Date of Salvation: March 1977
Location: Northside Baptist Church, Tennessee
Saved from: Childhood sins
Age at time of salvation: 16
I was not raised in the Church of God, but I had an honest heart from an early age. I knew about God, the devil, heaven and hell, which I learned from going to Sunday School and VBS. I attended many different churches while growing up. When I was 10, I started attending a Christian church which took
communion each week. I remember getting to ring the church bell that was so
large that it lifted me off the ground. At age 13, my sister took me to the Anderson Church of God in our little town. Looking back, I found the Baptist church was more conservative than the Anderson Church of God. (Imagine that!)
When God started to talk to my heart at age 16, I went to a Baptist church that taught if you die in your sins, you cannot go to heaven. I was a sinner knowing if I was to die, that I would die lost and go to a devil’s hell. God’s spirit convicted me of my sins and, with the truth I knew and an honest heart, I got saved. Despite the Baptist teaching, I got saved there and the load of sin was lifted. I was a changed person and God gave me a desire to help others get saved and feel the joy of salvation. Growing up, I have seen family members and friends live a life of sin, but I remember saying to myself one day, “If that is what having fun is, I don’t want it” or as the Bible states in Hebrews, “Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season.” But because I was not raised in the truth, I still wore my long hair, a ring on my finger and went to the movies. Imagine, dear reader, if you happened to meet me when I was only 17, dressed that way, going to a Baptist church and telling you that I was saved and thankful for what God had done in my life. How would you have responded or treated me? If you would have had nothing to do with me or told me there is no way I could be saved, it could have crushed my tender spirit. Or
would you take time and tell me of God’s truth and pray for me that God would open my eyes to the truth? Christ told Peter, “What God hath cleansed, that call not common” (or unclean or not saved).
I am glad it’s not “once a Baptist, always a Baptist”. I was an honest soul, saved by Christ
who gave His life for me, while I sat in false religion for over three years. I felt my love for God being challenged, sitting where I was surrounded by worldliness and carnality. I knew something needed to change. I prayed to God to keep my love for him strong and to stay close to Him. I was living in the hills of Tennessee with no true Church of God congregation, and the other church that called themselves Church of God had let down the standard. I know now that God would not have sent me back there because God does not send his people into Babylon or false religion; why would he? What good would it have done? It only would have deceived my soul, which would not have drawn me closer to God as I was praying. This placed the challenge back on God, and God loves a good challenge when helping an honest heart. I finished high school and felt impressed to sign up for the Air Force. I took the test but failed by three points and could not enlist. I had a peace knowing God was in control and left it in his hands. A month later, the recruiter called me up to say that there was about 1,000 other people across the US that had also missed the test by a few points and that the Secretary of Defense changed the requirement for one month, lowering the test score five points and he wanted to know if I still wanted to enlist. Not even government red tape could keep God from answering a young man’s prayer to draw closer to him! I wanted to go to Florida for my training, but God said Arizona.
Once again, God changed government orders to get me where he wanted me to be. Through the power of God, he kept me saved through three years in the Baptist church, six weeks of basic training in Texas and three months in Colorado. He did all of that to get this 19-year-old man to the place where the true people of God met together in spirit and in truth; to the desert of Arizona, far away from the hard wood trees, rivers with water in them and grass for lawns.
The first person God lead me to on my journey to truth, was a man that was a part time
Catholic at best, and had just gotten saved and sanctified in his own dorm room just a few weeks before. You may question if God knew what he was doing in trying to get this young Tennessee boy to the truth but I assure you He did, and there was no way I could have figured out his plan.
So, God used Brother Tom Salisbury who knew nothing about the Church of God to help
me find the Church of God. (Maybe God does have a sense of humor.) As far as I was concerned, I didn’t care if he was a Catholic in the past or that I was a Baptist. The spirits clicked within and the truth that God was showing us rang true to our hearts.
I met Brother Tom one night when I was going to get something to eat at the base dining hall. I was impressed by God to go to the TV room where I might be able to find someone there to talk to about the things of God.