Hi, my name is Kathy Hilliard. I was born in Valdosta, Georgia. My parents divorced when I was young and we moved back to Tallahassee, my mom and brother and I.
I was raised in a Christian home, sometimes. When my mom was close to the Lord, we were in church every time the doors were open. And at different times in her life when she got away from the Lord, we weren’t in church.
But every time we were with my grandparents we were in church and we were around them a lot. They were very active in church, very active in ministry. That’s pretty much where my example of service came from, was from them, my grandmother especially. She was a big influence on my life. She was the one who taught me the importance of a daily devotion.
I accepted Jesus as my Savior when I was eleven years old, at a church in Owensboro, Kentucky, where we lived for just a few years. My mom’s Sunday school teacher actually was instrumental in leading me to the Lord. Her name is Gay Camp, and that had a huge influence on me as a little girl.
My mom was remarried when I was five, and I was in a very abusive environment for about six or seven years. And that had a lot to do with my view of myself. Although I knew I was a Christian and I knew I was a child of God, there was a lot of shame and a lot of self image issues that just presented themselves throughout my life in different ways. So much as; bad relationships and just not good scenarios, and putting myself in places and positions I shouldn’t have been in. I knew that I was a Christian, and I knew that I was saved, but beyond that I knew nothing. I did not know who I was in Christ.
When I got saved, when I was eleven, the first prayer that I remember God answering was to stop the abuse. For me that was the first prayer that I saw tangibly answered in my life. And at twelve years old I said “Lord, whatever You want to do with me, please do.” And I had a burden in my heart at twelve, to minster to women. I knew that one day I was going to grow up and minister to women who had dealt with the things I had dealt with.
At twenty-one when I got divorced and lived away from the Lord for six or seven years, Satan used that time period to just beat me up and tell me, “Oh God’s not going to use you, you’re of no use to Him anymore, look what you’ve done, look where you’ve been.”
A couple of years before I got remarried, I was actually about twenty-five or twenty-six years old, it was about eleven years ago when the Lord began to really draw me back to him. I got a second job at Stein Mart and a lady there invited me to church. And that was the beginning of a walk with the Lord that I can only describe as just full of grace.
I felt that I was beyond God’s grace. And wallowing in that pit of sin, the Lord reached down and grabbed a hold of me and just showed me a way out and showed me that His grace truly was sufficient, that nothing I did was unforgiveable. But I had to come to Him and I had to repent and I had to believe and I did.
It’s been a process. I went through some serious marital struggles the first three years of our marriage, we almost divorced. I had a family tragedy that was beyond anything I ever thought I would have to experience. A very close family member was arrested for child molestation. I had to go through that and that was very devastating. And then in the last couple of years, I’ve learned a lot about grief. In an eighteen month period of time I lost five family members. That has been a new walk with the Lord.
In 1999 I felt like the Lord was calling me into Women’s ministry. I had been teaching Sunday school, and I decided to do a newsletter for women. And at the time it was called Good News for Women. It was a big hit and so the church that we were at asked me if I could do it for the ladies on a regular basis. And I began doing that.
Then in 2002 we had a mother-daughter banquet and no speaker. And the Lord had laid this entire thing on my heart, and I thought “Lord, I’m not going to speak, they’re not going to let me speak, I’m nobody, you know?” Well finally I went to the Women’s ministry leader and I said “I really feel that the Lord’s given me a burden to speak to the ladies.” And she said “Well, you know, it’s really strange because every speaker I’ve tried to get has turned me down.” And it was just a real blessing, it confirmed in my heart that this is what I wanted to be doing.
My goal is eventually to be in full time Christian ministry with ladies ministry. I’ve spoken at several different churches. The Lord just said “Take that and help other women that have been through what you’ve been through.” And you’d be surprised at how many there are.
But I was a walking, bleeding, person, in need of so much. The Lord forgave me and look what He showed me though this. That has been tremendous for me. I literally crawled back to Him, but He took me with open arms, and I am so thankful.