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A Rebellious Teenager Finds Forgiveness

Wayward teenage years and a surprise pregnancy had Christine Scheller fearing she had lost her salvation. She shares her story in an issue of CT magazine:

I had just been arrested for smoking hash in the drive-through of a bank while the driver was trying to cash a stolen check. I was getting high while committing bank fraud. That’s how out-of-my-mind stupid I was at age 16.

After being arrested Christine landed in a juvenile shelter. Free of the drugs that had clouded her thinking, she realized her life was going nowhere fast. After a month at the shelter, she went to stay with a family who offered transitional housing to wayward teenagers.

Pat and Carl were born-again Christians. Their Christianity didn’t seem focused on rules and right doctrine like some of the Baptists Christine knew and she began to consider the gospel.

One day I found myself kneeling in prayer on the opposite side of the coffee table from Pat while Jim Bakker preached on TV. Pat raised her hand toward me and began praying. I was thrown backwards into the couch by an invisible force. With tears streaming down my face, I raised myself up and surrendered my life to Jesus.

Christine was admitted to Eastern Mennonite University (EMU). It was there that she was introduced to the terrifying idea that she could lose her newfound salvation if she died with unconfessed sin or didn’t persevere in following Jesus. She said, “I was entirely unprepared for the challenge this Arminian doctrine posed to my softly Reformed faith. I grew seriously anxious about my eternal security.”

She prayed, “God, I don’t even know if I’m really a Christian. But I know that if I am, you didn’t save me to leave me in this pit.” She had broken off a brief relationship with her boyfriend when she found out she was pregnant. The first person she told outside her immediate family was Jeff. He was an old friend who had become a Christian in prison after one too many drug busts.

When my son was two months old, Jeff came to visit. Over the next few months, he started falling in love with my baby and me. The first time Jeff kissed me; I knew I would marry him. Never before had I felt so unconditionally loved and cherished by a man, or so challenged by another person’s radical faith.

I told Jeff I didn’t know if I was really a Christian. He explained the grace of God in such a way that I finally understood that I could not make myself good enough to earn forgiveness. “The Bible says Jesus paid the price for all your sin—past, present, and future. Nothing can separate you from the love of God in Christ Jesus.” The words finally sank in. They were coming from a trustworthy friend whose background was similar to my own.

As Jesus taught, those who have been forgiven much, love much. I’ve been forgiven much—both before and after my conversion—and I never forget it.

Editor’s Note: Christine Scheller is an award-winning journalist and CT contributor. She and Jeff will celebrate 30 years of marriage this year.

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