I spent the first nine months of my life as an orphan in a children's hospital in Birobidzhan, Russia. I don't know much about why or how or who - but I know my biological mom chose not to take care of me.
Raised in Newfoundland, I was not a girly girl - I liked sports, playing with toy cars, climbing trees, and I hated the colour pink. I was an only child, surrounded by a family who would do absolutely anything for me. I grew up knowing all about Jesus, praying before bed, singing specials in church - but I thought the God thing was kinda stupid and only for bored old people.
I was shocked (understatement) when I went to church camp in grade 6 and Holy Spirit encountered me in a pretty wild way. God couldn't have been more real to me - I knew I had to give Him my whole life.
I quickly fell in love with Jesus. His Word was coming alive to me. I wanted His presence - and I wanted others to know Him too (so much so that I’d preach regularly to my friends about the rapture during recess). I was addicted and quickly found Sunday church and Wednesday youth group to not be enough. I needed more of Jesus - I was desperate for ways to connect with His heart. I started spending hours and hours of time watching other churches who were live-streaming (at the time it was pretty much only asian and slavic churches who didn't speak english) - just so that I could experience corporate worship.
In that same season, I stumbled across the IHOP live stream. 24/7 prayer and worship that I could tune into at any time? This was totally everything that I was looking for. I spent many Friday nights and summer days alone in my room watching their live stream - inevitably being discipled in prayer, worship, and the word.
Sounds super spiritual and awesome right? Yeah - but I was also bullied for loving Jesus as much as I did, was a big time pharisee, was engaged in a ton of sexual sin, was addicted to pornography, knew how to fake relationship well and kept myself guarded from others, was crippling under fear of man, struggled with depression and anxiety, was dependant on alcohol, and still carried an orphan heart. I was acting out in both subtle and big ways in hopes that someone would see my cry for help, see beyond my anger and hardness, and reach for my heart.
After spending enough time making bad life choices and after a big wake up call in grade 11, I decided that living for God was a better path than sin and dysfunction. I had to go all in. Full time ministry it was! So, like every good Christian kid should, I made my way to Bible college to get a degree in Youth Ministry.
While in Bible college, I learned quickly how to perform correctly in order to get the good grades, have the right social connects, and be what everyone wanted me to be. I made myself everyone's counsellor and I had absolutely no grid for saying no. I became a slave to ministry - not Jesus. I watched myself die spiritually... to the point where I was in my second year of Bible college and I was unsure if I was even a Christian anymore.
At the end of my second year, a close friend of mine invited me to lead worship with him at a 24-hour worship and prayer event that was being hosted at EHOP in March of '17. As I entered the little white church, I felt so at home. The room was full of worship, expression, authenticity, freedom, and the weighty presence of the Lord. I had forgotten what it felt like to really be before the Lord like this.
From that point forward, EHOP became my home. The Lord knew it would take a community like this to see me get healed up. No one was impressed by my giftings and persuasive people skills. They saw through and didn’t applaud my pride-filled ministry-persona - they saw me for me. They called me up and into who Jesus called me to be - not up and into what it took to be a ‘good ministry leader’.
I'm definitely no where close to perfect, but I really love Jesus and I’m on the journey just like you. I'm consistently challenged to be more like Jesus and the Lord is bit by bit destroying the pharisee and orphan in me.