We all have a story, a powerful story. The children and youth of our church have been examining their hearts and asking God to reveal all that he has done for them. They are writing down these events because scripture states "but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect" (1 Peter 3:15) These are stories of how these children have come to know and trust Jesus Christ as their personal savior. I don't expect our children to have these same testimonies a few years from now, because our story is always changing. We want our stories to change because God is always doing more! 

Kailey, age 10

     I have loved Jesus as long as I can remember. It wasn't until one day in children's church that I finally understood why Jesus died on the cross for me. I accepted Him into my heart and wanted to be baptized as soon as possible. My heart was so happy because Jesus will be with me all my life, and he wants me to be with Him!
     Sometimes I know I mess up. I say things that hurt other people's feelings without meaning to. Other times I don't tell the whole truth because I'm afraid to get into trouble. I don't like hurting people, so when I do those things I get even more upset at myself. It makes me feel like a bad person.
     When I pray to Jesus he takes away my sin, and it's not mine anymore. That why he died on the cross for me. I try to live a life that makes Him happy, but I know He still loves me even when I mess up. I am thankful that just like Jesus is quick to forgive me, so are my friends and family. I know that I'm surrounded by people who want what's best for me. God has people watching out for me and helping me to grow to know Him more. 

Rylee, age 11

     My name is Rylee and I love Jesus, my family and friends, and chickens. I have always known Jesus loves me, but it wasn't until I was five that I accepted Him into my heart. I don't remember much about that day, but I know I want to live my life for Him!

     For the past couple of years my perspective o life has been changing. I've been learning that God can be my strength. I've been dealing with migraines and pain. Although my symptoms have gotten a little better, they're not going away. Sometimes it's easy for me to get discouraged, but it's a wonderful feeling to know I'm in God's arms, and someday I will live with him forever.

     One of my favorite verses is Psalm 73:26 which says: "My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion forever."  Even at times when I don't feel strong, this verse reminds me that my strength comes from the Lord and that I can always count on Him.

Lilah, age 8

     I didn't know what to write for my testimony because I can't remember a time where our family didn't go to church. I've heard lots of Bible stories and I can't remember a time that I didn't love Jesus.

     Eve though I loved Jesus, I didn't accept him into my heart until I was six. I got in big trouble for fighting with my sister. I did something bad and my heart felt bad. Even though I had been forgiven by my mom and sister I knew that what I did would've made Jesus sad. I asked my mom to help me to pray and I felt really happy afterwards.

     After I prayed and accepted Jesus in my heart, I remember that I started having really bad dreams. I was scared of the night, and was afraid to go to sleep. I cried when it was bedtime. I finally told my mommy about the bad dreams. We prayed together for the evil dreams to stop and for the enemy to leave me alone. We prayed that my dreams would come from God and that he'd send his angels to protect me. I pray this every night. Now I'm not afraid of the dark or to dream anymore because God protects me. I also know that sometimes I do bad things, but God is good and forgives me if I ask. God is a good father!

Allana, age 15

     I was born into a Christian family who were quite active in the church and ministry. I've always grown up in the church, and I accepted Jesus into my heart when I was four years old, and was baptized when I was nine. My dad became a pastor, so I and all my siblings became Preacher's Kids or "PK's". But God didn't feel truly real to me, or right up in your face real, until a Young Saints conference in 2018. When I finally let go, and let my heart be free, not caring as much what people thought of  what I did, that was when I knew, truly knew that God was real. He had loved me, cared so much about the world, and how much profound wisdom He had. How powerful He was, The power was so deep, so strong, and I knew that I could trust Him with anything because nothing could get past Him unless He let it. I stopped struggling with people dying, wars, and how hostile the world felt sometimes, the horrible things that God let happen. I believed that He saw the bigger picture. He knew that if He waited, better things could happen, that He used everything for good in some way. 
     When I was about 10 or 11 years old I had nightmares. Because of them, I was terrified of the dark. I slept underneath the covers just to feel safe enough to sleep. I would not do anything. I just laid in the dark terrified that I might be abducted or eaten by evil beings if I so much as moved , or even breathed. I could not get up at night, and if I did I would rush back into bed, stifling a scream just before burrowing back underneath the covers. 
    Then one night I started to pray. I just asked God to keep me safe. Later I asked Him to not let me have any dreams at all unless they were good, and from Him. After that, I didn't have any dreams. It was about a year and a half later before I had another dream, and it came from Him. I know that it was from God because it told me information I did not know, and facts I had not heard before. It was the first real dream I had in over a year. Since then I have had more dreams, one of which became my first writing project!
     I had a challenging and painful experience during the Polk County Fair in 2019, and I had to learn how to forgive, and really trust that God could use my hurt for something good, because it did not feel good. It also helped me uncover some other things about myself I had not known before such as I have powerful feelings, I like people treated with respect and kindness, and I do not like to be wrong. 
     The next year at Young Saints, I cried for a long time during one of the sessions, just simply overwhelmed the the enormity of who God is. So glad to be in God's presence. It was almost like no one else was there. Only me and God. I wished that His presence was an ocean, so I could dive down, deeper and deeper, and never come up for air because I would never need it again. In that moment, I found that He was trustworthy. I could put my anything and everything into His hands and know, truly know, that if I listened and really leaned into Him, I would be okay no matter what happened. Now matter what anyone said or did, I was safe in His hands.
     Sometimes I struggle and wonder how in the world God could use such pain for a good thing. But I picture it as Him pulling out of cold ashes, a fresh rose. Using a monstrosity for something beautiful. Or scars that tell a story of healing and courage. God knows, and God cares. Even if I do not understand it all, He does, and that is all that matters. I know that God is real. I know that He is good. I know that He loves me, and each and every person in the world. He has patience and uses everything, good or bad, for something wonderful, if only we would choose to see it.
     My prayer is that God will use me in many ways to bring people into His kingdom, and my journey as one of His children will never end! 

Forest, age 9

     My name is Forest and I like guns, Legos, and being outside. I don't remember much about the day I accepted Jesus in my life, but I know that he forgave me and loves me. God has been teaching me about being brave and trusting Him. A verse I like is Joshua 1:9

"Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go." I know with all the fires and the crazy stuff happening in the world that God is with me, and I can be brave because I have Him inside me!