The Jesus Lady

Bible Teacher (

My Real Memoir

I grew up in a thoroughly secular home. God was simply never the topic of conversation. I literally didn’t know that Christmas was named for Christ. And Easter? Well, it was about eating chocolate bunnies and egg sandwiches made from multi-colored eggs found in the bushes outside. But crosses and empty tombs? Never heard of ‘em.

And yet, Mommandad wrote “Christian” on documents that asked their “religion.” More specifically, they wrote “Catholic” (Mom) and “Episcopalian” (Dad). Years later, my widowed mother would marry a man who did not believe in Jesus, and yet was deeply offended when I implied he wasn’t a Christian. For his generation (at least for those who weren’t officially something else), “Christian” meant a “decent, law-abiding citizen.”

At age eleven, I only knew one person who clearly meant something more when she referred to herself as a Christian. No, it didn’t mean she was a flag-waving conservative. It meant she was an actual follower of Jesus.

I was actually moving away from God at that point. The year before, at summer camp, I’d given God a chance to part the clouds and talk to me in a big, impressive Charlton Heston-y voice, and nothing had happened. Zilch. So, while I hadn’t actually gone full-bore atheist yet, I was gradually moving toward my dad’s view that Darwin, and not the Bible, was the go-to source for answers, and that our here-and-now existence in a randomly evolving universe was all there was. Finis. Roll credits.

But each time I came to collect the Jesus Lady’s newspaper subscription, she would tell me a little more about why she believed. She was enthusiastic, but always upbeat, and never condemning.

During the Easter season, she and her husband were hosting a visiting missionary. She asked if my family would like to meet him. To my surprise, Mom said yes. He was the first African person Mom and I had ever met (Dad was at work), and we were fascinated by his culture and traditions. But the big surprise came when we learned he wasn’t looking for donations from well-heeled Americans. No, he was here, he said, “To introduce Americans to Jesus.”

“But we’re a Christian country,” Mom explained.

“Sadly, this is not so,” the missionary replied, “most Americans, even if they call themselves ‘Christians’ (I loved the way he said ‘Kris-tee-AHNS’) have never met Jesus. They are proud—which is good in some ways—but too proud, I think, to let him in the front door.”

Near the end of that year, the Jesus Lady invited us to a showing of the movie King of Kings. But we were too busy with Christmas preparations to focus on the person Christmas was named for.

Yes, seeds were planted in both of our hearts, but they took a long time to sprout. I didn’t actually met the Jesus our African missionary friend and the Jesus Lady spoke about until fifteen years later…

On Easter morning.

My Real Memoir is a series. To read the next one, click here.

About mitchteemley

Writer, Filmmaker, Humorist, Thinker-about-stuffer
This entry was posted in For Pastors and Teachers, Humor, Memoir, Religion/Faith and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

56 Responses to The Jesus Lady

  1. Pingback: The Boy with Two Brains | Mitch Teemley

  2. Mitch, I love everything about this piece…I would have to go through it line-by-line to tell you all the reasons this resonates with me. In so many ways the “Christianity” so many Americans have understood was like an inoculation, giving them just enough of a dose to keep them from catching the real life-transforming thing.

    Liked by 7 people

  3. joannie6535 says:

    I’m looking forward to the rest of your testimony. Great so far. “The Jesus Lady” – how nice to be known as such. Blessings.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. Mitch, love, love, LOVE this! 💚

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Pingback: The Jesus Lady – HOPE SEEKER

  6. Lisa M. Boyd says:

    Great share!! Thank you!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I’d like to be the Jesus Lady. I confess I’m not as bold as she. But I want to be.

    Jesus, give me opportunities and the love/courage to obey. Amen.

    Liked by 5 people

  8. I am richly blessed to read this today, Mitch 😊. Holy Week blessings of peace and joy to you!

    Liked by 2 people

  9. I’m grateful you had a “Jesus lady” who planted seeds. Lord, may all your followers be that person to someone in our sphere of influence.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. rwfrohlich says:

    Interesting that Christians from Africa now see the USA as a mission field. During the last century we turned Christianity into a bland civil religion that has nothing to do with Jesus. Glad you found your way.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Thanks for sharing about the Jesus lady. I wonder how many prayers she said for you through the years.

    Liked by 3 people

  12. Ananda says:

    Beautiful story . ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  13. CG Thelen says:

    A great reminder that the little seeds we sow each day can bear abundant fruit later. We may never know the extent of how our little actions to spread the gospel will later affect others.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. capost2k says:

    Our former pastor used to say, “The problem with evangelism in Kentucky is not getting people saved; it’s getting them lost.” 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  15. K.L. Hale says:

    Thank you, Mitch, for sharing your journey of faith. As always, you have such an amazing “voice” in sharing! I’m so happy you had this special Jesus Lady in your life! I had a Jesus lady in my life–my Grandmother Wilson. She took all the clutter out of Christianity and taught me about a man named Jesus! Well,…life still got pretty cluttered but love won. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  16. really love hearing more of your backstory of your faith. Is there a part 2? or 3? or 4?

    Liked by 1 person

  17. fgsjr2015 says:

    “‘But we’re a Christian country,’ Mom explained. ‘Sadly, this is not so,’ the missionary replied, ‘most Americans, even if they call themselves “Christians” (I loved the way he said ‘Kris-tee-AHNS’) have never met Jesus. They are proud — which is good in some ways — but too proud, I think, to let him in the front door’.”

    To me, that’s poetic. … I’d like to have asked the African missionary if he can, as do I, picture Christ enjoying a belly-shaking laugh over a good joke with his disciples, now and then.

    And have asked him whether he also felt that Jesus was most viciously murdered in large part because he did not in the least behave in accordance to such corrupted and greedy human conduct and expectation — and in particular because he was nowhere near to being the vengeful, wrathful behemoth so many people seemingly wanted or needed their savior to be and therefore believed he’d have to be.

    Maybe Christ died in large part because people consciously or subconsciously want(ed) and/or need(ed) their creator’s nature to be a reflection of theirs. And, yes, Jesus also offended some high priests, money changers and Romans in-charge.

    I, a believer in Christ’s unmistakable miracles, can imagine many ‘Christians’ likely finding inconvenient, if not annoying, trying to reconcile the conspicuous inconsistency in the fundamental nature of the New Testament’s Jesus with the wrathful, vengeful and even jealous nature of the Old Testament’s Creator.

    While he was no pushover, Jesus fundamentally was about compassion and charity. He clearly would not tolerate the accumulation of tens of billions of dollars by individual people — especially while so many others go hungry and homeless.

    Today, when a public figure openly supports a guaranteed minimum income, he/she is nevertheless deemed communist/socialist and therefore somehow evil by many institutional Christians. This, while Christ’s teachings epitomize the primary component of socialism — do not hoard morbidly superfluous wealth in the midst of poverty.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Oh, this is fantastic!! I often think about how America suffers from thinking we are all Christian and we don’t even know what it means or who Jesus us. I was also raised Catholic. But didn’t know Jesus until I was 28!

    Liked by 1 person

  19. I wonder where the Jesus Lady is now. (How old would she be?) She’d be so pleased to know where you are now, spiritually. I know you will connect again someday, if not in this life, in the next one. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Pingback: The Jesus Lady | WE BELIEVE ANGELS VISIT US!

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  22. Thank you for this powerful piece

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Pingback: The Jesus Lady — Mitch Teemley – Christ-centered ruminations

  24. There’s always so much to glean from your posts Mitch. Intrigued with your story and certainly encouraged to share mine with you someday. Stay Blessed.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. I was an atheist too, but once Jesus comes into your heart, there is no denying Him. Sadly, so many Christians get distracted by condemning others who sin, and forget that we are all sinners. The most important commandment is to love God and your neighbours as yourself. With that as our guide, we cannot go wrong.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Pingback: The Jesus Lady | JESUS IS COMIMG BACK! Enjoy the Matthew Seufer Amazon Authors Page. Bringing Inspiration and Hope Worldwide in 2022.

  27. Pingback: My Biggest Hits of 2022 | Mitch Teemley

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