Pastor Ruben Balaguer from the Grand Junction, Colorado, District, baptizes Tiffany Oakes.
My name is Tiffany Oakes. My home life, when I was a child, was definitely full of chaos, instability, and unpredictability. Because of friends, I became Mormon when I was 15. At 18, I was married in the Mormon temple. My husband was abusive and we later divorced.
I joined the Army and met my second husband. We had four kids. He was also very abusive verbally and physically and he did a drug addiction for many years until it spiraled out of control and could no longer be hidden. The abuse intensified upon returning from drug rehab, and I left with our kids and came home to New Mexico.
After being there for a couple of months I received a court order to return my children to Tennessee. Ultimately, the courts in that state failed me. I came back to New Mexico where I was working and dated someone else who didn’t respect me and eventually I lost my faith in God. I tried so hard to turn away from Him, but thankfully, I had several moments throughout my life that I could only credit God for. For a time, I tried to explain those moments as something else.
When I was at my new job in New Mexico, the first week I met a strange guy who was staring at me as we waited for the elevator. Throughout the year we saw each other at work often because we shared patients. He is a respiratory therapist and I am an X-ray tech.
The following year our God created a friendship between us. For most of the year, we ran into each other at the store—it didn’t matter which store, it just happened. We did our shopping together and talked about healthy eating and shared some laughs.
Who is God to you?
Early in the year after that this strange guy, who was now my friend, asked me, “Who is God to you?” We hadn’t really discussed God before. If we did, I would’ve changed the subject because I was angry with God and trying to disbelieve in Him. I wanted to tell my friend what I was trying to believe because of my anger. But, I heard the Holy Spirit saying: “You will know the truth; don’t deny me; you will know the truth.”
I explained to my friend who God is to me and my disappointments. This great friend invited me to theSpanish speaking church, and to Bible studies. During this year, he helped point me to God. We prayed together, studied the Bible, and went to church. We welcomed the Sabbath together as well. Then because of custody issues, I moved back to Tennessee. I wasn’t happy about it—it wasn’t home.
My friend encouraged me to find a Spanish speaking church. I decided to go to the one that was closest, believing it was the English church. Actually, by six miles, the Spanish church was closest. However, I went to the English church and immediately a young man sat beside me and began interpreting. Afterward he invited me to eat with everyone. The pastor welcomed me, as did several others. They took me in and treated me like family.Each week they would remind me that they are my family.
The first week I went was the start of a Revelation series. I attended each night. I had already spent the year looking for any area where this church would stray from the Bible. During the series, a statement was made. I texted my friend and asked if it was biblical. He responded with yes and sent me a link for something written by Joe Crews. After reading that, I realized like never before that this church had not strayed from the Bible and I made my decision to be baptized then. But, for whatever reasons it didn’t happen.
out with the old, in with the new
I ended moving back to New Mexico in April. My friend, George Chota, made sure I was caught up on Sabbath school lessons. I asked him several difficult questions. The Sabbath school lessons were really touching me. I realized that even though I was seeking God most of my life and believed in Him, I didn’t know Him. I knew the God of the Mormons and the customized God who I could make to be what I needed. I didn’t really know the God of the Bible until this past year.
I knew that baptism was my next step. My friend went to listen to pastor Alejandro Bullon to Grand Junction, Colorado. I was unable to go because of work. But, I realized there would probably be baptisms at the end of the meetings and I don’t work on the Sabbath. I knew that is was time to fully let go of the old me and be new in Christ and truly follow God. I decided to drive for almost five hours from Farmington, New Mexico, to Grand Junction to be baptized by Seventh-day Adventist Pastor Ruben Balaguer with four more people at the end of Pastor Bullon’s campaign.
Praise God for using George to help me find the truth! Now I belong to his church where I found the God I was looking for who gave me peace, hope and happiness.
Tiffany Oakes, is a new member of the Bloomfield Church in New Mexico.
(As told to Pastor Ruben Balaguer, Grand Junction, Colorado, District)