For the people who have tried to be “good enough” to be made right with God and the young people who make a decision at an early age who come to know Christ without the dramatic life changing experience I had, I’d like to share my daughter’s story with you:
Debby’s personal salvation testimony:
I was born in Engelwood, NJ. My dad was in the Army stationed in Korea and for the first few years of my life we moved around and were separated much of the time because of the Vietnam War. My brother, Billy, was actually my “birthday” present when I was 2 years old, since he was born on the same day as I was. We were close during years of turmoil and change which are vague in my memory.
When I was in 3rd grade we moved to Columbia, where mom worked many hours. My parents were divorced and we were typical latch-key kids. By the time I was in 5th grade I was very depressed most of the time. I attempted to poison myself once during this discouraging time of my life. I tried so hard every day to be good enough to please everyone, including God who I believed existed but was counting my good deeds against my bad deeds to get me to heaven. Every day I failed and would say tomorrow I’ll do better, but tomorrow just ended in more failures. My brother was my closest friend, but he had problems too. My mom was getting physical attacks that sent her in and out of the hospital. It was terrifying to think what would happen to us if anything happened to her. That’s when I began to look reach out for God and things started to happen rather quickly.
Billy and I were invited out to ride a bus to Sunday school at Harvester Baptist Church. The kids sang all the way to church and the teachers were great. My 5th grade Sunday school teacher was Pastor Paul. The message he was sharing was a study from the book of Romans in the Bible and he asked if we knew if we were saved & if we knew for sure we had a home in heaven when we died. I didn’t know what he was talking about so he asked if he could visit me at home. I was thrilled. Wednesday night came and so did Pastor Paul. Mom was surprised to see my Sunday school teacher and watched from the kitchen as he sat down and answered my questions from the Bible.
I believed there was a heaven but I was trying so hard to get there by being good. I was so happy when I found out there are “none good” and we are all in the same condition: “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:12, 23). No-one is as perfect as God is but that is how “good” we would have to be to get to heaven on our own. Then I found out that God loves us anyway and provided one way to assure us of eternal life, “But God proved his loved toward us that while we are still sinners, Christ died for us.” Rom 5:8. God already provided the way. When Christ came to earth from heaven, took on the form of a man so He could take our place and die on the cross for my sins. The payment was accepted once for all when Jesus came out of the grave 3 days later. He proved He is God the son, He alone can forgive sin and He is the only way to heaven. Then He had his followers spread the good news – sin is paid for now it is up to us to make our own decision to accept or reject that payment.
I wanted to be in a family that would always be there for me. John 1:12 said “But as many (if I would) receive Him (take Jesus as my personal savior from sin) to me He will give the right to become a Child of God…” The decision was mine alone. I told Pastor Paul I was ready and prayed a simple prayer to God right there on my couch in my own home that Wednesday night. The prayer went something like, “Dear God, I know I am a sinner and I am so sorry for my sins, I believe with all my heart that Jesus paid for my sins by dying on the cross 2000 years ago and coming alive again 3 days later, I am asking you right now forgive my sins and save me, make me your child and help me to live my life for you, in Jesus name, amen.”
An amazing thing happened. I felt free for the first time and secure knowing that I was loved for who I was. That no matter what others thought, I was a child of God. I found myself singing around the house. I know my mother and brother thought I had lost my senses, but it was not too long before they too made decisions. We were all baptized as a public profession of our new faith and family. We continued to grow in learning more about God’s Word at Harvester. There were growing pains but was able to serve on the bus ministry. At 13 years old I was helping teach children’s classes which I knew was going to be my calling in life.
Mom and I began also serving and teaching with Child Evangelism Fellowship. I was a missionary for 3 summers to the children. Later I went to Pensacola Christian College where I finished with a degree in elementary education and Regent University for my Masters degree. I have had the joy of being a Christian school educator for over 20 years, active in my own church as a Sunday School teacher helping other children make life changing decisions to follow Christ. I continue to help Mom with Toolkit Ministries – a teacher-training ministry to local churches. God has been faithful in restoring good relationships with my father and his family, my grandparents and, of course, continued family growth with my brother, his wife and kids.
Pastor Paul has gone on to be with Jesus, but I will see him again at a time when God chooses to call me home. For now, I want to continue to grow in grace and knowledge of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!