Revive Our Hearts Podcast

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God Is Writing a Story: Alexandra

Dannah Gresh: Are you ever tempted to look at teenagers and assume the worst? Maybe you look at statistics on vaping or social media addiction or the hook-up culture. Maybe you’re just tempted to think a whole generation is lost. We want to remind you: God is still calling people—calling teenagers—to Himself!

He’s calling young people and using them to speak to the world. We’re about to hear a story that will remind you of that. We’ll hear from a young woman named Alexandra. As a teenager, this is what her life was like.

Alexandra Gilman: At the tender age of thirteen, my heart was just so hungry for Jesus! I was so hungry just to know Him more!

Dannah: To fully appreciate that statement, we need to go back and start at the beginning, and that’s going to take us back to Russia! This is Revive Our Hearts for Wednesday, December 4. I’m Dannah Gresh.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: And I’m Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth. Dannah and I are co-authors of Lies Young Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free. 

Dannah: And we have an exciting story of God setting one young woman free by His truth! Now He’s using her to spread that truth around the world.

Nancy: Alexandra has some snapshots in her mind from the country of her birth. 

Alexandra: I remember my mom’s village, and that’s probably where a lot of my memories come from. I was born in Moscow, but my mom’s village was out in the middle of nowhere; it was far, far away. I remember going to preschool in Russia. That’s where my father put me in a specialized English class.

Dannah: And that basic knowledge of English was helpful to Alexandra, because this family emigrated West.

Alexandra: I came to Canada when I was five.

Dannah: Life there took some getting used to!

Alexandra: The way I dressed was very different. I remember my first day of school in Canada, my mom was appalled that people were wearing shorts and sandals . . . and my brother and I were in suits and dresses and little heels, and everything. I remember the big bows on my head!

Nancy: This family may have looked dressed up, but the family was struggling to make ends meet. As an immigrant, Alexandra’s dad had a hard time finding work in his area of expertise.

Alexandra: I’m always very hesitant to say, “living in poverty,” because I grew up with a loving family. I had two parents who were very much involved in my life. My brother and I were very blessed to go to an art school. It wasn’t a private school; it was a public school. We had a lot of experiences a lot of kids did not have that may have been wealthy.

For us, living in poverty was basically: we had a tiny apartment; my brother and I shared a room up until I graduated and went to university; we didn’t go on vacation; we didn’t eat out. We went shopping in certain stores that other people knew, “That’s where the poor kids go shopping.” 

So there were challenges, but my parents were pretty good at not letting us know much about what that was like. I know there have always been financial trials and difficulties, but we’ve grown up in a very happy place and a good environment.

Dannah: A ministry in Canada held a camp each summer and shared the gospel of Christ. They offered scholarships to low income campers, and that’s why Alexandra was able to attend. It changed her life forever!

Alexandra: I came to know the Lord when I was thirteen years old at the Scott Mission Camp. It’s a camp that does outreach to intercity youth.

Nancy: Alexandra had grown up hearing about God through a traditional Russian church, but it didn’t mean anything to her.

Alexandra: When I went to camp, that was the first time I’d actually ever seen a Bible. I’d never actually held a Bible, and I didn’t know how to read the Bible. I just started reading portions, and I just remember coming home after a week of camp and just being so enamored with Jesus! I had no idea that there were other people like me who wanted to know God.

I remember going online on different forums and trying to find out, “Are there other people who love Jesus?” I was in eighth grade, and I would have my little pocket Bible. I was so hungry just to know Him more!

Nancy: But that hunger wasn’t able to be satisfied by going to a Bible-believing church, because Alexandra’s parents didn’t want her to go.

Alexandra: I had staff who took me to church once, but I think there was just conflict in terms of getting home at a certain time, and so my parents didn’t feel comfortable. I later on found out that my mom had exposure to some sort of cult in Moscow. Later on realized that a lot of my spiritual experiences, she would be filtering through her bad experience she’d had.

My father is very New Age, so for him it’s like, “Oh! You’re doing spiritual talking. That’s great! But Jesus is not the only way; .there are so many other ways!” So I think for both my parents, I just remember being scared getting up in the morning to pray because I shared a room with my brother.

The Bible says, “Go into your prayer closet and pray.” So I couldn’t pray because my brother was there . . . but I had a closet, so I’d go and I’d pray in my closet early in the morning! I remember thinking, If my parents find out how early in the morning I’m here with my Bible, they’d think I’m nuts!

I remember one day the light turned on, and I could see it from the little crack under the door. They came, and they opened the door, and they were looking at me. They were like, “What are you doing?” I didn’t know what to say. I’m just there; I’m just with my Bible. I’m just like, “I’m here with Jesus.”

I remember sending them resources. I would say,“This is what I’m passionate about! I want to go overseas; I want to serve Jesus!” And for them, they were always filtering it through fanaticism, fanaticism, fanaticism. And so, them having me as the only individual who was talking about a relationship with God, that was very uncomfortable.

They assumed that, “Okay, this church thing, it’s not a good influence. We don’t understand that; we don’t know how that works.” So I was not allowed to go to a Protestant church. The more I grew in my faith the more I was convicted, “I need fellowship!” So I convinced them: “Can I just go to an Orthodox church then?”

So I did for a couple years until I graduated. I had a mentor from camp who gave me a book called Authentic Beauty, by Leslie Ludy. 

Leslie Ludy (on Revive Our Hearts program): I don’t have any true worth and true value and true beauty in and of myself, only the beauty of Jesus Christ can make me a woman of beauty. It’s only His life and His radiance and His strength through me that is going to create anything of worth in my life.

Nancy: The teenaged Alexandra was so hungry to learn about the things of God, she researched everything she could find. After reading Leslie Ludy’s book, she found a Revive Our Hearts episode where I interviewed Leslie.

Leslie Ludy (on Revive Our Hearts program): Christianity is taking up our cross and following Him and laying down everything for His sake! So for a young woman to realize she can’t do that in her own strength . . . but when she allows the power of God, the Spirit of God, to overtake her existence, He enables her to suddenly no longer even value those things the culture values.

He enables and equips her to truly be radiant and victorious and fulfilled and beautiful the way He intended her to be beautiful, through a relationship with Him. 

Alexandra: So then I listened to that podcast, and I was like, “Oh! This is really good!” I probably was like fourteen or fifteen. And since then, I would listen to Revive Our Hearts all the time!

Nancy: We often remind listeners that Revive Our Hearts isn’t designed to replace your involvement in your local church, but since Alexandra couldn’t be a part of a local church at that season in her life, God used this program to stand in the gap for her.

Alexandra: You know, high school is typically that time when your life can go south. At a tender of age of thirteen, my heart was just so hungry for Jesus! And the fact that I had Nancy’s speaking available, that introduced me to people like John Piper and Voddie Baucham and Mary Kassian.

They were so instrumental in developing my understanding of the Bible, but also getting me access to good doctrine and helping me form a theological framework.

Dannah: Alexandra was eagerly learning biblical truth she heard on Revive Our Hearts, but she wasn’t keeping it to herself. She was sharing what she heard and investing in the lives of other people.

Alexandra:  Revive Our Hearts has given me access to resources that I was able to share with countless individuals, regardless of each one’s walk of life. So, as a fourteen-year-old, I can’t necessarily minister to a married couple going through divorce, but I have heard so many stories on Revive Our Hearts. I can always direct individuals to those resources.

I’ve done that in every capacity, being able just to tell people, “You should check out this ministry!” And not even just that, I usually just buy the book and send it to them. I think in that regard it’s really helped me understand, first and foremost, what a biblical church looks like and second of all, what my identity is.

But also, it gave me an appetite for a rich community. It was very easy for me to be directed to churches in communities where people were solid doctrinally, because you just filter it through and you understand what that is and you attract like-minded individuals. A lot of my understanding has been shaped by what Revive Our Hearts has been teaching.

Nancy: As her teenage years continued, Alexandra was struck by a series on Revive Our Hearts about Scripture memory.

Alexandra: I would always been listening to Revive Our Hearts on my bike, and I would always have my Scripture memory verses. And then I would be walking through high school with my little cue cards.

Nancy Epperson (on Revive Our Hearts program): So by pushing myself to do a verse a day, I had to think about in the morning when I was doing my chores, and then at lunchtime, and then in the afternoon, and then when I was cooking dinner, and then at night time.

This little 3 x 5 spiral sits right up on my counter, so I just take it everywhere with me—including ironing and vacuuming. I just put it in my car with me everywhere I go. So that became my method.

Alexandra: That has really trained me in prayer and shaping my mind. I don’t memorize Scripture like I once used to, but I just remember at that time, when those lies are hitting you, you’re constantly battling them with what is true.

Dannah: The testimonies Alexandra heard on Revive Our Hearts—especially the stories of endurance through suffering—had a big effect on her.

Alexandra: There was another one I listened to when I was in eighth or ninth grade.

Dannah: That Revive Our Hearts episode was called “Death Is Not Dying, with Rachel Barkey.” 

Rachel Barkey (on Revive Our Hearts program): Six weeks ago I was given the news that my liver and bones are full of cancer. Just this past week, I found a note that I had written to myself, and today . . .

Alexandra: : I’ve shared it with so many people; I remember it was so instrumental. It’s about a woman who is battling terminal cancer, and she had a young family.

Rachel: Estimates vary, but barring a miracle it is likely I will not be here in six to eighteen weeks. 

Alexandra: I remember sending it to so many people. So that was one of those stories that had really impacted me, because I have always had a big interest in understanding suffering. I find that that’s the question that the secular world is always asking. As a Christian we have an answer. 

Like, you don’t believe in a God in the midst of suffering unless He’s actually real . . . or you’re insane! (But it’s probably because He’s real!) So I find that a lot of the teachings, with people sharing and being vulnerable with their stories, that has really driven me to ask those questions and to seek the Bible so when people come to me in the midst of their suffering, to be able to tell them: “You know what? This is the answer. It’s not a change of circumstances, but it’s who Jesus is.” 

A lot of the topics on suffering from Nancy’s radio program have really helped me.

Dannah: Day after day the Lord used the Revive Our Hearts podcast in the life of this high schooler who was so hungry to know the truth! Her mind was filled with questions, like this:.

Alexandra: “How do I follow God?” “What does it mean to live a holy life?” So I’d walk the hallways and I’d be just really deep in thought, because I’m thinking, “I want to live for the Lord!” and “What does that mean? What does that look like?”

I did not have friends who were passionately seeking the Lord in that same capacity in my high school. Again, because I did not have community, that wasn’t available to me . . . I had friends, but I didn’t have anyone who was like a heart-friend to connect with in the flesh, in that sense.

I felt that Revive Our Hearts was that plethora of friends, where I was engaging with people of all ages. That’s something else that, in some respect, I’m really concerned about with people in my demographic. They only spend time with people their own age, and they miss out on the mentorship.

I find that with Revive Our Hearts, because you have people from all walks of life and all ages and all statuses, whether they’re single or married, I gain so much more in fellowship than if I were in a young adults’ group (which would be more typical for people my age in the church).

That’s definitely something that Revive Our Hearts has taught me, because they’re huge on older women discipling younger women. I think by having that, whenever I go to different churches, I love encouraging and challenging people in that. I think another thing Revive Our Hearts has given me is friendship—albeit from a distance—but real, true friendship.

Dannah: Alexandra didn’t only listen to Nancy teach on the Revive Our Hearts podcast, she wanted to learn more, and devoured Nancy’s writing.

Alexandra: I started buying a lot of her books. I think in high school/university most of my money went toward books because every time I would hear about something, I would buy it for people because I heard it was fantastic!

Dannah: If Alexandra’s story stopped there, it would be an exciting example of how God can get the truth of His Word into the hearts of His people. But we need to take another twist in this journey. While Alexandra was growing in her faith, she was also growing in a passion to share the truth with others. Revive Our Hearts was part of that process, too.

Alexandra: I remember Nancy interviewing the author who wrote In the Land of Blue Burqas [by Kate McCord]. That book has also really started making me think about missions.

Kate McCord (on Revive Our Hearts program): The day those towers went down, I knew—I knew that I knew that I knew—that I would go to Afghanistan, and I would help rebuild that country, and I would share the love and the peace and the joy of Christ with Afghans who had suffered for so many years. It took me a little while to get there. 

Alexandra: Obviously, Elisabeth Elliot and Jim Elliot’s story. That was something that really challenged me.

Steve Saint (on Revive Our Hearts program): And so he just said, “No, if we’re going to kill anybody, let’s kill the foreigners.” So they came back on Sunday, January 8, and speared my dad and his four friends.”

Dannah: God used stories like these to lead Alexandra overseas. So far in this story we’ve been to Russia, then Canada. Now we go to China, where Alexandra served as an English teacher. She went to an international church. 

When women there wanted to begin a Bible study, Alexandra recommended a series that had meant so much to her. It was written by Mary Kassian and Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth.

Alexandra: I recommended the True Woman 101 book and basically brought my copy in and shared that with them. I actually did True Woman 201 first. I was familiar with both books because I listened to the podcast as a teenager, and so I knew what the content was. I really wanted to do the study. 

The tricky part was trying to figure out how to get those books to China, because you can’t just get them in China. Everything there is barred, obviously, when it comes to content that comes from outside of China. 

Nancy: The True Woman 101 study isn’t available in China, so Alexandra had to be creative, to supply books to the other members in this study.

Alexandra: They got shipped to my parents, whom I then met in Italy during break time. Then I brought them to China! Then it wasn’t enough, because a lot of people wanted to get those books, so then I had more books ordered in Hong Kong. I had several different locations, because I only was basically allowed a certain amount at different places.

Then in different settings we had them brought to the place where I was serving, and we got to do this study with a group of women from our church. It was really interesting because, as a Canadian, I attract a lot of people who are second/third/fourth generation immigrants. But when I was in China, I was in an international church where a lot of people were coming straight from their countries.

So when we were doing this study on True Woman and what is biblical womanhood, all the sudden I was talking to people from all these different contacts. It was fascinating to see how the Bible is relevant, and it transcends all cultural paradigms! So here I was, discussing these topics, and we had all these women leading it.

When I had finished my time in China, I came back to Canada. I was hoping to go back, but I ended up getting married. So that was different. But I was really pleased to hear that they actually moved on to the second book. So they continue to do that study right now in that part of China, and a lot of women are really blessed by that!

Dannah: Now Alexandra is trusting God in this new season of life.

Alexandra: To be honest, I realized my plan for God was always China. Like, “God, this is how I want to serve You!” Marriage was something that terrified me! I think coming back to Canada was a very vulnerable step for me, because I felt much more secure in China than I did coming back. 

But God brought Daniel into my life, and it just made sense that this was where He was leading. Daniel has a different platform right now where he’s engaging with the secular world. He’s engaging with people who are asking big questions. And, in a lot of ways, as much as I love China, I do realize that I’m much more familiar with Canadian culture and Canadian worldview.

But I think it also does give me an opportunity to continue to minister to Chinese people. Even as I came back to Canada last year, in my class I had lots of international students. Often they would come to my home, and we would make dumplings. After that I would show them a film like Courageous, and then we would talk about it.

We discuss the values that were shown there. We’d open the Bible, and I would share something with them. I love ministering to Chinese people, and I hope that it continues to be something that I get to do.

Dannah: In these new avenues of ministry, Alexandra is still pointing people to Revive Our Hearts so they will hear the truth of God’s Word.

Alexandra: Again, in my season of life, I may not be able to counsel people in a very different time period, but I have Revive Our Hearts, who has all these fantastic resources. I constantly direct people that way. I listen to the radio station right now every time when I walk to work, so I’m constantly getting new topics.

Sometimes I follow what they’re currently doing, or I find radio programs from the past that might be relevant to a conversation I had with someone. I want to hear what someone said on the radio station, then direct that individual to the station to see if it’s appropriate. I would say I listen to it quite consistently . . . and I advertise it quite consistently! 

Nancy: Alexandra’s story reminds us that women are listening to us today in so many different situations. Perhaps you’re a teeanger hungry for the truth but feeling alone. Alexandra wants to encourage you.

Alexandra: God has incredible plans. We can’t limit Him. The one thing I’ve really been challenged by is, God writes your story. It does not have to look like the story of anyone you’ve listened to on Revive Our Hearts. I think it’s incredible to think, because you hear tons of beautiful, beautiful stories of what God is doing.

But that’s the nature of God. He is so big! He is able to take us in any point of our life, and He uses the passions that He’s planted into every single one of us. As a teacher, I love working with young adults as well as the thirteen/fourteen/fifteen-year-olds and seeing what their passions are . . . and not being afraid for God to use that. I think that’s so key.

Yes, if we seek Him we will find Him; He will be found by us. I think that age does not have to be the determining factor of when you can become closer to God—whether you’re five or eight or thirteen or forty-five . . . whatever. God is so accessible, and He wants to do incredible things through your life. I’ve experienced that.

Young people are so hungry for meaning and purpose, and only Christ can do that. He’s the only One who can satisfy!

Nancy: You know, Dannah, it’s easy for us to sit in a studio on a day like today and just try to get tasks done. But this story reminds us of the mission of Revive Our Hearts. We’re calling women to freedom, fullness, and fruitfulness in Christ! Every single program matters in someone’s life.

Dannah: And just think, if you supported Revive Our Hearts all those years by praying for the ministry or supporting the ministry financially, you are a part of Alexandra’s story! There was a teenage girl eagerly listening to the truth and finding it because you helped us make the program possible!

Alexandra: I am absolutely floored by the fact that, even though I did not belong to a church community, I had seasoned women and men whom I listened to who got to mentor me and shape me into the woman I am today. It’s amazing what people have been doing in terms of donating and supporting Revive Our Hearts. I think it’s an incredible ministry.

I’m so grateful for every single individual who has given. I’m grateful as well for the fact that it’s on the radio station, and it’s accessible anywhere in the world. I could be in China and I could still direct people to Revive Our Hearts through the Internet. I think that’s huge! 

I remember all the time when I listen to the radio and they’re always saying, “Okay, this is the end of our fiscal year, and we’re hoping that if God puts it on your heart to give . . .” And my heart has always been like, “Ye-e-s!! People, we need to support this place, because they’re doing amazing things!

I love hearing the testimonies of hundreds and thousands of other women, because God is doing incredible things through Revive Our Hearts in so many parts of the world. It starts with one person who gets fired up. Then they go to a church community, or they go to a different city and they start sharing. That turns into a little group and then they start sharing. It’s just a ripple effect, everywhere. So thank you donors—everyone! Thank you for all that you’ve done!

Nancy: If your heart rings with that same “yes,” now is the perfect time to give. Some friends of this ministry are watching God at work in the lives of women like Alexandra, and they want to accelerate the ministry and move it forward. So they have offered to double every gift between now and the end of the year as part of a matching challenge.

Dannah: That means when you give right now, your gift will be doubled. Your gift of $25 will become $50, and your gift of $50 will turn into $100!

Nancy: I would love it if every person listening to this program today would get involved in some way. Would you ask the Lord how? Maybe He would want you to pray. There are so many more women like Alexandra who need to be mentored and encouraged. Would you pray that we can connect with them? And perhaps the Lord is calling you to give.

Dannah: And this week when you support Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any amount, we’d like to say thank you by sending Nancy’s brand-new Advent devotional Consider Jesus. You can donate at ReviveOurHearts.com, or call 1–800–569–5959. 

Nancy: Do you feel like you’re stuck in a hopeless situation? As you look at your family or your community—or maybe even your church—you just don’t see much evidence of life. Well, that’s how the prophet Ezekiel must have felt when God showed Him the vision of the valley of dry bones. 

Tomorrow we’ll hear how the Word of God is used by the Spirit of God to bring His life to hopelessly dead situations! I hope you’ll be back for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.

About the Speaker

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has touched the lives of millions of women through Revive Our Hearts and the True Woman movement, calling them to heart revival and biblical womanhood. Her love …

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