Jessica Olivia-Joy

On September 25, 2016 I was water baptized as a spontaneous response, because God used my new friend to prompt me to listen to Him. I then went through a prayer tunnel. I felt like I was at a football game and I was the champ. As I went through the tunnel I felt the Spirit of God in the people, the worship team and in me.

I felt Jesus leading me ever so gently by His hand. In Him and others I felt comfort and no fear. I didn't care what was about to happen, because that day I chose that I had nothing left to offer Him or others.

I have made choices in my life that brought so much destruction--my previous family rejected me, my church rejected me and my friends. I had no money. I had no job. I had no peace. But a few months before that day, I cried out to God and said, “I have nothing, please God can you do something. I have heard about you. I know you a little, but I want to know you a lot. I want others to know you too. God who are you and who am I really? Under all this destruction I bet I am under there somewhere. I bet you are in me somewhere.” On that day in September he found me and I found myself. I am Jessica. ( The Wealthy One. The Warrior. I am grafted in with joy. I am a good friend and mother, the daughter of a wonderful Father, and beautiful inside and out.) 


I just wanted to express to everyone a powerful truth God has shown me. A little over a year ago now I was at a very low point in my life. I felt like I didn't have anyone except for my family. I walked into Res Life and couldn't believe how welcome I felt. It makes me very emotional and sentimental to this day to think about it. If I hadn't felt welcome I wouldn't have stayed. This truth just keeps coming back over and over to me. As many of you know God's truth is powerful! Unfortunately, not all are willing to receive it. If we as Christians go out of our way to talk to someone and show them kindness, love, and friendship that's the first thing that gets them interested. When we show them a little portion of the great love of our Father!! Love is beyond important. I think sometimes we forget that, but Jesus didn't neglect it and neither should we! All of his life He showed every attribute of love towards others wanting nothing in return. Such selfless love He showed and how much more should we do the same. So I challenge all of you to show someone love whether that be talking to a new person, a lost friend, or even someone who looks alone. Remember love is the greatest of the commandments and I know that it is full of so much power to impact a generation!!! Thank you for showing me love when I needed it.


Growing up, I lived in a household where there was constant fighting and the smell of booze and cigarettes. My father was an alcoholic, a raging one at that. My mom was the rock for my stability. My dad would come home after work and grab a beer, start yelling at my mom calling her vulgar names, and my mother would end up crying and just doing what was told. This was my life for almost 16 years. I'd wake up hearing mom and dad argue and dad verbally assault my mom who tried everything in her power to make peace in the house and keep me happy as well as my dad. I grew up with hatred and the utmost fear towards my father. I grew up wanting to always protect my mom for she done the same for me. I grew up with the most hated and violent thoughts of ending my dad’s life in his sleep. I thought, "If God isn't going to do anything, I should! The cops won't do anything, I called before. Mom and I can survive on our own, I'll be the man (even though I am a girl!) of the house!"

Years went on of the verbal abuse, the consumption of drinking, the gambling, the slamming of doors, stomping around, me hiding in my closet, waking up at 3am to figure what kind of mood dad will be in today. I went on learning how to read the body language to figure out if I could ask to go play outside or stay in my room and do my homework. My mother took it for so long. My mother was like David facing Goliath almost, but on a daily basis.

In 2002, my dad's mom was taken away from this Earth by colon cancer. In 2001, dad was arrested for his 3rd offense of DUI (Driving under the Influence). Today is 2015, and my father has been sober since December 2001. However, that didn't end his verbal tantrums. Six months later, May 19th, 2003, I was stuck in the hospital diagnosed with a life-term disease that was hard to handle until recently.

I graduated in 2008 from high school, thank God for providing me with people who cared and encouraged me not to drop out like my dad did. I went to college and gained confidence for once! I met a group of Christians, InterVarsity was the Youth Group Organization. I was a victim of discrimination and bullying back in high school, so I had a lot of anxiety of meeting new people and making friends in college. This group welcomed me even though I have a disease. I was scared and flawed, but they still accepted me. They taught me a lot about God's Love and how I am his child. You know the feeling of never feeling wanted and then BAM! You're accepted and you hear this news that there is this father who LOVES his children and fights for them and holds them close? Yeah, let's just say I was astounded!

I struggled with my faith in God as the years went on, but I did accept God in my life November 2009. I still battled with programmed anger, negativity, the depression and negative thoughts that ran in my head with trying to think positive, accept those for who they are, not judging them with their past.

In 2010, I was in a relationship until 2011. This relationship was the death of me, literally. I pushed my health aside, not taking care of it, because the gentleman who claimed he loved me and wanted to spend the rest of his life with me didn't want to know anything of my health which was never going to leave me. He proclaimed I should weigh this, look like this, act like this, have long blonde hair, wear more skirts, and so on. So I did, thinking, if I do this, he'll be happy right? I'll be happy. Wrong! I was constantly in fear. Fear I was going to be left alone. I was burning bridges with my Christian brothers and sisters, turned my back on a friend who was suffering from depression and ended it.  I even was burning a bridge with my parents, most importantly, my mom but even more... God.

In 2011, I told him I was going to change my major into Law Enforcement. He literally laughed in my face and called me names you couldn't even imagine. I went to the doctor for a physical for the program. Come to find out, the guy I was fully in love with, wasn't faithful to me. He gave me an STD to where now my faith completely burned out with God and the world. I left him, went on with going to Criminal Justice School and repairing all the bridges I had burned. 2012 came and I graduated with my degree in Criminal Justice landing a full time job just shortly before I walked across that stage. I never felt so accomplished!

After graduating and having a job where I had a pretty steady income, I still felt empty and angry and just depressed. I started having thoughts of just ending it all, but I knew that was not the answer. I decided to get help. My doctor and I had a long talk about my health and that is when I really decided to get back on track! It took a lot of energy to try and be consistent with my disease and work on trusting others.

2013 came along and I started to feel a little less angry but still felt depressed, I can't even count how many times we've changed my medications! I met new people, joined a fire department where I met my boyfriend. Today we are still going strong. He has helped me stay calm and better myself each day. To this day, I thank God for providing me again with new and stable support in my life. I got a new job last year, 2014, where most of the employees I work with are Christian and have a strong faith in Jesus. As time went on I came to become more curious of Jesus and knew I was very far from him.

My friend asked me to come to church. I fell in love with Res Life the moment I stepped foot in the doors. Getting greeted by a smile and a hug was strange at first, but when more people in the church greeted me like that, I felt my insides start to warm up and I wanted to cry. I hugged every one back and smiled right back. This mood was so contagious and for once I accepted this disease, the attitude I am talking about! I went to church more and more and wanted to go more and more as the days went. I was hungry for church and to see more of those smiling faces and hugs! I loved that acceptance.

I told my mom about the experience. I was so excited to tell her. She cried and I thought I had made her mad. She too knew she was far from God, she admitted. She too wanted that acceptance and automatic love. She started listening to the sermons online! I began to read my Bible more before I went to bed and when I woke up to end my day positive and to start my day positive. I realized I started to share the stories and experiences with my boyfriend. He is now reading the Bible with me and wanting to go to church more and more as well.

I was baptized in Res Life. I cried in front of people I did not know, in front of those who have never seen me show emotions. I was raised to be strong, like a rock. I let go of my burdens, my shame, my guilt that day as I was lifted from the water. I gave it all to the Glorious Father. I latched onto Jesus' love for me. I, for once, now feel complete. I thank God every day I have experienced, because He is by my side every day seeing me through the hardships I have faced.

Kari Hillard

The past 6 years of my life have been a very tumultuous time. I met my husband about 6 years ago.  We were partying, drinking, and we moved into together very quickly along with getting pregnant within 3 months of knowing one another. I was a full-time college student going into my final year of nursing school. We attended church but not on a regular basis, and then I miscarried. My whole life changed, my light switched turned off. I became extremely hateful, and turned it toward my boyfriend. I was angry, my vision was even dark. I'd lost so many people in this life.  My dad was taken away by cancer and now my baby was taken away. I didn't enjoy life anymore, it was impossible to be happy,  I didn't laugh anymore. I was focused on getting pregnant again but my boyfriend was not willing to try stating, “we weren't ready and that I needed to finish school.” All that hate just boiled over at this.  How dare he! Why would he not want another baby?

We started going to church more and met another young couple who tried to minister to us, but I just couldn't accept any help or advice. I even forced my boyfriend to give me a ring to say we were engaged. So the boyfriend became the fiancé. I began becoming neglectful on preventing pregnancy we continued to live and sleep together. Of course we got pregnant again and I was thrilled, but I still wasn't happy.  I was still angry and hateful and verbally abused the man whom I claimed to love. After finding out we were pregnant again I forced upon him a wedding date. We set one and spoke with a pastor at church.  He wanted to counsel us and said that if he thought we were not ready to marry he wouldn’t marry us. This infuriated me.  Who was he to tell us we couldn't get married? (I knew in my heart we weren't ready).

We had our beautiful baby girl. She was perfect, but life was a far cry from it. I was even more angry.  I was hearing voices and showing severe OCD. After the miscarriage I bought a new car that I didn't need causing much debt. My relationship got more dangerous. I was out of control verbally and physically.  I said things that were mean and hateful with no emotion.  I never felt truly bad for the things that were said. I would always apologize but never really meant it. We married, but I was disconnected from him and my sweet baby girl. I bought another new car and then a new house. The debt at this point was consuming. I was still unhappy. I got some news of my health and was told if we wanted more kids that it needed to be now.  Two miscarriages later and we were pregnant again. Cloudy vision and anger was all I had. The verbal abuse continued. The disrespect continued. I had no feeling. After my son was born I had no energy I couldn't get out of bed. I didn't want to get out of bed. The debt and fighting was overwhelming. I wanted to end my life. I told my husband that if it wasn't for my kids I would be dead.

I went to church the next Sunday and at the end of service I went up for prayer confessed the life I had been living and received prayer. MY LIFE CHANGED!!!!! The very next day I didn't want to lay in bed anymore! Our finances are coming back! I confessed and genuinely apologized to my husband. Most importantly God is the focus of my life! I’m so in love with my husband! I was just re-baptized. This journey has been tough, but how awesome is God’s love! God healed my postpartum depression and healed my marriage. He's so amazing!

Aaron Schut

I grew up attending church with a loving Christian family. Although, like most others, in my teenage years I became deceived into a life of sin and drug use. In my twenties I got into a terrible ATV accident and nearly lost my left leg. By the grace of God, after six surgeries and physical therapy, I was able to walk again, but unfortunately I became dependent on highly addictive pain medication. Realizing I needed help I reached out to God and entered Western Michigan Teen Challenge, a Christian discipleship program that teaches people with addictions and life-challenging issues to live a life for Christ. Every day we would have chapel, Bible classes, and prayer. I've learned so much about the Word Of God and I now have an awesome relationship with my best friend, Jesus. He has changed my life and I will never be the same. 2 Corinthians 5:17 "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new."

Israel Fuentes

I live in Hart, Michigan. When I was small, my Grandpop and Grandmom and my aunt took care of me and my brother. We lived on a farm with them, and they cared for us and gave us all the love we needed. Grandpop would take us to Sunday school, where we learned values in life about God. We learned that God gave his life for you and me, and took away our sin forever and paid the price for us.

I had a hard time in school and kids would make fun of me, and I didn't have help with homework. But now I know if you ask God for help with anything, he will care about everything and he will help you. I asked God recently to help me be a better man and to walk with God, no looking back. I want to live only for my God. He made my life better, so I will live with him for the rest of my days on earth. He makes me happy, and he is the only way! He is so good for me in my life, he makes me want to be in his Word every day.

I was a Christian when I was younger, but I was always in trouble because I was hothead and a fighter. I quit going to church because I didn't feel comfortable and didn't understand. But now I am older and understand it better. I like going to church all the time. I like the music, it feels joyful! I like the preaching, the pastor and his wife are good people. People are praying for me all the time, everybody smiles here, and I dint feel sad anymore. I let God take care of my problems and He does a good job.

I've made it through some hard times in life. There were times I was in trouble with the law, and times that people around me were trying to start fights with me. I've been in jail for violence and I've lost my brother who was my best friend-- he died from violence done to him. I asked God for help every day. There were times I wanted to give up and die. I would cry at night and ask God for help because I didn't want to fight anymore. God sent people to tell me not to give up, and many others were there for support. There were times I had struggles in my marriage, and struggles to have enough money for the family, but somehow God provided for us and helped us stay together as a family.

I'm so thankful that God forgives and I can live and walk with Him. I have dedicated my life to Him and I'm not looking back on my past mistakes.

In 2004 I got very sick and had to go on kidney dialysis. So I had to quit my job, which made me feel bad because I had always provided for my family before that. I was on dialysis for 10 years, which was very hard on me. But God gave me a second chance! He provided me with a new kidney. I am happy and I have a new kidney, so I have a lot to be thankful to God for every day. He helped me through my struggles, and now I can spend more time with my family.

It was hard to accept my kidney at first because it was from my niece who passed away from a car accident. Felicia was 22 years old, she was on life support for 4 days and then she gave her kidney to me when she passed away. Now part of her lives in me. Her other organs donated saved the lives of seven people altogether!

My niece and brother and grandparents are all in heaven now. That's where I'm headed too. You can choose heaven or hell. I choose heaven. God showed me that I don't have to use my hands to fight anymore, but I can use my hands to bless. I have angels on my hands. I want to live for God, and I know He will love me forever.


Rev 12:11  And they overcame him by the blood  of the Lamb, and by  the word of their testimony;

As you know when a person hears a reoccurring word or message, he or she would be wise to admit that God is saying something to them.  Over the past few weeks I’ve been hearing about strongholds.  Pastor Dan has mentioned things about strongholds in the mind.  I realize that I have them. 

This past Sunday the Lord began to deal with me once again.  While Pastor Dan was preaching, a scripture came to mind from the book of JOB. As I continued to listen to the preaching I couldn’t stop thinking about the scripture that had come to mind and what it could mean to me. 

A person that is being held captive is a person that is in misery.  Some of my own decisions in life have resulted in the strongholds that I have been facing.  When it comes to the subject of being able to minister to others through teaching or praying for them, I feel completely unworthy.  This has been my struggle. 

At the conclusion of the service when people were invited to come up for prayer, I was encouraging Rowena to go up for prayer.  As we sat there for a few minutes, all of a sudden Pastor Dan motioned to me that he would like me to come up.  My first thought was that he was motioning to someone else.  I looked around looking for someone else.  I can’t explain how insecure I was feeling so I was certain that he wasn’t meaning me. 

When Pastor Dan directed me to pray for the couple that was being ministered to, the scripture that had come to me earlier welled up within me.  As I was able to pray over the couple my own strongholds were being destroyed! 

Since that moment I have felt a freedom that I haven’t had for years.  I am humbled.  I feel the need to testify to both of you, not only to encourage you both in your ministry but to seal that experience within my spirit.  God is good… all the time.

Job 42:10  And the LORD  turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends…

Dave Scott

I was raised in a half-hearted church going family. My mother always went to church on Sunday’s, and my dad never went that I can recall. I was never pressured into going to church, even though my whole life I’ve been invited to go by different people, I always made up some excuse not to go. My entire life I lived on my terms basically did what I wanted. In 2011 my home went into foreclosure. Frustrated and angry, I quit my job of 25 years and moved to a different town to start life over. I got a new job, a new apartment, a new life. Or so I thought. By November of 2012, I was court evicted from my apartment, lost one job, quit another. Within one week I was jobless, homeless, with very little money in my pocket. I had hit my rock bottom! About a month later while driving up north one Sunday to visit my mother, I turned and took the first exit going into Cadillac and found myself standing at the doors of Res Life, and my life was changed forever. That afternoon I made a promise to God that when I move back to Cadillac, I would give my life to Him! And I did just that. In the two short years of my new Christian walk, God has flipped my world over. If two years ago someone would have said to me, “within a year you will be singing praise to God on a great stage with an awesome Worship team” I would have laughed at you and said, “Sure, have another drink!!” but there I am. If someone would have said to me, “within two years you will stand and give your testimony to whoever will listen” I would have asked if you had fallen and bumped your head. Yet, I have given my testimony several times and will continue to give them until the day I can no longer speak. God is and will always be there, just waiting for you. He’s waiting for you to take that first step, He’s waiting for you to make that move to get closer to Him, and He wants to flip your world upside down. God will change your life; He will make you new again. Just find your Faith and take that first step. Thank You and God Bless.