Embracing Your Brokenness

The steadfast, quiet strength of the mountains was in complete juxtaposition to the racing thoughts and untamed fear I felt as I sat looking at them. Today was the day. Today. This afternoon. It was here. In a few hours I would be standing up in front of the entire camp and, with the aid of an interpreter, sharing my testimony for the first time. I wasn’t ready for this, and I doubted they were ready either. Those that asked me to share had no idea what my story really was. They knew that it was edgy enough to encourage them to put me in charge of the “troubled” girls at this youth camp, but they didn’t really understand. I was a mess, and if they only knew…

I had only been a believer for three months when I traveled to Romania on a mission trip. My whole spiritual journey that first year had been accelerated. God gave me 6 years to “build my testimony” before I hit rock bottom. When He had finished scraping me off the floor, He set me on a fast track and I felt so unqualified for the opportunities He was giving me. I didn’t realize at the time that my lack of qualifications was exactly why I was usable to Him. I had been sent with a team to the mountains of Surduc to minister to a group of Romanian teenagers, and I had been seeing little fruit with the girls I was placed over. They weren’t interested in anything I had to say and spent most of their time ignoring me completely. In some cruel twist of fate, I was asked to share my story and I was sure I was going to lose my girls completely. No one would take me seriously once they found out where I had come from. What was even harder for me was the thought that the other leaders would lose all respect for me and not count me as worthy to serve alongside them.

As I sat looking out at the mountains that morning, trying to focus on the Bible in my lap, I mindlessly flipped through until I landed at 1 Timothy. I looked down and the words I read challenged my perspective and shaped my future radio ministry.

1 Timothy 1:15-16: The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display His perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in Him for eternal life.

I wasn’t a fraud, I was an example. My past wasn’t a travesty, it was a testimony. My story wasn’t to be shamed, it was a gift.

I stood up that night and shared a story of sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll, and God moved. A young boy came up to me late, asking an interpreter to assist. His first words were, “I need to tell you my story, because my story is your story.” Later that night the girls I was in charge of collectively asked to sit down and chat with me. They didn’t see in me some pariah, they saw someone who would understand. Every one of them chose Christ that night. Romania was a different world from what I was used to. My tribulations at 22 were what they were experiencing at 14. My past doubts, addictions, and shame were what they knew as day-to-day life. On that day 9 years ago I decided that I would never again hide my brokenness out of fear and shame. My testimony was one the greatest gifts God had given me. It was how I was going to reach the lost.

Nearly a decade, two kids, and a radio ministry later, I still live by this conviction. I strive to be as transparent on air and with my kids as I reasonably can me. In my home, the greatest lesson I can teach my kids is not how to be perfect, but how to respond when I’m not. My radio ministry has looked very similar. God is regularly demonstrating how far a little vulnerability can go in helping someone understand that they are loved and that they are not alone.

You have been given a story. Your story may be dramatic, or safe. It may demonstrate radical grace, or patient endurance. The story you’ve been given has been given to you for a reason, as has your platform in radio. You are a media missionary, with the unique ability to reach thousands of souls every time you crack the mic. Next time you prep your show, consider asking God how He might want to use your brokenness to reach the hurting- how through you,“Jesus Christ might display His perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in Him for eternal life.”

Summer Shepherd
WNWC / Afternoons & Listener Engagement Director

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