Date of Salvation: April 2016
Location: Home in Peoria, AZ
Saved from: Unbelief, lustful habits
Age at time of salvation: 20
I was born and raised in a Baptist church (part of the Independent Fundamental Baptist movement) in Pasco, Washington. My home was very religious and we went to church anytime the doors were open. My parents were involved in the Bus Ministry and Sunday School, my father was a deacon and my mother worked in the Christian school that was run by the church. Because I was always around church, I heard people talk about being saved and it sounded cool. So, at the age of four, I asked my dad if I could pretend to be saved, and he responded, “You don’t have to pretend, you can be saved.” So, I prayed over the lawn mower in our garage and from then on I was “saved” in the Baptist church. Being so young, I did not know what sin was and what salvation meant, but it showed that I had an awareness of spiritual matters from a young age.
At the age of eleven, I felt the fear of going to Hell. This was caused by hearing messages about how Hell is a horrible place and you will go there unless you ask Jesus to come into your heart. I struggled with this fear for a week or two. I would have gone to the altar right away, but I thought I had already been saved when I was four, and the feeling of conviction caused me to be very confused. After grappling with this conviction for a while, I decide to raise my hand at the end of the morning devotional in my class at school. My mother was the one I talked to and I got saved then. (The Baptists call this a reassurance of salvation because they believe you cannot lose your salvation.)
A little over a year later, my family decided to move two hours north to Spokane, Washington and we started attending another Baptist church that was affiliated with the one we previously attended. I was a good kid and did what was right for the first two years after our move. But in the summer after 7th grade, I was hit by the hormones of puberty and I became aware of females. I started looking at pornography, not knowing that it was wrong at the time. It started as a small thing but very quickly became one of the only things I would think about. Later that year, I heard pornography being preached against and I asked my mother what that word meant. When she told me, I instantly knew that what I was doing was wrong and that I was sinning. But I couldn’t stop myself from turning to it. I tried and tried but always ended in failure. I would go up to the altar in chapel asking God to save me—just in case I didn’t mean it before—but I never could regain the spiritual cleanliness I wanted. Now at the school I went to in Spokane, I became the model Christian student. I received the Christian Character award, lead the student prayer meetings, gave devotionals and I also preached on youth night. But I knew on the inside that I was living a lie and was making church become a form rather than an experience.
In the summer of 2013, my family and I moved to Yorktown, Virginia because my father found a new job out there. I prayed that—no matter which church we would end up going to—that I would be more of a follower and not a leader so I could deepen my spiritual roots. After church shopping for a month, my parents decided that we would go to Maranatha Baptist Church. I was older than my counterparts in the youth group by three years, and by the time I left the class I felt like I knew more than the youth pastor because of my own personal aptitude for spiritual matters.
In the summer of 2014, I went to a big church camp, and on the last night I felt like I should go to the altar and try to get victory over my problem with pornography. When I was talking with the counselor, I withheld the magnitude of my problem and told him I just had issues with thinking of girls in the wrong way. The counselor responded by saying that all guys have problems with that and you just need to try not to think about it that much. He used I Corinthians 10:13 to explain that everyone is tempted. That did not satisfy my need, however, and this was the beginning of my separation from the Baptist church. In September, my sister and I started discussing how we weren’t being fed spiritually at this church and became very disgruntled with it. So, by December we concluded we were no longer Baptists.
From this time Sarah and I started searching for the truth. I began by looking into what other churches believe and I quickly became discouraged after finding out that there are thousands of different denominations. During this brief time of searching and a little bit prior to that, I earnestly asked for God’s help to make sense of it all but I felt as if I were just talking to myself. When my sister and I met, she brought up the question, “Does God even exist?” This took me back at first as I was against the idea of atheism. But after she brought up various things online, it was undeniable to my doubting mind. So at the beginning of 2015, I became an atheist. This decision opened the gateway to worldliness. I was no longer bound by the predetermined morals of Christianity, so I could decide for myself what was right and what was wrong. Within the first month of that decision my addiction to pornography got much worse. I eventually got into things that I never would have even thought I would, which disgusts me now today. (This reminds me of the saying “Sin will take you farther than you want to go, and keep you longer than you want to stay.”) As my addiction worsened, I thought to myself, “Why am I doing what I am doing?” One side (my conscience) told me that what I was doing was wrong and that I needed to stop, while the other (Satan) told me that whatever gives you pleasure can’t be wrong no matter what it is. I began to curse like a sailor. I also started watching more vulgar, promiscuous, and violent TV and movies.
In my state of unbelief, I opened my mind to many ideas outside of Christianity such as Marxism, Islamism, Eastern Mysticism, Satanism, and many other ideologies. I eventually found the most enjoyment in watching the liberal media, which educated me on progressive and atheistic thinking. Becoming an atheist completely destroyed my entire basis for morality and I dived head first into sin.
When I decided to become an atheist, I instantly knew I would have to leave my home to truly break from this religious oppression I felt I was under. So, I instinctively turned to the military as my way out. I wanted to join the Navy and with a high ASVAB score, the Navy wanted me. There was one barrier though: I had to lose 50 pounds before I could go to boot camp. On my way home from that meeting, I signed up for a gym that was nearby my house, started working out 3 to 5 times a week and ate a healthy diet for almost 5 months straight. After all that effort, I lost 5 pounds. This was discouraging to me, and I realized in June that I need to find another way out of the house. So, I began to consider going to any college that would cover enough tuition to convince mom and dad that it was a good thing. My mother proposed the idea that I move to Phoenix and live with her father while going to college out there. When I looked up the prices for college classes in Phoenix, I found my selling point. After a week of research, I told my parents that I wanted to move to Phoenix and they were fine with it as long as my Grandparents would approve also.