Paul M. Willbanks
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)
I was baptized as an infant in a Lutheran Church and remember always attending church with my family. At age 15, after three years of study and testing, I was confirmed and received my first communion. I remember wanting to feel the presence of God and was disappointed that nothing “lit up” for me that day. College in the early 1970s offered many interests and temptations outside of the church. Between weekend travel with the sailing club to compete at other colleges and sleeping off the effects of late night parties, church was forgotten. It took me five years to earn an accounting degree and, soon after, I became engaged.
We returned to the church, knowing that a church home was an important part of a family. Although we became involved with the youth ministry, my relationship with the Lord did not grow during this period. We moved into our first house and began having children. I also passed the national exam for Certified Public Accountant. We had more children and began attending a Christian and Missionary Alliance Church. At an annual Missions Conference, my love for missions was born.
I had lost my company, my marriage was on the rocks, and my financial future was discouraging. How was God working for the good in my life now?
We now lived on a tributary of the Chesapeake Bay with a pool, boat dock, and enough land for my wife and daughters to keep horses. My four children all graduated from a private Christian school. Surely, I believed, God was working for good in my life. I didn’t realize at the time, but my job was taking a toll on my life and marriage. The company had grown fourfold and now served parts of five states and Washington, DC. A merger almost doubled the company’s size, and I served as the lead financial person on the merger team.
Then everything changed. My wife decided she no longer loved me and asked for a divorce. At the encouragement of our Pastor, we began years of Christian counseling. The stress bled into my job. I was not able to keep up with the demands on a CFO of a company with 300 employees, and in the fall of 2002, my partners asked me to step down. A few months later, I found a new job at a much lower salary, putting even more stress on me and my family.
The watershed moment occurred late one Saturday night. I was traveling north and stopped at a motel to get some sleep. I sat alone in the motel room contemplating my life. I had lost my company, my marriage was on the rocks, and my financial future was discouraging. How was God working for the good in my life now? I got down on my knees and cried out to God. Then I just cried. Suddenly I felt a warmth and a sense of complete peace come over me. I knew without a doubt that God loved me and was lifting this burden from my soul. More importantly, He was asking me to trust Him with my life. This was something I had not done up to this point, as I was always making the decisions. I left that hotel a changed man, confident that God was going to make everything all right. But God’s plan was not exactly what I envisioned.
Later that summer, my wife formally sued for divorce by serving papers at my place of business. The bank where I worked as auditor did not appreciate this public action against a high-security employee and soon let me go. But, this time I was not discouraged. I was engaged in daily Bible study and prayer. I was talking to God and learning to trust in His word. I began using my vacation time to volunteer at a Christian music festival and go on short term service trips to Africa and Mexico.
By the summer of 2006, I was again looking for full time work. I asked God to show me a way to use my skills in Christian ministry. At first it seemed that the answer would be, “no.” I had a job offer for a regional Controller with a short time for acceptance. At twice the salary, it was certainly an answer to prayer; but it was not the answer to my prayer. Then, an afternoon internet search turned up a Director of Finance position at a Christian school in Delaware. It paid much less than the Controller job, but I accepted the offer at the Christian school. My time at the school deepened my walk with the Lord. Where else could I praise and worship God while working on the job!
In December 2006, my divorce was finalized, bringing closure to a long and painful period of my life. But at the same time, I was beginning a joyous new journey. Not only was I working in Christian ministry, I had also been introduced to a beautiful Christian woman. We were married in March, 2008 and began our marriage reading the Bible together daily, a practice we continue today. My wife has joined me on two mission service trips and working at a Christian music festival. I have learned her love for art and birds. We agreed early to put God first in our individual lives as the foundation for our married life and daily ask God to lead us together in ministry to Him.
Although my job at the school has ended, God finds new and exciting ways to use me. He has provided a job closer to home, giving me more time to serve my church as Missions Elder. My dedication to prayer has helped form a weekly men’s prayer team. Keeping God first in my life forms the central guiding light of my marriage and helps me appreciate my wife more each day. I also love God more each day, and my prayer is to be called according to His purpose. Jesus died for my sin and makes it possible for me to praise, love, and trust God.
That is why I Love Jesus.
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.
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.
A child evangelist came to my church and, while performing some magic trick, made it very clear that Jesus loved us so much that He could take away the guilt I felt from my stubborn, rebellious ways.
In my job as a Maryland State Trooper, I asked God to guide me to those abusing alcohol and drugs. I prayed for guidance and protection for all of them.