Testimony - Glenda
It was the Spring of 1974 and my life was a wreck.
Only in my 20's, too many experiences had packed into the past two years. Marriage, a beautiful brown-eyed baby boy, and an incredible amount of brokenness.
After the disintegration of what I thought was a forever thing, I was completely disillusioned. I had been good (so I thought) and what did it get me in return? It wasn't very long before I found myself hating what I saw in the mirror. I felt the kind of dirty that no soap can wash away.
It was at this point that my life intersected with an uncommon woman that was the catalyst God used to revolutionize my life.
I really needed a ride home from work. Not being on the job all that long, I didn't know anyone I could ask. It turned out, no one could give me a ride home, except the one person I was told to stay away from. Apparently, this lady was a little nutty. Religious nutty, to be exact. Most people in the office avoided her because of her curious smile and the huge Bible she carried to work every day. But she was my last hope to get home without a very long walk. So I hesitantly asked her. It turned out she lived just a few miles from me, and was glad for the company.
That is exactly where I was when I sat down in the car for the ride of my life. This curious woman, it turned out, had just lost her precious husband of many years. As I listened to her speak, I heard a mixture of a grief for the one she had just lost, and a passionate love for the One she could never lose, her Lord, Jesus Christ. I was not prepared to witness firsthand the intermingling of an overwhelming grief and the sobering purity of her intense love for God. I felt the depth of my own depravity in a way I never had.
I told her that I didn't know what she had, but I must have it before I left that car. At that point, I will be forever grateful to her for not whipping out a gospel tract, or not giving me some religious pat answer. She literally showed me the way home, to my real home. Before I left the car, she prayed that the Lord would reveal Himself to me, told me to go inside my house, get a Bible, open to the book of John and begin reading, and that God would meet me there. And, that is exactly what He did.
And the next morning, when I opened my eyes, my life was absolutely transformed. And for the first time ever, I felt clean. Really clean. I was literally born again. Even though it is difficult to communicate the magnitude of the transformation I had experienced in such a short time, suffice it to say that I found myself to be a completely different person. My family thought that I had fallen off the deep end, and I guess that is a pretty accurate description of what happened to me. I fell head first into the deep ocean of the love of God and was washed clean by the blood of Jesus.
II Corinthians 5:17: "If any man (or woman) be in Christ, he is a new creature. Old things are passed away, behold, all things are become new."
Isaiah1:17: "Come and let us reason together, says the LORD. Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall become whiter that snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool."
Testimony - John
Remembering back, to the best of my knowledge, it was October 8th, 1985 that I invited Jesus into my heart.
I was a locomotive engineer for Southern Railway and that alone was a good enough reason for the fact that a good night's sleep was hard to come by. Sleeping in strange beds in different motels all over the surrounding East Tennessee area and Kentucky was unnerving and anxiety ridden. Being at home and lying in my own bed did not deter from the anxiety of waiting for the phone to ring.
I remember one specific night I had laid down at 9 o'clock in a feeble attempt to get some rest before being called out. I was "first out" and extremely tired. I new at any second the phone would ring and I would be called out for an all-nighter. It was very important that I get some rest, but sleep nor rest ever came. There's no amount of money worth these levels of worry or pressure.
I watched the clock; 10:00, 11:00, 12:00, and 1:00 came, with no ring. Sometime between 1:00 and 2:00 I may have dosed off for a short time in sleep that contained no rest. At 2:00 in the morning I was called out to take a train to Asheville, N.C. The very second I hung up anxiety left and sleep came with a vengeance. There was not a willing bone in my body to do what I had to do.
Operating a locomotive and train handling to Asheville takes a level of professionalism of which you train for years. A keen mind is a necessary attribute and to do this safely you must know rules, regulations, and strict adherence to ever changing train orders which require undivided attention during the trip. I don't even remember driving to work that early morning and the only eventful thing I recall while dragging up the mountain was, at one point, WAKING UP!
Having the long end of the locomotive out front, you could see nothing else, unless you happen to be going around an extended right hand curve. Scared does not begin to describe my state of mind when I awoke. I quickly read my train orders and frantically searched for a mile post that would give me some kind of aspiration of determining my location. I could have been heading towards another train. I could have hit a car at a crossing that I failed to blow the horn for. I could have passed up a siding that maybe I should have gone in to! God took care of me and our trip was uneventful, but I will remember that feeling for the rest of my life.
For years I ran from the Holy Spirit. Night after night I lay my head down pushing this nudging of the Spirit to the back of my mind, in hopes of sleep. Keeping this gentle Giant at bay during the day was not as hard due to the fact that my mind was busy, but every night the confrontation was real.
The morning of October 8, 1985, the call office called me to take a train to Chattanooga. I packed my grip, made sure a lunch/meal was assembled for the long journey, and had an extra pack of cigarettes on hand. Everything was pretty much as it usually was for the trek. We got on our engines, hooked up to the train, made a brake test, and was released for movement. Our consist was anywhere from one and a half to two miles long. DeButts Yard in Chattanooga was our destination and a long train was quite the norm. We pulled into the yard, separated from the train and took our engines to the shop. The taxi pulled up to take us to the motel, we loaded, went to our usual place, got checked in, and met later in the restaurant for supper. We would be called out early the nest morning to take a train back to Knoxville, so after supper it was time for all to retire to our individual rooms. I got my shower and was feeling troubled in my spirit. Not totally recognizing this for what it was, I thought maybe I might be suffering some kind of an acute physical attack; but I was unable to deny it for very long because there were no physical ailments, hurting or pain. My body was suffering reactions from the spiritual warfare taking place in my being/soul. I was almost convulsing in my feeble attempts to allow this to pass. This was not going to pass. I was being confronted by the Spirit of God. "Choose this day whom ye will serve" was the ever so clear message being presented to me in a fashion more real than if it had been audibly spoken. The message continued, "You have pushed Me to the back of your mind for many years, each time awaiting for the condemnation to abate". Realizing the seriousness of this matter I grabbed the phone to call my preacher, Dewey Morton. I called, busy. I called again, busy. I called again, busy! The devil is screaming, "You have waited too long. I have you now. You are mine. You can never be forgiven. You have quenched the Spirit and will receive no more chances to inherit eternal life". I was alone, in torment, and scared.
Instantaneously a story of old resurfaced in my mind about two men in the woods walking home. They came to a path leading to the first one's house. Exchanging "good nights" they separated, and went their own ways. Being out of sight of one another, a scream was heard, "Come back!!! Please come back!!!". Running back down the main road and turning into the first drive/path, he found him crying, sobbing and pleading, "Come back, please come back".
"I'm here, I'm here. What's the matter? What do you need? What can I do?". "Nothing," her answered. "I am speaking to the Holy Spirit. He has left me!" There remained no help for him. All hope was gone. He had received and denied his last calling. He had quenched that most precious Holy Spirit for the last time.
It seemed to me that I had made the same eternal mistake. Being unable to reach Dewey on the phone was to be a sure sign. By this time, I am close to losing supper, I am crying, and I am experiencing involuntary emotions and spasms of the body. Losing control of my ability to keep composure, I needed to speak with a saint of God. I needed help; serious help, so I called Mama.
The first call went through. "Oh, thank You God, a good sign."
"Mama, I need you to pray for me." She answered, "I will". I responded quickly, "No, I don't mean sometime, I mean right now!"
I can't recall any of that prayer, but I can almost recite the verse she gave me. Isa. 55:7 - "Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return to the LORD, and He will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon."
That is what I needed to hear, know and receive! Things began to fall back into place! It seemed as though there was a better chance of keeping supper down. We hung up the phone and I prayed this sobbing prayer:
"Dear God, I'm sorry for my sins. Please don't leave me alone. I know for years I have struggled to get away from You each night as I lay my head down, but tonight I seek You and want You to come into my heart. Jesus, if you will come into my heart this night, I will live for You and never look back. Just don't leave me. I accept You, Jesus, as my personal Saviour and I ask You to make Your abode in me."
I was on my knees by the bed in a motel room in Chattanooga, Tennessee when I became a Christian. Earlier in this text, I made the comment that I was alone. In all actuality, I was never more "not alone" than I had ever been. There was me, satan, and the very Holy Spirit of God in that room in a battle for my soul. The devil was telling me I had waited too late and there was no hope, and all the while God was allowing me to be primed for the decision that was mine to make. I chose Jesus, and it holds good for today.
After praying my prayer of repentance and receiving Christ as my Saviour, there were no fireworks, no booms, no bright lights or fanfare; there was PEACE. I didn't even stand from my kneeling position. I went horizontally into that bed and slept soundly because there was no longer weight on my shoulders, guilt in my heart, or condemnation in my soul. I was a new creature. Torment, pain, and fear had left the room with satan and his minions. Jesus may have even pulled the covers up on me, I don't know.
It was at this point I got a little brave. Many times I had tried to quit smoking, and yet without success. More than once I had thrown out whole packs of cigarettes on the way home, only to smoke out of the ashtray later the same day. Being honest with God is the only way to go. Before falling asleep, I prayed:
"Dear God, You know how many times I have failed in my attempts to quit smoking. I think smoking cigarettes will hurt my testimony and feel you would have me rid of the addictive habit. I have proven to myself, I CAN'T QUIT. I just don't have the willpower. If You do not want me smoking cigarettes, YOU WILL HAVE TO TAKE THEM; I can't quit on my own."
I have not and will not take credit for quitting cigarettes. It was that night in Chattanooga when I turned my life over to Jesus, He took away cigarettes and delivered me from the addiction of tobacco. I had no withdrawals and no desire to return to them. Pretty amazing, huh?
Here is what I do know. I made the right decision. The Spirit of God was in my room and brought me to my crossroads. I tend to think the prayers of family and loved ones, who for years stood in the gap, were poured out that night and helped me make the right decision. It was never "not" my decision, just as it is your decision today. If you are reading this and don't know Christ as your personal Saviour, then I say, "beg His presence".
I wrote earlier in this segment how scared I was when I woke up driving a train to Asheville, N.C., but it cannot compare with the level of fear I suffered the night I looked into the abyss of hopelessness. One of the worst things you could ever do is quench the Holy Spirit of God through continual rejection of the Love He offers.
Thank You Jesus for coming into my life.
Thank You God for showing mercy.
Thank You, O Holy Spirit, for being patient with me and not leavin.
PRAISE YE THE LORD.
Testimony - Thomas Christoe
Part One: Salvation the first years.
Romans 2:4 the goodness of God leads you to repentance.
This truly is the capstone of my salvation as I witness about my salvation experience.
I was born just one year and 37 days before the declaration of WW2. December 6th 1941. My parents were already being engaged in preparation for the possibility of War. By the time the war began our family life was fully engaged.
We had moved to 319 34th street Anacortes Washington. My father was running the Dakota Creek shipyard as a civil service job as the government knew that the boats that he built were faster than the government boats.
The atmosphere was one of fear and chaos as the war started and my grandmother and her girlfriend were living with us and working at Ault Field Navy Base in Oak Harbor Washington. My first taste of God’s goodness was that Angels would visit me in my crib and I would find a super natural place of peace and safety. I spent most of the first years there in that place of safety. In 1943 we moved to 1217 12th street because my father wanted to build a boat from the surplus materials from the ship yard and it had a large yard. It was there that the atmosphere became worse as my parents had lots of money and our home was the center of partying as a form of relief from the pressures of a country at war.
In this atmosphere of uncertainty, stress and chaos many dark and malevolent elements were opposing the kind of life that the Lord had planned for me.
My parents were fully engaged in the war effort as the shipyard was manufacturing PT boats and LST’s. My mom was a model for the war effort as well as providing entertainment for the workers at night at the local Elks club, Community Centers and the Odd Fellows. My siblings and I were a part of the regular act. Mom was very talented as a musician, writer, artist and singer.
It was during this time that my life was traumatized by several things. Parents were working long hours and children were left to take care of themselves and a gang of young men regularly terrorized my brother and sister and I. We were all sexually molested several times. My sister had her collar bones broken by a young man standing behind her and pulling back on her shoulders. We were subject to them shooting us any time that they caught us with BB-Guns loaded with finishing nails; they stuck into our flesh and were quite painful. Many times these boys would have a bonfire going at night and if we were not careful they would catch us and scare us with the fire. They would put me on their feet and shoot me across the flames as a kind of torture game. My clothes caught on fire several times. One Christmas they lined up the old Christmas trees in a row and lit them on fire and made us run through them as a gauntlet. I remember my green and black checkered coat that I got for Christmas was ruined and I was punished for it.
As a result we used to walk several miles to the forest to play regularly which is located south of Anacortes around Heart Lake and Mt. Erie. My brother and sister used to use me to catch frogs in the lake as I was very small and they could hold me by my feet. Because of this I was not afraid of the water. One day I went to the Lake alone to play. I walked out on the floating logs as I regularly did when I caught frogs. Well I slipped of the Log and as I was falling into the water I heard the voice of the Lord for the first time “Stand and Wait”. So I stood on the bottom of the Lake looking up through the water with my hands stretched up toward the surface and I waited without fear. Then an Angel came and lifted me back up on the log. I learned to hear the voice of the Lord and I learned to trust God as well as understanding that my Angels were there to help me.
You may ask why our parents didn’t do something about this. The reason was that we were threatened by knife point and told that if we told anyone they would kill us. Considering the other things they were doing to us we didn’t doubt that they would follow through. What the enemy meant for evil the Lord has healed and used for good.
To be continued...