Can you imagine living over a decade in churches hearing sermon after sermon about being free, yet never getting to actually experience feeling free? I found myself believing that if I went through the motions of religious requirements, that God would be pleased with me. Religion is all about ritual, and I made sure that I was going to church each week, bible study, and volunteering for more than I really had the time to do. It felt chaotic and burdensome as I was raising my young family, and I was feeling overwhelmed by my own chains of worry and fear. This is exactly what I had experienced for many years until I found my victory at United Faith Church in Barnegat, New Jersey. Having lived in Barnegat and Manahawkin all of my life, I am so thankful that God has brought this church not only to me, but also to all of those who need to find the victory that I have now come to know.
For many years I bounced from church to church on a hunt for something I knew I was missing in my walk with Christ. My mind was not at rest as I knew God had called it to be. Worrying for the safety of my children, finances, and most of all how I could earn my way into God’s good graces are just some of the things that troubled me throughout the day. There were times that it took all the strength I had to not be completely overcome by the anxiety that I experienced. This had been my life for as long as I can remember. In fact, as a young mom I can recall often finding myself completely overwhelmed and when desperate enough I would seek out help and advice wherever I could. This is when I was drawn by the Lord to Pastor Janeth Santiago who was filled with an exuberance of contagious joy and love for God, and a peace I had never known.
Coming to know Pastor Janeth Santiago as my pastor and friend taught me many life lessons about what it meant to truly live for God. Pastor Janeth Santiago served the Lord in all aspects of her life, yet she did not display the same qualities of stress that I was experiencing. It was from Pastor Janeth that I learned the difference between religion and relationship with God. The Bible has never mandated physical sacrifice to please God, as the sacrifice of his Son, Jesus Christ, is the only thing that will bring Him pleasure. Doing all the “right things” will not bribe or force God to bless us. She taught me that God has called us to give Him our heart, to open ourselves to Him, and not discredit Him as one that cannot see, hear, or speak. For the first time, I realized that God wanted to be a part of my life, even in the midst of busyness of raising a family. In the past, I would have my church life and then my personal life as two separate things, but now I understood that God was willing to be a part of it all.
For those who have had the pleasure of meeting Pastor Janeth, you quickly come to understand that the Lord is involved in everything that she does.
Pastor Janeth Santiago patiently encouraged me in the word, and also offered practical ways to apply it in my everyday life. The Bible became alive to me for the very first time, and God was able to teach me about his promises and how I could grow in my relationship with Him. Pastor Janeth Santiago encouraged me to walk as a Christian and have fun in the Lord. She understood the fact that my young toddlers were tiring me out, and assured me that it was okay to take a break once in a while. She encouraged me to go out on date nights and enjoy fellowship with my girlfriends, without all the kids. The victory that I now have did not come overnight, but when I lost sight of my path she was always there to help me get re-focused and begin my walk again. With her words of guidance and encouragement I would have the courage to step out, being assured that I would accomplish every task the Lord put before me.
While attending United Faith Church in Barnegat New Jersey, the transformation that I had longed for was no longer something that seemed unattainable, but has now become tangible and mine in Christ Jesus. Where I had once only heard about the possibility of liberty from chains, I now have the faith by power of Jesus Christ to set others free from all to which I was enslaved. My faith has grown tremendously in recent years and I am no longer blown back and forth like tumbleweed in the wind. Through the manifested presence of the Holy Spirit that visits United Faith Church, and the powerful word of God preached each Sunday, I continue to be blessed as well as my family in the admonishment of the Lord.
United Faith Church of Barnegat New Jersey preaches how the Lord Jesus came to set the captives free. Our Good Shepherd called me to lie down in green pastures to give me rest, and it was there that I laid down my burdens, anxiety, worry, and fear. He has been faithful to deliver me, and today I am so thankful to be out of religion and into a relationship with Christ. I am so thankful to Pastors Jerry and Janeth Santiago, to Pastor Jeffery Brandt, his wife Lauren, Kris and Jessica Burke, Brenda Santiago and everyone at United Faith Church for being used by the Lord to bring me closer to Him and to true deliverance!
“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by the yoke of slavery” (Galatians 5:1).
If you’d like to read more about the wonderful things that God is doing in many of the lives at United Faith Church in Barnegat New Jersey, please visit unitedfaithchurch.org or find out what members are saying on the testimony page.