Eva L. Clarke – Testimony
Last Updated on February 5, 2023 by Rocklyn Clarke
I didn’t grow up in a Christian home but had aunts and uncles that were believers. So, I was exposed to Christianity throughout the years, as I spent time with them during the summer.
In my immediate family, we weren’t regular church goers, but attended services from time to time. My mother had been turned off from the church because of legalism that she experienced as a child.
I can remember being drawn to God and even responding to an altar call from the preacher one summer in Chicago, and later as a teenager. But I really didn’t understand what it all meant, and in my mind, I could never keep all the rules, so it didn’t last.
One of the things I struggled with from an early age was a sense of not belonging. Another was loneliness. My father was in the military when I was a girl and he died when I was seven years old, which really disrupted our family. We moved first to East St. Louis, IL a very troubled city in the midst of decline, and later to the neighboring town of Belleville, where we were the first black family to integrate our neighborhood sub-division. My mother had to go to work, which meant that my little brother, who was severely handicapped, could no longer live with us and had to be placed in an institution.
There was also a restlessness about me. In college, at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), I was eager to abandon my small-town roots and embrace a whole new world. I attended a program for incoming freshman the summer before my freshman year and met Courtney McBath. Courtney is now a bishop and pastor of a huge church in Virginia; but at the time, he was another incoming freshman, and witnessed to me and other students about Jesus.
My goal at that time was to chart my own course, to make a difference in the world and most of all to be happy. But in less than two years I was anything but happy. I was deeply depressed by revelations that had come to light about my father’s death, by a downturn in my brother’s health, by academic difficulty and by relationship failure; and I was ashamed of my own acting out behavior.
I reached out to my friend Courtney for spiritual help. However, on an earlier occasion, I’d gone through the motions of making a commitment to follow Jesus, only to abandon my commitment when Rocklyn (my on and off boyfriend at the time and now husband) invited me to spend the weekend with him in New York. This time, Courtney said, “you know what to do” and essentially required me to make a sincere commitment on my own to follow Jesus, who died for our sins and was raised from the dead. As it turns out, Rocklyn and I both became believers, completely independently, within a couple of days of one another.
Eventually, we both started attending the same church that Courtney attended, which happened to be a Church of God, the same movement that my relatives were a part of in Chicago. They knew the pastor, Pastor Thompson, from the time he’d spent at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago and were thrilled that we were saved and part of a good church. Over time, my mother, sister and brother also committed their lives to Christ.
As a follower of Jesus, my life has been transformed in fundamental ways. My focus is on expanding God’s kingdom. Jesus is the King and his kingdom is characterized by love, peace, joy, justice and fruitfulness. Rather than simply be happy, my goal is see God’s will done, to walk in my purpose and to help other people follow Jesus, experience the kingdom and fulfill their mission as well.