Meet Joel & Amanda Freedman

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In 2016 I was dating someone that asked me to marry him but his major stipulation was that I leave God’s people and the congregation of people that I’d fallen in love with. I told him that was not an option and ended the relationship. I testified to the young people in a Sunday prayer meeting shortly afterwards telling them that having a ring on your finger and getting married was not the end goal. The purpose of marriage was to enjoy life and grow in the Lord together. I even shared my recent hurt with having someone propose but only if I’d leave them, my family in Christ. That afternoon I went home and decided to take a nap and cried myself to sleep feeling so vulnerable. I woke up to a text message from an acquaintance that coordinated singles events that I’d participated in years past. The coordinator was asking me to attend an upcoming event. I text back that I was no longer interested. The coordinator asked if I’d please come to even out the numbers of people present. I looked at my cell phone and said, “Lord, if you meet me there I’ll go.” I immediately started crying and had a tender feeling to just go so I replied I’d attend.

The night of the event I arrived early. There was another gentleman that arrived early and he approached me and we chatted about our families for a bit. During the event I spoke with several folks present and met some nice people. The same guy, Joel, that I’d met at the beginning remembered me when he sat down at table #5 (my table) and we had a nice conversation about several things in life. At one point I remember him saying, “I know I’m here (on earth) for a reason, I just do not know why.” He also said he believed through multiple trials in his life that he survived for a purpose. When he said he believed in Jesus Christ and God it perked my ears. When I asked Joel about where he saw himself in the future he responded that he was okay with or without children, wanted to travel, wanted to spend time with family and desired to find someone special to spend the rest of his life with. I did not let Joel know at that time but those were the exact things I had said to myself on many occasions over the years. At the end of the event everyone present noted privately if there was anyone in which they would consider seeing again so I added Joel to my paper and I left the event.

Early the next day I received an email from Joel asking if I’d like to meet since we both had noted we would consider seeing each other again and I agreed. Joel knew the general area of North Carolina I lived in and had very considerately thought of a place for us to meet halfway for lunch. It was during this conversation that I found out the coordinator of the event had contacted Joel to fill an empty slot from a last minute cancellation. Joel had also originally told the coordinator, ‘no thank you’ and the coordinator had asked him to reconsider. Joel agreed to attend and give the singles event one more try. We ended up talking for hours that day and we learned quite a bit about each other. We exchanged phone numbers and agreed to see each other again. I know we talked for a long time that day about a lot of things but I wanted to know more about Joel’s relationship with Jesus.

We met a few more times and each time Joel was courteous and very considerate of my feelings and thoughts. He asked more about my life in Jesus and why I loved the things of God. We shared life experiences and testimonies and what we wanted out of this life.

Joel early on started coming to the prayer meetings with me to meet my family in God. He started learning about their lives and their testimonies and I watched him fall in love with these people that meant so much to me!

One day the Lord gave brother Darren Prater a new song, My Name is Truth and when Joel heard the song it overwhelmed him. I asked Darren if he’d share his song with Joel and me even though it was not officially recorded yet and he did especially after he heard how much it had touched Joel. I mentioned it to my dear friend, Rebekah Ogle and shared the phone recording of the song with her not knowing how this would play into an important time in Joel’s life in the near future. One weekend morning, Joel and I went over to Pastor John’s house just to sit around for coffee and the sweet, Godly conversation touched Joel. Joel shared how much Darren’s song had touched him and was trying to share his recording but his phone kept ‘going to sleep’ and the song would stop. He was tearful and folks got up and started praying for him. Rebekah remembered she had the song and shared it over the speakers in the room. As soon as that song started playing in surround sound Joel broke down; he began feeling feelings from Jesus that he’d never felt before. Folks could tell Jesus was touching something deep down inside Joel. It was the absolute sweetest thing to see and feel! I remember Sister Barbara Clark (Pastor John’s wife) praying for Joel and having a special experience with the Lord herself. Ellen, Barbara’s sister and a dear, sweet person in my life was also right there with Joel.


I remember Barbara was on one side of me and Ellen, her sister was on the other side during morning coffee at Pastor John’s house one weekend. They were both right there with me the first time I really felt the power of God. Darren’s song, “My Name is Truth” sparked something deep in my heart I’d never felt before.

Not too long after that on August 6, 2017, I was in a Sunday prayer meeting and was seeking the Lord. I was standing up and feeling such joy in my heart. When Caroline, one of the ladies in our congregation put her hand out towards me, I grabbed her hand and went out on faith joining her with my eyes closed. I wanted God to take control and I felt like as long as I had my eyes closed my brain, mind and eyes were closed off to things around me that could get in my way. I did not want to do anything that would let my flesh be involved. I wanted my heart to be open to what God wanted me to feel; I didn’t want to feel constrained. At one point, I remember feeling weak and remember falling down to my knees to be as humble as I could be. I did not know a whole lot of anything; I just wanted Jesus to take me. I remember feeling, ‘here I am Lord’ and I just wanted Him to take control. I remember giving myself freely to Jesus and I just wanted to make Jesus happy. I was trying not to let my mind think about anything but the Lord. I specifically remember Barbara being close by praying for me along with others in the congregation by my side. I received the baptism of the holy Ghost that day and was overjoyed with the feelings of happiness. I did not know how I was supposed to feel or what I was supposed to do. I just felt something in my heart that was not there before! I later found out it was also my future sister-in-law, Amy French’s holy Ghost birthday. The fact that we share the same holy Ghost birthday made this day even more special to me!

Over the coming months I enjoyed the feelings in the holy Ghost and enjoyed fellowshipping with my peeps. I was spending time with God’s people learning their testimonies and learning more about their lives. As I was falling in love with God’s people I’d never felt a better place for my soul and my heart. This is a place where I can be myself and feel at peace; it’s a place where I do not have to worry about being mistreated. During prayer meetings I just let my heart flow and feel the feelings. I’ve never been someone that learned the scriptures but I’m learning now and I love having a pastor that makes things clear and helps me see things I’ve never seen or heard before. Through Pastor John’s teachings in God it all makes sense and I love letting my heart lead the way.

I fell in love with the people and was falling in love with Amanda. I was finished searching for someone to spend my life with and I felt God had put Amanda in my life. I’d never felt the feelings I’d felt being around her. She makes me happy and my heart just loves her so much. She was becoming my best friend and I wanted to spend the rest of my life with her. I only wanted to marry once and I wanted her to be the one! How we met was not planned; only Jesus could have made everything happen like it did. I felt with God and Jesus knowing my heart, everything was being filled with Him and us together and the life he was putting in front of us. I could not feel any more confident in the decision to marry Amanda than I did.


When Joel asked me to marry him I was not sure I was ready. I had grown to really enjoy spending time with Joel and I appreciated how he cared for my heart. Looking back on that time now I can say I was falling in love with Joel but I was very scared and nervous. I had been married before; he had the holy Ghost and things started out decently well. However after a short time of being married to that guy he let the ways of the world overtake him again. He stopped seeking the things of God, stopped loving God’s people and stopped growing in the Lord. He turned back to his old ways and was starting to live like he did before he received the holy Ghost; he became abusive and a financial burden. I remember back during those hurtful times in 2006 finally opening up to Pastor John about the situation and he supported my decision to leave that man. Words could not describe how grateful I felt at having a pastor supporting my decision versus telling me (as I’d heard many stories in my lifetime) that I had to stay with that wicked man ‘no matter what’. The relief and freedom I felt after that marriage was over was at times so overwhelming and so joyful that I could not contain the happiness! I felt so alive to know there are no dead ends in God!

So after Joel asked me to marry him I took some time to respond. I remember one afternoon talking alone with Pastor John on my dear friend Rebekah’s back porch swing. I was crying so hard I could barely keep myself together. I did not want the hurt of having another marriage fail; I was not willing to go through that kind of pain again. I remember talking about my fears and I remember Pastor John listening a lot. He said he’d support my decision to marry Joel or not marry him and that either way it was my decision and that he and this body of believers would accept that decision. Pastor John just listened. I remember saying, ‘well I’m not sure I can marry again’ and I stopped to feel how that felt. Then after some time and still crying I said, ‘well maybe I’ll marry him and take a chance’ and I stopped to feel how that felt. The more I thought of not having a life with Joel the more saddened I felt. I decided that day that I would marry Joel in time and did not want to rush the decision.

Some time passed and Joel was very sweet and patient with me. He’d check in with how I felt about marrying from time to time and was always very considerate of my feelings. One Sunday after a prayer meeting I remember having this gentle conversation with Joel that I was ready to get married but did not want a big ceremonial wedding; Jesus had brought our lives together and I wanted to honor the simplicity of what Jesus had done. So we decided to go to the Justice of the Peace and have his parents and friend, Bryan and my parents along with my brother, Richard and his wife, Amy and their two daughters join us. We were married on May 22, 2018.

At the time of writing this testimony Joel and I have been happily married for three and a half years. We have the sweetest marriage. Joel makes me laugh in ways no one else makes me laugh. We have taken care of each other’s hearts through many challenging times in this ever-changing world. I am so very thankful for what Jesus has done for us! I am so happy that Jesus gave me feelings and a Pastor that was there for me supporting my decisions.


I am content and happy with my whole heart with how I feel Jesus has made my life and continues to bless me. I feel there is no better place to be than right here where Jesus has put me with everything surrounding me in my life. I’ve said many times that I could dream of many things but I could never have dreamed up this life that Jesus has given me!

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