I was born in New Delhi, India and lived in an orphanage from the day I was born until I turned 1-year-old and was adopted by a family in Wisconsin.
When I was in fifth grade, I realized something wasn’t right in my home.
I noticed my brothers were being treated in a favored manner compared to myself. I was not called by my first name. Usually I was titled, “the thing that lived in the basement” or “it.”
I never heard the words, “I love you” or “I am proud of you.”
I was physically and emotionally abused.
My parents told me they regretted adopting me and that I was not wanted from the day I was born. They told me that no one would love someone like me.
I didn’t understand the situation but in my mind believed that I was not a good person and therefore needed to earn my parent’s love.
I tried doing extra things around the house and impressing them with good grades in school. Nothing helped, so I turned to friends, teachers and sports to find my worth and reason for being.
Upon graduation and turning 18, I was kicked out of my home.
My parents changed the lock on the doors.
I found refuge in a teacher’s home while I attended a semester at a 2-year college before transferring to the University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh. It was there that I threw myself into college life by joining a sorority, student senate, residence hall programs and other various organizations. I sought significance in partying and unhealthy relationships.
This behavior lasted for 3 ½ years.
One night during my senior year, I attended a Cru meeting. They were talking about a spring break mission trip to Panama City Beach, Florida. I thought, I could go down there and build a church or something. Add something to my resume and maybe party with a few of my sorority sisters! I signed up and traveled down with the group.
To my surprise, it was nothing like I’d imagined.
We ended up being trained to share our faith with other college students on the beach. I was way out of my comfort zone and had no idea why everyone talked as if they “knew” who Jesus was.
I had some questions about God and I needed answers.
The last night of the conference, I sat in the hotel lobby for 2 ½ hours asking staff member Kyle Butson all sorts of questions about who God is and why it’s important to know Him.
For almost every question I asked, he was able to open up his Bible and point me to scripture.
At one point he asked, “Jen, what are you so afraid of?” I looked at him and said, “How can I trust God, someone I can’t see, if I can’t even trust my family who God gave me?”
“Jen, God loves you more than any parent on this earth will ever love their own child,” he said.
I was in awe. I had just heard, “God loves you,” words that I’d been desperate to hear for so long from my family. It was so much better to hear that God loves me!
It was at that moment that Kyle led me through a prayer that changed my life forever. I knew as I prayed that I was walking into a relationship with a loving God. I was excited that I had been adopted, yet again!
After returning from Spring Break, I told others about Jesus and what He had done in my life. I was so excited that I wanted to tell everyone.
A week after spring break, I was blessed to lead my roommate to Christ and one week later a couple of sorority sisters prayed to receive Christ.
I continued to see God move through people’s lives and was excited, but also burdened for those who didn’t know Him personally.
I wrestled with the decision of what to do after college. I had been looking forward to grad school for quite some time but I knew the Lord was calling me to intern and then join staff with Cru.
I have no doubt that God called me to this ministry and I’m full of joy to serve Him in the harvest as a full-time laborer.
Jen graduated from the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh with a degree in BSE in Human services. She enjoys kayaking, going on spontaneous adventures and doing crafts from Pinterest. She recently ran her first half marathon and hopes to someday run a full marathon. She also loves being a spokesperson for adoption and has helped her church begin an adoption ministry.
When we put words to the hard parts of our stories, we can give those around us a new picture of who Jesus is.
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