The Condensed Version
I went forward in a Baptist church and made a profession of faith when I was about 8, but later on I couldn’t really remember what had happened, what I knew, what I was thinking, whether or what I had prayed. I wasn’t in church regularly or reading my Bible regularly, so I wasn’t being taught. Years later as a teen-ager, I struggled with whether or not I had truly believed, and finally, after a message in church about the “lake of fire” which those not found in God’s “book of life” were going to face, I realized I needed to get this settled once and for all. I told the Lord that if I wasn’t saved, I wanted to be. I knew I was a sinner (Romans 3:23), that Jesus was God’s Son, holy and perfect, and had died for my sin, had taken my sin and punishment on Himself (John 3:16, Romans 5:8). I knew there was nothing in me and nothing I could do to trust in for my salvation and that I could only be saved by and trusting in Him as my Lord and Savior to save me (Ephesians 2:8-9). John 1:12 says, “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name,” and I received Him that day.
The More Complete Story
My family was not a Christian family in the born-again, church-going, living all out for God kind of way, but they did believe that there was a God, and there a kind of a respect for God, pastors, general morality, etc. I was allowed to go with my mother’s sister and father to the Lutheran church, where I was taught basic Bible stories and truths. I was taught that Jesus died for the sins of the world, but not that I needed to believe on Him for myself as my own personal Lord and Savior.
When I was about 8, a friend at school invited me to revival meetings that her Southern Baptist church was having. On the second or third night of attendance, my friend and one of her friends, the pastor’s daughter, kept telling me during the invitation that I needed to go forward and get saved. I looked around during the invitation to see if anyone was looking, and went forward to talk with the pastor. I really don’t remember anything that was said. I think I did pray. I’m sure someone must’ve talked with me, but I don’t remember. I was baptized later on.
I attended church sporadically, I think partly because I didn’t have regular transportation, and partly because, since I was the only one who went to church most of the time, I wasn’t disciplined enough to get myself up and going on Sunday mornings.
Before I started the eighth grade, we moved to another town. I became close friends with a girl named Dawn and began going with her to her church, a Lutheran church. Because I had been away from the Lutheran church during the time when most children take confirmation classes, I had missed them, so they had me take confirmation classes with adults who wanted to join the church. It was a very small group; one of the other members was a former Baptist. He and the pastor had some interesting conversations. 🙂 One time in class the pastor said, “I never had to invite Christ into my life; He has always been there.” I thought, “What about the verse that says, ‘Ye must be born again‘?” I wish I had had the courage to ask.
I was confirmed and attended church and the Luther League youth group with my friend. Some time in our early high school years, some Campus Crusade college kids came to our town and started regular meetings, and we attended those. From time to time I struggled with whether I was really a Christian, since I couldn’t remember exactly what had gone on when I went forward at the Baptist Church revival.
During this time, things began to fall apart in my family. Actually, they had been in the process of crumbling for a long time. The summer between my tenth and eleventh grades of school, my Mom left my dad and took me, my brother, and my three sisters to Houston, Texas.
Years before, after one of my parents’ fights when my father made us all leave, then the next day asked my mom to come back, I wondered why she did. My father was an alcoholic with a short temper (not a good combination). But when she really did leave him, I was devastated. My family had totally fallen apart; we had had to move from all that was familiar; we moved from a very small town (less than 200 people) to the metropolis of Houston, which was a culture shock; and I wasn’t allowed to contact any friends or cousins for a while because my mother and step-father were afraid of what my dad might do if he could find us. I knew that something had to happen, that things could not have continued on for long as they had, yet the combination of all of these factors sent me tumbling, I felt like my world had been turned upside down, like the rug had totally been pulled from underneath me, like all my props, anything I had leaned on in my life, and been pulled away. At one point I wanted to run away from it all, but I thought of my younger siblings and wanted to be there to help take care of them (besides, practically, I had nowhere to go and no money to get anywhere :)).
I cried out to God as I never had for help in all of this. I knew Romans 8:28: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” I knew that I loved God in the sense that I understood it at the time (though of course later I was to understand more fully what that meant), and He gave me the faith that He would work all of this out for good somehow.
When we went to register at the local high school, that was where I really experienced culture shock. Almost everyone looked scary to me. My mom was wearing a dress, and guys sitting in the hall tried to look up her dress as we walked by. I kept telling her, “Mom, I can’t go to school here, I just can’t go to school here!” She wasn’t happy with the school either, but said, “But you can’t quit school.” I said, “I know, but I can’t go here.”
We left, not really knowing what to do. A few days later we saw an ad in a store window for a nearby Christian school that was a part of an independent Baptist church. We went to interview, and I loved it and wanted to go there. But we didn’t have the money for tuition. So a few days later we went to the school to tell them I wouldn’t be able to come. My mom went into the office while I stayed in the car. The pastor and his wife pulled into the parking lot. When they saw me, they came over and told me that someone had offered to pay my way through school. Someone else ended up paying for both my junior and senior year: to this day I don’t know who, but I thank God for them, and know that they’ll have a reward in heaven!
A short while after I started attending the school, I also started attending that church, North Houston Baptist. The pastor strongly encouraged reading the Bible through, so I began to do so, and began to grow. Those old wrestlings about whether or not I was truly saved resurfaced. I knew I had seen the Lord’s hand at work in my life, but I didn’t know if that was because I was a child of His, or whether He was using these things to bring me to Himself. I struggled with this for many months, until one day my pastor preached a message from Revelation 20 about the lake of fire. The last verse of that chapter says, “And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” I realized that that was what I had to face if I wasn’t saved, and that I needed to get it settled and not just keep wrestling with it. So there in my pew I told the Lord that if I wasn’t saved, I wanted to be. I knew I was a sinner, that Jesus was God’s Son, holy and perfect, and had died for my sin, had taken my sin and punishment on Himself. I knew there was nothing in me and nothing I could do to trust in for my salvation and that I could only be saved by Him as my Lord and Savior and trusting in Him to save me.
I think because I had been questioning where I was spiritually for so long, it had almost become a habit, and I continued to struggle for a time and asked the Lord to save me many times. It was years before I really came to full assurance by going back again and again to what the Bible had to say about salvation. But that’s a subject for another entry. 🙂
Updated to add: I did write another post about coming to assurance here.
Pingback: « Stray Thoughts
Thank you for sharing your testimony.
Thank you so much for sharing from the heart…I had often thought about writing my testimony down…it would have seemed like the best way to start out…but it just rolled around inside my head until Heather nudged me with this “challenge”. What a blessing I hope these posts are for others. Thank you so much for stopping by and saying hello, I enjoyed the visit 🙂
What a wonderful story. It really is a journey isn’t it?? That’s what I have found as I look back at my story as well.
WOW! what an incredible miracle and gift about your school fees! that is so wonderful!
So great to read your testimony – thanks for sharing. 🙂
Pingback: Bloggy Tour of Testimonies « Stray Thoughts
God is so good! What a blessing to have your tuition paid for but more importantly a blessing to have been drawn so close to the Lord. 🙂
Beautiful testimony! I’m so glad that God used someone you never even met to put you in the place that you needed to be to come to Christ!! Thanks for sharing this!
What an awesome testimony. I think Satan uses doubt, he knows our weakness. I praise God for whoever paid for your tuition, what a God thing. God works all things out according to His plan. Thank you for sharing.
Wonderful testimony. I love reading these!
I just posted mine today.
Isn’t the grace of God amazing. You can see in your story how He was always drawing you to Himself. You had a very difficult time, and you did the right things. I often wonder how I would have managed if I hadn’t had such a stable family-life. I admire your faith and dedication.
Linda, I’m afraid I haven’t always done the right things (even now) — I made some very poor choices, especially the year before my mom left my dad. Thankfully God in His mercy kept it from being any worse than it was and led me to Himself. It’s scary to think I could have so easily gone the other way. God is so good!
Barbara, how sweet the way you did two versions. I read them both ad I loved how God continued to work in your life drawing you ever closer. The tuition being paid definitely His doing. God is so good to us.
Pingback: Blessed Assurance « Stray Thoughts
Thanks for sharing your testimony. I was wondering if you’d like to post it on my new site called ShareMyTestimony.org?
I created the site to let Christians share their testimonies, and read other testimonies to see how God is working in the lives of others.
If you’d like to contact me, you can click on the contact link on my site.
Pingback: What’s the Shape of Your Faith: God’s Thumbprints « Stray Thoughts
I am pray for you.please send some spritual matireal & sunday school material also.some gift boxes for sunday school children with free of cost.please pray for my sunday school ministry.please inform my request any ministry.
Thankyou in jesusname
S/O GANESWARA RAO
Pingback: Graced by Christ ? Blog Archive » What’s the Shape of Your Faith: Testimony
Pingback: My Dad « Stray Thoughts
Pingback: Friday’s Feast #132 « Stray Thoughts
Pingback: Friday's Feast #137 « Stray Thoughts
Pingback: Fundamentalism and separatism « Stray Thoughts
Pingback: Two childhood/teen memes « Stray Thoughts
Pingback: Time Travel Tuesday: Salvation Edition « Stray Thoughts
I read your testimony…and I am reading your blog..via Susan’s//my testimony is on my Sept 30th post…I am enjoying getting to know you better.
You have a great testimony. I have enjoyed reading it. Also read your T.M. page. It’s hard to understand some of the things that happen to us in this life, but I always remind myself that God knows and although we may not always understand what is happening that He is still in control. I love that verse that says all things work together for good to them that love the Lord. All things are not good, but all things work together for good.
The part about your Dad leaving reminded me of my childhood when my Dad got drunk so many times and spent what little money we had on liquor. I used to beg my Mom to leave him, but she never did. When I was 11 years old he stopped drinking and never drank again. That was over 60 years ago. The reason he quit was because his cousin whom he ran around with and got drunk with was killed in an auto accident. He was drinking, of course. That sobered my Dad up and he never drank again.
Thank you for sharing your testimony.
Thanks for sharing, Charlotte!
Ohhhhhh Barbara… Of course I came over from your post today – to see what you would be telling the ladies tonight.
You know… I’ve always said there was never a time when Christ wasn’t in my life! I can’t remember back far enough. I was Baptised as an infant (as all Catholics are) and from that moment on, I’m told, I was saved. I HAVE struggled with that sometimes — I think NO WAY! I can’t be saved! As BAD as I am! But then I’m confessing and begging and reminding God how MUCH I believe and accept Christ as my savior! And I too HAVE told God, well, if I wasn’t before, I want it to be so NOW. Pleeeeeeeeeease save me! But ya know what? Even though I DO know I have been saved, I still question it sometimes. Sometimes I think… no way… I talked to Pastor Paul about it one time and he told me “Melli, GOD has forgiven you. YOU have to forgive yourself! If you don’t forgive yourself, you’re basically telling Jesus that His DEATH was not enough!” WHOA! If what HE did was not enough for ME… then I need to go to that lake of fire! That really hit home! I still can’t help feeling soooooo BAD sometimes… and then I wonder… but deep down, I knOw that Jesus died FOR ME. And that I am saved! But I don’t think it’s unusual for us to think maybe we’ve BLOWN it on occasion! But whenever that happens, Pastor’s words come back … and there is NO WAY I’m telling Jesus that His death was NOT enough to save ME!
I felt the urge to share mine as well;
I grew up in a Jewish household, my mother was Jewish and my dad had never chosen a religion, and was leaning on the side of agnosticism. We went to temple and believed in God when it was convenient. At 13 I finished my bat mitzvah, and as a woman in the eyes of the Jewish Community, I still had no idea who God was. I decided He hadn’t done anything for me, so it would be just as well that I lived an atheistic life and live how I wanted.
I lived quite the sinful life during that time.
I got to college and was happy with my major, but they keep you quite busy with a large credit load here and I started getting worn out around January. To make matters worse, my mom was diagnosed with precancer of the breast in early February. I was so distraught, I barely knew what to do with myself. But I remembered a guy I’d met in September who always had the answers to everything. I called him and we spent the day talking – he told me I had no control over any of it, but I had a responsibility because of what Christ did on the cross for me.
The next day he took me to Calvary Chapel NB. Chris had known I was looking for answers about God for a long time, and had them all praying for me. They lifted my mother and I up, and though I was still unconvinced, Chris had dropped the seed, and they had watered it. Doubts about the way I had been living continued to well up inside me, among the many thorns of my mother’s condition and my own very real depression.
The next day I was thinking it over and realized that Chris was right, that I did owe God my life. I gave Him what was rightfully His, and said that I would go to the ends of the earth if only He would take care of my mother and remove this affliction from her.
A few days later she called to tell me she’d been “misdiagnosed” (a medical term for God-Saved-Her) and that she was cancer free.
Thanks so much for sharing, Lauren! It is amazing how God works to bring people to Himself.
Love to read anothers testimony. Mine is similar. Saved as a little girl, wondered when I was a teen and finally surrendered to the fact that Christ has to be Lord of my life in my late teens.
Great testimony!! I can relate to alot of what you are saying. Im going through a refinning period in my life, but God is in complete control. The funny thing is i was looking up pics of city buses on google since i am a bus driver and your website popped up. Can you say ” that was a God thing” i gaurantee it was! Well God bless you and have a great day!! :0)
Thank you so much, Michael! Your note was an encouragement right at a time I needed it.
I think I have only one blog post that mentioned buses — I am so amazed it came up on a Google search!
May the Lord bless you as you draw close to Him.
Pingback: Thoughts about…hell « Stray Thoughts
Pingback: Flashback Friday: Early Religious Experiences « Stray Thoughts
I just recently got saved.And this post really helped me.Thank you!
What wonderful news! Welcome to the family of God! I’m so glad this was used of the Lord to be a blessing to you.
Pingback: Testimonies at Marriage Monday « Stray Thoughts
Beautiful testimony of God’s grace and patience. Loved reading it and can relate to much of it in my life. Praise God for His mercy and salvation.
This was a great testimony!! What a wondrous miracle that someone paid for you to go to a Christian high school! thanks for sharing your story…GOd bless you!
I’m glad you linked to this, Barbara, so I could learn more about you. Sorry you had a difficult family life growing up, but I thank the Lord for continuing to put people in your life to bring you to him because you sure are a blessing!
Oh I am sure it isn’t unusual for people who are seekers to struggle with assurance. Thank the Lord that he knows our hearts and if we are seeking and desiring to be part of his kingdom he never refuses!
Wow, how great that someone offered to pay for your schooling! You have a beautiful story, and I’m glad you shared it. I just love reading how God uses our circumstances to lead each of us to Him in a different way.
God Bless those people who payed your way through school 😀 I believe that God is with you on this journey.
my Marriage Monday is here.
Thank u so much for sharing the power of god. even as a testimony gets old it never loses its power.You r amazingly gifted to share the power of christ in unique ways ..
Thank you all. I am so grateful for the Lord’s working in my life and now using it to be a blessing to others.
Dear One, It is the middle of the night here in Michigan on 11/3/11. Thank you for your site. I stumbled upon it because I was looking for the words/music to The Babe In the Manger. How very precious to read through your site. So glad that even if I don’t have the opportunity to meet you ‘down here’, we will meet ‘up there’. My sincere thanks to Norh Houston Baptist Church for their ministry. Thanks for your web site. Blessings on you and yours, and on North Houston Baptist.
Pingback: Together on Tuesdays Introduction « Stray Thoughts
Pingback: Themes of My Life | Stray Thoughts
Pingback: The Hidden Art of Homemaking Book Club | Stray Thoughts
I am really enjoying the theme/design of your
website. Do you ever run into any browser compatibility problems?
A few of my blog readers have complained about my website not operating correctly in Explorer but looks great in Opera.
Do you have any advice to help fix this problem?
Pingback: Friday’s Fave Five | Stray Thoughts
Pingback: My Ebenezers | Stray Thoughts
Pingback: VBS Week | Stray Thoughts
Enjoyed reading your testimony and thanks so much for sharing. Hugs and blessings, Cindy
Barbara, I’d like to quote something you said in your “Captain of My Fate” blog. May I have your last name? You may email it to me privately if you like, at email@example.com. Thank you.
You can just use Barbara H. 🙂
Hi! I’m glad I found you in a comment you made about Jim Berg’s Changed Into His Image book at Do Not Depart blog. So surprised to read your testimony ~ we are based in Houston and we’ve just been going to Westside Baptist Church in Katy,TX. It is an independent fundamental Baptist Church and our Pastor’s father-in-love, Dr. Hodges, used to Pastor at North Houston Baptist Church, I’m not sure if this is the same one you went to, but I know they used to have a school there. I wonder if you have any article about Jim Berg’s book, thank you! ~ Pam
Yes, Pastor Hodges was my pastor for a number of years from my sr. year of high school through college. That’s neat that you go to his son-in-law’s church! His daughter, Debbie, was ahead of me in college and really helped me get ready and acclimated my freshman year. I was in her wedding and she played for mine. Small world! I don’t have any article’s about Jim Berg’s book, but I have referred to it a few times, I think. I read it before I had a blog and started doing book reviews. I should probably read it again some time.
Pingback: When everything fails | Stray Thoughts
I love that you’ve included your testimony on your blog, and been open about your family history. It’s a hard thing to process and to share. Thank you.
Thanks so much! I try to keep the perspective of sharing about them not to dishonor or talk bad about them, but to encourage others.
The website has expired, Barbara.
Good to see the Holy Spirit working through you and your website.
Somewhere on your site someone was wanting to link your site to hers which focuses on testimonies. Perhaps you should?
Thank you for sharing your testimony, Barbara. Blessings.
Pingback: Remembering How God Has Led | Stray Thoughts