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Bianka struggled with a dysfunctional family full of abuse and poor choices. She was in a place contemplating suicide when God spoke to her in a dream. Jesus grabbed hold of her heart and her life changed forever…and then her family changed forever.
Thank you for listening to Brought Back to Life. We want to take a minute to let you know that this episode has sensitive content and may not be safe for young ears.
Pastor David was just speaking so clearly to my heart. For those of you who have a conversion story, you know that moment where you’re starting to feel the layers pull back and you’re becoming more and more exposed with every word he’s saying. And he hit me right in the heart.
Welcome to Brought Back to Life, a podcast where we explore how Jesus changes everything.
Hi, my name’s Bianka. And when I came to life in the Lord was August 5th of 2014. I grew up in not a Christian home at all. I come from a very broken background. My family, well one, my parents were super young. I feel like I can’t share the story that God’s given me without sharing a little bit of my family’s history. My mom and dad were very young when they had me. My mom was 18, they were partying all the time and that didn’t really stop when I was brought into the picture. And so with that, I just really think, and even now in retrospect, we talk about it, they didn’t really know how to be parents. And I grew up in this broken environment, my dad was pretty physically abusive and it was just not a good environment for a kid to be brought up in, especially not without God.
And so with moving a lot and my environment that I grew up in, I very quickly went down a pretty dark path with where I was at mentally. When I was 13, I had attempted to take my life and I was only stopped because my little sister at the time, she was about six, she randomly walked into the kitchen and saw me and just… We were sharing a room at the time because my parents were trying to separate and she just was like, “What are you doing?” And I just was like, “Oh, I’m cutting strawberries.” I came up with some random excuse and all she said to me was, “Can you come back to bed?” And so I took her hand and I went back to bed. And what I didn’t know at the time was God, but now for sure know, God gave me a dream where it was my whole life lived as if I had actually gone through with what I planned to do.
And I watched my mom wake up and find me. I watched my siblings wake up and find me. And the whole time I’m holding this man’s hand in the dream. And every time I turn to try to look at him, it’s so bright and I can’t completely turn to see who it is, but I knew it was a presence that I could feel comfortable with. And we were watching almost like a TV screen of everything. And long story short, it was just me being found by my family. I watched my wake and my funeral and the last thing that, what I believe is God, showed me in the dream was my body. Literally, it’s pretty graphic, but my body just rotting in the ground. And the last words that this man in the dream said to me was, “And you and your family would’ve never known me.”
And so I wake up not knowing at all that that was God because I had no concept of that. I mean, I was Catholic, but that’s because I’m Hispanic, it’s not because we really had a relationship with God in any way, shape or form. And all I knew was that it scared the pants off me. I was like, whatever that was, I don’t want that. I asked my sister if she remembered anything from last night and she was like, “Nope.” So I said, “Okay, I don’t need to tell anyone.” But if I can’t take my life, I’m just going to destroy it in other ways because I was so scared straight, I’m like, “I don’t want to be that last picture of my body rot in the ground.” So drugs, sex, getting into high school, running with the wrong crowd was what I was wanting to do. And so naturally I joined a sports team and I ended up playing water polo throughout high school.
And my freshman year, this nagging just quintessential youth group girl kept inviting me to youth group. And I was like, “No, I’m not a Christian. I have no desire to follow God. I’m not down with it. I’m going to say no to you every single time.” But she just was persistent. And so for those of you who know God and you are keen on someone to bring them into the fold, keep being persistent because it does work. But yeah, she just kept inviting me and then she got me because she was like, “I know you don’t want to come to youth group, but there’s this youth trip that we’re taking. Two weeks out on a houseboat in Lake Mohave in Arizona. You’re going to love it, it’s everything that you love, it’s water, it’s wakeboarding, it’s tubing. You don’t have to be a Christian to come. Yes, we’re going to talk about God, but it’s totally up to you, just very open. You’re going to have a lot of fun if you come.”
And I was like, “Okay, maybe I’ll go.” And then the youth pastor, his rule was if you come to camp and we don’t know who you are, you have to come to at least one youth group before. So I go and I go to the youth group, I find out that the trip’s, for some reason in my brain, I’m like, the trip’s free, obviously not. It was $350 or something like that. And yeah, immediately I was like, “I can’t go.” Because my family still at the time was pretty shaky, I just had asked my parents for stuff for water polo gear, all this stuff. I was like, “There’s no way. I’m one of four siblings. I can’t afford it.”
So I told them, “So nice to meet you. Can’t go, too expensive.” So two weeks later, my friend comes to practice and she’s like, “Someone paid for you to go. In full, someone paid for you to go.” And I was like, “What? No one even knows me from this church. What are you talking about?” And she’s like, “I don’t know, dude. My pastor just said, you can go for free.” And I was like, “Okay. Well, I don’t see how I can say no to that.” And now in retrospect, I found out that it was the pastor and his wife, their names are David and Jessica, and they had played such a pivotal role in God’s story for me.
And yeah, so I go on this trip and it’s a week and a half, two week trip. And the first night, I had never seen people worship before. And we’re in the desert. Okay, I am trying to paint the picture. We’re in the desert, there’s a bonfire because it’s camp. I’d never seen contemporary worship, I’d never seen people raise their hands. So me, and also as a little bit of a conspiracy theorist growing up person, me being there, I’m seeing people raising their hands around this fire, singing, being so emotive and I literally thought, I’m an outsider. They’re going to sacrifice me. What is happening? Why are these people… I’ve never seen anything like that. And I very much was closed off, I just had my arms crossed and was just like, “I don’t know about this.” Very skeptical and very much being just a weirdo in my head thinking of all these different scenarios. And then the pastor opened up the floor for what we were going to talk about during camp and it was big world, big problems, but an even bigger God.
And I remember hearing the words he was saying and it was definitely a tug at my heart. I was really honed in on what he was saying, but it didn’t really hit anything the first night other than, okay, this is interesting. I didn’t know they’d talk about stuff like this. I thought it was just going to be a bunch of Bible and we would just be bored and then whatever. So the next night, August 5th, we have a fun day, we’re all super tired, we were wakeboarding all day, having a blast. And then the night session came around and Pastor David was just speaking so clearly to my heart.
For those of you who have a conversion story, you know that moment where you’re starting to feel the layers pull back and you’re becoming more and more exposed with every word he’s saying. And he hit me right in the heart and he started to share about, he just simply was stating the gospel. He started to share about a father who sent his son because he loved me, because he had hope for me, a father that expected nothing from me, a father who would never leave me or forsake me, someone who saw me for who I was and didn’t turn away and would never hurt me.
And that night, very much the Holy Spirit was speaking to me because he said, “Some of you don’t have a perfect earthly father or a good representation of that. Some of you have struggled with suicidal ideation and depression. There’s someone here I know that is just at their wits’ end and maybe you’ve even tried to end it. But God loves you and he has something for you, if only you would receive him. He died on the cross so that you can come to him.”
And he’s like, “It’s night two, I normally don’t do an altar call, but I feel led to ask if there’s anyone here who wants to give their life to Jesus, would you raise your hand?” And before I knew it, my hand shot up like a rocket and I felt the Holy Spirit seal on me that night, that I was the Lord’s and I was on my knees and raising my hands during worship, which is something I severely judged the night before and God just completely changed everything for me.
Peace isn’t about the absence of problems, it’s about the presence of Jesus. For more, go to the Faith tab at onpurposely.com.
The rest of the trip was so fun because I’m a very investigative person and so I was like, “So what’s worship? What do you mean there’s a Trinity? Holy Spirit, what is that? How does that work?” And these leaders and the pastor and his wife really took me under their wing and just showed me what it meant to be a Christian and different theological points that were very basic, very rudimentary that I had not understood at that point. And I came home just completely this joy filled person and my parents were like, “What the heck happened to you? You were brainwashed. What happened?” But slowly they started to see a genuine change in me. And I wasn’t allowed, I wouldn’t say I wasn’t allowed, but it was a no-no for me to not be home on Sundays. And my parents weren’t saved and none of my family was so when I had asked to go to church, it was like, “No, those are family days. We stay home, we watch football, we argue, have a horrible time, but it’s family days.”
But they said, if I could get rides to youth group, I could go on Wednesdays. So I was there, every Wednesday my friend would pick me up, we’d go after water polo practice. I made it there every week and was just soaking in the word, soaking in what it meant to follow Jesus. And I would come home every week and whether my parents wanted to listen or not, I would tell them about who God was, what he sent his son to do, and how much he loves us and how much he has available for us in him and how he saved me from, I started to open up to them about my depression. I started to open up to them about how I had wanted to take my life because they didn’t know that at that point.
And I thought it was going nowhere, that year of being the only saved person in my whole family, both my mom and my dad’s side, that was really invested, it was lonely. And every time I messed up, it was, “Oh, didn’t you say you were a Christian? Didn’t you say that you changed? What is this then?” And it was so discouraging and I really thought my words were going nowhere, but I stayed dedicated. I learned how to pray for my family. I learned how to evangelize in that setting.
And I remember it was more than halfway through sophomore year and my mom calls me and she tells me that she… Just a random call, I’m at my locker and she tells me that she gave her life to Jesus. And I was like, “What do you mean you gave your life to Jesus?” And I run home, we talk and she ends up telling me that she has been listening to what I’ve been telling her. And she three or four months ago, looked up a Bible study, just women’s Bible study near me, happened to be the closest one during school hours or whatever, was Cheryl Brodersen’s Joyful Life Women’s Ministry at Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa.
So she started going and the Lord totally got ahold of her heart and she gave her life to Jesus. And my mom and I are best friends. Like I said, she had me young, if you’ve seen Gilmore Girls, it’s a lot like that. And we just talked for hours and hours about, “How did he reveal that to you? And what does that mean to you? And what about this scripture? Do you know that…” Just geeking out over everything. So then we started to go to every Bible study we could get our hands on, Sunday, Wednesday night, all of this. And my dad, who was still a very controlling man at that time, was just crossed armed looking at us like, “Who are you seeing at church? Why are you going to church? What’s going on?” He thought my mom was seeing someone on the side at church.
He’s like, “There’s got to be someone there.” And just was being psycho. And so we were like, “You can come. It’s just us and the Lord. You can come to church. We invite you all the time, you never come.” And he was like, “Fine, I’m going to go check this out.” And so he comes to church and I think it was pretty much the year that Chuck passed away, Chuck Smith, but we got to hear a few of his sermons before he passed and one of them was on fatherhood. And that happened to be the Sunday my dad came to church. And I remember listening to him, I don’t even remember where he was, what sermon it was because honestly the whole time I remember me and my mom just so tense and stressed because in my dad’s mind, it could have been, we brought him here to this specific Sunday for him to hear this message. And oh my gosh, we’re going to get it when we get home.
And Chuck is just talking about, “Fathers should not provoke your children to wrath.” All of that and just how to lovingly lead your children as a father. And I remember sitting there so stressed and holding my mom’s hand and there were times where my dad was looking at us side eye, I couldn’t even get a read on him. And the altar call happens and my dad stands up and weeps, just completely broken. And he gave his life to the Lord. And I remember praying over him with my mom, he confesses his brokenness. His walk with the Lord definitely started that day, it was that first step, but it was a long road of actually changing what was 35 plus years of behavior. But from that day forward, he really never was physically abusive to the extent that he was. We started helping with the church plant as a family in Santa Ana and that’s where he really got to explore some of his faith.
So yeah, my dad passed away a saved man in October of 2021. My family and our story that the Lord has given us is really how we came to life. My mom, through the loss of my dad… Really, if God was not in our lives through the loss of my dad, I don’t know where my family would be. I don’t know where I would be honestly. There are parts of it that I’m 100% certain if God was not in my life at the time that he was, I would not be alive. I would not be here enjoying this beautiful sunny day in Shoreline, Washington. I would not be able to even share this story with you. But God is so faithful and he really truly is after our families. I think for those of us that are listening that maybe you have unsaved family, it is so not beyond him to reach them.
I have my three little siblings and my brother Ezra is 11 and my family has been saved for almost 11 years and so he’s only ever known the Lord. Rather my siblings and I have a different story, I have Isabella who’s 19 and Francesca who’s 15. And they are teenagers, they’re figuring it out, but the Lord loves them and they know that. And yeah, it’s just a beautiful story that the Lord’s given my family on how he really pursues us.
And yeah, I am forever grateful for him and it’s led me to a life in vocational ministry. It’s led me to have a voice into those who do not know him, just to really show them how accessible he is, how he loves us enough to meet us in the depths of who we are without him and loves us enough to change who we are, to understand him better, to grow with him better. And yeah, it’s definitely a testimony too of no one’s beyond reach. I mean, I saw my dad go through court mandated anger management, I saw him go through so many of the world’s solutions to an angry, broken man and God was the only thing that really reached his heart. And yeah, that’s my story.
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