Winter, did you grow up with parents who had a relationship with God?
Yes, during all of my growing up years, my parents were missionaries in the Philippines. I helped in Sunday school and church from the time I was about ten. We had lots of visiting preachers eat meals with us, and I loved hearing their stories. Sometimes I longed to go to Canada or Brazil or Africa, anywhere other than where we lived. When I finally got my chance to go to college, I chose a school about as far away as I could get from my folks. It was sad. I didn't appreciate them as much as I should have. Instead, I wanted to break away and experience the world. As I plunged into campus life in the states, I got farther and farther from the Lord too.
My parents loved me the whole time, but I know I broke their hearts. Later, Mom told me they fasted and prayed every weekend for a year, believing God to bring me back to Him. When I married Ty, an unbeliever, they were crushed, but their love remained steadfast. Only once did either of them question me about my decision. As my dad walked me down the aisle on my wedding day, he paused and asked whether I was certain Ty was the man for me. Of course, I said, "Yes!" But, he warned me if I married him, it was forever. No matter what. Even after things went sour between Ty and me, I always remembered Dad's words. I planned to remain single for the rest of my life. Only God had other plans. Soon, Ty and I will be married–again. And since my dad is in heaven, my dear sweet mom, who never gave up on me, will be walking me down the aisle.
After you received Christ, what changes took place in your life?
While I was in college and the six months I was married to Ty, it was all about me. Selfish, prideful, stubborn to a fault are words that described me perfectly. When I lived in the Philippines with my parents, life centered around ministry and helping others. But life in the U.S. focused on ME. When I met Ty, I fell for him, loved him, but he had to do everything to make me happy.
After our breakup and my return to my parent's house, I wallowed in self-pity. Finally, my mom said, “Enough.” She made me start helping in her ministry outreaches. During that time, the Lord began tugging on my heart to fall in love with Him again. Finally, one night during a Sunday evening service, I ran forward and fell on my knees, begging God to heal my broken heart. Things quickly changed. I joined my dad on his rounds to pray for the sick. I gladly helped Mom with bringing food to the poor and helping with women's ministries.
When I felt God wanting me to go deeper with Him, I applied to a Bible college in Tennessee. Before long, I was attending Bible classes and growing in the Lord. My faith kept expanding, but I didn't know what area of service the Lord would call me to. When He spoke to my heart about preaching and spreading His love around the U.S. with a ministry team, I wanted to shout and dance. Doors opened; someone gave me an old station wagon. Four of us began traveling and sharing the gospel. We named our team Passion's Prayer, because our passionate prayer was to be like Jesus in every area of our lives. And that's the thing that really changed in my life. Instead of the world revolving around me, I wanted my world to revolve around God and sharing His love. When it comes right down to it, following the Lord is all about love. And that's where change really begins.