But our lives were very different back then.
First, we want to tell you about Barry’s story and the most significant event that changed his life.
Barry’s story . . .
The most important day of my life started in a bar and ended up in a pastor’s living room. From the time I was 15, I was drinking alcohol every weekend. I was kicked out of my home when I was 17 because of my attitude and drinking habit. When I got out of high school my alcohol problem got worse. I spent all my free time in bars.
My grandmother was a very godly woman and talked to all of her family members-including me-about Christ and salvation. Though she had diabetes and was “The most important day of my life started in a bar and ended up in a pastor’s living room.”blind the last several years of her life, she always had a joy and peace about her. Soon after she died, my parents were saved as a direct result of her constant witnessing and praying. They started taking our whole family to church then. I was 14 years old at the time and did not want to go. I rebelled and headed deeper into sin.
My latter teen years are a blur as I spent all my free time in one bar after another. But one night stands out in stark contrast. About 3:00 AM a friend came into the bar and we began talking about how my godly grandmother had taught him in Vacation Bible School. Then we talked about how messed up our lives were. Finally I suggested that we go over to the Pastor’s home right then and ask for some spiritual counsel.
At 4:00 AM we were banging on the Pastor’s door. I am sure he wondered what in the world these two drunk men wanted from him in the middle of the night. I remember yelling through the door, “We are not leaving until you show us what the Bible says about being saved!” He finally led us into his living room and showed us many scripture verses about our hopeless and lost condition, and about the salvation Christ provided through His death on the cross. My friend John fell on his knees right then and asked Jesus to be His personal Savior. I was too drunk and did not want to do anything right then.
The next morning at 8:00 AM, my friend, John, was at my home banging on my door until I let him in. He said something great had happened to him and he wanted me to go to church with him and find out more for myself. I got up and went with him to the morning service at the Pawlings Independent Baptist Church in Phoenixville, PA. The pastor we had been talking to in the early morning hours was preaching that morning. “I knew my life was a mess and I needed to be saved.”I knew my life was a mess and I needed to be saved. My grandmother had often told me that. When the invitation was given at the end of the service I went forward.
The preacher again showed me verses from the Bible about how I could have my sins forgiven and be saved by trusting in Jesus Christ as my Savior. Acts chapter 3, verse 19a, “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out.” Romans chapter 10, verse 13, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.“
I was broken and ready to turn from my life of sin and trust Christ alone to be my Savior and Lord. That morning I bowed my head and asked Christ to save me, and He did! Right away I wanted to tell my girlfriend, Mary, about what had happened to me. I began to notice that I could not enjoy sin anymore. The Lord took away my desire for alcohol and gave me victory. Over the years since then the Lord has blessed our family as we have tried to put Him first in our lives and live for Him.
Mary’s story . . .
I was dating Barry at the time when he gave his life to Christ. He told me that he wanted me to do the same and asked me to pray a prayer asking Jesus into my heart. I was seventeen at the time and we were planning to get married after I finished high school. I had not grown up in a Christian home. In fact, my family was very dysfunctional. I knew that I did not want that kind of marriage. So I prayed a simple prayer and we cleaned up our lives. Barry’s changes were from the inside out. The Bible says in 2 Corinthians chapter 5, verse 17 that “if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away and behold, all things are become new.” “For me the changes were more like turning over a new leaf or just trying to be good.”For me the changes were more like turning over a new leaf or just trying to be good.
We started going to church once a week and making many other changes in our lives. I thought I must be saved. But I was deceived and still lost in my sins. Praise the Lord for His mercy in not letting me stay in that condition. He brought a new pastor to our church who preached hard about sin and what Bible salvation really is. I began to have doubts and then strong conviction as I realized that salvation is not reciting a prayer but a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. I knew that this important matter of salvation was something I had to deal with between God and me. It was not just something to do because someone else wanted me to.
Finally in September of 1993, I knew I could not put it off any longer. I saw myself as a sinner before God and repented of my sin. I asked the Lord to forgive me and save me that day. “Now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” 2 Corinthians chapter 6, verse 2
Having a personal relationship with the Lord has made a total difference in our lives and our family. The Lord blessed us with three sons. All three of our sons are married; our two older sons are married to Christian School teachers and are serving the Lord at their church. Recently, we have entered a new phase of life: grandchildren!