Marla's Story

I was born and raised in New Home, Texas. Raised in a Christian home, I grew up knowing of God and his love for us and how he sent his son Jesus to be our Savior. As a 7-year-old, I trusted in Jesus as my Savior and Lord. I graduated from New Home High School in 1993 and began studies in Agricultural Development at Texas A&M University in the Fall of '93. College proved to be an incredible growing experience for me as I began to be very involved in church, where I was discipled and guided deeper into my relationship with the Lord.

Around the end of my second year however, tragedy came to my family. Dad was diagnosed with a terminal disease known as Lou Gehrig's disease or ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis). The following year and a half of watching this horrible disease take Dad's life, brought me to the lowest point in my walk with the Lord. In my heart anger and bitterness took over, and I turned my back on God and built a wall around my heart.

Just before the start of my last year at Texas A&M, Dad passed away. By this time, I was exhausted and so lonely. My heart felt like a deep dungeon left cold and abandoned for years. I still didn't know why my Dad had to die in such a horrible way, but I knew without a doubt that God was the only one who could heal my heart, and bring me joy again. Still not sure why God let all this happen, I put my anger and bitterness aside and ran back to him, begging for some relief from my grief!

I knew without a doubt that God was the only one who could heal my heart, and bring me joy again. I was AMAZED! God drew me instantly back into his arms. I couldn't believe that God would so quickly forgive me and heal my heart. This experience would change me forever.

I began my last year at A&M as a different person than before. I still do not know how I graduated because I cared nothing about school, I only wanted to serve and worship God! I attended a college worship event during the Christmas break where God dramatically called me to missions! I affirmed that call on my life, and found myself signing up for two years of mission service overseas upon graduation!

I served those two years overseas as a student minister at an all girls Christian school in Kitakyushu, Japan. It is there that Rocky was my translator and ministry partner. Before the end of my two years we could see God leading us to continue to do ministry together for the rest of our days! We married in March 2000!!!

What an amazing journey it has been so far and will continue to be! I can't wait to see the rest of the story unfold...