With her mind spinning and fear pulsing through her veins, she cried out to God for help that day as she sat alone in desperation, two and a half years ago. Living with her boyfriend, stuck in a toxic relationship, she knew she had to get out. After years of attempts but no follow through, finally she could take no more. Having fear of losing of her daughter but knowing she couldn’t raise her in the unhealthy environment they were in, she knew they had to leave.
In that moment, like a faint whisper she felt the words, “Go to Mankato, Minnesota.” Having no knowledge of where Mankato was on a map she remembered, my dad and brother live in Minnesota…little did she know Mankato was the very town they lived in. From Texas, she called her dad and they began to make plans. Before she knew it, her brother was on his way to pick up her things and move her and her daughter north.
Secretly packing, she was frozen with fear but knew she couldn’t turn back. As her boyfriend unsuspectingly left the house that day, the plan was to leave while he thought she was at work. With as many things as she was able to carry out, she left and never looked back.
Hours later and on the road, she recalls, “It wasn’t until we were in Kansas City that I calmed down.”
That day was a turning point for Sam Lee and her young daughter, just three years old at the time. It was a day of new beginnings and it set their feet on a new course. As they drove highway 35 heading north, she didn’t know what Minnesota held for them, but because of that faint whisper, she knew it was where they needed to be. At twenty years old, a single mom, unsure of her next steps, they arrived in Mankato.
She recalls, “It was a Tuesday when we arrived,” and just the next day, the two of them walked into New Creation World Outreach Church for the first time.
“How did you hear about New Creation?” we asked. It was her dad and brother who recommended it to her. “Sam Lee, we found this church. This is your church. You have to check it out!” They had been attending and knew she would love it.
At that point in her life, Sam Lee wouldn’t have said she had a relationship with God. “I was living in sin,” she said. Growing up, she attended church regularly, but to her, it was something you did as a good person. “It wasn’t until I found New Creation that I realized I could have an actual relationship with God.” From that Wednesday night on, she kept coming back whenever the doors were open. She continued to attend weekly services at New Creation –– but little did those around her know, she still felt depressed, she still felt lost.
She was still carrying around the baggage from her past season.
During that time the only thing keeping her going was that she felt she needed to “be strong for Moo Moo” (her daughter’s nickname). She shared, “Things looked good on the outside but everything on the inside was still screaming for help.”
But then, a year and a half after they arrived in Minnesota, everything shifted.
You see, for Sam Lee, 2016 was a year of giving God whatever was left but not fully surrendering her best. When 2017 came around, standing in a First Fruits service on a Sunday morning, she decided she wanted to give God her best. She came to an inner resolve that she was no longer going to hold anything back, she was going to be all in, in every area.
She started tithing and doors opened for her to purchase a home. There was even enough left that she was able to fix up their home before move in! Opportunities arose for her to begin serving throughout the church and she jumped in, giving of her time. She started serving with kids ministry and attending God Speaks (a once a month class with hands on training in how to hear the voice of God in your everyday life), hungry to learn everything she could about God. And slowly, as she threw herself into giving God her all, the baggage from her past season started to break off her.
The depression left. And joy came.
The heaviness left. And she felt whole for the first time in years.
2017 was a year of transformation. A year of giving God everything. And now, there’s no going back. With the beautiful fellowship of believers, God is teaching her to love herself. “I used to not be proud of who I was,” she shared, remembering the shame she felt, “but now I know that I needed to be that person in order to be who I am today –– I have His peace and His joy over me and no one can take that away from me.”
Currently, Sam Lee serves as the leader of Chosen, our Single Mom’s Ministry, a gathering of single mom’s every other week for the purpose of encouraging and releasing hope, strength and vision. She has a heart to see single mom’s walk in freedom and be all God created them to be.
“I feel unstoppable,” says Sam Lee, “it’s all God.”
Maybe you’re like Sam Lee, having grown up in the church but not realizing you could have relationship with the same God that’s talked about every Sunday morning. Don’t let today pass you by without asking God to show you Himself. He desires to walk through every day with you, showing you his goodness, strengthening you in hardships, filling your heart with love and courage. Or maybe, like Sam, you are living holding back from God. Make a choice today to give God your best, and wait for him to surprise you in the ways he reveals to you that he’s more than enough.