Personal Testimony: Rhonda Lowery
With her warm smile and kind, sparkling eyes, Rhonda Lowery is an individual who makes anyone feel immediately at ease and welcome at Oakland Heights Baptist Church. A beautiful person inside and out, Rhonda graciously agreed to share her testimony for this blog, and after spending time with her hearing her story, I went away refreshed and blessed to see Jesus in her. With talents ranging from archery, to baking and decorating cakes, to children’s ministry, Rhonda is a wonderful example of living for Christ.
Rhonda was born and raised in Marietta, Georgia. As a young girl, she attended a small country church with her family, Post Oak Baptist Church in Powder Springs, GA. At the age of 6, one Friday evening her church was having a revival service. She reminisces “we got home that night, and I told my mom that I was afraid I would go to hell – like, I just knew I would”. Having attended church regularly she had heard the message of salvation many times, but it was not until that night at age 6 that God convicted her heart and she realized her need for a Savior. Her mother wanted her to talk to their pastor, and the following Sunday morning during the invitation, Rhonda went forward. Their pastor, Brother Glen, picked her up and set her on the altar and asked her to share with the church what she had experienced. Even as a child, she was able to clearly state “Jesus saved me”. Life was not all smooth and perfect after that however, and, when she was a young teenager, her family drifted away from the church. Rhonda remembers that this was hurtful to her, and how excited she was to get a driver’s license so that she could take herself to church.
When Rhonda was 16, her parents separated, and then at the age of 17 her grandmother died and her parents divorced. Going through these traumatic circumstances she describes as “having your foundation knocked out from under you”. Her mother had to start working two jobs, and Rhonda had to leave school early in order to get a job and work as well just to help make ends meet. She remembers that year of her life as “the nightmare year”. Over the next 5 years she drifted from God, and lived a lifestyle that she says “I knew better”. She started struggling with doubt, wondering if she was really saved and feeling full of fear. Despite all this, God still had His own perfect plan for her life, and He wouldn’t give up on her. She went back to school for graphic design, and then started working as a graphic designer. To make ends meet she found additional work as a waitress and God used this second job to introduce her to the man who would later become her husband; one of her regular customers was a young man named Tim Lowery. A friendship was born which then quickly turned to love and marriage. After about a year of marriage, they both felt God tugging on their hearts to start attending church again regularly. After visiting some other churches, they chose to go back to Post Oak Baptist Church which Rhonda had attended as a small child. God again used this church in their lives as it was there that Rhonda’s husband Tim was able to be baptized and they started to grow in their relationship with God. God blessed them with a sweet baby daughter, Savannah, and they were able to dedicate her to God in that tiny country church.
It was not long afterwards however that they moved to Cartersville, GA and had to begin searching for a new church closer to home. Rhonda remembers that they searched for a church for almost a full year, and when they finally found Oakland Heights Baptist Church she says “it just felt like home”.
Shortly after joining Oakland Heights Baptist Church, Rhonda and her husband Tim volunteered to help serve in the children’s ministry at OHBC. For the next 6 years they faithfully served by providing a Children’s Church service in the fellowship hall during the regular service every Sunday. Unfortunately, however, due to limited number of volunteers, the majority of responsibility for the children’s ministry fell on them, and so, they and the few other volunteers were unable to attend a regular service at all during that time. At the end of these 6 years however, Oakland Heights Baptist Church called Pastor James DeKoker to come be youth pastor, and when he stepped in, he immediately began to effectively encourage more church members to serve and re-vamped the entire children’s ministry. Rhonda remembers what a blessing it was for her to be able to take a break from the children’s ministry and begin to attend regular services herself and be fed spiritually.
One of the defining moments of Rhonda’s adult life was an experience she had after Pastor Joe McKaig began as the senior pastor at OHBC. She was attending a Wednesday evening class at OHBC about evangelism taught by Pastor Joe using “The Way of The Master” curriculum, and she had been thinking about how she would explain to someone that their sin separates them from God. As she was contemplating this, she suddenly felt as if for the first time, she truly understood fully how much her own sin separated her from God. Her heart was overwhelmed with the immensity, and she was convicted to pray and rededicate herself to God at that time. Additionally, Rhonda says that “when Joe came, he also brought with him the concept of discipleship and in-depth Bible study”. She completed personal discipleship with Carolyn Mewbourne leading her, and deepened her relationship with Christ.
A few years ago, after a time of refreshment and developing her own relationship with Christ, God called Rhonda to go on a missions trip with OHBC to New York City to help with Good News Clubs for children (with CEF). She loved this experience and wanted to continue doing this when she returned. So she immediately got involved with helping run the Good News club at the nearby elementary school with others from OHBC. Soon however she began to realize that she wasn’t going to be able to continue doing the Wednesday afternoon Good New club due to the scheduling demands of her home business. But she felt that God still wanted her to have a ministry with children. One day God showed her exactly what He had in mind for her when Becky Dickerson, a friend from church, mentioned to her that they were trying to find someone who would be able to help facilitate the class “Divorce Care for Kids” (DC4K) – a free class at OHBC every Wednesday night to help children through the trauma of their parents divorcing. She says “my heart jumped” and she couldn’t stop thinking about it. She started praying and she knew that God was saying that this was a ministry where He wanted her to serve. Having taught through the DC4K curriculum four times now, she realizes how God has taken the hurt from her past and has used it to edify and help others heal. This ministry to children is her passion and she is focused on helping it blossom and grow.
Another ministry that Rhonda does is through her talent of baking and decorating cakes. Making cakes had always been a fun hobby for Rhonda, and at age 20 she decided to make a cake for her mother in the shape of a seashell. Her mother loved the cake and gave her as Wilton Cake Decorating Kit as a gift in return. This helped her begin to channel her hobby into a side job. At the time, she was still working as a graphic designer, but she started making cakes on the side; at first for family and friends but quickly gathered a larger clientele. It was not until 2012 however that she started her current business, Lady Rae’s (www.ladyraes.com), an in-home business making custom cakes. Rhonda loves her job of making cakes and views her business as a ministry. Being able to bring joy to people through beautiful, delicious cakes is a blessing, and she loves to share with brides who are ordering wedding cakes that she has been married 28 years and that the reason her marriage has lasted is because God is at the center of it all. Shortly after giving up her graphic design job to focus on her cake business full time, she was beginning to feel stressed about finances. It was at that time that she attended a Missions Conference at OHBC and felt convicted that God wanted her to give a specific amount of money to missions on a regular basis. She went home and discussed it with her husband Tim. He supported her decision to follow God’s leading and surrender despite the fact that it didn’t appear as if their financial situation would allow for that. However, when they surrendered to God’s leading and began faithfully giving as God was leading them, she states “my business suddenly blossomed and bloomed”. God blessed her faithfulness in giving to missions by blessing her business financially. She describes that this experience was humbling but helped her realize yet again how God is such a loving and good heavenly Father.
As parting words, Rhonda gave a beautiful example of the focus of her life. She used an example from her hobby of archery. She states “With instinctive archery, (unlike say, shooting a gun), you don’t close either eye. Both eyes must be open, and you have to focus on the target… if your eyes wander at all, you’ll miss your target”. Tying this in with Proverbs 4:25 which says “Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee”, she explained how we must keep our eyes on Jesus, the prize of the high calling, and direct all of our life towards living for Him.