(By: Michelle Otero)  

If you would like to watch Michelle's testimony on video:  Short version:

Full-length version:  Pt 1 - “FROM A STRIP CLUB TO WRAPPED UP IN GOD’S LOVE” 

Full-length version:   Pt 2 - “TESTIMONY OF A FRONT-LINE EVANGELIST” 

I would like to share with you my brief life story in the hopes that it will help you not to make some of the mistakes I've made, but also that it will help draw you into having a closer and/or personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Please read on...

I was molested as a child at the age of eight. My parents divorced after 20 years of marriage; I was fourteen.  

I got married at 19 -- divorced at 20, and got into a stream of bad relationships after that. I started working in a strip club at the age of 19 and worked there for five years.  

I became a drunk, a whore, a fighter, and addicted to the "night life". In short, my life was a mess and in total chaos!

I got into a relationship with one of my best friends that turned abusive. I knew that my life couldn't go on like this much longer or I was going to die. I had two children now that was involved in my messed-up life and if I died, where would they go?

I remembered as a teenager going to church with one of my first boyfriends, and the pastor of that church calling and stopping by even after the mess I'd made of my life...never looking at me any differently. 

I wanted something different. I had said to God: "There has to be more to life than the life I'm living."

I walked into that church in May of 2001, and had a life-changing experience with God that lit a fire in me so bright I couldn't hold it to myself. The problem was - I didn't know quite where I fit in. Most "church" people looked at me crazy because I surely didn't dress like them and I surely wasn't quite like them. I believe I was sent to "shake things up" if you will.  

I'm one of those people that the church prays to get...and when they get them they don't know what they got themselves into!  

All I know is I was so-o-o-o excited for what the Lord had done in my life that I wanted to do whatever it was the He asked me to do.

I remember there being an evangelist going up in front of the church and asking people to write their testimony. I was so excited because I knew God had brought me from so much that I couldn't contain it. I went straight home after church and typed away. I sent that email to Evangelist Jim Barbarossa, and from that point on my life took a drastic turn. 

Jim recognized that I was an evangelist - something I would have never discovered had he not been obedient to what God was calling him to do. He knew that I was different, and God had a call on my life to be an evangelist. 

(Editorial Note: In case you aren't aware, the call and ministry of an evangelist is primarily someone who is constantly in communication with God in how God might want to use them to help win lost souls. In the case of someone like Jim Barbarossa, many who know him consider him to be an Apostolic Evangelist in that not only does he stay in constant communication with God to be used to help win lost souls, but the Holy Spirit also works through him to help identify, raise up and nurture new evangelists).

Jim poured into my life and the life of my family.  He started showing and teaching me how to do what God had called me to do. Now there are things that were not easy for me. Like doing Take-5's, which are 5-minute segments to inspire, provoke and teach people to share their faith. It was hard for me because within myself I struggled -- I felt like people looked at me like...who does she think she is to tell us -- 'we know where she has come from.' So, I really felt unworthy of the call God had on my life. 

But, as I continued to be obedient to what God was asking me to do, He began to use me in ways I never knew possible!

Not only was I able to do Take-5's in church, I was able to teach the youth how to do them in their services and how they could be used by God in such a way that they didn't have to be afraid to share their faith. I remember the scripture in Psalm 119:130, that your testimony brings light; it gives understanding to the simple. God reminded me that people really are simple and that they would understand my testimony, your testimony, and the youths' testimony, easier than they would understand anything else. Sharing your story is the most natural way for people to hear about the goodness of Jesus Christ (God) without them feeling threatened or condemned. People become offended quickly if you "preach" at them, (unless the Holy Spirit is leading a person clearly to do so, which sometimes He does).

They were quick to listen because it was something I experienced; something I could say happened; something I am passionate about!

Once our church got ahold of it, I was asked to go into one of our sister churches to do a couple of Take 5's! Scared ... but obedient ... I went. I stirred, provoked and encouraged a new body of believers -- me a woman from the strip club! But, it doesn't stop there.

I was able to go on a trip with Jim and his wife Carla, my husband, and Ed to Puerto Rico to do the same: Stir, provoke, and encourage. What an unbelievable experience! I had never felt closer to God than when I was there. 

He spoke to me in the early hours on a roof top overlooking a "poor city." I would have never imagined in all my years that I would be where I was, and doing what I was doing.  

God used us in that church to change the lives of His people who were sitting dormant, who knew they were called for something, but not sure where they fit in. Wouldn't you KNOW, some of them were EVANGELISTS yet no one had ever revealed that to them! To see the response when the call was given "for the Evangelists to come forth", and the emotional fight people had within themselves (demonic attacks of opposition upon their minds to let God raise them up to what He had called them to be) to be obedient and go forward to be recognized and prayed for ... and then seeing their lives change right there in that setting...was one of the most amazing experiences I've ever witnessed.

But, I'm not finished! God then told me I was to go with Jim and Carla to Ecuador...which for me was a real stretch. I told God I would never go anywhere that I would need a passport. I told Him that is not my thing! I didn't want to be stranded somewhere I didn't know! 

But, God had another plan for me. I went because I wanted to be obedient! I went because I know I heard God tell me to go. And the result of me going? It was absolutely AMAZING!

I met a young girl there that I was able to pour into her life. She didn't know her purpose. She didn't know where she fit it, and she felt like an outsider in her own church. She knew she was called by God for something ... but didn't know where or what area she was called to. After days of Take 5's and services, I was able to pray with her at the pastor's house, and a life changing experience happened for her. She now knows that she has been given by Jesus to the local church as the gift of an evangelist. And I now knew the purpose of why I was there. Not only did it change her life, but it changed mine also!

I now knew that being obedient was truly greater than sacrifice. I left my family of five children and my husband at home to do what God called me to do, and it wasn't easy! But I trusted God. He called me to Himself to share my faith (testify) - to share what He has done in my life so that other people can simply understand that He can do the same in them. From the lowest and a child and a servant of the King!  

Christians...write out your testimonies! Share what Jesus Christ has brought you out of! Share what Jesus Christ has done for you! Share about the changes that only HE could have brought about in your life! Share your testimony every time God gives you an opportunity to share it! Make copies of your testimony and pass them out like tracts! Videotape your testimony and trust God for someone to help you get it onto the Internet if you don't know how - Tangle and/or YouTube, or some other ministry who allows you to upload it onto the Internet for free. (Make sure the sound quality is good on the video, so people don't struggle hearing what you say). Write out your testimony and send it to every Christian testimony website on the Internet so God can use it to go around the world until His return! WHY do all this? It's very simple. Your testimony gives understanding to the simple. It advertises the Truth of God: What God has done for others...He can do for anyone else...He can do for YOU! It also-advertises for God: HOPE AND ENCOURAGEMENT. Some people are so hopeless and discouraged...frustrated and depressed... that they try to bury that hopelessness and depression with drugs, alcohol, sexual promiscuity of every kind, self-abuse of all kinds, abuse to others, crime...the list goes on and on.

When the gifts of God sit dormant, so do God's people.  (See: Ephesians 5:4-16 if you want more understanding).

In-House Evangelists are some of the least recognized people/gifts in way too many local church fellowships on this planet. Most Evangelists aren't called by God to travel the world to evangelize. Most are called to help reach lost souls in their local area. They are to work with the local Pastor and the rest of the local church authority as much as possible. Some are called to work in their local community and with the entire corporate Body of Christ in their respective communities. God uses the In-House Evangelist in many varied and creative ways, but the ultimate purpose is to help win lost souls to Jesus Christ so they can get connected to a local Church and be taught the Word of God and be nurtured spiritually to where they are ALSO duplicating the process of soul winning and/or discipling new converts in Christ.  

Every Christian is called of God to do the ministry of evangelism (engaging themselves somehow in the soul winning process: See: 2 Tim. 4:5), but Evangelists almost always have a greater passion and zeal than everyone else to be used of God to see lost souls be reconciled to God the Father through a personal and intimate relationship with Jesus Christ by the help of the Holy Spirit. It is not the Pastor's job ALONE to bring lost souls to Jesus Christ, though thank God for every Pastor doing all they know to do to be engaged in the process!  Rather, it is the Pastor's primary responsibility to God to recognize In-House Evangelists in his/her congregation, and help them become fully what God desires for them to become in helping reach lost souls in that respective community (and possibly also beyond; it depends upon their respective call from God). Pastors and Evangelists are to work as a team to help advance the Kingdom of God (the Lordship of Jesus Christ) in the lives of people. Evangelists are anointed of God to focus in on helping win the lost. Pastors are primarily anointed of God to oversee the "flock" - the "sheep" God has given them oversight they can be the most "healthy sheep" possible. Healthy sheep will participate in the discipleship process. Unhealthy sheep show up for church service (some on rare occasion at that), frequently picks apart the Pastor's message, squabbles about decisions the church leadership makes, and spend very little time nor effort seeking God about how He might want to use THEM to get off their spiritually apathetic behinds and get FULLY engaged in soul winning and/or discipleship of new converts who have come to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. 

I told you that God has raised me up to "shake a few things UP".   

Back to my story ... I would have sat in a pew not knowing where I fit in had God not used Jim (and the likes of people like him to honor those who have a similar call that Jim has on his life.  I do so because it is NOT an easy call at all!). I would have wondered if there was more to life than what I was doing -- just sitting in a church.  It took someone who heeded to the call of God on their find the call of God in my life. 

I can't thank God enough for using Jim and Carla Barbarossa and my local church for allowing them to be all God has called them to be...for seeing what God saw in me that I couldn't see myself. For shaking and awaking this sleeping giant - the spiritual Army of God whose commander is Jesus Christ! It can be done in any church at long as you are obedient to what God is telling you to be and do!

Then...just sit back and taste and see that the Lord is good, because you are about to unlock the soldiers in the Army of Jesus Christ that have been screaming to get out! Screaming to be used in greater ways to snatch lost souls away from Satan and spending eternity in hell...and get them enlisted in the TRIUMPHANT Army of God that will enable them to have a purpose in this life that no amount of money or prestige or power can buy!

Dear Reader - are you at peace with God? If not, you can be. Do you know what awaits you when you die? You can have the assurance from God that heaven will be your home, if you would like to be certain. You can even have that assurance RIGHT NOW! Either Jesus Christ died for your sins, or He didn't (He did!). Are you prepared to stand before God on the Judgment Day and tell Him that you didn't need the shed blood of Jesus Christ on the Cross to have your sins forgiven and get in right-standing with God? We plead with you...please don't make such a tragic mistake. 

To get to know God, to be at peace with God, to have your sins forgiven, to make certain heaven will be your home for eternity, to make certain that you are in right-standing with God right now ... please click here to help you understand the importance of being reconciled to God. What you do about being reconciled to God will determine where you will spend eternity, precious one. Your decision to be reconciled to God is the most important decision you'll ever make in this life, because in Christ, it is impossible to put a value on the worth of your soul in light of eternity.


JESUS DID IT! and...


Remember:  All that we do in this life comes back to our God-given purpose which is to serve and glorify God. The money and assets we accumulate, the fame and power we've attained or seek to attain - all of the things of this nature will one day pass away, but those lives of others we impact for Jesus Christ will last for eternity, and we will be rewarded for the part we helped play by impacting those lives ... for eternity.
(Matthew 6:19-21 is our assurance)