During my first semester at UMF, in the fall of 95, I experienced my first encounter with the Friends of Jesus Christ, alias "The Gray People." I was sitting with a friend smoking a cigarette outside the Student Center waiting for the cafeteria to open. Then suddenly I saw an older couple who looked like they had stepped out of the 19th century into the 20th century. Being from a very populated town in RI, I wasn't quite used to the atmosphere up in Maine. I heard there were a lot of what we flatlanders would call "Maniacs" up there and I figured they were just two examples of people who had been in the woods too long.

I asked my friend who was an upperclassman who those strange looking people were. She said, ooh! They are the Friends of Jesus Christ, but everyone on campus calls them "The Gray People" because of the way they dress. As I inquired to find out more about them, I was soon distracted by what I thought was someone shouting. I looked across the street to see what was going on and to my surprise one of them was preaching the Gospel. By this time I had totally forgotten about eating dinner and was completely engrossed in what was taking place.

When the man finished preaching, they sang a hymn together and then the woman began to deliver her sermon. She preached about immodesty and why Christians don't wear shorts. As I sat there in my shorts and baggy sweatshirt, I felt like I was stuck in a bad dream. I can remember thinking to myself, "Are these people for real!"

Everything the woman said about God and His desire for men and women to dress modestly made so much sense, but I never pictured myself actually doing it. I was totally given over to the fads and fashions of today that there was no way on earth I would change. But little did I know!

A little over a year and a half went by from my first encounter with the Friends of Jesus Christ until I converted on Sunday July 6, 1997 at approximately 8:45 P.M.. It was at that moment that the Holy Spirit was born in my heart and the old worldly Rachel was gone. I remember getting in my car after that meeting thinking to myself, "What in the world did I just do?" I knew I gave my whole heart to the Lord to do His will forever, but I never realized how real God's presence would become.

During that time I was doing my internship with a fellow student, working for the Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP). The day after I converted (July 7th), I returned home from work around six o'clock to find a note slipped under my apartment door. It was from Paula (the preacher woman) inviting me to attend their prayer meeting, which started at six-thirty. I can remember standing in my kitchen with that note in my hand and really feeling like I should go. It was the strangest thing, I had never even heard of a prayer meeting, I hardly knew these people, and to top it all off, I didn't even know where this place was they were having it. On the back of the note there were some directions, so I hopped in my car and was on my way.

When I arrived, I heard some heavenly singing and immediately knew I was in the right place. I can vividly remember walking in and seeing the women standing there with their long gray dresses and my brother Jim with his black suit and broad-brimmed black hat. I immediately felt an overwhelming sense of love for these people who I hardly knew. Like the scriptures say, "We know that we have passed from death unto life because we love the brethren."

The next Wednesday (July 9th) I was getting ready for work and realized that I was having an unusually difficult time trying to pick out something to wear. I was one of those girls who had one or two dresses that were worn only for special occasions. As I rummaged through the plethora of pants and jeans that I had collected I could not find one pair that felt right, not even my favorite "party pants." Finally, I threw on the same pair of pants I wore the night I converted and headed off to work.

On my way home from work I stopped at a few clothing stores to find something I liked. This is when I realized that something was drastically wrong. Not one thing in any of the stores caught my eye, which was really strange because a week before I would have gone broke buying the very clothes that were now displeasing.

That night I walked from my apartment to meeting which was located a few blocks away. As I was walking down Main Street, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a bridegroom and his bride walking on the other side of the street with huge smiles on their faces. They had just gotten married and were still wearing their wedding outfits. I knew without even talking to them that they were partaking of something glorious. Then almost immediately, the Lord witnessed to my heart that that is how a true Christian should be. They should stand out and let the whole world know that they are partaking of something glorious. Hallelujah!!! Praise God!!! He has given the Friends of Jesus Christ a wedding outfit that proclaims to the whole world who we belong to and that we are partakers of the glorious kingdom of Heaven.

It was at that moment that the Lord showed me that if I was truly going to serve Him with my whole heart, soul, and strength that I needed to make the separation in the way I dressed between the world's fashions and holiness. As the scriptures say, "ye are the light of the world. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven."

By the following Monday (July 14th), I was wearing my very first beautiful long gray dress and letting my light shine before all mankind. It was not long before people began asking me why I dressed like a pilgrim. I have noticed that it is the perfect medium for discussing the things of God and sharing my testimony with others.

What I thought to be the impossible was now a living reality. God had so gloriously changed my heart and made me into a new creature that I no longer thirsted after the things of the world, but after holiness. My heart and mind are no longer entangled in the intricate snare of the fads and fashions that once consumed me. Through the blood of Jesus Christ, I have perfect deliverance from the spirit of the world and the sins associated with immodesty. When I wake up in the morning my thoughts can be totally dedicated to the deeper things of God without having to waste time thinking about what I shall put on.

The way I dress now has not only brought me deliverance from the worldly spirit associated with the fads and fashions of today, but it has drawn a visible line establishing whose side I'm on. Everyone knows that we, the Friends of Jesus Christ, are serving in the Lord's army.

Before I knew it, the summer had disappeared and another school year was about to begin. I was starting my junior year and faced the reproaches of being the only student wearing a long gray dress. But Oh what a blessing in disguise it is to be able to stand up for God and His holiness in such a wicked and perverted generation. I pray that everyone would be able to experience the absolute joy and peace of serving the Lord and doing His will. The beautiful witness of holiness and countless opportunities to proclaim the Gospel the long gray dress has provided proves that it truly is a gift from my heavenly Father.

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