by Betty Lou Roy
The audio testimony of Betty Lou Roy - 13.13 minutes
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The following story tells of my childhood to age seventeen when I experienced Jesus’ love, the saving of my soul and Him calling me to follow Him! This was impressed on me so strongly; I never felt anything so powerful! I’m so glad He came down to my level and saved me. He is awesome! For many years before this time, I was extremely unhappy, but it all worked out for good, because through it I found Jesus. Here is my story.
I grew up in the country between the towns of Anoka and Osseo, Minnesota. We had eight acres of land, mostly woods. Exploring those woods was the best part of my childhood. We were a devout Catholic family of eight kids: five girls and three boys. I was second to the youngest. Two brothers and two sisters had married or had moved out by the time I was eight years old.
My dad worked in a factory building generators. My mom was a housewife, but also did house cleaning for other folks. Several years later she worked as a nurse’s aide, then went to school and became an LPN at a nursing home. I didn’t have a close relationship with either of my parents. They were very authoritative and dominating. I was afraid of my dad most of the time. He would get pretty angry about his job and at me for sucking my thumb.
I was a very shy and backward and a late bloomer. I was afraid of many things but mostly people. I really didn’t like that about myself, but I didn’t know what to do.
I couldn’t concentrate in school very well because I was too scared of the teachers and my classmates. I felt frozen in fear. Some grades were better than others, though fifth grade was the best. I had a loving teacher named Mr. Larson whom I had a big crush on. I decided then I preferred men teachers over women. He was a lot nicer then all my teachers in previous grades. Also, when I was growing up, one of my sisters, who is four years older, was born with a heart defect. She had to have many surgeries and then a pacemaker. She was in and out of the hospital for many years. We didn’t know if she was going to die (later she told me she did but they got her back) so it made me very nervous. I remember my Dad always saying, “Remember to pray for your sister,” as my younger sister and I would head off to bed. So I would pray for her and for myself because I was feeling depressed. Since I was Catholic, I was taught to pray to Mary, but I didn’t receive any help.
I was troubled about my own fearful personality and something seemed wrong about my parents. There was death and darkness in my home, but I didn’t know how to escape it. Actually, I felt trapped in my own world and was constantly worried about myself. I took a speech class in ninth grade to help. I think it did help some, but only temporarily. We had to do a debate with another classmate. My classmate chose: How the world was going to end. He believed man would destroy it. I said, “I believe God is going to come back and judged the world.” In those days I had been thinking about that subject and worried what I would do. I was going to hide under a table in my bedroom.
When I was in school, drinking parties were very popular. I heard about people getting drunk constantly, and I was so sick of hearing about it. At home, my dad took me with him to get his case of beer and he would have a mixed drink after supper just about every night. On several occasions my parents would give me and my younger sister a glass of wine at a young age. Plus the church I went to had a Fundraiser every year with a beer booth which was very common. So, I was totally surrounded with drinking I thought to myself, “I don’t want to do that. I hate throwing up! Besides, I want to go to heaven when I die so I have to be good. There HAS to be a group of people like me that want to have fun but be good, too, so we can go to heaven.”
I grew more and more miserable. I felt like I didn’t belong here on the earth. I felt like I was an alien from outer space. Feeling very depressed, I cried many evenings for several years. I would stay in my bedroom and play my rock and roll records.
I thought about becoming a nun, but I didn’t want to wear black all the time. I love color. I continued to pray to Mary, but not having received any help, I came to the conclusion she wasn’t listening. I said, “I’m going to pray directly to Jesus.” I then, slowly but surely, got results. This Bible verse came to my mind, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Romans 10:13 KJV) So, I would look out my bedroom window and say His name and the verse.
Before my 17th birthday, my girlfriend invited me to a Friday night prayer meeting. I said no, because I thought it would be like Catechism, which had digressed to talking about drinking and partying. She asked me three different times before I said I would come. She said it wasn’t like catechism. She really liked it and the leader was a “really cool guy.” So, I went and my life changed forever!
There were many teenagers at the meeting and they were singing gospel songs and two played guitar. The music was beautiful. I never heard such wonderful songs. It was great! This is what I prayed for to be a part of. Steve, who was the leader, taught from the Bible many things I never heard before, including how much Jesus loved me!!! And, that God cares for me.
I never dreamed we could know God. I thought he was way off in the sky and was too busy for me. I never thought I could have a personal relationship with Him. It was totally amazing!! Steve taught that if we want to follow Jesus, you must commit your life to Him one hundred percent. That was what the disciples did. That’s what the Bible teaches. “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” (Luke 9:23 KJV) Sometime during these several meetings that I attended; I believed and wanted to follow Jesus. This was my favorite verse: “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; 6 Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior; 7 That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” Titus 3:5-7 (KJV) My favorite songs were “Blessed Assurance” and “When the Roll is Called up Yonder.” God was changing me, but it was all so new.
My parents were very angry that I was going to this prayer meeting, which wasn’t Catholic. I had a very strong desire from God to be at these meetings. This was my time! I now know that it was the fear of God. Without that realization, I would have succumbed to the fear of my parents. My mom said I could go a few more times and that was it!! I had such a strong impression from God that I must keep going.
One night I was greatly hindered by my parents from going to the meeting. The time had come when my mom said I couldn’t go any more. But I was determined to go anyway. I did not have a driver’s license at that time. Steve stopped to pick me up. I ran out of the house and tried to get into his car, but my parents and my younger sister pulled me out. Then my Dad ordered Steve to leave the property or he would call the police. Steve left, but my dad still called the police. I just told the policeman I wanted to do the Lord’s will, which was to go to the meeting. The whole time I felt God’s presence and joy even though it was very difficult.
Matthew 10:34-36 states, “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man's foes shall be they of his own household.” I wound up leaving home against my parent’s wishes and stayed in the home where the Bible Study was held. God showed me in a dream that there was darkness and evil at my parent’s house. I was still only 17, so my parents sent the police, telling them some lie about what was happening there. They broke into the home without a warrant to take me away. I went with the police, but not before I knelt down and prayed for the Lord’s will. I heard the policeman comment, “There is still freedom of religion in this country.” I refused to go home to my parents, so I was taken to the Juvenile Center that night.
I remember getting out of the police car at the Juvenile Center and feeling an awareness of how Jesus suffered at the cross. Paul said in Philippians 3:10 (NKJ), “that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death.” Then in the process of being put in the Juvenile Center, I asked if I could please take my Bible in the cell, there was a long pause from the guard, but then she said yes. I was really glad.
The next day I had to go to court with my parents and my dad decided to have me committed to the mental hospital. I believe he was just trying to keep me from my Christian friends. I don’t hold anything against my parents. I knew they were lost and blinded by their false religion. I was in the hospital for two and half months. I was with many other teens who were drug addicts and suicidal. It was a difficult times there but, I was able to witness to one of the girls and I especially felt Jesus’ love for her. She nicknamed me “Beans” because I was happy and excited about Jesus and she said I reminded her of a jumping bean. I had a private teacher while in the mental hospital. She was great!! My grades really improved. The hardest part of being there was my dad visiting me on the weekends. One time he was very angry and yelled, “If it is the last thing I do, I will get the Bible out of you,” as he threw my Bible on the floor!
In November of 1970 I was placed in a group foster home for seven months till I turned eighteen. I graduated at a different high school and then returned to the prayer meeting and my Christian friends.
My dad passed away in 1993. I’m sure now he regrets the way he was to me. I took a stand for the Lord and for my own salvation and in hope that someday each family member would accept Jesus. Acts 4:12 says, “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” I praise the Lord for saving me from my sins and setting me free from the bondage of fear! Isaiah 61:1 says, “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me…to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound.” Jesus set me free. I give him all the glory. He is so good to me.
In closing, I would like to sum up the true Gospel message. Adam and Eve sinned in the garden and their disobedience was passed on to all of us resulting in us being sinners from birth. Romans 5:15 in the Living Bible says, “For this one man, Adam, brought death to many through his sin. But this one man, Jesus Christ, brought forgiveness to many through God’s mercy.” Jesus is my High Priest. I’ve gone to him many times, and to him alone, to confess my sins and receive His forgiveness. I asked Jesus to save me at 17, and He did. He died on the cross and shed His blood once for all of us, but his salvation must be taken by each individual for themselves. He is our personal Savior. That’s what blows my mind, that we can be personal friends with the God of the universe, the one who created you and me!!! You can feel his presence. He is so wonderful! But everyone must turn to him while they are alive, or they will suffer in hell eternally, and it will be their own choosing. Jesus does not choose hell for anyone. We make that choice by rejecting his mercy and truth. He made the way to God. Not anything we do or have done will buy us Heaven. Jesus did it all! We must repent of our sins and believe in his mercy and forgiveness. Then, and only then, will we born again into his family. He is worthy of our praise now and forever. Amen!
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