“Mommy, why are you different? What caused you to change?”
R. J., a perceptive second grader, picked up on the fact that his mother had changed, and he wanted to know why.
Indeed, Sara had changed. It began with enrolling her children in the Happy Time Preschool, a ministry of Cedar Valley Church in Waterloo, Iowa. When children graduate from preschool, they receive a kids’ Bible. At home, Sara’s preschooler Nolan, the middle of three children, asked his mother to read his Bible to him. She confessed later that she had “never opened the Bible in my life.” As they began reading, Nolan would ask questions about what she read. She would sometimes have to say, “I don’t know but I will find out.”
Sara knew her children would go to a public school in the fall, and she did not want the spiritual inspiration to stop, so they began attending church. When she heard about plans for vacation Bible school (VBS), she was further intrigued.
“We have lots of gifted people who put a great deal into VBS. It’s an event,” Kathy White, children’s pastor and preschool director, said. Sara had taken the summer off from her job as a speech therapist in order to spend time with her children. She asked if they could attend VBS even though the kids were not in preschool during the summer. Of course, Kathy said, “Yes!”
When Sara asked if she could volunteer during VBS, Kathy gave her a job as a group leader, which meant she led the kids from station to station. During this time, she was exposed to a flood of information about God and his Word. She also met other Christian adults.
Sara and her family attended church on VBS Sunday. There she heard about a ministry called Alpha, a non-threatening gathering where attendees can ask questions, discuss issues and learn together. It sounded perfect and she decided, “I’m gonna do it!”
At first, she was uncomfortable because she didn’t know many people. But the other participants were welcoming and inviting. In one session, the discussion focused on receiving Christ into one’s life. Sara admitted she had never done this but would like to do so. The group had the privilege of leading her in prayer to receive Christ. That was in September 2022. In October she was baptized. Friends who came to witness her baptism have seen the change in her life and have also begun attending the church.
Kathy observed that as Sara became involved, “You could see a light coming into her life.” Sara was so excited about her new life in Christ and about learning all she could. Consequently, “she [Sara] has been growing by leaps and bounds,” according to Reverend Darrell White. “When you see people who are hungry, it’s not hard for them to grow.”
Later Sara became involved in a “banding together” group in which participants read the Bible daily, journal their reflections and meet weekly to discuss the Scriptures. “I had many questions,” she said, “and found the sessions to be so informative.” The fellowship and discussion time have been important in her spiritual growth.
In one Alpha session, participants were encouraged to identify their spiritual gifts. Sara was so excited to tell others about Jesus and the joy she had found that she identified evangelism as one of her gifts.
So, it’s no surprise that Sara has been very open about what God is doing in her life. She has not been shy about sharing on social media, posting pictures of her involvement in personal Bible study. “I am thankful and blessed to have found such a wonderful church family. Life is so much better. I have greater purpose and peace,” Sara said.
It was during the winter when Sara’s oldest son, R. J., asked her why she had changed. She told him, “I met Jesus and asked him to help me and guide me.”
He said, “I’ve never done that.” He expressed a desire to invite Jesus into his life, and Sara had the privilege of leading her son in the salvation prayer.
Before Jesus ascended to heaven, he told his disciples they would receive power to witness in Jerusalem before moving out to other areas (Acts 1:8). Cedar Valley Church, through its Happy Time Preschool, its VBS, and its Alpha program, has been reaching its “Jerusalem,” and discipling believers. Sara is a prime example of one who has been touched through this outreach.
To listen to Sara’s testimony, visit wes.life/blake-video.
Ron McClung is a retired Wesleyan minister who served as a pastor, district superintendent and assistant general secretary for The Wesleyan Church.
*Originally published in “Wesleyan Life,” fall 2023. Click here to subscribe and access our archives.