1. How was your life before coming to faith in Christ? For example,
where did you grow up? How was family, circumstances and life prior to
My name is Mrs. Sharon Merhalski. For the first twenty-one years of my life I lived on the gorgeous Pacific Coast of the United States. Beautiful sunrises, sunsets, sea lions sunning themselves on the rocks just off shore. The sea mimicked mylife--sometimes calm and often tumultuous. The seashore was my place to dream, to hurt, or to escape the confusion, hurt and loneliness of life. Those first twenty-one years of my life were not full of what the world would call ‘good things’ because I was raised in a very dysfunctional home… I am a survivor of child abuse. My mother was raised in a Baptist orphanage after her mother died of cancer. When she and my dad started going to the bars every Saturday night she called a Baptist Church to pick my brother and myself up so she and dad could sleep the liquor off on Sunday morning. I was 7 years old and sooooooooo excited to go to church to be with people who really cared about me.
2. What made you open and interested in knowing God and obeying the
Gospel? Who shared Christ, was a witness or testimony to you? What
brought you to the point of believing?
Beginning at age 12 I was sent to a friends house each Saturday night to spend the night while my parents were at the bar. The family took me to a Baptist church each Sunday. They showed me the love of Christ and taught me what a loving family is supposed to be. At age 13, after emptying my heart of a lot of bitterness, I walked the aisle during a revival meeting and accepted the Lord Jesus as my personal Saviour…finally believing and trusting that Jesus really loved me…me! I was Baptized the next week.
3. How has it been since coming to Christ overall? More specifically,
how has your growth, opportunities to serve, struggles and perseverance
My LORD has, in spite of myself and my circumstances, taught me, shown me, loved me, kept me, and ever-burdened my heart for others who hurt. I am very thankful that I never rebelled at God’s teaching me…both through His blessed Word and Christians He sent to teach and walk difficult paths with me. I rejoice that God has had extreme patience and mercy as He worked a lot of overtime in my life to make me a very optimistic, joyful, thankful, trusting and serving woman who is still seeking Him. God has entrusted me to use the “all things of my life” to teach women in a Sunday School setting, at my kitchen table, as a writer, through the Internet and as a conference and seminar speaker…as well as teach women and teen girls as a mentor and an abuse counselor. Given that I have a tracheotomy as a residual from Polio I endured at six years old, every health professional assures me this is a miracle for I am not supposed to have a speaking voice. I couldn’t speak for many days after getting the tracheotomy back in 1980. But God…I made a vow to speak for Him all of my life and He honored it. The first word I spoke was the name of Jesus! Many mountaintops and valleys since Peter and I were married …the hardest being the graduation of our 31 year old son to Heaven eight years ago after an eight year battle with a brain tumor. Also extremely difficult was the molestation of our daughter by clergy thirty-four years ago when she was 5 years old. But God…while grief is extremely painful but His mercies and grace are new every morning. As we have let hard times drive us to God, and not from God, He has enabled us to comfort others.
4. What is Your Story...
I was born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma in 1948. My mother and father were not Christians. My mother was a very bitter woman who delighted in doing evil deeds to her husband and children. Her life taught me the reality that bitterness is truly worse than cancer. From age 3 our family lived in the bay-area of California where, at twenty-one I met my very handsome husband soon after he returned from Viet Nam. For the first time in my life I felt unconditionally loved and accepted by a human being. We were married in 1969. The following year my husband accepted the Lord as His Saviour, we both dedicated our lives to God just before our son was born. Five and a half years later God entrusted us with our daughter by adoption. My husband moved our family to his home-state of Wisconsin in 1971. Peter loved California but sensed that I desperately needed to get away from my family. I now understand that God needed me to be where He could begin to give to me, "Beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that He might be glorified." (Isaiah 61:3) I was twenty-two years old when we settled in Wisconsin. I was a mess and didn't realize it. So much had transpired in my life that left such scars---both emotional and physical: The Polio epidemic when I was six years old, nine major surgeries, the loss of my senior year of high school to an auto accident caused by a drunk driver, and my mother's three attempts to murder me during the year after I graduated from high school, had all left me with an abundance of "ashes, mourning, and heaviness" as well as hidden anger. I fell in love with Wisconsin. I had never experienced the changing of the seasons or the love and warmth of a close and loving family. My husband has four brothers and being the first girl in his family I was accepted as a daughter and spoiled accordingly. When I married my husband God blessed me with a mother who would love me unconditionally. I was also blessed with a pastor's wife who became my "mom" and together with my husbands' mother-as I yielded my heart to God and their teaching-they taught me by their examples and the Words of God how to really love and be a wife, mother, and servant of Christ.