Sam Garvin’s Testimony (Part 1)

“And though your beginning was small, your latter days will be very great.” – Job 8:7 ESV.

Do you feel misplaced where you are at? Like a black sheep wondering in the wilderness. That the way you see the world is different? Your heart breaks for the broken. Maybe you had to grow up too fast. Trusting people is too hard (scary even) but others can trust you because you never want them to feel the loneliness you felt everyday. Betrayal happened when you least expected, but you pick yourself back up. Barely breathing, then life took you like a hurricane and you are left with broken shattered pieces of debris everywhere.

But here is the truth, you were never alone. And still aren’t. God has a plan for you. As much as you feel out of place thinking you belong in a different time period maybe just maybe  “you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this.” (Esther 4:14) To be the light in this broken world as Jesus’ hands and feet. Completely surrendered to the Holy Spirit leading. But we are not meant to do this alone. God will place people in your path. Some will make you uncomfortable, to help you grow, build your character, and sometimes it will call for you to lay low. Others, will be on the same path as you. To walk beside you, to encourage you, that they love you enough to correct you which will hurt at times but it is worth it. We are only here for a short time on this earth and the time we do have, let’s make the most of it. It will take time to know who is on your plate of life, if it is for a season or to be beside you in the battle. I know it is hard. Life is going to be hard that is what makes Jesus so beautiful. He saw the brokenness and loves us too much to keep us there, and sets the example. But we must accept his invitation first then we enter into his family. To be his bride, The Body of Christ and while we wait for Jesus’ return; we must journey through this life fulfilling the Great Commission that he has placed on our hearts to do. 

I never felt more like the way God had designed me to be as I did when I was Israel on The Jesus Trek with Nate. Even in my foolish brokenness, God allowed me to be his vessel among this flock. Slowly through the hike God was breathing me back to life. Taking my mistakes and renewing everything I felt life took out of me. Like a beautiful melody. In truth in love, sometimes it was painful. But sometimes the truth hurts. I don’t know about you, but I get heart checks daily from the Good Father and I know he loves me too much to allow me to stay as I am. He is calling me to higher places.

Walking through the Holy Land, I never felt this much at home. Israel has my heart and is always in my prayers. My husband knows I want to live there, I think he is okay with retiring there one day. Haha. Whatever is God’s Will, let it be. God walked me through our [Jesus and I] relationship exposing my disobedience but I am so grateful that even in that, God knows my heart. The Maker of the Universe knows me and even with His holiness still wants me. He spoke tenderly and lovingly, bring me back to my knees in full repentance. Healed the hurting of my past, present, and had me leave everything in the Jordan. 

I never loved a group of people so much as I did this one. It truly was an example of Jesus’ ministry and it came alive right before my eyes walking from Nazareth to Capernaum and everyone had a part to play. I was just honored to be apart of this beginning and I know God is going to do great things through this ministry “The Jesus Trek.” Not to puff Nate up, but where honor is due I will give it. There is something special about doing The Jesus Trek with Nate. I hope people go. Men and Women. No matter what denomination you are apart of (church and/or community), what stage of your faith is at, or no faith at all. I have faith you will get something out of it.

Note: You don’t have to go to Israel to have a relationship with Jesus, Jesus is here. Where ever you are reading this. He is there with you. If you haven’t read the Bible, it is a great time to start. If you have a Bible but don’t read it, it is a great time to start. If you are a Christian and haven’t experienced going to the Holy Land, you are missing the point. 

I will say no matter how many times I took a wrong turn on the narrow path the Holy Spirit has brought me back full circle. My story is not normal but it is Gods and my story is still unfolding. It’s beautiful how God brings things to a full circle like the design of a first-century synagogue. I could go into details of being baptized each year in 2000, 2001, and 2002. When I felt the Holy Spirit for the first time when I was 14 during revival in a small country baptist church and had no one there to help shepherd my new heart. Falling away as a wounded wondering lost black sheep. How I came from a broken home and how that shaped my perspective. How my first marriage was abusive and ended in divorce by the age of 20. How I experienced true grace in a church community while living in sin and how afraid I was to step into healing. The many battles I faced trusting God. The tug-a-war for my soul and how no matter how far I thought I could run that God’s love still abound. I have had seasons of crying like David, losing everything like Job, being a Prodigal Daughter, grumbling like Jonah, and now Mary Magdalene. I am not the kind of woman that grew up in church and even some of my sins are permanently written on my skin. I’ve spent a lot of time searching in many different religions and relationships trying to find my identity. And looking back, I can see God’s divine hand at work in my life through out it all and even now. 

July 21, 2000: Youth Mission Trip in Kentucky in a Lake or a River (can’t remember)

This was from a project in school around my early teen years.

It was 9 years ago, on June 28, 2010 that God set in motion a new life for me. A friend of mine named Brooke asked me if I’ve ever surrendered everything over to God, not sure what she meant by that being I had the Holy Spirit. So that night, I recommitted my life back to Christ over the phone in prayer. And it was the next morning, I had an encountered with someone that was sharing their epiphany about the path they had to choose from (the wicked or the righteous) and from that I knew I had to get baptized for the fourth time. So I went to my Pastor the following Sunday morning, mentioning that I think I need to get baptized. He encouraged me to pray about it and he would be more than happy to do it. In that moment, one of my insecurities (doubt) started to play games in my head. Did I really need to get baptized again? Without going into prayer a whisper of deceit came, “I’ve been baptized already three times, why would I need to do it again.” And from that, I never got baptized. Disobedience. Even if you think it’s a small matter, it is not. Wasn’t long after that, I got off the narrow path. Fell away into my own selfish desires. 

BUT GOD, wasn’t done with me. New Years Day of 2011, I was so broken and hurting with another failed relationship. That was the year of my ashes to beauty story. To understanding what true surrendered meant. Within each and every breaking; purpose was being birth. Through all the hardships, I was learning what it truly meant being loved by Jesus and relying on Him. Dying to myself, picking up my cross, and where my true value came from. Reshaping and remolding me. But it was Jesus and me, I didn’t want anyone else really involved in that and beyond the walls of my heart. Which lead me to miss amazing opportunities to have accountability and discipleship in my life. There it was again, disobedience. Even if you think it’s a small matters, it is not. Slowly but surely I started living life out of my works and not by my faith.

September 2, 2012, on my instagram I posted a picture of an autograph with this caption “It’s awesome to meet a man that continues to walk out in his faith, pray God keeps him strong.” That day I meet Nathaniel Buzolic in Atlanta, GA at Dragon Con. When I found out he was a Christian I started following him. He was apart of a TV show I watched and being that when I was in teenager, I wanted to be an actress. (Not anymore – after 2011 happen, my dreams started to shift) I was curious how can someone could stay a believer in the industry. I got his autograph to show support and ask him this question without explain my why for the question. He responded with, “You just do it.” I was taken back by his response at the time probably because I didn’t ask why but honestly looking back, when we are walking out our faith; You really do just do it. From that day, I felt the need to pray for him.

Six years later around July 2018, I saw Nathaniel mention on his instagram (an invitation) about doing this tour of the Holy Land. I remember thinking, I’ve always had a desire to go. My heart yearns to travel and see the world but more importantly, Israel.  

At this time in my life, 7 years has taken a lot out of me and my relationship with Jesus wasn’t what I wanted it to be. Within those 7 years, I got remarried to a gentle loving Man of God, became a stepmother at the age of 26 to two young men (they were pre-teens at the time), and a biological mother to a little girl that is currently 2 1/2 years old. With all that, the mistakes, the hardships, the testing, and the disappointments there was still grace. Somewhere in these seasons of life, I started to believe that the hardships were a bad thing. This is what happens when you stop reading your bible, become religious, and focus on yourself. By not trusting in God in these seasons lead me to a sandy foundation that was once solid to leading out of fear. When our daughter was born everything went upside down, I started battling postpartum depression. When Liberty was 6 months old, even though I felt love for her and the connection was restored. I still was battling the depression and when I had a run in with a friend I almost lost it. (that’s an ugly story I can tell another time.) I started going to therapy. I am grateful for therapy. Sometimes if you have had trauma in your life and/or past, it is good to see a professional. I believe in Jesus and therapy. It took me about a year to truly trust my therapist and once I let my walls down we started digging deep into rooted issues and unraveling layers of all the things of my past. How and why I battled anxiety as a child and depression in my teenage years. The abuse in my first marriage that had hindered my current one. I know I can struggle with pride but I know PPD wasn’t brought on by that, we live in a broken world and bad things happen. (Now how long it took me to trust my therapist, that probably was pride.) As much as I like to find logical reasoning to things, I just don’t have one with PPD. 

In August, I sat down with my husband and asked about taking, The Jesus Trek with Nate. I wasn’t sure what I was hoping for at the time. I thought maybe if I went to the place where Jesus was, maybe, just maybe, my faith could be restored. I felt desperate, I wanted to feel connected to Jesus again like I did in 2011. My bones felt hollow and depression was beating me down. And what a gift my husband is to me, for he was completely supportive of me going considering where we were at in our marriage. Grace. Matt has been such a blessing in my dry years to remind me of what I am to do, which is seek the face of Jesus and reminding me what I am called to do. Somewhere I allow the enemy to feed me lies. And as his wife, I did him a disservice on how I responded and acted toward him during those years. I am thankful God didn’t leave our story there and he is doing beautiful things now. 

So when I left on the morning of May 17, 2019; all I could hear in my soul was, “Welcome Home.” Arriving on Saturday evening after 4 flights it was wonderful to relax once I got to my AirB&B in Tel Aviv. First time being alone in what seemed like forever. Looking out the window, watching the sunset between the buildings, God started doing a work in me. And I felt at home.

Sunday May 19, 2019

That following morning, I went to a coffee shop around the corner to sit outside to watch and listen. With worship music in my ear and writing in my journal. I kept being drawn to this tree with these thick roots. Reminding me of how important a foundation is and what our roots are. 

After having a battle walking to the hotel with my luggage, I meet with the strangers coming with me on this Trek. I over chatted. I just wanted to be honest and open. Maybe I was being too open and honest. I was completely nervous. My insecurities play a huge role around other believing brothers and sisters in Christ. I am thankful for my foolish chatter because it lead to one of the best corrections I could ever receive from the father of the group, Robert. We all met Moshe and Nate and started learning at Jaffa Port. That night, Nate encouraged us to read Acts 9 & 10 before going to Nazareth.

Monday May 20, 2019

That morning with the lovely jet lag, I woke up early and headed to the beach to read the word and pray. With the lesser light shining down, God spoke to me about healing that challenged me. And left me with “When the Spirit is leading, Go. Without Hesitation.” (Acts 10:20) 

Hearing Nate’s teaching that day, I was in awe of the anointing in his life and hearing a little bit of his testimony alone is a testament of God’s faithfulness in his life. His faith in trusting Jesus as his savior and obedience to listen to the Holy Spirit’s leading. He didn’t know what he was doing inviting 38 strangers on this journey with him. But God did. Oh man, did God know. And how honored I felt to be apart of such a discovery. Even in the mist of my brokenness, I started walking in what God calls me to do. Every time Nate was teaching I wanted to be as close as I could and listen. Never once did my cup feel half full or empty. It was the Holy Spirit overflowing among one another, brothers and sisters in Christ. Christ glory being revealed. Even in the mist of our mistakes and disagreements there was God’s grace. A covering of a beautiful aroma of truth and love. Nothing I’ve ever experienced before.

“Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?  I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” – Isaiah 43:19