The following is the testimony of God's grace in the conversion of Francisca, who was recently baptized in Family of Grace Church in Rosario, Argentina:
From the time I was a young girl, I was told about the God of love that was Creator of all, and that both heaven and hell existed. When I was nine years old my parents got divorced and I began living in various places with different relatives. I was full of rebellion during my teenage years; I was disobedient, prideful, deceitful, impulsive, selfish, and envious with rage and hatred in my heart.
From the time I was a young lady I fell into drunkenness and became a slave of alcohol. I also had problems with the way I looked. I developed eating disorders, lived in constant anxiety, and was obsessed with my weight—eventually I suffered from bulimia. Only the Lord would be able reveal to me the condition in which I was living and bring me out of it all.
One day, in my second year of college in Chile, I applied for a scholarship for my studies. I ended up being offered a different scholarship to study in Argentina, which I accepted, even though everything I had was in Chile—family, friends, boyfriend, etc. I was very nervous about my move to Argentina and I didn’t feel capable of making the trip and risking so much.
At that time, I felt like there was total emptiness inside of me, and didn’t think anything or anyone could ever fill it. My life was characterized by deep insecurity. So, find some sense of security, I started to create a false faith in a false god that I had made in my own mind—someone that could help in my journey to Argentina and keep me safe. I began to put my confidence in him.
When I arrived in Argentina I immediately wanted to return home. I was afraid. I didn’t know anyone and I missed the things that I knew. Each day I tried to trust more and more in this god that I had imagined for myself, and I began to attribute more characteristics to him: he was a strong god, he was loving, he was protector and a father to me. Ultimately, he was a god that met all of my needs, and yet—as I now know—He was not the God of the Bible.
One day I was invited to a church where they talked about a god very similar to the one that I had created. I liked what they had to say and thought that it was having a positive impact on my life. I felt like I was worshiping this god and serving him, and I thought I was a Christian. Someone gave me a Bible, but after reading it for a short time I got frustrated because I couldn’t understand it, and I stopped reading.
I began to have a battle in my conscience. I tried to stop sinning; I would quit one sin and begin another, over and over again. I was a slave of sin and completely deceived. Still, I continued attending church and I thought that simply being a part of the church was enough to save me. I was living a life of hypocrisy. When I returned to Chile after my studies, even though I was calling myself a Christian, I jumped right back into all the same sins. I was like a pig that took a bath and immediately went back to wallow in the same filth. I was living in an internal hell, an endless fight inside. I knew what was right, but all I did was sin. I started to hate the Bible and Christianity.
I went through times of severe loneliness—both externally and internally—and I was destroying myself because of my stubbornness, self-deceit, and wickedness. I hated God and blamed everything on Him. I felt like a victim of my own suffering. I didn’t want anything else to do with Him; I felt abandoned. So, I gave myself over to sin. More and more I was hardened by sin and given over to it. I felt no peace in any part of me. I felt rotten.
The Lord, who is so merciful, allowed my brother to go to Argentina to study, and I decided to return to Argentina with him. But still, nothing got better. I was tired and felt like my life couldn’t continue. The only thing I wanted to do was disappear. My mind was so given over to my sin that I could see nothing good in the world, nothing beautiful. I hated life.
In the great mercy of the Lord, in the midst of my desperation and filth in which I was living, I became friends with a Christian lady. Along with her husband, she began talking to me about the Lord, but I had a stony heart and didn’t listen to what she had to say. But because of our friendship, I began attending the church with them, which is Family of Grace Church.
The first few times I attended my heart was very hard because of sin, and I felt nothing. In one meeting, Pastor Ariel and his wife Jessica preached the gospel clearly to me, but it had no effect on my heart. In fact, I myself was even surprised by the hardness of my own heart. I understood that I was lost—though at that moment I had no idea how lost I really was. Because of my sin, I felt out of place when I went to hear God’s word in the church, but it didn’t matter at that point. For some reason, I wanted to truly know the Lord; to know the Lord that the people in this church knew and loved so much.
Then, one Sunday, only because of His grace, mercy and great love, the pastor preached on the the grace of God in the gospel. I sensed in that moment that the Lord was calling me to come to Him. I didn’t have anything to offer Him, but I wanted to serve the Lord. I felt joy in my heart for the first time. When I left that meeting I cried the entire way home, thanking God because in Him I finally had a wonderful reason to live.
In that moment I remembered reading 1 Corinthians 1:27-30 a few weeks prior: “…but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God. But by His doing you are in Christ, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption.” God had chosen me, though I have nothing to give Him!
From that moment the Lord has continued to work in me. He began to awaken me a love for Him. His great power began to cleanse me from my most obvious sins, to which I had been a slave for so long. He began to take the blindfolds off of my eyes and awakened me to the truth of His word. I started to see the depth of the wickedness that was in my heart and the evil that I had immersed myself in for so long.
With the Lord’s help, through the examples and encouragement of other believers, through the sermons, and reading the Bible, He has caused me to persevere by His grace. The time after my conversion was characterized by a growing realization both of how good He had been to me, and also how evil my own heart was. The only thing I had ever done was sin against Him—I was His enemy. As He revealed to me more of my sin I began to see how inclined my heart was toward what was wicked. He showed me that I had been a slave to the god of this world. It was a painful process of repentance and humiliation, and I began to hate the person I had been. But with every realization of my own sinfulness, I began to decrease in my own eyes and my heart and mind were filled with thoughts of His mercy.
My heart was filled with joy, but also with the grief of knowing that it was my sin that had led to the nails being driven into His hands. I knew that I deserved hell, and it pained my heart to know that He had humbled Himself and suffered for me on the cross. I’m amazed by His grace that has come into my life. He has taken my sins and freed me from them. Christ has given me new life and a new identity, so that I can now live for His praise and glory. He has given me a new opportunity to delight and rejoice in Him. I am resting in Jesus.
“And hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick; I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Mark 2:17)