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God Comforted Me - Mary's Story

by Mary McAlister

For as long as I can remember, my family was afflicted with generational sin—addiction to alcohol, abuse, and immorality. Church on Sunday was a social event. I can say with complete truthfulness that I’m a woman with a spiritual heritage of darkness. A series of tragedies struck my family in the early ‘60s, culminating with my father's death due to cancer right after my sixth birthday. The aftermath of his death sent my family into a tailspin of despair, and my mother turned to alcohol to cope with her depression. Fast forward to my sixth-grade year. I had a bold and godly teacher who did a brief Bible study and prayer before opening a textbook. I left her classroom that May with a longing for "something" that lay in the realm of the spiritual, but I did not know what it was. 

During the summer after ninth grade, I went to a Christian camp with my youth group and heard the gospel for the first time. The Holy Spirit convicted me of my lost condition, and I realized that Christ died on the cross to pay the price for my sins. With new life in my heart, I returned to a family that misunderstood my new faith, and much persecution and pain followed. Strangely enough, from time to time, we would drive up and down Augusta Road right here in Greenville, and I found myself curious about a place called Southside Baptist Church (now Fellowship Greenville). My curiosity was satisfied in 1981 when I went next door to borrow an onion and found myself standing in the hallway with a former neighbor. She asked me if I knew the Lord. I said yes, and she broke the news that she spent years praying for my salvation. I related the story of how I came to salvation, and she was overjoyed. And guess which church she attended—Southside Baptist Church (FG)! I knew I wanted to be a part of that community of believers one day. 

Fast-forward to the early 1990s… my mother passed away from cirrhosis, and the pastor who came to her bedside turned out to be a graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary. He was one of the kindest, strongest, wisest men I had ever met, and I never forgot his compassion during the darkest day of my life. A few years later, I found out that Southside (FG) had called a pastor who was a Dallas graduate. I joined the church, and the rest is history.

Since then, the myriad of changes and victories I have won began with a new understanding of something called grace. I knew the day I trusted Christ that my sins were placed on Jesus when he died for me. I learned that his righteousness had been placed on me and that God doesn’t see me as the child of a family broken by sin. He sees the righteousness of his only Son, and he is not angry with me. I have grown so much over the years, and God is healing the shame and bitterness that held me captive for so long. The most amazing blessing I’ve had has been God's call to be a caregiver on the Care team at Fellowship Greenville. My call to ministry and my life purpose can be summed up by 2 Corinthians 1:4. God comforted me in my trouble so that I may be able to comfort others with the comfort given to me. To him alone be the glory!

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