My Testimony Assignment
Growing up in a Christian home was an incredible blessing. I think many times people who grew up in a similar situation believe they do not have much of a testimony. I believe that whether you were saved from the drug infested ghetto, or if you were born in the baptistery, God’s saving grace is still just as amazing.
In my short lifetime, I have observed that those who were saved at young age and in a Christian home many times receive a lot of grace after they accept Christ. There is a temptation to become very lackadaisical in your walk with Jesus, if that is all you’ve ever known. This will lead to many Christians falling away. At the same time, I would not choose any other way to grow up. I am the one who needs to change, not the circumstances.
I’ve had discussions with my friends who had similar upbringings, and we would talk about having a pretty boring testimony compared to the drug addict who received Christ in a miraculous way. I believe both types of testimonies are vital to reaching the most people. A testimony similar to mine is an encouragement to young people and those that live relatively good lives. You do not need to stray down the wide path that leads to hell, first, in order for Jesus to save you. On the other hand, those that have been miraculously saved from their deviant lifestyle can reach out to the spiritually destitute that may think there is no way God could love them and change them.
As I said, I was blessed to have God-fearing parents and grandparents. I truly thank God for that. My conversion starts with my father’s personal revival. I was born in Kirksville, Missouri, where my dad was a professor at Northeast Missouri State University (now Truman State). Around 1981, Dad knew that God was calling him out of teaching to go back home (West Virginia) and start something new both spiritually and physically. In 1982 the year I started kindergarten, we moved to West Virginia.
Part of God moving our family to West Virginia, was for my parents to start a Christian camp. That happened in 1985. The camp was a free 3-day camp in July for 8 to 12 year olds. That included me. One evening of the camp Stuart Farley, a local pastor, spoke about the salvation message. I remember knowing that I need Jesus to come in to my life to save me, but I was a bit of a scaredy cat. I told my self I would go if someone else got up first. Praise God! Someone else went forward! Who knows what would have happened if he had not gotten up! I prayed the sinner’s prayer at the make shift altar overlooking the valley on our farm. (Beautiful place to be saved, by the way.) Everyone congratulated me afterwards, and it was great. That was just the beginning of a wonderful relationship.
My life before Christ was pretty uneventful. I had not had much time to get in to a whole lot of trouble. I was a pretty well behaved child. You can ask my parents. Sure, I had my disobedient streaks and temper tantrums from time to time, but all in all I was not so bad. Nonetheless, I still needed Jesus to save me just as much as anyone else. “All we like sheep have gone astray…” Isaiah 53:6. Even though I had not gone as far astray as some would, still, astray is astray. And I was headed to hell with the drug addict until I met Jesus and he changed my life.
After I accepted Jesus as my Savior, I definitely had I desire to know him more. Our family read the One Year Bible together, and I really enjoyed that. I also began to read the Bible on my own. Life with Jesus was not peaches and cream all of the time. I still sinned like a lot of boys, but I knew I needed God’s forgiveness for the things I had done.
When I was ten years old, my family when to a revival meeting in Charleston, West Virginia. The church had a separate meeting for the children, and that night’s message was on receiving the Holy Spirit. At that point I was not real familiar with the baptism of the Holy Spirit, but I knew it was something I needed. They gave the altar call, and this time I didn’t wait for anyone else. I was baptized with the Holy Spirit that night, and I still didn’t understand it all. But I knew it was good.
Unfortunately, my understanding of the Holy Spirit did not grow for quite some time. Attending a fundamental Christian school did not help that part of my relationship with God. The Christian school was a good experience for me. I learned a lot during this time. It could have been better, though. As I got older my relationship with God suffered. Trying to be “cool,” and fitting in with my friends became a problem.
Through God’s grace, I never fell in to drinking, smoking, drugs, or sex, but at the same time, I was far away from God. On my senior trip we went to a Christian camp and I rededicated my life to Jesus at service there. The speaker gave everyone a stick and challenged everyone to throw it in to the fire, symbolizing burning up those things in our life that are not pleasing to God.
From that point on, my relationship began to grow again with God. He showed me much grace and mercy during my high school years. At college, I found the solid Christian friends that I didn’t have in high school. I got back in to having my personal time with God. Before my senior year, I felt God calling me to be involved with missions. At the start of the semester, our school had a missions conference, and one of the speakers challenged us to give two years of our lives to missions. I stood before God and told Him I was willing to do that.
During this time I was getting to know my future wife. I found out her father was the vice president of a missions organization. (Coincidence? I think not!) I later met with Dr. James Lee, and knew that God was calling me to work with him. I ended up working almost exactly two years with the missions organization. God grew me in leaps in bounds thanks to Him using Dr. Lee to mentor me. I learned a lot about the Holy Spirit during this time, and that relationship was rekindled.
Within the last three years, God has really grown me in the area of worship, especially. I now lead worship, whereas, three years ago that would have never happened. I know that this is only because of God working in and through me and nothing else. Praise Him for that.
Life definitely has its struggles, and God uses them all for His glory. God brought my wife Jenny and I through her thyroid cancer. People my age shouldn’t have to worry about that, right? But God is good, and He was in complete control throughout the situation. And she is healed! Praise the Lord!
God is continually teaching me new things. He is opening my eyes more and more to my place in His kingdom work. I can’t thank Him enough for the things He has done in my life, the people He has brought in my life, and the great things to come. His grace, mercy, and love never cease to amaze me. He is the reason I live. Praise His name forever!