September 11, 2012

My Testimony- Getting Acquainted Part 2

This is part of a series to answer reader questions and help friends become better acquainted with Art's Chili Pepper.  To read previous posts click the links below.

Getting Acquainted

Michaela:  I would love to hear your testimony! Did you grow up in a Christian home? If not, how are you and your choice of lifestyle accepted by unsaved family members? 

Wow! That could take a while. My testimony sure isn't short.

I did not grow up in a Christian home. My parents were Catholic and we were raised in the Catholic church following all the traditions that go along with it. I went to Catholic school as well. I always had trouble with the conflicts between the Bible and what we were taught in the church, at school and at home. Things were more confused by a lot of hypocrisy in our "perfect" family which involved alcoholism, violence, abuse, neglect and adultery.

I married a not so very nice person when I was 18. 18 months later I gave birth to a daughter. 18 months later he left me for another woman. This was such a blessing, as our time together was defined by his drug use, alcoholism and physical abuse toward me and our daughter.  At that time I was completely destitute emotionally, physically, financially and spiritually. That's when I came to know my Jesus.

My brother invited me to attend a Bible study on his military base in New Jersey. For the first time, as I sat listening to that preacher talk about Abraham, Jacob and Moses I realized they were real people, not just some fairy tale characters. This got my attention. I don't think I drew a single breath as I listened to him teach about the plaques in Egypt and the parting of the red sea as the real life miracles they were.

All of a sudden it hit me like a ton of bricks. There were so many things we were taught which didn't line up with the Bible. For example, why did we have to be Baptized to get to Heaven if the Bible said Jesus died to save us? Priests, Nuns, Teachers, my parents... when I would question things like that they told me that the church's teaching was right and I wasn't understanding it properly or I lacked faith by asking such questions when it ought to be clear. But once I came to know without a doubt that the Bible is 100 percent literal and accurate, I came to know it wasn't my understanding of the Bible that was wrong, it was the teaching of the church. I came to know it wasn't hard or complicated and I didn't have to get my life perfect to come to Jesus. I didn't have to work myself to death wondering if I had ever done enough or been good enough. I just had to simply BELIEVE. And I did. My life was instantly transformed, permanently changed and eternally blessed from that moment forward.

Within both Allen's and my own family there are no other believers with the exception of my brother, Frank. He was stationed in Italy for a number of years following the Bible study and he went through many tragedies of his own. In 1999 he finished his enlistment, returned to Maryland and came to live with my family. He is the one who lead me to the Bible study in 1994 and seven years later I had the amazing honor of being instrumental in his own journey to salvation. My heart sings each Sunday when I walk into worship and see him there.

How do our families respond? At first, when we left the Catholic church and joined a Bible believing church, my parents were kind of insulted, shocked, something.  But they actually got over it very quickly. I think because they saw the difference the Lord made in my life and in my brother's life. But there were many things it took time for them to get used to, such as our decision to home school, our daughters not dating, etc... What's very amusing is over time, even though none of them are saved, both my father, step-mother, sister and brother-in-law have had much involvement with our local church. My father and his wife even attended Bible college with Allen and I for a number of years.

Sadly, as is often the case in families, our family has been estranged more years than not. Once in a while they will drop back into our lives for a time but this is a season when we are not welcome in their lives. We trust the Lord is working in the situation and I know He has a greater plan we can't see. I believe very strongly it may be the path which leads to their salvation.

Allen's parents are a funny sort. They are lovable but not very loving. They have always been standoffish people, per Allen's recollection and my 20 years of observation. But they are "good" people and live by duty and honor. They believe in God but not on Jesus. Like my parents, they are no longer opposed to our church and will sometimes attend services with us. We pray for the Lord to save them.

Dear readers, do you have a testimony?  Everyone needs one before they stand before our Lord at the judgement.  If you know for certain where you will spend eternity, please take time to share your testimony in the comment section of this post.  If you do not, please leave me a comment or send me a private email and allow me to tell you how you can know for sure you can go to Heaven .

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