but there was a connection that I could not deny.”
More than a year later, Reverend Joan returned to speak at a Women’s Ministry Spring Rally for the City of New York. After the service, Beth approached the altar for prayer. Reverend Joan’s prayer confirmed to Beth that God had called her to ministry. Before she left the rally, Beth stopped at the college’s booth to pick up a packet of information.
“The packet lay unopened on my desk for three months,” said Beth. “I attempted to open it several times but stopped. I knew the moment I opened that envelope I’d have to deal with the reality of leaving everything to fulfill the calling God had placed on my life.”
Beth became restless. She no longer desired to teach her class, and sought God for a solution to the unhappiness in her life. God revealed he was preparing her for ministry. Uncertain that the revelation was from God, she challenged him to prove that he was speaking to her. “I was vice president of the women’s ministry at Bethlehem Church and scheduled to speak at the next meeting. Before I left, I prayed, ‘God, if I’m really called to ministry, I want Sister Bea to lay hands on me, speak in tongues, and then prophesy that you have called me to full-time ministry.’”
At the end of the service, Beth saw Sister Bea walking toward the exit and said, “Okay, Lord, I guess I’m not going.” Suddenly, Sister Bea turned around, walked to the altar, and stood in front of Beth. She laid hands on her, spoke in tongues, and prophesied that God had called Beth to full-time ministry. That night Beth opened the packet of information and filled out the admission’s form.
“I had taken the first step, but the battle wasn’t over. I didn’t want to leave New York. Then my boyfriend slipped the engagement ring on my finger. After he left, I wept and promised God I would go to New Orleans next year,” said Beth.
A friend who had been present for Sister Bea’s prophecy learned Beth returned to her teaching job and confronted her. “What happened to the Christian college?” said Eileen.
“I’ll go next year. I’m still teaching, and I’m getting married—”
“Excuse me,” Eileen interrupted. “You asked God about this. He gave you the answer, and you’re just gonna brush him off like that? You call SUM as soon as you wake up tomorrow, and I’m gonna call to see if you did.”
Early Monday morning, the phone woke Beth. Eileen demanded to know if she had called the school. Irritated and convinced Eileen would not leave her alone until she called, Beth dialed the number. Reverend Joan answered. Beth explained how she came to the conviction God had called her to attend the school.
“If you know you belong here, you better get on the plane this week,” said Reverend Joan. “We are in the second week of school, but I’ll approve your application if you arrive before Thursday.”
“What am I gonna do about my bills?” said Beth. “You can work at McDonalds.”
“McDonalds! I’m a teacher.”
“You can waitress at the Holiday Inn.”
“That’s not gonna pay my bills. I’ve already committed to teach another year. I can’t pull out at the last minute.”
“If God wants you in ministry, the principal will release you from your commitment without any complications.” The conversation with Reverend Joan pricked Beth at the core of her being.
“The next three days were agony,” said Beth. “By Tuesday evening, I’d made up my mind to attend. Then I talked to my fiancé and changed my mind. Wednesday morning, Eileen called to find out if I’d bought a ticket to New Orleans yet. I told her, ‘I’m not going,’ hung up the phone, and then fell on my face begging God to tell me one more time that I was called to full-time ministry.” A battle raged for Beth’s soul as she cried all morning and into the afternoon. The struggle ceased when she heard God say, “Today, choose who you will serve. If you choose me, I’ll be faithful to you, and you will fulfill the calling on your life.” Beth wiped the tears from her eyes and called the principal to see if she could be released from her teaching commitment. Reverend Joan’s counsel proved prophetic. The principal released her with a blessing. Beth purchased an airline ticket and left her career, family, friends, and fiancé. She arrived in New Orleans fully committed to follow Christ.
God rewarded her obedience with a new fiancé that she met while attending the School of Urban Missions. After they married, they accepted a pastorate in New Orleans and then lost everything, including their congregation, in Hurricane Katrina. Fully committed to their calling, they remained to rebuild their church and minister to the needs of a suffering city.