By Jenn Burton
I knew how to pray and trust the Lord until I was around the age of seven. At that time my parents decided to host a Bible study group for a church they were trying out. During the study a 16-year-old babysitter took me into the bathroom and assaulted me.
I told no one for ten years. I blamed God and became convinced that church was a waste of time. I grew up thinking that God didn’t care, that He wasn’t going to protect me. He did not love me because if He did then why would He ever let that happen to me? I viewed church as the place that hurt me. I ran from God and rebelled from then on.
I was assaulted again in front of an entire track team on a military base in Japan when I was 12 years old. My mom was in the U.S. visiting her family at the time, so I was left with my dad who didn’t know how to handle the situation. Between the two incidents I thought I would always be broken.
I was eventually diagnosed with inner cranial brain pressure. We don’t know if I had been injured or if it was just something I was born with, but it had gone undetected for many years. It would paralyze nerves in my body so I couldn’t function normally and would cause vomiting numerous times a day. I dropped to 115 pounds, developed tremors, and was often hospitalized. At one point I was unable to even feed myself.
Yet by the time I was in my early 20s, my life looked pretty normal for someone that age. I was going to school to be a physical therapist, dating, working out, and looked very healthy. On the inside I was very sick with the brain injury, struggling with an eating disorder, fighting to keep my relationship together, holding in emotions from the past assaults, and failing classes because I had become very depressed. I tried desperately to keep my life together until I just didn’t care anymore.
On one cold night in November of 2019 after drinking with some friends, I drove my car head on into a pole, trying to take my own life. That seemed easier than watching it fall apart.
Miraculously, I walked away without the air bags going off and suffered only two bad bruises. Emotionally I was completely distraught. I felt broken and vulnerable. The fact that I was not okay had been exposed, and my life fell apart. I became severely anxious. People accused me of lying about the fact that I was even in a car accident. I felt alone, scared, and hopeless.
My parents had been going to Foundations Church, a new Open Bible church in Williamsburg, Virginia. When they heard about my accident, the pastors, Michael and Bonni Hines, came to my parents’ house and checked in on us. Bonni invited me to meet with her on a regular basis. I was at such a low point I was willing to try about anything.
I came to realize that I wasn’t even saved. I had a warped view of God. I repented for not knowing who I was in Christ and not believing that He wanted a relationship with me. That is why He sent Jesus to die on the cross.
God used Bonni as a vessel to help me learn how to hear from God. When I heard from God myself it was truly amazing! My outlook on life changed. My faith began to increase. As I began to seek God, I was miraculously healed of the brain injury, and amazingly I was able to forgive my attackers. I can honestly say God set me free.
My meetings with Bonni opened up a greater hunger for God. I was left wanting more and more. I saw that life was about so much more than me. It changed my perspective from thinking life was better without me in it to knowing there is nothing I want more than to be used for the bigger picture. I’m forever grateful.
Today I am still seeking the Lord and discovering who I am in Christ. I’m not perfect; I’m a work in progress. I still struggle at times and face new challenges daily. It tears me apart that so many people have not even heard that God loves them and wants a relationship with them.
God is faithful. It is truly amazing to see how He has changed my heart.
About the Author
Jenn Burton is a student at University of the Nations YWAM Discipleship Training School. She has a heart for building the body of Christ and is happy to serve where she’s needed. She spends her free time hiking, fishing, painting, working out, and spending quality time with friends.