Stacey Higgins made a decision at age 12 that has impacted everything else she has done with her life - her teaching degree, mission trips to islands in Oceania, parenting and work with children and youth in poverty.
"I grew up in Adelaide, South Australia," Stacey relates. "Dad and Mum had a strong faith in Jesus and my four brothers and sisters and I attended Sunday school and other children's programs at the church in our local area."
But, while she loved to sing Christian music, memorise Bible verses, and play in the music team at church, Stacey knew that she was not yet a Christian.
"God doesn't have any grandchildren," Stacey's mum used to tell her. "Just because Dad and I have accepted Jesus as our Saviour does not guarantee you, as our child, a place in His kingdom as well. Each person needs to make up their own mind about God and determine who He is and what Jesus' death and resurrection means for their eternal future."
"I knew that I hadn't accepted Jesus as my personal Saviour," she says. "So, one Sunday, I began to listen a lot more during the sermon our pastor was delivering."
They had a Bible reading from John 1:12: "Yet to all who did receive Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God."
"The words stabbed me, as I knew then the need to receive Jesus," Stacey shares. "The service ended with a song that says, 'I'm a part of the family, the family of God.' I mouthed the words but knew I was not singing the truth. I wasn't in the family. I was not yet a child of God."
Over the next few days, Stacey could not shake the thought that if she died, she would not be going to Heaven. She started to do some searching and read a passage from the Bible in Romans 10:9-10: "If you declare with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved."
"I had discovered the simple truth," she says. "I was ready to confess with my mouth. Even though the message that God had raised Jesus from the dead was one I had heard and knew already, I hadn't made this Christian walk my own. I could not ride on Mum and Dad's faith."
Stacey went to find her mum who was in the kitchen. "Mum," she said. "I want to be in God's family! I want to be a Christian!" Her mum promptly turned off the stove and sat with her at the end of her bed.
"I prayed and received Jesus, aged twelve, on that Tuesday evening," Stacey smiles.
"Two weeks later, on Easter Sunday, I publically declared my intention to trust in the Lord with all my heart and was baptised at our local church. I had a joy within like no other!"
Stacey continued to live for Jesus throughout her teenage years. "I spent a lot of time reading the Bible and memorising verses. Attending youth camps, playing basketball for the church team and catching up at youth rallies caused me to grow alongside others in God's family and I felt encouraged to know this fabulous life, serving and loving my Heavenly Father."
As a young adult, Stacey studied teaching and went on mission trips to Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu. "I loved helping children and youth come to a realisation that God wants to know them and that they can come into His family and have Jesus as a daily, personal Lord and source of truth and hope."
Stacey's love and passion for the Gospel [the good news that Jesus has saved us from our sins] shines through her everyday life.
"Now, as a wife and mother myself, I know the precious gift it is to help young children learn and understand God's love for them and the need to have Jesus as a personal Saviour," she says.
"Our children love devotion time on the couch and have learned Proverbs 3:5-6: 'Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.'
"God has directed my path into His family and through years of seeking truth and direction He has been faithful. It is a journey I am so glad to be on as I grow as a child of the King!"•