Many people are surprised when they find out that I am a convert to Christianity. Apparently, I give off the vibe of being a lifelong Christian who was raised in the faith. That could not be farther from the truth. My parents and brother are varying degrees of agnostic, and my extended family is largely the same way.
What changed things for me? A woman named Lou Ellyn Griffin.
Lou Ellyn had lived in my neighborhood since before my parents bought the house where I grew up. My mom remembers her making an effort to welcome them to the neighborhood, and her daughter Page would come over and help my mom out with my twin brother Sean and me when we were babies. My parents got two kittens from them when Sean and I were a few months old, and one of them, Ben, was with us for close to 16 years.
When Sean and I were in first grade, she invited the elementary school kids in the neighborhood over to her house to bake cookies. After the other kids left, she sat down on the couch with a book of Bible stories and read us the Christmas story. Having been raised by a mom who read to us every night from an early age, we thought this was pretty cool and asked her to read more stories to us. She agreed and read all of the stories about the miracles and parables, the crucifixion, and the resurrection.
Sean and I ended up being cat sitters for their family throughout our school years and engaged with them for various things. When I was ten years old, she started having me help her teach English and American customs to groups of exchange students that would come. She and her husband Gerry were never pushy about their faith, but she made sure I knew that I was loved and that she would be happy to tell me more if I ever wanted to know. The seed was planted in me, and I did eventually take her up on talking about faith issues. She rejoiced when I accepted Christ as a teenager, and she is very much my godmother. She and I are still in contact, and she is one of the first people I contact if I am ever in a situation when I seriously need prayer.
Thank you, Jesus, for the people you put in our lives who bring us closer to you. Amen.