Today, Rochelle speaks to us about staying in His presence, the club night that changed her life, and her covenant crew.
Tell us a bit about how you grew up and your childhood: I was born and raised in Greenville, NC. My grandfather was a deacon and my mother and father are both pastors, so I grew up not only in church, but in ministry. My mom jokes about how I used to sit in the pulpit with her from when I was born to when I was about 3 years old- then I’d sit on the front row with the mothers and deacons. *laughs*
But, I didn’t just grow up in church, I grew up in ministry, and I grew in Christ. There’s a difference. You can be in church all of your life and still not know the Lord – that’s a scary thing. My mother had a home for homeless women and children named Zoe House. It was not a halfway house but rather a one-year program where women could come with their children after drug abuse or incarceration and be assisted in getting their lives back on track through the teaching of the Word of God. We also did a lot of tent revivals and ministering to the homeless at shelters and drug addicts and prostitutes in the streets. I loved it!
“You can be in church all of your life and still not know the Lord – that’s a scary thing.”
Inspiring biblical passage of the moment: There are 4 biblical passages that are inspiring to me. Anytime I feel weary or begin to get distracted, these passages come to mind reminding me of my purpose and why I can’t slack off and can’t quit.
• “If you keep silent at this time, liberation and deliverance will come to the Jewish people from another place, but you and your father’s house will be destroyed. Who knows, perhaps you have come to your royal position for such a time as this.”
Esther 4:14 HCSB
• “So I sent messengers to them, saying, ‘I am doing a great work and cannot come down. Why should the work cease while I leave it and go down to you?’ Four times they sent me the same proposal, and I gave them the same reply.”
Nehemiah 6:3-4 HCSB
• “No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him.”
2 Timothy 2:4 ESV
• “I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength to do his work. He considered me trustworthy and appointed me to serve him,”
1 Timothy 1:12 NLT
Spiritual growth focus at the moment: Currently, my focus is on growing in discipline, prayer and my understanding of the spiritual realm.
Profession: I am a second-year graduate student pursuing a Master’s in Social Work. I will become a licensed clinical social worker advocating for and assisting persons suffering from mental illness and battling substance dependency.
If you wrote a memoir, what would the title be? If I were to write a memoir, I’d title it, “Called Higher”. I would title the book as such because for a great portion of my life, I was content living lower than the life Christ called me to and created me for. I’m grateful that an encounter with Christ at 19 years of age revealed to me just how complacent, lackadaisical and lukewarm I had been in my relationship with Him.
When did you first encounter God and how did you encounter Him? To be honest, I remember as a young child having communion with God. I have just always been aware that He was there. In school, if I couldn’t remember an answer for a test, I’d ask Him and He’d tell me. I remember in 5th grade we were playing jeopardy to study history and geography. When it was my turn, the question had me and my team stumped. I don’t recall what the question was, but I do remember that no one had any idea of the answer nor did we remember even covering the topic in class. Then I heard a voice say, “Cape Cod”, so I repeated it and my team got the points for the correct answer.
Though I remember being close to God and hearing Him, I fell back hard when I got to college. I started partying with my friends every weekend as this was a new and exciting experience to me. To add to the party lifestyle, I also had the nerve to be self-righteous justifying my sins as being okay because “they weren’t as bad” as the sins of those around me. I thought that because I wasn’t drinking or smoking that I was okay. I felt that since I was “just dancing with my friends” I wasn’t as bad as those around me in the club or at the house party. I felt ‘holier than thou’ because I still found my way to church every Sunday and Bible study every Tuesday.
Then one night, I remember seeing a fellow church member at the club. I instantly thought in a disgusted and disappointed tone, “what is she doing here?” And God snatched me right up and responded, “and what are you doing here?”. Just as I felt she had no business in the club, neither did I. I was called to more than that. I was settling for an identity the world was trying to use to mask my true identity in Christ.
That night in the club, Christ sent a wake-up call. I was done clubbing and partying. I was set apart and called to draw others out of the world, not get caught up and sucked into it.
Later on, towards the very end of my sophomore year of college, my boyfriend from freshman year broke up with me out of nowhere. I was crushed and in disbelief, but regret none of it. I am so grateful for it because that was the last jerk that I needed to really push me fully in pursuit of Christ’s Presence. Following the break-up, Sowfull really began to thrive in that my study of the Word increased and my focus was more tuned in to what God had to say to me and those who were connected to Sowfull. I felt God closely and heard Him clearly.
“I instantly thought in a disgusted and disappointed tone, ‘what is she doing here?’ And God snatched me right up and responded, ‘and what are you doing here?'”
What has helped you grow spiritually in this season? Covenant connections have helped me grow in this spiritual season. I have a handful of friends who really tell me like it is, they call me out on things, and give me righteous rebukes but they also motivate me, they inspire me, they support me, they cover me in prayer. I can be feeling low or discouraged and, one conversation with them, and I feel empowered. They push me to be the woman Christ created and called me to be. The allow me to be transparent and be myself without judgement and then remind me of who I am in Christ. They allow me to vent but don’t allow me to throw pity parties. They are a COVENANT crew.
Just read/currently reading (and what has it taught you?): Unashamed by Lecrae, Pigs in the Parlor by Frank and Ida Mae Hammond, Unmasking the Devil by John Ramirez, Crazy Love by Francis Chan, Radical by David Platt and Follow Me by David Platt are some books that I have read recently that I absolutely love and totally recommend for every believer!! They challenge your mindset and open you up to a broader perspective and greater biblical/spiritual view of the world we live in. These books have taught me many different things. They’ve shown me the desire that God has for intimacy with His children, they’ve shown me the importance of living an unashamed life, they’ve taught me about spiritual matters such as demon oppression and possession, they’ve taught me the way the spiritual realm operates legally. These books have helped me see on a deeper level than just the physical.
At the moment, I am reading Secrets of the Seer by Jamie Galloway. There is so much insight and revelation jam packed in this book concerning angelic encounters, miracles and how God operates. Any believer seeking to see through spiritual eyes should read this book! They should also read Heaven Awaits the Bride by Anna Rountree.
Top three essentials: On a day-to-day basis my top three essentials would definitely have to be my phone for one — it has everything on it. It has my music, my virtual Bible, the apps and sites that I use for Sowfull and more! Another essential would be my miscellaneous pouch. It holds my headphones, pens, a sharpie and my adapter that I use for in-person t-shirt sales on my phone. My third essential would be my wallet for obvious reasons.
How did God speak to you recently? Most recently, God has spoken to me through impressing a message on my heart and then confirming it with a song that randomly got played at church during prayer (we pray for 30min before service to set the atmosphere for service) and then through the mouth of one of the pastors who led the opening prayer before worship.
Hobby: My hobbies include trying new foods with friends (people call me the food connoisseur, lol), traveling and planning – I really enjoy planning whether it be a clothing line, event or celebration.
Top three practical tips for staying spiritually strong:
• Minimize the voices in your ear. We drain ourselves by allowing so many people to give us their opinions or their advice on how this walk with Christ should go, when really, it looks different for each of us. We were each uniquely made and God expects and desires a unique relationship with each of us.
• Kill the comparisons. The more you try to pray like the next person, study like the next person and witness like the next person, the more weary you will become. Be yourself in this thing. God created you the way you are for a reason. He has you where you are for a reason. Move at the pace God has set for you. Stay focused on Him. When you look to the left and right at those in the race around you, you begin to slow down, stumble or even fall.
• STAY IN HIS FACE!! I once heard a woman say “the devil is trying to wear you out”. And it’s true, he is. The devil knows that he can’t stop us so he tries to wear us out which is why Luke 18:1 says that “men ought always pray and faint not”. To stay spiritually strong, Jesus Christ often withdrew (Luke 5:16) to speak with the Father and when He did, an angel(s) would come and strengthen Him (Luke 22:43). If the Savior had to stay on His face before the Father, we most definitely need to do the same.
Favorite person in scripture? My favorite person in the Word would have to be Paul. I know people probably expect for someone to respond with, “Jesus”. I absolutely love Jesus, but He isn’t just someone in the Word, He IS the Word. There’d be no scripture without Him. I respect and revere that, but have to choose Paul because of how he inspires me through his letters in the Word and how he lived his life.
This man went from Saul who pursued and persecuted Christians to encountering Christ, becoming Paul and radically preaching the Gospel to any and everyone in sight. I was in Greece this past June and was able to visit Paul’s Harbor and Paul’s Rock. These were two locations in Greece where Paul witnessed and preached to thousands unashamed. His radical love and obedience to Christ helps inspire and fuel my zeal.
“I absolutely love Jesus, but He isn’t just someone in the Word, He IS the Word.”
What do you want people to learn about God when they look at you? When people look at me, I want for them to learn of God’s love, grace and sacrifice (John 3:16). I want for them to know that He is a loving and just God. That He doesn’t wish for any to perish, that He desires for all to turn away from their sin and turn to Him so that He may cleanse them from their sins and shower them with His love (1 John 1:9 & Jeremiah 31:3).
How do you leave your mark on your community? This may sound cliché, but I don’t ever really think about how to leave my mark on my community. I just look to make an impact for Christ. I do this by being intentional about what I say, do and how I carry myself as an image bearer of Christ. I always say, many won’t read the Bible but they’ll read you, so reflect God in all you do.
Favorite holiday? My favorite holiday is Christmas. I enjoy the feeling of love that’s in the air and enjoy the Hallmark Holiday movies. I also cherish the nostalgic feelings of the old Christmas shows and classic Christmas movies on ABC Family.
A goal you have? I have many short term and long term goals but overall, they can be summed up in this: My goal in life is to become a licensed clinical social worker, be financially stable, be an amazing wife and mother, travel the world and fulfill my God ordained purpose.
Question you will ask when you get to heaven? I literally thought on this question for 12hrs. I don’t know what I’d want to ask when I get to Heaven. I used to wonder what may have been Jesus’ favorite food while on earth or if He ever got in trouble with Mary as a young boy.
I used to have questions about what Jesus’ siblings were like, and I also at times wonder if Mary had labor pains when delivering Jesus. However, any questions that come to mind I feel will already be made known to me upon arriving in Heaven or will no longer matter to me in light of finally seeing God’s face.
Thing you want to raise awareness about: I will raise awareness about mental illness, I will raise awareness about substance abuse, and I will raise awareness about spiritual warfare/oppression.
What does your morning routine consist of? I start the day with one of my many playlists. It may be a compilation of Pastor Steven Furtick’s short inspirational/motivational tracks, a playlist of Christian Rap from Reach Records and independent artists, a playlist of instrumental music by minstrels or a Gospel/worship playlist consisting of artists such as Elevation Worship, Tasha Cobbs, Kirk Franklin, Jonathan Traylor and Mosaic MSC.
What is on your nightstand? On my nightstand are my Bible, the current book that I am reading and various journals. I have a journal for writing prayers, one for taking notes when studying the Word and a journal for jotting down ideas for Sowfull. I also have a notebook for writing memory verses over and over to help with memorization and another notebook for reviewing my French and learning Italian.
Define Christianity in a sentence: Christianity is having a personal, intimate relationship with Christ that not only transforms you but exudes from you, transforming all those around you.
Until next time, keep witnessing!