By Teena Myers
Christa’s life fell apart when her daughter was born with Down syndrome. She turned to the church for an explanation. “Why can God raise Lazarus from the dead but he can’t fix my child?” Christa demanded.
The priest studied his distraught parishioner. “You may not want to hear this right now, but I want you to think about this: Lazarus died twice.” His response failed to dispel Christa’s frustration with the Almighty, so she abandoned the church and consoled herself with alcohol.
“A friend got in my face and told me, ‘You drink too much,’” said Christa. “She refused to give up on me until I agreed to talk to a counselor at a rehabilitation hospital. The counselor convinced me I had a problem.” Christa entered an in-house rehab program. Thirty days later, she walked out of the hospital with instructions to visit Alcoholics Anonymous, a support group that helps members maintain sobriety through dependence on a higher power.
“Alcoholics Anonymous brought me back to God,” said Christa. “I knew I couldn’t do this alone, and to me the higher power was God.” Christa returned to faith in God, but she didn’t return to the church.”
The following year, her marriage ended in divorce. Her now ex-husband agreed to keep their children until she adjusted to her new life. Christa’s new life included Ken, a Jewish veterinarian. Shortly after Christa married Ken, a friend invited her to church. She enjoyed the service but wasn’t prepared for the unexpected follow-up visit. She had been married less than a month when her Jewish husband returned home to find three Christian men sitting in his den. She never returned to the church.
Christa prayed for a way to provide a spiritual foundation for her children when they came to live with her. A friend encouraged her to invest in her emotional commitment to God with a financial commitment. She chose a church down the street from her home and began mailing small donations from her salary.
A month later, Christa received a call from the recipient of her donations. A woman said, “Is this Christa Allan?”
“I’m the secretary at the First Baptist Church. Our pastor would like to speak to you.” While Christa waited, she wondered what she had done to warrant a call from the pastor.
“Hello, this is Pastor Wayne. I was wondering why you started sending money to our church. We checked the roles. You’re not a member.”
“I know,” said Christa. “We just moved here, and a friend told me I should invest in my emotional commitment to God with a financial one. Your church is near my house, so it made sense to send you some money.”
“Okay, you probably don’t know that most churches don’t get money on a regular basis from people they don’t know.”
“I never thought about that,” said Christa.
Christa met with Pastor Wayne shortly after he called. She was very comfortable with the personable pastor. “I liked that his wife taught in the public schools and his daughters attended a public high school. It spoke volumes about his faith and commitment to the community. I felt that I could connect with this church. Ken didn’t mind as long as I didn’t bother him with it. He just didn’t get this Jesus thing, so I didn’t force my faith on him.”
Christa joined the church and increased her giving from small donations to a tithe. Shortly, after she increased her contributions, Ken told her that he needed to talk to her. She braced for a disagreement about money. Instead, Ken announced, “I’m going to talk to your pastor.” Several months later, Ken accepted Christ and was baptized in the church. “My pastor calls him a completed Jew, and I really like that,” said Christa.