Victoria lived the good life. If she had a pedigree, it would have been thoroughbred. She was raised in a strict Long Island Catholic home. She married a brilliant husband, reared two children, and enjoyed a professional modeling career. She had it all.
Then she lost everything. Things began to fall apart. Her home broke up; she stepped out of her lucrative modeling job—tired of pretending to be happy when she wasn't. Her dreams of riches, fame, and success suddenly slipped from her grasp like ropes of sand. She felt so alone.
But how her life was restored is "Victoria's secret." Hoping to begin all over again, Victoria and her family left New York and moved to Southern California. However, things went from bad to worse. Now she was single, her children were grown and gone. Then her mother died. She had to quit work because of health problems caused by stress. She had no money. With her life skidding out of control, Victoria was soon to become a national statistic—one of America's "homeless." Again, she felt alone.
Without a job, isolated from her family and friends, unsure of her future and even tomorrow's meager meal, Victoria heard about a church that had a welfare program nearby—they called it Adventist Community Services. One Saturday morning in July 1994 she found her way to meet the community services director. As she drove into the church parking area she mused, "I wonder why there are so many cars in the parking lot on Saturday?"
Kendall, the head deacon on duty that morning, happened to notice Victoria with her quizzical expression and approached her. She seemed to be lost. He spoke to her. "May I invite you into our church service?"
Startled, she protested, "Oh, no—I can't go in dressed like this!" She pointed to her "workout" stretch pants, sleeveless tank top and tennis shoes. Her eyes were black and blue and her nose was completely bandaged from a deviated septum surgery just two days before.
But Kendall responded with a smile and gently insisted, "Of course you can; come on in!"
Victoria began attending church nearly every Sabbath for the next few months. "I immediately felt loved and accepted—it didn't matter how I looked. They made me feel like Queen Victoria of England! And Kendall stayed close by, very quiet and unassuming."
Last October the pastor's wife, Joyce Mulligan, asked Victoria if she would be interested in taking Bible studies. Victoria responded with an enthusiastic "YES!"
I'll never forget that afternoon when Joyce called me at my office at the Voice of Prophecy—panic in her voice. "Jeannie, you'll never guess what I did! I asked a lady who has been coming to church if she would like to take Bible studies. And she said, 'Yes!' I've never given a Bible study in my life! I'm scared to death! This just popped out of my mouth! Do you have anything at the Voice of Prophecy that I could use?"
As Ministry Services Coordinator for the Voice of Prophecy, I excitedly told her about our brand-new DISCOVER Bible course just coming off the press. "The beautiful lessons make Bible truth so easy to understand, Joyce. And they include a lot of neat stories to illustrate each point more clearly. Best of all, the lessons make Jesus approachable."
But then I had to confess. "We do have a problem! We've only printed the first four lessons and none of the answer sheets have been printed yet."
"I don't care," Joyce exclaimed. "I'm desperate! Can you get those four lessons for me?" Then she added with a certain calm in her voice that she'd been praying for two years requesting the Lord to bring a person into her life with whom she could share the gift of salvation. She wanted to give Bible studies. With a smile in her voice she softly added, "I guess it took me two long years to be ready to be used by Him in this way. Or maybe He was just waiting for this course to be written and printed!"
Joyce began giving Bible studies to Victoria. She called me regularly to inquire, "Is the next lesson finished yet?" As each lesson and answer sheet was printed I'd personally grab a couple of sets hot off the press, before the ink was dry, and deliver them to Joyce. After each Bible study she would phone me rejoicing, "The lessons are so simple to use I hardly have to say anything! They're self-explanatory! They help us realize Jesus really can be our Best Friend!"
When Joyce and Victoria completed the course together, Victoria became the Voice of Prophecy's very first DISCOVER Bible course graduate—and Joyce, our first instructor.
Pastor Keith Mulligan invited Lonnie Melashenko, Director-Speaker of the Voice of Prophecy, to be present with me to witness that first DISCOVER course baptism in person on December 17, 1994. What a thrill to see the sparkle in Victoria's eyes—thejoy of knowing Jesus. We noticed the thrill in Joyce, whose heart was overflowing with the joy of leading someone to Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit.
But now, the rest of the story!
The weekly Women's Prayer group in the Ventura Church is so exuberant at what they witnessed in their own pastor's wife and Victoria that they have chosen to study the new DISCOVER course, too, lesson-by-lesson each week so they can give Bible studies. And recently Victoria began giving the DISCOVER course to one of her relatives!
Victoria told me, "Jeannie, I was overwhelmed—all I wanted was food. But I came away with so much more! I became part of a church family. They shared Jesus with me through their love, acceptance and the DISCOVER course. I not only received physical food, but spiritual food as well. God gave me everything at once—it feels like home!"
That's "Victoria's secret!" And, oh . . . Remember Kendall? The man who met Victoria at the Community Services door that Sabbath morning? He and Victoria began dating, he proposed marriage to her, and she said, "Yes!" They were married February 12, 1995!