My Story

My Story - Elisha Duell of Erie, PA

Our entire family went to dinner tonight at Texas Roadhouse. A young girl came around the corner with a tray of plates which all ended up crashing to the floor. She looks at us to let us know how sorry she was…it was our entire dinner order. Noticing how embarrassed the girl was Matt and I decided to write her a note with $20 attached. Matt wrote, “Roses are red, violets are blue. Our food is on the floor and there is a fry in my shoe. Hey, stuff happens. I’m sure this ruined your night a heck of a lot more than it did ours. Hope this makes your night better. God Bless.” The young girl ended up coming out and thanking us for the kind gesture and how it made her night. Our server then came out saying how kind it was to do that for the food server. She then went onto explain how she is a newer Christian and shared her walk of faith with us. She said it was so nice to see good being done in a world of hatred. We were truly inspired after the 9:13 project and will continue to pass on Gods light.

My Story: Julie Cox of Guys Mills

PEACE: Something I have struggled with many, many times. I tell myself, give it to God (no matter what the issue) and at the moment I feel like I whole heartedly do. Then for whatever reason I always seem to take it back.A couple weeks ago, Bill preached on Peace. I needed it that week (maybe more than ever). I don't know that I have ever felt a sermon touch me as much as that one (even though it was via video). I knew God was talking to me. Bill said something about prayer and I was thinking, "Ok, tomorrow when the boys are at school and Mark is at work, I will get on my knees and have a heart to heart with God". I wanted to be alone and have that time. Little did I know that Denny would have an "alter call" at the end of the sermon. I knew I needed God in that moment and I longed for Peace. I started to cry and I looked at Mark and said "I need to go forward". The human side of me didn't want to as I was the first one and so afraid but my Spritual side took over and led me to the front of the church. As the song says, "I was sweetly broken and wholly surrendered". I was met by two beautiful ladies who with their arms around me prayed in in those moments there was nothing and no one else but us and God. I am so thankful for this day and this moment. In the last few weeks I have felt more Peace than ever. Are all of my problems solved and is life perfect? Absolutely not but with God leading the way I feel at Peace.

My Story: Nicole Ramey of Erie

i just wanted to start out and thank the church for the kindness and love that i get when i walk into the door i started going to church when it was church in the bar then i slipped away and gave up on god and believed he never heard my prayers well a few months ago a real good friend of mine said hey wanna go to church with him and i decided i was gonna give it a try again and i did and to this day im going every week and i feel so awesome after i got baptized i found out that god does have a plan for me and that he has been listening to me and my prayers and growing more and more for god that he is my superior and the only guy that i need in my life and after the 40 days in the word i learned more about god that i never knew and now i do know who he is so i hope you enjoyed my testimony.

My Story: Jessica Stefano of Edinboro

I am sure now that the fact that my first visit to McLane Church was the Saturday evening that the “40 days in the Word” journey was being announced was not an act of coincidence. After a pleasant service and an even more pleasant dinner shared with very welcoming strangers, I uncharacteristically took a leap and ordered a “40 days” course book, committing my family to 40 days of becoming reacquainted with God and His Word. I have been something of a spiritual wanderer since arriving in Edinboro and moving in with my now-husband four years ago. We were both recovering from divorce and dealing with the challenges that come with single parenting and difficult former spouses. We had tried to attend several churches, but road blocks and difficulties eventually brought us to the point of giving up. We thought, we were both raised as Christians and are intelligent and hard-working people. Surely we could manage a relationship with God without having to face the obstacles that were placed in front of us when we tried to attend church as a family. Those who are more spiritually mature than I am can likely guess what happened; without a regular relationship with God, our faith slowly faded, prayer was no longer a part of my daily life, and I began to face every battle in life as though I were in it alone. I stopped praying for help. I stopped praying in thanksgiving. I tried to move forward without taking God with me. Getting through the problems of life without God felt like trying to drag a car out of a ditch on my own – impossible, painful, and anxiety-inducing.

During my first visit to church in three years, I made a decision to stick with McLane Church, and by association, with God’s Word through the entire “40 Days” program. Upon receiving our workbooks, I prayed for the first time in a very long time and asked God to help me to not give up or get distracted and to help me to find my way back to Him. I paged through the workbook and looked ahead to the first day’s verse: “Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:6 (NIV).” For the first time in a long time, I felt like I had made a request and allowed myself to be open enough to hear God’s voice.

When Brian spoke that Saturday evening about the “40 Days in the Word” program and how it would be a life changer – that it we would see “amazing things happen in these 40 days” – I expected to hear stories of the spiritual equivalent of the earth moving. I expected the earthquake and fire, but, as in 1 Kings, for me the amazing voice of God was in the whisper. The amazing change that these 40 days have brought me is not in the world around me, as I expected, but inside me. I have found a peace that I thought was impossible. I have found a faith that I thought was lost. And unlike our worldly friendships, God wasn’t put off by the fact that I had been gone so long. I felt welcomed back to His side as though I was merely returning from a short walk. His blessings abound, even in a world as broken as ours can sometimes be. And He will always leave the Light on, no matter how far we may have traveled or how long we have been gone . It is because of that Light that I was able to find my way home.

My Story: Donny Wisniewski of Erie

Donny

Trusting God may be the two most challenging words in all of scripture to us, the believers. I always thought I had a great deal of trust in Him, but when that trust is put to the test, you find out to what degree you actually trust. My story has a great deal of depth to it, but I have spared some of the details to capture the essence of what is truly important.

In 2002, I made a decision to leave the company I had worked for, for the past 18 years, to take advantage of an opportunity that looked like it was both financially beneficial and personally helpful. However, the one aspect I did not consider was the wise counsel of others. Had I made that a key part of the decision, I would've known disaster was lurking in the shadows.

This new position was not only mentally challenging because of the huge learning curve I had to encounter, but I was also thrust into an extraordinary amount of travel, thus being away from my wife and young children for days and sometimes weeks at a time.

Let me sum up that whole experience by saying that I did not realize that the combination of time away from my family, a lot of it alone, and the heavy workload would create all of the issues I would encounter.

By the end of 2005, it was clear that I was not doing well at work and failing miserably as a father and husband. Fortunately, as I would find out later, my father in-law was praying for God to step in and change my circumstances. By the third week of January 2006, because of a series of bad decisions on my part, the company decided to let me go.

One big loud thud. At first I was devastated, but after a conversation with Bill Cox the day after my dismissal, I started to make better decisions about my life, and more importantly about my relationship with God.

Almost immediately, I decided to devote the first chunk of my day to prayer, scripture and quiet time (and when I say chunk, I can recall some mornings would be 3 to 4 hour sessions)all just to get close to Him. As I purposed to let God put me where he wanted me, I felt this unbelievable peace in my days. It was strange, no job, no prospects and lots of peace. Only a God that loves me would do that.

Also two amazing things happened during that time. My wife was also experiencing that same peace and when times were tight financially we would get a random check in the mail from the people we would least expect to be able to help. But isn't that just how God works? As I began to pray and volunteer at McLane, I felt more and more called to be there and when I was asked to join the staff that summer as a part time employee, it just made sense.

By the fall, I was hired on full-time as the newly positioned Director of Volunteers. I was very excited to be a part of the team and feeling as though this was a dream opportunity, especially since I had given up on what I wanted to do and let God put me where he desired me to be. I served on that staff for almost 3 years. Toward the end of my third year, I was sitting at The Cellblock (Church in a Bar) one Sunday evening, when Andy Kerr reminded the congregation that each Monday night they get together to pray for God's plan and provision for that location (one of our core values). Then it hit me, I needed to start doing that in my own life.

So I went home that night, talked about it with my wife and we began to purposefully pray for our own situation. I knew, because of the nature of the budget at McLane, I could potentially lose my job there. Once again, I placed my trust in God. He, being God, was much quicker this time. An old high school friend started showing up at McLane. We started talking about his company, and within 2 weeks he had offered me an opportunity to come and work for him.

To make a long story short. I worked for my friend for the better part of 6 months at a location 6 hours from my home, being away from my family for weeks on end. All the while trusting that this was God's plan. While that opportunity ended in the first month of 2010, I learned a lot and was once again kneeling before God and trusting in him.

Within a few months through prayer and patience, 3 different companies called me to ask me to do consulting work for them. Did you hear that? They called me.

I spent the summer of 2010 consulting and learning more about God's trust than ever before. As my work with each of those companies was ending, it became clear to me that unless I went out an solicited more work I would be jobless once again. I continued to pray about this situation, but clearly my heart was just to go wherever He wanted me to go. Within days, I was sitting at the Bagel Shop in Edinboro when a friend walked by and asked me how things were going. I told him things were good, but was looking for work. He smiled and said, it think I may have something for you, and called me that afternoon to offer me work.

I worked for my friend for the last half of 2010, and when things came to a screeching halt there, guess what? I was back to trusting in God again.

This time was different. I had learned so much from God over the past few years, and trusted him so much, that I went to my friend and told him that it was clear that I wasn't necessary any longer. We talked about my being available to help if he needed me and we went our separate ways.

Unlike the last few times, where God showed up almost immediately, this time God put my trust to the test. Days, weeks even months went by and not even an offer for a job. One interview in 3 months and that position was clearly not a good fit. Oh how my faith and trust wavered. All I could ask myself was, why would God allow one of his faithful followers to be so frustrated? At the same time, that peace that I spoke about was right there with me, all the time. The doubt would creep in occasionally, but for the most part, I spent lots of time in prayer, in his word, reading Christian books by one of my favorite authors Max Lucado and meeting with people that God placed into my life. These people added accountability as well as an opportunity for me to minister to them on areas they were struggling in.

To bring this story, for now, to an end, my neighbor mentioned that the company he worked for was looking for a sales rep. I sent them my resume. I was called for an interview a day later, and the day after that, they offered me the position. I have never been a salesman before, so I clearly felt under qualified. But because it was my heart to let God put me where he wanted me to be, and not where I would be comfortable, of course, this would be the type of thing he would do. Oh, and just to make things interesting, I went to lunch a week later with a friend, while there, I was offered a 3 week consulting stint with someone I had worked for last summer. Amazing, since I am not scheduled to start my sales rep position until the middle of June. Then, just when I felt everything was in place, I was offered another job, just this week, for one of the other companies I had done some consulting for last year.

I am very curious to see which way God directs me through these two job opportunities, but I know he will. I'm not sure how this story will end, but this much is clear, I can trust God and you can too. With one very important mindset: as long as you want what's best for him, he will walk you through anything.

Trust in him, it is your best option.

My Story: Mark Ziegler of Edinboro

Mark Ziegler

This Is My Life And How I Received God Into My Life. When I was growing up I really didn't know much about God. I went to Church but really never paid much attention to it. I was an Alter Boy and started getting God in my life. See, I was beaten when I was young. My dad would come home from driving a semi truck and he was drunk and took my brothers and I down stairs and whipped us with an orange racetrack piece. We were beaten naked, tied to a pole in the basement. We did nothing wrong, but my dad did not care. We all got it all the time.

I went to school all the time with marks on me, and then it got worse. I had my hands over the stove flame for doing wrong, I got burned and had blisters on my hands. My life was hell for me I didn't know a lot about God.

Then it got worse. Something happened to me at the age of ten. My mom died; she had cancer through her body. I was mad at God. He took my mom, and now I didn't have a mom to run to when things got bad or when I needed a shoulder to cry on. I was sent to a foster home, then to another foster home. I was in almost twenty foster homes through out my life. Nobody wanted my sister or me. My three other brothers found a nice foster home. There was a lady Mary, who took very good care of my brothers. My sister and I tried so hard to go and live with her and her husband because it seemed like Heaven there, and then one day it happened that we got to live with them.

I was still so mad at God because I still did not understand why he took my mom; she was only 39 years old. I cried every day hoping she would come back to me. One day when I was in a car I seen a lady that looked just like my mom, she was standing on the side of the road and Mary, Wayne and I went by and I looked back and she was gone. I was scared; why would God do this to me? Did I do something wrong for him to take my mom from me at the age of ten, and my sister and my other six brothers? I was the youngest one of the boys and then my sister. So I stayed at Mary's home until I was eighteen. I left to find my other brothers and my dad. When I did find them, they all drank and did drugs so, I thought this was what I wanted to do.

After about five years I was in a bar as a bouncer while also working during the day. One day this lady came in and I asked her for ID and she showed me it. About a week or so later we started going out. Her name was Diane Hemenger. Then she told me after a few months going out that she was going to have a baby. I was scared again so I didn't talk to her for two weeks. But I knew I had to step up and be a man. I did and in 1989 we got married. I stopped partying for a while, but still I couldn’t put God in my life. I went to church because she wanted to go. I did it for her, not myself. My son was born in 1991. I still did not seek God and then things started to get worse for my wife, Diane and me. I got hurt and could not return to work. I have had a total of thirty-seven surgeries in my life, and I died in three of them. When I died, it was dark and cold. I felt very lonely.

Years passed and I still did drugs; I did not want anything to do with my kids or wife. She told me she would leave me. I said “ok” but she didn't leave, so our life went on with me not working. I went on disability and started spending more money on drugs. We got a home and started having things come our way, but I thought money and drugs were more important than wife and kids. I started going to this church and I liked it. Then the Pastor told me I have to be baptized and join the church and wear a suit. I didn’t want to wear a suit and I didn’t want God in my life.

Then it hit us hard. We went bankrupt and lost our home, car and everything else. So we had to move. We looked in Edinboro and found one home but I still did drugs and didn't want God in my life. My kids got on my nerves and so did Diane. Then Diane came up to me and asked me if I would like to go and look for a church in Edinboro. I said ok just so she would leave me alone. So the day came, we went to church. We came to McLane Church. People were shaking my hand and asking us how we are doing even though we didn't know them. That was nice of them. I was like “what is going on? What do these people want from me?” This may sound strange, but we saw food and I asked Diane how much are these people going to want for coffee and food? We tried hiding in the back of the church, people still found us and wanted to talk to us. I knew something was up. I was going to be asked to donate for the doughnut or the coffee I was eating and drinking. But they didn’t, and they welcomed us to McLane Church. I was feeling a lot better.

So a week later I was sitting at home alone and had a Bible and opened it up. I started reading it and then I closed my eyes and prayed asking God to help my family and I so we can become closer as a family and have a relationship with God.

Then I did it, I made a promise to God that I will stop doing drugs and start loving my wife and kids like a husband is supposed to do. I opened my eyes and I had tears coming down my face. I was scared; I felt like someone was in my home but the dogs didn’t bark so I looked around but there was nobody in sight. I went back to McLane Church, and they where talking about people getting baptized and so I talked to my family. I told them I want to be baptized and I want God in my life. Before I got baptized I talked to Daryl Myers to find out why God took my mom and my dad from me, and then he said God didn't take her from me; it was her time and my fathers time. When you’re young you don't understand what God does but now I know my mom and dad were suffering from cancer. So I asked God to forgive me. I wanted God to know I was not mad at him anymore, I love God and his son Jesus because he gave his life for everyone. So the big day came my wife, kids and I were going to get baptized together. We walked in the water and went down I came back up and felt like I had the spirit go right through me and I knew that God forgave me for my sins. I started to have tears come down my face so I covered my face so nobody would see me. It was the most wonderful thing that I have ever done.

I know I'm not perfect, but I do have God, my wife and kids in my life. See, even though I have God in my life, I’ve still had problems. Money wasn't there; my wife was still looking for work. But we prayed every day and night so God could show us how to live a Holy Life. Then Diane found a job working at Wal-Mart; it wasn't much pay but it helped with the bills. We met some really wonderful people who showed us a program called Good $ense. That way we can work through our life and manage our money problems. We also had two great counselors.

To this day I like to volunteer at McLane Church along with my wife and my two great kids. They still followed by my side when I was doing all these horrible things. They showed me that they loved me, even though I felt like I didn't deserve it. I'm very glad they stayed with me.

I just found out this year from my doctor that I will be losing my right arm because of my illness. He said eventually that I will also be losing my left arm within five years because of my illness. With McLane Church family and their prayers, I know that I can make it through this illness that I have. If not then I will have to accept what God has planned for my life. Now I know it’s my turn to show my family how much I love them. I'm also thankful for having such a wonderful God and his son Jesus in my life and this wonderful family and Church.

My Story: Cathy Ward of Edinboro

Cathy Ward

I have lots of stories of how God has worked in my life. God has provided me many experiences, it seems, so that I can testify when others have a similar situation. But this is perhaps my favorite. I was saved at 17, but had long since strayed. About 15 years ago I had re-committed my life to God and was struggling with keeping my store open on Good Friday - I wanted to close it so others were not choosing to come there instead of attending a Good Friday service. But it's hard when you own a store to close those doors, especially when money is tight. So I decided that I would keep the store open, but the profit from that day would be given to the church.

I opened my doors at 10 a.m. At 10:15 a.m., in walked the biggest sale in my 6 years of owning the store - nearly $2000 in products to one person (average sale was $300, to give you an idea). I was busy all day, which was a little odd for a Friday for my type of store.

But the story didn't end there. No I couldn't be happy with the proof God had given me that He was watching and listening and trust Him... Money was extremely tight and I couldn't bring myself to turn that money over to the church when it meant not paying suppliers who would shut me off - and money WAS just that hard that it could have meant having to shut down my store. So I held onto it, paying bills as I needed to, feeling guilty, making excuses that I would give it later as soon as I was able.

It was now a month later, the month of May - typically a leading month in my season. The store was dead - and each week went by, it got worse. Two weeks, four weeks, six weeks... we were barely able to breathe. I knew what I had to do, in spite of my situation. I had disobeyed and I most definitely knew it.

I donated all that I "owed" and then some to my church that weekend. It was painful to say the least; but whether I lost the store or not at least I had made it right with God.

The following Monday, we were busy. Each day we got busier - and in spite of starting out with a horrible month, we not only did well - we broke our monthly record for sales.

The next month, we broke the record again. The following month, we broke the record AGAIN. My little store had gone from an average of $15 - $18,000/month in sales, to $32,000 in sales that third month before my season waned. Additionally, in spite of seasonal fluctuations, my store prospered until I sold it two years later after the birth of my son.

I don't know if I believe God "punishes" people as so many do (I'm still pondering that to this day, punishment vs. testing, etc.); but I do believe He removes His blessing upon you when you blatantly disobey or break your word you made before Him.

My Story: Mike Carey of Edinboro

Mike Carey

September 17 2001. It was a sunny warm Sunday afternoon. We all were cooling off in the pool when my Father-in-law stopped over at our house for a visit. His wife of fifty years had passed just a few months before and he was feeling a bit down and out and thought that a visit to the Carey house might boost his spirits. Yes he was missing his wife as well as we. We were also missing our son Brent who had been sent away to Prison the previous summer because of a foolish outing with so called friends that caused him to receive an eighteen month sentence. Four of our other children were going about their activities playing with neighbor friends outside while Denise and I visited with her Dad.

Little Mikey was in his bedroom playing with toys. Mikey, although at age two was quite small for his age. More like the size of an eight or nine month old and so frail. After an hour or so of visiting my father-in law decided to leave and Denise and I went to round up the children.

I called their names, Joey, Maria, Tera, Kyle Time to come home! But Mikey! Where's Mikey!

He's wasn't in his room! He wasn't down stairs! or in the bathroom! He wasn't anywhere!! He can't be outside! He can't get the door opened I screamed! But went outside and started looking and calling him. Where is he?!

I ran back inside to the upper deck to look around the yard. WHAT? What's that in the pool?

Oh MY GOD!! Mikey!! I screamed ! NO! You can't have Him! Screaming to Satan!! The sky seemed to be dark off to my left. But the sun was shining! HE was floating face down in the pool!

HOW DID HE GET OUTSIDE?? HE CAN"T OPEN THE DOORS!! MIKEY!! I jumped into the pool and pulled him to me and pulled him out. Denise called 911. He was so heavy! Filled with water and his diaper as well. Mikey was blue! He wasn't breathing or moving or anything! OH GOD!! HELP ME!! I didn't know what to do. I Knew that Mikey was gone.

But then this really calming feeling came over me and I began to try to do CPR. The water just kept coming out. I looked to the sky to pray to GOD to please help me. And when I looked up I could sense this light, not the sun. A whiter light, like a bubble coming near to us. I sensed this "bubble" surrounding Mikey and I.

I just kept pumping the water out of Mikey, but he wasn't responding. I kept breathing into his mouth and pumping and still so much water continued to come out. I remember feeling useless. But still this sense of calmness. I felt this warmth and sensed this sweet indescribable smell and felt this presence.

We were not alone. I heard this voice, a calming voice saying, Mike, Mikey will be alright. Stand him up, stand him up. So I did and held him close. I could feel Mikey moving! Praise GOD!!

The ambulance workers finally arrived which seemed like forever. He was taken from me. Denise rode with him in the ambulance. At the hospital they did all the tests and ex-rays that they do to drowned victims. After I was at the hospital for a while I remember this woman a Doctor or Nurse I guess coming to me and asking if I was the Dad. She pulled me aside and asked me, What happened? I told her. Mikey had drowned in the pool. She looked at me and said, “No, there are no signs of drowning here.”

Every test we gave can back negative. I felt puzzled, and said well he did. That's why we're here. She smiled at me, put her hand on my shoulder and walked away.

No, we were not alone on that pool deck. All those feelings I had were real. We were sent an Angel. That moment changed my life. There is a God. And there is divine intervention. Mikey is living proof of that. From that moment on for many years I felt like me and my family had this protective "bubble" protecting us. And life was Great!

But then, New Years morning 2009 I was awakened by a phone call from Hamot hospital.

“Is this Mr. Carey?” - I said yes, and she said, “Well, your son Brent is here. He was in a fight and would like you to come here.”

I said out loud, "Now What!?" I had just spoken with him after midnight. He called to wish me a Happy New Year. He was so happy and optimistic about the new year. He was doing great. He had turned his life around.

I was taken to this room where I was greeted by a Doctor and Nurse. They proceeded to tell me of Brent's injuries. They said that in the ambulance his heart had stopped beating. And I said alright, and they got it beating again RIGHT? They looked at me and shook there heads NO.

I said what? Brent's dead? They shook there heads yes. He had such high amounts of alcohol and cocaine in his blood stream that it caused a much more rapid blood flow which filled his lungs and caused him to drown in his own blood.

I said NO, Why GOD?? Satan claimed him. Brent was doing so good and was so happy. The last words that Brent said to me were I LOVE YOU DAD, I LOVE YOU SO MUCH!!

Those words will ring in my ears forever!

So now, where do I stand with GOD? I have to believe that he is still there because of what I experienced with Mikey. But why? Why was my only flesh and blood son taken from us? I'm not mad at GOD. I never was mad at him, but at Satan. Satan is so powerful in this world. And we see it every day. GOD and Satan are real! I know that! So I continue, even though it's so hard every day. I continue to walk with the LORD in my heart. I continue to see the good in all people and tell when I can of his truly AMAZING GRACE.

My Story: Nancy Ramsier of Girard

Nancy Ramsier

I began to attend McLane Church approximately 12 years ago. The person that lead me to McLane was my son. He had been struggling with drug addiction for about six years and was spiraling downward fast. He had been arrested several times and had recently served a sentence in Philadelphia in a very rough prison. Upon release he lived in a shelter in Philadelphia and then returned back home. We tried everything to help him but every effort failed. I was desperate and I felt so alone, even though we have a large family. No one believed in him except for me. I just knew as long as he was alive there was hope. He showed up at our house one evening completely strung out and on drugs, it was devastating. I could no longer talk to anyone, not even my husband. Everyone thought I was crazy to believe he could ever change. I searched and searched and finally decided I needed to go to church. I had no idea where to start so I began visiting several churches in my area only 2 or 3 times and felt nothing. Mind you, I was still thinking I was not sure there even was a God.

I remembered a time when my son was fresh from rehab and he was coming over to McLane with a friend, mostly because it was the only place he was allowed to go. I remembered how happy he seemed for that very short time so I decided to pay a visit. At first it was so strange, but it was comforting to have a place to go and this may sound weird but "be alone"" for a while. I needed a place to think and retreat from the daily desperation I felt.

Well, gradually over a couple of years, seriously it took that long, I began to rely on my weekly conversations with God. There came the day Brian invited us to stand for the sinners prayer and accept the Lord. I did! I wish we would do that every week at McLane, it saved my life.

Then came the day Brian was preaching on baptism, I listened hard to that message and I just knew God was calling me to give in to Him. I was so scared! I met this guy at the sign up sheet, to this day I have no idea who is was, but he was scared too. We agreed we would both go that evening. Praise God, I was baptized. It felt pretty good, not great yet though. But at least I knew I had a friend in Jesus.

Still feeling very alone I came one week and the message was on the importance of small groups, well I joined a small group, it was not a good experience. I thought "how can this possibly be what they mean?"" I talked to an acquaintance I had made through volunteering and she invited me into their group.

Well, I went. I told God, this is it. I am going to give this one last try. I went there and at the end of the night in a group of about 15 women I poured out my soul, I am crying now over what happened to me at that moment. These people loved me, they listened, they did not judge me, they lifted me and my son in prayer. they prayed every week without fail and I know that they prayed alone everyday because what happened was a miracle.

I had not heard from my son in weeks and I was so scared he was alone and hurting(he Was) or possibly even dead. I went to group, I asked for prayer again. That night, my son called me. He was crying and frightened. I advised him to go to the hospital, I knew he would be fine. I felt calm in telling him to get someone to take him there. that next day his father called and said he dropped him off at the emergency room. I went there to see if he would see me, and he did. He was so thin and frail and ill, I thought he would not even live.

Well, he went to rehab and then to another one in Pittsburgh, and then to a mens home which was being run by a Pastor, he was the first resident of that home. I thought it was a cult, I went to group and told the girls. It was funny, but the church that was the home base of this mens home was a church one of the women’s brother attends. She assured me it was no cult. I laugh now to think how silly it was. He was not allowed to call home, he was not allowed to go anywhere alone, they were very strict. Long Long story, short version. He is saved! He is married and has a fantastic job, he has gone to Bolivia on a mission trip and was baptized in the Amazon River.

I could not be happier in my life, I love the Lord with all of my heart. He is so good.

I have stood in a revival tent together with my son and told our story from both sides. It was awesome to do that. There were so many mothers of children in similar situations that had a chance to hear a story of hope.

Thank you sweet Jesus and thank you McLane Church for being my salvation.

My Story: Jess Wellman of Edinboro

I have been a Christian for all of my life. But it wasn’t until this past April, when my life changed dramatically, that I actually became a “good” Christian. And there is one tiny little life that I have to thank for this. Her name is Madelyn, and she is my daughter. And this was part of her purpose. Let me start with a quote by an anonymous author: An angel, in the book of life wrote down my baby's birth, and whispered as the book was closed, "too beautiful for earth."

Maddie truly was just too beautiful and perfect to remain with us here on earth. But God has a plan. I believe that everyone is placed in this world to fulfill a God-given purpose, and we aren’t allowed to leave until we have accomplished what we were sent to do. Madelyn only needed 3 short days to complete all for which she was created, and although I do not fully understand everything that has happened, I feel as though God has given me many answers that I was afraid I would not be blessed enough to know in this lifetime. We were not given long with our sweet little angel, but we did get to make some memories to keep of her, not all of them are perfect memories, but they are what we have, and I would like to share some of what Maddie has taught me, with all of you, for this is why she was given to us.

I was the one who was blessed to be with her 24/7 for the past 10 months. And even before I saw her tiny flicker of a heartbeat on the ultrasound for the first time, I was in complete love. I felt her the first time she moved. I’ve tried to soothe her through numerous bouts of hiccups. Tickled her little feet. And provided her with warmth, love and security while she grew into the perfect angel she is. I may not have ever heard her sweet cry, though I longed to every minute since she was born. She knew my voice. The best memory I have after she was born, as weak as she was, she way lying in the NICU as they were preparing her to be life flown to the Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh. I was talking to her, and telling her how much I love her, and that we would be right down there to be with her. And she opened her precious little eyes to look at me.

She knew mommy was right there. I’ll never forget that. I will also never forget holding her tiny hand in the Pittsburgh NICU, right after we arrived. I would just sit by her and talk to her, longing to hold her. She had a good little grip, and I knew she was a fighter. So sadly, she took a turn for the worse on Tuesday, and waking up that day, I just had a feeling it would be the last I would get with her. Mother’s intuition. Around 2pm that afternoon, we finally did get to hold Madelyn, and we did not stop holding her until after she passed away shortly after 8pm. Although she was attached to a hundred different things, it was the moment I had waited for since the day I read that positive pregnancy test. I was holding my precious child. And she was still fighting. I gave her a million kisses, whispered a thousand “I love you’s” and told her how I wish I could kiss all of her boo-boos away. Those were the best moments of my week, but also the hardest. She waited for her grandparents to come and everyone got a chance to hold her. My body was where her life was formed, where her heart started beating, and where she made her first move. And in my arms, next to my heart, was where she took her last breath.

Many people might be angry at God for taking her so soon. They might waver in their faith or turn their backs on God. But this is not what she was created for. Maddie was put into our lives to bring more people to Jesus, and as I have said, if even one soul has been saved because of her existence, then her precious life was worth every second. Since Madelyn’s passing, I have received countless e-mails and messages from both friends and strangers who have heard of my little girl. All carrying a similar message: Madelyn’s story has strengthened wavering faith, inspired struggling lives, and given hope to people feeling hopeless.

Madelyn has been touching many lives since April. I have been told, that much of the inspiration comes from me, and how I have handled this tremendous loss. How I have been leaning “whole-heartedly” on my faith to get me through. Madelyn showed me this. If I didn’t have this strong faith, how would I ever get to hold her again?

Faith is not something to give up on in difficult times. It is not something to turn your back on because things seem unfair. Instead, faith is what we cling to when we don’t feel we can go on or when we don’t know how we will make it through each day. I felt this way often when we were with Maddie. McLane ran a series about Heaven which actually concluded only a couple of weeks before I had Madelyn. I have always believed in Heaven, but the series got me excited about going there. And I now have even more reason to be excited, for one day, when I have accomplished what God has sent me to do, I will be reunited with my precious daughter, as she is waiting there to welcome me when I return Home.

So many people have told me that they have been inspired by my strength and by my faith. Just knowing that I am an inspiration to someone’s faith, gives me more peace than anyone will ever know. I am strong because God has given me strength. I am proud to openly declare my love for Christ. I have learned how to listen when God speaks to me. I pray daily. My sweet Madelyn has made my faith stronger than it has ever been, and I am eternally grateful to her for that gift. I may not know when, but I am certain that I will see her again, and that I will be walking with her and Jesus one day. I thank God, that we were the ones He blessed with such a perfect little angel. He chose us to be her parents. He entrusted us to help her fulfill her purpose. And that purpose was to guide more people into the light of Heaven.

To honor Madelyn’s short life, keep her memory alive, and to help reach out to more people, I began a ministry called Madelyn’s Purpose, to help others affected by pregnancy or infant loss. The response has been awesome, and I continue to be amazed at how God is working in my life, and how He has His hand in everything we do.