I wrote this back in 2006, over 5 years after the events of this story happened. I share the most amazing story of God’s grace and goodness back in the glorious year of 1999. This is a testimony of God’s abundant grace and goodness for me and how He displayed His hungry desire to transform my life and bring me out of a deep, deep pit of loneliness and pain. This is my story (and His Story) of how God met me and brought me home to His heart. ~Alison
In 1999, I was 19 years old and in my first year of college studying Graphic Design, doing my own thing, living “freely” (or so I thought). I was not serving God or attending church. I hadn’t been, since the age of 15 or so. I was searching, that’s for sure, but not interested in formal ‘Christianity’ as I knew it… I would watch Oprah, read self-help books, and went that route to “discover myself”…
My mom went off to Uganda for a month to visit my Aunt Meg (her sister), my Uncle Jim and my cousins, Sarah and Rachel in the winter of 1999. She came back afterwards and told me about the trip. It stirred a hunger in me to go on a “life-changing trip” and see some places in the world outside of Canada. What better place to go than Uganda where I could stay with my Aunt Meg and her family and have “The African Experience”? I expressed this desire, and in a matter of months, the plans were set and arranged by my Mum, my Aunt, and fully paid for by my wonderfully generous Gramma (Dorothy).
I was headed to Uganda from May to July 1999 on a 3 month African Adventure!
Looking back, I see that God was working on my heart that whole first year of college. Although it looked like I was living a wild life on the outside, God knew that I was hungry for more and that I was not satisfied with just partying and “getting by” and living a shallow lifestyle. I had tried to live a good, moral life and I was also quite disillusioned by the whole “college experience”, but I was just too blocked and closed off about Church life and Christianity because of confusing family and religious issues growing up. I had become offended with the Church and with God to the point where thoughts of the “Christian church” literally sent “heebie-jeebies” up my spine.
So, off I went to Uganda, with the mindset of, “I can play the religious game. I know the ropes.” You see, my Aunt and Uncle were MISSIONARIES in Africa… So, I knew that I would have to put on my “religious face” to survive there! I arrived in May of 1999, with excited nervousness, not knowing what to expect. All my senses were expanding as I was plunked into a completely different world. It was fascinating and difficult and wonderful all at the same time. Here I was in Uganda, a new world, with familiar faces from my old world in Canada. It was hard to put it all together for a while. As I adjusted, I was able to keep it up in the “religious game” department. For the first couple weeks, I was able to handle all the Christian talk and Sunday excursions to church. I just took it all in as part of “the experience.”
Well, let’s just say God had other plans! ;)
A few weeks into my visit, now into June, I’d just turned 20, and God decided that a prophet from Malaysia named Sonny (a humble yet powerful Christian man in his 50’s) was going to stay in the guesthouse at my Aunt and Uncle’s where I stayed as well. He was coming to the town of Mbarara to preach and prophesy. Let’s just say, this was the turning point in my life!
Even though I was getting along fine with everyone and doing well, when I would go to a church service, it didn’t mean anything to me and it was just “the thing to do” since that was where my relatives went on Sundays. I took it more as a chance to experience African music culture! :)
Well, one day in the week that Sonny was visiting, he had a “word from the Lord” for me. This was all new to me, as I grew up in a very conservative Baptist church and didn’t know anything about the spiritual gifts or the gift of prophecy and words of knowledge. Well, that day, he went to my Aunt Meg and let her know that he had been hearing these things from God about me and wanted to know how to approach me.
Well, later that afternoon while Sonny was in town, my Aunt came up to me in the yard and told me that Sonny had a word from the Lord about me and shared a little bit about what he’d said. IMMEDIATELY, I started bawling and choking and felt like I had a huge ball of something in my throat. It was choking me and I felt like I had to throw up. (Demonic oppression, possibly?!). Anyway, she prayed for me and said that she and Sonny would come and pray for me when he returned from town that evening. This was all very strange for me, and looking back on it, I don’t remember what was going through my head, but I knew that something significant was happening, but didn’t know just what exactly. All I knew was, at that moment, I REALLY needed some prayer in order to get through whatever it was that was surfacing in my heart. I was a wreck and I wanted fixing!
That evening, Sonny and my Aunt Meg came to my room and he shared directly what God had told him about me. Let me just say that it was like he was speaking word for word things that were going on in me that I had never told anyone. He was “reading my mail” as some have called it. The secrets of my heart were exposed in front of these two people. It both freaked me out and overjoyed me, to have secrets exposed, and truth and light shed on my dark inner world. I was bawling and sobbing (and probably slobbering too.) Trust me, to the natural eye, it was probably not pretty! They both said, basically, for true freedom to come that I needed to surrender my life back to God. At that point, I didn’t really think it over, I just knew that all I wanted now was to give my heart back to God. I did not see any other route. There was no other way. This really was THE ONLY WAY to freedom. It was so clear. But I didn’t really think… I just NEEDED freedom! So I prayed to the Lord to forgive me of my sins and come into my heart for real this time and to live for Him. And then they prayed for me about the things that had come up about what was going on in my heart and life (what Sonny had heard from God about). More mega-crying and gutwrenchingly honest sharing on my part. I was so vulnerable, yet I felt a fragile beauty in it all…
Then Sonny began to pray for me for deliverance and freedom from all the oppression that had come on my life over the years. This is where it really gets cool and *DIVINE* (in my opinion). When he prayed for me, I literally was suspended in time, and I saw and felt like my head had a lid on it and the lid of my head (so to speak) was ripped off and out came all this black stuff and just flew up into a cloud of smoke from my head, and disintegrated in mid-air. I felt a huge lift after this. THEN the coolest thing happened. I felt this huge fountain and flow of the most cool, refreshing crystal clean water begin to flow through my entire body to the tip of every limb and nook and cranny and dark corner of my heart and life. I felt outstretched in this flow of water, like I was flying in this cleansing stream. In reality, I was actually curled up on my bed, in the fetal position. I described this to my Aunt and Sonny after. They were overjoyed! I couldn’t stop giggling or laughing or smiling after that. This was the NEW LIFE God had redeemed for me! I got up and went to the bathroom and looked at myself in the mirror! I was a swollen-eyed, puffy-faced, red-faced sobb-sacked girl on the outside, yet I was a new person on the inside!
I slept like a baby that night, and the next morning, my two cousins, Sarah and Rachel who were 10 and 8 years old at the time, came running up to me, since they’d heard that I’d given my life back to God, and were all chattering with excitement and hugging me and I told them that God had unclogged me and washed me clean, and Sarah exclaimed something, “Well, make sure you keep yourself unclogged! Don’t get plugged up!” It was so cute and made me laugh. Yet it was also profoundly true. So true. We can get so clogged up and plugged up with the cares of this world that we forget the eternal things of God…
From that point on, my entire time in Uganda changed. I couldn’t stop talking about God. I started playing the guitar, and would practice different hymns and Christian choruses. Looking back through my journal (diary) from that season, every other word was “Jesus” this and “Jesus” that! I was in love with Jesus! I learned so much the rest of the summer, and was able to be in a safe, loving environment, learning anew the truths of the Bible and experiencing a truly unique and special relationship with the Lord. I still struggled, and I still wanted to do things my old way many times (It wasn’t like I’d thought out this ‘decision’… God just came rushing in and divinely changed my life and I just dove in!). So because of that, sometimes I’d think “What have I gotten myself into?!” but then immediately this rush of peace and freedom and truth would come over me and I knew, that even though I still had to align many parts of my thinking and my lifestyle into God’s Way, I still knew that this truly was the Way, the Truth and THE ONLY LIFE and that NO one comes to the Father except through Jesus.
John 14:6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
A significant verse in Africa, and has now become a life verse:
Psalm 126:5 Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy.
Verses that I clung to, when I was over in Uganda, away from everything familiar:
Psalm 139:9-10 If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there Your hand will guide me, Your right hand will hold me fast.
So, that is my “Divine Experience” in Uganda in 1999. I would love to say I came back to Canada and all of my life was one peachy field of sweetness, but that would be dishonest. BUT, since that experience, I have become a new person. I am becoming the person God created me to be. I am NOT the person I was before. I am transformed! I am in the Truth. My spirit is at rest. I have peace. Deep peace. I don’t have to run anymore. I will never turn away from God. EVER. Nothing will sway me. I may shake in the wagon, but I will never jump off this wagon. His Holy Spirit has locked me in forever and I will gladly remain here with Him for eternity. When you’ve touched upon the Real, there is no possible way to ever go back to the Counterfeit and feel any type of satisfaction from it. There is no way it’s possible. You may have a temporary thrill, but once your spirit truly comes Alive to God, all else is just dead, sinking sand leading to a pit of emptiness.
When I got back to Canada in September 1999, I plugged into an awesome church in Oshawa where I went to college. God blessed me with such amazing leaders to guide me, mentors to disciple me, and friends to fellowship with and grow with. God’s Holy Spirit filled and baptized me, and each day has become a precious gift from above. And even though this specific event happened many years ago, I’ll remember it like it was yesterday. Truly Divine.
Like Sonny, we are ALL someone’s Divine Experience waiting to happen. You just never know whose lives you could completely change when you surrender to God and partner with Him, asking Him to lead you each moment and to be sensitive to “what’s really going on” in the heart of a person. Sometimes, it’s a kind word, or a prophetic word that the Holy Spirit whispers to you, or it could even be a smile, or writing a special letter, or giving an outrageously generous gift. The list goes on and the possibilities are endless how God can partner with us to change the face of humanity.
Thank you, Holy Spirit for arranging and speaking out to divinely set in place various key people, giving them courage to obey and follow through with what You asked of them. Because of this, my life was changed forever. You are so good to me.
Thank you to Sonny, for the divine trip you took all those years back and for obediently speaking out the word from the Lord. I sometimes wonder how vastly different my life could have looked if you had not opened your mouth and spoke the word. That one act changed the whole course of eternity for me.
Thank you to Aunt Meg, for your obedience in sharing with me what Sonny had spoken to you and for being there for my whole time in Uganda at your home.
Thank you to my Mom for encouraging me to go to Uganda in the first place, and for starting the process with that precious 25-cent Student Bible that you gave me that Easter in college before I left for Africa. Thank you for your prayers over the phone before I left which surprised me and choked me up. You are a fiery intercessor, storming heaven on my behalf, standing in the gap for your children.
Thank you Gramma (she has since passed on in 2008) for your divinely inspired financial funding of this Divine Trip and always encouraging us to explore the world and to live a full, fruitful life.
Thank you to my cousins, Sarah and Rachel, and Uncle Jim, who were a part of my Adventure to Africa! What a time we had!
Thank you to all the rest of my friends and family who have loved and encouraged me along the way, because we all know I’ve had my share of bumps since my time in Uganda, but we have walked through the mountains and valleys together and it the outlook seems pretty hopeful and bright, don’t you think?
And most of all, thank You, God the Father, and Your beloved son, Jesus Christ. You are the giver of supernatural goodness. The giver of life. The One who gave me my life back from the dead, and gave me beauty for my ashes. Thanks for hookin it up, Lord! You da bomb-diggity! You write ONE HECKUVA GOOD STORY, if I do say so myself. You steal the show. You certainly do :)
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If you have any comments, personal questions or spiritual questions, or if you want to know more about how you can have your own personal divine encounter with God, you are more than welcome to contact me!
With eternal gratitude,