TESTIMONY OF JERRY BELTON
While growing up in Alabama I felt that there was something that I was missing. There was that unexplainable void that needed to be filled. I did attend church as a young man, but like so many it was for the wrong reasons. During my pre-teen years it was because my mother said to go and when mom said to jump it wasn't a question of "why" but of HOW HIGH. I can remember going to church for a year when I was about fourteen because there was a girl I liked going there. The only thing I remember about God is that we should fear him, but I didn't know why.
I also remember a time when I had the foolish thought that I could kill myself, visit death, and come back to the living. I went so far as to plan out exactly how I would do it. When the time came to actually do it I chickened out-PRAISE THE LORD-. I also remember playing a game of Russian Roulette. In my hand was a 22 pistol with one shell in it. I closed the cylinder and spun it. Instead of placing the gun to my head I pointed into the air and pulled the trigger. Imagine my surprise when it went off and my relief that it was pointed away from me.
My life then settled down to a pretty "normal" life-style. I wasn't in the "upper crust" clique nor was I in the "nerd" clique. It was more of the "working class". My stepfather owned a store, so from the time I was ten years old I would help open the store. During the school year I was at the store from 5:30 a.m. till 9:00 p.m. with time out for school. This continued until I graduated high school.
I went to a Jr. College to please the folks but didn't last two semesters there. There was still a void in my life that needed to be filled. I worked several places for a year or so and then enrolled in a Technical College. I spent two years studying Air Conditioning and Refrigeration. There was still something missing. Within a month of graduation from the Tech school I joined the Air Force.
There was no way (short of the Lord) that I should have made it into the U.S.A.F. I had had rheumatic fever when I was young, I had a heart murmur, and I was forty pounds overweight. Yet I was accepted. While in basic training I resumed the bad habit of smoking. I got to where I was smoking three packs a day. My grandparents lived within five miles of the Air Force base in Mississippi that I took my technical training. I would usually take advantage of this and spend the weekends with them.. I woke up one Sunday morning without a cigarette and haven't picked one up since. I believe the Lord was preparing me for HIS service.
After training I was sent to Elmendorf A.F.B. in Anchorage, Alaska. The first year was spent doing my own thing. I was then invited to church and I went. The problem was that it was a Mormon church. There was a Christian that worked in my shop heard about this and got mad. He said that he had invited me to his church first. I told him I would go to his church if I could get home a cooked meal out of it (anything to get away from the mess hall on base). He said it was a deal so the next Sunday I was with him and had to go because lunch was after church. The first time I actually remember hearing the GOOD NEWS was that Sunday. I didn't respond at that time but I did get involved with church. So much so that when the opportunity arose to work a week in summer camp as a cook, I jumped at the chance. It was during this camp that I gave my heart to Jesus. On Thursday night, July 4, 1974 I came to the one who loved me and gave HIMSELF that I might partake in the glories of heaven. I was setting on a table in the back of the room listening to what the preacher was saying. I said to myself "What would all these people think if I went forward for salvation?" No sooner had I thought this than the preacher said, "IF YOU CAN'T GO FORTH IN FRONT OF CHRISTIANS WHO CAN YOU GO FORTH IN FRONT OF!!" Fine, I thought, I'll still just wait until Sunday to get saved. Guess what the preacher said, "HOW DO YOU KNOW YOU ARE GOING TO BE ALIVE TILL SUNDAY?" Needless to say when the invitation was given I was one of the first ones to the front. This makes the fourth of July extra special for me---Freedom for our nation and freedom for my soul.
I got transferred in Dec. to Loring A.F.B. in Limestone, Maine. I immediately to involved in the church and became quite active. It was here that the Lord called me into HIS service. I was due to get out of the A.F. in April of 1976. I felt God's call to go to school for the school year of 1975. The first week of August I requested an early release from active duty, and quick for school started the first of September. By the third week of August I had my separation papers in my hands and was starting out processing. Even going from Alaska to Maine I still did not get away from the Mormons. I had befriended a couple of Mormons who lived in the dorms. Each of them had been trying for six months to get out of service to go to college at Brigham Young in Utah but neither had succeeded. I let the flesh get the best of me and I took my separation papers to their room and waved them under their noses (reminds you of I Kings 18:27...Elijah mocked them, and said, Cry aloud...)
Immediately upon separating myself from active duty with Uncle Sam I enrolled in Baptist Bible College. After completing four years there, during which time God gave me a wonderful wife and us a daughter I came to Racine, Wisconsin to serve him as Supervisor for an ACE Christian School at Racine Baptist Temple. We were here about three years when I felt the urge to move on. I blamed it on the Lord and if someone had tried to talk me out of it they would have had their hands full. While in Racine God answered our prayer and gave us a healthy boy to care for HIM. To make a long story short we made several moves over the next four years and did not make the right one until we came back home to Racine. I am currently working a secular job and learning to get over the bitterness I obtained during our "wandering in the wilderness". God is good and I'm so glad He is long-suffering. As I strive to serve Him I solicit the prayers of all who read this and pray that it might be the means to point someone to my Saviour-JESUS CHRIST. My lifes verse is found in the book of Ephesians chapter three verses seven and eight:
"Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power. Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ..."
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