My name is Shelley Bayless, and before I got saved I was moving from place to place, and I was so dissatisfied with life, but I didn’t know what it was. I was searching for satisfaction in things and in places. I thought that if I got a better job or made more money or moved to a different city, that I was going to find my peace and happiness there. But I never found it, no matter where I went. And I tried moving from one end of the country to the other, from New York to Los Angeles, and I never found that peace and that happiness.
Then when I came back to help out my parents (they moved down to Florida, and they were both ill at the time), someone invited me to come to church. The only reason why I went is because I wanted friends, I wanted to meet people – didn’t know anybody.
It took a while, but the Lord put it in my heart to keep on attending that church. Something clicked one day in a sermon that He was talking to me, that God was talking to me and telling me that this was what I needed.
He settled me right down. I knew that it wasn’t moving to a new place. I knew that it wasn’t moving to a new city or getting a new job or anything else. What I needed to give me that peace and purpose in life was Christ, was Jesus Christ.
When I first got saved (I’ve been saved for about 20 years) I was living down in Sarasota, Florida. And before I got saved I had been studying Spanish. I got my Bachelor’s in Spanish. But at that time, when I got saved, I was struggling to learn the language, even though I traveled several times to Mexico and spent almost a year in Spain. I was just having a hard time learning it and understanding.
One day during a service the preacher just happened to tell a story about a woman who had learned five different languages and she just had an ease with learning languages. When I heard that sermon I said, “Lord, I want that.” You know, I was about ready to give up because I felt like I was never going to learn it. And I said, “Lord, I want that. I want to be able to do that.”
And I forgot about it. And about a day or two later I happened to hear some people speaking Spanish, and I understood it. It amazed me because I know the Lord had just opened up my ears, and I could actually hear it and understand it for the first time with no struggle.
After that I went on to study Portugese and learned that and it was easy. It was simple for me. And I went on and studied French, even though I don’t speak French and German as well, I went on to study French and German and Haitian Creole and ancient Greek and Italian, and it was just easy. He had given me a facility with learning it.
Twenty years later, when I moved here to attend Florida State University, I was studying Spanish to get my PhD in Spanish, and I just decided that, you know, I would rather teach pastors and ministers and aspiring missionaries Spanish. I would rather use that, the gift that the Lord’s given me, to teach people for the Lord.
I always believe because the Lord gave me this gift, whenever I teach someone, that I pray with them so that the Lord would impart that gift also to them. You know, I believe that God has given me this gift, and I want to see other people who are going to use this gift to bring other men and women to Christ, also be able to use it.
My purpose and my reason and what God did for me – He gave me a purpose. He gave me a reason. He settled me down. I know that my anchor is in Him. And that no matter where I am, no matter what country I’m in, no matter where He sends me, I know – because wherever you go you take yourself with you. And if you’re unhappy on the inside, your unhappiness goes with you. But I know that if I have the Lord with me, He is my anchor. He is my purpose and my reason for living.