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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…

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Peace At Last

The Personal Testimony of Patsy Owen

Thank you, God! Peace at last.

For many months I had struggled over an experience I had when I was in my 20's. I could never remember some of the most important steps that God uses to draw a person to Him in order to save that person. The main one was godly sorrow. Repentance, faith and believing were the others.

I remember having dreams of being separated from God. I remember our preacher coming to our apartment one Sunday afternoon. I remember sitting on the floor beside our sofa and asking God to save me. It seemed that I had peace after that and I thought, all these years, that I was saved.

God has been good to me all my life. From the time I was a small child, I can remember my grand-mother, Ma Coleman, rocking me and my sister while telling us stories from the Bible that she held in her hands.

The first Sunday school I can remember was at her church in Hallsville, Texas. I must have been only four or five years old then. My family did not go to church when I was young but I can remember going once in awhile with friends from school.

When I was about fourteen, we moved to a neighborhood close to Emmanuel Baptist Church in Shreveport, La. It was located on Jewella Road during the 50's. A Sunday school teacher at Emmanuel talked to us about coming to Sunday school and church. So, we started visiting there.

One Sunday morning as the invitation was given, I could see my Sunday school teacher singing in the choir and tears falling. It seemed as though she was looking directly at me. I knew she was a good Christian lady and wanted me to be saved and join the church. So, I walked down the isle and gave the preacher my hand. All I remember about that was sitting down on the front row and filling out a card. I think it was the next Sunday that I was baptized. I really loved being a part of the Sunday school class and all the group activities there. It was not long before my sister and my parents joined the church.

I met Dale Owen, my husband, on a church hayride. He was with a friend who lived across the street from me. On his sixteenth birthday, he asked me out on a date. After that, he was the main reason I went to church.

I did all the things that Sunday school classes in those days expected one to do. I read my Bible every day. I gave an offering and invited others to come. I checked off all the points on my offering envelope most every week. I studied my lessons and learned much more about God than I had ever learned before.

After I graduated from High School, Dale and I got married. Three months later, we were moving to Kansas City, Mo. We had never been away from home before so this was quite an experience and exciting time for us. After a few months, I began to be homesick and lonely.

Dale and I started going to the closest Baptist church in the neighborhood, which was Broadway Baptist Church. It was a Southern and Swedish Baptist Church. The pastor and his wife were from Chaineeville, La. I really loved them because they made me feel more at home.

Dale got involved with the music program, drama and was elected their Brotherhood President, the youngest one in the state of Missouri at that time. Needless to say, this left me at home alone much of the time. At first, I really resented the church for taking up so much of his time. That is when I decided to go with him every time he went for anything except Brotherhood meetings, of course. I met several young married couples and joined their Sunday school class because I needed friends my own age. Of course, Dale was involved in so many other things that he was seldom in class with me.

I began to go to church more. I began to feel like Bro. Elledge was preaching right at me every Sunday. I was pregnant with our first son, Tom, at this time. After Tom was born, I began to realize I was lost. I began to have dreams of being separated from God. I would wake Dale up at night crying. Finally, I told him that I thought I was lost. This was when he called the pastor to our apartment and I had the experience that I talked about earlier. For a while, I felt better about myself.

After three year in Kansas City, Mo., we moved back to Shreveport. Dale stayed with the Texas & Pacific Railroad. I stayed home to raise Tom. I was really hard on Tom. It took my sister-in-law, to wake me up to that. I remember crying and asking God to help me be more patient with him. God really had His hands full because I really had a bad temper.

I also had trouble with tithing. I was really selfish with our money. How could I have been saved and have such a bad temper and be so selfish about God's money?

Our second son, Terry, was born August 1, 1960. When he was about three, we moved to Monroe, La. Dale got involved as music and youth director at Calvary Baptist Church while he still worked for the Missouri Pacific Railroad. After 18 months, Dale went to work for Sun Oil Co. in Shreveport so we moved back there in 1965. It was only a short while when he got a part-time job at Blanchard Baptist Church as their music and youth director. This is where Terry and Tom joined the Baptist Church when they were six and nine years old. If you have read Terry's testimony, you know he does not remember anything about his praying to accept Jesus in his heart and walking down the isle and joining the church. The next Sunday, our oldest son, Tom did the same thing.

It was during this time that our daughter, Tammy, was born. I was so sick while I was pregnant with her that I had to stay with Dale's mother almost a month and then with my mother a few more weeks. I really did not care if I lived or not. It was only the grace of God and many prayers that kept me from killing myself. Does that sound like a saved person?

My sister had to talk to Dale and try to get him to see that he was spending so much time in church activities and work that he did not realize how much I needed him.    God was good. Dale listened to what my sister had to say and gave up some of his church activities and began to spend more time with me and the boys.

It was December 1967 that we were transferred to Tulsa, Okla. We lived there about six months before we bought a home in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. We joined the Broken Arrow Baptist Church in 1968. Again, Dale gets involved in music; youth work, being a deacon, children's church, RA's and anything else they want him to do.

I was very unhappy when we first moved there. Dale and I had lots of arguments about his church work. There was a time when I believed that he would leave me if I did not quit being so jealous of him and the church. We were there eight years when Sun-Ray DX Oil Co. sold the company that Dale worked for and he was transferred to Memphis, Tenn. to work for W. R. Grace Co. It was a hard move for all of us. We had a brand new home, which we only lived in eight months. We all hated to leave friends and a place we really loved.

Dale went ahead of us and found a neighborhood and church that he thought God wanted us to move into. In 1975 we all moved to Bartlett, Tenn. and began our lives again in a new place.

When Tom graduated from High School, he went to work for Pitt Electric Co. When Terry graduated, he went to Memphis State University for one year. I felt like I needed to work to help pay his way through college. I got a job and worked until Tammy was out of school.

Terry decided to go to Blue Mountain College. He felt like God was calling him to preach. If you read his testimony, you know he preached four years before he found himself lost. When he came home and told us he was lost and was giving up his ordination papers, licenses to preach and turning down a church which was considering him for a call, we were devastated. It was like a death. We were so upset and could not understand how he could do this. After sixteen months, God saved him! God does answer prayers of lost people. Dale and I prayed for him many times even though we did not understand at the time why he couldn't just ask God to save him, give up his life and just be saved. Little did we know about how God saves people.

When Terry finally was saved and began preaching again in Pontotoc, Miss., Dale began listening to his sermons on tape while he drove to and from work. If you read Dale's testimony, you will see how Dale got saved.

When I ask Dale, "What are you going to do with what you've heard?", little did I know I would be asking myself this same question six years later. Yes, it has been six years that we have sat under the preaching of the Word at Grace Baptist Church in Pontotoc, Miss.  Salvation and how God performs it, is preached almost every service. Not only by Terry but also by any preacher that stands in the pulpit at our church.

God began to work on me about my experience that I had in my 20's. The more I examined it, the more I realized I could not remember anything really changing me in my heart. Oh, I loved God, I tried to live right but the more I heard God's Word, the more I realized I only had head knowledge and not heart knowledge.

I had questions and asked Terry but I really did not want to hear what he had to say. My pride and temper told him I did not want to discuss it anymore. But God would not let me alone. He opened my eyes and ears and heart to receive the words of the preaching. As I sat in the pew, I could see myself in every sermon. I was wanting to run and hide. I felt like an outsider looking in. Oh, how I wanted to be saved but my pride stood in my way for many months.

Finally, one Sunday while Temple was singing, I went to the altar and cried for Jesus to help me. Terry came and prayed for me. He prayed that I would find answers for my questions.

On February 11, 2001 I told Terry and the church that I was lost. The following week was the longest, saddest, depressing and heart-breaking week of my life. I felt like I had died spiritually. I still felt like an outsider but I knew in my heart I wanted to be saved and that was all I thought about.

The next Sunday morning, February 18, 2001, everything seemed the same but as Terry began to preach, I remembered something that someone had said about the good shepherd, Jesus knows his sheep and the sheep know Him. My heart began to pound so hard as Terry was preaching from John 9:1-35 about the man born blind. Then from Luke 18:8 about how Jesus is looking for faith. He talked about resting in Jesus and how God talks to you and leads you. How he is good to you so that you will come to Him. He used a chair as an example of people who believe and trust that a chair will hold them as they sit in it but that it is only head knowledge and not real until they actually sit down in it.

I was breathing so hard and I knew in my heart that Jesus was waiting on me at the altar. As soon as Terry finished, I ran and fell at the altar and cried out to God, telling Him that I needed Him and wanted Him in my life.

Terry was startled and came over and asks me if I knew for sure that I was lost? I told him, "Yes, I have known for a long time that I was lost." I heard him say something about resting in Jesus. That is what I did.  I believed he was there for me and I just rested in His arms. I believe that is when He saved me. I felt such peace that I have never known before. I could only shout, "Thank You, God!"

God is so good! He has been good to me all my life and I was to blind to see it. Amazing Grace that He saved a wretch like me.

Thank you, God! Peace at last!

Patsy Owen

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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.

 

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Saved by Grace
The Personal Testimony of Hannah Hill

                  By the grace of God, when I was two years old, my family became members of Grace Baptist Church in Pontotoc, Mississippi.  Because of this, I grew up surrounded by God’s goodness.  No kid could ask for a better upbringing.  Never once was I deceived about the ways of salvation and led through a prayer.  From a child, I only knew love for I was surrounded by some of the most loving people you will ever meet.  It was as if God had placed me in a comfortable little bubble away from the rest of the destruction of the world.  He kept His hand on me at all times, always keeping me away from real danger, and even at times saved me physically from these dangers. 

                                    As most children do, however, I slept through hundreds of sermons.  I don’t know what I thought the purpose of church was, but it never occurred to me that I might need what Bro. Terry was preaching one day.  Because of this, I knew we believed differently than most churches but I didn’t know exactly what was so different about us.  Kids at school knew I believed differently because when February camp meeting would roll around, I would show up to  school in dresses or skirts and would check out later in the day to go to revival.  They were always blown away that I was checking out of school just to go sit and listen to (or in my case sleep through) preaching.  So they would often times ask me what we believed.  I literally would cringe when someone would ask this because I did not know.  Usually I would respond “We don’t believe in saying the prayer” but I am sure this just left them more confused than they started out.  Many would then just make their own assumptions and tell others what they had decided.

                  Eventually I started sitting up and “listening” in church, but my mind often wandered and I let more than several handfuls of words drop to the ground.  But during one June camp meeting, when I was about thirteen or fourteen years old, I was actually paying attention for once and God moved on me in an extremely powerful way during a sermon Bro. Mike Williams was preaching about the crucifixion and how God the Father turned His face away from his blameless son as he hung on the cross and took all our sin.  It was the first time I ever remember God touching me in a service.  But being the prideful creature I was, I went to no one about it, not even my pastor.  I vividly remember riding back to the girls’ dorms with the Garzas and silently crying on the back seat of their fifteen passenger van the whole way because I needed help but didn’t feel like I had anyone to go to.  I felt like I had missed God because I had not known what to do.  After that camp meeting was over, I just went back to living life instead of seeking God and once again started letting several words just drop to the ground.

By the time I started high school, God was so far from my mind.  I fell head over heels for a boy I was in band with.  I was so crazy about him that I began listening to sermons just for God to give me some kind of promise that I would end up with the guy.  So when Bro. Terry would preach about needing faith, I automatically thought I just needed faith that it was going to work out with him.  When he graduated that year, my heart broke into a thousand pieces.  For a little while I still tried believing that it would all work out later in life.  I made all these plans about going to MSU for college in hopes of meeting up with him again.  But when it became clear that it was not meant to be, I just about couldn’t take it.  I became bitter and angry at God and others. It didn’t occur to me that God was undoubtedly protecting me.  I began to feel like religion was holding me back from all that I wanted in life.  God should have let me go then.  But He didn’t.  He had others things for me in mind, thankfully.

About the time when all this was going on, God moved in Bro. Terry to make Caleb Owen, his son, the youth director.  I can honestly say that if God had not done this, I would probably not be here today.  God knew how much I was going to need Caleb in the days to come.  Caleb started out our Sunday school class by just teaching us the doctrines that Grace Baptist Church believed.  Confessions of Faith were what he called them.  When he first mentioned it, I had no idea what he meant by that and I envisioned us all sitting around a table talking about who-knows-what.  But when he explained to me that it simply just showed the verses in the bible that backed up what we were saying, I became curious.  It was amazing how much I was helped by this lesson over the next several weeks.  Things I had once thought were unfair of God, such as election, became clear to me.  Immediately after that, Caleb began testing our Sunday school class on the sermons Bro. Terry was preaching in an effort to teach us how to listen.  I began to rapidly gain more understanding because of this.

Not long after, two things happened in my life that really affected me in two different ways.  The first was that one night my dad set me and Sarah down at the kitchen table and told us that God had told him one of us was heading towards the wrong way.  I knew it was me because while Sarah’s response was one of making sure she was doing right and not in trouble, mine was one of anger.  I had always been a private, secretive person, (which was not a good thing) and I was angry that he was going to read my phone messages.  I was angry that I was suddenly not allowed to text message certain people anymore that I once had texted frequently.  He also made a point that although he may not always see what I was doing, God did.  It dawned on me then that God knew the books I had read and the television shows I had watched that I shouldn’t have.  He knew the music I listened to in the car when I was by myself.  He knew what I was like around some of my school friends.  And he knew what my heart was really wanting.  Once again, it never occurred to me that God telling my dad this was His way of protecting me.  I only saw what I suddenly couldn’t do anymore. 

The second thing that happened, however, was something that had quite the opposite effect on me.  Two of my good friends in the churches left.  It shook me to the core.  I did not think that could happen.  Over the course of my lifetime, I had seen a few adults leave, but never a kid who I thought had been with us when they were of age to choose.  And besides that, they had been my friends.  It was definitely a wakeup call for a girl who did not often live in reality.  Not long after that, Bro. Terry preached a sermon on being rooted and grounded in love, and Caleb explained to us that in order to keep from falling away, we were going to have to love our church.  I was so afraid of falling away at this point that I set about doing this.  A fear was always with me after that though that one day something might happen that would cause me to forsake all the goodness God had given me.  I was a junior in high school at this time and I knew that my day was fast approaching when I would have to choose: God or the world.  I desperately wanted to choose right. 

God really began working on me after this, especially when I became a senior, but at the time I didn’t always realize it was Him doing it. First he really shook me up one day at school.  I was at an annual staff workshop and one of the activities the teacher had us do was to list things that were the most important to us.  I listed several things like friends and family.  But then one kid stood up and read his list.  Although I’m sure some of it was just out of pride, the first thing at the top of his list was God.  God showed me how He had given me so much goodness and truth in my life and yet He still wasn’t at the top of my list of things most important to me.  I was immediately ashamed of myself and was glad I did not have to read my list out loud. 
         The other crucial thing that God worked was that He had put the fear in me of falling away and had showed me that if I did what Bro. Terry told me, no matter how hard it may be, I would be ok.  This was soon put to the test.  I went to Bro. Terry to discuss going to college one Sunday night.  It was a big step for me, because I had always been afraid to go talk to Bro. Terry about anything.  I knew he was a man of God and could see right through me.  Caleb had often times asked me why I did not talk to him and I would usually just shrug my shoulders in response.  But I was too afraid of making the wrong decision, so I built up the courage to go talk to him.  Deep down, I wanted to go to school, but not for the right reasons.  I didn’t want a degree.  I wanted to meet Mr. Right.  I wanted the social half of college, not the studying.  So when Bro. Terry asked me “Is there anything you want to do career-wise that can keep you in Pontotoc?”  I didn’t really have an answer.  Plus, the truth was, I was SICK of school.  I hated it.  So he advised not to waste all that money on going if I didn’t really want a career.   He said if I had a job in mind, go ahead, but if not, there was really no point in it.  Although the side of me that wanted the social experience was slightly disappointed, the rest of me was so relieved.  Like I said, I HATED school with a passion.  Little did I know, this was God setting me up for much bigger things than getting a degree.  He undoubtedly knew that if I had gone to college, I would have been so distracted I would have never found Him.  This proved to be true because, with the distraction of school gone, I was really able to begin seeking God.

That January, Bro. Terry began preaching on God promising Sarah that in the right time, she would have a child.  God was promising the lost that through his timing we would eventually be saved.  I thought it was for me and kept the promise in the back of my mind. Then, in March, Caleb told the youth group that he wanted to do a youth retreat.  I was a little skeptical about how it was going to go, but was excited to go see my friends anyway.  The first night though, God moved on that place in a big way.  He began showing us how good he had been to us.  But I had been distracted for the first half of the sermon and so the word did not affect me like it did everyone else.  I struggled through most of the service until at the very end, when Caley Beth Moffitt came over to where Lydia and I were sitting and began weeping over us, telling us how much she loved us.  I confessed to her at that moment that I was struggling and she told me that if I was struggling then I needed to go talk to Caleb afterwards.  It all clicked for me right then.  I don’t know what I ever did before with the verse that says “Lean not on your own understanding” but it was clear that I wasn’t ever going to find God without a guide.   I went to Caleb afterwards and he told me that if I really wanted help I was going to have to start talking to Bro. Terry more about where I was.  When he could tell I was unsure about it, he told me this:  If I were in a mall and passed by a store with a dress I really wanted, I would do what I had to do to go get that dress.  He explained to me how salvation was pretty much the same way.   On the ride home, I rode in the car with Carley, Caleb’s wife, and she also told me how I would probably start really getting somewhere with God if I started talking to Bro. Terry more because he could help me discern where I was spiritually.  

That May, we rode up to the Lighthouse Birthday Celebration.  I remember somehow I had ended up sitting on the very back row with some of my friends because of how packed it was.  For a split second I was discouraged at being so far in the back, but then I thought to myself “God can move on someone in the back just as much as he can on someone sitting on the front row.”  Sure enough, he did.  It was, for me, yet another one of the most powerful services I have ever been in with God just showing me how much he loved me.  The story of Mephiboseth was preached and God made it very clear to me that I was like him, a cripple who a king just decided to show a little kindness too.  After that was preached, Bro. Greg had us sing “Grace Greater Than Our Sin” and when it got to the verse about “Will you this moment his grace receive?” I felt like God was just pleading with me to come to him.  But I didn’t know if I should go to the altar or what so I just kept singing.  After that Bro. Scott Smith got up and told the story of Joseph when his brothers came to him during the famine and he wept secretly because he couldn’t reveal himself to his brothers yet but he wanted to.  I found myself in that story too, as the brothers.  But I didn’t lose hope at the time because I could hear in it how much God desired to reveal himself to me.

At June camp meeting, God once again began pleading with me to just come during various sermons.  He gave me opportunity after opportunity but my unbelief and pride always kept me from doing so.  Bro. Terry even once made the comment to me: “I’m surprised he’s given you this many opportunities.”  But still, for various excuses I came up with, I never could come.  I had the common “glued to seat syndrome”.  Once again, thankfully God did not give up on me then.  Even after camp was over, he continued to work in me to bring me to Him.  He really began trying to show me how much my pride and unbelief was keeping me from him.  For starters, I didn’t even see myself as a Pharisee, I saw myself as a publican.  The reason I thought this way was because the transformation in me of being bitter at God and feeling like He was holding me back to praying every day that I did not fall away from his goodness was so amazing to me that I viewed myself more like the prodigal son than the scornful, prideful brother in the story.  This transformation also sometimes made me forget how lost I really was. But as God once pointed out to me, I was still the same Hannah as before.  There were still many dark things in my heart.  I just had more grace keeping me. 

By the time November camp rolled around, God had been working me over big time.  Going into camp, Bro. Terry preached on “A man’s got to do what a man’s got to do.”  He said how God was going to give the lost an opportunity and we better not miss it.  Everything in me did not want to miss it.  I went to bed that night praying for God to just touch me during camp meeting.  And He was definitely listening to me.

Bro. Greg Moffitt pretty much seemed to be preaching to the young people during one night, although I’m sure several other older lost people got a lot of help too.  God was showing me how I sometimes viewed myself as being saved.  As a lost person growing up in the truth, I had actually forgotten that there could be an end to lost-ness.  And although I had turned from my anger at God, I wasn’t saved.  The word was very powerful that night and busted me wide open.  Bro. Terry had been sitting in front of me and it was not long before he was there with me.  He told me it was time to rest.  But I couldn’t, I told him, because I couldn’t find God.  Somehow I had not associated this work of God with being God.  I wanted this huge manifestation that I had imagined.  Also I felt like I needed a propitiation and completely forgot that Jesus had already died as a substitution.  And so my unbelief that this was even God working was keeping me from resting.  Also, somehow in all the sermons I had sat through and all the Sunday school lessons I had learned, I had forgotten about a person called the Holy Spirit.  Who is, as his name says, a SPIRIT.  After the sermon ended, I felt more empty and lost than ever.  I was so discouraged.  God tried preaching to me again the next night but I had pretty much lost all my confidence by that point. 

I left camp that week wondering if I would ever find salvation.  I became spiritually depressed.  Many times I was a hypocrite and would put on a smile for the rest of the world while inside I was dying.  I also did not realize until later just how much I was working.  I felt as if God wouldn’t ever forgive me until I had done enough of certain things, like repentance.  And the more I worked the more I felt like I came short.  I forgot about the promise God had given me in January and wondered if I was going to die lost.  The thought of facing God after I died was one of my greatest fears.  Even though I knew a prayer would not save me, there were many nights when I went to bed saying “If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul would take.”  I found no comfort in this though and would always drift off to sleep uneasily. 

Despite all this, however, I was not seeking like I should have been, especially when the holidays rolled around.  Then I got news that Mrs. Christie Garza had been saved.  When I heard her testimony, I wanted nothing more than for that to happen to me.  After that the year 2012 kicked off.  While most people in our church were excited about a better year, all I could see was another year of lostness ahead of me.  When the Lord’s Supper was held, Bro. Terry’s sermon at festival about being outside the camp came back to me, for that is exactly how I felt.  One by one I watched as all the saved took the bread and drank from the cup.  But I was not a part.  I had not gotten in on what Jesus had done. It tore at me, for I wanted it so badly.  When Bro. Terry had everyone give verses that had helped them throughout the year, I gave one from Psalms that usually gave me hope.  But when I read it, I felt no hope in me at all. 

Thankfully though, God had it in his mind to help me.  The Wednesday night before I got saved, Bro. Terry preached on trusting God, which was something I had ALWAYS struggled with.  He mentioned during his preaching that we should go to God with what we’re fretting over with Thanksgiving.  I did not do this, however, until the following Friday night, because I wanted to make sure I had the right attitude.  In a normal state of mind I probably would have taken a frivolous matter to him, such as bringing me the person I am supposed to marry or something like that.  But spiritually I was in turmoil.  When I prayed, I asked God to help me, for I desperately needed it.  On Saturday, that need was still with me.  I knew how black my heart was and I knew it could easily lead me astray.  The illustration for this in my mind was me walking on a ledge with some dark monster behind me and a fiery pit below me.  If I stopped walking, the monster would get me.  But because of the blackness and deceitfulness in my heart, I could take one misstep and plunge into the fiery pit below.  I felt overwhelmed.  My confidence, which had been small anyway, soon faded and I began thinking maybe God had not listened to me at all.  But there was still a small hope in me that I would get the help I needed Sunday. 

Sunday morning rolled around, however, and God was clearly not talking to the lost.  I felt like my whole world was crashing to the ground.  It seemed as though God wasn’t planning on helping me at all.  Ironically, the sermon was on “You have need of patience” but everything within me could not wait.  I needed God NOW.  I should have cried out to him then, but for some stupid reason I worried what others would think.  I also briefly entertained the idea of going out back where I could break down away from everyone, but I knew my getting up would be just as disruptive.  So for the millionth time, I did nothing.  After church, I approached Bro. Terry torn up.  This was always a problem of mine.  I would do nothing during the preaching and then go to Bro. Terry as if he were God.  But he’s only the messenger; he wasn’t what I was needing that day.  He told me he thought I had gone back to sleep and that because none of the lost had been responding, God had decided to move on.  This was like a slap in the face even though at the same time I was not surprised.  So many times God had called and I did nothing.  It was like I was driving a car and had continuously missed the exit I was supposed to take to get off the main highway.  “But,” Bro. Terry said, “I don’t know what God will say tonight.  Hope that maybe He’ll talk to you tonight.”  I was literally sick going home though.  There was a small hope in me but I briefly had a bad attitude about the whole situation, and because of that, I was convinced that God was going to keep plowing ahead.  But God decided to give me another opportunity anyway. 

That night, he preached out of Isaiah 66 on a broken and contrite heart.  He basically said how even though God is moving on, he will stop and look at a person who is poor and contrite, like in the story of blind Bartimaeus.  At first I was worried I was going to miss God again and asked Him to just help me call out to him.  And he did.  He really began working me over with verse four: “I also will choose their delusions and will bring their fears upon them, because when I called, none did answer.  When I spake, they did not hear, but they did evil before mine eyes and chose that in which I delighted not.”  God basically pointed out how I was continuously doing just that, and if I kept at it, the first part of the verse would come to pass.  If God knew me better than anyone else, it wouldn’t be very hard for him to choose a delusion that I would blindly follow without realizing it.  I broke after that.  I began telling God I was sorry for being so rebellious and disobedient when He had called.  In me, I didn’t want to do that anymore.  For a split second I did like I had at camp and began thinking I needed a propitiation, but then I remembered and believed: Christ has already done that for me. After that I began thinking I needed Bro. Terry to help me at least know what to believe at that moment.  God heard my thoughts loud and clear because then He said to me, through Bro. Terry, that I could be of good cheer because he wasn’t mad at me anymore.  I briefly thought “What do I have to be of good cheer about?” but I pushed that away.  As I began focusing on believing these words, my tears began to stop.  I even almost smiled.  I thought something was horribly wrong with me at this point.  God had just minutes ago been showing me how I had been disobeying him and here I was smiling? But there was no sorrow left in me and my tears were completely gone. The tempest raging in me had vanished.  By this time, Bro. Terry was praying, thanking God for being good to the kids of the church.  And I began thanking Him too, for it’s true.  He’s been so good to me, even when I had no desire in me for him.  There were many times when I had been so ugly and ungrateful to God despite all he had done for me.

I didn’t entirely realize that I was no longer in a storm until I approached Bro. Terry after church to talk about what had happened.  But even he could tell that I was no longer in the mess I had been in.  As we talked about it, he asked me “Do you feel right with God?”  I was scared to say I was and be wrong but in me I felt like yes, I was.  He and I decided that I should go home and think it over.  Because I think more clearly when I write, I wrote him out a letter, describing what had happened and listing some of my questions.  When he read it, he pointed out how I had several misconceptions about salvation that were not even biblical.  These misconceptions mostly came from a blend of what I had imagined after hearing other peoples’ testimonies and from many of the fictional books I had read.  He told me to test the experience with the Bible, not what I had imagined would happen.  So I found myself going to Psalms 107 and the story of blind Bartimaeus.  And in me, I realized that both passages had happened to me.  In Psalms 107, I was the person who rebelled against the word of God.  I was the person who had reeled to and fro, staggering about like a drunken man at their wits end.  And I cried unto the Lord and he had delivered me.  And in the story of Blind Bartimaeus, I saw how Christ almost passed him by.  But he called out for mercy and God stopped for him.  God even told him to be of good comfort like he told me.  I was amazed at this- that I was actually living the bible! Then I went and looked up the definition of peace.  And the definition that really jumped out at me was “a cessation of or freedom from any strife or dissention”.  And I knew that was me that I was no longer fighting with God anymore.  I could truly say his love for me had lifted me.