Chrystal York was 13 when she learned she was conceived after her mother was raped by a man whose advances she rejected.
“I always knew that I didn’t know my biological father,” York said. “But you always have in the back of your mind, one of these days he’s going to find me. He’s going to come and he’s going to rescue me, and I’m going to feel the love I’m supposed to.”
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Chrystal’s biological father played keyboard and sang in a band that was playing at her 18-year-old mother’s place of work. He wanted to go out on a date; she wasn’t interested. He held a knife to her throat.
“She conceived me through that attack,” Chrystal said. “And then when she found out … that she was pregnant, she didn’t tell anybody about the rape.”
Her mother left Oregon and went to Oklahoma with some family until she called her mom, who knew something was wrong and had been praying for her. She told Chrystal’s mother to come home so they could help her.
It’s a trauma her mother never fully articulated to Chrystal, who heard the full story from her stepfather and grandmother. She didn’t talk to her mom about it until she herself was a mother.
And when Chrystal asked why her mother chose life for her — even when people told her she had every right to abort her unborn child because of the circumstances of her conception — she said, “You were innocent.”
Those words were spoken without hesitation, Chrystal added.
Eventually Chrystal would ask her mom for permission to help others with their stories.
“And this is what she told me. She said, ‘Sissy, if we can help other moms and babies, tell the world.’ That’s the kind of woman my mom is,” Chrystal said.
Covered by grace
Reflecting on when she first heard the story of her conception as a young teen in the midst of a difficult season, Chrystal said the Lord brought everything to the surface to heal it, “because you can’t heal if you don’t walk through it.”
She bears scars, one on her forehead from abuse, and she used to want to cry and hate at the sight of it. Not anymore.
“These scars are wounds covered by the grace of Jesus,” Chrystal said.
Chrystal added that despite everything she has walked through in life — once in victimhood, and now in victory — she would go through it all again to see what God has done through her and her family.
And it’s all because her mother chose life.
“I’m telling you right now, anything that I’ve ever went through, any kind of abuse sexually, mentally, physically … I could tell you things … that would make your hair stand up on the back of your neck. You would think, ‘Oh, my God, why would anybody want to go through that?’ I’m telling you right now, I’m still thankful that I had a chance at life because I look at my life now and I’m able to say that He is a God of restoration. He’s a God of redemption. I have experienced His love.”
Chrystal surrendered her life to Jesus at a Tuesday night prayer meeting when she was 15. Now a pastor’s wife with three children and three grandchildren, she has walked with Him ever since.
“I’m so thankful for His redeeming power,” Chrystal said. “If people could just see the bigger picture …of what God has in store. Because like I said, we’re going to face adversity. We’re going to face the bad times. Bad things are going to happen no matter what. But we can choose to face them with Jesus, or without him. And I definitely choose to face them with Jesus because He always turns it for His good.”
One example is her daughter, a gifted vocalist with whom she often sings. Chrystal’s biological father was a musician and she said “it’s amazing how God can take a story like that, add His grace and apply the blood of Jesus upon it, and just completely turn it around.”
‘One soul knowing Jesus is worth it’
The gospel impact of Chrystal’s life was seen early in her life, when her stepfather came to faith in Christ when she was around 7 years old.
“He said that my love for Jesus, which was taught to me by my grandmother, it made him feel ashamed … for the life he was living,” Chrystal said. “I wanted to be in church, and he saw that and it convicted him and he gave his life to Christ and completely changed and served the Lord until his dying day.”
Chrystal’s stepfather always said that she was the reason why his life was changed.
“I think about that. If he was the only person I had ever reached for Jesus … What would have happened if my mom had said no to life for me?” Chrystal said. “One soul knowing Jesus is worth it.”
But her stepfather was the first of many. Chrystal has been able to share the gospel with numerous people, and many are now preachers and missionaries.
She shared about one pastoring in her hometown of Somerset: “He heard my testimony on the radio, gave his life to Christ right then and there. Called his wife. She gave her life to Christ that night. And now there’s some influential pastors in our hometown that (are) making a huge impact in the Kingdom of God.”
Another was a young boy she went to school with; she would often tell him he was going to preach. Eventually he called Chrystal to tell her and her husband, Dusty, that he had given his life to Christ and surrendered to ministry. Now a pastor in Arkansas, he and his wife have also reached people overseas.
“What would have happened if my mom hadn’t said yes to life back in ’78?” Chrystal said. “How many people would not have heard the gospel of Jesus Christ through that young man and his wife? We’ve got to look at the bigger picture.”
People continue to be touched by Chrystal’s story and her mother’s story through speaking engagements and the ministry of her church.
But Chrystal noted that her story isn’t the most important story she can tell.
“…More important than my story is the story of redemption. The story of Jesus Christ being crucified, dying on the cross, buried and rose again. And that he did that for us. His story is so much more important than my story. I’m just simply here to tell it.”