No Limits“God answered my prayer of sharing the gospel all over the world in ways I never imagined”
Raised in a small farm town in Oklahoma, Allyson Reneau has gone on to heights even she could never have imagined. The mother of 11 children, Allyson is also a successful business owner, the trainer of Olympic-hopeful gymnasts and a Harvard graduate. She is a popular keynote speaker at conferences and events around the world, inspiring her audiences to break through their boundaries and find a fulfilling future.
Allyson credits her parents for teaching her the value of hard work and raising her in a faithful home. “From an early age, I learned how to get my hands dirty and work hard. My parents taught me that faith plus hard work equals success,” she says. “My mother did a wonderful job of making sure I was always in church.”
Even with her church background, Allyson eventually began to long for a greater connection with God. “There was something inside of me saying there had to be more as far as a friendship with God,” she remembers. At age 18, after marching in the Orange Bowl parade as a baton twirler with the University of Oklahoma marching band, Allyson and her friends met an elderly man who was handing out tracts near where their bus was parked. Although most of her friends ridiculed him, Allyson felt sorry for him and took the tract and small New Testament he handed her. “It was one of those baby Bibles,” she remembers. Idly flipping it open on the bus ride to the hotel, she was stunned by the words of Mark 8:36, “And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul?”
“I was 18 years old, I was in a sorority, I was marching in the Orange Bowl, I was on top of the world,” she says, “but that verse hit my heart like I had never experienced before.” As soon as she got home, Allyson bought a Bible and began reading.
“I fell in love with the Word of God. I fell in love with Jesus,” she says. She began attending a Bible study and eventually married the man who was leading the study. “We planned to have two children,” she says with a laugh, “And I ended up with nine daughters and two sons.”
At age 40, she woke up one night with the clear sense that God was calling her to open a gymnastics gym where she could coach and mentor children. “I just kept thinking of Isaiah saying, ‘Here am I, send me,’ so I decided that I would make myself available to God and leave the details to Him.”
A few days later, she received a phone call from the father of a young man she had mentored and led to Christ. “I want to give you the money to help other kids like you helped my son,” he said. A check for more than $300,000 arrived soon afterward. “I was struggling just to pay my electric bill,” Allyson says, “and here was more money than I could imagine. I knew it was God’s money.” She put the money into a nonprofit fund and opened Victory Gymnastics, which has now trained more than 500 gymnasts, all of whom have also heard the gospel as they learned gymnastic skills.
At age 50, Allyson began to wonder if God had still more in store for her. “I didn’t want to live and die in the same zip code, and so I cried out to the Lord to show me the next step,” she says. On a regular daily run one morning she heard something she did not expect. “I heard God say one word: Harvard. And I just started thinking of all the reasons why I couldn’t do that. I had seven kids still at home. I didn’t have the money. I wasn’t smart enough. But that word just stayed there.”
Flying on someone else’s airline points, Allyson went to an orientation for master’s students to see if it was really something she could do. Despite her doubts, she met with an advisor who helped her see the viability of her dream. A private scholarship funded the entire venture. Graduating in May 2016 with straight A’s and a Master’s in International Relations, Allyson testifies, “Jesus was with me every step of the way.” With a specialty in U.S. space policy, Allyson now works with NASA and leaders all over the world, helping develop new space programs.
Through her professional work and through her ministry as a keynote speaker, Allyson says, “God answered my prayer of sharing the gospel all over the world in ways I never imagined,” she says. “To all faiths, to all nations. I think God has said to me all along that the first two letters of His name are G-O, so I just ‘go’ and try to be faithful wherever He leads me.” That path has taken Allyson to more places than she can recount, but on every platform He has given her, Allyson always points people to seek God’s kingdom first and rely on Him to provide everything else (Matthew 6:33).