Hello iWaited Family! I would like to welcome you to this month’s feature….FINALLY!! 🙂
This month features Michelle and Jason Shirley!! Michelle is the CEO for an organization promoting abstinence by the name of Abstinence Between Strong Teens International. Along with her husband Jason, Michelle is doing amazing things with the purity movement. ABSTI is doing great things in the Miami community such as the Poetry Night of Poetry and Purity Walks. This interview with this dynamic was both informative and refreshing. I might have to post sound bytes of this interview, because it was just too juicy to transcribe the entire thing! Without further ado, please welcome Michelle and Jason!!
1. What is your name and tell me a little bit about yourself?
Michelle: My name is Michelle Shirley and I am 30. I’m just a vessel used by God, to declare his message of relationships being done the way God wants. I definitely didn’t call myself to it. If it was up to me, I’d be doing something else. But God has a plan that’s beyond our imagination. Like the scripture says, He goes above and beyond what we can ask or think. I’m really coming into understanding the full scope of what God wants to do in ABSTI. I do run an organization called Abstinence Between Strong Teens International. I just took over that a year ago and I’m just happy to be interviewed by you. Hope it’s a blessing to everyone else
Jason: Hello everyone, my name is Jason Shirley, 27 years old. Little bit about myself, just making myself available for the use of God to advance His kingdom. I’m grateful for the opportunity to share what God has done in my life based on waiting, being abstinent before I got married to Michelle.
2. How did you meet your mate?
Michelle: The woman always has the most accurate details when it comes to that. We met in a Christian club. This was back in 2006/2007. I can definitely say that back then we were not mature like we are now. He was a dancer in a dance group. It’s funny because people see him now and he’s so reserved. I had just joined a church, One Body in Christ and Love and someone from there invited me. There were a lot of young people at that church, just trying to find something to do. When you become a Christian it can be difficult. That’s how I saw him. It was clean, good fellowship.
Jason: Can I say something to that? What I will say to that is God had a plan for myself and Michelle without even knowing it. Even being in a sinful state and not even re-dedicating my life to Christ. I’m originally from Jamaica and anybody that knows, knows that they have dance groups. We just used to party every night in different clubs. A friend of mine told about this Christian club that was run by a DJ his name was Sean Rick Shaw. It was a place where Christians could come together and have a good atmosphere where we could fellowship. I didn’t know and thank God for that opportunity where a friend of mine invited me. I was glad that I got there because it wasn’t like regular clubs where if you stepped on someone’s shoes, someone would want to fight you. I also had issues that were going on in my life. Before I even got there I had just gotten out a 3 year relationship that hadn’t gone well. I always ended up getting hurt in my various relationships. I always felt man, every person that I get associated with, why is it that it never worked. I got to the point where I said I’m going to do my own thing. I looked in the mirror and said I’m a good-looking guy, I drive a nice car and I make good money. So I’m just going to go out and do what I do. [However] always in my heart, growing up, I always wanted to be with one person. My mindset was never going out and doing what I wanted to do. It just got to a point where I felt like everyone that I got involved with it never worked, why should I be committed to something that never works? I got to the Christian club and was there dancing having a good time. Even in a state of not knowing Who I’m praising or how to praise God, God’s grace went beyond where I was and saw what I needed. I wasn’t searching for anybody or trying to get in a relationship with anyone. The DJ had actually told me about Michelle and said she would be a good match for me. She asked me if I had a church home and I responded no, so she invited me to church that next Sunday. I realized in church that Sunday that God wanted me again. That’s when everything changed. I was in church every time they had something going on. Sometimes we look for things to fill our void and we don’t realize that’s its only God that can fill that void.
3. How long did you date and how long was your engagement?
Jason: The thing about that is, we never really dated. Where we were in our ministry there was no such thing as dating—
Michelle: —It more like caring about your brother or sister enough to know what God was doing with them spiritually and focusing on spiritual things. There are so many young people who are connecting in the flesh. Then they put “dating” on it. To me, it’s a way of saying “I’m going to try you out” and if it doesn’t work out then I’m going to go to the next person. Well we have that happening in the church. People are trying people out not understanding that this person is spiritually broken, you’re chasing them and you’re broken as well. God is saying “No, I’m not down for people are trying it out. When I say that “this” is yours, you’re going to know that’s it’s yours and no one can come against it”. At the time He was really pressing on our hearts to care about your brother or sister’s soul more that you do your own fleshly desire and needs. Then it’s not about what I want, it’s about “God let your perfect will be done”. We can say that honestly we were brother and sister in Christ. I was more so imparting the Word to him.
Jason: I’m sure that everyone can attest and agree that we’re all looking for Love. And without God you don’t have love, because His Word tells us that God is love. We can see it based on relationships where they don’t have the love of God to sustain a relationship. My past relationships weren’t based on unconditional love it was based on what that person could do for me. When God allows us to get into a relationship with Him, He begins to clean us up. He wants us to fall in love with Him first in order to love someone else. The last thing that God wants is a reproach to His name. So even if your spouse passes away their will be a void there but I won’t lose my First Love.
Michelle: I didn’t know all of the details of what he was dealing with. And God told me to ask Jason if he was doing this for you or if he’s doing this because He wants more of Me (God)?. And everything in me said “Nooo” because I didn’t want to hear the answer. God is so loving and He’ll intervene when He sees that things aren’t going the way He planned. It showed me that I began to care for him in a more intimate way and the Holy Spirit kept pressing me. One thing I love about my husband is he’s going to tell you the truth. And when I asked him he said “Both”. When he said both, I knew that I couldn’t lead him astray. I told him that he had to follow hard after God and it couldn’t be about me.
4. How early on in the relationship did the subject of sex come up?
Jason: To be honest with you, that never came up. I think it was because of the foundation of the ministry, where that’s not in the forefront of your mind. I can see now why it wasn’t, because even now when you’re married that’s not even the first thing on the list. God is always first. Of course we had feelings and emotions because we were attracted to each other.
Michelle: It was just expected that we knew better.
Jason: Exactly. It went back to accountability. If we ever went that route then we know for sure someone in the ministry would have been coming to us, because the ministry that we’re apart of is just Seers. We know that God shows them what’s going on in your life. Those are the type of things you don’t want to play with.
5. Did you both have to come to agreement to wait or did it go unsaid that you both would wait for marriage to have sex?
Both agreed that it went unsaid that they would wait.
6. How long were you abstaining before your met your mate?
Jason: We met in December 2006 but I didn’t start abstaining until about March 2007.
Michelle: I was abstaining since early 2006.
7. If you hadn’t abstained before, what made this relationship different?
Michelle: A mindset that was being purged made this relationship different. I said God I’m tired, I don’t want to go through this rollercoaster anymore and I surrender. I give you everything now. I tried it my way and it hasn’t worked, so I’m going to try your Way. He says in His word, “My Yoke is easy and my burdens are light”, it seems hard unto a man but it’s the right way. That flesh is going to scream because it wants what it wants and you’ve been feeding it for a long time. I remember nights having to cut guys off and meeting someone and not immediately giving out my phone number. Me just being naïve and letting a guy pick me up for a date and not even knowing his last name. That’s the enemy wanting to assassinate us. You wouldn’t let your child leave with someone you didn’t know, how much more can you defend yourself at 19/20 years old? You’re going out and you’re meeting these people and you have no idea that this could be an assignment from the enemy to take you out. What made it different is simply I said “I surrender”, any other relationship before then there was no God there.
Jason: I just wanted something different. That’s the most I can say. Just by God’s Grace to see and have a desire for something different. I wanted a change.
8. In what ways do you think, keeping sex out of your relationship benefitted the relationship?
Jason: The proper place for sex is within marriage. Outside of that it’s a huge distraction. Not only a distraction, a defilement to your spirit man. We’re spiritual beings. We’re made to mate with one another but in its rightful place. A lot of things happen spiritually and naturally when you come in contact with someone physically. There’s a seal that takes place interacting with a person physically and there are body fluids exchanged. It brings a deeper, emotional connection with the person. When two people break up there’s always a residue of that person still within you. Where you’re reminiscing on what the person used to do. On the day or night of that wedding when intercourse takes place that’s what seals that marriage.
Michelle: There are a lot of people who want God and truly want a relationship but they go about it the wrong way. It causes a situation where you’re asking questions and you’re confused about what the expectations are. When these things could have been established before you took it to sex. That’s what the world is doing now; they’re finding themselves in sexual relationships and then want to go backwards and try to figure out what this person is like. Now you realize you’ve connected yourself to someone who you hate and you can’t stand but you have a baby together or you’ve bought a car together. You’ve made BIG steps without evaluating, who is this person that I’ve let inside of my life. How can we be so crazy to do that? We’ve even got Christians now saying “We’re engaged, so we can have sex now”, the devil is a liar! You don’t belong to that person until you stand before God and say “I do”. We’ve begun to water down that part of the Gospel and God is not pleased. You can avoid a lot of relational mistakes by not including sex. I got to know him in such an intimate way and vice versa. We were reading the Word together and we began to put each other on the carpet (basically calling each other out) as far as certain things we saw in each other. You can’t do that when flesh is all mixed in there, you can’t see. We fasted from each other. I’m going to need you in position when we say “I do”, and I don’t want flesh when I’m struggling, I need your spirit man. Flowers and candy, all of that’s good, but can you minister to a person’s spirit? When your wife says “I need you right now” and it’s not going to be sex, can you minister to her spirit? I can’t pull anything out of you if you aren’t filling it? Keeping sex allows you to pay attention to a person’s emotional, mental and spiritual needs. And when you add sex to it later it’s that much better.
Jason: It takes the specialness out it. On your wedding day, if you’ve done it before, what’s the celebration? That’s the final unifying.
9. Were you ever tempted to give in to the temptation to have sex?
Jason: Oh yea, many times. We’re not superheroes (:D)
Michelle: Because of the accountability and because of the Holy Spirit. This is what I would say to women, as a woman you have to begin to see signs. When flesh is not in the way and you really want God and you want your marriage to be used by God, God will show you areas in your future husband that you’re going to know that this is the man I know I should follow. We would meet at my mom’s house just to talk and see one another. It would get late and I would say “Just stay, I want to keep talking” and Jason would say “No, it’s getting late it’s time for me to go”. It was a friendship that was blooming but I thank God for the Holy Spirit in him. We had the rest of our lives to see each other. As a leader you’re going to want that in a man of God that’s going to lead your home.
10. Why do you believe God asks us to remain pure before marriage?
Michelle: Simply because of the fact that you birth a lot of things so that the enemy manifests his own kingdom. When you’re talking about Godly marriages, you’re talking about learning the love of God and when I understand that love now I can love my husband and children. Nothing you do outside of God’s will is good unless God says I’m going to give you my grace and turn this situation around. I believe it is a dictatorship in His kingdom because God knows that He has Master plan for us. I believe everything stems from relationships. If you look at all of the young people and their issues, if you go back to the root of it something happened in that experience, something happened in that family unit.
Jason: We always talk about God knows best. When He begins to show us what’s best for us, we don’t like it or we don’t think that it’s best. God knows that a relationship is not based on just sex. He knows that’s not going to make a relationship. So He asks us to remain pure before marriage “so that I can show the key things in a relationship, I want to show you more important things”. There is a reward you reap when you remain pure before the Lord. The marriage is an institution so that God can get His glory out of our lives. Marriage is a ministry.
11. What are some finals thoughts/words of encouragement for the readers?
Michelle: I would just say if you’re a person reading this and you’re struggling with the idea of waiting, or you’re contemplating it or you’re in a place where you’re with someone and you’re not really sure, know that the enemy’s plan is to keep us in darkness. Search God out, if you draw closer to Him, He will draw closer to you. Get into a church that is teaching relationships God’s way. Get into a good bible teaching church, one that doesn’t make you comfortable in your skin. There are a lot of movements going on around purity, get involved. He can’t fill you if you’re not thirsty, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness will be filled. It’s not by accident that you’re reading this blog. On the Day of Judgment, you can’t say that you didn’t know. Someone came before you and told you that it can be done. The enemy wants to keep you isolated and make you feel like there is no hope. There is no good thing in this life that’s worth having that doesn’t come with work.
Jason: I hope what we’ve shared has been a blessing to your heart and an eye-opener. This is not an interview of condemnation because we know that God does not condemn, He corrects. If you find yourself in a position where you feel guilty, that’s just the word of truth correcting you not condemning you. I pray that if you do feel convicted that you would go to God and repent before Him. Desire to go after Him and I do want to rebuke the condemnation of the enemy. His desire is destroy us because you are a valuable vessel for the kingdom of God no matter what you’ve done. God needs you in this earth. There are people attached to your life that needs to see something different, to see God. The only person that can reach them is you. I pray that God gives you a desire to go after Him like never before.