I was raised Catholic and attended Catholic school in Buffalo, N.Y., as a child. I always felt drawn to go into the sanctuary and kneel before the statue of Jesus. I would spend hours begging Him to come alive. Of course, nothing happened, but it was during those moments that I first realized I needed a living Savior.
My mother, a single mom, struggled to raise my two sisters and me. When given the opportunity to transfer her job to Florida, she took it, though it was hard to leave family and friends. That move to Florida is when my life drastically changed.
Lonely and confused, I began looking for friendships and unfortunately got involved with the wrong people. At the age of 15 I became pregnant. I did not want to give the baby up, so I married the father. We had three children together. It was a very turbulent marriage, and it ended in divorce. Several years later I went back to Buffalo, where I married again. Although that, too, was a troubled marriage, we were blessed with a sweet baby girl. Though my life seemed a bit better than it was before, something was still missing. I knew there had to be more.
One day in 1969, I received a call from my sister Nancy. She told me that Billy Graham was going to be televised that night and that I should watch him. She said she had watched him the night before and received Jesus into her heart. I was a bit hesitant, but deep within I knew I should watch, so I agreed.
Throughout the day I made sure to watch the time so I wouldn’t miss the broadcast; I had given my sister my word, and I wanted to keep my promise. As the time approached for the telecast, my oldest daughter, who was a little girl at the time, decided to join me in the living room. I don’t remember what Mr. Graham spoke about, but when he gave the invitation and the choir started to sing Just As I Am, my heart started pounding and tears flooded my eyes. I looked over at my daughter and asked if she, too, wanted to kneel down with me and ask Jesus to come into her heart. She so sweetly said yes, and we both received Jesus into our hearts that night.
There it was! All those times I had prayed as a child that Jesus would come alive; now I finally realized that He is a living Savior. It was a moment I will never forget.
After I sent a letter to Billy Graham telling of my experience with Christ, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association began to send me correspondence lessons, for which I will be forever grateful. That is how I got rooted and grounded in Jesus and His Word.
As a new Christian, I thought things were going to start getting better. But my marriage turned for the worse and ended in divorce. I was now a single mom struggling to raise my children just like my mother had.
We lived in a rough part of Buffalo, and my three older children got involved in drugs and poor friendships. Though it was difficult to juggle work and take care of my children, I knew I needed to get my family into a church. We started attending a local Assembly of God church, and there I met John. He and I have now been married for 42 years.
We saw a need in the church’s children’s ministry. We wanted to help, so we became teachers, then leaders, and then we started a bus ministry where we would bus children living in the projects of Buffalo to and from church. When we moved to South Bend, Ind., we became leaders of the bus ministry in the church we began attending there.
It wasn’t long before my oldest daughter, Sheila, felt led to go to Bible college in Tulsa, Okla. As a family, we packed up, moved to Oklahoma and started attending a church where we were again asked to start a bus ministry. Later we became children’s pastors, and we began taking children on mission trips all over the world.
After 12 years we felt a tugging in our hearts to start our own ministry, Tasch Ministries International. We moved to North Carolina, where we have now lived for almost 20 years. Our vision is to teach, train and motivate whole families to fulfill God’s purpose and plan for their lives. We are committed to seeing lives changed by holding revival services for people of all ages, conducting children’s camps, mentoring teenage interns, training church leaders, leading short-term mission trips and consulting.
Today I can testify that Jesus truly is alive and has helped me through some very trying times. My son Brian was tragically killed in 2002, and his son, my grandson, was killed in 2004. But they were saved, and I know they are both in Heaven! My oldest son, Roy, and daughters Sheila and Nicoele, are saved and serving Jesus. All my grandchildren are also saved. And John is a wonderful man of God and an awesome husband. Although we never had children together, he is a great father.
Best of all, I have the privilege of seeing people fulfill God’s purpose and plan for their lives. All this because God used a Billy Graham Crusade to change my life.
©2018 Shirley Tasch