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It surprised Rayna Alexander when her daughter Elena asked if she could go to church with a friend. Although Rayna didn’t have a personal religious connection, she encouraged her children to decide for themselves and so Elana began attending Summit Waterford with her friend Abby. Rayna noticed a profound change in her daughter and was inspired to give Summit a try. Her initial visit didn’t affect her much, but  a few months later she visited again and she felt vastly different: centered and at peace. Then last November, something profound happened.

As Elena and Rayna were listening to Christmas carols on the radio, Elena commented, “Mom, you know what I really love about this station? It plays songs about the real meaning of Christmas—the birth of Jesus.” At that moment, Rayna felt the Holy Spirit cracking her heart wide open. The next week during communion at Summit, she thought, “I’m doing it. I want to give my life to Jesus. I accept Him.”

Rayna had long searched for a connection to God but never found it, admitting that she had grown disillusioned with organized religion. “It was always about doing ‘the things,’ what you were supposed to do, but I never felt anything,” she says. “Having seen God at a distance my whole life, it was an amazing feeling to really experience a connection to Him through the act of communion.”

At Summit’s Beach Baptism in April, mother and daughter were baptized together. When asked if she had any hesitation about taking such a public step of faith, Rayna says, “I knew in my heart that Christ was my Savior, and I had no reservations. It’s like being in love with somebody and they ask you to marry them—what was I waiting for? I had already waited 47 years!” During the baptisms, Rayna’s husband, Rich Falzone was also inspired to rededicate his life to Christ.

God was working on the Falzone family long before Abby first invited Elena to church. Eric Dellaire, Abby’s dad, had been praying for the people who would eventually move into the yellow house—the house the Falzones later bought. The Dellaires didn’t stop at prayer and Rayna points to Summit and the Dellaires as playing major roles in her family’s coming to faith.

In the same way that the Dellaires ministered to Rayna and her family, she now wants to be part of welcoming others into God’s community. She is training to serve at Orlando’s 33rd Street Jail where she will be paired with a female inmate for weekly one-on-one mentoring sessions. Rayna believes that her background in law enforcement and outlook as a new believer have distinctively equipped her to minister to the women of the jail.

“As I read the New Testament, it amazes me that Jesus first and foremost spent His time with sinners, unbelievers, people who needed Him,” she says. “When I heard about the prison ministry, I thought, ‘Wow, this is for me.’

Reflecting on her journey, Rayna says she doesn’t know how she ever lived without a personal relationship with God. “I’m seeing how wonderful living your life with Christ can be,” she explains. Rayna’s journey began with the invitation of a 9-year-old girl. That fateful invite has changed the course of not only her life, but also her family’s life, and the lives of all the people she will meet in the 33rd Street Jail Ministry. She truly believes that God is in her life daily: “I can handle anything, because He has a purpose for it. He loves me, and that gives me joy.”

Guest blogger Melissa Stillman has been a writer for the SUMMIT MAGAZINE since 2011. Her favorite parts about volunteering as a writer are hearing people's stories and contributing to something that provides people with more information about Summit.