Journey to Jesus
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She remembered her husband screaming at her, telling her not to go to church in Winter Haven, Florida. She replayed the abuse in her marriage and the cocaine and the exotic dancing and her brief stint in jail — and the unyielding voice in her head that shouted that she could never be enough. She had failed her family. She had shamed her parents who had raised her to love Jesus.
Above her thoughts and her shame, though, she heard a different voice.
Are you ready yet? she heard whispered. Have you had enough? Will you let me in?
Determination gripped her fingers as she coiled them tighter around the steering wheel. Five more miles to the church.
Suddenly, the car started shaking to the right and the left. She checked her dashboard. No oil gauge issues. She had a full gas tank. What was happening?
Then it clicked. And with a clear voice, she began audibly rebuking her enemy.
I’m tired of you winning, Satan, she shouted. This has got to stop! I need victory. Jesus, I need you!
The automobile stopped shuddering, and Vasquez pulled into the parking lot. With a deep breath, she walked into the church her older brother JJ Vasquez had planted five years earlier in 2014. She sat in the front row and absorbed every word. She felt as though the sermon spoke directly to her. As JJ concluded and gave an invitation for salvation, she couldn’t raise her hand fast enough.
Vicky Vasquez said yes to Jesus.
When JJ looked down from the pulpit that Sunday and saw his sister’s hand in the air to receive salvation, he choked up. The words that always came naturally caught in his throat as he locked eyes with his sister. With tears streaming down his face, he led his sister and others in the church in a sinner’s prayer.
As he reflects on that life-changing encounter, JJ remembers the days leading up to that Sunday, as Journey Church wrapped up 21 days of prayer and fasting. His sister’s name topped his prayer list — as it had for a decade and a half.
“It was 15 years of prayer and hope and faith and anticipation wrapped up in one moment,” says JJ, a featured speaker at last year’s General Council in Orlando. “It was 15 years of pain, seeing her take a path that wasn’t God’s best for her. Praise God that He had another plan.”
Today, JJ, who also serves as development coordinator for the Assemblies of God Church Multiplication Network, keeps Vicky on his prayer list with a line through her name. It’s a testimony of the answer to long-term prayer, and a reminder that the people who may seem irredeemable are within God’s reach.
“One of the reasons God asks us to pray for things, and maybe why we pray for them for so long, is because we value the result when it happens,” says JJ, 35. “The things God deposits in your heart to pray for can be prophetic, and when you’re persistent, you see the connection between your prayer and God’s goodness.”
JJ and his wife, Liz, have had to rely on God’s strength to get them through more than one occasion. They endured tragic loss in 2015 with the death of their newborn son Journey due to heart and kidney problems.
Since Vicky’s salvation Sunday in 2019, her life has been transformed forever. She began bringing her five children to church and repeatedly gave herself to the process of change that God led her through. Her former ways of life didn’t disappear overnight, but she says her brokenness has become a mosaic of God’s redemption and faithfulness.
Vicky, 31, is now an integral part of Journey Church, which has a weekly attendance of over 1,000. She is involved in serving teams, small groups, and the worship team. She has led the church’s Freedom class, a 12-week curriculum that seeks to break bondages and teaches people how to build a relationship with Christ.
Ultimately, Vicky says she is grateful for the redeeming work of Jesus and the grace she’s found through her family and church. She hopes her testimony can stand as a reminder that no one is ever too lost for God.
“One of the biggest lies Satan can tell you is that you’re too far gone,” Vicky says. “I believed that for years, and my life derailed. Your brokenness does not disqualify you for the freedom Jesus freely gives. My story is messy, but my hope is that it shows other people that Jesus’ arms are still open for them.”