What I shared in this book began when I was growing up in Louisville, Kentucky. I remember being awed and curious about a woman who would walk down the street dressed in all white and being followed by her children. They would walk to a little white church down the block from the large Baptist church I attended. I was awed by the sound of the drum and tambourines that could often be heard coming from that church. I did not know that I would one day be a member of that group I was so curious about.
In 1968, my then husband and I and my two children relocated to a small coal-mining town in the Appalachian area of Kentucky. That relocation took me to a whole new exposure to life. To say the least, I was not prepared for the way of living I was about to experience. I was initially shocked. The lifestyle of the people there was strange to me and hard for me to adapt to, and their language was different. However, I eventually settled down and acquainted myself with the people and the environment. Many were the challenges, but I was accepted by the community, and I began to work with the children of the church and community. Nonetheless, however well I seemed to adapt, the challenges began to overwhelm me, and a significant change was about to take me on a journey I was not prepared for. Five years after a traumatic life, I found myself divorced and virtually alone with my two children.
Life there as a single mother was extremely hard. I had served the members of the church, but I and my children had to relocate again, only that time, I had no place to go.
At the time, I was attending the University of Kentucky Southeast Community College and had no job. I was not prepared to relocate. I reached out for help. One woman, who is now deceased, responded to my cry for help. She helped me with the children while I attended classes and looked for a place to live. With the help I received, I was able to complete my studies and serve as the first Black female student government president at my college. I was also appointed to serve as the president of the Intercommunity College Student Government Presidents of the University of Kentucky Community College system and to serve as a member of the Community College Advisory Committee. I graduated with an associate degree.
Soon thereafter, my children and I were blessed to be housed in a new and very nice apartment. Thanks to God and the way he works, I was able to provide for my children. We were surviving, but it still seemed as though I was losing all sense of direction and emotional strength.
It was during that time that I was introduced to the Triumph Church. All the time that I was struggling, Mother Newman (deceased), a local minister and shepherd, was praying, watching, and waiting for just the right time to introduce and invite me to come to the Triumph Church.
Mother Newman was the shepherd of the Triumph Church in that area. She was also our neighbor when we first relocated there. The little white church I had been curious about as a young girl was the same spiritual organization I was being introduced to. Its teachings, principles, and doctrines were different from those I learned at the Baptist church.
In the early 1970s, Mother Newman invited me to attend a conference at her church. I did not attend, but after one of the day sessions, she and Prince Robert Redding Sr. visited me and ministered to me. As that visit was coming to an end, Mother Newman made a comment that has stayed with me until this day: “Triumph will make a beautiful woman out of you if you let her.”
One Sunday morning in 1973, after that memorable visit, I was on my way to the church I was a member of at that time. During the drive, I was preoccupied with my thoughts and driving remotely. It appeared as if the car were controlling itself. Without realizing it, I turned off the main road and crossed a little bridge onto the road that led to the Triumph Church. It appeared to stop on its own directly in front of the church. Puzzled as to how I had gotten there, I was in a daze trying to figure out what was going on.
I went into the church. It was dark inside, but there was a light shining in the front of the building. I walked farther into the church and toward the strange light. As I did, I discovered that the light was the sunlight reflecting off the headwear that Mother Newman was wearing. She was sitting alone, which was unusual, in the center of the church. I felt that whole experience was the spirit of the Lord guiding me to my new and a transformed life.
The following Tuesday, I attended the evening service and was put on the Prayer Roll. I did not understand at that time that being put on the Prayer Roll meant being received as a member in training. I would become a full-fledged member when I learned the governing doctrine and principles of the church and when my living changed accordingly.
For three years, I was on the Prayer Roll, but I continued to attend the Baptist church where I was a member. I also attended the Sunday night and weekly services at the Triumph Church. In addition to attending services six evenings a week, I was taught the principles of obedience and sacrifice by Mother Newman. Under her leadership, I learned the meaning of humility.
I began to live with a different outlook, a new perspective. I had a new zeal for life. Everything looked different. Life for me continued to be full of strange and mysterious happenings.
I continued to learn the doctrine and principles of the Triumph Church and how-to live-in accordance with them. The teachings were empowering and enlightening. I soon realized that I was changing … I was adapting to a new way of life. I felt fulfilled. I felt empowered. I was shedding my Baptist consciousness and taking on the consciousness of a triumphant. I was learning what it meant to be a triumphant woman.
Under the teachings and living examples, my understanding of the doctrines and principles increased. Over and over, I was compelled to take another look at the changes taking place in my life. My life in and outside of triumph is a living testimony of what it means to overcome, subdue, and conquer whatever challenges may be. I love being a triumphant woman. I love this triumphant truth. I love this triumphant way of life!
—Elder Dr. Mary Rose Traylor