Church hear my testimony,
I have entered your Body of Christ by invitation. The invitation has come from many directions and sources, and over a long period of time. Some were subtle and came from a deep yearning that I can only begin to understand now that the journey has reached its destination. I am hoping that this testimony can serve multiple purposes and touch hearts and minds of Christians and non-believers alike, and perhaps be a catharsis for me. God’s way and will, not mine.
The invitations began in childhood, and came from well-meaning, but under equipped parents. I can barely remember family church services, except that I always seemed to be dressed in wool trousers that made me itch to the point of distraction. There seemed to be a quite sense of awe that would come over me in the places I was brought to, but never a sense of involvement or family. I can say the invitations to Christ and by Christ did not begin in these places.
Still, I was intrigued enough to seek out information about Jesus, and to read whatever came my way, both scriptural and fictional. And then on a beautiful warm spring day in 1958 I found myself praying fervently that my father, who had been taken to the hospital that morning not die. My prayers were not answered, and my small tender sprout of faith was crushed.
I now found no reason to listen for any invitations to love that thing that had let me down so clearly. The small remnants of my family quickly fell into chaos and emotional calamity. My mother who was seemingly overwhelmed by consequence of my father’s sudden demise sought solace in emotional drama and poisonous personal relationships. This left my brother virtually completely orphaned and me to find any outpost of sanity wherever I could. From this point on my focus of escape was in endless and often overlapping relationships with girls/women. These relationships were always as obsessive as they were intimate. The most important in my young life was through my high school years when the companionship of an attractive companion meant so much. This also was my next serious exposure to Jesus. My girl friend had been saved and involved in an organization known as Youth for Christ. She insisted I accompany her and eventually be saved myself if I wished to continue to enjoy her company, which I certainly did! As a determined, hormone driven, sex crazed sixteen year old it did not seem unreasonable to fake my conversion and continue on as usual. (I had later thought this sin would eternally keep me out of Jesus favor, now I am guessing He might have got a good chuckle out of it, knowing He would get me sooner or later).
In order to be free to continue to enjoy her unsavory lifestyle my mother determined that I would be better off being schooled far from home and my girlfriend; probably not a bad call. So off to military school I went to experience my first and last contact to the Lord for many decades. During evening study periods I would often find Billy Graham crusades on my little radio, and listened intently. The message seemed so powerful and hopeful, and began a lifelong fascination with great preaching. But there was nowhere to be pulled to in order to complete the process so no serious Invitation was offered. So I wandered through life un-churched and unsaved, through parenthood, single parenthood, divorce, and all of the other tribulations of modern American life with only one constant. Female companionship; always available and always compulsive with the end always damaging to one or the other or both, was my shield against the crushing loneliness always ready to pull me into oblivion. During the years of single parenthood my seeking for spiritual solace and connection led to many fervent experiments and studies. This included a decade following a guru, living in an Ashram, and still managing to stay enmeshed in one romantic adventure after another.
Finally stability found me when I found Patricia, and fell completely in love. I saw that woman as the road to my survival! We even found a church home that served our purposes as it offered a belief system that was intellectually vibrant and spiritually non-demanding. We stayed there for two decades until my path diverted finally and forever finally to Jesus. There is something amazing about biting into an amazing chocolate cake after a life time of sucking on nothing but Dill pickles. All of a sudden what got me here seems less meaningful by far than what lies ahead. I am so excited to be a part of this amazing movement, and am fighting impatience in finding my part in bringing the amazing experience of Jesus Christ to the spiritual seekers of the world!
My gratitude to the saints of Calvary Apostolic Church and its two wonderful pastoral families for the love and support I and my family have been shown will never be able to be repaid; although I will remain open to suggestions.
Finally, I wish to request a favor of my new church family. I request the granting of patience while I grow into my new life, and support when I may stick out as the spiritually bumbling new guy. I ask this with some embarrassment as I know I will receive it without asking. Thank you.
Your Brother in Christ,