There are some people who leave you in awe. Typically they are people who are older than you that you look up to. But in this case, a 15-year-old has made an impact on me. I’ve seen her grow and mature in her relationship with Christ over the past few years and she has more boldness and courage than I’ve seen in most Christians, both young and old. Her heart is on fire for the lost and the fact that she is a teenager determined to share Jesus is a very rare thing to find in today’s society. But behind all testimonies, there’s a powerful story. Here’s Taryn’s.
I wasn’t really planning on sharing my testimony with anyone. I have actually never shared it with anyone before. But I can’t say no to Jireh, so my testimony is now on the Internet, available to the whole world. My name is Taryn Vlad. I don’t see myself as an extravagant person, but I love the Lord and the person that I have become because of God’s powerful love. I am 15-years-old and I am a sophomore at Brandon High School. I don’t really do anything crazy. I play on my school’s tennis team and I am on the leadership team of my school’s Youth Alive, a registered bible club. I spend my time by doing homework, going to church, taking pictures, and I clean every now and then. I really love my life and the opportunities that I have gotten from God.
My life hasn’t always been flowers and sunshine. When I was 10 years old tragedy struck my family. My father passed away for the effects of a car accident. I wish I could say that he died instantly and felt no pain, but that’s far from the truth. He suffered for two weeks before the internal bleeding finally took his life. For about one year I blamed God for his death. I was so hurt. How could God let this happen to me? How could God let anyone go through this? I blamed myself for the accident; many call this survivor’s guilt. I played the scene in my head over and over again; each time I would find a new way to prevent my father’s death. I refused to show my hurt on the outside. My anger, my sadness, my shame, my guilt- all of these negative emotions were raging inside of me. But I eventually found Christ. My siblings eventually found Christ. But my mother lost her soul mate. Her pain is different. I knew my father for 10 years. They were married for close to 35 years when he passed away. To this day, five years later, my siblings and I are praying for a softened and healed heart in our mother.
I started attending church on Sundays about one year ago. Before that, I went to youth group. My youth group went to Michigan Youth Convention in Grand Rapids in November 2013. I was in 7th grade. I decided to give my life to Christ during that trip. It was absolutely insane. I called out to Jesus, “Come into my life! I surrender! I give You everything. Please, just make me brand new!” And just like that, I was made new. I felt the negativity and the weight of my sin get lifted off of my shoulders. Ever since that moment my life has been completely different. God has revealed to me the path He wants me to walk on. I’m not saying that I haven’t messed up since because that’s definitely not the case. I have sinned and I have had my fair share of doubts. But now, when I mess up, I can call out to my Father. He forgives me every time even though I deserve judgment!
Things have definitely changed. I now regularly attend Bridgewood Church. I am plugged into multiple groups at the church. I attend the youth group. I serve in the children’s ministry. I am saying this in humility. I can’t believe that God has given me the opportunity to be involved in a church like mine. He has given me mentors and friends and another family. God provided me the opportunity to go to LA on a missions trip this last summer. Fundraising itself was a life changing experience. My family doesn’t have extra money for trips, so a mission trip seemed impossible. But God revealed himself multiple times during my fundraising. Not only did He fund my siblings trip and my trip, but He gave us $1,000 extra to go to future mission trips.
In LA, God truly impacted my vision. Yes, I still have glasses. But my eyes were truly opened. During this whole trip God was speaking to me. He taught me how to love like never before. I loved on the homeless, the poor, the hungry, the children. It was life changing. During this whole trip, as I was walking the streets of LA shocked by what I saw, God was working in me. He told me, “They’re not different from you. Their present is the same as your past. You are all broken, in desperate need of a Savior.” I have never experienced homelessness. I have never starved. I have never been without a roof over my head. But I understood those people. I am just like the homeless people in LA. I am broken. I am in need of a Savior. I need forgiveness. God opened my eyes.
God has laid people on my heart. I want to spend the rest of my life bringing souls to Christ. I plan on attending a bible college after I graduate high school, but I don’t plan on beginning my soul saving journey after college. I have already started. I am in high school, the biggest mission field that I will ever be on yet. Every day I encounter at least 100 young people that are in need of a Savior. I plan on spending the rest of my life sharing the Gospel.
“But the Lord said to me, ‘Do not say, “I am only a youth”; for to all to whom I send you, you shall go, and whatever I command you, you shall speak.'”
– Jeremiah 1:7