My Testimony of Salvation
I love the Lord, and I love telling about what the Lord did for me. What He did for me, He has done for many others and will do for you if you have never trusted in Jesus Christ as your personal Savior.
Throughout our family history, there is evidence of commitment and faith to the Lord and His Church. We have been blessed with preachers, deacons, teachers, piano players, and song leaders and throughout time our family has had a deep love for the Lord.
There was never a discussion or doubt about where we would be on Sunday. It was the Lord’s Day and we were in Church. To borrow a phrase from a good friend of mine, “I was carried to church nine months before I was born.”
I always enjoyed going to church and being involved in the worship and activities of the church. I will always cherish the memories of driving as a family to church and singing songs with my Mom, Dad and brothers. Songs like, “I’m Saved and I know that I am; He Touched me; In the Shelter of His arms; Who Am I; Without Him; My God is Real; What a Day that will be; and He wrote my name…”
I enjoyed singing and still do to this day, but one day, as a nine year old boy, the Holy Spirit brought conviction to my heart. I knew as I sang that I did not have the assurance and peace of heart those songs spoke of. I was “lost.” That was a term I was well familiar with and I knew what it meant. Having been raised in Church, I also knew what I needed to do to be “saved.” As I felt the drawing power of the Holy Spirit to seek salvation, Satan was right there…he is a deceiver and he will do everything he can to blind our eyes from the truth of the Gospel and a relationship with God through Christ by His Spirit. Every time I was in service, burdened with conviction, Satan would put all kinds of thoughts in my mind about what others would think or say if I went to the altar. How that I wouldn’t be saved (he is the father of lies according to the Bible).
Many times I refused the call of the Lord, staying in my pew, waiting for the one song of invitation to be over so we could leave. For a while the burden would subside as we left and went home, and I was busy playing and doing the things children do. But as time went on, the burden got stronger, I was more miserable thinking about spending eternity in Hell apart from God and family. I wanted to be saved.
The second Sunday in June has always been our annual Homecoming Service. It was a special time of year. We would celebrate the anniversary of the organization of the church (Faith Missionary Baptist Church was organized in 1949). Members past and present were invited and came from near and far to participate in the service. We’d have a special singing group come in for the day and have the traditional “lunch on the grounds.” I enjoy looking back at pictures of those day’s of tables lined with food and desserts, people scattered around the yard sitting in folding chairs, sitting on curbs or car hoods balancing a paper plate, enjoying a good “potluck” dinner and of course children running wildly…
This particular Homecoming was held June 11, 1967. It is engraved in my heart. In the morning service the choir sang, and the special singing group sang a couple songs to give us a taste of what would come after dinner. The preacher brought a powerful message and my soul was breaking. As they spoke of that “Heavenly Homecoming” I
knew I was excluded. The preacher gave the invitation for lost sinners to seek the Lord. I knew the invitation was for me…and yet, Satan was still trying to get me to dismiss the need to come to the altar. I held out through the song of invitation thinking we would dismiss and have lunch. The Pastor that day said, “I feel like someone here needs to come and seek the Lord…let’s sing another song.” I knew who that someone was…it was me. As they sang I still stood convicted in my pew. In those day’s it was not uncommon for a good Christian brother or sister to go back to a person and ask if they were lost and needed Jesus. I had seen it done many times. A good sister left her pew and headed in my direction. I just knew she was coming to me. She never got to me; I passed her in the aisle making my way to the altar. I prayed and asked the Lord to save my soul. I don’t know how long I prayed, nor can I tell you my exact words, but I can tell you that the Lord heard me. That burden, that conviction I mentioned earlier that troubled me so…it left me. I felt the peace and joy that only comes from the love of God, the peace of Jesus and the indwelling of His Spirit. I WAS SAVED! I could now sing “I’m saved and I know that I am; I’m so glad I know that I am saved!” I now knew what I was singing about and I meant it. That day was a day of shouting and rejoicing by those who loved me. I couldn’t wait to call and share the good news with everyone!
A short time later, I submitted to baptism and became a member of Faith Missionary Baptist Church. I served that church over the years in many capacities…Sunday school teacher, church clerk, Sunday school Superintendent and eventually Pastor…Faith church and its members will always hold a special place in my heart. I was raised there, saved there, baptized there, married there; I raised my children there, and announced my call to the ministry there.
The Testimony of My Call to the Ministry
I am often asked, “When did you decide to become a minister?” People often don’t understand when I say, “it was not my chosen profession…the Lord called me to this work.” The Hebrew writer said, “…no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God…”
A short time after I was married, my heart became troubled. At first I was confused about what I was feeling. I was very active in church, doing the best I knew to serve my Lord and yet I had a burden that would not leave me. If you read my testimony of salvation, I mentioned that deceiver, the father of lies, the devil / Satan. Satan never leaves us alone, he never stops trying to deceive us and tempt us away from our faith and service to God.
Well, he planted a seed of doubt in my mind about my salvation. I knew what to do…I got in the altar of my church surrounded by prayer warriors and prayed to the Lord about my burden. Immediately, the Lord took me back to my “Bethel” the time and place where He saved my soul. I am so glad through His Spirit, we can know that we are saved and have the assurance of eternal life (1 John 5:13). But at the same time, the Lord impressed
upon my heart to preach His Word. As much as I loved the Lord, I thought surely He had made a mistake (of course we know He is perfect and makes no mistakes). I began to wrestle with the Lord. I began to put out my fleece before the Lord and each time He answered, but not as I wanted and I would say, “Lord, perhaps you misunderstood” and try again. Each time He responded and affirmed my calling. I still was not willing to surrender. I had grown up hearing preachers talk about growing up with no money, watching the chickens run under the house through the floor boards and I thought “Lord, that is not what I want; I am in a profession with a great future and going to college to complete my degree…” still the burden weighed heavy.
For nearly three years I endured this burden of the Lord, finally getting to the point where I boldly, ignorantly told the Lord “I will not do this, I can’t do this, do to me what you will, take me out of this world if you must, I will not preach.” And immediately, the Lord spoke (not in an audible voice, but through is Spirit) and I heard the words as clear as day… “What about your wife and child? Do you care about what happens to them?” I loved them more
than my own life and I told the Lord right then…I will try.
I spoke to my Pastor at the time (Elder Billy Moran). He of course said he couldn’t tell me what God’s calling on my life was, but if the Lord had called me to preach, I wouldn’t have peace until I acknowledged it and got to work. I told my wife the Lord called me into the ministry. I am blessed with a wife who loves the Lord as much as I do and she was as frightened as I was, but she was and is to this day a great help to my ministry. I called and
asked my Mom and Dad to come over to my house. I told them of my calling of the Lord. As mothers do, my mom knew I had been troubled. She told me she had been praying for me. She knew the hardships and challenges of the ministry, and although she wept, she encouraged me.
A short time after that, I admitted my call to the ministry to my home church. As when I was saved, again, there was shouting and tears of rejoicing by my church family. Bro. Moran wasted no time and scheduled me to preach right away. In May of 1981, I preached my first sermon. To this day I remember my thought…Matthew 24:44 “Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.” I am still proclaiming that message all these years later.
I often tell people, we serve the Lord by faith. I wish now, looking back, I would have demonstrated more faith and trust in the Lord in His calling on my life. I could have spared myself several years of burden and heartache. However, as I have often said since… “I am the happiest I have ever been, doing what I am doing now.” My Lord knows what is best for His children. We will always be happiest when we are in the center of God’s will for our lives. He has blessed me beyond what I deserve and taken care of me and my family throughout my ministry. I pray that in some small way, by the help of the Lord, I have been able to make a difference in people’s lives by being a light for Jesus. In my ministry I have seen many souls saved and been blessed to baptize many into His church. I love the work of the Lord and I am always anticipating what He is going to do next in my life and ministry. Please pray for all of God’s called men as they strive to obediently serve the Lord and His people.