When I was about 15 or so I began to wonder and inquire about what the Bible really had to say. As a child I had attended Sunday school at the Hereford Mennonite Church. And, as a young teen, I went through their catechism classes. But I didn’t feel like I was learning what the Bible really had to say so I began my search for the “truth.”
I was familiar with Catholicism from my paternal grandmother and knew that didn’t hold the answers. So, I attended a Lutheran church, a Methodist church (was even baptized Methodist), went to a Jesus people get together – they scared me when they started speaking in tongues – and, I even attended a Baptist church. But, I still felt like I was not finding what I was looking for. So my mother told me that if I really wanted to know what the Bible had to say that I should study with Jehovah’s Witnesses. So I did and I got baptized and a little over a year later got married within their organization. After all, the world was going to end in 1975 so I didn’t have any time to waste.
Sixteen years later after my baptism, due to certain circumstances within my marriage, I became disfellowshipped by choice. Thereafter, I was a mess. “I felt as if I had lost everything, and, in some ways I had.” I felt as if I had lost everything, and, in some ways I had. Since I chose to be disfellowshipped, I was led to believe that there was no hope for me. According to Hebrews 10:26-29, I had deliberately turned my back on the truth and so there was no hope for me – I would die at Armageddon, which was coming at any time.
Additionally, having come from such a structured and disciplined routine within my life, I now found myself with a lot of free time. So I did what many people do when they are confused and lonely – I turned to alcohol and immorality in a limited sense. I had several long term relationships without being married. This tended to help me forget temporarily about the spiritual void in my life. But, I never stopped believing in God and for the longest time still believed that Jehovah’s Witnesses had the “truth.” I prayed to God just about every day to not let me die at Armageddon and to remember me at the resurrection. Eventually, the time came when I decided that if I was going to die anyway at Armageddon, there was no hope for me, and so why was I being so good and why was I tormenting myself with religion.
So I threw away a Bible and any literature that was haunting me. By this time I was also in the habit of drinking heavily with my boyfriend of 9 years. Then one day I woke up and realized that he was truly an alcoholic with some real problems and that I was becoming just like him – content to pass any and all free time by drinking. I knew I needed to do something about it; I didn’t want to become like him.
After a lot of one sided conversations with him about our need to change our lifestyles, I decided that he needed to leave me and my house. He wouldn’t. I began praying and reciting on a continual and daily basis Proverbs 3:5, 6. These scriptures truly proved to be my sustenance through all that I was about to go through. My boyfriend started to threaten me and my dog. I began living in fear for my life; alcohol had fully consumed him in every way. I was scared and decided I needed to take action. I was in the process of having eviction papers drawn up when during one of his drunken bouts one Friday night, I ended up calling 911 and he ended up being arrested. Thereafter I went through all of the legal motions to completely end my relationship with him and to make sure that he understood we were done. I then attended a few Al Anon meetings. They, along with the book entitled “Courage to Change” and the serenity prayer helped for what I needed at the time, but again, I knew they weren’t the answer to what I was looking for. “I wasn’t really sure what I was looking for.” I wasn’t really sure what I was looking for. I did however come to the realization that I could never go back to Jehovah’s Witnesses. I felt lost. So I decided that I would try to start a new kind of life – volunteering my time and maybe going back to school.
It was in early 2006 that I began talking to Doug Wilkinson. I knew who he was but didn’t really know him. I just knew that he was different and I wanted to know why. During the course of one of our very first conversations, I came right out and asked him how he felt about spiritual matters. Doug told me that spiritual matters were very important to him and he told me about his church. About 6 weeks or so later I asked him if I could go to church with him. I came along nervously and with the intent to be very skeptical; after all I was about to cross over into the threshold of Babylon the Great. During my first meeting, I spent the time observing everyone and everything trying to find fault. To my surprise, I did not find fault. Rather, I saw and heard enough to make me want to come back.
The church was not ostentatious. The members were from all age groups; I was especially impressed by the number of young people. During the sermon the pastor held up the Bible and said that this is what we listen to and follow – the scriptures. Wow, he had my attention! He believed in teaching the Bible and only the Bible. The next week during the sermon he acknowledged Jehovah as the name of the true God. Boy, when he said that, I sat up and he had my attention again! Also, from my very first visit, I was impressed with the way the offering was taken. The pastor commented that if you were a visitor, not to feel like you needed to give money – just pass the plate – that they weren’t interested in getting your money. Wow, that got my attention again! “I was sure that all organized religion was big business.” I was sure that all organized religion was big business; they only cared about money, not people’s spiritual well being. But, this church was different!
I also noticed the testimony brochures near the church doorway; one in particular caught my eye. It was entitled “I Was Deceived for over 30 Years.” This caught my attention because this was how I was feeling – as if I had been deceived by the Witnesses and like I had been brainwashed. I read this testimony over and over and over again. This was about someone that was a pastor’s wife and yet she admitted to pride and having been deceived herself. She spoke about conviction. I began to pray to God to show me the truth – to just lead me to and show me the truth. Because this testimony seemed to have such an effect on me, I decided that I needed to speak to Beverly Hammett about what she had written. I wanted to talk to her about it. I approached her on a Sunday in May when there was a picnic get together after the services. I figured she’d be too busy to talk then, but at least she would know that I was interested in speaking with her. To my surprise, she immediately took me into a back room to talk. I gave her a brief history on my background and my fears, especially about Hebrews 10:26-29, that based on these scriptures I felt that there was no hope for me. “She began to explain to me otherwise – that there was hope for me.” She began to explain to me otherwise – that there was hope for me. She tried to explain to me what the scriptures there in Hebrews meant when taken in context. And, she shared with me some other scriptural thoughts. She suggested a Bible study and I accepted.
I had some questions and concerns that I wanted and needed to have answered immediately from the Bible. She started with these subjects first and coincidentally the sermons each Sunday were also addressing these concerns of mine (such as the trinity). It seemed to make a lot of sense to me. And it especially did because I had just come to the realization that the Hebrew word for God in Genesis 1:1 was plural. What a revelation to me – I had never known or realized that before. I was all excited about learning this; why was it kept from me for so many years? God was plural! The sermons were also on the Rapture, the Great Tribulation, Armageddon, and the 144,000 – all major concerns of mine that were also being explained to me at my weekly Bible study. I was sure that someone was telling pastor on Wednesday nights what to talk about on that following Sunday to get to me.
Then the sermons started with the Scripture diagrams. These were the topics that I was going to be studying at my weekly Bible study. One in particular I will never forget, Pastor Roland Hammett was going to be preaching. The service started with a violin song that I think was called “Touched by the Master” (or something like that). I began to silently cry – it was the most beautiful song I had ever heard. Then the sermon came. It was the diagram with the tightrope across Niagara Falls; it had to do with repentance toward God and faith toward Jesus Christ.
I wrote down 3 main points from it. First, the need to come to “Truth” (1 Timothy 2:4,5). God wants all to be saved and all to come to the truth and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Jesus Christ. Second, the need to come to “Repentance” as mentioned in 2 Peter 3:9, and, third, the need to come to “Christ” as spoken about in John 6:37. “Jesus would accept me, but I needed to cast myself at his feet.” Jesus would accept me, but I needed to cast myself at his feet.
The invitational was played and I knew it was for me. The tears were coming down my cheeks, but I couldn’t get my feet to move. then the pastor said, “There is one more verse for you.” I knew he was speaking to me, but I couldn’t move. The tears were coming down my cheeks and I just wanted to run out of the church so I could totally breakdown, but I didn’t. I told myself that “it’s almost over and then I can make a quick get away”. But, that didn’t happen. Right after the service, Ron & Stacey Hammett turned around and started to talk to me. I was sure they saw my tear stained cheeks, but they didn’t say anything.
Thereafter I continued to pray to God to please let me see the truth, to read the scriptures as a child, to see them as a child would, for what they were – to open my eyes and heart and to show me the truth. I knew that I was involved in a spiritual warfare and was confused from time to time between what I was hearing in church and what I had been taught before. “I needed to have my eyes and heart opened as to what the truth really was from the scriptures.” I needed to have my eyes and heart opened as to what the truth really was from the scriptures. This is when the songs we were singing at the services even had an affect on me. They, too, began to speak to me. We sang one that said something about being like a child, childlike to hear the story, the Bible. This song hit me because I believed that was how I needed to approach the scriptures – with an open mind and with the innocence like that of a child.
Then there was the song that really got to me. The first verse is about, “Open my eyes,” then the second one is, “Open my ears” and the third one is, “Open my heart.” I couldn’t sing it and tears started to well up in my eyes. It was a song that was about exactly what I was praying for. It was speaking for me and I was being spoken to.
My eyes were being opened and I found my prayers being answered as far as finding and knowing what the truth is. It was during a service when we were standing that I opened my eyes and there in the pew in front of me was a Bible cover with the verse from John 14:6 printed on it. I suddenly got it: “I am the truth.” I had just recently come to an appreciation of how “I am” is tied together between the scriptures of the Old Testament and those in the New Testament. At the suggestion of Beverly, I was reading the book of John to see how many times “I am” is mentioned. And, there it was: “I am the truth.” The truth was before me all along; Jesus was the truth. “I was already led to it and all I needed to do was to accept it; to go to Jesus and just believe in the Lord Jesus as my personal Savior and whatever He was telling me from the scriptures.” I was already led to it and all I needed to do was to accept it; to go to Jesus and just believe in the Lord Jesus as my personal Savior and whatever He was telling me from the scriptures. It was stated so simply; why didn’t I see it before? Why did I think I needed to keep looking? It was there all along. I had found it and didn’t realize it.
Then, there came a Sunday night when there were a couple of baptisms. Sunday school was mentioned during one of the testimonies. It got me thinking about it. What was Sunday school all about and why wasn’t I going? So I decided that I should find out about it and start attending and so I did. And, yes, even there I was being spoken to. Pastor Hammett spoke about how some people are perfectionists and like to be in control of everything. Well, I had to chuckle to myself because he just described me: a perfectionist and control freak. It was hard for me to let go, to surrender myself. But, I realized I needed to do this. I again started repeating to myself Proverbs 3:5, 6.
I knew I had the head knowledge. I knew I was like filthy rags (something disgusting), something that I would hold away from myself because of the stench. And, yet, I knew that despite this, God was offering to me the free gift of salvation, that it was by his grace (God’s Riches at Christ’s Expense) and through faith. I wanted that free gift, I wanted to be saved, but I was concerned about my heart condition.
I had read other testimonies where the person came to the realization that they weren’t really saved the first time. Would I ever get it and how would I know for sure? How would I know if I was sincere? I thought salvation needed to be some major emotional experience that would just overcome me. It was explained to me that it didn’t necessarily need to be an emotional thing. But, I still questioned myself; after all, the heart is deceitful above all things and is desperately wicked. I wanted to be sincere and genuine in my repentance and acceptance of Jesus Christ as my Savior. So I prayed that I wasn’t fooling myself in anyway and that I may prove to be sincere.
Then, the time came – my next Bible study was going to be on lesson 4. I called it the “clincher one;” I figured it would be the one when I would know whether or not I “got it.” I was concerned. But, one of the church members said something to me that stuck with me and still sticks with me. He said, “Just listen to the scriptures.” And so I kept telling myself that: “just listen to the scriptures.”
As we completed the lesson, Bev asked me how I felt about everything and if I saw the need to repent and if I wanted to take the step towards salvation. I was hesitant. “I knew there were changes in my life that I still needed to make to be right with God and I desperately wanted to be genuine.” I knew there were changes in my life that I still needed to make to be right with God and I desperately wanted to be genuine. She asked me if I was willing to make the changes. I told her that not only was I willing to but I knew I had to and I had to immediately. I also knew that salvation wasn’t based on having everything just right; if I waited for that, it would never happen. She then used an illustration to help me.
She told me to picture a young child at the top of a stairway in a dark room and the father is at the bottom of the stairs telling the child to jump to him. What would the child do? Well I knew that out of love for, belief in, and faith in him, the child would jump to the father, and so I got the point, and told her that I was ready to jump. And so on September 29, 2006 at 8:05 PM, I asked the Lord for forgiveness of my sins. I asked Him to save me and I surrendered myself to Him to do His will. I am His and I want to please Him.
My life during the course of my Bible studies has and continues to be changed. I have done a 180 degree turn from where I was before I got saved. I have walked away from a lot and surprisingly to me it has come easily, naturally. I know I still have a lot to learn and a lot of changes to make. But I can say that my family, friends, and co-workers have seen a tremendous change in me and I am happy to tell them all why. And, I feel a difference within myself – I’m calm and at peace. I can sleep at night. No more nightmares or fears about dying at Armageddon. No more fear of death; no more fear of being alienated from our Lord and God.
I just want to mention that there have been so many members within this church that have helped in some way to lead me to the truth and salvation. They have done so in ways they may not even realize: a testimony, a comment during Sunday school, a simple “hello.” I have been blessed in so many ways and have so much to be thankful for. I was lost, but there was hope for me, and now I am saved. What can I say– I love Jesus with all of my heart!