I was never a BAD kid. I did all the typical things kids do: hang out the attic window, run into the street to get a ball, hide from my mom when I did something wrong, and so on. Of course, with two older brothers, I willingly did whatever they asked me to do.
In July of 1990, my church had Vacation Bible School for a week. On Thursday night, the director gave a challenge and then an invitation. I went forward and prayed a prayer. I remember someone saying to me that I was always a good kid, and they were surprised I was not a Christian already. “This is where I first got the idea that all I needed were “good works” and I would be fine.” This is where I first got the idea that all I needed were “good works” and I would be fine. This thought, however, is contrary to the Bible: Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.”
After my “salvation experience,” I attempted to be an even better kid and obey my parents. I have never liked getting in trouble, so for the most part, I lived up to my “experience” on the outside. However, the inside was a mess. I did not spend time in prayer unless I desired something, and reading my Bible was an unheard of thing to do. Whenever I went to church, my siblings and I always found an excuse to stay out of the service. While we waited for the service to be over, we roamed around the church building, looking for “something to do.” Afterwards, we never wanted to leave since we were talking with our friends.
In November of 1992, my family moved in with my grandfather outside the little town of Bath. I was a little upset because I changed school districts, but other than that, life went on like normal. Church was a little different; the preaching was not the same as it had once been. On October 11, 1995, God called my grandfather home. It was my first experience with the death of one I was really close to. For days I was shocked and I could not understand why God took my grandfather away when he was such a joy and blessing to my whole family. I remember sitting on my mom’s lap the night after he passed away and questioning why God took him away. Through tears, my mom said that God was in control and it was His Will.
I was in 7th grade at Northampton Junior High School at this time and I was faced with many difficult experiences. Of course, vulgar language was rampant among the students. I began using the LORD’s name in vain and let other bad words come out of my mouth. I remember one friend I had, Karen, who was a Christian. We were sitting at the lunch table and I took the LORD’s name in vain. She gave me a look of confusion, and rightly so, because I had told her I was a Christian. “I felt so ashamed because I had lived like a hypocrite.” I felt so ashamed because I had lived like a hypocrite.
When we moved to Emmaus in 1996, we began attending Lehigh Valley Baptist Church, which was very near our house. The preaching was different from what I had ever heard. The pastor preached about salvation, and there was a genuine concern for lost people. At the time, I thought this was very strange.
For many months, I sat under good preaching but I did not apply it because of my “salvation experience” in 1990. I began attending Emmaus Baptist Academy in August 1997 and from the start, it seemed as if God was trying to show me my sin. I was constantly in trouble at school, and the two major areas of trouble were cheating and lying. I was even suspended for two days in December for lying. During my suspension, I did a report on lying and I came across this verse: Psalm 119:163, “I hate and abhor lying: but thy law do I love.” I certainly did not have a love for the law because it punished me for my sin.
Following my suspension, I began a four week Bible Study with a lady from the church. God showed me that I was not saved, but I was not ready to listen. Once the study was over, I definitely did not want to think about the Bible, so I shrugged off everything I had learned during the study. But a few weeks later, Pastor Hammett began a series of messages from the same Bible Study. God was not going to let me get away from the truth that I was not saved.
On January 25, as Pastor Hammett was preaching, the Lord began convicting my heart about my sin. I had an intense struggle in my heart during the service. Satan kept saying to me, “Don’t think about it now. There’s always tomorrow.” But I finally tuned out Satan and his whispering and tuned in God and His pleading. As soon as the invitation was given, I stumbled down the aisle and fell on my knees. I was crying and when the assistant pastor’s wife came over, we went into a back room to talk. She showed me verses from the book of Romans that talk about salvation. Then she told me, “I can’t get saved for you. I can show you verses, but you must do it.” That settled it for me. I saw myself as a sinner, unworthy of God’s precious gift of salvation. I saw all those times I falsely proclaimed the name of Jesus. And I saw God’s willingness to save me. On January 25, 1998, I repented of my sins and gave my heart and life to Jesus.
It has been quite a few years since that glorious morning and I love Jesus even more now than I did when I first got saved. “Everything has changed in my life!” Everything has changed in my life like 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” There have been times of sin since my salvation, but it is wonderful and assuring to know that I am His child and He has forgiven me. It has been my desire to be a clean and fit vessel for the Master’s use. 2 Timothy 2:21, “If a man therefore purge himself from these he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.” I have experienced definite answers to prayer, and I have had the peace of God, knowing that I was in the center of His Will for that specific time.
I do not know where you, dear reader, stand before God. You may be a born again Christian or you may be sinking in despair. Either way, Christ is the answer to every need you have. If you do not have a relationship with Him, may I suggest you take a closer look at the free gift of salvation He offers. It is the desire of God that you come to know Him. 1 Timothy 2:4, “Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.” God has truly changed my life and He can change yours too.
The testimony for my life now can be found in the words of this song. “My soul in sad exile was out on life’s sea, so burdened with sin and distressed, Till I heard a sweet voice saying, ‘Make me your choice’ and I entered the ‘Haven of Rest.’ I’ve anchored my soul in the ‘Haven of Rest,’ I’ll sail the wide seas no more. The tempest may sweep o’er the wild stormy deep. In Jesus I’m safe evermore.”