If you’ve taken the time to read my testimony, you already know that my coming to know Christ was not a road I would wish anyone to travel. Having grown up in the textbook definition of a “bible banging” Christian home, you might think that my future had already been mapped out for me. I mean come on, my grandmother was a church leader and my grandfather eventually built the church we would one day call our home church. The Gospel was force-fed through and through. Even though it seems like so long ago, I can still remember sitting with my grandmother at her dining room table when I was 8-years old. That was the day I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior.
As years past, my walk with Christ seemed unshakeable. But suddenly, just after turning 10, my life would change; something so horrific was about to unknowingly rule most of my adult life. It was the summer of 1980, and a good friend named Ritchie had invited me to a church summer camp. I felt great, I was making lots of friends and everything was going good until my second night there. As I lay fast asleep in the bottom bunk of my bed, I was startled to find my Christian pastor standing over me. Then that’s when it happened. I don’t really recall that many details; but I know he touched me in a way that no child should ever be touched. To this day I remember his obscene jokes as he whispered them into my ears. That night, he took my innocence; and forever changed my outlook on someone in his position of trust. Now that’s a lot for a 10-year old boy to deal with. I’m not sure if I was suppressing it or just trying to forget. But one thing I knew, my God had let me down and I didn’t want anything to do with Him or the church ever again.
For a number of years following the incident, I kept this deep dark secret suppressed. On the outside my life seemed the same; but on the inside, the more I was around the Christian faith the more I felt like a hypocrite. Without knowledge of what had transpired, my devout grandmother would constantly pray with my brother and I. She would often sit us down on her bed and try her best to reach our hearts with words that, honestly, fell on deaf ears. This proved to be a tremendous test of her faith. Again and again, I routinely nodded in outward agreement while staring out the window, all the while wishing it would end. I learned that if I wanted to get it over quickly, it was best not to disagree or raise opposition, or the prolonged torture would never cease.
This went on until I left for military service just after turning 18. The distance apart made it much easier to have no accountability for not attending church. Not to mention escaping the constant interrogation from my grandmother; which always ended with that oh so familiar question, “When are you going to get back in church?” As time passed, the questions came fewer and far between. Then one day, it dawned on me; my grandmother had quit her onslaught of lectures. I was like, “Finally!” What a relief; no more lengthy discussions, no more feelings of convictions. “Whew!” I had escaped her persistent pleading! What I didn’t realize at the time was that while I had escaped her pleading with me, I hadn’t escaped her pleading with God.
28-years had passed since that fateful day. Many mistakes and regrets had occurred a long the way. I went from blaming God for what I thought He allowed to happen to me, to thanking Him for what He used to perfect me though. After I gave God control of my life and was reborn, I couldn’t wait to call my grandmother; the same grandmother who sat at a small kitchen table with me as I gave my life to Christ 28-years prior. When I told her of the Good-News she began to cry. She told me that God had finally answered her prayers. I was shocked to find out that my grandparents had never stopped praying for me. My grandmother revealed how she had determined to quit talking and instead begin to diligently pray that I would return to our Father and be saved. She and my grandfather prayed for God to bring me back to Him for over twenty-years. What a testament of perseverance; twenty-years went by and they never gave up on me. Why? Because they knew of the redeeming power that God provides to us all. What I came to learn from this ordeal was that it wasn’t God to blame for what happened to me as a small child; it was Satan. For Satan knew that if he did not try and separate me from my Savior, I too would become a force to be reckoned with for building God’s Kingdom. My life had become a testament to the verse, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives” (Genesis 50:20). And this is why my catch phrase is “Building His Kingdom one soul at a time…” It only takes a small stone to make a ripple in a large pond. We all have past issues that seem disheartening. Whether it is abuse, drugs, crime, whatever; always live your life with one thought in mind. “Do not allow your past to become a crutch… Use it as a ladder to elevate your future!”
I share this with you today and pray that it may serve as encouragement to all you parents and grandparents who have children that seem to have no interest and at times may even seem hostile to your faith. I know on the surface things may look hopeless. And you may even begin to question if God is even listening to your prayers. But let me assure you, I would not be the man I am today had my grandparents stopped praying for this once lost child. So let me challenge you, who may be weary and are having feelings of despair, don’t give up! Though it may seem like there is no hope in sight, and you may feel like God is not at work, know that He is—in ways you can’t always see. Most of us have spent our lives trying to take care of things our way, but when we accept Christ as our Savior, we must learn to trust our lives to His care and in His timing. When we seek to do so, we can say with the psalmist, … “I trusted in, relied on, and was confident in You, O Lord; I said, You are my God. My times are in Your hands…” (Psalm 31:14-15). It is in these moments that we will come to know with all certainty that our prayers will be answered according to the will of God.
I pray that through my testimony it will inspire you to not lose heart in your situation with regards to your children. I pray you will keep seeking, keep knocking, and keep asking! “Pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:17-18). It is when we put our trust in God for their salvation, and feel comfort that all is done in God’s timing that we will see God move in our situation. And remember, your children may be able to escape your preaching, but they can never escape your prayers.
Building HIS Kingdom One Soul at a Time…