By Lonnie Wilkey
MARYVILLE — When Valerie Millsapps was eight years old she felt called to be a missionary while attending her Girls in Actions (GAs) group at Smoky View Baptist Church in Maryville.
“It was a seed planted long ago and then life happened,” Millsapps said in a recent interview with the Baptist and Reflector.
“I became involved in more of the world than the church that I grew up in and that seemed to pull me every little bit it could and I allowed it to,” said Millsapps, now executive director of the Pregnancy Resource Center in Maryville (see related story HERE).
She recalled that in middle and high school she began hanging out with the wrong crowd. When she was eight years old, she learned she had been adopted.
“I was trying to fill a void in my life,” she said.
After graduating from high school, Millsapps said she also “graduated from church. I ran in the opposite direction (from church) and then I found myself in an unplanned pregnancy and the guy I was with wanted me to have an abortion.”
Because of family influence, Millsapps could not make the decision to abort her child. The father left, leaving her to deal with the prospect of becoming a single mother. “It was probably one of the darkest moments of my life,” she acknowledged.
Millsapps returned to church when she was about eight months pregnant and surrendered to the Lord and was saved shortly afterwards. “I knew that everything was going to be okay even though it was hard,” she said.
She had a daughter, Cayleigh, and later met her future husband who happened to be the son of the interim pastor at her church. “He adopted Cayleigh as his own and married both of us,” she said.
For years, she kept that part of her life hidden. “I didn’t want people to know what my past had looked like,” she said.
“I didn’t want to share what I had done and it took 10 and a half years of fighting with myself, wanting control of my life, and letting God use the other half of me,” she acknowledged. “But He really wants all of us totally surrendered to Him and I did that.”
She said she attended a women’s conference one summer and a lady shared a testimony similar to hers. “I knew that God wanted me to share my story and my past.”
At the time, Millsapps and her family had begun attending East Maryville Baptist Church (where they are still members) during the Sanctity of Life emphasis in January. The pastor (Keith Johnson) began preaching about the sanctity of life and shared information about the Pregnancy Resource Center, she said.
“And I would cry every Sunday as he would talk about the value of life and how we could be active in our own community.”
As the emphasis came to a close, she learned that the pregnancy center was looking for a new director. “I told my husband, ‘I think this is what He’s been preparing us for. So, we took a leap of faith and here I am five and a half years later.”
A seed sown in GAs finally sprouted. B&R