“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” – Romans 15:13

Decades of suppressed joy, peace and trust were washed by the cooling waters of a backyard pool this summer when Doris Gordiano committed her life to Christ.

More than 30 family and friends witnessed the Santa Clarita transformation. Many of them were women who had walked with Doris for years on her journey to the cross. A former co-worker first reached out to her.

“Just a few months before, I had lost my job, my house and my (adult) son,” Doris said. “Seemed like I had just lost everything and had nothing to live for.”

Towchat Darakorn, a member of The Valley Church, asked Doris to join him, his wife and two young children for a Sunday service in Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley. Within two weeks, she attended.

“I felt welcomed and loved,” she said. “I felt like the people who greeted me were myangels.”

Within months, Doris moved to the city of Santa Clarita and disciples introduced her to the church in her new city. There she was invited to several Bible studies and began to establish relationships. A core group of women spent the next six years by her side as she wrestled with her past and a question that God seemed not to answer.

“If God really exists, why didn’t he protect me?” said Doris about a childhood trauma. “Why did he let me be in so much pain and suffering for many years?”

Feeling distant at times from God and the women in her life, Doris contemplated leaving the fellowship and once even said her goodbyes. One friend, Sharon Yarbrough, a long time member of the Santa Clarita Church, told her that she had envisioned Doris’ baptism and would in fact wear white for the occasion. Yet it would be another year before her wrestling would end.

“For several months prior to my baptism, I experienced deep emotional pain, sadness, grief, and rejection,” she said. “The feelings were so strong that I decided to surrender to God and let him heal me. I decided to forgive everyone who had ever hurt me over the years and let go of the past that was preventing me to know and get closer to God.”

So it was on a warm summer afternoon this year that Doris made her decision. Nearly two dozen women joined her in wearing white that day. Sharon Yarbrough was not among them. Cancer had claimed her life the year before, leaving some to wonder if it was a coincidence that this baptism was happening on Sharon’s birthday.

“After I made Jesus the Lord of my life, I felt so cleansed, fresher, being borne again, loved, and filled with joy. It was an awesome experience,” said Doris. “I couldn’t believe there was so much love; that God and lots of people cared so much forme.”

Before Christ, emotional pain never was far from Doris. With him, she said, joy replaces anger, discouragement, and resentment.

“Today, I feel hopeful, blessed, (and) grateful that Christ has saved me,” she said. “… I finally decided to do something good and meaningful for the time I have left on this earth. My new mission now is to help others overcome traumas similar to mine by spreading the good news and getting to know Christ.”

Doris’ campaign for Christ is underway and making a difference. She has joined another friend’s Bible studies, and her son Nery Galdamez, 36, has begun his very own journey to the cross.