Shackles of Unbelief . . . Broken!

July 01, 2016

Though this woman was bound by doubt, God awakened a spiritual hunger in her heart.

By Annie Giselman

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s a child, I grew up without God and without hope, but how I thank Him for the day He transformed my life from darkness into the light of this glorious Gospel!

My father was a Catholic, and I was taught the catechism and loved to hear the stories about Jesus, Mary, Joseph, and Daniel. However, my mother did not believe in God. When she was just eleven years old her mother had died, and in bitterness and disappointment she became an infidel—a hard woman—and therefore she taught me to be an infidel. When I would come to her wanting to know about Jesus, she would push me away, saying, “Religion is only make-believe, and Jesus is a fable. There is no God and no hereafter.”

How my heart would sink when I heard those words. Many times I would be so sad, but would think, Mother knows! She always told me that a good name was all that counted, and her teachings took root in my heart. I thank God that He had mercy on one like me.

In 1903, when I was twelve years old, my family moved from Kladno in the Bohemian region of Czechoslovakia, to the prairies of western Canada. There my father disappeared and my mother lost everything she had, which added to her bitterness. She was a defeated woman, and began going hither and yon looking for reality. In 1918, a flu epidemic struck Portland, Oregon, and because she was a nurse, she decided to move there and find work. She gathered all of her earthly possessions in a suitcase and relocated.

Mother's conversion

While providing in-home care to a Bohemian woman in Portland, she met a neighbor who invited her to the Apostolic Faith Church. She went, and the first sermon she heard was from the text, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). She grasped at that message as a drowning man grasps a straw. She went to the altar of prayer and was wonderfully saved.

At that time, I was married with three children and living in Alberta, Canada. I received a letter from my mother telling me that she had been saved and God had changed her heart. She said she had found God to be real, and begged me to forgive her for the way she had brought me up. She wanted me to seek the Lord also, but I wrote back, “Mother, I’m glad you are happy at last, but I cannot believe it.”

The impact of a Gospel paper

She did not give up, but instead sent me some Gospel papers published by the Apostolic Faith Church in Portland. She also went to Florence Crawford, the founder of this organization, who told her, “We will pray that the Lord will bring your daughter here.” The people there prayed, and that is just what the Lord did.

When I received that first church paper and read in it about the peace those people had, I determined to go to Portland and see for myself if it could be true.

When I received that first church paper and read in it about the peace those people had, I determined to go to Portland and see for myself if it could be true. Some time passed as I made preparations, but eventually the day came when I boarded a train with my three children and a few baskets of sandwiches.

We arrived on the east side of Portland where there was a community of Bohemians. I spoke their language and they welcomed us into their homes. They attended the Apostolic Faith with my mother and invited me to go also. I went and sat in the back of the church and listened to the testimonies of some of those who had been delivered from deep sin. I was insulted that my mother wanted to class me with those who had testified of such things. She answered, “We have all sinned and come short of the glory of God. You must be born again.”

Somehow the Spirit of God moved upon my soul and awakened a desire within me to know more. I could not help myself; I hungered to know God and was compelled to seek Him. However, the unbelief and doubt were so deeply rooted in my heart that I could not seem to believe. It was like battling against a stone wall. I began to wonder if there was a God in Heaven after all.

For months I struggled with that unbelief. Finally in desperation I cried out to God, “Make a Christian of me. Make Yourself so real to me that I will know there is a God in Heaven. Then I will give You my life and serve You. God, I believe; help my unbelief!”

On my way home from one of the church services, at about 11:00 o’clock at night, the heavens opened. God saved my soul, and I was born again! His love became real to me. For days I went around saying, “It’s all true! It’s all real!” I had hungered and thirsted for five solid months trying to battle against the powers of unbelief that had me bound and shackled, but that night God came to my rescue and set my captive soul at liberty. He saved my soul and numbered me among the redeemed of the Lord. He put such peace and joy in my heart. Oh, the glory of God that flooded my soul! I was a new creature in Christ Jesus. He blotted out my sins and made me a believer in a moment of time. I could never doubt again.

Started reading God's Word

After God saved my soul, I took that Bible out of the trunk and started reading it to my three little children. My eyes were opened and I was able to understand its teachings.

The next day I thanked Jesus for the meal I ate, and I thought of a Bible that I had kept in a trunk for years. Sometimes I had taken it out and tried to read it, but I could never understand anything in it and got nothing out of it. After God saved my soul, I took that Bible out of the trunk and started reading it to my three little children. My eyes were opened and I was able to understand its teachings. From that day, the Bible has been an open Book in my home, and I have believed it from cover to cover.

A number of times I saw God undertake for the healing of my children. One time the school authorities called me to say my eldest son was going blind. Another time, they said my youngest son was going deaf, and that he would be totally deaf before he reached thirty years of age. Today my children are neither blind nor deaf. We brought each situation before the Lord in prayer, and now they are grown, and all three are serving the Lord with me in this Gospel.

After I received salvation, I was invited to prayer meetings in the homes of my Bohemian neighbors. It was during one of those gatherings that the Lord sanctified me wholly, giving me that second, definite work of grace. In another of those prayer meetings, He baptized me with the mighty Holy Ghost and fire.

I praise God for the peace and joy in my heart, and I am determined to be faithful to the end of this Christian race. There have been trials and persecutions through the years, but the Lord has always been my help and stay. It has been worth it all. I have been in this glorious Gospel for many years, and am pressing toward the mark for the prize of the high calling in Christ Jesus, looking to Him as the Author and Finisher of my faith.

About the author

Annie Giselman went to be with the Lord on November 24, 1972 at the age of eighty-one. She had been in the Apostolic Faith Church for forty-eight years, and served with the cleaning crew and in the mailing department. Her son, Norman, often testified to her faithfulness saying, “My mother lived her religion. She devoted her whole life to teaching us children the love and mercy of God. Many times I would hear her speak to God about a problem, and it wouldn’t be long before I would see her prayer answered.”