By Kurt J. Kolka
GAYLORD — Anna Kreitner says she grew up attending church. But to her, being a Christian was not part of her lifestyle.
She was born in Gaylord. Her family moved out to Colorado for several years, came back to Gaylord briefly, moved to Grand Rapids for a few years, but eventually settled back in Gaylord.
Between the ages of 7 and 8 she was sexually abused by family members, but didn’t really understand what was happening. Then after the family moved to Grand Rapids and she made new friends, it opened up a whole new world to her which would include drugs and sex.
Still confused by her earlier sexual abuse and the feelings that brought on, she began having sex with boys around age 14.
Meanwhile, her parents became closer to God. They had a Bible study in their home and her father began preaching.
Anna attended a church camp.
“I had a couple of friends from church there. They were just like really in love with God. But I was like, ‘What am I seeing?’
“[While at church camp], I remember feeling tugged at by God. But I didn’t understand it.” During worship times her friends would be dancing and praising God. They were feeling something she could not comprehend. So, she sat there and watched.
Then, one evening, the students were asked to have a quiet time. They were each given a large piece of paper and tools to write or color with. While praying to God, they were told to concentrate on God. If they were given a message or image during this time, they were asked to commit it to the paper.
“So, I just sat there. And I got this image of like these two dark figures standing over me. I was sitting against a wall with a key in my hand. Behind that wall was Jesus. He was like this bright glowing figure. And I thought, ‘Boy, that’s scary.’ I painted the picture out and left it to dry. I am pretty sure I heard someone comment on it like, ‘Oh my goodness, whose is that?’ I was embarrassed.”
With that painting, however, came somewhat of a change in Anna’s life.
She became more involved with their worship service and listening to what the speakers were actually saying. At first, it felt weird and a little unnatural to Anna. She started reading the Bible on her cabin. As she did, she had a desire to read more and this feeling of joy began to build up in her.
She confided in her friends about the change coming over her. They encouraged her to pray to God again and commit to paper whatever He gave her.
“The word that I got was ‘freedom.’ I remember painting it with a whole bunch of colors. Then, on my way home, we passed a church. On their sign was, ‘Where the Spirit of the Lord is found, there is freedom.’
“I realize now that that word freedom that I was given was not because I was free at that moment. Because when I got back home … I fell back into sex and smoking. Hanging out with the same people who were that crowd. But I feel like God was saying, ‘I am freedom. This is where you can be if you follow Me.’”
At age 15, Anna became pregnant. Her family moved back to Gaylord. There, at Mount Hope Church (now The Hope), she met her future husband Nick Kreitner.
Even though she was eight months pregnant at the time, she invited him over to supper at her grandmother’s house. They began talking and quickly hit it off.
“He would come over and visit and we’d talk for hours. It was amazing, because when I was talking with him, I felt Jesus’ presence too. This guy was willing to go and do whatever Jesus told him to do. This was amazing.”
She would find out that Nick had hardly been a saint in his younger years. In fact, he already had a two-year-old from a previous relationship. But he had turned his life over to God before meeting Anna.
The couple were married in 2014. About a year later would come the turning point in Anna’s own life.
“We got into an argument. And I was feeling frustrated. I was so overwhelmed with everything in my life. I had been holding on to every single thing that happened to me
[including the sexual abuse at as young child]
. I went out on my deck and cried so hard.
“I talked to God and told Him, ‘I cannot do this anymore. I cannot hold onto everything I’ve been holding onto everything I have and live, and be a mom and a wife without everything falling apart. Just take this. I can’t do it anymore. Please take this.’ It is that point where I really surrendered to God.”
Suddenly, she felt a release inside of her.
“I felt better and I knew feelings and things would still have to be worked out and healed. But I no longer felt weighed down.”
After surrendering everything to God, Anna began seeing changes in her life. Forgiveness became an important part of it.
“It is amazing how God works in my and my husband’s life. Everything we bring to each other and God being the center. It’s how we work things out. It’s what holds us together.”
Now, Anna finds her previous experiences no longer a burden. Rather, God has used those experiences in her life to be able to help others going through difficult times. She can speak from experience when helping them.
Her life has because she has learned, “It’s all about God.”
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Coming up: Nick Kreitner talks about his own difficult life and the changes God brought to him. Also, watch the actual video interview with Anna which will be posted online in the near future.