By Wendy Anne Clark
I was raised in a Christian family and made a decision to follow Jesus when I was just four years old. I remember coming home from church and talking with my older sister about how Jesus died for my sins. I prayed with her that day—that Jesus would forgive me for my sins and “come into my heart,” and from that point on, I remember always knowing that Jesus was with me. I talked to him all the time.
I realized how important Jesus was to my life, and so I asked people everywhere I went–in the grocery store, the doctor’s office, at the park, “Do you know Jesus? Are you going to heaven?” I believed that if people just knew about Jesus, they would follow him too, and it wasn’t until I was in the second grade that I learned otherwise.
I went to a Christian school and a Bible-teaching church, and my mother’s parents were strong believers, so I was surrounded by Christians. I was vaguely aware that the kids I played with in my neighborhood didn’t go to church like we did, but I didn’t really understand why they didn’t. I joined Bluebirds and became good friends with a Jewish girl named Libbie. When we were in second grade and Easter was approaching, I asked Libbie if she was going to get a new dress for Easter. She said no, that her family didn’t celebrate Easter. That puzzled me. I asked her why they didn’t celebrate Easter, and she told me that they didn’t believe in Jesus.
I thought I would pass out on the spot. Not believe in Jesus?! How could that possibly be? Why would someone hear about Jesus and not believe? She couldn’t really explain it to me, but this new information started a new process in my Christian life. I began to realize that there are people who are lost and to understand that there is a choice that each person must make—to follow or not to follow Jesus.
Fifth grade was my last year in Christian school, and I discovered public school and the world of the unbeliever—teachers who cursed, students who smoked behind the back fence, kids who beat each other up. I didn’t understand any of it, but I found the power of praying and trusting God for whatever was going to happen next.
I was baptized when I was in the sixth grade and more convinced than ever that God is real and powerful and personal. My parents struggled financially but always trusted in God to take care of us, and while Job said that God “gives and takes away” (Job 1:20), and I understood what he meant, I also saw that God takes away and gives and that He gives generously.
The summer before I went into the seventh grade, Keith Greene came to our church to speak and sing. I was riveted by his testimony and shaken by his challenging message. For the first time I began to think about living the Christian life as more than simply not doing bad things. Keith Greene spoke and sang about all that God has called his followers to do in His name.
I went forward that day, committed to being a believer who would love and care for the lost. Eventually, he wrote a song that I would think of as my “life song.” The words are still powerful to me because they are words from my own heart: “How can they live without Jesus? How can they live without God’s love?” and “Maybe they don’t understand it, or maybe they’ve just never heard, or maybe we’re not doing all we can living up to His holy Word . . .”
Throughout junior high and high school, I was involved in student leadership and training at my church. We learned to defend our faith, to share our faith, and to reach out to serve others. We went on missions trips to Mexico, worked at the local Rescue Mission, did yard work for senior citizens, and witnessed door to door, at the mall, and on the beach. God taught me a lot about what it means to have his perspective for lost people. One thing I learned was to resist making judgments about people based on their appearance. God is often at work in the most unlikely of places.
I became involved in ministry as soon as I was able: singing in choirs, teaching Sunday school, working at VBS, teaching at day camp, teaching “Pioneer Girls,” working on junior high staff, directing musical theater, and serving in college leadership. I met my husband, Roy, while working at a church day camp and serving together on the college leadership team, and we’ve been serving together in church ever since.
I had cancer in my early thirties, when my oldest daughter was two years old and my middle daughter was just five months old. God used that experience to soften me, give me greater compassion for those around me, and show me how important it is to build relationships and become interdependent with other believers as well as to continue to grow my faith and dependence on Him as my Provider, Comforter, and Protector. He showed me that He can use me as long as I will be who he has called me to be. It doesn’t matter what limitations I might have. Even though doctors thought it unlikely that I would ever have any other children, when I was forty, God blessed us with our youngest daughter, Hannah, who is an amazing blessing and delight.
After having cancer, I was asked to give my testimony, which led to giving my testimony often, which led to me being asked to speak and then later to sing at different churches for conferences, brunches, retreats, etc. I also led worship at a church, which, over time, taught me a lot about what it means to be a servant leader and led to me singing and playing at a nursing home for six years and leading chapel for my home school group (which I still do). My speaking experience led to having a website and writing and publishing a book to take with me when I speak.
God is still working and leading me in new directions, and I am continuing to grow in the understanding of what it means to worship God, to follow Him, to have his heart for the world, and to really love others.
And that’s just the beginning . . .