ALL ABOUT GRACE

Grace Baptist Church was started in 1987 when Bro. Terry Owen came to be the pastor of small group of people meeting in a store front building. It was then that God started a journey out of Egypt to a land that flows with milk and honey. God began to make many promises and to this day God has been faithful to all he promised to do in the early days of Grace Baptist Church. Grace is the steward of Camp Liberty which was founded in the year 2000 to bear the cup of salvation to the world. It lies on about 12 acres on highway 6 west of Pontotoc near Thaxton. Grace now also is reaching across the world with other churches of like mind and purpose. We now have a sister church in Santa Rosa, Laguna, Philippines called Liberty Baptist Church and is the first fruit of the outreach of the churches of Camp Liberty.

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Pastor Terry Owen

 

The Personal Testimony of Deidra Robinson

As most do, I too had a child hood experience. As I grew up I remember being scared…a LOT! Scared of dying and going to hell, scared that I was not really saved…I went through the “God if I am not saved please save me now” prayer and then trying to say the rest of the words just right so He would hear me. This happened quite often including the “God, I am sure I sinned today. Please forgive me of all my sins, including the ones I am not aware that I committed.” prayer. I would then go on to list off all the sins I could possible think of. I was terrified that if I did not ask for forgiveness all the time that I would die and go to hell because of the sins I had not confessed and asked forgiveness for.

God began showing me the double life I was living. I hated it! But God was showing me what was in me…what I really wanted. I remember thinking, “If I am saved then I should not be living like I am;” the alternative, lostness, was not even a possibility though. After all, I knew there had been times when God had talked to me and when I had understood things that were “spiritual discerned.” Therefore, I HAD to be saved because otherwise how would I have understood those things, not to mention the fact that God did not hear you or talk to you when you were lost, so I thought.

 May of 2000, God told me to either get out of the relationship I was in or never experience His presence again. This terrified me! Seeing as how I had enough fear of life without God, I quickly ended things. Never in my entire life had I ever remembered sleeping as well as I did that night. The next morning, I felt as if I could soar! I felt so free! I began to desire church and my Bible. I wanted to do what was right not because I had to but because I desired to. I was going to be ok with just me and God. Later on I decided this MUST be salvation! After all, I had done a 180 in my life! It wasn’t long and Jeremy and I were together and I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt he was to be my husband.

On February 24, 2002, Bro. Mike Williams was voted in as pastor of Highlands Baptist Church. By this time I had heard both Ms. Audrey’s and his testimony and every time they would talk about their “getting lost” I was disturbed. I could not identify with ever having known, in that moment, that I was lost. It bothered me every time it was brought up. I had to come up with some excuse to make myself feel better so I would say “Well, I just didn’t know the terminology then.” In spite of all the excuses I would come up with though I just couldn’t get away from the sick feeling that something was wrong with me. I finally came to the conclusion that what was wrong had to be that I had not been baptized since I had gotten “saved.” The next Sunday morning I waited all through church service for the invitation so I could go down and tell Bro. Mike that I needed to be baptized again. On this particular Sunday, he did not give one. My stomach was in knots! I just had to get down there and get this taken care of so I could have peace! Bro. Mike dismissed church and I stood up and stopped everything. I went down to the front and told them that I had not gotten saved when I was six but had been since then, although I wasn’t exactly sure when, but I was saved now and needed to be baptized. Bro. Mike said we would talk about it and church was re-dismissed. I met with Bro. Mike shortly after and he asked me to tell him what had happened to me when I got saved.  I told him about my experience when I was 18 years old…it was the only place in my life where there had ever been any kind of change. I also shared with him my confusion over the “sinner’s prayer.” He showed me that “the prayer” was nowhere in the Bible. I was relieved because when I had my last experience I had not said “the words.” Then he asked me if I was sure that my deliverance was not just deliverance from a relationship and nothing more. I don’t know that I have ever felt so defensive! I tried my best to hide the burning anger I felt inside. I left his office furious and greatly offended! That day, I erected a wall between my pastor and myself. I did not want him getting to know me! Who did he think he was? I began to be afraid that if he got too close to me that he would start asking questions that I could not answer. I was afraid that he would figure something out that I did NOT want to deal with! But God already had his hooks in me and over the next 14 months, He began breaking down the wall that I had worked so hard to maintain.

It would soon be time for June Festival; I was 6 months pregnant and living in Georgia. My mother in law kept saying how bad she wished I would come and every time I would find some excuse; the biggest two being, I didn’t want to go without Jeremy and how would I get there. Like I said, these were only excuses…I was hiding the real reason I didn’t want to go. She had told me all about how wonderful camp was and how they would sit around at meal times and discuss God and salvation. I had thought, “Ummmm…that does NOT sound wonderful to me!! How could they possibly talk about God that much?!”  Dianna said this was something I should be at despite Jeremy not being able to go and he agreed. In order to combat my other excuse, my in-laws paid for me to fly to Memphis. She arranged for the Smiths to pick me up at the airport. I was to stay the night with them for a couple of nights and then I would ride down with Amy and the kids to Pontotoc. I had never met any of them except for Bro. Scott and Ethan and that was a brief meeting. The situation was NOT ideal to me! The night before I was to leave Georgia, I sat on the couch with Jeremy and told him how if his parents had not paid for my ticket I would not be going. I did not want to go into something I was so unsure of without him. I wanted someone with me I could find security in. I was terrified…I knew this was going to be a rough week for me! Of course I kept this a secret as well. But since they had paid for my travel and we were in no position to refund them their money, I went.

The Smiths were wonderful and I felt at home immediately! We attended Lighthouse Sunday before driving to Pontotoc. Of course everyone there was vibrating with pre-camp excitement and discussing camp, salvation, and all that God had done. I dove into the discussion…I didn’t want them to think something was wrong with me. I shared some of what I knew God had done for me and I felt okay….maybe I would survive the week after all. The next day Amy and I needed to run a few errands on our way out of town and through the course of conversation what should come up? “Salvation of course.” She shared some of her testimony with me and there were some similarities (only the very beginning of course) so I felt comfortable enough to share ALL of my “testimony” with her. It was one of those things were as soon as you have said it you wish you could pull it all back in! Silence…complete and utter silence was all that met my ears! I turned and looked over at her to make sure she was still listening…she had been. I felt sick again…I had gotten “too comfortable.” In that moment, I felt like she knew all that I had worked so hard to hide.

Camp Meeting began and I got into bad trouble the first night I was there! Bro. Terry preached on examining yourselves, how there are no formulas or forms to getting saved, that God sought us first, and how the Spirit must work conviction before God can save you. I was already in trouble…then he gave part of his testimony and there it was again, people talking about when they got lost! I couldn’t get away from it and I knew it was going to be mentioned the whole week! When I got home that night, I could hardly wait to call Jeremy! We talked through my testimony and decided I was ok. I just had not known all the terminology back then. The next night found me in the same mess and right back on the phone with Jeremy doing exactly what I had done the night before. I was determined not to let anyone else know just how bad I was struggling.

As camp went on, I got to the point where I couldn’t sing the songs about salvation and I felt that every time one of the preachers addressed the lost in one of their sermons, they were talking to me. When they preached to the saved, I felt like I was just an onlooker. I had never seen people worship so much! And it sure wasn’t the kind of subdued worked up emotion I had experienced before! I wanted that sooo bad!! I ached for it…Listening to the preaching let me know things weren’t right and the worship I witnessed was just confirmation.

By the third day I was pretty sure I was lost (In truth, I knew it but was afraid to admit it). I was terrified of leaving camp meeting! I knew God was at festival but what would happen once I went home to Georgia?! During the morning service Bro. Claude preached out of Jeremiah 33 and about the determination of God’s restoration! God gave me some GOOD promises, Jeremiah 33:3, 6, 8, 9, and 14. Everywhere it said you, it, or them, I heard Deidre. It reads, “ ‘Call to me and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know’… ‘Behold, I will bring it health and healing; I will heal them and reveal to them the abundance of peace and truth…I will cleanse them from all their iniquities by which they have sinned against Me, and I will pardon all their iniquities by which they have sinned and by which they have transgressed against Me. Then it shall be to Me a name of joy, a praise, and an honor before all the nations of the earth, who shall hear all the good that I do to them; they shall fear and tremble for all the goodness and all the prosperity that I provide for it’… ‘Behold, the days are coming,’ says the Lord, ‘that I will perform that good thing which I have promised’… ” It was like water to my soul! There was hope for me! Bro. Claude went on to preach that God was going to set the captives free. He was not going to let them wander around in darkness and that He was going to give them a salvation they knew. Bro. Claude spoke on the determination of God to get his sheep and causing them to rest. He said God would not have sent you a man if He weren’t going to have you. This was the best news I had received in a very long time! It was like the things I was afraid of, God was addressing, fear of wandering around in darkness forever, fear of having another false experience, fear of never having peace. After he was done preaching Bro. Terry recapped and said, “God is NOT going to forsake you after camp meeting. God is going to go with you.” I felt invigorated; there was a lot to be hopeful in!

During lunch I mulled over everything I had just been given and after the One Another service, I sought out my pastor and asked him for help. My wall had fallen. I knew he was the man God had sent to help me but he couldn’t unless I was going to be completely honest with him. He used an illustration that I could never forget. He said, “Just because a baby is turned in the right direction and headed down the birth canal does not mean that baby has been born yet.” He went on to explain that leaving the ways of the world and instead wanting the things of God and wanting to be around the people of God is all part of repentance and that just because God saves you from destroying yourself does not mean He has saved your soul, which is where many make their mistake. I saw what he was saying and it just made it that much clearer to me that I was indeed lost. Our conversation ended with Bro. Mike telling me that I could talk to any of the six pastors and they would all tell me the same thing but from a different angle and it just may be that other angle that would turn on some more light for me.

Later on that afternoon, I went and asked Ms. Audrey for her testimony. We began to talk about how godly sorrow works repentance and worldly sorrow works death. I had been sorry for things I had done but I had never been sorry over who I was. I had never seen myself as an enemy of God either. I had always thought, “I love God” or “ I care about God” but never as I hated God and wanted nothing to do with Him. Then she asked me what God had shown me about His Son. I was stumped! I didn’t even know what she was talking about! She smiled, finished up her testimony, and strongly encouraged me to talk to the other pastors, that was what they were there for.

I called Jeremy and left a message on our answering machine saying that I was pretty sure I was lost and I wasn’t sure whether or not he would be able to stick with me through everything… but I HAD to find God. I told him I hoped he would understand and that I loved him. Prior to that phone call, I had always told God that I would do anything He asked of me but to please leave my relationship with Jeremy alone. But now… I had to find God, even if that meant giving up my marriage.

I went to talk to Bro. Greg next. Amazingly to me, he said exactly what Bro. Mike had said. He explained it a little different but it was the same concept. This reinforced in my mind what Bro. Mike had told me. I was sure beyond a shadow of a doubt that I was lost. There was no escaping it. I remember looking up at Bro. Greg and telling him, “Well I must be lost then.” He had the most compassionate, tender smile on his face and just shrugged his shoulders. On the one hand there was relief because I knew that everything I had been taught was NOT how you got saved. This was good news to me since I had never felt like any of it had worked in the first place. On the other hand, I felt empty and VERY alone.

That night Bro. Tim Rutherford preached on the table being already spread. Everything was ready. He said that God wanted to have us feast with Him. I could not figure why God would want us to feast with Him if we were His enemies. Then he said, “quite trying to figure it out and just come.” I could see the table with everything prepared but I didn’t know how to get there! I wanted to be there so bad! It seemed so close and yet so far away. All I could do was cry out of frustration that I couldn’t get myself there. Bro. Mike leaned over and asked me what was going on and I told him. He said that was what it was like to be lost. Bro. Tim said that the feast was for the poor, the maimed, and the blind. Then he said, “God is patient. He knows you’re blind, you’re poor, maimed, and crippled.” I needed to know that God would be patient with my slow progress. I felt like I knew so much and at the same time I felt as if I knew nothing.

On the fourth day of festival, Bro. Greg preached on how you would love the truth before you got saved, that you would continue in that truth, and that the truth would set you free. He preached on Abraham leaving Ur and turning away from the world before God saved him. God had to call him out of the world before He could save him. Bro. Greg said that when you start believing the truth, you have already begun to repent. He also mentioned that you shouldn’t have to convince yourself you’re saved; the spirit that’s in you should be what convinces you. I had been dealing with all of these things. It amazed me how much help I was getting since becoming honest with my pastor.

Returning home after festival meant returning to a church where there was no God. I had Bro. Mike back in Texas that I called with my questions; I had my notes from festival along with about 20 booklets; and I had the promises God had given me while at festival. We also did some “cell phone church.” I poured over my notes and promises day and night for the next 17 days. I tried working up manifestations of Christ that only left me feeling empty. Then I tried to quite trying only to realize that was still trying. I tried to see myself for what I was but would always get stuck at seeing myself the way everyone else from a worldly perspective did – “I wasn’t that bad of a person. After all, I tried to do what was right, I went to church, and I read my Bible everyday…” And then God showed me what my problem was; I was FULL of unbelief and that was what eternally separated men from God. I was sick! How could anyone be any worse of a person? I couldn’t even believe the promises that God had given me. I didn’t really believe He would save me. And even if He did, what would it be like, what would happen…I had no idea and that terrified me. I remember telling Bro. Mike that I was afraid for God to save me. I was at a point where I wanted to be saved but too scared to go on…

On Sunday, July 11, 2004, Jeremy and I were down in Florida at the church we had been attending with Denise and Steven Bach. After the morning service, the pastor said we would be having a visiting missionary for the evening service. Knowing that most missionaries are easy believism, I was highly disappointed. I didn’t even want to stay for the evening service but something inside me said to give the man a chance; we stayed. Bro. Hill used three passages of scripture that night, Revelations 1:8-11, 21:6-7, and 22:13. Now I was really disappointed. How in the world could I possibly get any help out of Revelations? The end of the world was NOT what I wanted to be thinking about at the moment! However, as he began to read, I began to see where God was taking me. All the scriptures he read began with God being the Alpha and the Omega but the 2nd one was the one that got me. It reads, “And He said to me, ‘It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be my son.” I could not get away from “It is done!” God asked me afterwards what else I expected Him to do; everything had already been done.  One of the things I found myself struggling with was expecting God to do something else…I wasn’t sure what but I felt like I was waiting on Him to do something else before I could be saved…like I couldn’t do a thing more until He made a move…While in reality, I was the one that had to move towards God.

Bro. Hill went on to tell about the inexhaustibility of Christ and the offices of Jesus Christ as Prophet, Priest, and King. He told how Christ had to humble Himself in order to come to earth and be born as a human being but that now He does not have to take on humility. Now He stands as our mediator in all His glory and royalty; the sacrifice is forever settled. Conviction began to settle on me but I was scared, scared of being saved. What if God wouldn’t be faithful in His promise to save me? I left that night feeling as if salvation would never come to me.

On the way home, I began meditating on what I had just heard preached. I knew there was truth to what the missionary had said because I had heard some of the same things he said preached before by Bro. Mike. I began asking myself what else I expected God to do.

When we got home that night, I lay on our bed and just cried out to God. I told God how sorry I was that I couldn’t believe and begged Him to help me believe. I begged Him to show up. I was tired, tired of trying to work up manifestations of Christ, tired of trying to quite trying, just tired. I cried and apologized until I had nothing left. And as I lay there I heard the words to “Be Still”. When it came to the part where it talks about how faithful God is, it was like a light bulb turned on for me. I began to realize how faithful God had always been to me and how He was NEVER going to change in His faithfulness. If He promised me He was going to save me, He was going to save me! All the sudden it hit me how bad I, Deidre, needed a Savior! I cried out desperately to God my need for a Savior and in that moment He showed up! I saw Christ as MY mediator! He was standing there between me and God, pleading His blood over ME. I realized then that was why God couldn’t see me for who I was, because He saw His Son’s blood covering me. I believed Jesus was there for ME; His death and blood were for ME! Where there was once turmoil, there was now stillness. He had been standing there pleading His blood over me from the foundation of the world. He didn’t suddenly get up and say ok now let’s talk about Deidre; He had been standing there pleading my case all along. Romans 5:6-11 says, “For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love towards us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through whom we have now received the reconciliation.” Romans 4:22-5:25 says, “And therefore ‘it was accounted to him for righteousness.’ Now it was not written for his sake alone that it was imputed to him, but also for us. It shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification. Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulations produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who has given to us.” These were the verses of scripture that I read after God saved me. I understood what they meant! When I read them, everything in me was saying, “Yes! Yes!” I had to giggle because I had just been shown exactly what they said and it had been made real to me! He showed me how much He loved me! He loved me enough to have His Son’s blood before me even though I don’t deserve one drop of it! And yet, He puts all His blood on me! He humbled Himself to come and start life just like I had to, to grow up and be rejected by even His own family, to be forsaken by His Father who He had always had fellowship with before, to take my sins on Himself, to have God’s wrath poured out on Himself, to rise from the dead, and to ascend into heaven and to stand in front of me so God would see His sacrifice-so God could see His blood and I wouldn’t have to shed mine. Because He loves me! God showed me how what His Son’s blood did for me is what the blood of the lamb did for the Israelites when the Angel of Death came over while they were still in Egypt. It was that blood that allowed the wrath of God to pass over. He had chosen me and loved me before I took my first breath. For the first time I knew who Jesus was. He had always seemed so abstract to me before but that night He was REAL!! And I didn’t do anything to make Him real! I couldn’t even work up belief. He had to work it and He did. It all happened so fast! I was left going what just happened to me? All I could remember was what God had just revealed to me about His Son and that it had been for me, Deidre! I kept thinking surely it’s not that simple! It was like nothing I could have EVER worked up. Jesus loves me this I know…

In the Lord’s Army Now

The Personal Testimony of Jeremy Robinson

            I was raised a Southern Baptist, have been in church all my life, and as far back as I can remember, my parents have tried to follow God where they felt He was leading them.  I was supposedly saved at 5 years old, but the only memory I have of that experience is a vague recollection of praying on my parent’s bed.  I was too young to have any grasp on the weight of sin and repentance towards God, but not knowing any different, I held onto this testimony until I was 18 years old.

            I can remember having doubts about my salvation growing up, but like most Baptist churches, everyone else has doubts as well, so it is the norm.  When I was 13, the church we had attended since I was 6 months old, showed a video on Sunday night.  I can’t remember what it depicted, but I remember feeling like God was calling me to the ministry.  I went to talk to the Pastor of the church, and expressed my concerns about salvation to him, along with my calling towards ministry.  He assured me that I had to be saved, because God doesn’t talk to lost people, and that doubts about salvation are the work of the devil trying to keep you in fear.  I had never really had the story of Samuel explained to me, which is very clear that God spoke to Samuel before he even knew who God really was.  This is one obvious example in the Bible of God speaking to a lost man, because if Samuel had been saved, he would have had to have experienced God before.  There are other examples, but this is the one that really impacted me later in life.

            I accepted what the Pastor of our church told me, and publicly told the church I was called to the ministry.  Around the same time, my parents felt God leading them away from this church, which was all I had ever known.  I can look back and see how God was working in the lives of my parents to bring my family to the truth.  My family left Pine Drive Baptist Church, in Dickinson, TX and began to search for a new church home.  I remember visiting many different churches, and we even had church in my parent’s house as a family for a time.  After about 2 years, my family ended up at a small, non-traditional church where some friends of the family attended.  The church met in a school, and it was very casual.  The church had no pastor, but several of the men in the church would take turns preaching.  After about a year, the church found a pastor, and moved to a storefront building, and a more traditional church setting.  Faith Fellowship was the most peaceful and close-knit church my family had ever attended, and my parents were very happy there.  After several years, the elders in the church, along with the pastor, decided that the church needed to purchase some land and build a building.  Several members were very opposed to borrowing money, but the church was supposed to be led by the elders and pastor, so it shouldn’t have been a big deal.  To the shock most, the elders decided to close the church, since no agreement could be reached.  I remember my parents being very sad and distraught at this decision, since this was the best church they had ever attended, but the decision stood nonetheless. 

            My parents began searching for a church once again, and at 16, I remember feeling like it was a very dark time for my family because my parents were so unhappy.  During this time, I graduated from high school and began college.  My wife Deidre was a part of my home-school graduation, and ended up at the same community college I attended.  We were not dating during this time, but I had her on my mind, so when my parents decided to visit Highlands Baptist Church where her family attended, I was all for it.  My family decided to stay, and we were there about a year when the pastor retired.  My dad helped serve on the pastor search committee that called Bro. Mike Williams.  The church voted unanimously to call Bro. Mike to be the pastor, but after about a year, the church members began to catch on that the preaching was very different than any they had ever heard.  Bro. Mike hadn’t changed his preaching, but if you spend time under the truth, it will eventually begin to sink in.  Highlands Baptist Church was a very aged church, and older people especially, can be very opposed to anything new.  Before long, the church was in an uproar, and Bro. Mike Williams was thrown out of the church.

            When Bro. Mike first came to the church, I remember his preaching making sense to me, but I never came under conviction from it because I thought I was saved.  When I was 18, god began to work on me and show me that because of the way I was living, I couldn’t be saved.  I remember trying many time to be better, and then one night telling God that I couldn’t help myself, and asking Him to help me.  I took this to be salvation, and when Bro. Mike came, I felt good about myself and that I was saved.  My wife Deidre was very convicted by Bro. Mike’s preaching, but kept it to herself, clinging to an experience she had at 18.  I remember her feeling like she needed to get baptized, and telling me I needed to also.  I thought about it for a while, and then agreed with her, and went to the front for Bro. Mike to baptized me.  Bro. Mike talked to me about my experience, and although I am sure he realized I was lost, agreed to baptize me. 

            When the church kicked Bro. Mike Williams out, about 50 of us followed him.  Some followed because they felt he had the truth, while others followed out of principle, since they couldn’t stay in a church that would act so hatefully.  Deidre and my families were among those to leave and Pioneer Baptist Church was born.  God began drawing me toward salvation by instilling truth in me, and beginning to shape my thinking.  I was attending Southwest Texas State University at this time, and couldn’t always drive home on the weekend.  Deidre and I were married in May 2003 and I was commissioned as an officer in the Air Force in August.  We lived 3 ½ hours from Pioneer, and although we traveled home often, we were not active members of Pioneer.  I ended up moving to Georgia for pilot training, where Deidre got saved. 

            I am not sure when I realized I was lost, but I began to have suspicions about my salvation.  I never said anything, and I am sure it tortured my wife.  I performed well in Pilot training, and had my choice of assignments to continue training.  I remember wanting to go to Columbus AFB, MS because it is was the only base close to one of the churches that preach the truth.  I was secretly hopeful that I would find help when I arrived.

            From the first time Deidre and I walked in to Grace Baptist Church, it felt like home to me, and we began attending church there in December 2004.  It didn’t take long for me to become convinced I was lost, but I wouldn’t say so publicly.  It wasn’t until April 2005 that I finally admitted my lostness to the church.  It felt like a great weight had been lifted off of me because I had been hiding from the truth for so long.  For a long time, I was just comfortable in lostness and distracted by pilot training. 

            In June 2005, two weeks from graduating pilot training, God stopped me dead in my tracks by telling me Pilot Training was not what I was supposed to be doing.  It was strange, because God was so clear about what He wanted.  The next day, I told my Assistant Flight Commander and probably scared the poor guy to death when I told him God told me to quit Pilot Training.  It didn’t take long for the rumor to circulate that I was leaving the Air Force to join a cult, and before we knew it, Deidre and I were shunned by all of our fair weather military friends.  We lived on base, so this was probably harder on Deidre than on me since we were a part of Grace Baptist, but we lived over an hour away.

            All my Air Force superiors were shocked, since I had made such an abrupt turn, and they though I was crazy to give up something like Pilot Training.  All the “religious” Officers tried to tell me I could go anywhere and do anything I wanted and still take God along with me.  I knew this to be a lie, especially since God specifically planted Deidre and I at Grace.  I kept telling them, that to reject what God had told me would be just like Jonah running when God called him.  They even tried to bribe me with my choice of assignments and aircraft if I would stay.  I couldn’t reject what God had told me because He was so clear.

            Coincidentally, God decided to tell me to get out of Pilot Training at a time when the military had too many young officers.  Because I got out of pilot training, the Air Force had no room for me anywhere other than as a pilot.  The Air Force decided that I owed them for the money they had contributed towards my college, so I was forced to pay back a portion of that money.  Truth be told, it was a small price to pay for the peace that comes from doing God’s will and freedom from the military.

            From the time when God showed me I was lost, until about 3 months before I got saved, God spoke to me several other times.  I have always been a very prideful person, and it took a while for God to work the extra pride I was pumped up with by being in Pilot Training out of me.  In the Air Force, being a pilot is a very exclusive thing, and you are reminded constantly of how “special” you are.  It is because of pride that it took me so long to get saved.  I remember one time, when Brother Terry was preaching on Naman the leper, that God told me I was being just like him because I would not come to the front and get the cure.  I remember many sermons when God was calling the lost to salvation, but I would not go to the front and get saved because of my pride.  I know that there are some who get saved other than at the front of the church at the altar, but because of my pride, I always felt God calling me to come to the alter and I had refused to go.

            In the last few months before God saved me, it seemed like every time we came to church, God was preaching to the lost.  It was apparent that God had us on His mind, and there were many things I heard during that time.  After one sermon Bro. Terry preached, God showed me that I wasn’t really seeking to be saved.  I would forget about what was preached as soon as I left church, and not think about God again until the next service.  God showed me that there is no way the seeds He was trying to plant could take hold if I didn’t harbor them until they could be watered.  I would just throw out the seed God was giving me as soon as church was over, and I was expecting God to save me anyway.  I began to really try to think about the sermons and what God was trying to say throughout the day, and I could tell that it helped me hear what was being preached more clearly.

            God also showed me through preaching, that I had already repented of my sin, and that it had been taken care of if I would just come home.  Two weeks before God saved me, God was calling very clearly to the lost and telling us that God would save any of us who would come to the front and take the cure.  Again God used the story of Naman to show me my pride, and none of us who were lost moved.  When I was driving home from church, God reminded me of all the times He had called me to be saved, and how many times I had rebelled against His call.  He told me that I was being just like a stubborn dog, who you whistle at and call to, trying everything to get it to come in the yard, but still it refuses.  God showed me how I had always been rebellious, and that He was just trying to get me to come home like the Prodigal son.

            The morning God saved me, Bro. Tim Tutor got up and started to sing “The Robe” and in the song it is describing the prodigal son, weary of his time in the world and ready to come home.  When I heard those words, God broke me, and I finally was able to get out of my seat and go to the altar.  I fell on the ground and was begging God to save me.  I cried like I have never cried before, but I didn’t feel God’s presence.  I searched but didn’t find God at that time.  It was apparent to me that God had broken me, and that it wasn’t of myself, but still I could not find the manifested presence of God.  I sat up and looked over at Bro. Terry.  He was looking at me, and I went over to him and told him what was going on.  I told him I didn’t know what was going on, but that I didn’t feel like God was there.  I went on to say, that maybe I needed to hear something he had to preach. 

            Bro. Terry didn’t have anything to preach that morning, but when he got up, he began to preach straight to me.  His text was Luke 11:1-13 on the needful friend, the helpful friend, and the heavenly friend.  He explained that the Needful friend had to have someone ask the master for him, and that maybe one of the lost in the church needed to ask someone to entreaty God on their behalf, since, if they couldn’t find God by themselves, they could ask someone who knows God to ask for them.  As soon as Bro. Terry began to preach about having someone pray for them, God told me I should ask Bro. Terry and Bro. Mark Harding to pray for me.  As soon as I got a chance, I went to the front and asked.  When we went to the altar to pray, Bro. Mark began by asking God to help me.  He helped me because through his crying over me, God broke me again, and then Bro. Terry began to pray.  At first, Bro. Terry was asking god to give me grace, and nothing was happening.  Then he realized that in the story of the three friends, the helpful friend had to go and ask for grace to take to his needful friend, and that he should be asking God for grace himself so he could help me.  When asked God this way, God told him it was in thankfulness.  He told me this, and God brought back to me how He had been so good to me all my life, and how He had worked in my life to bring me to this point.  I began to thank God with all my heart for how good He had been to my family and I.  When I got thankful, God told me that He had been good to me, and that I could come home.  At that point, I flashed back to two weeks earlier, when God showed me I was being like a dog that wouldn’t come in the yard, and He brought back the story of the prodigal son.  I saw God standing there with one of His arms extended, like a father calling me to come home.  It didn’t feel like He was mad at me, just disappointed like a father would be.  Bro. Terry said that I could rest, and I rested on the arm of God.  I was so blown away, I wasn’t sure what had happened, and I wanted to make sure I was saved before stating it publicly.  I got up and sat on the front row, while Bro. Terry had Bro. Robert Hunt come and sing “Be Still.”  As he began to sing, I felt like I could go up and give God a hug like there wasn’t anything between us anymore.  It took the rest of the afternoon for it to sink in that I was really saved, and I told the church that night.  It really helped give me confidence that every time I would give my testimony the spirit would bear witness to it.