By God’s grace, I have several testimonies to share, but it brings hope to many couples when I share my testimony about how my wife, Jasmine and I met. The two of us accomplished something special that most couples struggle to accomplish in their relationship – sexual abstinence.
Reminiscing back on my 29 years of life, the majority of it was consumed with thoughts about typical male things like girls, sports, cars, appearance, popularity, acceptance, purpose, direction, and selfishness, etc. The thing with girls was that I never thought they made me any more or less of a man. I never said to myself, “I need to be in a relationship.” I was fairly independent, on my own, yet dependent on God for many things, even as a teenager. I do remember, however, my prideful independence and the provoking peer pressure from others that lead me to lose my virginity at age 16 with a girlfriend as a junior. From then on, temptation and opportunity became a stumbling block in several different forms probably due to my age and exposure. I remember sneaking to watch the high channels-flipping back and forth to HBO with their Saturday night episodes of Real Sex. It’s like I had a glitch in my mind’s programming that caused me to be lustful all the time! But I soon realized that I wasn’t the only one struggling with purity. Actually it was fairly common amongst my friends, but unlike my friends, my relationship with God caused for my conviction with sin to remain constant. This was something I was very grateful for because without conviction I wouldn’t know that I was doing wrong. It took a strong deliverance from God and a personal willingness from myself to want to change my thinking patterns and actions. Only by His power and grace, combined with my willingness was it able to happen. By the time I got married years later, every stronghold and soul tie was broken off of me. There was a peace within my spirit that knew I was set free. I was entering into a marriage commitment that felt fresh and brand new. Do you know why? The answer is God.
My wife and I met in Atlanta, GA at a young adult ministry called Fusion, which is under the umbrella of the large multicultural body of Victory World Church. Years before we met in 2008 there were countless kiaros moments that had taken place for me to get to where I am today. Many of those life altering events can be found within the pages of my debut bestselling inspirational novel, Liquid Sunshine (www.justinhartnovels.com). Within the fictional story, I recapture my actual college relationship and how it flipped my world upside down. It was from that rain-filled relationship that I made the decision to remain sexually abstinent until I got married. I remember praying one day, several weeks before my college graduation, asking God to allow for my next girlfriend to be my wife. It was by no surprise that God managed to keep me single for 5 long years, but when you give God your destiny, He takes His job serious. In that span of 5 years, I did what every motivated single 20-something would do: I hung out with friends and family, played sports, pursued my career and ran after my dreams. And most importantly, I spent a lot of time with God, reading the entire Bible, attending a lot of church services, and volunteering my time with different ministries. I spent days in prayer, asking God to make my next girlfriend exactly who she needed to be. I was tired of wishing and hoping. Instead I was standing on God’s sovereign power to do what only He could do. I wisely spent my time becoming the one and less time searching for the one. I continued to study the Bible, which in return expanded my spiritual understanding of what God expected of me.
In July of 2006, I recall a wise man prompting me to write down all the qualities I desired in my future spouse. So I took his challenge and wrote all the features I would like for my wife to have physically, what her personality type would be, our common interests, her spiritual traits, and even her values. Afterward I folded the sheet of paper into a small square and tucked it into an old Bible next to 1 Corinthians Chapter 7 where Apostle Paul speaks about marriage. I prayed over the list often and thought about what I wrote even more. And would you believe years later when I met Jasmine, my desired list was 95% accurate!
(There are too many events to account for so below is a time line of events summarizing my testimony)
April 2008 – The first time Jasmine and I noticed one another was at church while I was serving in the Greeting Ministry as a Leader. As our fairy tale story began to unravel, I was immediately interested in who she was and I certainly liked what I saw.
May 2008 – Our first real conversation and assessment of each other came during a Collins Hill Park event with our large, young adult ministry, Fusion. The both of us literally shut the park down that night, being the last two to leave. Come to find out we only lived 3 miles from each other on the same road.
September 2008 – Jasmine and I made a verbal agreement to remain friends for a complete year. We wanted His will for our lives and not our own. We were so serious about being in God’s Will that we even decided to fast from each other. Our friendship was moving quickly and emotionally we needed time apart. Jasmine wanted to refrain from seeing me so I said, “Let’s pray about it and see how long God says we should fast for.” Somehow, we both heard and agreed to 7 long weeks! That’s nearly 2 months of not talking and intentionally not seeing each other. After the 7 weeks were completed, through prayer we felt confident that we were supposed to be together. However we weren’t 100 satisfied with where we stood. We wanted another confirmation from God and prayer was the key.
November 2008 – Through prayer we asked for God to give us a confirmation on our future relationship and if I should pursue Jasmine. We prayed for Him to send a woman our way during our next date night that would speak compliments over us. Not just a quick compliment but one that would stand out so much that we couldn’t deny the fact that it was from Him. So, the chosen night when Jasmine and I went into the city of Atlanta for our date, we were both expecting the restaurant’s hosts or waitresses to compliment us, however this confirmation came from outside of the restaurant; a homeless woman outside in the parking lot that approached us and asked if we could assist her. In the middle of her explaining what she needed, she paused and said, “You know what? I must say, the two of you make a wonderful couple. Are you both married?” We looked at each other, grinning, and replied, “No, ma’am.” “Well, you should be.” She said firmly. “You both make the cutest couple; just so sweet. I mean it. I don’t come across young couples like you too often. I apologize, I just felt like I needed to share that with you.” She snapped out of her trance as she leaned over and whispered, “Young man, she’s a pretty one. Don’t let her go.” Wow…there it was. We continued to speak with her a little while longer and helped her as she had need. Her eyes were clear and gentle. Her smile was genuine. As we walked away, seconds later I looked back and she was nowhere to be seen. This was actually the first of several confirmations. Not only did God give us reassurance that He heard our prayer, but it brought even more confidence for us knowing that it was His will for me to pursue Jasmine…Confirmation #1 was through a homeless woman. Go figure.
April 2009 – Our full year of being friends was approaching and Jasmine prayed for a confirmation before moving forward. She said, “Lord, if Justin is the one, I need a sign.” Randomly she thought, “Have a bird poop on my car in the center of my hood and make it noticeable enough that I know it’s from you.” By the time Jasmine left from her afternoon class at Perimeter College in Dunwoody, behold there it was… Centered in the middle of her all black Honda Civic hood: white and chunky bird poop. Mind you, she was parked in the parking garage when this happened… Hmm. Confirmation? I will let you be the judge.
May 2009 – A week after her confirmation (which I hadn’t known about) it was my 27th birthday. I already planned for a group of friends and family to come by the house and celebrate with me. By the end of the night I knew what I had to do … We had already spent a full year of being friends, and I couldn’t take it any more. It was the perfect set up. I played our favorite song by Prince “The Most Beautiful Girl in the World” together in front of everyone. As we slow danced, I eventually popped the, “Will you be my girl?” question and she said, “Yes.” From that day, the courtship started.
Throughout 2009 – We had established an accountability married couple that we welcomed to speak into our lives during our relationship. We met monthly and they asked those deep, soul gripping questions to make sure we were walking the straight path. One thing I’ve learned is that the key to a successful courtship is wanting to keep God #1 throughout and having a strong accountability couple that you feel comfortable enough to share your heavy concerns with. We had both. Jasmine and I had already committed to saving sex until we got married, and so far in our relationship we were doing great.
February 2010 – Jasmine and I attend a pre-marital class through Victory World Church called “With This Ring.” It was 9 weeks of meeting with other couples (dating and engaged) that wanted to get a preview on what to expect with being married. We learned a lot about ourselves and each other.
May 2010 – We met with our leaders from “With This Ring” at their house one night during the last week of the class. While we closed in prayer the wife paused and said, “There is something about three-twelve. I don’t know what it is, but those numbers keep popping into my mind. It might be God speaking to me. I’m not sure, but pray about what three-twelve means, ok?” Honestly, it didn’t mean much until Jasmine made the executive decision to graduate early in December of 2010 instead of May of 2011. At that moment, three-twelve made a whole lot of sense! March 12th just so happened to fall on a Saturday and we were ecstatic! Did our leader just prophecy our wedding date? Yes she did.
June 2010 – The Big Proposal at Fusion Young Adult ministry on stage with Pastors Johnson and Summer Bowie took place in front of 400+ people! Roses, family, friends and all! To this day I am still hearing the buzz about the proposal. Jasmine said, “Yes” and that was another answered prayer.
March 2011 – The same beautiful day that we held our wedding on was the same special day that was spoken into our life 10 months earlier. Jasmine and I stood there in all white, completely pure before the guests, our Pastor, and the Lord. I believe our relationship was destined to happen exactly as it did. We didn’t miss a beat. I am so glad we invited God’s presence from day one, or in my case, 5 years before even meeting her. Our wedding picture honestly speaks a thousand words. Check out the link http://craigobrist.blogspot.com/2011/03/jasmine-justin-sneak-peak.html. My wife and I are grateful to have done it the right way – God’s Way. We haven’t done anything that you can’t do. I anticipate hearing your stories also.
2012 – Jasmine and I have recently completed Financial Peace University with Dave Ramsey and we are on our way to being 100% debt free. We have decided to live like no one else, so in the future we can live like no one else. But don’t be like us… Be better than us. Only by God’s grace and personal willingness can this happen! Thank you, Lord for our testimony. With our whole heart, we love you…