From stage show lover to ardent servant of God
'Near to church and far from God' is the proverbial term used to describe someone who is in close proximity to a church, attends church regularly, but is considered a spiritual dwarf. It is no secret that many of us are guilty of falling into this state, but like 26-year-old Ava-Gay Blair, anyone can bounce back, have a change of heart, and do what is expected.
Although having sound Christian principles instilled by her mother at an early age, it took some time for Blair to truly experience the Almighty for herself.
"I grew up in a Christian family. Even at the time when I never accepted the Lord, I was corrected each day through the principles of the word of God. My mother grew me in the fear of the Lord - I could not miss church on a Sunday. Funny enough, while growing up, my mother used to work on Saturdays and my siblings and I stayed with a neighbour who attended church on a Saturday and we had to go with her as well. Even if we had a problem, Mom would say, 'Well, all the better, more of God is good'. I never really minded: my only worry was running out of church clothes," she laughed.
The ways of God weighed on her heart but the ways of the world were embedded in her being.
"I was really enjoying the extravagant fashions and party lifestyle, but trust me, I always feared God and occasionally thought about how I would serve Him one day, but not right now. I have three sisters: one got converted and was the prayer warrior in the house. On the other hand, every week my eldest sister and I had another party or stage show to attend, but honestly, my heart was still on the things of God. Thank God He knows the heart - 'The Lord searches the heart and examines the mind' (Jeremiah 17:10)."
She added, "It's very important as parents to grow your children in the fear and will of the Lord, because no matter where they go, they will remember the Lord, as the principles of the Bible are still in their hearts; it was truly in mine. Before I got baptised I knew something was missing in my life and with all my efforts to achieve great things in life, I still felt something was lacking. I wanted to feel whole; I wanted a joy that the world couldn't offer me. I surrendered to the Lord, and can I tell you that He brought a complete satisfaction to my life. Best decision I ever made."
For Blair, it was no extravagant infilling of the Holy Spirit; it was more a return to what she knew to be right.
"I got baptised at age 20. Honestly, waiting is really not easy, but it's important in my Christian walk. During the waiting process, that's when the temptations come, so it's important that you stay focused and seek the Lord while you wait. Trust me, I've learnt that if you don't wait on the Lord, you will fall into problems and eventually go back to Him seeking His direction."
Describing her spiritual journey as one that has taught her a lot, Blair states that external support is key to remaining on the correct path and seeking validation only from God.
"From reading the Bible, a prayerful life, elders in my church, spiritual programmes/teachings and Christian youth groups that I am affiliated with: that's where I get my support. I will have to say I have witnessed young Christians grow confused and spiritually drained trying to fit in and please people than (to) please God. Just live for God, follow Godly instructions and once God is pleased with you, all will be well. When you try to fit in, you start to lose your identity and who you are in Christ, and if you are not careful, you try to emulate others and not God."
Serving selflessly at church, at home, on the streets and on the job, Blair gets up each day with a word on her lips to encourage someone to go forward.
"I try to reach out in every way possible with the guidance of the Almighty God.
"I currently serve in my church as a youth executive member, where we organise engaging activities, host seminars and worship services for the young members of the congregation. I also play a vital part in the Junior Ministry department, where the children are taught the principles in the Word and actively participate in choir ministry and other ministries of the church. I'm all about the youth."
And to her young brothers and sisters, she echoed this message:
"Everything is in the word of God for you; to ease your burdens and instruct you into His will. Be vigilant, develop a prayerful lifestyle and study the wiles of the enemy. Surround yourself with people who will build you spiritually and encourage you to live in the will of God."