“God—if you’re there and if you care, you have to pull me out of this.” Although Wendy Graham grew up attending church and had even been through confirmation, her first heartfelt prayer was this desperate plea for help at age 18. Wendy’s life choices, which included heavy alcohol and drug use, had taken her to a hostile and empty place from which she couldn’t escape alone. God answered her prayer in ways she could have never anticipated.
About a month after she prayed, her mother’s position was transferred from Canada to Michigan. Her parents were not divorced, but for a time they lived apart due to their job situations—Wendy lived with their mother and attended community college while her sister lived with their father in London, Ontario.
God literally pulled her out of her hopeless situation, and she knew that He had brought her to Michigan. But the transition was difficult for her. Not only did she have to leave everything and everyone she knew, but she struggled with some difficult life-and-death issues within the first few months after her move. Her aunt died of cancer and one of her best friends from Canada committed suicide as a result of his cocaine addiction. Wendy said she fell into a deep depression and was even suicidal herself.
“I started calling out for some kind of spiritual awakening. I knew I needed to know what life after death was,” she said.
One morning at about 3:30, she was so depressed she couldn’t sleep and a commercial came on TV for Jesus Christ Latter Day Saints and listed a phone number to call. Not knowing what else to do, Wendy called and for two months she met with some Mormons to find out what they believed. To her, it seemed like the same things she was taught in church, so she assumed these people were Christians.
“They don’t tell you the differences right away—and they really believe in their faith … that’s what kept me meeting with them.”
It wasn’t until they discussed baptism with her that she realized a major difference between Mormonism and Christianity. She was to be baptized into the Mormon church, along with 3 families who weren’t baptized before they died.
“That was the spark in my head that alerted me that something was wrong. So, I ended that.”
But this experience motivated her clean up her life—before you become a Mormon, you have to quit smoking and drinking, so she had given up the heavier drugs. Despite her experience with Mormonism, at this point her life was looking up somewhat and she was less depressed.
She had begun to make some friends and decided to apply to a university and pursue her lifelong dream of becoming a medical doctor. Since she was 16, she had wanted to become a cardiac surgeon and put aside a third of her paycheck so that after 25 years, she could open a clinic in Africa. Looking back on it, she believes this was a God-given desire long before she ever knew Christ or heard about missions.
She applied to two universities—Ohio State and Michigan State. Although she preferred Ohio because of its medical program, only Michigan responded to her application in time, so she went. When she signed up for a dorm room, the form asked her religion. She marked Christian, even though she didn’t really think she was. But because of that, she was placed with two roommates who were strong believers—Kelly and Allison.
The first eight months of living with them was challenging for Wendy because she was faced with her own sinfulness and the extent to which it had hurt not only her, but those around her. She had begun attending church and a coffeehouse put on by the church.
“God was really working on my heart … I didn’t need a lot of convincing that I was a sinner, but I thought I had too many sins for Him to ever accept me.”
Kelly and Allison gave Wendy a Bible and she remembers crying when she received it because she didn’t think she was worthy to have God’s Word. She brought it with her to a fall retreat with her church, and one afternoon while she was there, she was reading John 1:1-5.
“I called out to God again and said, ‘I don’t understand this. If you’re there and if you care, you have to help me understand and show me whether this is true. If it is, I want it.’”
God continued to give Wendy definite signs and helped her understand the faith of those around her, but she was still holding out and holding on to her own way of life, until she went on a trip over spring break with her church. One day on the way back from the beach, as she was listening to some of “her music,” like 9-Inch Nails and Marilyn Manson, Wendy noticed that her attitude began to change. She started thinking that she didn’t want to be with these Christians anymore.
Then God spoke to her in a way He never had before. He said, “Look at how you just changed.” So, Wendy prayed, “If that was you talking to me, God, destroy this tape.” Two seconds later the tape came undone in her tape player. To her, this was exactly what she needed to finally believe and be willing to give her life up to God.
“I walked back into the condo where we were staying and all I could say is, “God broke it!”
From then on, Wendy grew quickly in her faith … her college pastor said it was like she had a rocket strapped to her back. She found out that she has the gift of evangelism and loves talking to people about her faith because she knows how hard her life was without Christ. She was discipled by Kelly and saw God do amazing things in and through her life.
“It blew me away … who am I that God would use me in someone else’s life?”
Wendy changed her major to geology, deciding that she didn’t want to be in school for 10 years to get a medical degree. She has been on two summer mission trips to southern Africa and worked with teenagers there. She came to seminary hoping to join the team in Africa once she finishes her MA/CM degree, but she is open to God’s leading in any direction.
The mission of Dallas Theological Seminary is to
glorify God by equipping godly servant-leaders
for the proclamation of His Word and the
building up of the body of Christ worldwide.