My Testimony: In the Beginning

So what holds us back? This is part of my testimony. To understand my journey and relationship with church, there was a long road that led to now. 

My avoidance of church has included everything from boredom to cynicism to hurt.

I started life as a missionary kid, living each day in community. When my parents moved us back to the states, church took on a very different form.

Church in Nepal had been a community of messed up drifters, ex-hippies that found themselves wandering the old hippy trail, and locals. They were sinners, but they were also seekers. Malnourished and longing for sustenance for the soul, they knew they didn’t have it altogether and so they sought answers. The gospel. They gobbled up grace like the starving, feasting upon His goodness.

Dependence on God was as commonplace as anything. They were searching and He was showing up. We saw God move in the midst of the muck. This may have been the idealism of my childish eyes, but these were the days when God was good and powerful and provident.


But there is a cost to be counted when you move your family to foreign land, plant stakes in the devil’s territory and venture into the darkness as obedient servants. And the cost was high. I very nearly died as a child.

When we came back to the states and my leukemia was gone, the doctors urged my parents to keep me out of the third world until I was stronger. They settled back into lives that never quite fit them. Their hearts were always on the mission field.

My grandmother had been acting strange and was diagnosed with Alzheimers soon after our return. Her health and mental state was in rapid decline and my parents took on her care.

We moved to Albuquerque and settled down for the long haul, buying a fixer upper in an upper middle class neighborhood. Getting jobs, doing life and yet we never really belonged to a church for any length of time.

We were suffering from culture shock and problems with re-entry. Now they have books and missionary preparations that talk about the struggles dealt with when thrust back into a culture they left but found they no longer related to. But then, there was no one paving the way to make peace with the situation they found themselves in; living in suburbia in a churched culture.

American church was a disappointment. Lip service was common. Materialism was rampant. Bodies filled pews deadened to anything beyond a tidy message and some platitudes about being a good Christian which meant not drinking, smoking, having premarital sex and tithing regularly. My parent’s hearts turned to bitterness and it bled out of them into their children.

There was no body like them. No one who clicked and got it. We were a third culture family, neither here nor there. We disconnected completely and that led to the next nine years. Some of the worst in my life. Because you’re either obedient to God where He has you, or you push so hard against your circumstances that you destroy everything around you. And over the next nine years, everything around us was destroyed.



  1. says

    Wow, what an interesting story you have. Sounds like there is much to tell within its layers. Thank you for sharing this with us. I have never read a testimony like yours before. Look forward to knowing more as you are ready to publish.

    • Alia Joy says

      Thanks Jennifer. I appreciate your encouragement and your support as I share. Just praying for wisdom of what to say and how to say it. I could write a book but this is the readers digest version. ;)

    • Alia Joy says

      Yes, culture shock is huge and this was back in the early 80′s and 90′s and it wasn’t talked about a lot. I think we do a better overall job of preparing missionaries or people living overseas now but it’s still crazy to come to a culture and find you just don’t quite fit anymore. Was that the first time you’d been back to the States, for college?

  2. says

    So glad you didn’t swat that fly that persistently buzzed by, Alia Joy! So glad you listened. Honoring & enjoying the story you alone can tell. Knowing the glory that comes from this. My best. Paula

  3. says

    ‘Because you’re either obedient to God where He has you, or you push so hard against your circumstances that you destroy everything around you.’

    So much truth. Coming back to Bend was so not in my plans after inner-city ministry and then missions. But he has had me here now for how many years? God, don’t you know that you have me in the wrong place? :)

    I have always loved your story.

    • Alia Joy says

      It never is our plan, huh Kathi? God has a way of rerouting. I feel like the GPS that keeps going off as I drive, rerouting., rerouting. LOL You have to embrace the wrong turns or you’ll never find your way.

  4. Ruth Hagenbach says

    This is such a good job of sharing your Church experience!! Interestingly everyone has a different story of their experience with church. We all have been shaped so differently and how we live is an outcome of that. Our own experience with being involved with Deaf Church for so many years….its just so different than church I grew up with. Thank you for sharing and keep on helping people to think thru their own lives and what church means to them. Love you.

    • Alia Joy says

      Yes, I’ve been really blessed to hear so many different stories in the comments, emails, and link up about what church is to people. There is so much there and I’m still sorting it out too but I know it’s close to God’s heart and an important discussion to have. Thanks and love you too!

  5. says

    I’m loving hearing all this. I’m catching up sporadically since we are in the midst of moving, but thank you for sharing. And I liked your link up from a few days ago. I think this topic is much more prevalent than I knew. It’s reassuring to know that others feel similar to myself. I think I grew up thinking if you didn’t go to church all the time it was a definite sign something was wrong with your faith. And I rarely hear anyone talk of struggles with going to church, so keep talkin’, sista! Discussion is always good.

    • Alia Joy says

      So glad you could join in when possible. Because seriously moving is my least favorite thing to do and I’ve done it a lot! I can barely function, let alone get online and catch up with blogs so I’m blessed to have you here when you can spare a moment. Glad you can relate to the struggles. There are a ton of us out there that are finding our way, grasping at grace, and praying for wisdom. And God always shows up when we ask Him so I’m right there with you, on the journey.


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