I decided to post the testimony I gave to my brothers and sisters at Weems Creek Baptist Church back in 2004, when I became a follower of our Lord, Jesus Christ, at the ripe old age of 63:
I grew up in a family that was without Jesus Christ, without religion, and in fact I can’t remember a Bible ever being in our house. Neither my parents nor my siblings attended Church and I never gave the Lord any thought, one way or the other.
I went into my teens and became what was called, in those days anyway, a juvenile delinquent, getting into all sorts of scrapes, sometimes with the law and always
with my parents. I’d have to say that I was very lucky that I didn’t end my life before I was twenty. I have to say that I’m very lucky my father didn’t kill
me before I was twenty.
But I did reach adulthood and began to sort out my life and plan for my future, although my future was by no means certain. While I put delinquency behind me I remained
the most selfish and self-centered person on earth. Although I knew many of the things I did were wrong and I wanted to become a better person it never occurred to me that Jesus Christ was the answer. I didn’t know or care about Christ and, in fact, I didn’t care about anyone.
In 1959 I met one of the two people I really loved back then, my wife, Shirley. Our marriage has been plenty rocky at times but, the truth is, I love her more today than I did 45 years ago, and for that I thank the Lord. A year later the second person I loved was born. My son, Daniel, who has grown into a fine man who I love today more than ever and who has probably taught me more than I’ve taught him.
My career with General Motors began later and I become completely engrossed in my job, in the pursuit of power
and in acquiring “Stuff!”. You know, like nicer cars, a nicer home, nicer clothes and, most of all, nicer toys. The guys I knew back then had a saying, a saying that we all truly believed: “The guy who dies with the most toys wins!”. Can you believe that? We believed it and we lived by it. We were the most selfish, greedy, self-absorbed people you’d ever meet. No one can serve two masters and we sure didn’t. We served the wrong master.
Shirley went to several churches over the years and, to her credit, she always tried to get me to go with her. I did go with her on a few occasions but I was never moved by anything I heard. My attitude was “Why do something I don’t believe in”. I refused to waste Sundays going to church and give up one of my hard-earned days off. If I could say anything positive about those years it would be that I began to believe in a
God, but a God I couldn't understand or care about.
Several years ago my son began going to his own church and he soon accepted Jesus Christ as his Savior. I and Shirley went to witness his testimony and, later, his baptism. While I loved him a great deal and was very proud of him I remained unmoved by the Lord.
Shirley came to me one day, just two years ago, and said she had a need to return to church. She said she was going to Weem’s Creek Baptist Church and didn’t even ask if I’d go with her. The oddest thing happened; I was actually mad
because she didn’t invite me to go with
her. And, we didn’t speak to each other for several days. I obviously forgot all the years she’d asked me to go and I’d simply said “No!” I was mad because she didn’t invite me again
. Well, I insisted
I was coming with her and there was nothing
shecould do about it!
I’m absolutely certain that the Lord’s hand was in that decision. We came together that day and continued to come together. Week after week Pastor Orr’s sermons moved me like none that I’d ever heard before and I thrived on Jim Dillon’s Bible study class. In fact, I really looked forward
to coming back each week. That was something I’d certainly never done before.
The members of Weem’s Creek Baptist were like none that I’d met at other churches we’d attended in the past. The warmth, the friendliness and the encouragement I received during those visits made me feel welcome and, for the first time in my life, made me appreciate friends and loved ones.
They say that timing is everything and it sure was in this case, although I’m certain that the Lord was in on my coming to Christ, just as He’s involved when anyone makes that decision. Rick Warren’s 40 Days of Purpose came at a time when I was just about ready to admit what a fool I’d been all of my life - to admit that Christ was my Savior. 40 Days of Purpose solidified my feelings.
I guess I will always remember reading “It’s not about you”, “It all starts with God” and “Created to become like Christ”. I studied harder, reading the Bible more and more and read anything else I could find about Christ. I began praying in earnest, quietly and alone, and I was actually having conversations with the Lord and the He was answering me! No, He wasn’t actually talking to me but after I had spent time with Him I knew
thing to do. The Lord gave me the answers!
One Sunday I was walking out of church and I told Pastor Orr that I felt Jesus in my heart for the first time and I wanted to come forward the next week. I loved our Savior and I wanted to tell the world.
Well, the next several days were complete torment for me! I awoke the next morning with my emotions running the gamut from anger to complete anxiety. I knew that something was moving in me to force me back to my old doubts and fears and, for a day or two, I thought it would win. I did little more during that time, other than read the Bible, re-read the 40 Days of Purpose and to pray.
I thank the Lord that I came away from that torment with no more doubts or fears. I knew that Jesus Christ was my Savior and I felt better than I’d felt in my entire life! I believe that the Evil One was working hard and taking his best shot at turning me away from Christ. Shirley would tell you that I was a nervous, irritable and intolerable wreck. Believe me, she suffered the brunt of my emotions. I now know that the Lord would not give up on me. He “left his flock and He came and found me, because I was lost”.
The day I went forward and stood before the congregation, knowing that Jesus was my Savior was the most joyful day of my life and that feeling made me sure that nothing could ever make me doubt Jesus Christ again! The day I was baptized was tearful and joyful, for me and for my family, and I truly believe there was “joy in the presence of God’s angels”.
I have to say that the last 15 months since I found Christ have been truly life-changing for me and I’m sure for my family too. The self-centered, short-tempered mercenary that I was for all of those years is gone … well, almost gone
. The Lord has given me a peace that I’ve never, ever
known before. I can now handle the little mini-crises that we all face each day without losing my temper. I can accept that I should only
worry about today - tomorrow will take care of tomorrow. I can sit down and have a conversation with the Lord, knowing that I’ll come away with the right answers, as long as I listen.
to mention this: last Easter I was blessed and privileged to be in our Easter play, The Borrowed Tomb, something I would never
have considered doing in the past. I would have told Pastor Mark Young “No!” just 6 months earlier. But I bucked up and did it, thank the Lord, and I can tell you how rewarding the experience was. I have to say that I believe that the Lord arranged for me to play the part of Nicodemus, a guy who, like so many guys today, was afraid
to believe in Jesus. He put Nicodemus in my heart and it was a real awakening.
My buddy, John Church, or I should say Joseph of Aramethia, and all of the wonderful participants in that marvelous production, will agree that the experience was extraordinary and I hope the audience felt it too. The beautiful music, sung by those wonderful voices, was enough to put tears in your eyes and we were honored to be playing a part in the Passion of Christ. I was overwhelmed with an emotion that I’ll never forget and it made me even more aware of just what Jesus went through for us all.
Finally, I want to say that the Lord has blessed me with many new friends - so many people that I truly love. In all my life, when I was a part of the world, I refused to allow anyone to be close to me - to touch me - not even my parents. If someone tried to hug me I’d recoil, as though they were trying to hit me and I could see the hurt in their eyes. Then, I didn’t care. Now, I’ve asked them to forgive me. Now, two years later, I can stand here and tell you that I consider you all
my brothers and my sisters and I love you.
The Lord has blessed me in so many ways and, in me, He’s shown that it’s never too late to find Him and it’s never too late to say, “Jesus, I know you died so that my sins could be forgiven. I love you and want walk with you”.
If you haven’t done that yet, don’t wait - do it now.
Again, I thank you, I love you, and God bless you.
I am now a devout Christian. I pray daily for those who aren't but I defend their right to their beliefs. Not too long ago I was one of them.