I grew up in the Crossroads Church of Christ in Gainesville, Florida, but turned myself into God on November 10, 1996 while studying at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, Winston-Salem, NC. Anyone who knew me before I became a disciple is indeed glad that I finally surrendered to God. Believe me, that was just the beginning of how God would use my sin to humble my heart. I had a lot of fears and pain. I loved God but had a horrible confidence issue, although I was very prideful, untrusting and secretive.
The leaders in the Triangle Church took special interest in me, especially Sam Laing and Kevin Darby, who were like fathers to me and gave me opportunities to grow and share my talents with the congregation. I loved our arts ministry and the shows we produced back then kept me from falling away and utterly giving up many times.
I moved to Chicago in 2003 from North Carolina. In 2002 I made a visit to the city to see the church before making a real decision to move. I had been encouraged by my professors that Chicago would be a great city for me, but being a Floridian, I was not so sure. Eventually though, God opened doors for me to check it out. Being from the East Coast, it seemed to make sense that I would move to NY to pursue a performance-related career, and I had a lot of friendships there in the church and loved New York City. I wanted to be a missionary and go to Africa, and the NY church was sending people there. But God had different plans for me.
Upon visiting the church I met Yolanda Cruz, a Puerto Rican sister and a single mother with a special needs child, whom we called June bug. Without hesitation Yolanda invited me into her home for the week. I felt immediately loved and cherished by Yolanda and her roommate Rachelle, who was also a single mom with a son. We had a ball that week. I roamed the city every day. We had great fellowship and food; we laughed and played like schoolgirls, blood sisters through and through. There were great late night talks, a cookout with the brothers, quiet times, walks, and we prayed, prayed and prayed about so many things together.
After I went home, I kept in touch with Yolanda and over the next few months God gave me the solid foundation I needed to make the move. When I arrived and my housing situation was not the best fit, yet again God used Yolanda who had gotten engaged and I moved into the house on Harding, Northside of Chicago. If you ever came over you know that was God’s house away from church for many disciples. There is indeed nothing like a true disciple entering into your life. Over the next years God changed me from the inside out.
Having grown up in church I know genuine when I see it. Christians come in all shapes and sizes, but a person with a pure heart who longs for holiness is still a rare treat in the world.
I love the Chicago Church because this is where I walked away from my pain, in the city without my physical family but with people who loved the Lord like I did.
I love the Chicago Church because we know how to repent and to say we are wrong and to wait for God to change us, to forgive others, to be free and fun.
I love the Chicago church because I am reunited with people I thought I’d never see again, such as Vera Chimbanda, a missionary I met briefly in South Africa, who moved to Chicago too.
I love the Chicago Church because of Dave Eastman, our incredibly humble music minister and an on-fire preacher, who is not afraid to “have church” and lets all of us give input about how to praise the Lord and share what God has given us.
I love the Chicago Church because I met my husband Brandon Sitzberger, an awesomely handsome brother from the mighty Milwaukee Church of Christ, at the “Their Eyes Were Opened” conference in 2005.
I love the Chicago Church because although it is crazy cold up here, God is with us and helps us persevere through it all.
To God be the glory.