I came for Baptism, but Found I Needed Salvation First
My name is Jisela Starr, and this is my story.
When I was young, neither of my parents belonged to or visited any church. In the area where I lived there was not much for children to do on the weekends. My neighborhood friends used to go to Catechism on Saturday afternoons, so I decided to join them. I completed the studies necessary for my confession and confirmation. Later, I attended church some, but going to church was more of a routine than anything else.
Later on, during my teenage years, I moved in with my maternal grandmother who is a member of the Church of God. Most of the family members on my mother’s side belong to the same church and continually “nagged” me to follow in their footsteps. I visited the services and was able to understand some parts. There were even times when I felt the “tug” at my heart that we are all familiar with. However, my heart was convinced that I could wait to get serious about God until I had no more interest in worldly things. I did not want to play the “in and out” game. That would only fool others and I knew God does not approve of that. I was determined that, if I was going to follow God, it had to be 100% or nothing. This was my way of rationalizing my decision to continue putting salvation off for yet another day. “Later, I attended church some, but going to church was more of a routine than anything else.”
I was later married, and then had a little daughter. My husband and I decided we needed to have our daughter baptized, so we started looking for a church to attend. My aunt told us that we ought to visit the Lehigh Valley Baptist Church. She had attended this church, and she knew that they did not practice the baptism of babies, but she did not tell us that. She recommended it because she knew we would hear the truth about salvation at Lehigh Valley Baptist Church.
On our second visit we were going to talk with Pastor Hammett about the matter of baptism, but before we had a chance to do that we came across the pamphlet titled “What is the meaning of Baptism?” After reading the pamphlet and studying what the Bible had to say, we came to the conclusion that baptism of a baby does nothing for that child’s salvation. Therefore, we decided that we were not going to have Jillian baptized.
We really enjoyed the services at Lehigh Valley Baptist Church, so we continued to attend regularly. All throughout my life I knew I was lost spiritually, but that became really prevalent after I began to visit the church and hear the Word of God being preached. I began to seriously look at my life and my wicked ways. After a month or two Mike and I began a Bible Study with Jeff and Deborah Allison.
During the first and second study, we discussed the Ten Commandments. I found out that God says that if you have broken just one of the Ten Commandments, it is the same as breaking them all. This was a big reality check for me, since I considered myself a pretty good person. I also learned through the studies that God wants us just as we are, and that we don’t need to change anything about ourselves in order to be saved. “God will show a person what needs to be changed after they are saved.” God will show a person what needs to be changed after they are saved.
I had been trying to ignore God, but many things continued to happen in my life. I began to realize that this could only be the work of God, and that I needed to get serious about seeking Him. One of the things that helped me realize that I needed something other than worldly things to get to heaven was my Dad. Unknowingly, and much to my surprise, he indirectly helped me to see that I was heading in the wrong direction, and my life was not going to end the way I wanted it to.
I also realized how fortunate we all are to have the same opportunity to get saved and live our lives for Jesus Christ. The Bible says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) What a blessing it was to know that there was still hope for a lost sinner like me! What a gift, that God had given me yet another day to choose to come to Him and to have a relationship with Him!
We went to church on Sunday morning, February 18, 2001. The sermon that morning really spoke to my heart. Suddenly I was overwhelmed with the fact and understanding that I could never achieve salvation on my own, nor could I control my future or my destiny. I was tired of leading a life without direction. I could no longer stand the fear of knowing that if I were to die I would be going to hell. I wanted to be saved. At that point I felt broken over my sin. It was as if I were a child who had been caught in a lie and had no way out. “There was no where else to run but to God. I knew He was waiting for me!” There was no where else to run but to God. I knew He was waiting for me!
When the invitation was given, I walked to the front of the church. One of the ladies took me to another room to talk with me, and I told her that I wanted to be saved. She opened her Bible and showed me Romans 10:9,10 and 13, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. . . For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Thank the Lord, for it meant that all I had to do was confess with my mouth, believe in my heart and ask Him to save me. It’s that simple! Wow, why didn’t I do this sooner? I bowed my head right there, and in repentance and faith, asked the Lord to save my soul. Suddenly, a wonderful peace filled my soul. I knew that the Lord had heard my prayer. I thanked the Lord for being patient with me and for giving me another day and another opportunity to be saved.
When we got home from church, I called my sister to tell her the good news. Her reaction was a little bit of silence. I realized that she did not understand what had happened to me. The next day at work I told my co-worker and also a friend of mine. I wanted to share the wonderful news with everyone!
My life has changed so much since I have been saved. I now have a sense of relief, peace, and security. There is no more guessing about the future, but rather certainty and direction because I know God is in control. The fellowship with other believers at church has helped me tremendously. By being surrounded by other believers who are imitating Christ, I am learning as a baby learns from his parents. I know that I still have much to learn, but I know that God has the answers in His Word. As I grow and learn, I will find the answers of how to handle all of the other changes that must take place in my life. I know that God will lead me in the right direction and be there for me at all times. My desire is to serve and obey Him.
I would like to thank God for sending His only begotten Son to save me. I thank Him for loving me, and giving me the opportunity to be saved and to have a relationship with Him.