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Testimony of Terri O'Connor
November 2021
I grew up in a violent, abusive, racist home with my mom, step father and step brother. My step father was a mean, bitter drinker and I walked around our home afraid most of the time when he was there. The only two things I felt I had control over were my grades at school and what I ate. I threw myself into my classes at a private school and graduated in the top of my class, but I had an eating disorder that dropped my weight from 130 pounds to 95 in about 18 months. I battled self-image issues, some substance abuse and generally didn't like myself. I was hurting, confused and felt completely alone. At that time the word father dredged up fear and feelings of worthlessness. We lived in a rural area, isolated from most of my classmates. My mom knew I needed to get out of our house sometimes other than attending school, so she let me accept an invitation to a youth group meeting at a local small church. The first or second time I went, the youth pastor, Jake, quoted John 3:16. I had never heard scripture spoken aloud. The verse floored me. I remember him repeating Romans 3:23 For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. I knew immediately I was included in the ALL. I'm a sinner. That thought frightened me even more than the circumstances I lived in at home. Thankfully Jake led right into the grace of salvation and told us Romans 10:9 "If you declare with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved."
It only took me a few minutes to realize what was so wrong in my own home - no one there believed that. No one had ever told me I was a sinner and I deserved death as a punishment. No one had told me not only did I need a Savior, but one had already been provided for me and all I had to do was believe and accept.
So in 1977 at the age of 13, I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior at that tiny little church with only the youth pastor and my friends to witness. My parents wouldn't come. I would spend the next few years struggling to live my faith in a godless home, eventually leaving when I was a month shy of turning 18. I joined a larger church and was finally able to learn and absorb God's Word. Since then He has blessed me when I knew I didn't deserve it, rebuked me when I knew I needed it, and is still helping me understand what having a loving Father means. 
He became my Abba.