Written Testimonial Stories
Celeste Duggan's Story
Several years ago, a friend of mine told me that the best way to attend special events was to be a volunteer. I became interested in the Passion Conferences and remembered: VOLUNTEER! I prayed about being able to go, God said he would help me, and so, I stepped out in faith. My friend also told me that a good relationship with God requires obedience. I must follow His lead. I would be required to pay my own way and WORK the required position. I was invited to be a Doorholder (volunteer) at Passion 2013. God is ALWAYS faithful ... "Abundantly more that I could ever hope or imagine ....."
Four days of praise and worship in the Atlanta Dome with 60,000 students ~~ the music was exceptional, the lighting was awesome, and each speaker was devoted to Christ and passionate in their message...I was a changed person. It was extraordinary!! Now all I had to do was bring this "fire" within me ~ home.
Of course I told EVERYONE about my experience at Passion, and some people "got it", most did not. So,In my waiting, I continued to study and build my faith AND plan to attend the next Passion Conference. God brought a new young adult pastor to our church who was interested in Passion and I was invited to be a Doorholder for both Atlanta and Houston.
The fire was growing! My personal journey and obedience had taken me into a whole new level of faith. I was part of the Intercessors Team. We prayed continuously for these students to take Jesus into their hearts and out into the world. The last night of Passion 2014 in Atlanta, Louie Giglio asked the same question that God has asked each if us,..... "who will go?" Thousands of students stood up, and I did too. I had no idea how or when or where i was going .... but I had just stepped up to a new level.
Obedience will take you where GOD wants you to be.
June 19th I had traveled with a group from CCC to Marseilles, France for a distribution mission to Muslim communities. We had prepared for months, traveled hard for two days, toured the city, and were totally exhausted. I just wanted to sleep. We were waiting for pizza, when I heard the Spirit say to me, "Look around the room" ..... as I looked, I noticed the staff members (15) were all college aged students. The next day I asked if any of them had been to a Passion Conference? ALL but one who was planning on attending the next one! Later, I found out that two of them had stood up in Atlanta at the same time I did! That day we were standing TOGETHER in Marseilles, France sharing the gospel for the glory of God in the name of Jesus Christ! It was an answer to the intercessors prayers! AMAZING! And that was just my FIRST DAY!
Yes, God moved in my heart, but it was not about me. It's about Jesus! To see Him work in the hearts of others ~ OVERWHELMING!
It is an unforgettable experience to feel my faith grow and watch hope begin in someone else! To share in HIS STORY with others who have the same commitment and accept the responsibility of sharing the gospel ~ whether it is here in the city or overseas.
My "passion" is to encourage those who are willing, to accept God's invitation to be a part of His story. To share in His love and compassion. To be obedient to His command, and in that obedience discover the abundant rewards He has for us! Christine Caine has said, " We are personally responsible for the evangelization of the planet Earth before the 2nd coming of our Lord Jesus Christ."
It is my "passion" to see this happen through the opportunities offered right here at Central Christian Church.
I was born into a multi-racial family my mother being Caucasian and father African American and Native American. My parents divorced when I was five years old and my mother decided to move from a small town in southern Kansas to Wichita for a new start.
My father did not participate in our lives very often after my mother moved. My father did not assist my mother financially and as a result, my mother worked constantly to provide for us. I became very independent at an early age, responsible for most of the cooking and care of my brother and myself. I have an older sister however she was a great deal older and already on her own.
I was a smart kid and skipped a few grades in elementary. When I was thirteen years and a sophomore in high school, I started a relationship with a much older man. As a way of protecting me, my mother decided it was best that I moved to my fathers.
When I got to my father’s home, he was not there. My father remarried and the day before I was to move in, he left the woman he remarried. This woman did not have the heart to tell my mother I could not come so she took me into her home. This woman was a practicing Wiccan and taught me a lot about the religion and other arts such as witchcraft, spell casting, astrology and fortune telling. We were also extremely poor and she taught me how to shoplift for food and other everyday household things.
My father eventually returned home, he immediately stopped the practice of Wicca in his home and admitted to me that he did not know how to raise me. So my father’s attempt to provide me with a firm foundation he had me go to church. While attending church I did accept Jesus as my Lord and Savior. My father did not work and we lived on state/government assistance. My father and stepmother had a bad drinking problem and to help with household bills I lied about my age and got my first job at the age of fourteen.
The principal at my school took pity on my situation and allowed me to enroll in a certified nurse aid program at the age of fifteen. When I finished the program I was sixteen and a senior in high school. I worked as a CNA full-time at nights and went to school during the day to help take care of the family. My father and I had an argument and he kicked me out of the home. For some reason, I do not know why, my mother did not want to move back with her.
There was a woman in the town that took in troubled kids and I went and stayed with her.
At this time, I still kept a job but I did not graduate from high school, two weeks before I was to graduate the principal called me into the office and informed me that I did not have enough credits in physical education to graduate. I was so upset that I dropped out of school altogether. I became a drug user, but did not dabble in “heavy drugs”. There were some men that attended the college in the area and they convinced a friend and I to move to Texas and stay with them. They promised to take care of all our needs and did.
When we moved to Texas the men were faithful to their promise, however we became prisoners. We had an apartment that we never left. We barely saw the men except when they brought food or wanted to get away for a while. Then one day one of the men came over with a bright idea of getting extra money by breaking and entering into storage units.
Since my friend and I did not have any other way to get money, we agreed. During this time, I picked up a Bible that was lying around at the apartment. We completed a couple of jobs but as I continued reading, the jobs felt wrong. I told them that I would complete one last job so I could get the money to pay for my GED but after that, I was done. We were arrested for that job.
Approximately a week later, the police caught us. There was a camera at the scene that took pictures of the license plate of the vehicle we used. Luckily, during this period the state of Texas had so many people in jail that unless you committed a crime with a weapon you were given probation instead of jail time. Therefore, for my crime I was sentenced to 10 years of probation and restitution of about $15,000. I did get my GED with the money from the job.
My mother came back into my life and helped me with my legal situation and moved me back to Wichita. I lived with my mother for approximately two months; I just turned eighteen years old. When I returned to Wichita, I immediately got a job and met a wonderful man and we got married two months later. I thought that by settling down I could have the possibility of stability.
My husband was a kind man but had a drinking problem. I did not mind at first since I was an occasional drinker and drug user. Then a couple of years into my probation I was informed that I would be drugged tested once month. I was forced to let go of my old habits however, my husband did not. This caused our marriage too slowly disintegrate. We no longer did the same things and grew apart. In that growing apart my husband cheated with another woman and we divorced.
The period after my divorce was very hard for me for I always believed that marriage should last forever. Since I did not get into any further trouble and paid off my restitution, I was released from my probation early. I immediately fell back into drugs and alcohol. Approximately two years after my divorce I was now twenty-six years old and facing my doctor as they explained to me that I had developed a severe case of cervical dysplasia and would need treatment or my condition would turn into cancer.
I was very optimistic that treatment would work for me but it did not. I went through many different procedures however, the cells continued to mutate and would not respond to treatment. My only option left was to have a hysterectomy. I did not have children at this point and this was a hard decision. I chose the surgery.
This is where I began becoming quite calloused in my heart toward God; I have not experienced a pleasant life and began to blame God for many things. Approximately six months after my surgery I receive a call from my father. He says, “Hey honey I have cancer, tell the rest of the family”. My father died two months after this phone call from pancreatic cancer. I was devastated, I did not have the best relationship with my father but he was the only father I knew and I loved him.
My calloused heart began to turn into self-loathing, this time I was not mad at God. I knew that now he was mad at me. Then approximately six months after my father passed, my mother announces that she was also diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. God was merciful; my mother lived for another two years after her diagnosis and the doctor initially predicted four to six months. After her death there was, nothing left of me. I became so emotionally shut down it took a lot of energy just to function day to day. I began to have terrible nightmares and never had rest.
I was now thirty years old. After my mother left this world, I fell into a very deep and dark despair. I had been rejected by my mother, ignored by my father, put in jail, married, divorced, had to file bankruptcy because of the divorce, survived a major illness and held both my mother and father in my arms while I watched them die. I began having fantasies of being comatose. I used to think how wonderful it would be just to shut down, be admitted into some psychiatric hospital and let the world revolve without me.
I stayed in this mode for many years. About a year to a year and a half ago, my job assigned my desk next to an atheist. This person was very curious and began asking me a ton of questions about religion. I knew from my childhood that you were not supposed to misquote the word of God so I began reading the Bible again. The atheist continued asking more and more theological questions and in my pride, I decided to step my game up and began listening to a Christian radio station. After about a month, I began to feel a change. The Lords word was returning to me without void. Soon the questions from the atheist began to dwindle but my desire to continue in my studies grew more and more. Then I re-dedicated my life to Jesus.
At first, I did not feel that much of a change. I just began keeping the commandments of the word and studied. I am a research nerd, so I bought every book I that was recommended. I read in so many places in the Bible that God would provide joy, happiness and peace that I was determined to study and pray until I received those things.
As I continued on my walk with the Lord I really cannot say when it happened but one day I just felt peaceful the kind of peace that passes all understanding; the peace I read about in the Bible. I can never thank God enough for this kind of inner peace; I do not have words to explain it. Nevertheless, through this blessing I am beginning to feel like a person again it has been a slow process and I struggle but God heals and saves and most of all Loves.
Download and Read Cheryl Hurley's Story
Download and Read Rob Hendrix's Story
Susi Chajon's Story
This morning, I was building a miniature church out of Legos with my six year old son, and it made me think of this:
Before we came to Central, our family was like an unstable Lego creation. The foundation was single blocks haphazardly connected to a top heavy mess of unmatched bricks, pieces falling off constantly because of the poor construction. People around us who should have been helping us rebuild, instead felt great delight in tearing more bricks off, or building heavy portions that nearly toppled us.
Then we came to Central. And slowly but surely, the people here have helped us dismantle the mess and rebuild in a way that is strong and sure. We now use the "Jesus brick" for our cornerstone. The youth ministers have broken down ugly walls and showed my boys how to build them up correctly. The women here have shown me their families' creations, and now I am able to look at their instructions to help me build my own house.
I appreciated how each and every person we have met here takes full responsibility for their own effect on our building and for their own structures. They are careful to be positive modelers, not destructive ones, and they certainly don't go around knocking down other people's creations, unless it's to gently dismantle and rebuild in a better way. The true kindness and caring that is shown in every person's life, the excellent Biblical teaching and the determination to do things God's way have healed our family in ways I never imagined.
Thank you, Central, each pastor and every person, for being an inspiration and a guide to us through the hardest time of our lives. We are still working on building up even stronger and better, but now we are not alone.
Jackie Cooper's Story
When God whispers trust me….sometimes situations in life just don’t look good. Like when someone chooses to walk out of your life and you lose your best friend or you lose someone to death that you loved. Maybe you’ve lost a job, or maybe your home. Maybe you’ve been abused much of your life. Maybe a child gets pregnant out of wedlock or is running from God and living a destructive lifestyle. For a Christian it can be hard to understand why God allows these things to happen to you. It has been my experience, and I have experienced most of these things, that there are hidden blessings in them.
My daughter got pregnant while she was still in HS. I had so many fears and when she had the baby she needed someone to watch my grandson while she was at school. My hours had just been cut back at work which didn’t seem like a blessing at the time, but it was! It was just in time to care for my grandson while my daughter was in school. Things worked out and I adore that little boy! He is 7 now and has given me countless hours of laughter; he gives me so much joy! And my daughter, she’s married to a guy that loves her and my grandson.
When my ex-husband chose to end our marriage, God opened the door for a couple of mission trips, one to Africa and one to Haiti. Those experiences were so good for my healing heart and I realized that true joy was not dependent on having things or the perfect circumstances but it is there when you know that God is with you and never will He leave you or forsake you.
My family lost my dad shortly after I returned from Africa, my dad was not a Christian man and throughout our lives never showed a father's love and instead of passing down a father's blessing he was critical, physically and emotionally abusive. But during those last weeks of his life, he told each one of his children how much he loved us, he asked for our forgiveness and told us he was so proud of what we became. It was such a precious, tender time. My mom prayed for that hard man for 40 years and my dad tearfully surrendered his life to Jesus during those last weeks of his life. We got our father's blessing and someday we will dance with him before our Heavenly Father. The life and death of my dad brought our family so close together with so much healing.
I lost a nice big house, due to my divorce. I placed so much of my security in my marriage and in that house. God has given me a couple of nice apartments since that time. I have had the chance to witness to the managers and several of my neighbors, many being Muslim. If I didn’t live in those places, I would not have been able to meet these people to show them the beauty of knowing Jesus Christ and only a relationship with Jesus can give you real security.
As I look back, I realized, if these things would not have happened, I would not be on the path I am today. Each of these experiences caused me many tears and many times I questioned God, but each time I did, God would remind me to trust Him. God has done wonderful life changing things through them all (Romans 8:28). I have great peace, overflowing joy, a wonderful church family, friends and family that love me and a Savior that never leaves me and has provided for my every need! Truly I have all I need! So when God whispers trust Me, you can!
Jeremiah 29:11 (NLT) For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.
Holly Miller's Story
After my nine year marriage ended in divorce, I not only became a part of the census of marital breakups, I also became doubtful that marriage was for me. I was single for 10 years prior to my divorce and throughout that long desolation I still had my hope in Jesus, although many decisions I made were not to His honor or glory.
It was the beginning of that 10th year that I finally determined to follow my Christian-up-bringing and listen to not only the voice of my preacher daddy, but listen more intently to the voice of my heavenly FATHER. My journey of 10 years single were about to come to an end, and I did not know what was about to hit me, come early October.
After seeking God about his 'will' for my life and no longer desiring my own, I determined I was just going to remain single and do my Christian walk alone and not ever marry again. I told the Lord that I did not want a man unless he loved HIM more than me and his priority for a Sunday, is to be in church. Only God could secretly understand the depths of what I was asking him. Only God could allow such words to come forth from a mans mouth as they did the night of October 3, 2003.
“Will you come with me to my church tomorrow?” He asked on our blind date set up. I said; “No, I help lead worship at my own church.” However, six weeks from that first date, we married. The very next day after our wedding was sealed and on that same weekend, I became a member of Central Christian Church. I not only got involved in choir and worship, I became as committed to Central Christian as I was committed to my other church while I was single for those ten years.
God heard my heart cry for a marriage built on Church! The only thing that has allowed us to remain solid in our marriage is the fact that Jesus and our home church at Central Christian was our first commitment. I do not know how people make it in this world without the Lord and a church family. I know if it were not for my church home and a discipline to GO TO CHURCH, this marriage of now TEN years would not have made it to this point. I know with HIM, He is our ROCK and that foundation is more solid than marriage could ever be without HIM. We will make it only because of HIM. It is on HIM that we stand......my prayer is that we will have many more years not only caring for each other and serving others in our church at Central Christian as well as the many places in this big world He is now sending me out to GO and serve.
I thank God for my Church family and every part of the body of Christ.
Tessie doesn't attend Central, but found us via a Google search. She has an inspiring story that is told briefly here: "A seven year affair where a child was conceived - Life had no more meaning, I was done, no hope, no joy, no will. Then God came and took what I was holding and turned it all around."
Watch the longer version here.