My Story

Members of our TBC family share how God has moved in their lives

Judy Graber sat in the pew at our 2018 Easter service, overwhelmed by so many things. A marriage that was falling apart. A home that was crowded with things she’d collected over the years, with the hope of repurposing them into beautiful, useful things. Just like God does to people. What Judy didn’t know was that God was going to make her into something new that day…

Best. Stories. Ever.

This video was shown at our Easter 2018 service and features TBCers Ericka, Sam and Ben. Each of these individuals overcame deep darkness and despair and are now experiencing healing through Christ.  We pray that through their willingness to share, that others will be inspired by their stories of life change and that God be glorified through it all.

Screen Shot 2018-04-06 at 1.22.50 PM.png

Ericka was living in darkness, broken and alone. She turned to drugs, men and the streets to fill the hole she felt in her life, but it wasn't enough. She was abused, taken for granted, and came close to losing her life. "I was empty," Ericka said. Pregnant and in danger, Ericka fell to her knees and cried out to God for help. "I swear that I could hear Him say 'I'm all that you need'," Ericka said. "Something inside of me began to change." The void was filled for the first time in her life, and she experienced hope, "and that hope came from God," she said. In her life change, Ericka has discovered that God is not a punishing hand. "His touch is so gentle," she said, "and I can literally feel Him hold me. He took my past, and my shame, and my mistakes, and he paid the price for me." Ericka went from being empty to being enough. She has reunited with her family and she, along with her beautiful child, attend TBC, where Ericka enjoys the women's Bible studies. 

Screen Shot 2018-04-12 at 12.00.14 PM.png

Sam was living in California, where he was immersed in a violent culture of crime. He got an adrenaline rush out of doing wrong and hurting others. Not only did he try to hide the things he did from his mother and the rest of his family, it was as if he shed that identity as he walked through the door. He had become numb to the violence. "I was becoming inhumane," Sam said. He knew about God, but he wasn't following him. He could never understand how God could show such mercy and love to sinners like Sam and send His one and only son to die on the cross for us. That feeling of longing to understand set Sam on a journey of discovery that led him to accept Christ as his savior. "He transformed my heart," Sam said. He went from being a violent man to a caring and meek man of God. Sam now attends TBC, where he is active in the Young Adults Ministry and serves on our Deacon Board. 

Screen Shot 2018-04-12 at 12.00.55 PM.png

Ben was raised in a Christian home in the Boston area, where he excelled in football. An injury brought his dreams of college football to an end. The sport had been his escape, but without that to rely upon, he became rebellious. "I turned to sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll," Ben said. He began a downward spiral that resulted in being unfaithful to his wife. Ben said, "My unfaithfulness hurt quite a few people, not just me. It had an impact on my wife, an impact on my family, my children." Ben ended up in jail after an accident where alcohol was involved. "Nobody could help me," he said. Even though he had turned away from God, what he learned from his upbringing was still in his mind. "I knew ... God was always there. I had no other choice but to go to God." Ben prayed, "You're going to have to break me." And he did. "God's grace allowed my wife to not only expose my sin, but to look past it and forgive me." God transformed Ben's rebellious, unfaithful heart into a faithful one, and made him a faith-filled man. Ben and his family now attend TBC.

What can transform someone like Ericka, who was empty into a thriving woman who knows she's enough? What can change a violent man into a meek and gentle man like Sam? And what can take someone like Ben, who who rebelled in nearly every way, and turn him into a faithful husband, father, and man of Christ? The answer is simple ... resurrection power. We believe that God sent His one and only son to die on the cross for us. He took the punishment for you, for every single one of us. In dying, He defeated death. Through His resurrection, he restored eternal life for all. All we have to do is accept the gift that God has given us. 

If you've become separated from God (or if you don't know him at all), reach out to a member of our pastoral staff today to learn about resurrection power. 

God saved Jeremy from a life of addiction and showed him how to thrive as a father and a son.

Jeremy’s story includes all the ingredients of a tragedy: growing up in an abusive household, surrounded by drugs and alcohol. He finally succumbed to those temptations, and participated in the collapse of his marriage when he committed adultery. But that isn't where Jeremy's story ends. It's actually where it begins ...

“I went to my ex-wife’s parents’ church. In this messed up time of my empty life, I needed to find what was real.” Not long after, Jeremy was on an alcoholic binge when his sister intervened and implored him to stop drinking.

“I just wanted something new. I was tired of feeling empty.”

That was the last time Jeremy drank, more than eight years ago.

Jeremy started attending church and taking Bible studies and making friends with the men he met there.

“I was looking and searching for God. … Through all these trials, He became my father, because I allowed him. He became my close friend because I needed one. He became my mentor because I needed to learn. My anger was decreasing. My patience and love were just out of this world, and I was becoming one of the best fathers I knew.” Jeremy’s daughter is now a regular part of his life and you can tell when he talks about her that he is proud to be her dad.

Jeremy's journey didn’t stop there. He reached out to his own father, who had caused so much pain in his childhood, and offered forgiveness. Jeremy even helped his dad move out of a bad living situation and is now rebuilding their relationship.

Jeremy's relationship with his Heavenly Father also continues to grow. "I seek to find Him in new ways like one searches for treasure," Jeremy said. "He has shown me that I am valuable. He wants me to discover who He created me to be by asking, seeking and knocking."

Our thanks to Matt Nystrom and All Day Matinee Films for allowing us to share this video. 

Leoti and Sarah's Story

God used one TBC couple's devastating loss to save a life and bring two families together in ways that only He can.

Leoti Masterson and Sarah Yeager

Leoti Masterson and Sarah Yeager

Leoti's story:

Doug and I have had so much fun parenting two boys – our oldest is Jeff, born in 1980. Mike was born two years and nine months later. 

One weekend in 2002 during Mike’s freshman year at K-State, Mike had come home and he asked what he could do to help that weekend. Doug suggested that the lawn needed to be mowed. Mike mowed maybe less than one pass, came back inside, flopped down on the couch, and said something was drastically wrong.

Mike’s doctor ran a number of tests, all of which came back negative. The doctor wanted to run one more test – to check for something called Addison’s disease. I asked whether it was a life-threatening condition, and the doctor said that it was treatable. Because Mike was getting ready for finals, I asked if it was an emergency situation. The doctor said it was okay to wait because and they could work around Mike’s schedule.

I talked to Mike that Sunday. He wished me a Happy Mother’s Day, told me he loved me, and said he thought he was getting better.

It was Mother’s Day weekend and Doug and I had planned to travel to North Dakota to celebrate my mother’s 80th birthday. Mike told us he would be fine at home. He would keep in touch with us, stay home and study for finals. We went on to North Dakota. I talked to Mike that Sunday. He wished me a Happy Mother’s Day, told me he loved me, and said he thought he was getting better. Monday morning, we tried to call him again, but got a busy signal. Some friends were keeping an eye on Mike while we were gone. When they went to look in on him, they couldn’t find him. We began our 900-mile trip home, praying that God would spare Mike’s life. When we got home, the police came and looked for him. We told them that we had reason to believe our son was sick. They searched again, but couldn’t find him. They were about ready to leave when I pleaded with them to bring in a K-9 unit. One of the officers shined his light down behind the computer desk where I had been sitting. Then the police asked us to go out on to the driveway. We were there just a couple minutes when they asked us to come back in to sit down on the couch. They said the words that would forever change our lives, “We found your son and he is dead.”

I prayed for a fingerprint from God.

Shortly after Christmas in 2010, we were approaching Mike’s birthday on January 30. I prayed and asked the Lord if he could show me that Mike was still remembered and that somehow that God was able to use his life and death for good. I prayed for a fingerprint from God. Three days later, God answered my prayer with a phone call …



Sarah's story:

As soon as I heard that term, a flag went up in my head and I thought of Mike Masterson.

I became a mom for the first time in September of 2009. Like any Mom, I found out what it’s like to be exhausted – all the time! In January of 2011, the tiredness was so overwhelming I felt compelled to switch doctors. My new doctor did a number of tests. Everything came back normal except my cortisol levels. The doctor referred me to an endocrinologist for further testing and to rule out Addison’s disease. As soon as I heard that term, a flag went up in my head and I thought of Mike Masterson. But I was going to have to wait three months to get in to see the endocrinologist. 

I thought and prayed about my condition for a couple days. I finally decided I wanted to contact Mike’s parents to see if, looking back, they saw any symptoms in Mike I could look for in myself, just to see if there’s any reason I should even be worried. Doug answered the phone and he and I chatted for awhile. He said he’d have Leoti call me when she got home from work. She called me that evening. We talked a little about Mike and his symptoms. Leoti talked about the last week of Mike’s life, and looking back, what she thought was going on with him. The symptoms sounded similar to some of what I was experiencing. We agreed to talk again a couple days later at TBC’s Intentional Mom group, where Leoti was a mentor mom.

Leoti and I talked a little that day, but we were both busy doing things. Later that night, she called me, with tears in her voice. She said that when she saw me, she saw some similarities to the way Mike looked at the end of his life and she was concerned. She had been praying about it and she felt the Lord was leading her to call me. She thought three months was too long to wait to see the endocrinologist and that I needed to be seen sooner if at all possible. Caring mother that she is, Leoti also called my mom to make sure she was aware of everything going on. My mom got on the job and started calling around. Everyone assured her that Mike’s situation was very rare and that the likeliness that I had Addison’s was extremely rare, but they agreed to see me on Monday. 

February 14 is now not just Valentine’s Day, it’s an anniversary day for me and Leoti!

That Monday, February 7, the endocrinologist said I had every symptom of Addison’s that there was, so more tests were ordered to be sure. It took two days to get the results and confirm that I had the disease. I was started on medication immediately and a week later I had an appointment to learn more about the disease. When we arrived, the doctor said he was so glad to see us that day. We said, “yeah … we’re glad to see you, too.” He said, “no … I mean you almost didn’t make it. A normal person’s cortisol level is 20, yours is about .1” He said that those are very low levels usually seen only in autopsies. I had been very close to death’s door. Chad and I started crying immediately. We told the doctor about Leoti, how she had lost her son to Addison’s, and how she had urged me to take action sooner. February 14 is now not just Valentine’s Day, it’s an anniversary day for me and Leoti!

It was because of the Masterson’s great loss and their obedience to the Holy Spirit that they felt compelled to get involved in my situation. I think only a gracious, loving God would use someone who lost a child to this disease to get involved and spare my parents the pain of knowing what it’s like to lose child themselves and my husband the pain of burying his wife. As a result, we have so much to be thankful for, and I’m thankful that God chose to use Leoti, and the special friendship we have as a result. 

Brennan, Art Catapult.jpeg

Art Brennan has been actively serving at Topeka Bible Church for over 30 years.

Art was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1950 and is the oldest of four brothers. His parents were practicing Catholics. His dad was typical blue collar, working as a die-cut operator. His mom stayed home and raised Art and his brothers until their teen years, going to work as a telephone operator in a hospital in New Jersey.

After graduating from high school in 1970, he went to work for a home center near his house. Shortly thereafter he was drafted and stationed in Vietnam from 1970 to 1971 where his drug use increased.

“When I went in the Army, there was more opportunity to do more drugs. When I went to Nam, I did a lot of drugs,” he recounted. “I came back home and continued to fill my days with drugs and parties.”

After his discharge he returned to New Jersey, resuming his employment at Rickel’s Home Center as a forklift driver, but continued the drugs and the partying lifestyle. Not long after that, he got married, quit his job, moved to Kansas and then had a child, finding new employment as a forklift operator. His marriage was a self-described, “four-year train wreck.” Not surprisingly, the union ending in divorce.

He moved into an apartment with his friends and continued his downward spiral with drugs.

Even though Art didn’t know it and he didn’t care, God was working in his life, directing his path,.

One day while loading a truck, Art was approached by a co-worker who asked him if he knew "Jesus Christ as his personal Savior.” Art’s only concept of Jesus was from his upbringing: The Christmas baby and the Easter ‘guy.’ The man gave him a New Testament and told him to read it. Art read the Gospel a couple of times, expecting something magical to happen. When it didn’t, he wanted to return it, but his friend wouldn’t take it back.

Still, God didn’t give up on Art. As a loving omniscient Father, God knew the outcome.

Art continued with drugs but did start reading the pocket New Testament in secret. “I couldn't let the guys in my apartment know I was reading it as I was still smoking dope. I’d hide in the stairwell and read it, then I’d put it away and go back to the apartment.”

“One day, in 1988, I was reading the pocket New Testament. It was John 3:16. WHAM! It hit me. Despite being empty-heart with a drugged mind, one simple verse told me that someone died for my sins,” Art fondly recalled. “It was Jesus!"

"I started crying like a baby, bawling out loud. I accepted him right there! I went into my apartment and told my friends that it is all over. I am done with drinking and drugs. That was my way to the cross.”

As he began developing a relationship with Jesus Christ, he became friends with a woman named Sandy through their work at Payless Shoes. Their friendship grew into a romantic love that led to them getting married. Art says founding their marriage on Christ has led to more than 35 wonderful years together.

Sometimes as believers we just need to rest in Him, breathe and grow, before we start serving. Art was at that point. He searched a long time for a Bible teaching church before he found TBC. “I walked into TBC and just sat in the back and listened as I watched Jim teach from God's Word. I sat there for a year when someone asked me to hand out bulletins.”

Art has been serving and ministering in many areas of the church. He supervises the offering and communion teams in the 8 AM service. You’ll then find him serving in the College Avenue Building at the Warehouse with 5th grade boys. He also works on the TBC visitation team, collecting and delivering bulletins and class lessons to shut-ins. He also checks on the welfare of those who haven’t attended for a while and he offers rides to people in his neighborhood that might not otherwise be able to attend. He also does setup for the monthly men’s breakfast, getting drinks and tables ready. He has been a leader for Pioneer Boys Club on Wednesday for more than 25 years.

Art has been involved with a camping ministry for over 30 years, participating in or organizing boys’ camps in Iowa, Michigan, and Minnesota. Art was praying that a Christian Boys camp would be local. A couple years ago, Art became involved in the Camp Catapult in the Wild boys’ day camp at TBC.

Art’s philosophy is simple but effective: “I go where he [God] tells me. He opens doors, I go through. He closes them, and I don’t.”

Topeka Bible Church is really blessed to have members like Art, who want to serve and minister God’s love to others.

“I am so blessed,” Art said in awe. “How can I not serve? I am humbled by the strength and power of the word of God.”