“After years of searching, I can truly say that only in God’s presence was I ever able to find security, peace, and fullness of joy.” – Sonja Sherry
“Happiness and acceptance were always my main goals in life,” said Sonja Sherry. “Drinking and partying made finding acceptance from others a little easier, and I experienced momentary pleasure in that. But when the fun was over, I always ended up looking for something else that might satisfy me.
“I lived with one foot in the world and another foot in the church for a while. I believed God existed, and considered Christianity as part of my identity, but I didn’t think it was the most important thing. The drinking that began in high school continued when I went to college at Texas A&M. I went out two to three times every week, living for the weekend like a lot of students do.
“My sophomore year, a friend invited me to the Passion Conference in Atlanta. I looked around at the people and could see their faith was different from mine. The Holy Spirit that was alive and working in them was not at work in me. I learned from one of the speakers that it was actually possible to have a personal relationship with Christ, and that’s when I realized Christianity was more than just coming to church on Sunday.
“Inspired by what I learned at the conference, I decided to stop drinking, but that only lasted for about three months. I went back to partying and put Jesus on the back burner. I was not ready to give up the kingdom I had built for myself.
“When I returned to partying, the depression I had struggled with when I was younger came back as well. I tried to deal with my depression by seeking even more ways to numb the pain, which only made the depression worse. At the time I had everything I was seeking, and things looked great on the outside. Guys were pursuing me, I had a lot of friends, and my GPA was 3.75.
“One night, I saw just how pointless my life was becoming. I knew deep down that true life was found through a relationship with Christ, and my attempt to ignore that was catching up with me. I cried out to the Lord in prayer and made a decision to devote myself to pursuing the God I knew existed.
“The Lord helped me throw away many of the things that were keeping me from a life found in Him. I started reading God’s Word for myself. When I had questions, I would write them down and look for answers in Scripture and by listening to podcasts. I read the four Gospels all the way through and learned stories about Jesus that I had never heard before. In spite of losing several friends when I stopped partying, I was all in with the Lord.
“After college, I moved back to the Dallas area and started teaching 1st grade. I really wanted to have friends who were also believers, so I decided to come to the Porch, Watermark’s ministry to young adults. I took advantage of the equipping opportunities at Watermark and was eating up the truth in God’s Word. I also learned how to share my testimony – something I’d never done before. I joined a community group, and authenticity with other believers became a big part of my life.
“I had been teaching and serving with the Children’s Ministry when friends told me about the Watermark Residency, a 10-month discipleship program for people who are considering full-time ministry. At first I did not think I was qualified. I was a teacher, not a full-time person in ministry. But my friends explained that ministering to family and others, teaching kids about God’s Word, and serving in God’s Kingdom were all part of what it means to be ‘in ministry.’ I’ve now been part of the Watermark Residency since the fall of 2016. It has unquestionably been one of the best years of my life because of the friends I’ve made, the fun I’ve had, and most significantly, in the way the Lord has taught and shaped me.
“One of the most meaningful things I’ve learned through the Residency is the story of God’s faithfulness in the Old Testament. I had not read the Old Testament on my own until this year, and I have a real appreciation now of God’s pursuit of His people in spite of their unfaithfulness. Learning more about the Lord’s forgiveness has been mind-blowing as I consider God’s pursuit of me, even when I was in rebellion.
“I still serve in Children’s Ministry and help teach children important aspects of God’s character – from what it means to be joyful in the Lord to what it means to fear Him. In many ways, I’m still learning and applying those biblical truths to my life, even as I teach them to our children. It’s a privilege to share God’s grace with our Watermark kids and others so they can avoid making some of the same mistakes I made. After years of searching, I can truly say that only in God’s presence was I ever able to find security, peace, and fullness of joy.”
WATERMARK RESIDENCY PROGRAM
Now accepting applications for the 2017– 2018 class! Interested in vocational ministry? The Residency Program provides biblical training with real-life ministry experience for gifted leaders who desire to serve in vocational ministry. Application deadline: March 1, 2017. For details, go to watermark.org/residency or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.