The Word of our Testimony: Stephanie Browning

In tandem with our sermon series on the Book of Acts, we thought it would be helpful if the leadership of the church each shared their testimony. Testimonies are powerful. They’re personal stories of what God has done in our lives. Along with the blood of Jesus, Revelation 12:11 says that we overcome the Enemy by the “word of our testimony.” Our hope is that through this series of articles, your faith will be strengthened, you’ll get to know all of us better, and you’ll see that Jesus can and does redeem all kinds of people in all kinds of ways.

I was blessed to grow up in a Christian home and church. Both my parents had left their “formal” religions and formed personal relationships with Christ as young people and met and married in the church I was raised in. They set a strong example for my younger brother and I in personal faith, time with Jesus, and serving others. I accepted Christ in Sunday school at a young age and was baptized in the same lake that they had been when I was 9.  

My parents believed so strongly in my brother and I being educated from a Christian worldview that they sent us to a small Christian school. It provided a great foundation for me in learning how to memorize Scripture and study the Bible, deepening my faith and relationship with Jesus. When I moved to Virginia at 18 to attend to Roanoke College I always assumed after college I would travel, do mission work, or otherwise. God had different plans for me and I met my husband Matthew. I didn’t expect to get married that young, but once I met Matthew we knew that was what God wanted for us. We were married a month after we graduated.  

While my faith had faced small trials, it had never faced a significant trial like what we would experience shortly after we were married. Less than a month later, my healthy dad was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and he died several short months after that. My heart was broken. It was a struggle to deal with my own grief and watch those I loved the most grieve as well. While I was broken and deep in grief both leading up to and following his death, it provided the opportunity for my faith to deepen. God was never more real to me than during that time, and I was able to cling to my faith in a way that I had never had before. My faith was all I had. The knowledge that God was a good God who loved my dad and loved me, carried me through the hard questions and sobbing moments. Looking back at this hard time in our lives I can see God’s hand through all of it. From providing me with a strong spouse (young as we were) who bravely walked through this time with my family and I, to the friends we had, my grad school program, and the books I read. God had provided the supports around me to get through it. 

When I graduated from high school, my class chose Jeremiah 29:11 as our class verse. “’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord. ‘Plans to prosper and not to harm you. Plans for a hope and a future.’” Our lives are not going to be perfect. We will face trials, grief, and darkness. But God does promise us hope in Him. He can provide a peace that passes understanding and comfort in times of need. Throughout the trials of my life, God as always shown up and revealed himself in a deeper way than I would have otherwise known.   

Stephanie Browning
Elementary Children’s Director