I am a born-again Christian delighting in and claiming God’s promises!
I grew up worshiping in a non-denominational church in Erie, Pennsylvania. At age 12, I was baptized. Every summer, my sister and I attended Camp Agape, a wonderful church camp in New York. Even with all this exposure to Jesus, my relationship to Him wasn’t an integral part of my identity. In other words, my faith was still only part of who I was.
But it was a big enough part that I chose to attend a Christian college–what is now Ohio Valley University, in Parkersburg, WV. I loved the feel of the small campus, Christian leaders, daily chapel and Bible classes. In my junior year, I transferred to a sister college, now Oklahoma Christian University. There I found my calling, to teach English as a Foreign Language (TEFL). My plan was to support myself as a teacher so I could enter the mission field.
After three years of living abroad, I came back to the United States. Since I was between teaching jobs, I took the opportunity to run to the eye doctor. My intention was to get a stronger prescription for my glasses. Instead, I learned I had an incurable hereditary vision disorder called Retinitis Pigmentosa and was told I would go blind. I had to choose whether to change my career goals and stay in the United States or trust God wherever I found work abroad. After an intense few weeks of crying out to God, I chose the latter. My faith had begun to deepen.
God blessed that trust for several years. My teaching career took me to Colombia, Costa Rica, Indonesia, Japan, Egypt, Taiwan and the United Arab Emirates. I was thrilled to live and travel in such diverse cultures, to learn new languages and also share God’s word.
I taught in private schools, language institutes, colleges and military language programs. At the same time I worked with churches in the area. In Egypt, I was the only westerner in a congregation of Sudanese refugees. I cherished the variety of people I worshiped with around the world and the churches that help me grow. Even so, I still needed to mature in my faith.
In 1995, I married a Captain in the Egyptian army, a Muslim. Although many people tried to dissuade me, I stubbornly clung to my belief that we could make our mixed-faith marriage a success–and I would one day influence him for Christ. We overcame five-years of obstacles to start our lives together. Finally, he joined me in a third country, the United Arab Emirates, and we could live as husband and wife. From the onset, our separate faiths divided us. In trying to conceive, I lost twins and had a miscarriage in a second pregnancy.These losses, combined with political and cultural differences, affected our marriage. Because we didn’t have a shared belief system as our foundation, our relationship crumbled over the next couple of years.
Forced to adjust to the loss of our children and eventually, my marriage, I clung to God’s Word. In the valleys I faced in the United Arab Emirates, God always placed key people in my life to spur me on to a deeper faith.
My vision loss makes it necessary to use a white cane. Since 2006, I started noticing difficulty in my hearing. In 2009, I learned I had Usher Syndrome, the leading cause of deaf blindness in the world. I wear digital hearing aids to help me hear better. Coping with hearing loss is very challenging but God remains faithful. As I lose more physical vision, God heightens my spiritual vision. He ministers to me all the time.
Today I’m the first to admit my faith walk isn’t where I want it to be, but God gives me new mercies every day. Now there is only ONE Amy–the secular and Christian merged to form the woman I am today–adventuresome, optimistic and passionate about God’s love.
God has such a sense of humor! It always makes me laugh when I think about how He let me–a map-challenged young woman losing her vision–loose on the world. Though I haven’t always been comfortable as a teacher, it was this door that allowed me to live in other cultures, develop strong and caring relationships with local people and minister to others. For that I am forever grateful.
In Sept 2012, I gave up my 25-year teaching career. I took up a full-time writing and speaking ministry to educate others about vision and hearing loss, and to encourage those coping with blindness and deafness. If you would like to contribute to my ministry, any amount would be appreciated. Thank you.
All glory to Him!