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My name is Vilmarie Contreras. I am 33 years old and currently living in my Jesus year. It would be fitting due to all the crushing and pressing I’ve felt in 2023. Now, 2024 is the season of fresh wind for me. My sharing is so you can understand that walking with God does not equate to perfection. As a child of God, you are not called to be perfect but willing. God does not require someone to have it all together but an obedient heart. He, the Lord, just wants your yes, and the rest is sure to follow. The Bible scripture that immediately came to mind regarding this biography was

“And to the women was given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent Revelation 12:14.”

This bible verse represents God’s promises of protection and deliverance in my life from the face of the enemy. Just as in my life, the Lord promises to restore and repair as long as you hold firmly to his word, so will the hand of God cover you in all your dealings. 

My first encounter with the Lord was at 14, maybe 15. I heard the voice of the Lord audibly. He was yelling at me for calling him a liar. Yelp, that was my first encounter with the Father. After that, the Lord told me to move from that church because there was something in that church that gave strange incense to God. The Lord started sending me dreams of unclean things about the pastor himself, so I left. For years, my heart searched for a home church. One day, these feet of mine stepped into High Place Church with my then-boyfriend, now-husband, a place he was familiar with but very new to me. While they were still at The King's Christian School gymnasium, I still remember the altar. The very first sermon in my heart remains. Pastor Edgar had three glasses on the altar, and he explained that just because they look the same, it does not make them the same. He executed this message using a particular tool to make the glasses sing. Each glass made a specific noise, one prettier than the other. When he reached the last glass, the sound had a different pitch, a resounding sound. “Paraphrasing here, often, the difference between you and another person is the degree to which you stay in the fire longer.” God blesses to the measure to which you endure.

That sermon became the monologue of my life. It became one trial after another, rejection after another. Life Changes one after another. The Lord ripped away all of my friends and most of my family away for seasons. All I had was God; all I could rely on was God! The storms that came my way, including the things I’d never see coming from people that, mattered to me the most. Sometimes, the people who are meant to help you will one day hurt you, and you have to decide how you will treat them moving forward. One should be careful not to make someone your enemy so quick. They, too, still host the presence of God in them if they follow God as you do. If they don’t, forgiveness is still free in abundance. 

My story is based on forgiveness. I’ve been on a never-ending journey of forgiveness. Through losses and disappointments, God has been the restorer of my soul. As surely as he has saved mine time, and time and half time again from the face of the serpent, surely the Lord will do the same for you. The day I found God for myself was at the High Place Women’s Retreat on Nov 14, 2018, at my lowest point. The first retreat was the most significant turnaround of my life; I was in church for five years up until this point and spiritually dead. You might as well say lukewarm, one foot in and one foot out. That year, the number of tears that flowed through my eyes, I don’t think I’ve ever cried so much after that year. The amount of loneliness I battled was unrelenting, and then, shortly after, I had a glimmer of hope. She Prayed came my way. She Prayed became my banner, which I clung to. The leader of this organization began to convict and change me in ways she would probably never understand. Today, I am married and spiritually major because of this woman’s obedience, though it is not always easy. It is always worth it. Simultaneously, TBT was my dance instructor who released me and sparked what already lived within me, a fire to praise the Lord. To be fearless, brave, bold, and most importantly, spirit-lead. What would have come of me had I not walked into the doors of HPC? Only God knows, but I thank God that I don’t have to find out. 

“And to the women was given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent Revelation 12:14.” 

Thank God there is always a place for me to be hidden in God, where there is abundant grace and protection from the enemy's snare.

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