Sometimes our fears hold us back from experiencing God’s blessings.  Sometimes we need to be brave enough to step out of our comfort zones. ~ By FaithNancy Gavilanes, pg. 93

Before ascending to Heaven, Jesus told his disciples, “and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth. “ (Acts 1:8)  From the beginning, personal testimony has been a key component of Jesus’s “marketing strategy” in spreading the message of the Kingdom of Heaven.  Paul gave as validation for his message references to others who had seen the resurrected Jesus, including 500 at one time. (1 Corinthians 15:38)  Peter, as well as John, assures the church that he was sharing what he himself had witnessed. (2 Peter 1:16, 1 John 1:3)  He was not telling a story he had heard, but one he knew to be true because he had witnessed it first hand.

As apologist Lee Strobel taught our class on Evangelism at Houston Baptist University, everyone has a testimony.  If you are a believer in Christ, you have a story of how you came to faith. [1]   A personal testimony where you share, “This is how I was before Christ. This is how I met Christ, and this is what he has done for me since then.”  As Nicole Howe points out in her essay on Augustine’s Confessions in An Unexpected Journal, “Spiritual autobiographies give back to others what God has given to us by inspiring them with the truth of what God has done and can do through our example.”[2]

However, often when we think of sharing our personal testimony, we focus solely on our conversion and the time before, almost as if that is the end of the story . . . and that is not the case at all.  By Faith by Nancy Gavilanes is her personal testimony of how she came to know Christ as Savior; however, it does not fall into the trap that so many personal testimonies do.  The main focus of the account is one that is in Christ, one of walking it out and following where God leads even when the destinations are completely unexpected.

A Review of By Faith by Nancy Gavilanes

An Unexpected Journey

She begins with an overview of growing up with a Christian background, but one which did not have deep roots.  Like many, she put her own goals and ambitions front and center, placing the role of God in her life on a back burner.   She shares the origins of her passion for writing and her strong and  determined desire to write about the premier events of the sports she loved.

All of which she achieved, but, like so many, when she reached her goal she found it empty.

This began her search to find the One who promised not only eternal life, but purpose and true meaning in this life as well.

I have talked to people who have told me that they know they need Jesus, that they know he is who he says he is, but that “they’re not ready.”  They aren’t ready to make a commitment, give up their self will, and submit to him.  They fear that they may miss out on some “fun.”

Gavilanes’s account is one that I have found true as well, it is only when we give our life over to God and say, “I’ll go wherever you want me to go” that we truly start living.

God will take you places that you would not only never expect, but that you would have never thought you wanted to go.  Gavilanes, a New York writer who loved figure skating, finds herself digging post holes to build a church in Brazil, ministering in HIV foster homes in Africa, and seeing the dead brought back to life.

Coming from a culture with push button lives to one where the battle between life and death is a daily event, it gave her new insight into the impact of Jesus’s words and actions.

An Ongoing Story

When we make Jesus the Lord of our life, it is a new beginning, a pristine new page.  As we follow him, he takes us on a journey.  He makes us a part of his ongoing story.  By Faith is a testimony of how varied that journey can be and how different can be the circumstances in which we have to learn to follow God’s lead: learning to follow in fellowship, learning to follow in the work place, learning to serve where you are, and learning to take a leap of faith to follow him into the great unknown.

A Review of By Faith by Nancy Gavilanes


Nancy Gavilanes. By Faith. (Charleston, SC: Nancy Gavilanes, 2018) 242 pages.

Read more by the author at her web site:

I was given a complimentary advance review copy of the book to provide feedback.


[1]Lee Strobel, “Evangelism Methods” (class lecture, Evangelism, Houston Baptist University, Houston, TX. February 18, 2017.)

[2] Howe, Nicole. 2018. “Augustine’s The Confessions: The Power of Spiritual Autobiography.” An Unexpected Journal 1, no. 2. (Summer): 73.