Personal Stories: Lina Stiles' story
My Desires Were To Be Different In This World
My name is Lina, I am 19 years old and come from Colombia. I have lived in the U.K since I was 10, we moved to England when my mother remarried a British man, and decided to come and live here. I was born in a Catholic family, but my mother became a Christian through my step-dad.
I began to really discover Christianity when I saw the change in my mum, her testimony questioned my beliefs, I saw such a huge change that I knew there was a real God and not just a being up in the sky.
I was very young at the time when I gave my life to Christ, although I gave my life to him I never really saw the commitment in it. For years I tried to lead a Christian life: I went to church and youth clubs; I had Christian friends, and tried to do the right thing.
But sadly, I never had a relationship with God truly, nor do I recall inviting Jesus to come and live in me. Because of this, I lived on a roller coaster. One minute I was happy because everything went well, and the next I would be down because things weren't going how I wanted.
As I grew into my teens, I began to get in the wrong crowds. Before I knew it I was part of the world of sin. I started drinking at the age of 15, yet I would still attend church.
I often felt depressed and hypocritical, and it all seemed like a big mess. I would go through phases where things would go well, and I would feel God nearer, but when this wasn't the case I found myself looking for the love which God could only give in other things.
I realised that my faith was more a religion rather than a way of life. I didn't know the God I was worshipping. I chose so many wrong paths, which later I realised how much they had marked my life.
Many could probably see something was happening, but I think they didn't really know how to approach me as I was always on the defensive.
My desire, although I didn't show it, was to do right, I didn't want to feel ashamed, lonely, dirty and messed up. And deep in me I knew that it was only God who would bring me life.
I guess my life began to take a turn when I heard about about YWAM, Youth With A Mission. The way my dad spoke about this entity inspired me, and although I didn't really know much about it, it grasped my heart. He talked about the way people were changed and I desired that, somehow I knew I wanted to one day be part of it.
So years after, I was faced with the decisions which all students face after college: What will I do now? What will I study? Where will I go? All I knew was that I had no intention of going to university at the time, and that I was not going to go into the world of working
So it didn't leave many more choices open: I either went travelling, or got involved in a Christian organisation. Although I had gone astray many times, my desires were to be different in this world.
I hated the fact I always ended up following the crowd. I knew the only way was to go towards God, and his will. I had a lot of knowledge of God in my head, but somehow I wanted this knowledge to become reality on my life.
I knew that choosing him was the best decision I could make, and it would transform my life. So I decided to do the Discipleship Training Course in Cartagena.
Most of my family live in Bogota, so I decided to visit them before I went to Cartagena to do my DTS. I had such wrong concepts that I ended up messing up even more before my school. Like I said I had the knowledge in my head, but didn't know it in my heart, and tried
living a Christian life on my own strength.
I was in Bogota for about 4 months. And it was where things just got worse. My family were in difficulties themselves and I found once again refugee in the world outside. When I left for Cartagena I was really at my ends.
I got there, not even really knowing why. I had lost all senses and got as far from God as ever. I looked at my life and just felt shame. I truly believed God wouldn't give me more opportunities.
I arrived at the base, and everyone just seemed so happy. Soon I discovered how this wasn't the case. Some had come from Christian families. Some had no idea why they ended up here but in all there was an emptiness inside.
I became so numb to things, the sin I had was choking me. But God is a God of pportunities, he never lets us go. I began to discover new truths, he gradually began to loosen my heart and work in me. I had to make choices, which were hard, but God had spoken, and given me another chance. I wasn't going to let it go by.
On the day before my birthday, I realised that for so many years I had lived supposedly as a Christian, but never actually understood my faith, and the God I talked about. I had said many 'wise' words perhaps, but it never came from my heart.
I had grasped on to wrong concepts, and just lead a double life. On this evening I invited God to come truly in my heart, and change me. For the first time I was truly sorry out of conviction.
I had come to the realisation that without him I am nothing, that I needed him on a personal level, to come and live in my heart. To walk with me, to guide me. I was so sorry for breaking his heart, for crucifying him on that cross, and I was ready to change direction, but this time for good.
So for the first time in my life, I was able to understand what salvation meant. What Christ did on that cross, had not just spiritually but physically taken me out of my sin, saved me, so that I could have a relationship with God.
The verse I was given, 'I will not die, but live and tell what God has done' became truth in my hear. I knew that I said I was a 'Christian' but my path lead into death. And God in his great mercy had saved me.
I am currently at YWAM. I've been here 8 weeks and my life has transformed. God spoke to me clearly the first week I arrived: he said that at the cross I would find life. And this word has followed me during the time here.
I have discovered that since meeting God at the cross, my life has had to take a complete U-turn. And it has meant dieing to myself. I had to make decisions, and not just base my life on emotions and religion.
I had to come to the realisation that I am a sinner, but God loved me first, and because of that love I know want to live for him.
This has been the best decision I have and will ever make. I know my life will never be the same, I know that I will walk with him for the rest of my life. I will no longer be lonely, I will have my refuge, my strength, and the love I longed for in Him.
I will live for a reason, and that's so serve him. Many decisions and situations marked my life for years, but during this time God had set me free, healed the wounds I had in my heart, and given me a new one. And now I am making decisions which will mark my life for good.
For years I blamed everyone else for my sin, but here I have learned that it is me that made the choice. God is and will always be there, it is my choice to live with or without him.
There is so much that God has done, that it is here my testimony begins. My story will no longer be about how difficult my life was or all the bad things I did, but how amazing it is to live with Jesus by my side, knowing I have a Heavenly Father, and that I am his daughter who wants to serve him simply because I love him.