Today, Andrea shares her powerful story of grief and early loss, about addicitons and giving hope to others.
Tell us a bit about yourself: Hello! My name is Andrea. I grew up in a loving Christian home in Albuquerque, NM, under the teachings of Pastor Skip Heitzeg. I was always a bit more rebellious in my high school years, choosing friends and parties over family and Jesus, however I never ever stopped loving God and going to church.
At the age of 18, I decided to attend Calvary Chapel Bible College for all the wrong reasons and almost got kicked out my first semester. When I returned for my second semester, I made a full-blown commitment to Jesus. I realized this world had nothing for me, and I wanted and needed Jesus. It is there where my testimony starts, after I met my amazing husband Brent Yim.
At a young age, I became a pastor’s wife and my husband and I traveled the world and served Jesus in ministry together. I graduated Bible college and became a teacher there; my husband was a campus teacher, as well. We moved to Maui and ran the Bible College there until we came back to Murrieta, serving another 7 years there.
Shortly after we took over a small community church where Brent became the Senior Pastor, God blessed us with two little ones. Things were perfect. We had the perfect family and the perfect ministry and life– until the day our lives changed. Brent was diagnosed with brain cancer, and he had 12 months to live. As a human, I couldn’t even wrap my brain around this. We fought hard. We did radiation and chemotherapy, Eastern and Western medications for 14 months until May 8, 2012, when God saw it fit to take Brent home.
There, I was left to grieve the love of my life, my best friend, and the father to my children. I had become a widow and single mom at the age of twenty-eight. Life never prepared me for such a journey. My faith was really tested, and I began to question the existence of God.
When did you first encounter God and how did you encounter Him? [The story above] was my true encounter with God. How could I actually walk alone in this life, grieving for myself and for my children? As I lay on the floor one night crying, I began to use Scripture against God; kinda like what Satan did in the wilderness, “You say you’re a good God. How is any of this good?”
“You say if the elders lay hands on the sick they will be healed.” It was at that moment God spoke to me saying, “Andrea, you either love me for who I say I am or you don’t and you walk away from your faith.” I chose at that moment, knowing this world is empty to walk into the arms of Jesus.
How would you describe Jesus? Jesus is God. The One who has never ever left me and has met all of my needs. He cares for not only the birds of the air but for His children. He hears our cries, and He comforts. He uses storms to shape our character and to prove to others He is alive and desires that all should come to Him so that we can have eternal life.
How has your relationship with Him changed you? My relationship with Him has changed me because He is all I have. I began to teach all over the country, and I wrote a book. He has used my story to heal marriages and to bring people to their knees.
What has helped you grow spiritually in this season? Most of us don’t want to talk about death, but having an eternal perspective has really helped me grow. To set my eyes on the prize, heaven.
Just read/currently reading (and what has it taught you?): Recently, God has been teaching me that He never promised us an easy life. He is more concerned about our spiritual well-being than He is anything else, and He’ll allow storms to mature us. Our character is the only thing we take to heaven with us.
“He is more concerned about our spiritual well-being than He is anything else, and He’ll allow storms to mature us.”
Top three essentials: Look up and to Him, no matter what. Never sit in your sorrows; it’s ok to not be ok, but it’s not ok to stay there.
Hobby: Singing, family life and writing. I have written one book and am writing my second book now.
Top three practical tips for staying spiritually strong: Read, pray, fellowship.
Favorite person in Scripture? Joseph has to be my favorite person. To know he didn’t deserve all that was handed to him YET he still worshiped God!! He never played the pity party but embraced the life he was handed.
What do you want people to learn about God when they look at you? I want people to see that when life looks like it’s over, there is always more to give. When addictions take over because of pain, God will give us the tools to overcome. My life is a testimony to what HE desires. I want people to know that I represent God; that through my storms I have learned to not be judgmental towards others but rather encourage them in coming back to their faith.
How do you engage with your community? I speak at churches and groups, and even rehabilitations places to give hope.
Favorite holiday? Christmas.
A goal you have? A goal I have is to finish writing my book.
A special tradition you and your family engage in or keep: WE read a devotion every single night before we go to bed.
Question you will ask when you get to heaven? I don’t think I will question God when I get to heaven. Only thank Him for what He has done for me (and for eternal life).
Thing you want to raise awareness about: I want to raise awareness of people struggling with addictions. The church has very little knowledge and becomes very judgmental in this area. I learned firsthand because of the grief and darkness I was in– never in a million years would I have thought I would have been there. And I learned how to force myself to fellowship again regardless of what people thought.
Also, the sanctity of life.
What does your morning routine consist of? My morning routine is not exciting; get ready and get kids ready for school and work. *laughs*
What is on your nightstand? A plant, a picture of me pregnant and a ton of Christian books and my Bible.
Define Christianity in a sentence: Christianity is a lifelong commitment to worshiping God and loving others well. I mean loving those that don’t love God and loving fearlessly.
“Christianity is a lifelong commitment to worshiping God and loving others well. I mean loving those that don’t love God and loving fearlessly.”
For more Andrea:
Facebook: Andrea Yim Ochoa
Until next time, keep witnessing!