(Feature photo courtesy of http://www.womenandthechurch.com and photos of Kathy and family courtesy of Kathy Knepper)
Beauty For Ashes: A Testimony
How Kathy Knepper Survived Abuse
By Selma Komisky
“To all who mourn in Israel he will give, Beauty for ashes; Joy instead of mourning; Praise instead of heaviness….”
– Isaiah 61:3 (TLB)
Kathy Knepper is pastor’s wife, mom, and missionary to the small Central American country of El Salvador, the place where she was born. This is her story told in her words.
At the age of twelve, I went to summer camp. At the gift shop, I came across a book filled with cards that had the meaning of names along with an inspirational quotes to go with them. I quickly searched for her name and felt like the air had been knocked out of her, it read: Kathy – Pure. I stared at this card in stunned silence feeling the tears threaten leave my eyes and all I could think was that nothing was further from the truth.
This Kathy, at least was not pure, she was damaged goods. It had not been long since the nightmare of social workers, soggy Happy Meals, lawyers and court dates had ended and every day I struggled to not feel as if my uncle’s dirty hands were still on me, violating my body the way they did every day for nearly a long time. I felt unworthy of all things good and holy. “Pure” was definitely the last word I would use to describe myself. This feeling never left me, I excelled in school and threw myself into all things extracurricular to numb the pain of the past, and trick myself into thinking I had gotten over it. The truth is I was still allowing the abuse to be the filter through which I made every decision of my life.
When I was 16, I began to date a young man named David, within a very short period of time our relationship became physical and less than a year later, I became pregnant. Having so much to lose, I considered having an abortion. Through a miracle from God I did not yet know but who knew me and loved me, my son’s life was spared. My boyfriend and I eventually married and the abuse began to manifest itself the opposite way, the truth is that I didn’t feel worthy of love or intimacy, I was dirty, marked and wholly unworthy in my eyes.
It wasn’t until I came to the Lord that I discovered true healing. I was able to come to Him with all the guilt and shame I had unnecessarily carried with me all those years and allowed Him to heal me. I was able to identify all the areas in my life in which I had fallen prey to the enemy and his evil ways and I was finally able to see myself “pure,” without blemish before my God.
Today you may be struggling with a past sin, whether you’re own or the work of someone else’s sin in your life. You may be struggling with temptations that seem to be around every corner in this sex-crazed, internet-ready world we live in. I am here to tell you that we love and serve a God of second chances, who can turn your ashes into beauty, who can help you heal and give you the tools you need to honor Him.
Today, Kathy and her husband David just celebrated their 20th anniversary and they have four children ranging from 12-18 years of age.
She shares, “We have planted this small church called Iglesia Gracia Divina in Santa Ana, El Salvador where my husband David is the pastor. It’s small, very impoverished, and located in a dangerous part of town. We bring the hope of Jesus to mostly hopeless situations, and have the privilege to minister to the people in our neighborhood through discipleship, Bible studies, church services, community outreaches, help programs and most of all through our friendship. We are the hands and feet of Jesus in this place He has called us to.”
Check out Iglesia Gracia Divina at: