Hear Christina’s amazing testimony of being pregnant at 13, struggling with shame and depression, to experiencing God’s redeeming grace and forgiveness. 

Toby    00:00:              

Welcome to our second episode of Renewed and Redeemed.  Today we have a special guest, Christina. She will share her story of God redeeming her from her shame and unforgiveness. We hope this episode blesses you. 

Crystal             00:21:

Hey everyone! I want to welcome you today. I’m super excited because I have a close friend of mine and my very first guest on Renewed and Redeemed. Her name is Christina and it’s very special for me to have her on today because over the last 6 years I’ve had several people tell me that they thought I should start a podcast. Every time somebody would tell me that, I would just say no way, but this last time I had somebody, Christina, tell me that she thought I should start a podcast. When she told me that, I knew that it was a word from the Lord.  I could feel it in my gut. I knew that it’s very exciting for me to have her on as my first guest because she’s really the one that encouraged me to do this. So welcome, Christina.

Christina          01:18

Hi, thank you, Chris for having me. I’m honored to be here, and I am very excited for this new journey the Lord has you on.  

Crystal             01:16

Thank you! So, one thing about Christina is that she is she’s an amazing preacher. She’s so bold and she really, I love how she just speaks her mind. She has had quite the journey and her walk with the Lord and I’m excited for her to share that with everyone today. Is there anything that you wanted to share just about yourself to get started Christina? 

Christina          01:39

Not that I can think of.  I am super excited. I do wanna forewarn everyone that I have horrible allergies. So, praying on healing for that and we- I just got off of having COVID.  So I’m all clear, but I still have a lingering cough sound.  So, it’s nothing horrible, but I’m just warning you that you may hear it.

Crystal            02:05

 OK, no problem. Is there any kind of maybe a story or a memory or you want to share how we met?

Christina          02:16

Yes, OK, so I, Oh my gosh.  I believe it was about probably six years ago because I, well maybe about seven years ago, yeah seven years ago because I am turning OK. So, I move to Wesley Chapel, Florida about seven years ago. My family is my husband and my three kids. We decided to take a leap of faith, come to Florida.  I was struggling on finding a church. I came from a strong background with ministry, and I was looking for a church, praying for it.  I came across this church where I met Crystal. From the second I met her the Lord was tugging on me, but we didn’t actually get connected until we went into Bible ministry together. Bible school. So, the Lord just brought Crystal and myself together and it’s been dynamic ever since.

Crystal              03:15

I agree, I agree. We’ve been going strong for quite a while. We had some interesting journeys and stuff, but we have always been there for each other, and I just love that. God put us together for that 

Christina          03:25

Amen! Yes, I agree. 

Crystal             03:27

OK, well let’s get started with your testimony.  I’d like to hear about what was going on in your life, your circumstances, or any situations going on, when you first came to know Jesus and gave your life to Him. What was going on before all that happened?

Christina          03:45

OK, well I grew up in church. So, I come from a Hispanic household where you had no say so, but to go to church. If you lived under my mom’s roof it was church. She woke she up and it wasn’t, I don’t want to go. You had no choice, but to go to church. So, I grew up in church.  I grew up in a Baptist Church. I remember as a kid I was probably about 8 years old it was summertime. My mom put us in Bible camp and put us, meaning me and my sister, in Bible camp. So, I grew up already knowing 5-6 years old that Jesus died on the cross for my sins and three days later He rose again. So that was pretty much my foundation. My parents were really strong with the Lord, in the Lord. So, I will fast track to about 13.  Thirteen is where and I kind of rebelled. My parents were workaholics and I hardly seen them. They both worked literally two jobs. We drifted away from church. During that time, I was, I became pregnant. So, we withdrew from church completely because my parents, the family, was more ashamed that I was pregnant while we were faithfully in church every Sunday. So that was hard for us. So about from 13 to 17 years old we did not go to church. I did not go to church. I had my son. He is now 18. He’ll be 18 next week, but we do not. So, I was living a worldly life. However, my mom still is a prayer warrior. She still had the foundation. She still, we still, did Bible study in our house, but so fellowship with other church members we did not. OK so that was just something like big that we did not do. Like I remember my dad’s, one of my dad’s best friend. He came to visit, and I was about 8 months pregnant. He was like you, didn’t tell me your daughter was pregnant! So, the pregnancy was kind of a withdraw from social life.  They withdrew from church. They withdrew from a lot of things because it was more so embarrassing. I mean your 13 years old is pregnant and you faithfully go to church. So, what do you say? 

Crystal             06:13

Sounds like there was a lot of shame. 

Christina          06:15

Yes, yeah. 

Crystal             06:17 

Now was the shame on you, like did you feel shame or was it just maybe your family?

Christina          06:21

Uhm.  It was a lot I did feel shame that it was over a lot. In which I’m grateful that how God was in the center still at that time. My mother was very strong into having the baby. She was very strong. It was no doubt. We were gonna go ahead and go through with the pregnancy. Abortion with not an option for my mother, right? But in my father, who was embarrassed, and I was the baby and he he struggled with that. So, he wanted me to go ahead and have an abortion.  My mother told him, listen I will leave you and raise my daughter and never ask for you again. I will not go ahead and kill that baby. My mom was very blunt, which I I have that trait of her. 

Crystal             07:09

I know that.

Christiana        07:10

Yes, so I have that strong boldness from my mother. She pretty much told my father I will not have an abortion an if he had a problem that he can leave and all that. Yeah, anyway, during my pregnancy I had a little bit of a rough time. This is where that was the first time my father actually showed concern about me. I was about seven months pregnant. But overall, fast track.  I did have my son. He is the greatest thing ever to my family.  He is a gift and my dad that’s his number one. My son is everything. So, at the end of the day, we transition from not going into church to then having this beautiful little boy which my mother will pray over, and I will pray over. So, we didn’t lose our foundation. My mom started to show me that we are at the church. So, we don’t necessarily go to a building to have church. We are the body of Christ. We are the church. You know we are we have everything in hand for us. We have all the tools we need right here at home. We have the Holy Spirit. So so fast track again. I meet my boyfriend at the time, who is now my husband. I came across him in high school and he invited me to church one day. This is where my walk actually started all over again. He invited… go ahead 

Crystal             08:48

I just wanna say, like what kind of emotions were you feeling, like leading up to that? Were you… did it not really affect you, stepping away from the church? I mean obviously we know you had shame, but what were you depressed? What were you feeling, you know, actually feeling before you know started going back to church and stuff like that?

Christina          09:08

So when I did not go to church I was very worldly.  So, I would do drugs. I would go out- go party, hang with the wrong crowd, listen to the wrong music, watch the wrong things. I was very confused. I battled a lot. I battled a lot with identity. Which I didn’t know that was identity at that moment. I just battled a lot with life. I had everything on my plate. I had a baby to take care of. I was going through so much just within myself, like who am I gonna be when I get older. What is it gonna look like? Just all the thoughts of, all the fears. I will say, it’s pretty much that you will not accomplish anything. You will never be successful. That all came into factor. So, I was self-healing the way I only knew, which was partying with my friends. Which was I was never one to smoke, thank God. I was never one to smoke, but I I would drink randomly. I will go ahead, and you know hang out with the wrong crowd, going to clubs. I remember going to the casino that the age of 16 using my my sister’s driver’s license. We look like twins. I was just with the wrong crowd. I used to be very, had a lot of anger in me. That was pretty much it. 

Crystal             10:44

Sounds like maybe you felt like you’re missing something and you’re trying to fill it with other things.

Christina          10:50

I would say I was lost in every which way. I mean, you know, teenagers go through a thing anyway with their hormones add that plus a mom, its a lot. And I was still in high school so.

Crystal             11:06

 So, so you started going to church with your husband. OK now husband, not husband then. 

Christina          11:12

So let me tell you that. So, my boyfriend at the time, he he was like Hey let’s go to church. My sister wants us to go to church. Now it’s like OK well I’ll go visit. I was a little apprehensive. However, I was shocked that he was the one who initiated that. Usually, I’m the one even with my son’s father. I I used to invite him to church when we used to go as friends and I would be the one to go ahead and initiate that. Now having a man, a guy, initiated that for me, inviting me to church that was new. So having him… so I remember when he came to visit me one time. He prayed for me, and I’ve never heard of prayers so beautiful. I’ve never heard a prayer like that because I grew up Baptist. Not to say there’s anything wrong with Baptist, but I didn’t have it that connection with the Holy Spirit, right. His first time praying for me, he opened it up like Father, my God and I’ve never heard a prayer like that. He, it was so intimate I’ve never seen an intimate prayer the way. He prayed for me. So, so he prayed for me like, it’s that, literally that day before. So, this was a Saturday. That Sunday I went with him to church.  They had a prayer tunnel that day. Which, they, I’ve never seen anything like this. I used to go to a Baptist church 

where we would sing out of the hymn book. So, I’ve never seen worship the way it was. It was worshipping with different music. I felt something in my spirit. I felt I was crying. That was the first time I had experienced worship where my body inside in my heart was just pounding. The tears were overflowing. I’ve never felt that a day in my life. It was it was beautiful. The pastor wind up just going on stage and saying, “hey, I feel the need to have a prayer tunnel.  If anyone wants prayer come down this tunnel.” I had no clue what it was, but my body literally went. So, I was afraid. This is my first time here. It literally was this was the second time I met his sister. So, I was brand new. So, at this point I go down the prayer tunnel and when I started walking down the tunnel, I heard people speaking in another language. So, I’m behind someone and they’re taking their sweet time. They stopped. That I wind up going around them because in my mind I wanted to leave. I had no clue, what were they saying and what was going on.  I literally went around the gentleman in front of me and walked out. So, I went through the prayer tunnel, but I I didn’t know what was going on. That I I rushed it was it. It was like, I would explain the prayer tunnel, was like walking down the aisle to your husband the day you’re getting married. It was like one of those slow walks. Yeah, but I was running to the altar. Like I was running through it. So, then I go back to him and I’m like, June, his name is June.  They were saying something they were speaking another language I never heard. He told me things like they were speaking in tongues and I was like what is that? So, I had no knowledge of that part of Christ. SO, while Im there, mind you my body is tingly. I’m not sure what I’m thinking.  One of the ladies came up to me. She says can I can I talk to you? I was like sure. She introduced herself and she said I wanted to pray for you. You definitely pulled on me when you walk down the tunnel, on the prayer tunnel. And I feel the need that God wants to talk to you about something. So, she said can I pray for you. This complete stranger. I said yes! So, I close my eyes, bow my head and she began to pray for me. So, when I tell you I felt like she was a fly on my wall. Or she in my she God told me everything everything I was feeling. How I was lost and confused and battling depression. Literally it was like if she read my diary. I can’t explain it and it was like she was a fly on my wall for years. She summed up my entire life and how I was feeling within 3 minutes. So, at this point I am crying. I mean, I I am sobbing. It is not pretty. I’m like leaking from my nose. 

Crystal             16:18 

I know that one! 

Christina          16:20 I had never ever ever ever ever. Remember I knew about the Lord and He died for me and and I remember going to bible camp. But I have never had such an intimate encounter with Him. Like He knew me by name. You know, like this point is where it triggered that God knows me. He knows every strand on my, on my head. You know? Every year spent in He knows them by number. That is when it woke me up. Like that God is with me and He has always been with me.  And I had that when she was praying for me. I remember as a little girl- I had a flashback of me as a little girl, watching a Christian movie. And I remember I prayed the prayer of salvation as a child. So, when she’s praying for me and speaking His, God showed me when I was younger brought me back to that time of praying salvation, the salvation prayer. Which I didn’t know at that age, but I didn’t know what that was, you know? So, it was it was so powerful. And when I tell you from that moment on my life was never the same. My life was never- I walked in church and came out a brand-new person.

Crystal             17:34 

Amen Amen, yeah and that’s what it’s supposed to be like! Amen! Yes!

Christina          17:38

I was so radical at that time. Like, like, the fire was ignited. Like it was everything from the minute I woke up to the minute I want to sleep. It was Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.  You don’t know what He can do!  Like, He loves you! It doesn’t matter if you said it… don’t, just because you smoke cigarettes that don’t mean you’re not allowed in church. Everything you can think of. I was 17 at that time. I came back to the Lord. Came back to the Lord, I wound up getting married to him and we had our daughters. And I just felt the need, when I encountered Christ like that, it was like now I all this sin that I was doing. I didn’t want to do it anymore. It was like, I did an an when I was doing it, which me and him were younger, it didn’t feel right. It was just like, I felt convicted, or I felt like, hey! I know I shouldn’t be doing this! And the…

Crystal             18:36

That’s the Holy Spirit! 

Christina          18:38

Yeah exactly, exactly. So, it was just so good. So amazing and that when they say what’s your story? That’s my story. I mean, my my entire life. I thank the Lord for my parents, but this was my encounter. This was the encounter that my parents prayed for when I was younger. When I was in my my my dark years. I don’t even like to think dark years.  But when I was drifted or the prodigal son moment. Like this with that encounter my mother needed. Because not only did it affect me, but it affected my entire household. So my mom and my dad started going to church.  My…

Crystal             19:17

With you? 

Christina          19:18

Yes. They started going to the same church. My brother and my sister started going to church. My one cousin, who you couldn’t mention church at all to him, and that was my entire life. I think we knew this one cousin we couldn’t speak of God. Somehow ,someway he came up in my radar. I’m I’m not sure how it went. He started serving at the church and he still to this day. He still thanks me like. Chris, thank you because I didn’t come in here. I didn’t come to him forcing Christ down him I came to him speaking the truth. Like God loves you. You’re you’re amazing. You’re an amazing man. Like you have destiny. You have a mission. Like I wind up, it was love. The only way that he came to Christ was is love. And and  it wasn’t like you need to  stop this. It was nothing like how I am because that I’m a little aggressive. I I will admit that. But the way I how I was with him, God had to give. It was peace. It was a different side of me that he said if God change your life around, I know there’s a God. You know in in my test…

Crystal             20:33

Your life was a testimony. 

Christina          20:35

Exactly.  

Crystal             20:38

So, you, you know, you found all this peace, and joy, and just you know that your shame was gone. You still obviously still were in the same circumstances, right? I mean that didn’t  change, but  what you experienced in your life was something different because you have Jesus,  right? You had the Holy Spirit. So, after that, like really a little bit after, you know, you were just on fire for the Lord and stuff like that. What kind of things did you start doing? Like what did you start to see change in your circumstances just due to your experience with Jesus and your change of probably attitude and heart? 

Christina          21:18

Right, uhm. Well, you see almost immediately from getting…I had my encounter from getting saved and born again. I dug right in I started going into Bible ministry. I started getting connected with the women at the church. I got connected with even the playlist for worship. Like because that music wasn’t normal to me. All we had with the piano list at my Baptist Church growing up. Hearing drums or hearing the guitar that that was not normal for me. So even the worship I I was full blown, head on, dug right into everything. So not only did I fellowship with the females, I played worship music 24/7. I started singing along to it. I started understanding what worship was and what praise was  and the difference between the two. I became, I I’ve learned to speak my prayers because I was I was taught to pray in your head growing up, but I understood what authority meant and speaking your prayers how that that makes a difference. So, I I changed completely to the point that my friends that I was hanging with didn’t excite me anymore. So, I drifted out with friends. God causes to be the light and they seem to change in me. That they started going to church, at one point, you know. So, I I would send the invite out and they came. And however God touched them, God touched them. I keep in contact with some of them. Some of them are still following the Lord and some of you know they they had a choice, and they made their choice but that doesn’t mean that I cut myself completely off for them. I’m still hear from them. If they need me you know. I became an overseer of the dance ministry. I didn’t know anything about worship and dancing, and I have a gift of a prophetic dance that I found out in church that I had and without me even realizing it. So, I would say that I completely went in, not only was it just me, but it was so contagious that I wanted everyone to know the feeling that I felt. So, I would say that that’s what happened. 

Crystal             24:02 

How is how is God using you now since then now? It’s has been a long time since then.  How is God using you now?

Christina          24:09

Ok, It has been a long time since I was 17. And I will say this… there, are how do I say this? There are moments in your journey where you’re on fire and you feel like it died out. That’s OK you know? It’s OK to to go down that that road, but I’m glad that my fire didn’t completely burnout you know. I got connected into another church when I moved to Florida which that was my hardest transition. I would say from 17 all the way up till I moved to Florida the hardest transition in my life was moving to Florida because I did not have my church or my friends or I didn’t have I couldn’t find that passionate people that love Christ away that I had in Philadelphia. You know like I I will visit churches and I’m not here to talk bad about any church, but I miss I miss the fellowship of just people loving God. Just loving Him. And I got connected in in church where I met you, Chris. I I’m so grateful for that, but it was a struggle. And it is a struggle. I’m connected great now in a good church and I’m I’m thankful for that, but it is hard. There are times where although I know the Lord and I know He’s with me and he’s for me and if He’s with me, what can be against, you know. Who can stand against me, but there are times where you need that extra prayer warrior to help you get through this season. Right now I had great seasons and then I had seasons at times where I don’t even know how I got through it and that the only way I got through that same thing was from God strength. And just constantly repeating like, He He’s with me. He loves me.  God I believe everything you’re doing is for a reason and purpose, you know. So, my prayers shift depending on I I will guess, the season. There are times for there’s joy and it’s great and everything. And there’s times that we struggle. We struggle, and I struggle and my husband struggles.  And there’s times that I’m just crying out like, I need prayer or I need I need to be left alone. Give me my moment with God. There are times where I can text you and say hey Chris, I’m really battling with this. Can you help me out because, I want people to know that in their walk with Christ, is not always going to be peaches and cream. 

Crystal             26:56

Yes! That’s so important. 

Christina          26:59

There, like, you are going to go to some times where you struggle. You are going to go through them times where you know your past is going to come up and it’s going to smack you right in your face. And, but that’s a chance where you can go ahead and say I’m better than that and you no matter what happened in the past, my future is secure because God is with me. And I’m a daughter of the King. I am an ambassador. 

Crystal             27:22

So even just choosing Him, right? Just choosing Him in those times.

Christina          27:24

Exactly and even if you feel as though you can’t see how it’s you know the storm is going to end. It will end. You know at the end of every storm there’s a rainbow and that’s just God’s covenant, that every time. 

Crystal             27:44

So, if you had to pick, like, a big lesson from your life so far, what would be the big lesson that you would want to share with others that you’ve learned? That’s kind of is like your theme or does something that you feel like this is the biggest thing that I think I’ve ever learned. 

Christina          28:01

I would say forgiveness. 

Crystal             28:05

Forgiveness. That is a good one.   

Christina          28:07

Forgiveness. Forgiveness is both for yourself and for others. There’s a difference. I can forgive my husband, but I struggled with always forgiving myself. 

Crystal             28:25

Yeah, that is a hard one. 

Christina          28:26

Right. Whether it was doing, leading my children the wrong way, or like just being too hard because I’m such a strict parent, you know. It’s like I struggled with forgiveness and I’m at that point where listen I I truly can forgive and I truly forgive myself, like you know. I, my son is 18. He’ll be 18 next week. He’s graduating 12th grade and this was a topic of our discussion the day  before yesterday. Like I’m sure I’ll be the youngest mother at graduation, you know. And it’s one of those things where I asked him I’m like are you embarrassed? And he’s not because he’s older and he he he’s not you know. I thank God that I I’ve always spoke positivity to him I told him you’re blessed. You were here for a purpose, for a reason. You are not a mistake no matter if I was 11 year old or 21 years old. You’re not a mistake. You’re a blessing from God and I need you to know.  Yeah so, I put that firm foundation in him at a young age because I knew kids can be cruel. He went through a time where they were like your mom is only 23? Or your mom is only 27? While their mom is close to 40, right yeah. I told him I said be proud. Proud you know. Be proud that you have a mother that loves God. He is number one in our household, That I love you. I’m healthy overall and I am not on drugs. That I am raising him the way that I would want others to raise their children. This world is so scary right now. So, we need we need more kids like you. We need more people to be like you who will fight for justice.  

Crystal             30:22

Yes, I agree. Amen.  Well before we close out, is there anything else that you wanted to share, or do you have anything else on your heart? 

Christina          30:32

Well, going back to forgiveness. I will just say, no matter what your past looks like or what you done or if there’s something you’re doing now that is not of God, God will forgive you. God doesn’t forgive and then next week brings it up and throw it in your face. So, so I want you to take in consideration, forgive yourself and mean it.  Forgive your spouse and mean it. Forgive your children and mean it.  Forgive your family member and mean it. And what I mean by that is if you truly truly truly forgive can you start from that day moving forward. It’s not one of those things where a month or year later that situation comes up. You know God forgives us. We should forgive ourselves, as well. We should think like Christ. We should forgive others. It’s not healthy to hold unforgiveness in your heart, for one.  It’s only affecting you. That other person is probably living their life. Forgiveness will hinder you from your identity. Unforgiveness will hinder you from your identity. Unforgiveness will hinder you from your work, your walk with the Lord. 

Crystal             31:52

Yeah, It steals your peace. It really steals your peace.  Yeah. Hey I was just thinking, would you be willing to pray for for anybody that’s struggling for with unforgiveness? Will you just pray a prayer for them?

Christina          32:05

Sure.  Father God, I just thank you for this time right now, Lord and I pray that you will continue to bless Crystal and others who are listening to this podcast. Lord, I pray right now for anybody who is struggling with unforgiveness, Lord. May you break that that wall down in their heart,  Lord. That you whisper Your Your peace to them and and maybe you just give them that confidence that you forgave them. And may you go ahead and pour into them that it’s OK to let go of the past and leave the past in the past. It’s OK to forgive someone and love from a distance, that’s OK. Lord, I just continue to pray for those who are struggling right now with unforgiveness and identity and just struggling overall with their journey with you, Lord. And I pray that they will go ahead and get connected to someone who walks with the Lord, who will be able to pour into their lives. And they they can call out your name right now and just say Jesus, help me Jesus! Help me! And Lord you are there with them. You are you’re the Comforter.  You are the Prince of Peace. You are so much, Lord. And I pray that they will feel your love.  I pray that their heart will be softened. I pray that their ears will be open.  I pray that they will understand the power of the name of Jesus. There is power in the name of Jesus that will break every chain.  God and I pray that even in the midst of them not knowing what to do or that they would just call out on your name and feel your peace, Father God. May you give them dreams and visions, Father God. May you send people Your way to help them, Lord. But ultimately, I pray that they will find peace in you, Lord and forgive wholeheartedly. No matter what the circumstances is nothing, too hard nothing to low. I pray that they will ask for forgiveness and they will be that vessel of forgiveness, Lord. In Jesus name we pray. Amen Amen Amen 

Crystal             34:14

Amen, Amen. Thank you so much, everyone, for joining us. If you have any questions, comments, please feel free to reach us at renew-redeem.com