As far back as I can remember, I would (at least periodically) look for some
purpose, some meaning for life. Besides making mud pies and hunting frogs,
snakes, mice, and crayfish, a friend and I had some interest in searching for
artifacts of past ages. There was an older boy in the neighborhood who had a
rich collection of Indian arrow heads. My Grandfather had also given my dad
some Indian artifacts. These objects would bring out much curiosity in me. I
would search in the fields of my village for ancient relics and fossils. I
once found a perfectly preserved fossil of a Trilobite; an extinct marine
creature. This one was oval shaped and about two inches long. Of course I was
no scientist; I was a curious boy. Where did such things as this Trilobite
School was interesting to me as a young boy, but as I grew older, my interest
began to wane, as did much of my interest that had been growing in what could
be called, a crude form of archaeological research. My greater interest
clearly became following the Green Bay Packers, and later included the
Milwaukee Brewers. Grades in school fell steadily after the seventh grade. I
graduated in the class of Seventy five after finishing in summer school. Now
the question came. What was I going to do with my life? It was as though I
was thinking that things would begin to happen when the time came. As though
things would just sort of evolve. My life continued to degenerate further. I
soon became involved with people who spent most of their time either partying,
or preparing for one.
At the age of nineteen I was bar-hopping and began to smoke pot.
One afternoon I was over at the house of a party friend; and as we were
listening to the latest on the rock music scene, there was a knock at the door.
There was a young man at the door accompanied by his mother. My party friends
mother answered the door and let them into the house. He kindly greeted us. I
was soon to find that he had something to say about God. I was interested in
hearing him at the time to be sure. Jeff had a Bible with him and the best I
can remember, he was fielding questions from Mark W. and I. I was interested
in finding out more of what he had to say. He befriended me and would often
make arrangements to meet with me and talk with me about God.
At his church he presented me with a box of various Bibles and New Testaments.
He told me to choose one that I would like to read from. I remember choosing
the Amplified New Testament. The only other Bible that I had any awareness of
before this was the Catholic Bible that my parents kept in their bedroom.
Nowadays I read the King James version (kjv). After getting that New
Testament, I read through it in a few days. I was intensely interested in the
person of Jesus Christ. In his earthly ministry he was pure, undefiled,
humble, innocent,and loving. I know that there are many other gracious words
that could be used to point to his character. And it was obvious that he was
more than a man. Yes, what a man he was! A man's man. A perfect man. And he was
God! (1 Tim. 3:16) One evening, about the month of April in 1977, Jeff took me
to an evangelistic meeting in Zion Illinois. At the close of this meeting the
question was asked the people at the meeting. "If you were to die today, or
tomorrow, do you know that you would go to heaven?" !you are not sure, Please
raise your hand so that someone can help you." I realized that I simply was
not sure that I would go to heaven in the event I died. I raised my hand. Soon
afterwards, a man was explaining to me that I needed to call upon the name of
the Lord to be saved from my sin. Jesus had suffered and died in my place and
he was buried, and he rose again for my justification. I asked Jesus to come
into my heart and save me and I know that he did. "Therefore if any man be in
Christ, his a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things
are become new."
Now that I had received Jesus Christ as my Savior, I had a whole new life
to live and a purpose to live for. But the change in my life did not appear to
be a radical one. I was not drinking nearly as much and was staying at home
more often. I don't remember if staying home was due to wanting to stay home
or if it was because of my drivers license being suspended for six months,
starting around the month of April in '77. I had my stereo in my room and I
hadn't given up rock music; Not yet. I continued reading the Bible but not
consistently. As far as church attendance- I wasn't attending a church any
where. Jeff had been coming around with less frequency. He attended an
Assembly of God church at that time. I had been raised Catholic. My Dad no
longer required me to attend the mass by the time I had reached about 16 years
of age, and I took full advantage of the privilege to abstain from attending.
Even so, my emotional attachment was still with the system of religion that I
was raised under. There was something revolving in my mind that was notable for
that time. It was a sense of need to be busy doing something, and to be
responsible for providing for the basic material needs that I had.
What was I going to do now? I had lost my last job and I had no drivers
license. I had sold my car. Television was a big attraction for me. Sometimes I
didn't know what else to do with my time. Back then there was always a
commercial sponsored by the U.S. Navy with the slogan, " The Navy, It's Not
Just a Job, It's an Adventure." That may have given impetus to the idea of
going to the armed forces for work. When I walked into the recruiting station,
the first person that I met was the man that I bumped into in the hallway.
The navy recruiter. Shortly after this time I enlisted.
The day before I left for bootcamp in Orlando Florida, I attended mass. It was
the first time that I had been there for probably a year or more. Once in
bootcamp, I found that chapel services were held every Sunday; Catholic and
Protestant. I'm not sure that I knew what Protestant was. I continued to
attend the mass. After being in the Navy about half a year, it came to my
attention that the Protestant chaplain was holding a Bible study and all were
welcome to attend. I was persuaded to go since I didn't think that I could go
wrong by attending a study of the Bible (Gods Holy Word). Through these
meetings I met some former enlisted men who were involved in a ministry to
sailors and marines called the Navigators ministry. This was in Long Beach
California, where I was stationed for about a year while the ship that I was
assigned to was in dry-dock. These men operated a service-men's center in
town. I had the freedom to spend much of my free time with them and was helped
tremendously. It was as if I had found a pool of cool water after wandering in
the middle of a desert. They encouraged scripture memorization (the right
thing to meditate on) and helped me to see the evils of such things as rock
music more clearly. I also had the privilege to attend, along with these men,
the Bill Gothard seminar (Institute of Basic Youth Conflicts).
About December of "78, the USS Bagley was restationed in San Diego; About 100
miles south of Long Beach. On the weekends I would take the bus back to Long
Beach to have fellowship with my new found friends. They encouraged me to take
root in San Diego after a couple of months or so. I I looked through the phone
book for a church to attend in San Diego. I found a Baptist that I attended the
last 3 years of my enlistment.
The church of my choice did not have high standards that a Bible believing,
Christ honoring church ought to have. I never did think that the Christian
rock bands (so-called) were edifying for a blood bought, will-of-God-seeking,
sin hating child of God. One group of musicians began with the "Praise" type
songs and subtly progressed to "hard" rock. It was troubling to me. There
didn't seem to be anyone in the church who thought it should be stopped,
although there probably was.I don"t know that there weren't people leaving
because of a lack of standards, but it was a very big church and it wasn't
noticeable to me.
Today I am happy to say that I am serving God in a God-fearing,
Christ-honoring church, with real standards. I believe that my love for God
and my understanding of his dealings with me is due in a large part to the
ministry of Henry Stiller whom I've known for about 4 years now, and a preacher
that pastor Stiller has joined in the Lords work with, Pastor Williams. And
there are others that have been a real blessing to me. I don't want to mention
more names because I wouldn't want to leave one out. I'm thankful for all the
help I've gotten. There is another person though that I ought to acknowledge
and express a debt of gratitude. That is The Holy Spirit, whose operation is
always consistent with the revealed word of God. I also believe that I I
realize now more than I ever have before that no man is an island. No man is a
self-made man. If a man is going to amount to any thing for God, it is the
result of godly men that have fought and have gone before him, and for godly
men that have with him and beside him.
Testimonies of people changed by the power of God!
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