November 12, 2010

Jesus loves to transform lives…

Is it cheating on NaBloPoMo if you post someone else’s words?  Well I’m going to take the chance because it’s worth it!  
Below is an encouraging story from our dear friend Tammy.  We love her a lot and have loved this season that we’ve had with her to get to know her better.  I share with you this story to be encouraged and for you to see that Jesus is real, still does miracles today and loves to transform lives!

My Long Lost Twin Sister–Tabby, (Tabitha, aka, gypsy)

by Tammy

So, I have a few friends on facebook, and some of you know me very well. Others know about me. I’ve shared my ‘story’ with many of you and now I’d like to share some more. 
I grew up in a terribly broken home.  I practically raised myself from a young age, and even ended up homeless for a short time as a teenager.  I lost touch with my IDENTICAL TWIN SISTER,  who used to go by ‘Tabby’.  She had it quite rough too, and ended up quitting high school,  turning to drugs and other vices as a teenager.  The last time I saw her was when I was a college student at UGA in 1994.  I don’t want to get into the details of all of our childhood/adolescence, but let’s just say, it’s a miracle either of us is alive.
I tried to keep in touch with her via email, but she never responded. Every year or two or sometimes three,  I might get a three sentence email from her. I would always tell her when I was headed to the US and gave her my number in hopes she would contact me.   I didn’t know much about her, she’s into tatoos, the punk scene, drugs, crazy life-style. Although, I seemed to get into trouble whenever she was around, There was never any animosity between  us,  but we both had to raise ourselves and we both were just trying to survive….. Our lives and our choices, took us in radically different directions.  We don’t have any other family, not even extended family.  So….while we were on opposite sides of the world living opposite lives, I’ve never stopped praying for her.
So….at the beginning of my sabbatical, I emailed her, gave her my phone number and told her, ‘Anytime, anywhere, anyplace….. just call me, I’d love to re-connect.’  I didn’t expect to hear back from her. She’s never really gotten in touch before.
So, a couple weeks ago…….I got a phone call from her. She’s living in Los Angeles. She wanted me to fly to meet her.  I was SHOCKED. For real.  But……bought a RT ticket to LAX.  And I went. (Just for two days).  I had no idea what to expect.  I rented a car. Got a hotel room. And told her to meet me. I honestly thought, in the back of my head, ‘she’ll be a no-show’. 
Well, she did show. And immediately I knew beyond a doubt that GOD was in it. (I wasn’t sure up to that point)  So…we spent the whole day together. She told me her story. It was one of pain, sadness, and suffering in so many ways. She’s done really well for where she had to come from, she’s been off drugs for several years thanks to NA. She’s working as a tatoo artist and making decent money.  She shared much with me about her past as well as where life has taken her now.  She’s rough around the edges…..covered with dark tatoos of false gods, demons, sex, skulls, etc…..  She dropped the ‘f-bomb’ in almost every sentence. She smoked heavily and had to leave every 15 minutes in the middle of our conversations to light up. ha ha. Other than all that, she’s just like me. ha ha.  It’s amazing….surreal actually, to think about how opposite our lives have taken us. Crazy. 
So…..she caught me up on everything, and even though I’ve lived on the streets before, been exposed to that entire world, I still found myself with my mouth dropping open at things that she told me. 
Then it was my turn to tell her mine. And I did. She listened intently.  i told her EVERYTHING. I mean…..EVERYTHING.  I told her of my encounters with Jesus, the miracles, my call to India, my kids, more miracles, the Presence of Jesus, etc….. i held nothing back.  Then it was her turn for her mouth to drop open. She listened and asked TONS of questions.   I thought she would be turned off, but she wasn’t. She was super-inquisitive……
She wanted to know more and more. I couldn’t answer her questions quickly enough. She was TOTALLY open with me. She said she felt something strange and good when she saw me, and that she wanted whatever it was that I had!
She said that I was the first Christian she had ever had a conversation with.  And that I seemed real and authentic and the stuff I said rung true.  We talked and talked and talked and she asked TONS of questions……non stop……… it was a divine appointment.
I asked her if I could just pray for her, that she seemed hungry and would it be okay if I asked God to reveal Himself to her,  she said yes, and she cried as I prayed….  she said, ‘that’s f***ing crazy how you seem to be talking to a real person’.  I challenged her to pray….to ask God to show Himself to her……..  she said that she prayed before but never got anywhere, she said she had had many spiritual experiences through buddhism and drugs, while intense, were short-lived and seemed fake.  
I asked her to pray  to the “GOD of the Bible”…. so she did, she prayed, ‘God…..I’m talking to you…..Tammy’s God, God of the Bible….if you are real……I want to know it. ‘
That was all in the first few hours……….
The next morning we talked again… depth…..I laid out the whole gospel, the story of God from Genesis to Revelation…..she asked me a TON of questions,  we didn’t eat breakfast, we just talked,  she said she didn’t think God would accept her with her lifestyle…. I encouraged her, spoke truth to her, I can’t even type it all, it’s way too much to recount……  we had lunch, continued the conversation, talked about our childhood and past and more.  She kept asking questions about what defined sin……and had some crazy ideas about stuff…….. but in the end, she kept saying, you’re the first person in my life to speak truth to me. It’s true, I can just tell that what you are saying is true. And you aren’t even judging me or condemning me even though I know Christians would think i was terrible.
So….we went out, met a couple of her friends, and then went to a CHRISTIAN bookstore, i got her some stuff, including ‘jesus, more than a carpenter’ and a Bible.   She was totally thrilled!   We spent a little more time together. We were outside on a park bench talking. She said, ‘I want what you have….I want it….it’s real, I can feel it! How can I know God? I understand it. I understand the message. It’s through this guy, Jesus.  He’s the only one. ‘ I asked her to just tell me what she understood of all that I had said,  how did she think she could get to know God?  She was SUPER CLEAR and was able to articulate the way to know Jesus.  So…I tried to talk her out of it… Ha ha. I really did. I said, Tabitha, (She corrected me, GYPSY)……. ‘God doesnt’ want to be added to just another list of ways to be spiritual, He wants to be EVERYTHING and HE wants EVERYTHING…He wants to cleanse you of your sins, but He also wants to give you new LIFE, a life RULED by Him, He doesn’t just want to be a part…He wants to be EVERYTHING to You…… He wants your life!!’  She said,  “I get it, I really do……It’s like I am being BORN for the first time if I pray, right?’
SO….we prayed….she prayed, I prayed….and well………..
Tabitha  is now YOUR SISTER too!  
God is crazy crazy good.  It’s like she practically led herself to Jesus, and I just happened to be there to help a little bit! It was a GOD thing for sure!   She was weeping, I was weeping. It was POWERFUL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Lots more was said….and talked about. She wasn’t totally honest about some stuff, but so what? I couldnt’ figure out what she doing and where she was living.  I wanted to get her plugged into a church.  SO, I’ve been working on that, but I wasn’t even sure what part of LA she really is living.  So….I talked to her the next couple of days on the phone.  She said that after I left, she wasn’t sure if what she experienced was real. So, she prayed it again……and she CRIED as she recounted it for me, “Tammy….I was doubting, I thought maybe God heard because you were there….but I wasn’t sure if He would hear me alone. So….I prayed again, the same prayer…….asking forgiveness, giving my life, and WOW, He actually heard me!!  Do you know how powerful this is for me?? Tammy, for the first time in my life, I knew…. I had been heard. God actually heard me!’
So….over the past week, I’ve been talking to her every day, and her growth has been exponential!  She has asked tons of questions.  She is reading the Bible non stop, has finished the book I gave her, and wanting more….. she keeps saying, ‘This is it! This is real!’  and ‘I don’t care what it costs me, It’s worth it…..’ and ‘I just want to know God…….everything else is a waste of time………’
So….she finally told me that she actually lives in Arizona, and that she had been in LA looking to open a tatoo shop with some friends.  She is already back in Arizona.  So…I have been on the phone and on the web finding a church for her. One that won’t freak out at her appearance and one that will reach out to her.  I FOUND ONE….. I called and spoke to one of the pastors,  from the website, it seems like the kind of church I would go to if I were in Arizona.  Solid and spirit-filled.   They have lots of artsy people in their urban church, lots of alternative types, and a whole ministry which focuses on reaching people like Tabitha (Gypsy).  🙂      I asked her if I could give her phone number to some ‘friends of friends’ in that area of Arizona,  that would help get her plugged in with people whom are following Jesus.  She said, ‘SURE, of course, I need someone to help me….I don’t even know any other Christians except you’   So…..I talked at length with a woman in that ministry who has since then met with her.  Tabby was super impressed with her authenticity and has plans to go to church with her on Sunday.
I’ve been sending her links and tools. She’s devoured everything, even though she’s never been a reader. She asks great questions and makes great observations. The growth in her has been CRAZY fast.  I’ve talked to hear a couple of hours each day, and she says the best things, some quotes….
‘I don’t know why, but I have almost stopped dropping the f-bomb completely.’
‘I don’t why but I feel uncomfortable in giving people demon tats, I’ve got a ton myself, but all of sudden, it just doesn’t feel right….I had to get a co-worker to do some demon tats today….I just couldn’t do it’
‘I don’t want to follow Jesus at a distance…..I want to follow Him up close…..and personal’
‘I don’t care if it costs me everything, people are ‘f***ing crazy not to give their lives to Him.’
I also would love to get out there for a visit for a week or so. Not sure how to make that happen. But……I’m praying about it. 🙂 
Okay, seriously?? What the heck?  It was the easiest time I’ve ever had in leading anyone to Jesus.  The fruit was practically falling off the tree….I just had to give it a nudge and catch it!  She’s totally 1000% TRANSFORMED!  
Y’all, I’ve been praying for 16 years for Tabby!!! 16 years!!!  Don’t give up if you are believing for a loved one’s salvation….. contend with God in prayer for them.  If God can get Tabitha (aka GYPSY’s) attention…he can get anyone’s!!!!  What the heck? God is crazy good!
Crazy huh?   Pray for her!!!!!  She’s going hard and fast after Jesus, and it’s completely counter cultural!  As of now, I’m the only Christian she has ever known……….. her friends are giving her a hard time……….  pray for her!   Pray for me too, i’ve been talking to hear every day for an hour or two. I asked her if she wanted me to fly her to Atlanta for a week, but she said no.  I am seriously praying about going out to Arizona for a week though.
Tammy and Tabby
**This is Day 12 of NaBloPoMo**
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