Friday, February 27, 2015


Testimony  [tes tuh moh nee] 1. Law. the statement or declaration of a witness under oath or affirmation, usually in court.

I am not under oath, nor am I in a court of law. However, this is my testimony.

Recently, I was asked by an old friend about having been raised in the Catholic Church and now being a Baptist. It's a fair question and a bit of a complex answer. I say the answer is complex because it will pose difficulties for both my Catholic friends and my more evangelical Baptist friends.

In reality, I tend not to think of myself by a denominational label such as Baptist. This may come as a real shock to many, as most Baptists (especially Southern Baptists) wave the Baptist banner as if it is the only real Christian denomination and all others are merely posers. I prefer to think of myself merely as a follower of Jesus.

Among the more zealous Baptist members are those that would believe all Catholic adherents to be cult followers and destined for hell. Many Catholics believe Catholicism to be the one true Christian church.

I think Jesus would be disappointed in all of us.
But, I digress.

I missed finding Jesus as Lord and Savior in my upbringing in the Catholic Church. I can say with great conviction that many of the Catholics I know are heaven bound and know Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior. While they haven't had the same experiences as most evangelicals, Jesus is as much their Lord as he is to anyone else.

For me, and for many Catholics, it didn't happen there. I didn't find Jesus as Savior in the Catholic Church. I found a lot of rules and a lot of man made ritual that appeared to be more religious control than God centered. There seemed to be too much of the Pharisee influence and not enough of the genuine God worshipers. It actually seemed (to me) that there was more worship of the Catholic Church than of God. If you are reading this as a Catholic, check that. Make certain that you are following the Jesus of the Bible rather than the Pope in Rome. Although the Pope may be a good man (and I'm sure he is), he can't redeem your soul and secure your salvation.

In any event, when I left home for college, I pretty much stopped going to church.
Looking back, I'd say at that point in my life I was in a spiritual wasteland. I did believe in God, but it was pretty much desert out there. There was no fertile spiritual ground and nothing was growing.

But life went on.

I met Chris and she was a born again believer that had been raised in a Southern Baptist Church. At the time we met, she wasn't going to church anywhere. However, finding a church home would be important to her once we got married.

One of her friends was a minister in the Christian Church. One day we were at his church and he gave me a Bible. I still have it. I also owned a copy of The Way (a Catholic paraphrase). I wasn't sure what the difference was at the time, but found a little bit of comfort in each of them.

When Chris and I got married, we did so without a priest at the wedding. Even though it wasn't a big deal to me, it was a huge deal to my family, especially to my dad! Of all of the things that I have done wrong in my life, this is the thing I regret most. I really had no idea how much the Catholic faith mattered to my parents, nor did I have any idea of how much my parents were involved in the Catholic Church. I thought the Bishop went to everybody's house for dinner!

That action had its consequences.
And still, life went on.

After we got married, we moved to Northwest Indiana and I was working for 84 Lumber. We lived very close to Hyles-Anderson College and were a little ways south of Hammond Indiana. One of the part-time employees at the lumber yard was a student at the very conservative bible college. He (David Presson) took the time to talk to me about how I could know my eternal destination by trusting in Jesus as Savior. He walked me down the (now very familiar) Roman Road and showed me my sin, my need and my Savior. The Jesus he told me about was familiar in the sense that I knew about him; I just didn't really know Him! A neighbor of mine and classmate of his (David's) came to my apartment the following day to see if I had any questions about my conversation with David.

On that morning, in the living room of my apartment in Crown Point, Indiana, I trusted Jesus as my Lord and Savior. I was baptized at the First Baptist Church of Hammond Indiana on the following Sunday morning. Not long after that, we moved to St. Louis and my real spiritual growth took place in a small South City General Baptist Church under the tutoring of one of my heroes of the faith, a man by the name of Gene Rainwater.  (If you decide to click on his name and read that post, you might want to grab a tissue first. It still brings tears to my eyes.)

It has been a lot of years since then. I have grown a lot, but still have so much more to grow, to learn and to become.

Today, I am a Southern Baptist Evangelist. I have opportunities to preach the Gospel of Jesus in churches around Missouri and in other states. Sometimes I preach as most pulpit preachers and sometimes I use magic and illusion to tell the story of salvation in Jesus. I am still amazed and humbled that God has called me to this ministry and blessed me with the opportunities that He has placed before me.

I am a simple man.
I believe that we have souls that will live beyond our physical bodies.
I believe that there is a God that has created us in His image.
I believe that we will spend eternity in heaven or in hell.
I believe that we are all sinners and that the consequence of our sin is eternal condemnation.

And I believe that Jesus has paid our debt.
He has redeemed our souls.
He has offered us eternal life.

Can a person know if he/she is going to go to heaven or hell?
The answer is, "Yes. You can know."

The Bible says the if you can say with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and you believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved.
For it is with the heart that one believes and is justified and it is with the mouth that one confesses and is saved.

That is my story.
This is my testimony.

John <><

1 comment:

eViL pOp TaRt said...

I found your testimony to be very moving and sincere. I think you are on the right path, John. My the Lord shine upon you, and give you the joy you deserve.