It was an emotional time last week at i61's Restoration U. Our own Amanda Ilgenfritz exhibited plenty of courage sharing her past, testimony, and story of redemption on the topic of gaining freedom from domestic abuse.
Amanda enlisted a particular relationship from her past marked with manipulation, control, verbal abuse, physical abuse, a subconscious submission, a perpetual identity crisis, and the constant fearing for her life, to point out God's role in pulling her out of that dark abyss. Amanda admitted overcoming no small amount of spiritual conflict, resistance, and fear to have the courage to speak on the 17th. But she did speak and it was indeed powerful. The statement that stuck with me perhaps the most, in detailing not just her obligation to forgive her abuser, but that it characterizes her now that she's in Christ, was "I'M A FORGIVER, BECAUSE OF GOD'S HAND." I love that! Someone who struggled for so long with identity now confidently associating herself with forgiveness... it literally is the 'beauty for ashes' story from Isaiah that she cited.
Rather than chronicle Amanda's painful past in my own words, you should listen to the audio of last Thursday by clicking the link above. I will, however, point out a few observations I had that were especially worth noting.
Amanda inferred that if one is not really in Christ, in the way that they operate in relationships, it's easy to rapidly descend into an unhealthy situation where one is being controlled. And, as she pointed to her story, the risk of simply "being alone" caused her to tolerate years of abuse and never report it. Even when things eventually became physical, elements of co-dependence remained even when it was clearly a harmful environment to be in. And, as is common with domestic abuse relationships, concern led to control, control graduated to verbal abuse, and finally, the abuse turned physical. Amanda, at the twilight of this abusive relationship, was literally unsure if she'd escape alive.
But there is one other twist to the story. A child. In the melee of manipulation and control and fear, Amanda was pregnant with a son, and since the positive pregnancy test, he's been an inexplicable blessing in Amanda's life. The pregnancy wasn't easy by any means, unsure if the father would be present, or at least supportive, but in a moment God broke through with his plan and destiny for this son. In a time of doubt, Amanda was clearly led to Jeremiah chapter one, and in a few seconds, she became certain that she'd be provided for and that this child would be blessed and set apart.
"The word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” JEREMIAH 1:4-5
Amanda Then & Now
The once lonely and depressed woman, in a constant state of identity crisis now knows exactly who she is, in Christ of course. Amanda is a married mother of three and is on the worship team at Praise. She's since forgiven her abuser, and there is freedom in that fact. She testified Thursday that she has been without anti-depressant medication for over 11 years. In a nutshell, she has been made whole by the God who came to guarantee the prospect of abundant life. These types of testimonies are treasures and I believe they hold the key to unlock bondage of a similar sort. And so Amanda did exercise the authority that she does hold in this area in a ministry time immediately after her message (see the above picture). She and others prayed for folks that may have dealt with similar events or just people who wanted to be encouraged. One thing is for certain, God was glorified through this story. His goodness in the midst of darkness was showcased.
This week (5/24) Pastor Brian will speak on the 'The Father's Love,' and then follow up and finish off our Restoration U journey the following Thursday (5/31) with a special night devoted to the teaching and the impartation of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. You do not want to miss these times!
*REMINDER* - The 31st is that last time that i61 will meet for the Spring. We will take a few month hiatus but return on Thursday, September 6th.
- JF D'Orsie - Communications Director - PCC