I was born and raised in a close knit, loving, Christian family. Both my parents were involved in the church for as long as I can remember. My father worked for the Boy Scouts and as a result we moved several times during my childhood (Ohio, Illinois, Minnesota and New Jersey) but wherever we were my mom was involved in the church. I went to Sunday school, vacation bible school, and even youth retreats (at the beach) when we lived in New Jersey. I sang in the youth choir and was active in the youth group when I was in high school (New Jersey). I enjoyed church as a kid. It was a place that I felt I belonged and was comfortable. Most of the time we were members of the Presbyterian church but when we lived in Minnesota, our small town did not have a Presbyterian church so we went to the Congregational church. I didn’t notice that there was much difference and when asked one time, my mom told me the critical things weren’t different.
As a single adult with no children, I found it difficult to “fit in” in church. I tried a few times but was dissatisfied so I just quit trying.
I attended a small Methodist sponsored college in Minnesota and As part of my “liberal arts” education (I have a BA in Biology), I was required to take at least 1 religion course. The course I chose to take was a comparison of the major religions of the Western world (Catholicism, Protestantism, Judaism [CPJ]). This gave me my first serious look at religion in a much broader sense and introduced me to religious dogma that was, in some respects, quite different.
After college, I drifted away from regular church attendance and membership. As a single adult with no children, I found it difficult to “fit in” in church. I tried a few times but was dissatisfied so I just quit trying. I would go to church occasionally with friends or family but never found a place to call home and did not feel a need to go to a formal church. I saw myself as a good Christian because I tried to treat everyone the way I wanted to be treated (the golden rule has always been a good idea)and I thought of myself as a kind, compassionate, honest person.
When I was asked to write my faith story, my first thought was “I don’t have a faith story” or at least I don’t know what my faith story is. In the past few months as I have been thinking about this I realize that my story is actually in the process of evolving.
Traveling through Europe with 2 friends from college for 3 months on the “$5/day plan” also lessened my hold on any formal, specific church. We traveled through a dozen different countries and met and interacted with a lot of local people. I saw a lot of good but also a lot of bad that came from people who abused “religion”. I became leery of people who appeared to take their own “religion” too seriously, passionately. To me it tended to equate, “intolerance”. To be sure, at this time most of my friends were of the same mind so I became very comfortable in the “light, casual” relationship to church/religion.
When I was asked to write my faith story, my first thought was “I don’t have a faith story” or at least I don’t know what my faith story is. In the past few months as I have been thinking about this I realize that my story is actually in the process of evolving. I realize that my faith in God and Jesus has always been firm but it has always been more intellectual than emotional. The deaths of my parents, a very close friend and even the sudden, unexpected accidental death of my niece did not shake my belief in God, Jesus or heaven. I knew in my head and in my heart they were all safe and in good hands. I also think of God as benevolent.
Recently, I have found a church family and I have begun studying the Bible. It happened somewhat by accident. A lifelong friend who was staying with us said to me one Sunday, “Come on, we’re going to church.” My sister had been attending church since we moved to Delaware, but I had been content to stay home. One Sunday the music director said the handbell choir needed more members. I thought, “No, I wasn’t ready to get involved.” At the end of the service I found myself volunteering for bell choir! Not long afterward I was invited to serve on the church session. That idea was really scary, but here I am serving as Outreach Elder!
Although there was no sudden AHH HAA moment in my life that made me think “Wow that was God”, my faith has always been there.
More Faith Stories
There are people who sometimes have a stomachache and think it's cancer, they think it is a terminal illness. Sometimes people think there is no solution, but it is only a stomach discomfort. It's something bad that you ate that upset your stomach. It is that people that are losing their faith. They get concerned about so many things. They wake up and see the car with a flat tire, and it is a bad day.
There are more important things we need to learn. We need to seek the Lord, because time is short, time goes by quickly. I've got three children: my first daughter is 25 years old. My son is 21 and my other daughter is 16. I mean, time goes by fast.
This means this is an opportunity for you to devote your heart to Jesus Christ, so that He can save you, so that He can be your guide, so that He can be your path, so that He can be everything in your life. Listen to this message, share it with your family. If you do not have a family do not think you are alone. God is with you wherever you are. God will be with you come what may.
Now, what happened with COVID two years ago was unbelievable. God put us to the test. Many people died, and that's something that's coming ahead. There will be more illnesses, there will be more regulations. But if we keep our faith in God, if we continue to trust in God, He will give us the peace we need, the peace the world needs.
Sometimes in the community, there are a lot of people who are watching their backs. For their own protection they hire bodyguards that watch over them night and day because they feel insecure. But we have God to protect us. Day after day, God protects us. God takes care of us. God gives us strength.
I strongly encourage you, I dare you to seek the Lord. This Why I Love Jesus ministry goes across the globe spreading the word of God, telling the world Jesus Christ is real, He is not dead.
There have been many stories in this world which were looking forward to changing history, but we have this story of faith that we believe, come what may, the Lord will be with us.
So if you have relatives, share this experience with them: brothers, sisters, parents. If your family has never been in contact with Jesus, now is the time for you to tell them to embrace Him, to embrace God. Tell them about the story in the Bible that says there is a man in hell, being burned there, and he would like to have a chance of getting out of there. But unfortunately, he has already lost the opportunity. In other words, there is no way he could leave hell.
And you who are there watching this testimony, this word of the Lord, this is the opportunity that you get. Maybe we don't wake up tomorrow; we don't know what will happen tomorrow.
This is the moment for you to say, "Lord, forgive me. I have failed a lot; I've failed in several things, but I want You to be my Savior, I want You to be my shield, I want You to be my strength, I want You to be everything in my life."
Make your decision. Sometimes in day-to-day life, we make decisions, many of them, but this is the most important decision you should make in your life. That is to devote your life to Jesus Christ, commend your life to Jesus Christ, so that He can be everything in your life. May He be your peace, your strength.
At times, people have enough money in the bank and think with that they will change the world, think that will be their protection. But money is only an ordinary piece of paper. In the end, the paper will run out, the money will run out, but treasures we did will remain when we're in heaven.
So let's make this an invitation. Let's hope this message will reach someone in need of it. So you who are out there, this message is meant for you.
My stepfather was an alcoholic, and we had a difficult life. But God changed us. When I began going to this church in 2000, God changed me. God changes you, and God wants to do great things with your life.
So, I mean, maybe you are also having a hard time with an alcoholic father, an alcoholic mother. Let me tell you, I had bad thoughts in my head about finishing him, killing him, destroying him, so that it all would end. But when I got to the feet of Jesus, when I started going to church, God made changes in me. God makes changes in you. God changes your mind.
When God entered into my life, and I looked at my stepfather again, I saw him in a different way. I held a grudge inside my heart, but nevertheless, God was working on me. God worked on me and gave me peace. I was smart enough not to commit a crime. God showed me the way I should live.
In addition to being at peace with God, He gives you intelligence. God gives you wisdom to be on the side of right every day in our lives.
So, this is an invitation, whether you're a woman, or man, or youth. Young people sometimes make decisions which scar their lives forever. To put it another way, if you are young, make your decision to accept Jesus: don't wait until tomorrow and say, "No, I'd better wait before accepting Jesus Christ, before accepting God in my heart. I've still got a long way to go. I want to live my life, and I want to do things. When I'm older, I'll see whether I change." But we don't know what happens tomorrow, so you should make up your mind today.
I've had some friends who made their decisions too late. I had a friend who said he was going to drink his life away. He was going to drink, that's what he was going to do. He was going to do drugs, to live a totally careless life. He thought he was being cleverer than God. But he wasn't, nobody is smarter than God. At the end of his life he was going to seek God's forgiveness.
Had God been given the opportunity, He would have forgiven him, He would have indeed. But my friend didn't take the trouble to get to that point. He was doing his drugs, drinking and whatnot. Then he grabbed a gun and shot himself in the head.
I mean, we don't know what was the last moment in his life, whether he asked forgiveness or not. We only had the word he killed himself by putting a bullet in his head. Odds are he didn't have the opportunity of begging God's forgiveness, and he lost his life. Or better expressed, do not let the enemy fool you. The enemy hampers your life.
That means to move on and accept Jesus Christ. He is going to give the answers. He is going to give you the peace you need. That's my testimony, and I know this is on behalf of God, so people would turn to Him.
People get lost, people haven't wanted to recognize their faults. God has a plan for your life. That means if He gave you this plan, accept it, accept it. We have free will, people make their own decisions. God has already chosen some individuals. God has predestined people. Whether you are predestined or exercising your free will, make your decision and follow Jesus Christ.
Your life will change, He is going to transform it, and He is going to help you in every way, be it economic, social, psychological, whatever you need, God is going to help you.
Thank you for your time, thank you for this opportunity that God gave me to share my faith. I come from Houston, Texas, but I've been working here in Delaware, and this is an opportunity God has granted me to share good news and continue to spread good news. We're the ambassadors of the word of God. So thank you for this opportunity, and let's move forward with this testimony which is for the benefit of society.
In May of 1982 Carolyn and I went on a Lutheran Marriage Encounter Weekend. Here was where God opened my eyes and heart to his role in my marriage and life. That weekend changed my relationship with Christ.
God has given me my dream of serving as a choir director. I see lives change as we are singing. Singing correctly is sometimes less important than letting the Spirit come to us as we practice.
I remember an incident when the Lord rescued me from a person who intended to do me harm. God’s protection was a miracle in my life!
I wasn’t raised in a church; so I knew nothing about Jesus or God. I did go to Vacation Bible School in the summers and heard and loved the song, “This Little Light of Mine.”
I went into the ocean and was immediately swept off my feet by a riptide. There was nothing in the water for me to float on, and I was running out of energy. I asked God if this was how I was going to die.
My faith grew to have a focus on trusting in God’s word as assurance. To believe his promises are true. We experienced the faithfulness of the God who called us in many, many ways. In addition to joyous times, we faced grief and pain.