Well, bishop, I had already seen some videos, reports and documentaries about Lizzie. All of them made me very emotional because of her determination, but this one, in particular, made me see a different side of her.

Every time I saw something about her, I imagined how her life must be, but not this time… This time it was about me. I remembered how I came to the Universal Church, when I was just 14 years old. I had many “friends”, was “happy” and always made everyone laugh. However, no one imagined what was inside of me.

When I was just 7 years old my uncle abused me. When I was 8-9 years old, the same thing happened, but this time it was my aunt’s neighbor. By the age of 11, my life seemed meaningless. At the age of 12 I began drinking, smoking cigarettes and sleeping around with several men. Though I was never actually a prostitute. But the rest…

Well, bishop, this was how I came to Church. Nobody knew about all this. Nobody even imagined it. When I was younger, I always heard my mother’s aunt complain a lot about my mother. So when all of this started happening to me, I preferred to keep it to myself before everyone blamed my mother for it (and because I thought I was to blame for all of these things that happened).

I was always a reserved person. But when I was with my friends, I was always the one goofing off the most, so everyone wanted to be around me. However, when I came home, only God knows what I went through. How many times did I fall asleep while crying, wondering why I was born? There was an internal abyss within me and I never told anyone.

I thought about killing myself several times. But I always thought that somehow my life could change.

I remember the first time I came to Church, at the age of 12, on a Friday night. But I remember not being able to understand anything the pastor was saying. I just remember that there were several people manifested, and I even thought it was all a lie because that’s what I had heard before coming.

I ended up going for two or three weeks, on Tuesdays and Fridays, but since I couldn’t concentrate and didn’t want to be there, nothing changed in my life and that was when I sank deeper into the alcohol.

I thought this was going to fill the void I had inside. But after 2 years, I remember that a simple saleswoman knocked on my door and asked to speak to my mother, because she wanted to talk about her products. After she spoke with my mother, I walked her out to the gate. That’s when she invited me.

She asked if I had ever gone to a Youth Group meeting. I said no. She explained that she was an assistant and that she would like to pick me up next Saturday to attend the Youth Group meeting.

At first I refused, but I ended up agreeing and she came to pick me up. In the beginning I attended every meeting because of the games and tribe competitions, until one day, I listened to a message.

At the time, it was the assistant pastor who took care of the Youth Group. I heard something that would change my life. He said that no matter how big the void we had inside, only God had the power to fill it. He even mentioned the nights we fell asleep crying.

I felt like he knew who I was.

Actually, he did know me because it was God was speaking. I remember as if it was yesterday, September 30, 2007. I heard those words and decided to change my life, and that this God everyone was speaking about was going to do this.

Today I am here, happy, full of the Holy Spirit, and now I know why I was born. God chose me and I am going to cherish this.

God bless you all.

Erika…

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