Having posted several blogs on this sight, I’ve come to the realization that I have never shared my testimony. I have not shared where I come from, why I believe what I believe or what led me to where I am today.
My parents, brothers, and my grandparents and uncle on my mom’s side.
We went to church all the time, so I grew up hearing the Gospel and memorizing Bible verses. I remember when I made the decision to follow Jesus with all my heart. I was six years old at the time, and my mom and I were talking in my room one night about how when Jesus comes to live your heart (that’s the best way to describe it to a young child), he washes your sin away and makes you right with God. Baptism does not save you, it just shows the rest of the Church that you are all in; that you are identifying with them and most importantly, with Jesus’ death and resurrection.
So that night, I prayed to receive Jesus as my Savior. I was baptized shortly after, and then I kind of left it at that. I was still a bratty little kid, but I do believe that I was truly saved at that time. I did go through some times of doubt and prayed the “sinner’s prayer” a few more times for good measure when I was feeling especially bad.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t really have a whole lot against the “sinner’s prayer” other than that it is often abused and may not be something that is actually coming from a person’s heart. If someone does not understand their need to repent and turn from sin, they should not be forced to repeat words that they don’t mean. Now I wouldn’t encourage throwing the prayer completely out, but I most certainly wouldn’t encourage using it as the sole means by determining someone’s salvation. It can and often has been just empty words that someone is saying so that they can have “fire insurance” (a Get Out of Hell Free card) and continue to live however they want to. I definitely bought into this attitude for quite some time. I figured it didn’t matter how someone lived, including myself, as long as they had prayed the prayer of salvation, they were good to go. I didn’t discover the danger of this way of thinking for many years.
As I grew into adolescence, I began to live a double life. At home and on Sundays, I was usually a good Christian boy, except at home, I wasn’t very nice to my brothers. I knew a lot about the Bible and memorized a ton of verses, so I definitely knew the Truth. But at school, I tried to be one of the “cool” kids. It didn’t work at all, and people were really confused a lot about who I really was, including myself. Sometimes, I tried to do the Christian thing at school, but other times, I acted worse than a lot of people. I didn’t get into a ton of trouble at school, but I certainly did not live what I believed.
That is, until the summer after my 10th grade year when I went on my first mission trip to Mexico. It was there that I felt like mission work was what I wanted to do with my life. I just needed the opportunity to change the way I lived outside of home and church. That opportunity came when my parents announced that we were going to be moving to a new school district. At first, I hated them for it, because I was being taken out of my comfort zone, but I quickly realized that if I couldn’t handle a simple move to another school (we were still going to go to the same church and live in the same area), how was I going to handle moving to an entirely different country?
To be continued…Part 2 coming soon