Over the years, people have requested my testimony. The testimonies of others have been encouraging to me, & with that in mind, I share mine. God said (as recorded in JER 31:3) “…with lovingkindness [Heb. “chesed”] have I drawn thee.”
His Word explains the heart of what happened to me: “But God commandeth His love towards us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (ROM 5:8 cf. EPH 2:5). Additionally, when I accepted Christ into my heart & life, I was at that time certainly heavy laden by life’s difficulties, so the words of Christ are fitting: “Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
So now let’s look at the particular details of how I, as a boy who was ignorant of God and His Word, happened to become a born-again believer.
MY FAMILY. Both my parents were raised on Kansas farms in Christian homes; & both rejected Christ & church life in college. My father was a scientific-minded engineer, & I was raised with that perspective. While both parents had a lot going for them as the world views things, their worldly values caused many problems for our home life. Meanwhile, I was blessed with a grandmother who prayed for me. Because my family moved so much, home for me was the farms of my grandparents, esp. the farm where my grandmother cared about my soul.
MY VIEW OF JESUS AS A CHILD. During childhood I was mostly ignorant of Christ & churches, but from the little I heard about Christ, for instance how he healed people, I felt that he was a good person who I liked. I wanted to be a person who did good & I loved the honest truth, but only had a worldly perspective on how to do this.
CURIOSITY ABOUT WHAT GOES ON IN CHURCH. One Sunday, when I was 12, I decided to take a break from exploring for old Indian campsites & arrowheads to find out what went on in a church. I went solely on my own curiosity into a church, perhaps a non-denominational church. When I entered, it was a good size church building. I centrally located myself in a middle pew; but when I sat down, I became totally blind. I sat in total darkness for a while, but it was unnerving to be blind. Not knowing what else to do, & wanting to be politely quiet, I decided to leave using my memory of the layout. I was able to make my way down the pew & to the rear entrance. At that point I could not remember the configuration of the steps, & stopped. Someone asked what was going on, & I replied I’d gone completely blind. A church brother laid his hands on me, & my sight immediately returned. Unnerved by all this, I left & never returned. With little knowledge of Christian things, I was only left with questions, where someone else might have drawn lessons.
CURIOSITY ABOUT THE BIBLE. Also at this age, I tried to read a KJV Gideon Bible, but it made no sense, & I gave up reading it on my own.
REALIZING I WAS A SINNER. A year later at age 13, while talking to a minister at a Dairy Queen, I realized I was a sinner; & so I asked God to please forgive me. While I wanted forgiveness, & felt it…that did not mean I automatically knew about church ways & what the Bible said. It simply made me a sinner saved by grace.
GIVING MY LIFE TO CHRIST. A week after finding forgiveness for my sins, a bright light appeared above me, & a still small voice asked me to give my life to Christ. I said “yes” immediately. At this point I received the Holy Spirit. It is from this point that I date becoming a Christian. It is also very significant that I gave my life without reservation to Christ himself & not to a church. This has meant that I have felt my life belonged to him, & not any church. One can honestly call Christ my “first love”. A peace descends upon the new believer, as God’s Word describes: “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” I was excited about the new life I was experiencing, but I had no clue what to do with it. I asked some Christians, “I just gave my life to Christ, now what do I do??” Their answer, “Be baptized!”
BAPTISM. I asked to be baptized in 4 Mile Creek near to where I farmed with my grandfather. This was the same small river where my great grandfather from Germany had settled & built his home, & farmed. It was a meaningful event at a meaningful place for me.
TRANSFORMATION. My conversion really changed me, so much so that my sister noticed, & she said it changed her. I repented of my sins, & began to work on developing the Spirit’s virtues, examining myself at the end of the day how I had done. I began to watch people to find role models & study people from history that might serve as role models…esp. Christ. An example of how the Spirit changed me would be, for instance, that I immediately realized evolution theories were lies, but it took study over the years to learn the facts that expose the lies. Another example is my view of people…I went from not wanting to be around people, to liking & loving them. Another change was that now I devoured the Bible & understood it. I became active in the church where I lived, incl. driving a bus to pick children up on Sunday for church. (Farm teenagers in Kansas drive early.)
FALL OUT. My father thought I’d thrown logic & my life away for superstition. I believe that is why he reneged on his promise to pay for my college education. An inner knowing told me I did not need his support for higher education…and that if I applied to go to West Point I would be selected. I was an athlete, with high grades & high scores on the SAT & ACT tests. Plus I was healthy. Candidates in our area had their health tested at Ft. Riley’s Army hospital, & our physical abilities tested at the Salina National Guard Armory. Letters of recommendation from teachers & high school grades were also submitted. One day I was called out of class to take a call from Representative Joe Skubitz giving me an appointment to West Point. Not long afterwards Sen. Bob Dole gave me a redundant second appointment to West Point. So at age 17, on July 3, 1973, with the Vietnam War still active but winding down, I entered the USMA class of 1977 as a “new cadet” at Beast Barracks. West Point would play a big role in my Christian walk/life as I will now explain.
DUTY, HONOR, OBEDIENCE & EXCELLENCE. West Point taught responsibility. We were not allowed to make excuses, but were expected to give complete instant obedience. We were taught excellence. For instance, a single misspelled word on an English theme would bring a flunking grade! I learned from an upperclassman that I could travel to Israel on military flights when I got my month leave after my first year, & with permission of the Sec. of Defense, I did so. The Holy Land changed me, for it gave me a spiritual boost which caused me to want to quit the military as a conscientious objector. When I returned to West Point’s Camp Buckner that summer, I tried to resign. I was talked into staying, but my heart was not in serving in Uncle Sam’s army, but rather the Lord’s army. I continued for another 6 months, but my heart was not in a military career…and so I resigned. I decided to take the one lesson West Point had taught me well—OBEDIENCE—and apply it to my walk with God. I immediately reread the Bible with the attitude of total obedience to God and it was a different book!
OBEDIENCE. My new approach to God…total obedience reminds me of a number of verses…for instance, REV 22:14: “Blessed are they that do His commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life and may enter in through the gates into the city.” And also: “Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.” (JAS 1:21) My desire to obey led me to search out others who also wanted to obey the Lord.
CALLING. A few years later, the Lord gave me my calling. I was to call people back to the Word of God, expose evil, & give hope. I believe at first I might be likened more to Jonah than to Samuel, it took some years for the Lord to mature me…Yet thankfully the divine has the ability to guard the soul’s treasure for us (cf. 2 TIM 1:12), the ability to open doors for us, & to preserve us. He is our effectiveness. My prayer is that you also would experience His love, forgiveness, and peace as He gave me…someone unworthy, yet still made in His image & still His child. Be blessed.