My life has changed!
Submitted May 16, 2013
My life before Christ was filled with sadness and uncertainty. I was at the place where I wouldn’t leave my room or go out with friends because I was depressed and hurt by the people whom I loved and cared about. I continually said to God, “I have always been a good person and friend to others. Why do I have to go through this pain over and over? When will it end?” I had learned about Jesus Christ years before, but it was when my brother gave his life to the Lord that I saw how he was changed by God’s love.
Even though I saw Jacob go through this journey, I wasn’t sure if I was ready to accept Christ as my Savior. I had been through so many things. I questioned why I was always sad and wondered why this was happening to me. How I could trust in God’s love? There are things that I’m not proud of, and even though I thought that the Lord would never forgive me, I know now that our God is forgiving. That is why he sent his son, Jesus, to tell us of his love, forgiveness and goodness. I accepted Christ as my Savior two years ago. Since then, my love and relationship with the Lord have only grown stronger. My life has changed in more ways than I can count!
Through heartbreak and stressful times over the past two years, the Lord has still been with me and has given me the strength to get through the hard times. He has guided me through my journey toward becoming a special education teacher so that I can use my gifts to help others! He has a wonderful life planned for me.
I know that there will be times of sadness and happiness, but the Lord will be by my side every step of the way, making more of my dreams come true because they are his dreams for me. I know that he will continue to give me strength to teach others of his love—just like my brother and others taught me. My life is now his forever, and I know that the day will come when I meet him at the gates of heaven. I will tell him how much I love him and thank him for sending his son, Jesus!
He said it, and it was done
Submitted May 02, 2013
On February 6, 2012, I received news that changed my life forever. I was diagnosed with stomach and esophageal cancer and was instantly confronted with the two things that I feared most in life: cancer and death. Facing what appeared to be insurmountable odds, I prayed earnestly for God's divine mercy on my life. As the word spread, I received calls from many friends and family expressing their concern and disbelief. I sensed that many of them felt sorry for me. Why, I even felt sorry for me! “Just keep me in your prayers" became my battle cry. Nothing can describe the overwhelming anxiety, fear and grief that accompany a cancer diagnosis.
Physician consultations, exploratory surgeries, CT scans, etc., were the norm during the first month. My cancer was diagnosed at stage 3B, which meant that it had grown through the wall of the esophagus/stomach to the outer layer and had spread to nearby lymph nodes. Each procedure and subsequent doctor visit revealed more details of the severity of the cancer, forcing me to dig deeper into my spiritual being for peace and strength. The still, small voice continuously reminded me to trust the Lord and to listen. On February 20, 2012, in the midst of chaos and uncertainty, he literally woke me in the middle of the night and "breathed the breath of life into me." His presence in my room that night enabled me to stop resisting and start embracing life in a new way.
Most cancer patients who undergo 15 heavy rounds of chemotherapy and 25 radiation treatments lose weight and experience debilitating side effects such as nausea and weakness. I did lose some weight early in the process, but I never experienced nausea and, miraculously, grew stronger and gained back some of the weight. As my white blood counts and other markers continued to drop, leaving me increasingly susceptible to infection, the Lord continued to cover me with his blood of protection. During each radiation session, I lay on the table with my hands above my head and envisioned the Lord holding my hands. No one, including the doctors, was able to explain the miraculous results. I was referred to as the "miracle man," called a "rock star" and accused of defying the odds. My oncologist commented that I made it look easy. I can't say that any aspect of this journey has been easy, but I can say without a doubt that the Lord’s favor and bright light have been shining all over me!
On September 5, 2012, I had extensive surgery to remove one third of my stomach and two thirds of my esophagus, which resulted in what I call my “victory scars." I recently had a PET scan, and the results came back with no signs of any cancer. God continues to fulfill his promise to me for complete healing and restoration, and my doctors openly express their excitement and delight with the results of my extraordinary progress.
In spite of experiencing these life-changing trials, I have been blessed beyond belief in every area of my life. I have also been blessed with the love and support of family (including my Calvary Church family) and close friends. I have walked through the valley of the shadow of death with the shepherd king guiding my every step. He continues to be the source of all of my needs.
Ultimately, this journey is not about cancer; it's about spiritual growth and recreation. Cancer was the catalyst. I am a living testament to the fact that the Lord is the almighty healer and truly makes all things new.
Submitted August 24, 2012
My family would like to thank the staff from Calvary Church. I recently visited your food pantry seeking assistance with food items. I not only received help with food, but I also received powerful prayer from a lady named Joan and help from Angie. I received school supplies and a backpack for my son. Your staff was so very helpful and kind.
I left with tears in my eyes, praising our awesome God all the way to the car. I can't thank Calvary’s staff enough. God bless each and every one of you!
What would it hurt if I go to church?
Submitted July 20, 2012
I began going to church as a result of a funeral service that I attended. One of the pastors who was speaking said to everyone, “There is a reason why you are here. It’s not a coincidence that you have come to church today, and God has a purpose for you.”
I really took that to heart because, at that time, my life was going from one bad thing to another. I got fired from my job, my boyfriend left me, I had no money and I had family issues and self-esteem issues. I was already as low as I could be, so I figured, what would it hurt if I go to church?
I attended Calvary Church and liked Pastor Ross and the service. I started attending the Alpha Course and went to the newcomer’s class. As I went to church, read the Bible, listened to sermons and learned how to pray, my life started to change. My way of thinking, living, even listening to music all changed for the better. Opportunities started to come into my life, and I was and still am excited about learning more about God.
My eyes are open more, and I see things in a way that I never saw them before.
God Smiled on Me
Submitted July 06, 2012
There is truly nothing impossible with him! I remember the first time that I started going to the altar for prayers at Calvary Church. I always got the reassurance of the Holy Spirit that God will smile on me … no matter what my circumstances were … no matter how hard or hopeless it seemed. God did, and I passed my medical board exams!
As I prepare for the next phase, I hope and pray that this little story will be a big help to anyone out there who is still believing God to show up mightily for them. I pray that his love continues to be showered upon each and every one one of us who is fearfully and wonderfully made!
I Found God
Submitted June 28, 2012
I was baptized as a Catholic at birth. Even though I attended a Catholic school and attended church weekly, I never had a personal relationship with Jesus. I never knew that he died for the forgiveness of our sins. I thought it was because of my sins. I always felt bad because I had sinned.
I have memories of crying in a dark confessional box, asking a priest, "Why was I sinning?" He had no answer, and I walked out with a penance of three "hail Mary's" and one "our Father." I felt so alone and confused.
Once I began attending Calvary Church, I realized that there was an opportunity for me (and my husband/children) to connect one-on-one with God. Calvary Church is where I found God ... the meeting place. It is also the place where God had planned for me to plant myself all along so that I could minister to/disciple his children. I feel at "home" and at peace attending Calvary Church, and I am ready and excited for what God has planned for me!
God never let go of me
Submitted June 08, 2012
I received Christ as my Savior at a young age; however, I didn't have the best example in my earthly father. He was emotionally absent when I needed him most during my adolescent years.
It was a particularly difficult time because my family moved from Canada to Naperville while I was in high school. The transition was very difficult, and I wound up turning to the things of the world. I started drinking and doing drugs and eventually got into trouble with the law. One might think that I would have realized the error of my ways after the first encounter, but I was stubborn and in rebellion against the Lord and my earthly father. My grades fell sharply, and I almost didn't graduate from high school.
During a return trip to Canada, I met a girl and lost my virginity at the age of 15. I fell head-over-heels for this girl, and, after graduating from high school, I moved back to Canada to be with her. This turned out to be another disastrous decision because I found out that she had been unfaithful numerous times. It devastated me, and I fell into a deep depression. After spending three days in a local hospital, my father, of all people (turns out he actually does love me!), drove from Chicago to Toronto to take me home.
You would think that this might be the moment where I turned my life back to Christ, but you would be wrong. I was deeply scarred (not only physically but also emotionally) from the relationship with my first love, which only served to strengthen the feelings of resentment and bitterness that I already harbored. It wasn't long before I was doing drugs again and fighting with my dad. I was also afraid of relationships with girls, so I instead began seeing and treating them as sexual objects.
My troubles with the law continued, but I was so blind in my sin that I didn't even see that it was the Lord trying to get my attention. It wasn't until I decided to join the Marine Corps that my fast-paced life began to slow down. The Marine Corps was the best thing that ever happened to me in that it separated me from my sinful desires. I think it was also because I finally had something to look forward to … a noble and honorable objective that I could take pride in.
As a result of the benefits of my service, I was able to go back to school and get my Bachelor's degree, which actually happens to be how I met my wife. It was not long before I determined that she was a strong Christian and that we shared the same values. I was weak in my faith at that time, though I didn’t realize that I was slowly being drawn back into the loving embrace of Jesus. My wife has had a lot to do with that. I realized that such an influence was what I needed and wanted in a wife, and we were married in short order.
Today, our relationship is stronger than it has ever been, and all of the glory goes to God. However, it has only been within the past couple of years that I have truly taken account of my weaknesses and have admitted them to God. This has been a result of our attendance at Calvary and getting involved with various ministries. We have joined a small group (which has been an awesome blessing!), my wife is now part of the M.O.M.S. group, we have served together in the children's ministry, I have assisted with coaching the youth soccer league and I also serve on the CAM ministry.
I can honestly say that my association with Calvary has had everything to do with my full and complete return to the Lord. Without the connections that I have made at Calvary and the faithful support and prayers of my loving wife, I would not be in the same place with my relationship with the Lord. Through Champions of Honor and my relationship with our small group leader, I have subjected myself to accountability. I have finally dealt with my hidden sins, forgiven those who offended me and am in the place where God wants me—where he can really work with me.
Since then, God has blessed me with my dream job, which I had been seeking for three years after leaving the Marine Corps. If God can do that for me, then he can certainly redeem anyone! Everyone makes mistakes (some repeatedly), but he never gives up on us. I am a living example of the persistence and goodness of God.
After many mistakes and terrible decisions, I have come to realize that God never let go of me. Even as I suffered the brutal consequences of my actions, He was working things together for my good, reeling me back into his loving embrace. Although I still have my struggles, the Lord has blessed me incredibly with a beautiful, God-fearing wife and two wonderful sons. I praise God for my family and my new-found career and that he has chosen me to be part of his family despite my sinful past. May my testimony glorify him!
The Wilderness of Cleansing
Submitted May 11, 2012
I have been out of work since August of 2008, and I had a heart attack in December of 2010. During that same year, my daughter and I joined Calvary’s Songwriters Group with Pastor Tim.
It is through a life of suffering that I am now experiencing God’s abounding grace. By the grace of God, he inspired me to compose songs as my way of worship to him. Looking in the rearview mirror, I now see that God was establishing a more intimate walk through a worshipping heart, desiring his words, walking humbly in obedience and being contented with what we have, including learning how to tithe willingly—an act of worship. The goodness of God is immeasurable and inexhaustible.
In short, it is in the wilderness of cleansing that I experienced God’s true mercy and loving-kindness.
Submitted May 04, 2012
I grew up in an Assemblies of God household. Both of my parents reinforced within me that God is the basis of life and that it is essential to know him. When I was in 8th grade, I was baptized, along with my mother and older sister at my home church in Champaign, Illinois.
At that time, it was more of the “next step” instead of a desired choice by my own will … a bit pressured by my family. The God I knew then was completely different than the God I know today. The God I know today is more real and evident in my life than ever before. In my high school and college years, my faith wavered. I did not put an importance on God. I made stupid and unwise decisions. The whole time, God was still there, looking down on me, guiding and protecting me. Even though, at times, I did not respect him or turn to him like I should have, he still called me his own and loved me. Now I truly am leaving my old life behind and dedicating my life to living for and serving him.
Three years ago, I met my husband. He was born and raised Catholic and had no idea what an Assembly of God church experience was like. I was excited to take him to Calvary Church and “show off” a little bit of me. His reaction and excitement, in turn, excited me and motivated me to find my faith again. He was overwhelmed by the differences and how “alive” Calvary was. At Calvary, people genuinely loved God and were not afraid to display it.
All in all, my husband has grown into such an amazingly strong Christian! In fact, I turn to him for my own motivation and strength to continue growing in my faith. It is such an incredible blessing to have your spouse love Jesus the same way you do. I truly feel that my husband helped me to reconnect to my heavenly Father; therefore, I cannot thank God enough for him and the other countless blessings in my life.
I am rededicating my love and life to Christ. I promise to live my life the best I can with his guidance and help. I promise to turn to him in times of need and praise his name daily. I promise to raise my children into soldiers of the Lord and to be the best display of the Christian faith that I can be. My husband and I are in this together. We are a team displaying God’s love and grace.
New Life in Christ
Submitted April 20, 2012
In September of 2010, my company sent me on a business trip to Orlando. While there, I met many other industry professionals, including my now best friend, Chuck.
After the trip, Chuck and I kept in touch long distance since he lives in South Carolina. He mentioned his involvement with his church at times; however, he never tried to sell me on religion or Christianity. Not once.
You see, I’m 31 years old, and, after months of long conversations with Chuck, I can without hesitation say that I have never met anyone as amazing as Chuck. I naturally became interested and inquisitive about Chuck’s relationship with God.
Chuck remembered that, 14 years ago, he was in a wedding in Naperville that took place at Calvary Church. So he looked up the church on the internet and suggested that I look into a young adult group called Axiom. After much thought and the passing of a few weeks, I decided to see what this group was all about. I had only been in church maybe four times previously, so I was definitely going out of my comfort zone. When I arrived, I found out that there was a business meeting that night and the group was not meeting. I was bummed and disappointed, and so was Chuck.
A couple of months later, I took a trip to South Carolina to visit Chuck. I hung out with a bunch of his Christian friends, spent time at his church and continued our conversation. It was an experience that, I’m sure one day I’ll say changed the directory of my life.
After getting back home, I decided to give Calvary and Axiom one more try. And this time, Axiom was meeting! From that point until now, I have been at Calvary every Wednesday and Sunday. It has been awesome!
I had many conversations with the Lord, culminating with my acceptance of Jesus Christ as my Savior on May 31, 2011! On that evening, I asked him into my heart and am now saved for all of eternity! This was the end of my self-centered life and the beginning of my life serving him and living for him.
I’m excited to continue my walk with the Lord and strengthen our friendship with each passing day. I truly am richly blessed and highly favored. No doubt about it!
God made the way for me to go
Submitted April 05, 2012
I have a chance to return to Kenya for missions this year, and many miracles happened over the past several months to allow me to go. I didn't think I would be able to afford it; I felt like I was not worthy to take this trip again! But the Lord said to “be still,” which was difficult, to say the least!
I prayed and then penned my first sponsor email. Praise the Lord … I received $500 during the first week! The following Monday, my boss handed me my bonus check, explaining how we deserved it because of our hard work last year. We did not qualify for bonuses because our team did not meet their goals.
You can just imagine my joy! I immediately bought my ticket. There are many more stories of how God made the way for me to go, and I can’t wait to see what amazing things he has in store for me and the testimony I will have of his love!
The prayers and outreach made the difference
Submitted March 29, 2012
While driving to work last August, I began to feel ill. Trying to get off the highway, I started losing some of my motor functions. I wasn't really able to apply the brakes, so I ran the car off the road. Needless to say, the car went over an embankment and rolled into a small retention pond. At that point, I was beginning to lose consciousness, and I didn't realize the seriousness of it.
Once in the hospital, I was diagnosed with a heart attack, followed by a stroke. I was in a state of controlled sleep for several weeks. Needless to say, I was in an extremely tenuous situation. I finally had open-heart surgery to remove a clot. Part of it had broken off the morning of the accident and gone to my brain.
I received several weeks of therapy, and doctors were amazed at my recovery. Some even called it miraculous. I am certain that all of the prayers and outreach made the difference. The Lord has truly blessed me. I thank all of the pastors and congregation at Calvary for their payers and outreach ministry.
I took my fears and concerns to the Lord
Submitted January 19, 2012
In 2003, I was severely injured at work while caring for a mentally challenged patient. Because I must avoid narcotics of any kind, for eight years, I found it very difficult to cope with the pain. I was very fearful to commit to the needed surgery (cervical fusion) because I am a single mother of five and have no one to take my place.
This past year, the pain got so bad that I had no choice but to move forward with the fusion. Over several months, I chose to take my fears and concerns to our Lord with the help of Calvary's prayer partners during altar call. Our wonderful prayer leaders simply asked that I let the church know when my miracle happened.
On the morning of August 22, while I lay on a cart waiting to be wheeled into the operating room, my surgeon approached me and stated that he had just reviewed my x-ray reports one final time, only to discover that there appeared to be no need to proceed with the radical surgery as planned. A much simpler procedure was done that day, and I returned home within two days pain free! Praise God!
The Christmas Gift
Submitted January 13, 2012
In August, my car broke down (again!). In order to get my kids to school and myself to work, I had been taking three buses and a train every morning (we live in Chicago, and I work in Oak Brook). I had to start working part-time because of the transportation schedule. As winter and the snow approached, I wondered how I'd make it to work on time and pick up my kids from school before being penalized for being late.
This Christmas, our family was adopted by another family at my children's school to help us with presents. When I went to the school to receive the gifts that they had gotten us, the dad told me that he was getting his wife a new car for Christmas and that he was giving me her old one! Several of the teachers and staff had even collected money to pay for the title and transfer.
God is so good; I can't even believe it! The car is just what I would have picked out if I had ever fathomed being able to buy one! I was even able to junk my old car for $300 to help catch up on my bills. Hallelujah!
By Jesus’ stripes, I am healed
Submitted December 08, 2011
In November, I went for my yearly mammogram. While there, the tech said that she thought she saw something in my left breast. One hour later, my primary care doctor called me. Her staff had looked over my mammogram pictures, and they saw a lump. The next week, I went in for an ultrasound, and they confirmed that the lump was there. Because of my family history with cancer, they were concerned and wanted me to get an appointment with a surgeon. The next week, I had an appointment with the surgeon, and they made a decision to do a biopsy to rule out cancer.
During this time, my family, friends, schoolmates, coworkers and church were praying for me. I also went to the front for prayer on the Sunday before the biopsy. Because I was getting nervous, I said two things every day: 1.) No weapon formed against me shall prosper and 2.) By Jesus’ stripes, I am healed. I used these two things as a daily mantra to keep me positive.
I was at the hospital for the biopsy and lying on the table when the first tech came in to find the lump. She looked with the ultrasound machine but couldn’t find the lump. Tech two couldn’t find the lump. Tech three couldn’t find the lump. The surgeon came in to take over and get the job done, but he couldn’t find the lump. They decided that I needed a different type of biopsy from a different type of specialist.
I came out of the procedure to the waiting room and I told my husband what happened. He says, “I think God healed you!” I said, “I think you’re right!” We decided to do have the other biopsy done (because of the cancer history in my family) and then use it as a confirmation that God healed me. We went to the next surgeon, and she couldn’t find the lump. This was the confirmation that I needed to know that God had healed me!
In total, 17 people looked at the pictures of this lump, and now it was not there. It was gone! I know that I was healed by the blood of the Lamb. Miracles still do happen today!
We are not forsaken
Submitted October 06, 2011
In April, my husband, Vern, was diagnosed with a brain stem glioma. Doctors informed us that "this hit fast, hard and in the worst place possible." Vern was given less than a year to live. A second opinion led us to another hospital where, after complications, Vern lay near death.
Through the intervention of prayer (we believe) MRIs now reveal that the tumor has shrunk. Neuro-oncologists can no longer be confident in the original diagnosis and look to other causes for the brain tumor and lesions on his lungs.
Vern, who was unable to walk or talk, is improving daily. We trust that "he who began a good work will complete it." Being self-employed, Vern has not worked for eight months, and we have yet to receive a disability check. But God is our provider, and we are not forsaken! Our brethren have supported us through organized garage sales, a 5k, meals and loving monetary gifts. Because of their love, we have had all of our needs met.
We have not had to walk this journey alone, but we have felt the strength and support of our fellow believers who have truly been the hands and feet of Jesus to us.
Bad Day Turned Good
Submitted September 23, 2011
While encountering car problems last week, I had the privilege of meeting a member of your church. His name was Ryan. This young man not only came to my rescue during the morning rush hour (when I am sure he had other things to do), but he also did it with kindness, without hesitancy and in such a Christian-like manner. It made what started out to be a bad day into a very nice day.
Ryan shared with me that he is awaiting word from the Chicago Police Department on acceptance as an officer, and he asked for prayers. He told me that his church is also praying, and then we talked about our church homes. When I tried to offer him some money to buy breakfast, he quickly said, "Oh, I can't accept that, but please donate it to your church." I was so impressed with this young man's focus and kindness that I've shared this story with as many as will listen, asking them all to pray for Ryan.
I thought that you should know about your member in Christ, and I ask for all of his friends at Calvary Church to continue to pray that his prayers be answered regarding his future. He is the type of person who not only speaks of faith but also acts in faith. God bless you, Ryan!
Calvary West is moving forward!
Submitted September 16, 2011
Over five years ago, when it seemed like it wasn't a good time to take on another challenge, Pastor Ross and our leadership took a step of faith and followed the leading of the Lord to plant a campus in Sugar Grove, Ill. Hundreds of Calvary Church members worked together to make this possible.
The vision of Calvary West is the same as Calvary Church: to reach and serve our community and to love everyone who comes through our doors. We have become a diverse church family that ministers weekly to hundreds of men, women and children. Calvary West has an exciting, friendly and energetic atmosphere. Every week, people from every type of background come together with one uniting bond: they have a love for Jesus and a love for others.
Two and a half years ago, Calvary West was a growing congregation of 170 people who wanted to make a difference in the area. Since then, we have doubled in size and are now a maturing congregation of over 300! Because of our growth, we were able to enlarge our parking lot by 60% this summer, and we are going to two services (beginning Oct. 9) to facilitate reaching more people. Our giving has also increased to the point where, this year, we became a financially self-supporting church that is now able to give back and look to the future to reach more people.
On Thanksgiving weekend, we will celebrate our fifth anniversary as a site church of Calvary Naperville! Just like anywhere, if you want to see a harvest, then you have to plant a seed, water and tend it and depend on God for the growth. We're not slowing down; we're moving forward to do as much as we can for Jesus Christ!
We love our church family
Submitted September 09, 2011
I would like to share about how God has blessed our family through our commitment and connection to Calvary. We LOVE our church family!
God has blessed us abundantly through our experiences within our Community Group! From the first moment we walked into the home of our leaders, we felt welcomed! My husband and I have grown spiritually—as a couple and as parents learning and sharing life with our group.
They are family to us. They celebrate special occasions with us. They pray with us and for us. They encourage us through email, phone, text and fellowship beyond just meeting every other week. Our group is an extension of the community by which we've been blessed at church.
Everyone should get connected with a group. It’s such a wonderful experience! Thank you, Calvary!