Hello everyone! When Angela asked me to answer this question for the blog “For All the Kings Daughters” I thought, “How could I express this in words?”
So, if I tell you a little bit of my story with Him, maybe I can answer that question.
My name is Gabriele, but everyone calls me Gabby, Brazilian, married, mother of Pedro, 8 years old.
I grew up in a Catholic home, but we did not go to church often. I studied at an Adventist school during my elementary and at a Lutheran school in high school.
When I was 13, I started going to a sweet lady who did hair removal, hahahahaha! Why am I saying this? Because after 2 years going to her house once a month, I accepted Jesus! Yes! Without realize it, I was being discipled by her and, one day, before I left, she asked the famous question:
- Do you want to accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior?
- “Yes!” I answered. I thought I had accepted him for a long time! Do I need to do anything for that?
- “Let’s pray together!” She replied.
After that prayer, I cried copiously, unable to understand, at that moment, why.
Despite the peace I felt that day and the desire to find somewhere to know more about all that had just happened, I could not keep pursuing.
After this episode, many years passed and now I have been living in China for 12 years.
Six years ago, my friend Leticia began to tell me about Jesus again. I realized that everything she said as a new Christian was nothing new to me. I knew what she was talking about! Then she invited me to visit the TBF church. My first impression was WOW! Am I seeing this place here in China?!
When I entered, I was very welcome! People acted as if they knew me. Everyone greeted me and I felt warmth as I had ever felt before! Suddenly, the worship team began to worship. I was impressed by such beautiful songs and that perfect harmony!
Then the pastor began to speak. I found it very beautiful too … Although I did not understand a word of what he said!
When the service ended, I looked to a sweet small gift they gave it to me, and in one of the papers, there were names and addresses with Bible studies areas. One of these places was near my house. Then I said to myself: “I want this!”
I called for who is today a great friend of mine, a person who has all my respect and admiration, someone who would be my leader for the next 3 years: Sara Boysen.
When I arrived at her house, I met other foreign women and sat down on her couch. And I, who thought I spoke some English, left without understanding 50% of what had been said. Sara handed me a book and said that for the next week I should come with the chapter read to discuss! It was about 15 pages of thousands of new words in “English-Christianese” that I had never seen before. It took me all week reading, translating and trying to understand the subject, and in the end I said a prayer:
“Lord, I do not know how to speak this language and I do not understand many things, but my very deep desire is to learn about You, about Your Son and Your word. I only have this place for this, so, could you please help me to understand that language? “
I did not miss an appointment, but I entered mute and left quiet, but happy to be part of that group of women who had such a beautiful love for Jesus in their hearts.
Little by little things got better and I started to understand people more and more.
On September 3rd, 2011 I got baptized at TBF.
Two years ago, despite loving to be part of English ladies’ Bible study, I began to feel a need to speak about Jesus in my own Portuguese language. I searched a lot for women who might also be able to offer bible study for Brazilian women. So on a Sunday, I went to do my nails and met Mrs. Jamie Kempf, my leader today. Mrs. Jamie is a very wise and loving woman of God, a great example to me, someone I love with all my heart, the big mom of all. I started to tell her about this desire in my heart and asked her if she thought I could offer this study in Portuguese, after all, I had not found someone else to do. That’s when she said, “Gabby, I’ve been praying for you to come talk to me about it for a month!”
In September 2015 we started a Bible study group for Brazilian women in Dongguan, China, with TBF’s church support. Today our group is formed by 15 wonderful women, committed and full of love for Jesus.
Ever since I began this walk with Christ, my life has never been the same. I have never learned so much with life, with people and with Him as I have learned in recent years.
I began to discover what it is to be truly loved!
To be loved by a Father who used the craziest ways to make me known by Him.
The Father that knew I would not know Him in my childhood attending His church and touched my mother’s heart to put me in schools that taught much about His Word.
A Father that brought me to the other side of the world and “stopped” my busy life in Brazil from study and work, to learn to depend on Him.
A Father who put wonderful people on my path, who taught me and brought me closer and closer to Him. Beautiful women who inspired me, were (and still are) balms for my soul in my hard days. Sarah Boysen, Petty Scherer, Connie Berger, Leonore Genade, Jamie Kempf and Angela Boeckman are some of these women. Maybe they cannot even imagine how much they have helped me to develop my faith, but I thank God for the kindness He had with me when He put them in my life!
One day a person very close to me said: “I don’t like the person you became.” I was astonished, for what I had always heard was that people would begin to approach me because they would see Christ. Then God in His Word told me,
“If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. “(John 15: 18-19).
In possession of this word and after experiencing so much love from this Father that gave His only Son and because of that I would have the chance to have a relationship with Him and after seeing that all these years I was drawn by Him incessantly, I looked into this person’s eyes and said, “Sorry, I cannot turn back!” After receiving so much love, the only thing I am able to do is simply ALL THAT I CAN TO RETURN!
I love Jesus with all my soul! But it’s beautiful to be sure that He loved me first!