When Victoria Lira was 7 years old, she had a dream of being in the clouds with her younger brother, Joshua, in what evangelical Christians call “the rapture.”
That dream of going to heaven was so powerful and memorable, she wrote it down in a diary. Since then, she’s composed hundreds of stories, devotionals and Bible lessons that fill a stack of hand-written notebooks.
Now 17, Lira has published a book of some of her inspirational devotionals for young people, titled “I Have Called You for Such a Time as This: A New Generation Devotional Journal.”
The soft-cover book’s 31 chapters are written in an easy, bright style with appropriate Bible verses for each topic and feature titles such as “Jesus Hugs,” “True Beauty,” “Never Compromise” and “Rapture Dream.”
The book, which has sold out the first 500-copy run, takes its title from the Old Testament story of Esther, who, as a minority Jew living in the pagan culture of Persia, was chosen to be a queen, braved violating court protocol by approaching the king without his invitation and eventually saved her people from a genocidal plot. Esther’s uncle, Mordecai, stressing the importance of her mission, told her, “Who knows whether you are come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”
“I definitely can relate to Esther because sometimes you feel like her in her situation. She was so young, but God called her to such a great task,” Lira said during a visit to her family’s home. “She had to save her people, and she had to go before the king, but she couldn’t do that unless the king called her. But she knew that if she would have waited for the king to call her, that her people probably would not have survived. So she had to go and step out in faith.
“She said, ‘God, I know this is dangerous, but I trust you.’ She didn’t really worry about her own desires. She didn’t really worry about saving her own skin, but she said, ‘This is what God told me to do, and I’m going to do it.’ Sometimes you may be scared to take that step out to do what the Lord told you to do, but you just have to trust him. He will give you the courage just like he did her.”
Lira lives with her dad and mother, John and Nancy Lira, and her siblings Joshua, 16, Isabella, 12, David, 5, and Christian, 3, near Gonzales. Her father is a self-employed contractor who has his own evangelistic ministry preaching locally and taking the family on mission trips several times a year to Central America. He also volunteers with Jimmy Swaggart Ministries in its prison ministry and ministers to the homeless in Baton Rouge.
“I definitely get a lot of inspiration from my family,” Lira said. “How my mom handles different situations with wisdom. Dad is really hard working, and he inspires me to work hard no matter how tired you are. Joshua is really bold for Christ.”
She’s fulfilled nearly all the requirements to graduate from home-schooling, taught by her parents, and although she isn’t sure exactly what she is going to do next, it definitely will be a ministry of some kind.
In fact, she can point to a time and place where she felt a divine calling.
“When I was 13 or 14, we were street preaching with a church group in Mississippi, and everyone was taking turns at the microphone,” she said. “I was at the back of the crowd, and I felt this urge to go up to the front to witness to the people, and I thought, ‘Really, Lord, do you want me to go?’ I was, like, so nervous, and my mom, who was back at the hotel room, texted me at that very same moment and said, ‘Hey, I feel the Lord wants you to go and talk.’
“The Lord had already spoken to me and then confirmed it through her. I had no idea what I was going to say, and I opened my mouth and the presence of the Lord just came over me and was speaking through me.
“As soon as I got done, I felt the Lord impress upon my heart, ‘This is what I have called you to do. I have called you to be a preacher and a teacher.’ ”
Lira already has ministered to children as a teacher at Swaggart Ministry’s Family Worship Center as well as to many teens through social media sites. One teen girl in particular got her attention.
“I was following this girl on Instagram, and every day, she would post stuff like, ‘Nobody likes me’ or I’m worthless,’ ” Lira said. “I messaged her and shared Jesus with her and told her, ‘All that stuff you’re saying isn’t true because Jesus loves you and Jesus cares for you.’
“She said she was actually a Christian, but she was feeling all those different things. Pretty soon she said, ‘You know, you are right. Thank you for telling me that,’ and her whole everything changed, and she started posting things like ‘Jesus loves me’ and ‘I know who I am in Christ.’
“The Lord just turned her whole life around. It makes me feel really blessed and joyful to have been a part of what the Lord wanted me to do in her life.”
Lira says she is serious about her relationship with Jesus and telling others about him. That’s one reason her writing started with “Rapture Dream.”
“The Lord gave me that dream when I was small to show me that we’re living in the last days and now is not the time to mess around, but now is the time to get your heart right with God, to be about the father’s business,” she said in a serious voice. “Now is the time for teenagers and young adults to rise up to the challenge that God has called us to because we are living in the last of the last days.
“Jesus is coming back and either you are right with him or you are not,” Lira said. “Now is the time to do the Great Commission, to witness to as many souls as we can because we can’t take anything with us but souls, and that’s what the Lord has called us to do.”