By Cassandra Acker
This is just the beginning
My testimony begins like most African-American women that live in the South — at a good ol’ Baptist church in the woods.
As I prepared for my first year of college, I began to view the world differently and started to ask questions that my grandparents could not answer. I started to see the differences between traditional African-American churches and the churches I would attend while living in Jackson.
The first thing I noticed is that one church in my new hometown focused more on prosperity than changing our hearts. They talked more about the clothing young adults wore to church than praying for their souls. They also preached more about tithes and raising money for building funds than helping their neighbors who were wondering where their next meal would come from.
My life changed in 2012 — something happened to me that I never thought would. One day, I came across a poster promoting a conference called Urbana ‘12. Urbana was a conference that happened every three years by an organization called Intervarsity. They are most known globally as a mission-focused organization that believes in students and young adults living out the life that God has called them to.
I immediately emailed the professor. The week before we were released for Christmas break, I was notified someone funded my entire trip. The event was life-changing. I met Jason Abrams, who wanted to plant more student ministries across all the campuses in Jackson. In fact, he wanted to plant one at Belhaven, and I am proud to say that his vision came alive.
When I returned to campus, I was on fire and wanted to tell everyone about my experiences. I am pretty sure my roommate was sick of me after a week. Everything was going great until I met a guy.
We started dating and I wish I had known the signs before I committed to being in a relationship with him. I loved his family and I loved him. We had our problems like any normal relationship but things took a turn for the worse by the end of my spring semester.
It started with emotional abuse and then one day became physical. When it was happening, I remember thinking, “I can’t believe this is happening to me! I love Jesus and I love people well.” For weeks, I did not speak. I did not talk to my friends and I definitely did not tell anyone that it happened.
One day while I was praying to God to take the pain away, He told me it was time to speak. The enemy wants you to stay silent so that those who listen will be blocked from true healing. The cool thing about my story is that I am able to tell others about the insecurities that I still struggle with, and God continues to speak truth through His word —and through His love that continues to be poured into me by those who I’m surrounded with.
I am forever thankful that I asked questions and fully sought to know Him more. This is only part of my story. It is just the beginning.
Cassandra Acker is a Mississippi Gulf Coast native and Jacksonian. When she isn’t obsessing over fashion trends, she is loving others intentionally — and makes a mean chai at The Urban ’Sip in Jackson.