No More Fear

Erica Washington first felt God’s call on her life when she was nine years old, but she didn’t answer Him until she was 44.

“We grew up going to church,” she says. “It has always been part of my family.” When she was nine, her father was offered a minister position at a church in New Jersey, so they moved there from Philadelphia. “That’s when I really began searching for God,” she remembers.

Despite her father’s profession, she didn’t live in a spiritual household and didn’t know anything about the Bible. “Although my parents were strict and we were taught to pray, we never took church home with us,” she says. “A couple from church gave us a large children’s Bible with pictures when I was nine, and I loved it. I was afraid someone would take it away from me so I hid it from everyone and read it whenever I could.”

Reading the Bible gave Erica more questions than answers however. “I had questions about food and clothing. We ate pork at my house sometimes, but the Bible says we shouldn’t even touch a pig. I wanted to know why it said that, and no one could give me an answer.” She traveled with the church and attended their camps and worship but never studied the Bible except by herself and never got any answers.

At 14 she moved to New York and continued worshipping with the denomination of her family. “I never felt good enough there,” she remembers. “They taught us the secret rapture, so I began to fear God because I didn’t want to get left behind to go through the tribulation if I wasn’t good enough for heaven. I felt guilty all the time.” She stopped attending church at 18, but she never stopped fearing God.

Back in Philadelphia, she joined another church at age 23. “Everything there was forced. They made us confess our sins to each other before we could get baptized. They said we had to because of James 5:16. It was humiliating. Everyone knew everyone’s secrets. And if you ever missed worship, they’d call you up and ask why.” After a financial scandal in 2003, she left the church. “I was done with religion,” she says.  “No one had the truth, and I couldn’t understand what was going on anyway.”

God Answers
Her questions didn’t go away, however, and neither did her fear. She continued to pray the best way she knew how, and God answered her. In February 2009, she saw Amazing Facts for the first time. “When I saw it was a TV ministry I almost turned it off,” she remembers. “I hate TV ministry. They’re always asking for money and talking about riches, and I want to believe them but nothing ever worked out for me and I just kept getting more broke.” Erica quickly realized this program was different. God had directed her to the message she needed to hear.

“Pastor Doug was talking about the tribulation. He said, ‘You think you’ll get raptured away from the tribulation, but the Bible says we’ll all go through it.’ He showed how God brought the Israelites through the plagues of Egypt. He kept proving everything he said from the Bible! I was so happy, I was jumping up and down!” she exclaims. “Someone was finally answering my questions! And then I found out my son was watching it, too, downstairs!” She was shocked when Pastor Doug ended the program and never asked for a single dime.

Erica began watching Amazing Facts whenever she could, even on the Internet. She searched through her Bibles and checked everything she learned to see if it was right. “It was really blowing my mind,” she says. “I said, ‘I found it. I found the truth.’ ”

The only doctrine she struggled with was the Sabbath. “I asked around about it, and everyone said it was abolished, done away with, that we didn’t have to keep the Sabbath. But I didn’t believe it so I kept studying.” She and her son studied the topic for several weeks and eventually found sabbathtruth.com. “That website did it. It answered all my questions, and I was convinced it was the truth.” She and her family have been keeping Sabbath ever since.

She was hesitant to go to a Sabbath church because of some childhood memories. “But I joined a forum online and met a Sabbath-keeper who answered my questions and became my friend. I checked out some churches in my area and found one I like, so I’ve been going since then.”

Erica continued to face trials in her life. When she was a few weeks late paying her gas bill, the power company turned off the gas for three days. “It was hard to praise God during that time,” she says. When they came to turn it back on, however, they noticed her chimney had partially collapsed. If the gas had been on, they said, her family might have suffocated. “Now I know to praise God in all situations!”

Even at church, it wasn’t always easy. For four months, no one invited her to lunch or formed a relationship with her, but she kept going back anyway. “They had the truth,” she says. “That’s what was important.” Her church eventually warmed up to her, and she now serves on the health and book ministries and often cooks for potluck. “The members say they’re encouraged by me and my family because we’re new and excited about the faith.”

Erica says the Lord saved her life. “I will give my testimony any time, anywhere. No rocks are going to cry out for me! I am going to glorify the Lord with my own mouth. Everyone who knows me knows what I believe and where I stand. I praise the Lord everywhere I go. I am truly happy. I lost so much but gained 10 times more in return.”

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