Born to a single mother, who immigrated to America from the Republic of Panama, my father never recognized my sister or I as his children. We were not a priority in his life; he participated when it was convenient for him. My mother was raised Catholic and that is how I was raised. I attended Catholic school from kindergarten to 12th grade. I knew the ins and outs of Catholicism, but did not have a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.
I can remember being a senior in high school and deciding I cannot follow all these rules. I plan on enjoying my life on the way to hell. When I think about that decision I made at 17 now, it sadden me that I was that silly. I made the decision as soon as I left home for college, no more religion or church. This religion was not relatable or seem to make any difference. I left the Catholic Church and God and followed Claudia’s plan. It is now remembered among other such bad choices I made.
After many missteps and struggles, it finally looked like things were working out for me. I was graduating from college, secured employment and I was engaged to my college sweetheart. We had decided to marry 2 years later after he finished graduate school. I was on top of the world. As time approached to finalize the wedding plans, my fiancé decided he did not want to marry me and could not explain why. After devoting six years of my life towards a relationship goal, I was heartbroken, and decided I wasn’t going to wait any longer.
I cried out to God in my distress — the God I had previously walked away from nearly seven years prior. I needed direction because I was lost. I vowed I would go back to the Catholic Church and I tried attending again. Soon after, I told God this isn’t going to work. There has to be more, or another way. Coming up empty, I expressed to God that with my broken heart and messed up life I needed a change of location.
Having two college friends in the Charlotte, North Carolina area, the search for employment began. It wasn’t long before I received job offers from four companies. God led me to accept the position at one particular company even when I was offered more money from one of the other companies. They could not understand why I declined their offer. The best explanation I could give them was that something deep inside of me was leading to this other company. God had a purpose in sending me to that organization, where I met my future husband’s cousin, who introduced me to his sister. I also moved into the same apartment complex she had lived in 3 months prior. I met and married my husband in less than nine months. Ironically, my husband was also raised Catholic and had walked away from the Catholic Church.
God always had a plan and I started to see this from the day I cried out to him. My life was changing, although I had not yet confessed Jesus as my personal Lord and Savior.
I began to meet other young ladies through my sister-in-law who had asked where I attended church, but I explained that I was not currently attending church. They reassured me hat that the church experience I was about to have was nothing like I had experienced. I was 24 years old and had never heard a black minister preach. When he opened God’s Word, it was like nothing I had never heard before. All I wanted to do was run down the aisle and give my life to Jesus before he even finished the sermon. Which is exactly what I did in August of 1988, over 33 years ago.
Asking Jesus into my life and my heart was the best decision I have ever made. I look back and marvel at the work God has done in my life.
A native New Yorker, Claudia has worked in the insurance industry for the last 36 years in many capacities. She has obtained many insurance designations throughout her career and has served as the president of local insurance organizations. Claudia is married, has two adult sons who are married and have blessed her with grandchildren: two granddaughters and one grandson. Claudia and her husband of 33 years are kept company by their beloved German Shepherd, Pebbles. An active participant when it comes to teaching children in her local church, she finds time to serve as a small group leader for Proverbs 31 Ministries Online Bible Study in North Carolina.
We thank you, Claudia, for sharing your heart and your Testimony of GOD’s love and grace in your life. Your contribution to Testimony Thursday this month is well appreciated!
You are loved to Heaven and Back, Claudia ~~
LindaRJohnson, TitusTwo Visionary