Esther Wysong, a recent graduate of Missouri Baptist University, shares about an event in her past which drastically changed her life. “It caused me to cling to my faith in God and learn to trust Him with my future, no matter what it might hold, as He changed my story from one of hurt, pain and brokenness to one of hope, forgiveness and joyfulness.”

All photos courtesy of Esther Wysong

A railroad track crossing along State Route 37 in rural Southern Illinois, where you never know how smooth or bumpy the crossings will be if you’ve never gone over them before.


Do you ever feel like you’re at a crossing in your life? A place where you’re hitting a rough patch that you know could rock your world, but you don’t know how badly?

You know, like how there are really smooth railroad crossings and then there are the ones which will practically rattle your brains out and beat your car up?

There will always be times throughout our lives when there’s a curve in the road and we can’t see around the bend and know what’s coming, or we’re on an unfamiliar road and don’t know how rough the railroad crossings are. What’s coming up isn’t something we are given the knowledge of, and in essence, it’s a good thing we don’t know.

Matthew 6:34 says, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

This verse is something I’m clinging to right now, at this point of unknowns in my life, where I don’t know what will happen next.

Another verse I’m clinging to that I’ve clung to in the past is Romans 8:28, which says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.”

While the unknowns can be scary, we can trust that God knows what He’s doing and has a plan for everything in our lives. And, as the saying goes, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”

Sometimes the bend in our road doesn’t surprise us and the railroad tracks we’ve never crossed over before are fairly smooth.

Other times, the bend in our road turns into a winding, twisting path that resembles a snake, and the railroad tracks rattle us and shake our lives up.

Those are the times when holding onto God and having good support is important. I’ve been in the spot where there was nobody supporting me in one of the toughest parts of my life, and all I could do was cling to God and trust Him to keep my head above the water I was sinking in.

It was the summer of 2015, and I was enjoying life. I was halfway through my bachelor’s program in criminal justice, and I was loving my internship with the police department. Life was good. Life was great.

I went to my first-ever baseball game with three of my girlfriends, and we had an awesome time. On the way back to our homes, we laughed, talked and sang our favorite Christian songs.

And then I went around the bend and hit the railroad tracks. Oh, not literally, but my whole world came crashing down that night.

A friend texted and had just been through a horrible day, with his girlfriend breaking up with him, and he needed to talk.

Except he didn’t want to talk.

He raped me.

My life flipped upside down. What I was saving for my future husband, I lost.

The next day, on my way to  the local grocery store, where I worked as a cashier and stocker, I was terrified. I knew he was going to come in while I was working, or at least it was something I was horribly afraid of.

I didn’t even make it inside the back door of the store before one of our two female managers saw me and asked what was wrong, and I couldn’t hold it together anymore.

I did manage to work that day, but the fear was so overwhelming that every time the front door creaked open, I heard it all the way at the other end of the store where I was stocking the shelves, and the more I heard it, the more terrified I became.

Every guy in the store scared me. I no longer trusted any of them, and I fought the panic all afternoon. There were several times when I had to leave what I was doing and go into the back of the store and walk into the giant milk cooler and stand in the cold to keep myself from passing out from the panic.

The man did come into the store that evening, and he came in several times over the next couple of months. I held it together until he was gone, then hid in the bathroom until I could control the tears in front of the customers.

Before that happened to me, I had read the statistics on rapes and those who reported versus those who didn’t, for whatever reason, report it to the police and press charges. At that time, I didn’t understand why someone wouldn’t go to the police about it.

But when it happened to me, I understood. I was terrified. All I wanted to do was forget it, to not face it, to not face him again.

I didn’t have support through all of this. There were people who I needed to be there for me who didn’t believe me, and I was too scared to trust others and tell them.

For over a year, I held it inside me, bottling up the fear and pain and not trusting people. Sure, there were some I trusted again, but only a select few.

Then I dropped out of my May 2016 graduation for my criminal justice degree and signed up for a whole new degree in ministry and leadership, and in mid-August of 2016, I moved away from home, onto campus and started my journey on MoBap’s main campus.

The first four weeks were horrible. What I had thought would be easy, transitioning away from home and the memories there to a place where nobody knew me and I could essentially start over, was anything but easy.

I didn’t know anybody, and I didn’t know who I could trust, so I didn’t trust anybody.

Jonathan White, then-pastor at MBU who everyone called J-White, took a group of us on a retreat called Fallout. We went to a retreat center in small-town Central Illinois, in the middle of cornfields and crickets, and spent several days there.

There was a group of three other people on that trip who I somehow bonded with, and we called ourselves the Fallout Four, because that was where our friendship began.

I spent the days doing devotions with the group, running through obstacle courses, attempting mini-golf, swimming, and spending hours listening to our speaker for the weekend and singing praise music.

At the end of our first full day, after spending time with the group and getting to know them, I finally felt the first touch of safety. Then the band, during our session of just playing music and singing songs, sang “How He Loves,” by the David Crowder Band.

Formerly one of my favorite songs, I had been unable to listen to it for over a year because it was the last song my three friends and I had sung together on the way home from the baseball game that fateful night.

When the band started playing it, I panicked. My mind went back to that night and I couldn’t breath, couldn’t focus, couldn’t even think.

“Please, God, help me,” was the only thing I could manage to whisper as I sat in my chair, once again absolutely terrified and shaking like a leaf.

One of my new friends, Kyle Williamson, who would later become like a brother to me, sat beside me, and together he and my room leader for the weekend, Ashleigh Poteete, prayed for me.

That night, after finally letting out all the tears that had been bottled up for almost 15 months, I shared with several of my new friends what had happened.

I finally found a group of people who I could trust, who prayed for me as I struggled through learning to open up about my past and overcoming my fears.

Now, I’ve been able to share my testimony, including that part, with a group on a mission trip in Rome, Italy, with my youth group at home, with a group on a recent trip to Israel through MoBap, and with multiple individual people over the past two years.

While it was a horrible event and not an easy thing to go through, I cling to the fact that God uses everything for good, for His glory, and that He has a plan to do exactly that with my story.

My prayer is that I can change someone’s life who either has gone through the same thing I have in the past, or is struggling with it happening recently.

There is hope. There is a light at the end. I’ve been there. I’ve seen it.

When all hope seems lost, when you feel like giving up, when the pain is overwhelming, there’s a hand holding you up, just as it held me up.

When you feel all alone and you feel you can’t trust anyone, there is Someone who is still there, no matter what. Someone who won’t break your trust, who picks up the shattered pieces of your heart and puts them back together, one piece at a time, until you are once again a beautiful vessel whose scars only make you more precious.

Without God and my faith in Him, I would never have overcome my past. I wouldn’t have come to Missouri Baptist for a Bible degree. I wouldn’t have learned to trust again. And I definitely wouldn’t have the strength to stand up and tell people about my journey to get where I am.

People have asked me if I would change what happened to me, if I could.

My answer is no.


Because I believe with all my heart that God has a reason for everything that happens, and because of what happened in my life, I have the ability to understand exactly what a lot of young women are going through and struggling with. I can help them in ways that someone who has never experienced that ever could.

Even though it was extremely hard, I wouldn’t change it. It’s shaped a lot of who I am today and my faith grew exponentially through it.

Having been in that place and come through it, I know with all my heart that God knows what He’s doing and He has a plan to work it out for good, and knowing that, I’m able to face every new bend in the road and each new railroad crossing with confidence and trust in the Lord.

It’s my prayer that you are able to do the same.

By Esther Wysong

Esther Wysong is a staff journalist for MBU Timeline and is graduating with two degrees, one in criminal justice and the other in ministry and leadership. She is from Thompsonville, a small town in Southern Illinois. She currently works in the cafeteria on campus, hopes to pursue a master’s degree in counseling and loves photography, writing and being outside.