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January 31, 2019

“My sister and I came to America from Colombia when we were about three years old, and within a few months my parents got divorced. We grew up without a father figure in our lives, and my mom worked three jobs, so she wasn’t around much. We practically raised each other. When we started middle school, we got involved with people older than us and started drinking and doing drugs. I didn’t feel loved. I lived a depressed life, felt lonely, and was always filled with anxiety. I tried several times to commit suicide. I was also involved in a toxic five-year relationship where I was physically, verbally, and mentally abused. My sister started pursuing more of a relationship with God and moved to Texas. It was hard because she was the only person who was really there for me so I went into a deeper depression. When I talked to my sister, I could sense in her voice that she was changing, so I was curious and decided to visit her. She was attending Gateway, so I went to a service and was watching everyone and just felt like I belonged. After three years of my sister praying for me to move to Texas, I did! I got plugged into Gateway and started serving in the Students, Kids, and Young Adults ministries. I also got the opportunity to go on a ministry trip that changed my life. In my first year here, I’ve grown into the woman God’s called me to be, and He’s blessed me with an amazing community that holds me accountable. Now He’s given me the opportunity to work at Gateway on the facilities team. It’s been so good because I’m surrounded by people who love God. Now I know my purpose is to serve God, and I’m not turning back!”

–Juliana Buendia-Tabares