My name is Tracey Cochran. I own the Little English Guesthouse Bed and Breakfast in Tallahassee.
I was born and raised in London, England in a family that were not Christians…did not go to church. I went off to college in Staffordshire, in Stoke-on-Trent. I was in the middle of college and I had done an exchange student program, whatever you call that. I had come over one summer (I was working in Maryland) and met a person that I decided to marry – against my parents’ wishes, I might add.
Long story short, I graduated from college and then moved to the states and married this man – and was totally miserable. After about ten years we got divorced. And I think at that point getting divorced was the worst thing that ever happened to me in my whole life.
And then I started seeing my husband, Thom. And he was – what he describes himself as being a backslidden Christian. Now what he was doing dating me, I really don’t know. I’m glad he was, but…
And so, by now I’m about 34 years old. So anyway, Thom and I, we had a big fight – I mean a big, huge fight – to the point where I wasn’t even sure that I wanted to marry him (and we were planning on getting married that autumn).
We happened to be both in Orlando on the same day. He had called me in the middle of the afternoon (I was in the middle of a business meeting) and said, “Do you want to meet for dinner?” And I thought, “No, I don’t want to meet you for dinner. By this point I really don’t want anything to do with you.”
He said, “There’s a meeting at the civic center. You know, they’re going to have a great worship service tonight. Why don’t I just meet you there after dinner?” Okay, fine.
And so anyway, at the end of the worship service (which was brilliant) the vicar, the speaker, actually what he said was, “Turn to the person on your left (or whatever) and say, ‘Is tonight the night that you are going to accept Christ?’”
And I remember when he said that, thinking, “Well you know that sounds good, but I don’t think that I’m going to say that in front of all these people, because it’s just embarrassing.”
So, the woman who was standing next to me turns to me and asks the question, “Do you want to accept Christ as your personal savior?” And I said, “Yes.” For me it was like an out-of-body experience, where I could hear myself saying yes and I could feel myself thinking, “Tracey, what are you doing?”
So then she took me by the hand and led me to the front of the civic center, and so that was that. Now, I do remember thinking afterwards, going to bed and thinking, “What was that? What happened?” Because on the way home it was normal. I mean, I was no longer mad at him, but it was just…there was no bolt of lightning, there was no…and that was it.
But here’s the thing. I was on a business trip, probably a couple weeks after that. I was listening to, like, a Whitney Houston CD – and suddenly thinking to myself, “This woman is saying absolute drivel,” – and thinking, “I need to be listening to something else.”
And I think from there, I was looking at the world with different eyes. The other part that I think about, you know, how Jesus just changed my life, was I became obsessed…with making sure that my family was saved.
My mother was diagnosed with lung cancer a few months after I was saved, and so it became very important to me that she accept Christ. They lived in London, and my father called and said, “Okay, she’s going into hospice, and the doctor says she has two weeks left, so you need to come home,” – which my father had never said in 20 years of living here. And so I said, “Okay, I’m coming home.”
And so I jumped on the plane and remember practicing – in the back of my Bible there’s, you know, “How to Lead Someone to Christ” – practicing because, you know, this is it. She’s going, you know, by the time I get home.”
I slept in the hospice with my mom, and there was a nurse that came in. And mom was, you know, lying right there in the bed. You know, it was two o’clock in the morning in hospice and saying to her (her name was Rita) saying to Rita, “You know, I’m really concerned that Mom’s going to die and she’s not saved.” And Rita just said, “It’s very simple, you know, you just ask her if she wants to accept Christ, and if she does then you just lead her there.”
But she’s not speaking. By then she was nonverbal. And so she said, “Well just ask her anyway.”
And so I asked my mother, “Will you accept Christ as your personal savior?” And Mom said yes. And she died a few days later.
When I told my father that, you know, that Mom had accepted Christ – and he didn’t really say very much – he was just like, “Well, really? Well how does that work?” And then my father accepted Christ when he was 71. And he died when he was 74.
And so, I think of the things that I went through prior to becoming saved, and I do wonder how I managed to get through it. For example, you know, losing my parents – if I didn’t have Christ to lean on, I really don’t know what I would have done. Because losing my mom was so much worse of a personal experience for me than getting divorced. And then losing my dad was an even worse experience for me. But, in both of those situations, I could just let God carry me through – and He did! He did.
If I didn’t have God in my life at that time, how would I have done that? Particularly when I was with them both when they died. And so when you watch someone step out of this world and into the next – I just could not have done that without Christ.