Christianity > Stories of Changed Lives

\n I lost my mom this past autumn. I miss her so much. But, that's just the end of the beginning of this story. This is my 14th Easter at Redeemer. I want to tell you about how I got to where I’m standing now.

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\n I love New York City. When I was in high school, in a very small town in New Jersey, I used to skip school, take the bus into the city, take the A train downtown, stand in the middle of Bleecker Street and swear (sort of like Scarlet O’Hara in Gone with the Wind: not the hungry part but the fist to the sky part anyway) that someday I would live here. I would engage with this city, own it, love it, – and it would love me back. And so, the first chance I got, I came here to live. My parents gave me a Study Bible. I studiously ignored it.

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\n I thought I was starting my real life. I would live in this amazing apartment in the village, find answers to the big questions, work at jobs that really interested me, and fill my life with colorful characters.

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\n Here’s how that went: A fifth-floor walk-up. Amazing only in that it could be so old and noisy and well, buggy - and still be so expensive. Colorful characters? Lots of them but “colorful” usually meant high. All the big questions boiled down to one: “how am I going to pay the rent this month?” There were lots of what I call “fringe jobs” and I wasn’t always proud of how the rent got paid. When I went to see my parents they would loan me money and ask if I’d found a church. My mom would say “stay in touch with God; put God in front of everything else”, but I was busy being urban and hip.

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\n This, incredibly, went on for years. (I’m always surprised at how fast things go but how long change can take.) A lot of my colorful friends died of AIDS or drugs or despair. My personal life was chaotic. New York clearly didn’t love me back and I felt lost and empty but I kept waiting for something to change. My mom, on the other hand, got a little more proactive. Her Women’s Fellowship Group was raising money for a Presbyterian church that was trying to get a foothold in New York City. It was called Redeemer.

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\n My marriage fell apart; a sister and two friends died and nothing in my life made sense. One night I dropped to my knees in an illegal sublet that I was about to lose and I asked Christ to forgive me and lead me to something bigger than my life. I prayed all night, and in the morning I called my mom and said “tell me the name of that church again?”

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\n There are people (and sometimes places) that God puts in your life to nourish you, protect you, and hold you accountable. My mom did that. My Redeemer family does that. Sometimes even New York does that. I try to keep God in front of everything.

\n

Story of a Changed Life

By Barbara Holton

\n I lost my mom this past autumn. I miss her so much. But, that's just the end of the beginning of this story. This is my 14th Easter at Redeemer. I want to tell you about how I got to where I’m standing now.

\n

\n I love New York City. When I was in high school, in a very small town in New Jersey, I used to skip school, take the bus into the city, take the A train downtown, stand in the middle of Bleecker Street and swear (sort of like Scarlet O’Hara in Gone with the Wind: not the hungry part but the fist to the sky part anyway) that someday I would live here. I would engage with this city, own it, love it, – and it would love me back. And so, the first chance I got, I came here to live. My parents gave me a Study Bible. I studiously ignored it.

\n

\n I thought I was starting my real life. I would live in this amazing apartment in the village, find answers to the big questions, work at jobs that really interested me, and fill my life with colorful characters.

\n

\n Here’s how that went: A fifth-floor walk-up. Amazing only in that it could be so old and noisy and well, buggy - and still be so expensive. Colorful characters? Lots of them but “colorful” usually meant high. All the big questions boiled down to one: “how am I going to pay the rent this month?” There were lots of what I call “fringe jobs” and I wasn’t always proud of how the rent got paid. When I went to see my parents they would loan me money and ask if I’d found a church. My mom would say “stay in touch with God; put God in front of everything else”, but I was busy being urban and hip.

\n

\n This, incredibly, went on for years. (I’m always surprised at how fast things go but how long change can take.) A lot of my colorful friends died of AIDS or drugs or despair. My personal life was chaotic. New York clearly didn’t love me back and I felt lost and empty but I kept waiting for something to change. My mom, on the other hand, got a little more proactive. Her Women’s Fellowship Group was raising money for a Presbyterian church that was trying to get a foothold in New York City. It was called Redeemer.

\n

\n My marriage fell apart; a sister and two friends died and nothing in my life made sense. One night I dropped to my knees in an illegal sublet that I was about to lose and I asked Christ to forgive me and lead me to something bigger than my life. I prayed all night, and in the morning I called my mom and said “tell me the name of that church again?”

\n

\n There are people (and sometimes places) that God puts in your life to nourish you, protect you, and hold you accountable. My mom did that. My Redeemer family does that. Sometimes even New York does that. I try to keep God in front of everything.

\n
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About Dr. Timothy Keller


Timothy Keller was born and raised in Pennsylvania and educated at Bucknell University, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and Westminster Theological Seminary. He was first a pastor in Hopewell, Virginia. In 1989 he started Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan with his wife, Kathy and their three sons. Today, Redeemer has more than five thousand regular Sunday attendees and has helped to start nearly two hundred new churches around the world. Also, the author of Generous Justice, Counterfeit Gods, The Prodigal God, and the New York Times bestseller, The Reason for God, he lives in New York City with his family.

About Rev. David Bisgrove


David Bisgrove has lived in New York City since 1988, the year he received his MBA and MPH from Columbia University. After working nine years in Healthcare Administration and Finance, David joined the Redeemer staff as Director of Finance and Operations in 1999. He was ordained in 2004 and now oversees the areas of Prayer, Evangelism, Worship, Stewardship, and Family Ministry. He lives on the Upper West Side with his wife Alice and their two daughters Mary Claire and Charlotte.

About BL Jenkins


BL Jenkins is the President and Founder of The Park Forum, a nonprofit that creates curriculum to help urban professionals read the Bible daily. Prior to founding The Park Forum, BL worked at the New York Stock Exchange, the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. House of Representatives. BL received her JD from Columbia Law School, her MA from The George Washington University, and her BA from Baylor University. She enjoys running in Central Park and makes her home on the Upper West Side.

About Jason Garber


Jason Garber never set foot in a church service until September 2008 when he walked into Redeemer and was shocked to find that there were people in 21st century Manhattan that actually worshiped Jesus. Intrigued by this odd phenomena, Jason hung around Redeemer in order to observe this strange counterculture. Due to God's irresistible grace (and the free cookies after the service), Jason fell in love with the beauty of the Gospel and placed his trust in Jesus Christ as his Savior.

About Dr. Tuck Bartholomew


Tuck Bartholomew is the organizing pastor of City Church. Tuck holds a PhD in Sociology. Prior to coming to Philadelphia he served on the pastoral staff of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City.



About Us

Redeemer Presbyterian Church is a community committed to, among other things, engaging in respectful dialogue with those who are curious about the historic Christian faith. We recognize that there are many people in our community who aren't sure what they believe about Jesus and his claims as they are found in the Bible. Therefore we have created this site to help individuals process their doubts and questions. We seek to do that through individual's stories, talks you can listen to, and papers you can read.

The site is designed in a way that we hope helps you in your particular journey, allowing you the freedom to explore the particular questions you may have. On the home page you'll find videos that feature questions and perspectives of both Christians and non-Christians. Those videos take you to one of three main areas of interest: 1) Common Questions, 2) Jesus and 3) Christianity. In each of the three sections you will find papers to read, talks to listen to and other videos to watch. If you wish, you can return to the home page at any time from any of these sections.

We are grateful for your interest in Jesus and his community and trust that this resource will help you discover more fully what it means to know Jesus and to be part of his family.

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