I was a man filled with sin until I invited the Lord, Jesus Christ, into my heart when I was 72 years old and my life was changed forever. I was saved by his precious blood and I know I have been forgiven of my sins and, by his grace, I will spend eternity with him. (Note: Saved is a biblical term referring to the forgiveness of sins by God and the rescue of the person from the power and penalty of that sin. This is God’s requirement for everlasting life.)
I’ll start my story when I was a little boy. I was brought up in a Christian family near Philadelphia. My mother and father were both saved. My father died suddenly in the flu epidemic of 1918. I was seven years old. It happened overnight. Every man on the street died except one — and he was a heavy drinker who lived next door. When my father died, we had nothing. My mother had to go out and get a job to support the family. She had really wanted a little girl, not a boy, and she started dressing me like a little girl. She was very dominant — so much so that she corrected my every move. “I vowed to myself that I would get as far away from home as I could when I grew up.” I vowed to myself that I would get as far away from home as I could when I grew up.
When I got out of high school, she had already gone to the bank across the street to arrange a job for me — so she could look out the window to see when I went in and came out. The bank had me drive checks to Philadelphia every day in an old Pontiac. I passed the Keebler Cookie Plant each trip, and decided to stop in and ask for a job. Well, lo and behold, they hired me a week later.
At this time I was still living at home. I can remember going into Philadelphia with my aunt’s three boys, and they all professed to be saved. My mother immediately threw that up to me and asked why I wasn’t saved. I kept going in to listen to the evangelists and it was always the same story when I got home. “Didn’t you get saved? Why aren’t you saved?” Well, finally I professed to be saved even when I knew I really wasn’t. Every Sunday the Brethren would take communion. I had to sit in that circle – and I knew if you drank out of that cup and you weren’t saved, you were drinking damnation to your soul. I went a few more Sundays and then I dropped out.
About that time my company transferred me to Allentown, Pennsylvania. I was almost 18 and I was finally out from under the influence of my mother. I joined every club I could. I had no time for God or the church. I started drinking – and I smoked cigarettes. I was under the spell of Satan. Everything Satan asked me to do, I did. “My sins were like the grains of sand under the sea – so many I could not number them.” My sins were like the grains of sand under the sea – so many I could not number them. I know now, though, that the Lord had them all jotted down. I went on like this for decades.
One day in 1980, about two weeks before Christmas, on a routine visit to my doctor, he told me he was sending me in town for a couple of other doctors to look me over. When I got there, I saw by their sign that they were cancer specialists. What a rude awakening. Half my mother’s side of the family had died of cancer and my mother had had cancer earlier. They took a biopsy and told me to come back the next week. When I left that office and got out onto the street, my whole life came right back in front of me. I was thinking, “Here I am, all these years without paying any attention to my soul.. I think it’s too late. I don’t know whether the Lord will have me or not.”
I immediately started reading my Bible again – looking to the Scriptures. I called the Billy Graham crusade and someone on the other end of the phone told me, “Now just say that you believe, and you’ll be saved.” Well, that wasn’t good enough for me. One Sunday I was watching Dr. Harold Henninger of Canton Baptist Temple in Ohio. I heard him say, “Are you sitting there watching and listening to me? If you are, and you don’t have a church, you need to get up off that seat and go out and find an independent, Bible-preaching, King James Version Baptist church. Don’t sit here in front of this TV listening to me.” I knew I was in soul trouble, so I went out the next week and got a newspaper and picked out the Lehigh Valley Baptist Church. Then I couldn’t find it. I went to the police station and they sent me to the wrong place. I went back to the police station and a woman there said she thought it was on the other end of the town across from the bowling alley.
By this time, a week had gone by and I went back to find out the results of my biopsy. The doctors told me they had good news for me. It was only scar tissue in my stomach. I didn’t have cancer. I got out of that office and got down on my hands and knees in the street, at the corner of Sixteenth and Liberty and thanked God for sparing me and and imploring Him, “My God, I want to be saved.”
I started reading my Bible more than ever and I went to the Lehigh Valley Baptist Church. The first four seats I sat in, people told me I was sitting in their seats. “Well,” I thought, “they must pay for their pews in here, I better leave”. On my way out some one stopped me and told me that wasn’t the case and he got me a seat. Of course, I then heard the gospel being preached, and a couple of men followed up with me and I told them I wanted to be saved. They said, “Just say you believe and you’ll be saved”. Well,I just couldn’t do that. “I thought back to those years long ago when I gave a false profession.” I thought back to those years long ago when I gave a false profession.
One night I was reading my Bible and I thought, “What am I ever going to do? ” I asked God to please hear my voice. In the morning, I got down on my knees by the side of my bed, and I said, “Oh, God, what must I do to be saved? I want the Lord, Jesus Christ to be my own personal Savior. Come into my heart, Christ Jesus, and save my soul.” At that precise moment, without a shadow of a doubt, I stood on the shed blood of Jesus Christ, and I knew I was saved. I could hardly believe it. He and I met just like that. I was saved by faith – “not by works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8). It was a gift of God. I was saved by the blood of my crucified Lord. I got up and shouted, “I’m saved!” But who was going to believe it. Here I was by myself, with no one to share it with. I went up the hill to a neighbor lady who did cleaning for me and said, “Sadie, I just had my soul saved.” She looked at me like I was crazy and said, “That’s nice. We’ll see how long that lasts”. That was 1983.
It so happened that a couple of men from church came down to see me to see what I was doing about my soul. I told them I was saved and related the whole story, and told them I wanted to be baptized. They asked me to come up and tell the congregation about it. They didn’t tell me I was going to have to be up in front of the whole congregation. But, I did it, and I got baptized.
As I look back at how I was at Satan’s beck-and-call, it’s still amazing to me how God had to strike me down before I would listen. From that day on I never had any desire to smoke another cigarette, or drink another drink. No desire whatsoever.
My Lord, Jesus Christ, paid for those sins of mine that I committed over all those years. He paid it all for the sanctification of my sins. And now I know I have everlasting life and will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.