Sabaneta Missions
Declare His Glory among the nations, His marvelous works among all the peoples! ~Psalm 96:3

My Testimony

Jay

As I look back on my life and see all that God has done, I wonder how I got here. He's brought me so far. I did not grow up in a Christian home. My parents divorced when I was two. I grew up with my mother, but my dad was not in the picture very often. I had an uncle that served as a father figure to me. No one in my family was an example of Christ. My mother would drop my sister and I off at church, but would not go herself. I loved the people in that church, although as a misbehaving young boy, I am not sure the feelings were always mutual. The people in that church showed me love and made me realize that there was more to life than what I had been exposed to. The people at Mount Olive Baptist Church were so loving and kind. They were so different from the "normal" I saw everyday. I wanted what they had. I walked the aisle and was baptized, but not because I wanted Jesus, but because I wanted to be like them. Looking back I think I wanted to fit in with my new family, the church, and I did not really understand what a personal relationship with Him was all about. While I realize now I was not saved, I am grateful for the Biblical foundation they laid for me that is still evident in my life today.

As I got older, I chose a path that was far from pleasing to God and lived a life far from Him. I didn't have a personal relationship with God and had chosen to no longer attend church. In high school, I found out I was going to be a father. I was realizing that this life of mine was not turning out to be anything like I wanted it to. At the time it seemed like God was so far from me. In reality, I was the one far from God. My sin separated me from Him. I love my son so much. He has grown up to be a wonderful young man and I am proud to have him as my son. He is a constant reminder for me that God uses all situations for His Glory.

I met my wife, Courtney, in 2001. We were friends for a while and then began dating. We were married only nine months after our first date. We moved to north Mississippi for a new job opportunity that I had taken. We loved living so close to Memphis and all that a larger area has to offer. We quickly settled into a routine that included finding a church. At the beginning of our time in the church, a man came to visit us in our home and welcome us to the church. He asked me about my salvation and I had to honestly reply that I did not have a personal relationship with God. I surrendered my life to Christ at the age of 22 in the middle of my den holding my wife's hand. From there my true walk with the risen savior truly began. We joined a small group in our church and made some of the best Christian friends that anyone could ever ask for. We loved our church. It opened so many doors for us to begin studying God's Word, fellowshipping with other believers, and serving others. It wasn't long before we welcomed our daughter into our family. Caroline has been such a blessing to us. She has such a loving heart. 

God blessed us with another baby a few years later. Everything appeared to be going well until a hospital visit in which they told us that the baby was ectopic. The baby didn't live. We felt so sad and confused as to why this was happening to us. We had another pregnancy a year later and experienced loss again. These pregnancies were such a sad time in our marriage but we made it through this hard time and we came out a much stronger couple. God was so evident in this hard time. He showed us over and over that He is with us. He loved us so much and used the people in our lives to show His deep, deep love. In 2011, we were once again blessed with a child. This time it was a perfect baby boy. We named him Jude. Our prayers had finally been answered and we gave God the glory just like 1 Samuel 1:27-28. 

We began a journey with two other couples. We committed to read together and discuss God's Word and our walk with Christ together. We continued to grow in the Lord and learned more and more about what is meant to truly be a follower of Him. We began to reach out of our church walls by visiting neighbors, serving the homeless community in Memphis, going on mission trips, and loving on our church body. It was in this study that we knew why God was drawing us closer and closer to Him. He had bigger plans for us. He was calling us to be missionaries. We immediately felt the excitement and confusion that came along with this call. We prayed about going with many different missions organizations and different areas. We both overwhelmingly felt God was leading us to move back to where we grew up. We did not really know why, we just knew that God was pushing us in that direction. We moved back home and began once again to search for a church home. We found a church where we could feel God's love through the people who served there. Our new faith family was Poplar Springs Drive Baptist Church. We began to serve there, but still felt over and over that God wanted us to go. We felt called to go on a mission trip to the Dominican Republic. While there, we saw the many needs of the community of Sabaneta. They need Jesus. They need a church. We saw the need for the gospel to be proclaimed among the people who lived there. We returned home and began to pray for the people in Sabaneta. We prayed for eight months until we realized that God was calling us to serve there and to start the church that community so desperately needed. This began the journey that we are now on.
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In all God has done in my life, He has shown me that He is always there. He always has a plan and His plan is perfect, no matter how much we mess up or how we  make it about ourselves. I look back and see His protection over my life. He loved me long before I loved Him. My life is so imperfect, but I can see over and over again how God is using the circumstances of my life so that I can minister to others. I have learned to be thankful for my past, to be looking for ways that God can use me in my present, and to surrender myself to whatever He has planned for my future.