Discipleship Explored: Meet Judy
The new Discipleship Explored features brand-new documentary-style films and inspiring real-life stories from around the world. We thought we'd introduce you to some of the people in front of the cameras.
This is Judy's story.
I grew up in Southern California in a very unsettled blended family environment. I moved every year of my life while I was growing up so there was no sense of stability. My father was an alcoholic and sometimes abusive. Our household was full of conflict.
A story that stuck with me
My father was a Catholic and as a child I would attend catechism classes. I used to hate them but one day, when I was about six years old, one of the nuns told a story that stuck with me, and was instrumental in my conversion decades later.
She told me the story of King Solomon (1 Kings 3:16-28). If you don’t know the story, it’s about two women and their two babies. One woman accidentally kills her child in the night, and decides to swap the dead child with the living one. The living child’s real mother realises what has happened and takes the case to the King.
The King listens to the case and because both women claim the living child is theirs, judges that the baby should be cut in two, so they can each have part of him. One of the women agrees to this plan immediately, but the other cries that the baby’s life must be spared at all costs, even if it means the child can’t stay with her. This proves to the wise King that she is the real mother and the case is resolved.
This story blew my mind. It showed a woman who was willing to give up what she loved to save what she loved. It’s a picture of the Gospel and one that I’ve kept coming back to nearly every day of my life. It’s the story that made the Gospel make sense to me when I heard it years later.
At the time, this story of sacrificial love, wonderful though it was, felt more like a myth than reality. I hadn’t ever seen or experienced this kind of love, and I didn’t believe it really existed.
Throughout the rest of my childhood and teens, as we moved from place to place, I’d often go to church, either with my mother or my siblings, but it was hard to settle into a church community as we moved so often.
I remember when we lived in New Mexico I found out about a local Baptist church, and I called them to ask whether they picked people up in a bus to take them to church. They did, and they would pick me up with my brother and take us along on Sundays.
However, I wasn’t sold on Christianity and in my teens I explored other faiths too, even becoming a Messianic Jew for a time.
Then when my parents divorced, I became angry with God.
Change of heart
I married young and my son was born in my early twenties. He was very ill with a heart condition. Throughout this time I had a sense of God’s presence with us. Before one of his operations, the paediatric surgeon asked if he could pray for us. We prayed together in his office and I thought it was amazing that this skilled doctor believed in talking to God and was willing to do this in front of us.
God really prepared my heart during my son’s illness to receive the Gospel.
When I was 27, I was working in a digital equipment company and one of my co-workers invited my husband and I to a Bible study. Little did we know at the time, but he and his wife had set up this Bible study just for us!
We went through the book of John, and as I encountered Jesus in the Gospel I was reminded again of the truth I had learnt as a six-year-old: I had found someone who really was willing to give up what he loved to save what he loved.
Where am I now?
My husband and I stayed in the church for a few years until they sent us off to seminary - we had so many questions!
From there, I trained as a counsellor and then became a certified Christian Conciliator. Being reconciled with God through the saving work of Jesus Christ and knowing the pain of destructive conflict make me passionate about peacemaking.
I have logged more than 25,000 hours of reconciliation ministry in coaching, mediation, consulting, and education. I have enjoyed the privilege of educating future pastors and counselors and training over ten thousand individuals in the US and abroad on how to apply biblical principles in the midst of painful and complicated conflict.
The gospel of Jesus Christ has remained my central focus over the years.
Judy lives in St Louis with her husband and is founder of Creative Conciliation
More of Judy’s story features in the new Discipleship Explored, which is available to order now from The Good Book Company