Of Donna L. Drebenstedt
For by grace you have been saved through faith;
and that not of yourselves, it is a gift of God;
not as a result of works, that no one should boast.
For we are His workmanship, created in Messiah/Christ Jesus
for good works, which God prepared beforehand,
that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:8-10
In 1958 I was 10 years old and very busy growing up in Southern California. Dolls, hula hoops and my bicycle where pretty important back then but, there was one place I loved to be more than any other and that was church. A few years earlier a neighbor invited my brother and I to go to church. I don’t remember if they ever took us again but I do remember that whenever the church doors were open someone from that church was ready and willing to take us! I loved all the activities and the attention I received there from my teachers and friends. I became involved with the girls club, choir, vacation bible schools and active in Sunday school and church. My parents could not afford to send me to camp but every year I went to summer and winter camp with the rest of my friends. Memorizing scripture and learning about the adventures, boldness and courage of missionaries was very exciting! I just knew one day I would be a missionary too. Of course winning prizes for memorizing scripture was a big motivation and the competition in all those Bible drills was great fun! I would even come home from church and play church with my friends or if no one would play with me I would line up my dolls and play church with them. Looking back I realize I was a missionary project for those dear people!
Sometime in 1958 or 1959 I was at a special meeting that was very crowded and sitting on my Sunday School teachers lap when the spirit of God touched my heart and I knew I was a sinner and needed to be forgiven. That night I also clearly understood there was a solution for my sin problem and that I could be forgiven. This wonderful man Jesus that I had been hearing and learning about was also the God of the Bible. He came down to earth to show us how much He loved us by paying the penalty for our sins, my sins! That night I learned that if I believed all this was true and wanted Jesus to be my Savior He would come into my life and I would be His child! This understanding of scripture to my young heart was the best news I could have ever heard. When the invitation to come forward to receive Jesus was announced I scooted right off my teachers lap and went forward to receive the biggest gift I would ever receive in my entire life! At that time I didn’t realize just how big it was. I remember doing cartwheels back and forth across the church lawn exclaiming to my girlfriend, waiting with me to be picked up, that I was forgiven of all my sins and was a child of God! Still today I remember the joy that night, the excitement and the assurance given me by the Holy Spirit! Recently my husband Reuben and I took a trip back to California and I showed him that church and the lawn where the cartwheels took place. Everything looked a bit smaller but the memory was still big for me. He rejoiced with me and thanked God for the love and faithfulness of those many people so long ago and, for God’s love and faithfulness to me ever since.
I began my own missionary ventures shortly after those cartwheels. It became very important to me that everyone knew about Jesus and this very good news! However, soon I discovered not everyone shared my excitement. Fewer friends wanted to play Sunday school with me and fewer still would go with me to church. I knew they were missing out but I was so happy inside and had my church friends! I decided if people would not listen to me I would begin handing out tracts. After all, our church track rack was full of them. Now my bicycle had a grand purpose and since I lived very near a large commercial district I found lots of car windshields and public places to put them. I soon learned that sometimes it was better not to let anyone see me place the tracts, especially at school. It was very exciting being God’s secret agent!
God began sending different people into my life to teach me how to share my faith. I thought I was strong in the Lord by the time my high school years were upon me but the pressure of peers and their rejection had an impact on my boldness. I am glad that several friends did respond to God’s love for them. Looking back on that time in my life I am so grateful for God’s protection and faithfulness. He protected me from so much! The activities and friends from the church youth group also kept me busy and out of trouble.
God continues to “grow me up and train me” in the ways He desires. His love and faithfulness to me has brought me through many difficult times. He has been faithful all these years, even when I wasn’t. The greatest joy for me has always been seeing someone lost in their sin finding salvation in Jesus! I’m so happy that God gave me a heart to love him at an early age. The Church has always been a very important part of my life and I’m so thankful for the leadership, friends and the training received over all these years. I’m grateful God has and still gives me opportunities to serve Him and share my faith. Serving the Lord Jesus with a Godly husband is a very special blessing plus, I love being on the missionary staff of Menorah Ministries. Most of all, I’m looking forward to the day we will join Jesus. What a day of rejoicing that will be!
But as for me, I will always have hope; I will praise you more and more.
My mouth will tell of your righteousness, of your salvation all day long,
though I know not its’ measure. I will come and proclaim your mighty acts,
O Sovereign Lord. Since my youth you have taught me and to this day
I declare your marvelous deeds. Even when I am old and gray,
O God, do not forsake me, until I declare your strength to this generation,
your power to all who are to come. For your righteousness,
O God, reaches to the heavens, you have done great things;
O God who is like you? Psalm 71:14-19
__ Donna Drebenstedt lives in Denver, Colorado with her husband Messianic Jewish Pastor Reuben Drebenstedt and serves as a full time missionary with Menorah. She has a special burden for children and ministering to women. Donna has addressed such call as a speaker and teacher.__
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