Spiritual Journey

Spiritual Journey

Click each picture to learn more about Racheal’s journey.

  • As a young girl, I could not wait to bound up the immense stone stairs, there were lots and lots of stairs. Long, never-ending stairs that stretched from one side to the other for what seemed liked eternity. Out of breath at the top of the stairs, the huge wooden doors with black hinges dwarfed me as a tiny three-year-old. Above the doors, the big white steeple painted against the crystal blue sky, atop the pristine church façade beckoned. I could hear the voices that sailed out singing

    “Down by the river side,
    I’m gonna lay down my burdens,
    down by the river side,
    down by the river side,
    down by the river side.”

    Pushing hard to open the doors with all my might, I have fond memories of walking behind Grandma Ellenda, dressed as her mini-me, past other little people hiding behind their Mamas’ skirts.

    We were a sight to see, and I just adored tucking myself right next to her in my pastel, ruffled dress, little patent, black leather shoes, and top handle purse. Never could we be seen without our stockings! I loved my white socks with the ruffles on top that were neatly folded right above the top of my cute, spotless shoes. We both perched on our pew, legs crossed, skirts flat, back straight, church smile on. Growing up in Liberia, my family was Baptist, First Baptist smack in the middle of downtown Monrovia, it was the place to see and be seen. A vibrant place, filled with Sunday love.

    Eight years later, our worship experience had changed drastically. We had emigrated to the United States and settled in New Jersey. Grandma Ellenda and Momma Louiza had become Jehovah’s Witnesses. I followed from the age of 12 until about 16½, studying the Bible and witnessing. Unbeknownst to me, my life would change drastically two weeks before the tender age of 17. In those two short weeks, I found myself practically alone in a civil war in my beloved Monrovia. In the year and three months that followed, I cried, prayed and doubted. Why would God allow me to be caught up in something like this? My faith was far from mature. I missed all the signs of God’s grace: I missed him covering me through grueling experiences, I missed most of those signs, almost everyone single one! My faith was weak. After making it though the war, I remember my Grandma and Mom weeping and thanking Jehovah for my return. What I had also missed was all the strong prayers family members and friends had been sending up and how deeply they had all been praying for fifteen plus months.

  • Leaving for college at 18 gave me a little more religious independence. Still shell shocked from the war, I was simply numb, too numb to lean into God fully and thankfully. I started loosely and occasionally pursuing my Christianity. I always meditated on the core values instilled within me, but I didn’t go to church regularly. Mid way through college, I was invited by a college friend to the local Methodist church in the middle of town. It was convenient, the people seemed nice, and the Pastor was intelligent and humble. I felt comfortable there, and occasionally I would go. By graduation I was in between Baptist and Methodist.

    After meeting my soon to be husband, we started going to church. He had grown up Catholic. I had grown up Baptist. My old, college church seemed to be a good mid-point, so we joined. Our Pastor did our pre-marital counseling and married us in my college town. With children coming soon after, we felt strongly about passing on our church values to our children. Church became more regular, the kids got baptized, and Sunday school became a part of our family life. Sunday, family lunches after church became a staple. We made a 45-minute drive every Sunday to the church we had put roots down in. I had been baptized there, we had been married there, and our boys had been blessed there.

    However, the drive became too much with young boys, so a search began for a new church. So many just didn’t feel right. Dom got impatient. “You go check them out. If they seem good, then I’ll go.” I kept looking. With the boys in tow, I kept looking. We had felt so at home in our diverse church, it was not the same here. Three years later, one summer Sunday morning, I decided to check out a church recommended to me by my hairdresser. When we drove up the street, Devin, Reece and I were stunned. I held each boy’s hand in mine as we walked up a hill, upon which stood a church that looked a lot like my old First Baptist of Monrovia. People streamed in from all sides, smiling and giggling. It reminded me of home. My heart leapt! The service started with an all-male choir singing, amazing singing! The Pastor preached beyond measure, and we were captivated. When the Pastor called for new members that day, Devin, without hesitation, walked right up. It was settled. This would be our new home church. We felt at home. Calvary Baptist Church became our new family home. With so many learning opportunities, activities, and ministries we really started our dive into our family and individual Christian walks.

  • Less than a year after joining the church, my husband, Dom, got sick. The two years that would follow put our Christianity into overdrive. We were forced to lean on God in ways we never had to, and the roots of our Christianity took hold. We began our intimate and joint walks with Jesus in the most unexpected and challenging of ways. As things spiraled out of control, God was all we had. He became our everything. It was then that I can say that I was truly, spiritually birthed. Knowing the Bible inside and out was not enough. Application was the true measure. As life happened, scriptures made more sense, and I hungered for more time in devotion and worship. As a family, daily devotions become a part of our morning routine.

    I watched Dom be re-birthed in the darkest of times for him. My boys watched us live out our faith in the most trying of times. They saw us grow closer to God. They grew closer to God. After Dom passed away, our family’s outlook was forever changed. We stopped looking at negative experiences as something bad. Now we asked ourselves, “What is the divine purpose of our current circumstance?”

    It was in this season that I made the decision to be vocal about my life experience. I needed to tell everyone who would listen about how God carried and sustained us. I decided to be unashamedly Christian, worshipping hard, loving hard, living in hope that my story will continue to encourage those around me to draw closer to God. He is always there, waiting…

Early Life

Early Life

As a young girl, I could not wait to bound up the immense stone stairs, there were lots and lots of stairs. Long, never-ending stairs that stretched from one side to the other for what seemed liked eternity. Out of breath at the top of the stairs, the huge wooden doors with black hinges dwarfed me as a tiny three-year-old. Above the doors, the big white steeple painted against the crystal blue sky, atop the pristine church façade beckoned. I could hear the voices that sailed out singing

“Down by the river side,
I’m gonna lay down my burdens,
down by the river side,
down by the river side,
down by the river side.”

Pushing hard to open the doors with all my might, I have fond memories of walking behind Grandma Ellenda, dressed as her mini-me, past other little people hiding behind their Mamas’ skirts.

We were a sight to see, and I just adored tucking myself right next to her in my pastel, ruffled dress, little patent, black leather shoes, and top handle purse. Never could we be seen without our stockings! I loved my white socks with the ruffles on top that were neatly folded right above the top of my cute, spotless shoes. We both perched on our pew, legs crossed, skirts flat, back straight, church smile on. Growing up in Liberia, my family was Baptist, First Baptist smack in the middle of downtown Monrovia, it was the place to see and be seen. A vibrant place, filled with Sunday love.

Eight years later, our worship experience had changed drastically. We had emigrated to the United States and settled in New Jersey. Grandma Ellenda and Momma Louiza had become Jehovah’s Witnesses. I followed from the age of 12 until about 16½, studying the Bible and witnessing. Unbeknownst to me, my life would change drastically two weeks before the tender age of 17. In those two short weeks, I found myself practically alone in a civil war in my beloved Monrovia. In the year and three months that followed, I cried, prayed and doubted. Why would God allow me to be caught up in something like this? My faith was far from mature. I missed all the signs of God’s grace: I missed him covering me through grueling experiences, I missed most of those signs, almost everyone single one! My faith was weak. After making it though the war, I remember my Grandma and Mom weeping and thanking Jehovah for my return. What I had also missed was all the strong prayers family members and friends had been sending up and how deeply they had all been praying for fifteen plus months.

Young Adult

Young Adult

Leaving for college at 18 gave me a little more religious independence. Still shell shocked from the war, I was simply numb, too numb to lean into God fully and thankfully. I started loosely and occasionally pursuing my Christianity. I always meditated on the core values instilled within me, but I didn’t go to church regularly. Mid way through college, I was invited by a college friend to the local Methodist church in the middle of town. It was convenient, the people seemed nice, and the Pastor was intelligent and humble. I felt comfortable there, and occasionally I would go. By graduation I was in between Baptist and Methodist.

After meeting my soon to be husband, we started going to church. He had grown up Catholic. I had grown up Baptist. My old, college church seemed to be a good mid-point, so we joined. Our Pastor did our pre-marital counseling and married us in my college town. With children coming soon after, we felt strongly about passing on our church values to our children. Church became more regular, the kids got baptized, and Sunday school became a part of our family life. Sunday, family lunches after church became a staple. We made a 45-minute drive every Sunday to the church we had put roots down in. I had been baptized there, we had been married there, and our boys had been blessed there.

However, the drive became too much with young boys, so a search began for a new church. So many just didn’t feel right. Dom got impatient. “You go check them out. If they seem good, then I’ll go.” I kept looking. With the boys in tow, I kept looking. We had felt so at home in our diverse church, it was not the same here. Three years later, one summer Sunday morning, I decided to check out a church recommended to me by my hairdresser. When we drove up the street, Devin, Reece and I were stunned. I held each boy’s hand in mine as we walked up a hill, upon which stood a church that looked a lot like my old First Baptist of Monrovia. People streamed in from all sides, smiling and giggling. It reminded me of home. My heart leapt! The service started with an all-male choir singing, amazing singing! The Pastor preached beyond measure, and we were captivated. When the Pastor called for new members that day, Devin, without hesitation, walked right up. It was settled. This would be our new home church. We felt at home. Calvary Baptist Church became our new family home. With so many learning opportunities, activities, and ministries we really started our dive into our family and individual Christian walks.

Maturing Woman

Maturing Woman

Less than a year after joining the church, my husband, Dom, got sick. The two years that would follow put our Christianity into overdrive. We were forced to lean on God in ways we never had to, and the roots of our Christianity took hold. We began our intimate and joint walks with Jesus in the most unexpected and challenging of ways. As things spiraled out of control, God was all we had. He became our everything. It was then that I can say that I was truly, spiritually birthed. Knowing the Bible inside and out was not enough. Application was the true measure. As life happened, scriptures made more sense, and I hungered for more time in devotion and worship. As a family, daily devotions become a part of our morning routine.

I watched Dom be re-birthed in the darkest of times for him. My boys watched us live out our faith in the most trying of times. They saw us grow closer to God. They grew closer to God. After Dom passed away, our family’s outlook was forever changed. We stopped looking at negative experiences as something bad. Now we asked ourselves, “What is the divine purpose of our current circumstance?”

It was in this season that I made the decision to be vocal about my life experience. I needed to tell everyone who would listen about how God carried and sustained us. I decided to be unashamedly Christian, worshipping hard, loving hard, living in hope that my story will continue to encourage those around me to draw closer to God. He is always there, waiting…