by Jeannette Haley
In Jeannette’s testimony, you will see the emphasis of the Christian life being impressed upon this person’s life at a young age. Jeannette Haley has been involved in various aspects of ministry for years. In 1989, together Rayola and Jeannette founded Gentle Shepherd Ministries. For years Jeannette taught various Bible Studies, as well as conducted seminars and retreats along with Rayola. As a professional artist, she taught painting. In 1996, her life drastically changed when she lost the use of most of her voice due to Spasmodic Dysphonia. What does a person do when he or she loses their means to communicate, especially when the person is a minister and teacher?
Jeannette had to fight to overcome despair. She had to be open to be redirected in her life before God. As a means to express herself, she began to write Christian novels. When she recognized the need for Bible Studies and quality Christian stories for young people and children, her emphasis and talents were once again redirected back to her roots—that being the need to influence and impress upon the hearts and minds of children and young people the need to love Jesus and follow Him.
Today, Jeannette helps out with the Sunday school at her local church, as well as writes materials from studies to stories as a means to establish the young people in their lives with God. With this in mind, enjoy the roots and inspiration of her testimony and how it has affected her calling.
Before I even became enrolled in kindergarten, I recall my great-grandmother talking about Jesus. Her entire life was consumed with the reality of Christ, making quilts and other things to send to missionaries, and personal evangelism. One of my fondest memories of her (when I was still a child, but older) was her going to her door and calling to all the neighborhood children to come in and sit down in her tiny living room. There she taught them songs about Jesus as she played her old-fashioned pump organ.
My journey with the Lord began with what I call a “drawing” in my heart to learn all I could about Him. As I look back, I know that the Father was calling me right from the start. In my formative years, I did attend Sunday school and church. In Sunday school I had dedicated teachers who taught the way of salvation and insisted on Bible memorization along with the great hymn, “Holy, Holy, Holy.” Hymns are as much a part of learning sound biblical truths as is the Bible.
In those days, children sat on hard, wood pews with their family during the entire church service. There was no talking, movement, or running around. After all, we were in God’s house, hearing God’s Word (even if children couldn’t understand it all), singing songs about God, and praying prayers to God. Impressed upon my heart was an incredible awe or reverence for the Lord, and the desire to please Him.
Sometime before, or when, I attended Jr. High School, my parents gave up church because of a hireling shepherd who came in and took over the church. After that, I lugged the big, black family KJV Bible that some friends had given my dad under my arm, and walked several blocks alone to a local community church in order to attend Sunday school.
Fortunately, I have always loved to read. Great-grandma provided me with a Moody Bible Institute Bible Correspondence Course, which I loved to do. She also made sure that I received good Christian books, such as the Danny Orlis series, and literature. I listened to the Back to the Bible children’s program every Saturday morning on the radio. I mention all this to emphasize how important it is to get the Word into children while they are young.
By the time I was thirteen, I had a keen sense of God’s holiness, man’s sinful condition, the great price that Jesus paid on the cross for our sins, and the reality of eternal life that would be spent in one of two places—heaven or hell. There was no frivolity or silliness attached to these sober realities. I believed I was a sinner, I asked Jesus to save me and come into my heart, and I shared the Gospel with others.
At sixteen, as I lay awake meditating on the Lord one night, He called me to follow Him. It was a very distinct call. I responded with a poem (long lost to time) and committed myself to Him, to go wherever He called, and do whatever He asked me to do. By this time, my mother was becoming upset with my decision to be a missionary. She said, “You’ll die in some jungle in Africa.” Pleasing my mother had always been a strong influence in my life. Her idea of living was not committing one’s life to God. She claimed to be a believer, but not to the point of ever talking about Jesus, reading His Word, or putting Him first. Her influence was overpowering.
Even though I knew the plan of salvation, I had been taught that all you had to do was “accept” Jesus into your heart and you were eternally saved, regardless of how you lived. For many years I took a lot of detours, even though I went to church. No one told me that Jesus must be more than my Savior, but that He must be Lord of my life as well. Although my heart never turned away from Jesus, my footsteps did through a series of wrong decisions based on personal needs and unrealistic standards.
Finally, in the 1980’s, through a series of God-ordained events, as well as being part of a Spirit-filled church that discipled me for five years, and much seeking to really know Him, through genuine repentance, I committed my entire life to God regardless of the cost. In the end, it cost me everything, including husband, home, friends, family, inheritances, reputation, financial stability, and material possessions. It even cost me the church I attended, and eventually my health. But, I had gained the reality of Christ outside of any man-centered religious system. It may have been the “end” of my life as I knew it then, but it was the beginning of a life with God that continues to this day as I continue to serve Him, and grow in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
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