Personal Stories http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories Mon, 20 Nov 2017 13:39:43 +0000 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb Marie Hitchcock - St. Marys, Ontario, Canada http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/3729-marie-hitchcock-st-marys-ontario-canada http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/3729-marie-hitchcock-st-marys-ontario-canada

I am in happy fellowship with the St.Mary's Assembly in St.Mary's Ontario, and thought that I might forward my personal testimony, and wondered if it could be added to the list of other stories of God's saving grace!!


Because of Calvary,
Marie Hitchcock

This is my story!

I was born into an average home in Toronto with a very beautiful mother and a strikingly handsome father. Mom stayed at home, while my father worked as an actor in the theatre. My sister Kathleen is 9 years older, and my brother Joseph is 4 years younger.

Toronto was also the city where my maternal grandfather, a postal worker was brutally murdered, on July 14, 1946 and tossed into a ditch, left to die 40 hours later.

Although I never knew a mother’s love, affection, or touch in my 16 years with her, I respected her in a strange sort of way. I was clearly an unwanted child.

Dad left when I was about 4 years old to eventually marry a woman from the theatre. How it came about I do not know, but shortly thereafter we were moved to Nilestown, not far from London, to spend the next 11 fearful, abhorrent years with a step-father.

My earliest memories of that place are a two storey, older house with knee high grass, and no indoor facilities. An old dilapidated lean-to type garage housed the out-house that would soon become a very real place of fear and dread for me.

Memories of ; alcoholic adults engaging in sexual immoralities, regular house fights, smashing beer bottles whizzing overhead, and then being taken from our beds into the night to begin a hitchhiking venture, in order to escape, and finally arrive at a women’s shelter, mission services, or some unknown’s apartment, have left their scars.

Scenes of routine sexual assault still haunt me, that began at age 5 by my step-father.
Joseph, my brother listened, and at times saw enough to produce anger and rage over not being able to protect his sister, that to this day remains unsettled.

In my step-father’s perverted thinking, a night spent with mom, Joseph and I sitting outdoors, on lawnchairs, while he held a gun on us for the night, was but one of his corrupt tactics to prove he was morally debased.

Hunger, humiliation, embarrassment, and guilt were my closest companions.

In my confusion about adults, life and trust, God sent little things my way, in order to tell me that there is more to life, there is a God that does care and will intervene, if I could only trust.

A little United Church in our community was where God led me to be a part of the Nativity play one Christmas. It was there that I memorized; “For unto you is born this day in the City of David, a Saviour which is Christ the Lord”
Luke 2:11

My maternal grandmother, came to live with us, and what she saw and heard frightened her also. She would sit and have little chats with me, and sometimes we would go to the Catholic Church on special occasions together. It was there that I realized a man cannot forgive my sins that are against God.
“…who can forgive sins, but God only.”Mark 2:7

My step-father had a born again, Bible believing, praying mother that had proven the reality in knowing God. In an attempt to appease their conscience, after the night before, mom and my step-father would listen to aTV. or radio evangelist, and bit by bit, God was planting seeds in this heart of mine.

I was married at the age of 18, and 10 months later became a mom. I was overjoyed and loved to mother a child of my own. I needed a place to invest love that I had never known.

My husband of 36 years now, was an alcoholic. We married, and because his family seemed to provide the stability I longed for, I was a happy person…most times.

We would have 4 children of our own, and eventually also take on the care of two of my sisters children; one for 6 months and one for 3 years. At the close of 3 years, one of the social workers asked if we would consider becoming foster parents. I told her that I didn’t know what that was about, and she explained it to me. Twenty-five years later we would have fostered over 100 kids that I could name and remember. From those kids, we would adopt 4 special-needs kids. I loved the work, and I was respected in the system for the work that I did with the kids and the families, but it took its toll on me. In some ways working through the kids problems, with their various supports, helped me to begin the healing process from my own past. I found it very therapeutic.

Unfortunately there were problems in our marriage and house parties were common place. I did drink occasionally, but I preferred the feeling that goes with smoking pot. I would smoke it openly, and even purchase it and hide it in a tea pot for those times that I needed something to get me over a bad day.

Adultery would be one of the many sins that I had to come face to face with. When confronted with this, I was overwhelmed so much by the thought of my sin, my unfitness to be someone’s wife, or a child’s mother, that I decided to leave, and walk out into the unknown. My husband then came behind me in the car coaxing me to return home. I did so knowing that my mother-in-law was at the house, and would hopefully disown me, thereby justifying my reason to leave. She didn’t disown me, and that was more than I could stand. Why would I be forgiven?? It made no sense at all to me.

How Deep the Fathers Love

How deep the Father's love for us,
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure

How great the pain of searing loss,
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the chosen One,
Bring many sons to glory

Behold the Man upon a cross,
My sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed I hear my mocking voice,
Call out among the scoffers

It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished

I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection

Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom

On April 19,1988 I trusted Christ as my personal Saviour, after much opposition from evil forces,and while the Ultimate Samaritan has poured in oil and wine to heal those wounds,scars remain.

Three years ago I was operated on for a partially ruptured brain aneurysm as well as an artery repair deep in my brain. I have still got 2 more aneurysm’s in my brain that are monitored by MRI”s every 2 years. I know that God has given me a second chance at life and I intend to live it to His honour and glory!

I graduated from gr. 12 last year and this year I am graduating from 2 years at college as a “Certified Teacher’s Assistant”

God is able to make something good of something bad!

“And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it.”
Jeremiah 18:4

]]>
shadsluiter@gmail.com (Super User) Personal Stories Thu, 08 Jul 2010 14:34:40 +0000
Gary Sharp - Midland, Ontario http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/3717-gary-sharp-midland-ontario http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/3717-gary-sharp-midland-ontario

Gary Sharp Midland OntarioThis is my story. It happened to me. I do hope it brings blessing to you. You don’t need to experience my exact story, but you do need my Saviour.

You can also listen to Gary tell his story in audio mp3 format .

Born June 11th 1946 – an only son of parents who were from very different backgrounds. My dad had heard the gospel when he was younger.  My mother was a very unhappy person and disrupted the household with her tirades. I was in kindergarten about a  month when one day, after my father had left for work, mom pulled a suitcase out from under my bed. A taxi pulled up to the door. I was told that we were going away! I wanted to know why my daddy wasn’t coming. Mom refused to answer. We lived apart from my dad here and there, for about 9 months until dad obtained custody of me. Now I was taken away from my mother to Midland where my father’s sister lived. She was willing to take me in. I didn’t know what “Separation and Divorce” meant. I only knew it hurt. But thank God, He looked down on that hurting, confused, troubled little ‘almost 6’ year old and loved him.

My aunt’s utmost desire in taking me in was to see that my greatest need was met – God’s salvation! My aunt was in fellowship with the assembly in Midland, ON and I was taken to Sunday School. There I was required to learn verses. One of the first verses I learned presented a real quandary to me. I understood every word, nevertheless – “God is love” raised real questions in my mind. How could God be a God of Love and allow this to happen to me? How could these things happen to my family? And God looked down on that little boy who questioned His great love and loved him anyway.

In Sunday School, I was struck by a chorus – “There’s a home for little children – Above the bright blue sky – Where Jesus dwells in Glory – A home of peace and joy”. A desire began to grow within me for a Home like that! “No home on earth is like it – nor can with it compare” I knew that well enough! “For everyone is happy - Nor can be happier there”. I wanted a happy home! What about you, dear reader, do you have such a home ahead of you? Another song that meant something to me was one that I had learned in those first few days of kindergarten, when my teacher taught us a chorus, “God sees the little sparrow fall, It meets His tender view, If God so loves the little things, I know He loves me too!” What a reminder that God had noticed a ‘little sparrow’s’ plight and loved him so.

As I grew older, I became bitterly angry as I thought on it all. My bitterness and unhappiness grew as I proudly thought that it was all God’s fault. I loved my father’s visits and the times we spent together, fishing and other shared activities. Each weekend, after the gospel meeting and a snack together, my dad had to leave. I remember one departure which resulted in a torrent of tears. I raised my fist in the darkness towards God defying Him for what He had done to me. And God looked down on that resentful boy and loved him anyway.

During my early teens, my thoughts and actions revealed more evidently what I really was – a sinner and a rebel. It wasn’t simply  what I did that made me a sinner – that is what I was. In those years, I sought to find pleasure in so many things. Sadly I found nothing to fill the void within and to satisfy the longings inside. I’m not going to tell you what I did – the things I did are nothing to be proud of! However, God looked down on that willful and unsatisfied lad. He saw his frantic attempts to find happiness in a world that could not satisfy - and He loved him in spite of it all.

There were times of awakening, when I had refused to listen to the message that could bring peace – and God noticed. Such was His love and interest. He would not let me go on as I was. One night, while at my father’s home over the Christmas Holidays, I had a dream that was so real.  I dreamed that the Lord had come. It was all so very vivid. I woke up shaking. As I lay there awake I realized that if the Lord  really had come – I would have  been left behind. God was speaking to me, but in spite of such a vivid message, I went on as I was. Thank God – He kept  on loving me still!

My aunt found that as I developed and became more obstinate, she could do little with me. She simply  turned me over to God. Rest assured, dear reader, that God can handle anyone! In early November 1961 (I was 15-1/2 at the time), I had grown more desperate in my search for pleasure and found it all a great disappointment. One day I went for a walk to think things over. I walked down to the harbour which was  past the flour mill and grain elevator by the shore, over the train trestle, and then to the very farthest pier – as far from town as I could get. I was quite alone - or so I thought. My reflections had only reminded me of my emptiness. It was bitterly cold – the water and the sky were stormy and dark. I looked into the deep dark waters and thought  “I would gladly throw myself in, if only, all this misery would end.” And yet as I stood there thinking – it seemed as though God said,  “Gary Sharp, if you died today, you would drop right into Hell.” I did not want to go to Hell. As you read this just now – let me ask – do you want to go there? I remember clearly all the details of my walk to that pier, but I do not remember a thing about the way I went home. Why? Because God revealed to me the truth that if I had died that day, I WOULD HAVE DROPPED INTO HELL. God can speak even when we are determined not to listen. The thought of ETERNITY brought terror to my heart.  For I knew I was not ready for Eternity. God had been looking down – He knew all my thoughts – and He still loved me so much that He was willing to take unusual measures to speak to my soul.

I have another very vivid memory from those days. One evening as I was going to my room I passed by my aunt’s open door.. The shadow on the far wall showed her kneeling form. She was down on her knees praying. I knew within my heart who she was burdened about. Later she told me that she feared  that I was determined to go to Hell. Is someone praying for your soul, dear reader? Humble your heart and thank God that someone cares! A Gospel Series started about that time. I attended most meetings but skipped others. One thing I learned is that you cannot run from God! What no one knew was that I had acknowledged within myself  that what they were preaching was true  even if I didn’t like what I was hearing. My outward response told everyone that I could care less! But I read the tracts they gave me! I didn’t want God to stop speaking to me. I didn’t want to be lost forever. One night after several weeks of meetings, my aunt announced that the preachers were coming for supper. Rudely I replied, “Well, I won’t be here”. However, for some reason I came home. The preachers spoiled everything. My aunt made one of my favourite meals but it tasted like sawdust. One read from the Bible after supper – it seemed like Psalm 119 – I thought it would never end. Then the other one prayed. Finally I tried to escape to my room, but one doesn’t always get away so easily. One of the preachers spoke with me personally. I don’t remember a word he said, but what I do remember is that when he laid his hand of my shoulder. This kind gesture made me realize one important fact – this man cares for my soul. The next obvious conclusion came through loud and clear – It’s time I begin to care about my soul also! I had always thought that I could be saved anytime I really wanted to. But there I stood wanting it and realizing I was in the dark. I determined that, if there was salvation for Gary Sharp, I would get it that night.

I went to the gospel meeting and I listened as I hadn’t done for years. Surely the Lord would speak to me. The first preacher got up and there was nothing. “Surely the second one will have something for me, God must know I want to be saved.” But it was the same as with the first and when he was done, I was done too - done fighting – done questioning – and done delaying. Had I waited too long – had God had stopped speaking to me? While they were singing the last hymn – my aunt asked me if I would like to talk to the preachers. I said “Yes!” But “Why?”, you say. Because anything is better than going to Hell in your sins. I had discovered what my problem was – it was my self-will and my sin. I didn’t care what the others thought as they filed past me. I was going to Hell.

The preachers showed me some verses. The Scriptures revealed what Christ had done. It seemed too simple that HE had died for ME. “Can it be that simple.” It was then that a verse came to my mind that I had learned in the past. John 5:24 “Verily, verily” I knew what that meant – It is TRUE!  “I say unto you” – and I thought, He is speaking to me – and I knew He never lied, He never made mistakes, He is always true. “He that heareth My Word” - That was exactly what I was doing…. I was hearing what God said. “and believeth Him that sent ME” – I knew why God sent His Son and where and why – it was to die for me. “Hath everlasting life” – right then, right there – I had it! “and shall not come into condemnation” – O the wonder of it all – it was as simple as He said. His promise was as real to me as it is to any other.
That was December 7th 1961. I am ready. I have peace. I have His Word for it!


My father had come to know the Saviour through Isaiah 44.22 six months before my mother left him. It was 1987 before my mother and her husband were saved during a gospel series that John Slabaugh and I shared in Waubaushene, ON. She was 73 at the time. My half-sister Debbie was saved in 1998. The grace of God towards us is cause to give thanks to God forevermore.       - Gary N Sharp -

]]>
shadsluiter@gmail.com (Super User) Personal Stories Wed, 09 Dec 2009 19:04:43 +0000
Fernando Medina - Silver Springs, Maryland http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/3715-fernando-medina-silver-springs-maryland http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/3715-fernando-medina-silver-springs-maryland Fernando MedinaA simple drawing on a piece of paper unexpectedly changed the direction of my life.   

I was born and grew up in Mexico.  Every day after school, my job was to take care of some cows that my family owned.  On one occasion, I arrived home took the cows grazing along the side of the road.  There was usually was a lot of garbage, paper, plastic and even a few dead animals that people had thrown as they drove by.  When I sat down under a tree I noticed an old discolored paper.  

I was studying graphic arts in school so I was always looking for a reason to draw portraits and landscapes.  The paper was faded because of the rain and sun.  What I noticed was not what the paper said, but the drawing it had.  It was something that I could draw for my graphics art class.  I couldn’t read everything it said because the letters were so faded but the drawing was very clear.  The only thing I could read was “Free Bible Class” Emmaus Bible School and their address.

We were a very catholic family. I was born the seventh of eight children.  It was a strict practice to always go to mass which I liked very much because I started playing the guitar in the church with the chorus.  Once in a while I was allowed to collect the offering.  I felt really good because of the confidence that the priest showed in me.  Once in a while, the priest would take me for a ride in his car to visit a few of my friends in Zamora.  It was then I was able to ask a few questions to the priest.  He had difficulty answering questions such as “Is there life after death?”Faded Paper Jesus on the cross

I wrote to the Emmaus Bible School address that was printed on the paper and received a free Bible, a study guide and a final exam.  The gospel of John was the part of the study that made me realize that there is life after death and that there is a real Hell.  Now I finally had the answers to the questions that my priest was not able to answer well.

Later another day when I was doing my homework I couldn’t concentrate very well.  The thought came to my mind that Christ paid for my sins.  I knew that he died for sinners, and that included me.  While lying in my bed, I put my notebooks to one side and closed my eyes.  I thanked my Lord for having paid for my sins.  I never did draw the picture on the paper but I was saved!

I was the only Christian in my world of Catholic friends.  They thought I was crazy.  They ignored me in their conversations.  I stopped going to the mass.  I found a charismatic Christian church where I was baptized.  However, all the yelling, crying and jumping around at the church services made me very uncomfortable.  

It wasn’t until 1991 when I met two men named David Alves and Paul Thiessen, who like Pricilla and Aquila (Acts 18) taught me the doctrines of the Bible more clearly.

Now I am married to Guillermina who also was saved sometime later.  I have three children: Ferdinando (9) Emmanuel (12) y Fernando (15) who also is saved.

]]>
shadsluiter@gmail.com (Super User) Personal Stories Wed, 09 Dec 2009 16:25:59 +0000
Joan Finn - Prairie du Chein, Wisconsin http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/3712-joan-finn-prairie-du-chein-wisconsin http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/3712-joan-finn-prairie-du-chein-wisconsin

Joan Finn - Prairie du Chein, Wisconsin

A day of Salvation - June 19, 1956

My parents were born again Christians and daily read the Bible and prayed with we five children. I always knew from their Bible teaching that if I wanted to be in heaven, I would have to be saved. At age nine I started to seriously consider God’s way of salvation. Although I was as some would say, a “good girl”, I knew my sins of lying, stealing from Dad’s money box, and wanting what others had. I did not want to go to hell and my sins were taking me there.

In the summer of 1955 Mr. George Baldwin and Mr. Albert Klubunda held a series of gospel meetings at the Garnavillo (Iowa) Gospel Hall. We lived across the street from the hall so I walked to meeting every night with my family. It was a very, very hot summer and no air conditioning. All I could think about was how much hotter hell must be, but I did not get saved.

For the next twelve months my number one priority was, “I want to be born again and have peace from my sins”. The following June 1956 Mr. Lorne McBain and Mr. Harry McCready held another series of gospel meetings in the Garnavillo Gospel Hall. Again, I wanted to be saved. Each night after meeting I read the gospel tracts that the preachers gave me and looked up the scripture references in the Bible. I was taking swimming lessons, but was afraid to go for fear I would drown and  be in hell.

My identical twin sister, Jean, had not been troubled about her sins as I had been for over a year. She was saved June 10, 1956 after three days of searching. That made me angry and upset to think that she could  be saved so easily when I had tried so long. For nine days many said that they could tell us apart. Jean was very happy and Joan was very sad.

On the Monday night of the last week of meetings the preachers announced that Wednesday would be the end of the gospel series. I went home that Monday night from meeting feeling lost and helpless and said to myself, “I guess I will have to go to hell. I just can’t get saved.” After I had gone to bed the doorbell rang. Mr. McBain and Mr. McCready asked if they could talk to me. While Mr. McBain was  reading some Bible verses to me, I was thinking, “Why did Christ die on the cross anyway?” And just at that moment I realized, “Why he died for my sins!” Then Mr. McBain read John 5:24–“Verily, verily I say unto you; he that heareth my word and believeth on him that sent me, hath everylasting life; and shall not come into condemnation, but is passed from death unto life.” I asked Mr. McBain, “Am I saved?” He said, “What does the verse say?” I said, “Hath means I have it! I’m saved!” That was June 19, 1956 at 10:10 p.m. I was so happy because my load of sin was gone. If I drown, I would be in heaven. Now both Jean and I were saved and very few could tell us apart again.     


 


]]>
shadsluiter@gmail.com (Super User) Personal Stories Sat, 05 Dec 2009 17:34:58 +0000
Karen Hoy - Vancouver, British Columbia http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/3710-karen-hoy-vancouver-british-columbia http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/3710-karen-hoy-vancouver-british-columbia

Karen Hoy - Vancouver, British Columbia

Karen HoyI started Sunday School in September 1980 at age 6 at the Victoria Drive Gospel Hall, Vancouver, BC.  I remember Jim Frith picking me up every Sunday and driving me to church.  I attended Sunday School at Victoria Drive for almost eleven years.  In 1991, at grade eleven I decided not to attend Sunday School anymore because of the heavy work load in high school, and later in college.  However, I always knew in my mind that there was a God and this why I would continually pray to Him.

Even when I got married I knew that God has led me on this path.  It was not until I had Karina and Ryan that I really started to think of going back to Victoria Drive.  I knew how important it was for our children to grow up, to go to Sunday School, and most importantly to learn about the Lord Jesus Christ.

However, I always had some sort of excuse not to take the kids to Sunday School.  It wasn't until we found a house that was close to the Victoria Drive Gospel Hall that my conscience started to make me feel really guilty inside.  Although I felt very fortunate to be able to purchase the house, deep, down inside I really believed that God's purpose and plan was for us to attend this Victoria Drive Gospel Hall.

On Sundays when my husband, Hoy, was with his friends playing sports, I finally decided in the summer of 2005, after being absent for 14 years to take the 2 kids to "Rally Sunday", the start of another Sunday school year.  As the cold and rainy weather started to approach us, my husband had no more excuses not to drive us to Sunday School and since he was there, he decided to attend the teenage class upstairs as well.  From that day forward, our life has changed for the better.  Every Sunday we would go to church as a family, even in the summer because Hoy had decided that it was more important to go to church than to play sports.

I attended Barb Frith's class (by then her first husband, Jim Frith, had passed away) and I remember her telling each one of us how she trusted the Lord and was saved through that most well known verse, John 3:16. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life."  I never really thought about getting "saved" until David Alves Jr. invited our family to a meeting at Nanaimo Gospel Hall.  In March of 2006, both Hoy and I, along with our 2 kids were attending the gospel meetings being held at Nanaimo Road. There we met David R. Alves Sr. who came all the way from Puerto Vallarta, Mexico for this series of special meeting.  One thing I really remembered that helped me answer the questions I had was staying behind and talking to David Alves after the meetings. I specifically remembered on numerous occasions that he would tell me to read in certain chapters of Romans. (ie. Romans 3:23, Romans 6:23, Romans 10:9 & 13)

On Sunday, March 19, 2006 at around 6:30pm, just before a gospel dinner at Victoria Drive Gospel Hall was to begin downstairs David made it even more clear to us when he took out his little chart which showed the two roads in life.  He asked Hoy and myself which road we were on right now. We both agreed we were on the Broadway which leads to Hell and the Lake of Fire.  After some discussion and many questions and answers which David Alves helped us to clarify, I realized that I have now entered onto the Narrow road which leads to Heaven.  As that verse in Romans chapter 3:23 which tells us that we were born into this world as sinners. I realized for the first time that I was a sinner before God because it says, "For ALL have sinned, and come short of the glory of God".  And Romans chapter 10:9 & 13 shows us how we can be saved. "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus and shalt believe in Thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved."  I finally realized that it was this simple. That by putting my trust and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and believing that his death on Calvary was for my sins that I was now saved.

Both Hoy and I were saved literally a few minutes apart and we both showed our obedience to God in baptism in May 2006.  On July 16th, 2006 we were both received into fellowship.

]]>
shadsluiter@gmail.com (Super User) Personal Stories Sat, 05 Dec 2009 17:19:58 +0000
Rosa and Jesus - Hermosillo, Mexico http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/3046-rosa-and-jesus-hermosillo-mexico http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/3046-rosa-and-jesus-hermosillo-mexico Rosa and Jesus“Rosa,” I asked this lady on a hot summer afternoon, “do you mind telling me again how you found peace in Christ and the assurance of eternal life?” That was enough to bring a big smile to her face and a sparkle to her eyes. Nothing gives her more joy than sharing her story of salvation.

I met Rosa four years ago, before she was saved. It was the last Bible class of the year at Centro Evangélico Tirocapes, in the southern part of Hermosillo, where John and Michelle Dennison started a gospel outreach at the end of 2005. Even though it was Christmas Eve and there were special gifts for the children and a meal after the Bible lesson, she seemed to be carrying the world on her shoulders. Rosa was in a desperate search for peace. I will let her tell you her own story.

“I grew up always being sick and fearful of dying. When I asked my mother where people went after they died, her answer frightened me. She told me that their souls went to a place where they had to suffer for their sins and after God thought they had suffered enough and paid for their sins, He would let them enter into His heaven. I thought to myself, ‘I’m tired of suffering. There must be another way to get to heaven.’

When I got older, I tried different religions, but none of them offered me true peace or the assurance of eternal life. I got tired of searching, thinking that maybe that was all there was, and that I’d have to suffer in this life and after death.

One day we received an invitation to a Bible class for children in a place very close to our house. My children wanted to go, especially Jesús, my youngest boy. I let him go thinking it wouldn’t hurt him to know more about the Bible. Jesús came home very happy after the first class and told me about it. He said they sang some songs, and a man told them a story from the Bible, and the best part was that the teacher would give a prize to anyone who brought someone to the next class. ‘Mom, could you please come with me the next time so I can get a prize?’ he begged. I told him I would, and he didn’t forget. He actually pulled me along to the meeting. I thought, ‘Maybe I can slip out when he gets distracted.’ However, when I heard what they were singing, I couldn’t leave. The song was about Jonah not wanting to pay attention to the word of God. ‘That’s me,’ I thought, ‘I cannot find peace because I am not paying attention to God.’ So I stayed. And I paid attention.

I continued to attend the children’s meetings every time I could, and later on, I went to the gospel meetings. It didn’t matter how much attention I paid to the lessons or the preaching, I couldn’t understand how to get saved. One night that I will never forget, we sang, ‘Jesus died for me.’ That was it! That was the part I was missing. I was trying to be saved, but Jesus had done ALL on the cross for me. I didn’t have to do anything, He had died for me!

A seed planted with a children’s song, and watered with a hymn, gave fruit when I understood God’s wonderful plan of salvation for me.

I’m so glad that I am saved and have eternal peace with God through Christ, but I am also very thankful for that Bible teacher who didn’t underestimate the importance of little details. His creativity in encouraging the children to bring friends to the Bible class brought me under the sound of the gospel, the good news that I eventually understood and that led me to salvation.”

- Story submitted by Eleonor Alves Mosquera, Hermosillo, MX who adds, “Rosa was so happy when I told her that you would like to have her story to encourage Sunday School teachers in their efforts to share the gospel with children.”]]>
shadsluiter@gmail.com (Super User) Personal Stories Tue, 03 Nov 2009 19:07:50 +0000
Emily McCandless - Santa Ana, El Salvador http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/2167-emily-mccandless-santa-ana-el-salvador http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/2167-emily-mccandless-santa-ana-el-salvador

Emily McCandlessWhat is the purpose of life?  Do you ever ask yourself that question?

The alarm clock wakes you up far too early; when you finally scramble out of bed, calculating the remaining minutes to get ready for work or school, you run into the kitchen still fixing your hair, grab your lunch from the refrigerator, and maybe you have a chance to take a piece of toast with you. Then you rush out the door breathless.  Your mind is fully occupied throughout the day.  You come home and gobble down supper because you have an appointment in the evening, a meeting with the club you are affiliated with, or you have to study.  You are so exhausted by the time your body makes contact with the mattress that you don’t have the energy to reflect on the day.  And you are about to go through the same process again in a few short hours.  “So,” you ask yourself, “what is life all about?”  The Bible tells us, “For what is your life?  It is even a vapour that appears for a little time and then vanishes away” (James chapter 4: verse 14).

My Childhood

I am the second of five children.  I grew up in a home where I felt protected and didn’t doubt that I was loved.  We lived out in the country, where we experienced the freedom to run and play.  Attending Sunday school and other weekly church services, as well as reading a few verses from the Bible as a family each night at the supper table, were routine in my childhood.  I enjoyed learning the Bible stories in Sunday school, but I didn’t necessarily look forward to the Sunday night gospel service because it made me feel uncomfortable. The speaker would show from the Bible that, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans chapter 3: verse 23).  However, the love of God was always included in the message through verses similar to Romans chapter 5: verse 8 “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  Often, I would try to share the message with my friends at school, but the problem was that I hadn’t accepted the message for myself.
We lived about 5 km from a small fishing village where we went to school.  In Grade 3, my parents decided with some friends to have a Kid’s Bible Hour once a week in the town hall.  Despite hearing about my sin and God’s cure for sin, I continued thinking that I was just a kid and my sins weren’t really that bad.  However, when I was about 8 years old, my great-grandfather died.  As I stood looking at him in the casket, I realized that he was in heaven but I was still not ready to meet God.  That bothered me briefly and then I forgot about it.  I “tried” on my own to stop sinning, but it didn’t work.

One Step from Death

The school bus was rolling to a stop to drop my two sisters and I off at the crossroads near our house one fall afternoon.  We were standing on the stairs, and the youngest of us three girls was about to step off, when the bus driver slammed the door shut on her legs, sending us all crashing backwards on top of each other.  The bus driver had seen in time what we hadn't; a neighbour farmer hadn't realized the bus was stopping, so to avoid crashing his pick-up into the back of the bus, he made a dash for the shoulder and the ditch, coming up at a good speed right along the side of the bus where we were stepping out.  The truck hit a culvert right beside the bus door. The shock was terrible as the man climbed out of his truck with blood running down his face, in his beard, and on his hands.  We went home in tears realizing what could have happened to us. God was reminding me that I was a step away from death.

Fear of Not Being Ready

Sunday night, September 11th, 1988, while coming home in the station wagon from the evening service, I managed to hear my parent’s conversation in the front seat.  Apparently in the local paper there were dates predicting the return of the Lord Jesus for the Christians (those who already had their sins forgiven).  My parents had always taught us that the Bible said that the Lord Jesus would come when least expected and that not even the angels know the date.  I was scared!  So, I asked them if it was true.  They assured me that the Son of Man (Jesus) is coming at an hour you do not expect (Luke chapter 12: verse 40).  However, it was enough to make me more serious about preparing to meet God.  I was 12 years-old and still thought that there were others that were worse sinners than me, but I didn’t want to be left on earth when Jesus returned for my parents and my older sister who had their sins forgiven and were ready to meet God.  That night I stayed up late reading verses in my Bible and pamphlets about God’s free gift of salvation, but I was still trying to do something so that God would say, “Good job!  You can come to heaven because you have earned it.”
I finally fell asleep, having tried many times to work to get to heaven.  I was usually an early-riser, but, strangely, the next day I slept in.  I found my mom brushing my sister Jeanette’s hair (the third child), who was three years younger than me.  Jeanette had a big smile and told me that the night before she had accepted God’s gift of the forgiveness of her sins.  My face lit up, and I said, “You did?”  Then I burst into tears; she had gotten what I had been trying to get.  She was ready and I wasn’t.  “What if the Lord Jesus were to come today?” I thought, “She would go too!”

Finally Finding Purpose in My Life

That day, I didn’t go to school but instead read my Bible.  Around 11 a.m. I read the last part of Romans chapter 5: verse 6 “Christ died for the ungodly”.  For the first time in my life I saw myself as the ungodly sinner, only good enough to suffer in the Lake of Fire forever for my own sins.  I got down on my knees and begged God to forgive me for my wicked sins and I thanked Him for sending Jesus to pay the bill for my sins with His blood.
It was amazing to no longer feel burdened about my sins.  The next day when I returned to school, my grade 7 teacher asked me if I felt better (He thought that I was sick the day before.).  He didn’t know how much better I really felt!  Jeanette and I spent weeks praising God, singing and writing new songs.  We both had a joy that we hadn’t had before.

Do You Want the Peace I Now Enjoy?

God is waiting for you too.  He wants to give you the peace and purpose that I have found.  Will you ask Him to forgive you for your sins from the past, present and the future, and enjoy a new life with purpose?
The Bible says, “And the one that comes to Me I will by no means cast out (John chapter 6: verse 37).

Emily McCandless
Apartado 91, Santa Ana, El Salvador
emily@saved.com

]]>
shadsluiter@gmail.com (Super User) Personal Stories Wed, 19 Nov 2008 20:44:54 +0000
Elizabeth Stickfort - Stout, Iowa http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/2111-elizabeth-stickfort-stout-iowa http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/2111-elizabeth-stickfort-stout-iowa

Elizabeth StickfortMy parents were the strongest influence in my life with regard to becoming a Christian. God was the center of  my family’s life growing up, with consistent morning and evening family devotions and regular attendance at  assembly meetings, which seemed as natural a part of our lives as breathing. I didn’t balk at going to meetings  since my friends would be there, and I looked forward to seeing them.

For years, in family devotions, our family usually read the Proverbs in the morning, and sometimes I thought  with irritation that my parents read the parts which applied to me with extra emphasis, which they didn’t, of  course. The Proverbs, easy enough for a child to understand, convicted me.

When I was about 11, two men who preach the gospel, Art Ward and Robert Surgenor, came to Omaha and held gospel meetings. It was then  that I started paying serious attention—like someone jolted awake. I couldn’t fall asleep most nights after  meeting—trying with all my might and main to believe and scared that the Lord would come at any moment.  Several nights I sat by my parents’ door listening to their breathing. Sometimes I woke them up and asked them  to show me how to be saved. My dad read Scriptures and prayed with me, but I couldn’t understand anything.  Yet, I felt pressured, even pestered when the preachers talked to me at the door about salvation. Sometimes I  would try to slip by unseen after the meeting out another door. Finally, to get them “off my back”, I told the  preachers I had gotten saved through “it is finished” ( not sure where that came from, but it seemed to satisfy  those who had been asking me if I was thinking about getting saved).

But, I wasn’t saved. One day I thought the Lord had come when my mom forgot to pick me up from my piano lesson. I sat on the curb waiting and waiting, feeling panicky and crying, wondering how I would survive in The Great Tribulation. Finally, I used the piano teacher’s phone to call home and was so relieved to hear my sister Martha answer. The Lord hadn’t come after all.

Around ages 12-13, I started to wonder if there was a God and if what my parents had taught me was true, as  any person in the world could have good, sincere intentions and still believe something that wasn’t true.  Believing something handed down to me from my parents wasn’t satisfactory. I had to know for sure for myself.  A time or two, I asked my dad how he knew there was a God. He showed me Psalm 19 “The heavens declare the  glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork…there is no speech nor language where their voice is  not heard….” He told me to look at Creation and think carefully where it all came from--all this beauty, the  precision of the seasons, the earth suspended in the vastness of space, the stars, humans being fearfully and  wonderfully made, man’s conscience telling him what is right and wrong, etc. Was not Creation, right under our  noses, evidence enough? Did it not tell, no, shout, the existence of God as in Psalm 19?

My dad started mission work in Russia in 1990 and took me to Russia with him several times, and I saw for  myself a country whose primary “religion” for over 70 years had been atheism. I saw rampant alcoholism,  despair, hopelessness, which were not purely out of economic hardship, but also spiritual emptiness. If there is  no God, then life is meaningless, you live (for what?) and die like a dog, end of story. I saw firsthand that  atheism is both bleak and dangerous—a step towards despair and also great wickedness, as there is no fixed  point of reference—no reliable source to say what is right or wrong. I remember hearing my father quote “The  fool hath said in his heart, ‘there is no God’” several times. It was interesting to realize that a person can be an  intellectual or even a genius—and still be a fool. Yet, the simplest man can be counted as wise—trusting in the  Lord like a child. What finally convinced me of the existence of God was the wisdom of Scriptures I heard and  read in family devotions and in meetings. The Scriptures struck me how they were always so precisely on the  mark, and I became convinced of theabsolute reliability of Scripture, which meant that I must conclude that  God does indeed exist, which also meant I was accountable to Him and could not do whatever sin I pleased and  get away with it. Truth be told, knowing this felt confining. I did not realize that the truth sets you free.
 
 My great difficulty was the transition from knowing the gospel message all my life--to believing it. I heard the  gospel countless times, many stirring messages that would inspire me to determine to get right down to  business about salvation, but there was always some distraction. Then, in 1994, one month before my 14th  birthday, Roy Weber of Stout, Iowa was preaching the gospel in Omaha and quoted Romans 5:6 “For when we  were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly”. Tired of struggling, trying to think, trying to  believe, when he quoted that verse, it was then I realized simply that Christ suffered for me personally. Every  last drop of God’s righteous wrath for my sins was poured out on Christ. God wanted me to be reconciled to  Him, and He has completely taken care of ALL of it. If He loves me that much, how could I, or why would I resist  His love?

Knowing that one day I will see and be with the Lord--who I now see by faith--energizes me, gives my life  purpose, and definitely makes it worth living. “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Philippians 1:21
Elizabeth Stickfort
Stout, IA
 
 

]]>
shadsluiter@gmail.com (Super User) Personal Stories Thu, 02 Oct 2008 05:00:45 +0000
Bryan Joyce - Toronto, Ontario, Canada http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/2075-bryan-joyce-toronto-ontario-canada http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/2075-bryan-joyce-toronto-ontario-canada

Bryan JoyceBryan Joyce’s Story:

In the early 1950’s Bert and Emily Joyce had moved from the Toronto Ontario to Newfoundland and Labrador to spread the message of God’s love to this area of world.  With the lack of good roads the gospel was brought to many villages by boat and small aircraft.  It was in the small Labrador fishing town of Red Bay, that Bryan, Bert and Emily’s sixth child was born.

As a child I enjoyed life.  Summer was a time for fishing trips, games and berry picking, while winter with all of its snow offered endless fun.  The one thing that stands out in my mind as a boy was the importance given to the Word of God.  It was a daily practice in our home for the family to sit around the table to read the Word of God and pray.  My parents realized the value of eternal things and instilled the truth and principles of God’s Word into our minds.

In 1973 we moved to Corner Brook a small city of 25,000 on the west coast of Newfoundland and as a boy of seven I easily fit into the new environment.   As I grew older the reality of my spiritual need before God began to bother me more and more.  I knew from the Bible that I was a sinner and I also knew I could not change the condition of my heart myself.  It was on the 27th day of June, 1981, with my mother at my side, after a long ordeal of struggling that I accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as my Saviour and Lord while reading in 1 John1:7, “The blood of Jesus Christ His son cleanseth us from all sin.”  I found out that night that when Jesus died, He was dying for my sin.  My acceptance of Jesus by faith brought me into the knowledge of sins all forgiven.  Not long after my salvation I obeyed the Biblical teaching of water baptism and formed a part of a local Bible believing church that gathered in New Testament simplicity. 

Cornerbrook Newfoundland 

I graduated from high school in 1985 with an interest in the field of electronics.  Hearing of a good program I moved to Toronto with and was accepted at RCC Radio College of Canada.  I finished with both Engineering Technician and Technology degrees and soon after started working with Northern Telecom designing and testing communication equipment.  Being low on the seniority list I was laid off with the Bell Canada strike of 1989 and returned home to Newfoundland to seek employment. 

I took the months following to get my private pilot’s license and then got employment with the Newfoundland Telephone Company.  In 1992 the greatest thing apart from salvation happened when I married my Rachel, a girl from Augusta Maine, USA.  We both had a deep care for the need of others to hear the gospel, and so after seven years of secular work, I left to preach the good news of the Bible.  In 2004 we moved to Toronto to help in the spread of the gospel among the Chinese immigrants in Scarborough.  A small church has been formed in this area and the gospel continues to reach into the lives of many.  Presently we live in Oakridge’s Ontario with our family of four children and continue with God’s help to share the Good News of God’s salvation.

For more history about Gospel work in Newfoundland, see the autobiography of George Campbell.

]]>
shadsluiter@gmail.com (Super User) Personal Stories Mon, 31 Mar 2008 22:09:33 +0000
Bonnie Sharp - Ontario, Canada http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/2074-bonnie-sharp-ontario-canada http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/2074-bonnie-sharp-ontario-canada

Bonnie Sharp Midland OntarioFrom my earliest memories, I wanted nothing more than to know I was saved and on my way to Heaven.  I heard many people talking about the joy of salvation and their longing to be with the Lord Jesus, the One who loved them and died for them.  I listened to discussions about how soon the Lord Jesus was coming back to take Home all those who had trusted Him.  That made my very being recoil with fear.  I didn’t want to be left behind to face the judgement of God and then to face an eternity in Hell and the Lake of Fire.

My parents prayed for me and many times I saw them on their knees.  They were faithful in reading us the scriptures in our home and we learned many gospel verses in the Bible.  I had no doubt that I was a sinner.

Once when my little brother was five, he and I sat in my older brother’s room listening to him explain the way of salvation.  My brother was saved that night and not wanting to miss out, I said I was saved too.  I knew in my heart I wasn’t, but for a few years I tried to pass myself off as a Christian.  I tried reading my Bible, but it was all a lie, to make others think I was saved.

One night as we were getting ready for bed, my sister said to me ‘I don’t think you are really saved at all.’  I knew she was right and I desperately wanted to be saved for real.  ‘Believing’ was a problem for me!  I tried so hard to ‘believe’ and even looked words up in the dictionary to see if I really knew what they meant.  I was forgetting it was the Saviour that does the saving, not my ‘believing’.  I got into bed that night and while I was lying there, a verse came into my mind.  I had learned it when I was little and knew it well.  ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.’  Acts 16:32.   I just took God at His Word.  He does not lie!  I took it for myself that Jesus came into the world – and that He went to a cross and took the punishment that I deserved and died to take away my sin.  I trusted Him as my Saviour. 

I could not live without Him today.  He comforts me when I am sad, He helps me when I am troubled.  The best part is yet to come!  He is coming back for me to take me to Heaven for all eternity.

Bonnie lives in Ontario, Canada, with her husband Gary who writes the newsletter The Encourager on this site.

]]>
shadsluiter@gmail.com (Super User) Personal Stories Thu, 27 Mar 2008 20:54:06 +0000
Avrell Bowden - Manatoba, Canada http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/2072-avrell-bowden-manatoba-canada http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/2072-avrell-bowden-manatoba-canada Avrell Bowden“If I die tonight, where will I be? Heaven or Hell?”   

the personal story of Avrell Bowden

 

People make commitments to God an confessions of faith that sometimes have no reality.  At age 6 I made a false profession of salvation. That is, I told people I was saved.  I knew all the correct Bible answers in my head about the matte:  “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16). Since I knew God cannot lie and that was the only way to heaven, I decided that must mean I believe and therefore am saved. I started telling my relatives that I was saved, but shortly after begin to doubt if it truly was a real event for me.  I figured if I told more people then maybe the doubts would go away.  But I just felt guilty for lying to everyone about my spiritual condition. Next I tried really hard to sort out the matter but I had a mental block.  I thought to myself, “maybe the reason why I can't get saved is because that I already am saved.” That became my last thoughts every night before I went into a fitfull sleep.  By age 10, June 30, 1994 my parents faithfully brought me to gospel meetings in a nearby town. One night the spearker told us to get a piece of paper and pencil and write  “If I die tonight, where will I be? Heaven or Hell?”   We were supposed to take the paper home and answer it in private before going to sleep.  That night being very troubled I wrote out the sentence and drew a circle in the middle. I refused to circle hell and knew I wasn't going to heaven. My parents pointed out to me what I already knew—I had to choose one.  Just then a movie I had seen came to mind. An animal is unable to be free because around him is a net, evil men and a huge barrier of rocks. A boy he had come to trust, came and stood out on the rocks. The boy made a motion with his hand that to the animal meant jump.  Because he trusted the boy the lion jumped over the barrier of rocks and was free.  I saw myself as being caught in sin with the world, Satan and death closing in on me.  I had no where to flee as there was a huge barrier between God and I. But thankfully Jesus Christ came and bridged that barrier by dying on the cross for all my sin. To be free of my sin and all that was ensnaring me I had to simply trust Christ's Word to me - COME -. In coming not only was I free from sin but now I was free to LIVE.  I was always terrified to die but now I knew I'd live eternally with My God. I distinctly remember the time and circumstances of that night.  I was sitting on my bed between 10:30pm and 11:00pm when God saved me! Because I had struggled with doubts about salvation for 4 years, Satan wasted no time placing a new doubt in my mind.  ''How do you know you are saved? This might just be another false profession. You will never know for sure if you are saved!''  But now the Holy Spirit was within me and placed a verse to the forefront of my mind for reassurance.  ''That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth and believe with thine HEART that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou SHALT BE SAVED'' Roman 10:9  There is no room for doubt in those last 3 words.  Also, I knew that I was no longer just believing with my head but now my heart! It is said that the longest and hardest journey is often from the head to the heart.  My dad came down to my room and asked me if I had thanked God yet? I happily replied that I hadn't stopped thanking Him yet!Much has happened in my life since that time but despite my worst of sins I’ve been able to rest knowing that each one of them- past, present and future are all taken care of. This doesn’t give me liberty to sin but it does give me liberty to do whatever I want. The catch is this-- His wants and desires have become my wants and desires. Before He saved me I had no power to do what He wanted, now with the Holy Spirit living within me, He creates the desire and power to be free to do whatever He wants!  You can make yourself miserable by trying to be a better person. Without God it is impossible.  Any good a sinner tries to do God sees as tainted with their sin.   I would like you to know My Savior and My God in the same way. He is merciful and never leaves any sin unforgiven. Though he is merciful there will come a moment when your opportunity to come to Him will end.  I ask you to write on a piece of paper – “If I die tonight, where will I be? Heaven or hell?” Circle one.  I pray that before the end of the day, heaven will be circled, underlined and highlighted!]]>
shadsluiter@gmail.com (Super User) Personal Stories Thu, 20 Mar 2008 05:34:45 +0000
Brian Crawford - Ontario, Canada http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/2071-brian-crawford-ontario-canada http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/2071-brian-crawford-ontario-canada

Brian CrawfordGod’s Voice in Car Crash
Personal story of Brian Crawford

“Come on boys, hurry up, we’re going to be late!”
I raced out of the house to jump into the big old Pontiac Strato Chief so that I would be able to ride “shot gun”. It was the summer of 1965 and we were on our way from the small town of Mindemoya on Manitoulin Island in Ontario, Canada to South Bay Mouth where we were going to pick up my grandparents who were coming to meet us on the ferry boat. My three brothers and I settled in for the forty minute cross country drive using a few back roads to try to make up some time. While traveling down one of these gravel roads the car hit a series of pot holes that caused the back end to fishtail. My mother hit the brakes and being pre-ABS days the wheels locked up and put us into a skid. Mother fought for control as the careened from one side of the narrow road to the other. Miraculously, she avoided plunging over the side of the road into a deep creek.  Finally, the loose gravel dragged the car down into a deep ditch and with a sickening tumble a large boulder stopped us with the wheels pointing skyward. Although I was only not quite eight years of age, my short life flashed in front of my eyes.  This experience would lead me to a spiritual awakening beyond my years.

I was born in the city of Sudbury Ontario in 1958, the same year my father was transferred from the south of the province with the Provincial Police. I can honestly say that I don’t ever remember NOT being taken along to church meetings with my 3 brothers. Whether it was Sunday School, bible readings, ministry meetings or gospel meetings, nothing short of a debilitating, sick in bed type of illness would allow me to stay home. It was in this type of environment that I learned what the word of God had to say about the human race and most importantly, me. I learned many verses from the bible that taught me that I was a sinner “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23), the consequences of sin “The wages of sin is death”, (Romans 6:23) the result of dying in my sins “Jesus said, if you die in your sins, where I am you cannot come (John 8:21). With the bible very clear that there are only two destinations for the soul after death, I knew that if I didn’t end up in heaven, I would be lost in that terrible place called hell! Yet most importantly, in the midst of all this warning we were also taught of a Saviour who loved us. Even though we deserved the judgment of God for our sins, “God so loved the world that he gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not PERISH but have everlasting life” (John 3:16) In spite of all this privilege and knowledge, I was as dark as the person who had never heard it before. Instead of acknowledging my need and trusting Christ as my Saviour, in my mind I didn’t really think I was all that bad and if Jesus loved me so much, He would never send me to hell. How wrong I was! Just further affirmation of the truth of the Bible, “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9)

It wasn’t until 1964, when my father got transferred to Mindemoya that I found out how big of a sinner I was. A particular event took place which burst the bubble of my good reputation that folks had of me, thinking that I was the policeman’s nice little boy. By the time my personal shame and pain had passed, I realized that God was absolutely right about me. Not only was I a sinner, but also if I died that way I would end up in hell. That is heavy stuff for a seven year old but God was speaking to me and didn’t want me to miss His salvation.

It was with this knowledge that I remember hanging on for dear life in the pre-seat belt interior of the car. When things stopped moving, as you can well imagine, I was very disoriented having crashed around in the interior of the car. As I tried to focus on my surroundings, between what I thought was smoke and the crying I heard, I thought for sure that I had died and “IN HELL I HAD LIFTED UP EYES IN TORMENTS.” For a very short time I had imagined that I had missed Gods salvation forever. Thankfully and by the grace of God, what I had thought to be smoke was actually only the dust from the gravel road that had filled the car and the crying was from my youngest brother who had been thrown from his car seat and had split his nose open on the rear view mirror. With the car resting on its roof, we were all able to crawl out of one of the side windows and made our way back up to the roadway. When we turned and looked back down at the car, one of the rear wheels was still turning. What had happened in slow motion had actually transpired in less than a minute but the consequences could have been eternal. God had spoken to me loud and clear and although it would still be another 6 years before I trusted Christ as my Saviour, I had been awaken to the fact of the suddenness in which I could go out to meet God.

God was gracious and continued to work in my conscience but I continued to find excuse after excuse why I didn’t need His salvation right now. May 1971 found the Christians at the little Gospel Hall in Sudbury planning a series of nightly meetings to preach about mans ruin and God’s remedy. Of course, like it or not, I would be obliged to attend.

Two veteran evangelists came along and faithfully preached the gospel for four weeks straight. At first it was more than a minor inconvience to me as it was seriously cutting into my social life. Thankfully, as the meetings continued on, God started working with me again and I became concerned about my sin and where it was taking me. As the preachers gave it their all night after night, I was not hearing anything new and grew frustrated at my inability to get this thing called salvation. I was asking myself how could I know for sure this message was the right one.

The final night of the meetings came and I was frantic to get this matter settled once and for all. I felt that if I didn’t get it at this time, there would be no salvation for me. The first speaker got up to preach and being my favorite of the two, I had imagined myself getting saved when he was preaching. To my horror, he took the platform, spoke his message and sat down without me understanding a word he said. I felt that because of my unbelief, God had given up on me and passed me by and I was destined to die in my sins. The second speaker took to the platform and although there were others in the audience that night, it seemed like he was speaking to me and me alone. The Spirit of God had led him to address the very difficulty that I was having. He spoke of how in history class at school we read of people like Napoleon, his life and exploits and never once would question if what we are reading is true or not. He then held up his Bible and said “Here is the only absolutely true book ever written and it says CHRIST DIED FOR OUR SINS ACCORDING TO THE SCRIPTURES! (1Corinthians 15:3) If you can believe men, why can’t you just believe God?” With only 5 minutes left in the final meeting, what I had known most of my life, for the first time became very personal and real to me that the Lord Jesus Christ had died for MY sins. If the “God who cannot lie” (Titus 1:2) says it, it must be true. It wasn’t my believing that made it true but because it was true, I was saved. What joy and peace flooded my soul. To think that God would save a sinner like me!

Oh, by the way, my grandparents didn’t even make it to the ferry we were rushing to meet!

]]>
shadsluiter@gmail.com (Super User) Personal Stories Thu, 20 Mar 2008 05:10:40 +0000
Anthony Elliott - Marion, Iowa http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/2069-anthony-elliott-marion-iowa http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/2069-anthony-elliott-marion-iowa

Anthony ElliottTrue or False?

by Anthony Elliott 

When I was fourteen my life consisted of two things: school and friends.  I was a good student, one of ‘those’ kids who actually liked school, had good friends, and lived a very sheltered life. My parents made sure that I attended every church meeting possible, and even though they wanted me to go, church was the last place that I wanted to be.  In reality, I lived two lives.  I showed my parents my “clean” life, and my friends saw the “not-so-clean” life. 
Ninth grade rolled around and I started to get farther away from my parents.  School soon became the focus of my life.  Friends let me relieve the stress of faking my home life, and I was able to just be myself around them.

January 2007
It was January when my mom told me that there was going to be a special series of meetings at our church starting next month.  A special series meant that two speakers would talk about Jesus for an hour every night but Saturday…  I just knew that this would be the end of me.  A series usually lasted at least four weeks.  Then my mom really stunned me.  “Oh, I almost forgot to tell you.  Peter (who I had met a few months ago) is coming all the way from Prince Edward Island, Canada to speak in these meetings with your grandpa.”

February 2007
As the meetings went on, I became even more stubborn about not listening to the Bible and what God had to say.  To my annoyance, Peter felt that he needed to take me out to eat and “discuss” some things with me.  After a lot of small talk and how my life was going, he brought up God.  His questions made me think deeper than what I actually said.  I began to examine why I had distanced myself from my parents.  I didn’t have any good reasons.

The last week of the meetings came, and I suddenly realized that if my parents and their church were right, I might not have much time.  According to the Bible, 

“So Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.

 "But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.”

Jesus could return for those who believe in him at any time, leaving those who do not believe behind.  If what my parents believed is true actually is true, I needed to do something.

Wednesday, February 28
 On Wednesday after the meeting, I had two main problems.  The biggest one was my pride:  I wanted to believe that I could escape from my punishment by myself.  I didn’t want this guy named Jesus to do it for me, that would make me look unimportant.  So I tried and I tried to help myself but nothing worked (not for lack of effort).  Unfortunately, that wasn’t what God planned.  He knew that I would be unable to help myself, so he provided a plan.

My second problem was trying to convince myself that the Bible was true.  A question I asked myself was “How do I know that the Bible is true?”  Obviously, you can’t use the object that you are trying to examine as proof, that doesn’t prove anything.  I needed something else, or so I thought.

 The Bible is actually a collection of 66 different books by about 40 different authors.  These authors actually lived in different centuries and so they obviously couldn’t have all gotten together to discuss how to write the Bible.

 In my mind I made a chart with two sides.  One side was labeled “If the Bible is False” and the other I called “If the Bible is True.”  Under these sides I wrote how it would affect me.  The “False” side only had one thing: no effect on me.  If the Bible is false, I could live my life without fear of being judged by God.

 The “True” side had several things under it.  If the Bible is true, that meant that I had disobeyed God.  Because God is just, what I had done must be punished.  But because God is love, he gave me a way out.  He knew that I am just a human, and that I can’t do anything to me right with him.  So God sent his son, Jesus, to take my punishment and put it on himself.  When Jesus took my punishment and then died, it was as if I had already paid for my disobedience.   God viewed Jesus’ death as my death, and my debt was gone.

 Even though my debt was taken care of, I had to accept that Jesus died for me.  (At this point I stopped caring about my pride and focused on Jesus) This would mean agreeing with God that I had disobeyed him and that I deserved to be punished.    Being a normal human, I didn’t want to say that I was wrong and that God was right. But the way I saw it, there were only two choices:  Accept that the Bible is true and that I am wrong, or believe that the Bible is false.

 I accepted that Jesus, God’s son, died for me personally on Wednesday, February 28, 2007.

 After that night, I had peace that I had never had before.  I knew that I would never have to be punished because Jesus had already paid for me.  I’ve had my ups and downs since then, and I still have problems (who doesn’t!), but now I have God to help me through the bad times.  His word gives me comfort and guidance when I need it most.

-- Anthony Elliott
“I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.”

]]>
shadsluiter@gmail.com (Super User) Personal Stories Thu, 20 Mar 2008 04:54:24 +0000
James E. Dyck - Santiago, Nayarit, Mexico http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1881-james-e-dyck-santiago-nayarit-mexico http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1881-james-e-dyck-santiago-nayarit-mexico

James Dyck-A story of what God did for me-

James E. Dyck - Santiago, Nayarit, Mexico

Thirty-one years old, a hard work’n farmer, smoked like a chimney, liked the feel of the bottle in his hand. He was religiously active at church, believed that God only hears and speaks in German, had a family of eight children, six rambunctious boys and two little girls that where to young to tell what thy are going to be like. Had a Christian neighbour that prayed for God to show Pa that he could go to heaven, and was plum and plain scared to die and meet God. That’s my grandpa all wrapped up in one phrase before he came to understand what he knows now about God.

The neighbour that he had, drove him nuts because he prayed for him all the time, but not only that, but my Pa thought that he lived a “holier” life than his Christian neighbour because Pa didn’t have a TV or a Radio like his Christian neighbour, it was a religious thing that the church taught. The church said: you gotta live a good life, stay away from the world, don’t do anything bad and God will put your good stuff and your bad stuff on a balance and if the good outweighs the bad, then God will let you into heaven.  

One day in the summer, and the summer isn’t all that long in Manitoba, Canada, it seems to me that I could never really tell when it had come and gone it was so short, Pa was making hay bales along with his pray’n neighbour. The “Christian” got mad and Pa thought to himself “told you I was better”. However, a short while later Pa couldn’t find his friend, so he went looking for him, there he found him in behind the stack of bales on his knees crying out to God for forgiveness. This time Pa thought, “This man knows God”.  Grandpa will tell you, if you sit down beside his old chair with the sheep skin on it and listen to him, that that day out in the field, got him to thinking about God and Pa’s sins.

Not to long after that day in the field, Grandpa’s good pray’n neighbour died, and Pa went to the funeral. For the first time in his life her heard a preacher stand up and talk about God loving Pa so much that he sent His only Son to die to pay for Grandpa’s sin. Pa came out of the church and “lit up” and stood in a circle with a bunch of his drink’n buddies. One of whom Pa thought, was the worst, spoke up and said: “If you want the truth the preacher preached it today”. Grandpa slipped away from the group and went home without being able to stop thinking about what he had heard.

At the funeral service the preacher said that there would be some special nightly services to which all were welcome. After talking it over with Grandma, they both decided to go and hear the preacher. A few nights later the preacher opened his Bible to John 19:30, it says: “IT IS FINNISHED” he went on to explain that Jesus paid for the sin of all who believe when he died on the cross. Neither Pa nor Ma talked to each other but they where thinking that they would go home and check and see what the German bible said.

Pa climbed up stairs, sat down on the old bench at the kitchen table with the wood stove off to one side, opened up the big old German bible, and read the same thing in German. He understood for the first time in his life that Christ paid for all sin and that all who believe can go to heaven!

Ma went down to the basement, read the same thing in German, and came to the same understanding that Pa did upstairs.
Grandpa was heading down to tell Grandma what he had understood and she was heading up to tell Grandpa, they found each other on the stairs with a smile on there faces and told each other that God had forgiven their sins, because the Bible says so, German or English. 

Pa quit drink’n, quit smoking, bought shoes for his kids, always had enough food for his eight kids and wife, and to this day, it is real hard to find him without a smile on his old face with big long white eyebrows and, white hair slicked back over his head.

I had to tell you about Pa in order to tell you about me, because I came along a good twenty some years after Grandpa came to understand that Jesus came to die for the sinner that believes.

My Dad was Grandpa’s fourth rambunctious boy and well Dad always brought be and the rest of my six siblings to hear the preacher every Sunday evening. I heard the message of Gods love preached every week and then a whole bunch more at home from Dad and Mom. I was a little sinner and I knew it, and not just because someone told me. I knew that if they knew all that, I knew about me, that they would have called me the “biggest sinner”.

However, one day, April 1st, 1988, after service we all, that’s like everyone one of my 30 plus cousins and their parents, went over to Pa and Ma’s house for “night lunch”.

I was being bad again, and I’m not telling you want I was doing, so my cousin went in and told my Mom. Mom came outside and called me in for a talking and if needed a “tanning”.

Mom told me that Jesus died because I had sinned. She explained that the bible says: Romans 6:23 “the payment of sin is death”. She also told me that Jesus died to pay for my sin, and that if I accepted Jesus’ payment for sin I could go to heaven.

I understood for the first time as a young boy that, Jesus died to save me from my sins and a lost eternity. After I understood what Jesus had done for me, I got down on my knees beside the bed, in the bedroom at Pa’s house that has blue carpet, and thanked God for sending His Son to this world to save me from my sins.

 Today I have my own little family of three little boys and a baby on the way. I sit down and tell them about who great grandpa was, and who he is now, and about how God showed me that all who believe on the Son of God can have their sins forgiven and go to heaven. Not a day goes by that I have to worry about dying, because the bible says that all who believe shall have everlasting life. Now that’s what I call a worry free life!

               

       James E. Dyck
 

 

 

 

 

]]>
shadsluiter@gmail.com (Super User) Personal Stories Tue, 12 Feb 2008 01:14:51 +0000
Ann Wielenga - Jackson, Michigan http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1814-ann-wielenga-jackson-michigan http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1814-ann-wielenga-jackson-michigan

Ann WielengaAnn's Testimony of Salvation

I first heard the gospel preached in the summer of 1956 in a tent that was pitched between the towns of Clyde and Bellevue, Ohio.  Two evangelists, Norm Crawford, from Jackson MI. and James Lipke, from Cleveland, Ohio were preaching the gospel.  My dad was walking on the street as a mailman and these two men stopped him and gave him an invitation to the mtgs.  My parents had been saved a short time before this and had been searching for the "right Church" - a Bible believing one that had the pure gospel preached. These gospel meetings in the tent went on for 12 weeks - July 1 through Sept. 30 and many souls were saved.  I was very concerned and upset about my sin that was taking me down to Hell.  But I didn’t get serious enough to put it first in my life and put off getting saved.  In the fall, an Assembly of Christians (the Gospel Hall) was established in Clyde, Ohio.  I attended regularly and went to every series of gospel meetings that were at the Hall - at least one series each year.  At 11 years of age, I had a false profession - quoted a verse in my head - Matt 11:28 and tried to believe - hoping I was saved. I held onto that profession for 7 years until I was 18 years old.  In 1967 two preachers came to Clyde to preach the gospel  - James Smith and William Snyder. They both stayed at our home while they were residing in the area for the meetings.   I was involved with many activities at school as I was a senior in high school and tried to avoid going to the meetings and also tried to avoid talking to the preachers.  The 5th week of the meetings on a Thursday night I walked into the gospel meeting and heard the news that a niece of one of the Christians had gotten saved after hearing the gospel just a few times. That stunned me - as I had heard the gospel for many years and was not even taking heed to the message.  For the first time I listened wholeheartedly to the whole meeting.  James Smith talked on being a hypocrite - false professions, etc.  That message was for me!  I was in tears and sat in my seat after the meeting was over. Both preachers talked and read Bible verses to me. Finally they said - they could not save me - and sent me home.  On the way home in the car the verse I Peter 3:18 came to my mind - For Christ also hath suffered for sins - the Just for the Unjust - and that hit home.  I knew I was the unjust one and that Christ was the Just One - and that He died for me!  It was a clear and simple thing - but so REAL - and I've never had a doubt about being saved since that day!

]]>
shadsluiter@gmail.com (Super User) Personal Stories Mon, 24 Sep 2007 19:46:11 +0000
Suzy Fitch - Marion, Iowa http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1813-suzy-fitch-marion-iowa http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1813-suzy-fitch-marion-iowa

Suzy FitchThere were many transitions in my thought process that had to take place in my experience before I could first understand what salvation was. Because I was accustomed to religious traditions, over half of this testimony describes how I came to know that I was, indeed, without salvation. The first step of being found is finding where you are…and I was surely lost.

 

“To be conscious that you are ignorant of the facts is a great step to knowledge.”

~ English Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli

 

 I was brought up attending Methodist church where the rapture seemed to be something that would happen a long time in the future – not something that could happen at any time. In fact, I remember that I never knew WHY Jesus was going to come back to this earth. I just knew that Jesus would return to earth someday. I remember going to seminars where you could ask Jesus into your heart. The word “saved” was never used, and the speakers never said that it had anything to do with assurance of a home in heaven or the forgiveness of sins – just a relationship with Christ, which I didn’t understand. There were many people that seemed to believe that if you go to church, believe there is a God, and try to be a good person, you are automatically going to heaven, or at least you hope to be. I was told by my Sunday school teacher that Jesus forgives my sins past, present, and future. I was never told that I needed to accept Christ as my Savior for Him to do so. The accepted mentality was that everyone would be in heaven because God is good and loves everyone no matter what they’ve done in life.

 As a young child, I believed there was a God, and that the Bible was His written Word. My parents had taught me the importance of prayer and reading the Bible, even though we never had a daily family devotion time. When I went to college, I made a personal commitment to read at least one chapter of the Bible every night, simply because I believed it was a good thing to do.

 The fall semester of 1995, brought much soul-searching. College is a time of choice – classes, careers, boyfriends, activities. I remember praying that God would lead the way. “Lord, I’m not sure where my life is going. Please lead me. I want to make the right choices, and be happy.” I wondered how God and “church” would fit into my life.

 

“But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you look for him with all your heart and with all your soul.” Deut 4:29.

 

 Around this time of searching, I met Jon Fitch and everything began to change. He was the nicest guy I had ever met in my life! There was just something different about him. One day, while we were studying together in my dorm room, Jon noticed I had a Bible at my bedside, and a Christian music CD in my collection. I told him that I read my Bible every night, and that the CD was something I bought at a church camp I attended the summer before I went to college. Jon looked very amazed. He suddenly seemed interested, and eventually got up the nerve to ask if I was “saved”. I didn’t exactly know how to answer that question. I had heard the word before, but didn’t know how it applied to me. I told Jon that I thought I was saved and going to heaven. The next day I called my mom, and asked her if my Confirmation into the Methodist Church at the age of 11 meant that I was “saved”. She said it was. However, I did not think my confirmation changed me at all. I tried not to let it bother me, but I was feeling confused because I couldn’t understand why Jon had a date and personal experience for his salvation, and I did not.

 Memorial Day weekend was Omaha Bible Conference and my first trip to meet Jon’s family. Sunday evening, I attended my first Gospel meeting. I didn’t think the Gospel message was anything different than what I was used to hearing. But I do remember thinking that some of the things they were saying seemed different. I had heard the Bible verses before, but it was presented in a clearer way. However, I was not troubled at all by what I heard.

 Special Gospel meetings began in Robins, IA in June 1996 with Al Christopherson and Eric McCullough, and Jon made every effort to take me to them. I still didn’t understand what the word “saved” meant. I was trying to discover the time in my past when I was saved, but I couldn’t put my finger on it.

 On July 10th, 1996, Al handed me a Gospel tract as I shook his hand after the meeting. He said, “I picked this one up for you.” I said thanks and shoved it into my pocket and purposely took my mind off the subject. I didn’t read it until the next morning while I was at work. I pulled it out when I had a chance and casually started skimming it over. “How I Tried The 5 C’s.” It was Henry Pickering’s personal testimony about how his experience with Christening, the Choir, Confirmation, and Communion did not make him fit for heaven. Every word I read was exactly my story and matched how I felt. I began to realize that there was something I was lacking.

 I refused to think more about it until I got into my car later that day. By chance, the Christian radio station was playing a certain song about being saved (“God Got A Hold On Me” by Goeff Moore). I really wanted to know for sure if I was saved. As I waited at a stoplight, I realized for the first time that if I didn’t know for sure if I was truly saved, then I was obviously NOT saved!

 On Sunday, July 14, 1996 at the gospel meeting in Robins, Al gave me a few more tracts to read. To my bewilderment, I still wasn’t saved. Monday morning, I was very soul-troubled. At the meeting that night, I listened intently, just like I had done for the last week – just waiting for Al to tell me what to do to be saved. I liked it when he would tell a story about how someone got saved. I thought that was a good way for me to figure out how to get saved myself, but it never seemed to help. When I would read my Bible, I knew all of the verses that were preached about salvation. They were so familiar, but I didn’t understand how to be saved. I spoke with Al after everyone else had left. He gave me another Gospel tract, “Safety, Certainty, and Enjoyment”. When I got home, I sat down on my bed and prayed and asked the Lord to save me. I stopped trying so hard, and began reading the tract with an open heart and mind. What I read seemed to speak to my situation and answer some of my questions. John 6:47 was quoted and I underlined it thinking that it seemed like a very simple verse. “Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that believeth on me, hath everlasting life”. The author then gave an illustration which is paraphrased here:

 

“If someone, who was the town gossip, came to your door and told you that the station master has been killed that night at the railway, would you believe what they said? No! Why not? Because of the lack of credibility of the person who is telling you the information. Now, if the most trusted source in town came to your door and told you that the station master had died, would you believe them? Yes! Why? Because of who is telling you the information.”

 

I thought of the words in the verse I had just read (John 6:47). The words “on me” stuck out, and I read them over and over. I thought about how I had always believed in God and understood that His written Word was true. I suddenly realized that I could trust what that verse says! I have everlasting life! I finally understood it! Christ died for my sins, and therefore I have eternal life with Him. BECA--USE GOD SAYS SO!

 I must say that one of the key verses that spoke to me during those months of my life was Matthew 7:14, “Because straight is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” This verse scared me out of my wits! It helped me realize that maybe I wasn’t saved. I had grown up placing myself in the large crowd of “good” people who (thought they) were going to heaven. I began to see that this crowd could not be “few there be that find it”. This was a crucial realization for me.

 I love the words in Deuteronomy 4:29 (which I quoted earlier), “But if from thence thou shalt seek the Lord thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul.” I believe my story proves the words in that verse. I was definitely seeking! I see things differently now. The same Bible verses that I had heard over and over while I was growing up, now paint different pictures in my mind. They stand out as if I had never realized the true meaning before. “One thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see.” John 9:24

Suzy Fitch

]]>
shadsluiter@gmail.com (Super User) Personal Stories Mon, 24 Sep 2007 19:37:31 +0000
Jim Sluiter - Marion, Iowa http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1812-jim-sluiter-marion-iowa http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1812-jim-sluiter-marion-iowa Jim SluiterThe most important day in my life--bar none--is December 7,1959.  That was the day I was taken off the Broad road that leads to Hell and put on the Narrow way that leads to Heaven.  (Matthew 7:13-14) It happened about 8 in the evening.  The Bible teaches- and I was taught -.that I was born a sinner and needed to be saved.--(Acts 4:12). And I was taught that Jesus was the only way to heaven--(John 14:6) and he had to be my saviour. But I couldn't seem to get saved. I went to lots of gospel meetings and to Sunday School--so I knew lots in my head -but didn't have it in my heart.
 Then gospel meetings started in the Stout Gospel Hall in October of 1959--conducted by Leonard Debuhr and Eric McCullough.
  I was aware that I had a soul that would exist forever--and I didn't want to go to Hell.--so I would come to the meetings about once a week---the rest of the time I would spend at the the movie theater or at the bowling alley or at sports events at the school. I played  basketball-baseball and football in high school so loved sports. 
At the end of November an older man said he got saved--and then some of the young people I knew in Sunday School said they got saved.
  So one Friday evening I went to  the meeting with three of my friends.--one of my friends was Alvin Kyhl who I had explained the gospel to -and so he was receptive to going to the meeting.  He didn't know the gospel as well as me--but woke me up in the middle of the meeting and wanted me to listen. I went back to sleep and soon the gospel meeting was over.  We went to the bowling alley after meeting -and Darrell Brandt who was in the front seat of the car with Alvin-turned around and said that Alvin had gotten saved in the meeting--I said we should go to Cedar Falls and tell Eric McCullough about it.Alvin said that when they were reading John 3:16 he understood that God loved him and sent His Son to die for his sins. I heard someone sobbing at the end of the couch -and Darrell Brandt was upset that he wasn't saved.
  The next day was Saturday and that evening I was again in the Bowling Alley where I usually hung out.  About 7 that evening Darrell came in the bowling alley and was beaming from ear to ear--I had never seen a happier person in my life--and he told me he had gotten saved just a couple hours before reading John 3:16--that God loved him and sent His Son to die for his sins.
  I decided then that I would do whatever I could to get saved myself.  I went home that evening and got down by my bed and asked God to save me-but nothing happened. The next day I went to Sunday School and tried to get saved--and after having lunch at Darrells' house we went to Leonard Debuhrs house to see if he could help me. He read me a couple verses and nothing happened.
  The next day I read my Bible and Gospel tracts to see if they could help me--and that evening I went to Eric McCulloughs' house to talk to him.
  He finally put the Bible on my lap and had me read a verse out loud. (1 Peter 2:24)  It said that He (Jesus) bore my sins in His own body on the tree--and all of a sudden I understood that Jesus died for me--and I was saved. I was on my way to Heaven and no longer on my way to Hell. What a relief--and what joy filled my heart--I finally had the matter settled.    Jim Sluiter]]>
shadsluiter@gmail.com (Super User) Personal Stories Mon, 24 Sep 2007 19:19:25 +0000
Grace Taufeek - Toronto, Ontario http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1231-grace-taufeek-toronto-ontario http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1231-grace-taufeek-toronto-ontario

Grace TaufeekIt was just after grade eight graduation, and I was looking forward to a long summer break. Little did I know how that summer would change my life.

In early July, 2003 I started feeling very tired and had severe pain in my abdomen, lower back and legs. An ultrasound showed a mass around my spinal canal. I was admitted to the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto where we received the shocking news: I had a cancerous tumor on my spine. So many feelings passed through me all at once. I was confused, sad, mad, and scared as I was trying to realize what was really happening. I knew God allowed this to happen, but I didn’t know why. Somehow God gave me peace so that I could accept it.

The tumor was in a very delicate spot, so the doctors were only able to remove enough to release the pressure on my spine. That helped with the pain in my lower back and legs. I had stressful chemotherapy, and rounds of radiation. Before any of my tests or sessions with the doctor, I prayed with my Mom and Dad. I was quite scared – sometimes even to tears – but deep down, I always had a sense of peace.

I had accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as my personal Saviour a few years before. Since I was hospitalized that whole summer, I found much more time to read my Bible. My relationship with God was strengthened, as I felt His comfort and peace. Sometimes I still asked, “Why me, God?” It encouraged me when I remembered that God has a purpose in everything (Romans 8:28). Since I was saved and part of the family of God, when I got out of the hospital I wanted to be baptized. I wanted my life to be a witness for Christ. I was consecrating my life to God.

Today I am still fighting this horrible disease. It is only with the help of my Lord that I have made it this far. He has helped me through the pain, needles, treatments, and bad reports we have received from the doctors. Right now, I go to hospital twice a week for blood tests, and I am on a special new chemotherapy.

People I know and people I don’t know are praying for me! My home assembly (church) has made a difference with thoughtful prayers, caring actions, sincere love and beautiful gifts. This shows the love of the Christian family of God. I can’t imagine how difficult this experience would be without the Lord Jesus Christ. All I can do is pray and depend on the Lord for the rest!

“Casting all your care upon Him; for He careth for you.” (1Peter 5:7)
“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me.” (Psalm 23:4).

– Written by Grace Taufeek in October, 2004 for her school yearbook.

Shortly after she wrote this article the doctor told her that there was nothing more they could do except try to manage her severe pain. The next day, Grace wrote this prayer in her personal diary:

“Dear Lord Jesus:
I know everything is in Your hands. It has always been. I do not know what Your plan is; but I know You! Of course, I want to get better; but You may have other plans. I accept whatever You do. I thank you so much for everything You have done for me. You may want me to be with You any day soon. I love you, Lord. I thank You for dying on the cross of me and saving me from my sins.

Lord, you have helped, comforted, calmed and cheered me up. You have brought me through a whole year and about three months. Now, please let me be able to see the yearbook when it comes. I am really excited – two weeks please…”

These were the last words Grace wrote in her diary. God granted her prayer and gave her exactly two weeks – and she saw the yearbook!

If you were keeping a journal, would you be able to write with such confidence and assurance about your eternal destiny?

Make sure when your time comes to die you have nothing left to do but die.

]]>
shadsluiter@gmail.com (Super User) Personal Stories Mon, 16 Apr 2007 21:37:09 +0000
Dale Robbins - Dartmouth, Nova Scotia http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1230-dale-robbins-dartmouth-nova-scotia http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1230-dale-robbins-dartmouth-nova-scotia

Dale RobbinsDale Robbins resides in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia with his wife Joann and children Jonathon and Sarah. Dale was employed by the Government of Nova Scotia for 28 years and for the last ten years of his career he served the Province as the Director of Administration, with the Office of the Speaker. Dale loves the outdoors and enjoyed his hobby farm over the years. Dale and Joann are active and loved members of a local fellowship of believers in Halifax, NS. On the very day of his retirement celebration from Government two years ago, he was advised he had inoperable cancer. In light of that news, the last paragraph of his personal testimony below is particularly poignant.

In Dale’s own words, he relates his personal story like this:

I was born in 1942, the fifth of six children , to parents living in rural Nova Scotia, Canada. When I was about six or seven years of age my mother related a personal experience about God, one which I never forgot.

Having grown up in another country, she told me how she had attended Sunday School with an Aunt when she was young. She related how her Sunday School teacher taught the class that God loved each and every one of them. In Sunday School she heard that God sent His Son from Heaven to die upon a cross that He might pay for their sins so they could be reconciled back to God. Now, several years later, she told me that while sweeping the kitchen floor a few days earlier she had accepted what Jesus had done for her and that her sins were now forgiven.

As the years passed, I heard more of God and how that anyone could be sure of a place in Heaven if they trusted in Jesus. I began to yearn for this security and peace of mind. However I struggled within myself, thinking that because I had been living a "good moral life" that God should be pleased to accept me in Heaven as I was.

Over time I began to realize that I could not negotiate with God on my own terms. God had already established by His Word that there was only one way to get to Heaven and that was through His Son who had already paid for my entrance to Heaven when He bore my sin debt upon the cross at Calvary.

At the age of twenty two, I realized that there was nothing I could do to merit salvation. The required payment had already been made on my behalf by the Lord Jesus and that I only had to accept a finished work. I gave up trying to merit salvation on my own and accepted what had been done for me by Another. From that time onward God has been a real person in my life, one who has brought me continuous joy, peace, and satisfaction.

While my personal relationship with the Lord Jesus has been sweet and rewarding over the years it has become even more precious to me over the past number of months. At the time of my retirement in March of 2003 I was advised that I had metastic renal cell carcinoma (kidney cancer) and statistically fifty percent of patients normally die prior the end of the first year while the remaining fifty percent do not make it past two years.

However, as with any trial, God has promised to be our refuge and strength, a real help in time of trouble. I can truthfully attest to the fact that during these months God's presence has been very real. I have come to appreciate more and more what His Son, the Lord Jesus, endured on my behalf when He paid for my transgressions upon Calvary's cross. Most important of all, I am thankful that when this life on earth is over that I will ascend to be with Him, to share in the promised joys of Heaven throughout the endless ages of eternity.

 Dale Robbins

 

]]>
shadsluiter@gmail.com (Super User) Personal Stories Mon, 16 Apr 2007 20:47:46 +0000
Ron Mills - Gander, Newfoundland http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1229-ron-mills-gander-newfoundland http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1229-ron-mills-gander-newfoundland

Ron MillsIs This All There Is To Life?
by Ron Mills

Ron Mills and his wife Ruth live in Gander, Newfoundland. Everyone going to Heaven has an outstanding day in their life – a day when they started for Heaven. No one has ‘always’ been on the road to Heaven and no one has gradually become fit for heaven. God’s salvation according to the Bible happens in a moment of time. For Ron Mills, his outstanding day was September 27, 1982. The calendar stated that it was Yom Kippur – a special day for Jews when they observe the Day of Atonement. Ron says: “Little did I know when that day broke that it would become my day of atonement (salvation).”

I grew up in a happy, normal, middle class home - the youngest of three boys. Both my mother and father were good parents who on occasion would go to church but were not considered “religious". I had to attend Sunday school at this Church until I was eleven or twelve. After that I gave up going, having no interest in such matters.

I do recall my dad speaking of his mother not allowing certain things in her home when he was a boy and recalling that she liked to read a Bible.

At the age of 14 I started to take more interest in listening to music on the radio and then started my own ‘record’ collection (before iPods and CD’s). I liked the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and others. These groups, through their music and lifestyles were promoting an anti-Christian theme yet they were idolized and still are today. Looking back – the influence of this music formed the foundation for the early life decisions I made! (If you are a parent reading this, do you know what kind of music your children are listening and watching?)

At the age of 15, while in junior high school I became curious about "dope." There were friends in my neighborhood who were doing "dope". They seemed to be having fun. So I started experimenting with drugs “innocently enough", with what some call "soft drugs” such as marijuana and underage drinking. I found out like many others that there is no such thing as ‘soft’ drugs. They are gateway drugs.

Looking back, there would really be no ‘one’ reason why one would take that road except for curiosity and the need to feel that you are in with the crowd. Little did I know it was my sinful nature that propelled me to make this choice! Romans 5:12 says: "Wherefore as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin, and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned."

At the beginning of this road I chose, I was having fun being with the crowd and enjoying all that comes with the choice. But late nights and heavier drinking with harder and more dangerous drugs, inevitably led to less interest in school and my family. This caused my marks to nosedive until eventually I was just scraping through my final School year.

By this time my ‘sin choice’ led me to drug abuse practically every night and most days as well. During this period there were a couple of my friends who had committed suicide which shook me up but only temporarily.

While on a trip to Toronto at the age of 18, I was doing some heavy drinking and drugs. I ended up over-dosing and wandering the streets of Toronto. Thankfully the OPP (Ontario Provincial Police) picked me up and recognized I needed help. I had been missing for several days. I was admitted to the Lakeshore Psychiatric Hospital where they treated me for three months. During this hospital stay I was constantly warned by the Medical staff to stay away from drugs and drinking. They warned I would end up spending the rest of my life in an institution. I can recall even “swearing" on a Bible before my parents that I would never touch the stuff again!

But within six months of returning home, I returned to drugs and drinking again with a vengeance. I had no control nor will to stop this suicidal path. I was not consuming drugs and drinking - the reality was they were consuming me! Over time, a certain despair crept in, leading to weeks of depression and hopelessness.

At the age of 22 I started to consider suicide as an answer to these feelings of hopelessness, although the depravity continued. By the time I was 23 I would get brief periods of wondering “is this all there is to life?" I remember going to night clubs after drug use and drinking and just standing amongst hundreds of people and feeling very alone and tired of life. Even at a night club God can speak to souls! There had to be more to this Life!

Around this time, I decided to buy a Bible and see if there was anything in it that could help! Coming home one night, after a night of excessive drinking I opened the Bible randomly and my eyes fell upon the parable of “The Sower and the Seed" in the Gospel of Mark, Chapter 4. It illustrated the response of different people to the Gospel message: some hear and believe, others hear but don’t believe. In my darkness I did not understand but I spoke to God and challenged Him:


“If you are God and you are what the Bible says show me the Truth!”


I continued on my sinful way but God was doing a work in my soul! Around the same time a friend of mine was also searching for truth. At times, we would bump into each other and we would talk about God in a general sense. She eventually found Salvation in Christ and started to witness to me. I was 24 and for the very first time someone actually told me about Christ and His saving Grace! She invited me to witness her baptism on September 20, 1982.
I accepted!

On that sunny Sunday afternoon I felt my prayers were heard. There were approximately 100 people at a lake witnessing a baptism and every one looked different - they were happy!
I thought to myself: I want what they have! That night I was invited to hear the Gospel message for the first time in my life at the Gander Gospel Centre. It amazes me when we hear of Christians going to evangelize in distant lands when here I was 24 years old and up to this point I had never seen a Gospel tract or heard about Salvation from anyone!

At the Gospel meeting the preacher faithfully preached the good news. In my mind it seemed like the preacher knew everything about me, but of course he didn't. But God did and He was doing a work in my soul. I was convicted! No one had to convince me that I was a sinner but the best part of the Preacher’s message was that God loved me and proved it by the Cross at Calvary. I realized then and there that Jesus died for me!

The week that followed was full of questions and wonderings. I knew I needed Salvation! Do you? The following Sunday I again attended a Gospel meeting. At this point a uniformed friend of mine warned me to stay away or I would get brain washed! That did not happen but eventually my ‘sins’ - not my ‘brains’ were washed away!

The next day, September 27, 1982 was D. Day for me. I had to get this issue of my sin debt settled. So off I went to an isolated cabin my uncle owned near the lake. In that cabin I found a book written by Isobel Kuhn entitled “By Searching” which I began to read. The more I read, the more convicted I became. This book had plenty of Scripture verses that pointed me to Christ including Jeremiah 29:13, John 14:6 and others. These Bible verses convicted me and that evening with no one around for miles, I trusted the Lord Jesus Christ as my Saviour. Then and there I passed from death unto Life.

"To every man there openeth
a way, and ways, and a way
and the high soul climbs the highway,
and the low soul gropes the low,
and in between on the misty flats,
The rest drift to and fro.
But to every man there openeth
a high way and a low
and every man decided the way his soul shall go" (1)

(1) A poem by John Oxenham in Isobel Kuhn’s book: By Searching

]]>
shadsluiter@gmail.com (Super User) Personal Stories Mon, 16 Apr 2007 20:23:46 +0000
Becky Kew - Portage, Manitoba http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1228-becky-kew-portage-manitoba http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1228-becky-kew-portage-manitoba

Becky KewWhen I think about my childhood, I remember quite vividly having to compete against the "brown bottle." Both my Mom and Dad were drinkers. There was always a party going on somewhere. In our small town of 800 people, it seemed as if drinking was all there was to do.

I remember times when my Mom and Dad fought. One time he had her pinned down on the coffee table and I really thought that this time, he would kill her.

Another time, my Mom threatened to commit suicide. She locked herself in the bathroom with some pills. I remember my brother and I stayed up half the night calling out her name to make sure that she stayed awake.

I used to wonder: Why do they love this brown bottle so much when it brings so much misery? Why don't they love me? Is this all my fault?

When I was 16-years-old, a family moved into our town and I started hanging out with them. When I went to their home, I noticed that no-one ever fought or argued. They treated each other with respect and they were always humming to themselves or singing out loud!

It was so strange being with people who didn't swear or drink. They had no desire to—and yet they seemed so satisfied! They were always good to me and really loved me.

One day, I went with them to Yorkton to watch a movie. At the end of it, Billy Graham appeared on the screen inviting people to come to the front of the theatre to accept Jesus. I wanted what my friends had, so I went forward.

A kind lady showed me the verse: John 3:16. She then put my name into the verse: "For God so loved Becky that He gave His only begotten Son that if Becky believes in Him, Becky will not perish but have everlasting life." This really spoke to me! I found it amazing that God would love me—I didn't think I was worth anything.

I prayed the prayer that night but my life didn't really change that much. I moved to the big city for post-secondary education, but still continued in my sinful ways. But one thing had changed—I knew God loved me.

Even when I came home from a night of drinking, I would always pray the same prayer, asking God to send me another family like the one I had met back in my hometown.

One day, I found a whole bunch of posters at my apartment building. I picked one up. It was John 3:16! I got very excited because I remembered this verse was the same one that lady in the movie theater had shown me.

I immediately phoned the name that was on the back of the poster. That was how I met the Ronald family and ended up going to church with them.

Not too long after that, I remember walking into my living room and thinking about how good my life was going again. But then this thought appeared in my mind: What about all the bad things that I had done? Right way, I fell to my knees and asked God to forgive me for every sin that I could remember. But then I really got worried because I thought—on no!—what about the sins that I can't remember? At that very moment, I realized that I was a sinner, and I called on the Lord to save me and come into my life. I can remember telling Him to take my life—I didn't want it any more. I knew that Jesus died for my sins. At that moment, everything changed! That night my friends called me to go to the bar and I said, "No thanks!" I had never done that before.

Little by little, I noticed that I wasn't interested in my old ways but that I wanted to please God—read my Bible, go to church and live right. The Spirit of God now living inside of me gave me power to live differently.

You may ask: Why didn't I get saved (become a Christian) when I prayed that prayer in the movie theatre? I wasn't willing back then to admit my guilt. I wasn't willing to go God's way. But I wanted His blessings! Thank goodness He didn't give up on me.

Jesus has become my best Friend. He will never lie to me—use me—or abuse me. He keeps all of His promises and He has saved me for all eternity. It happened fourteen years ago and it will last forever.


For God
so loved the world
that He gave His only begotten
Son
that whosoever believeth in Him
should not perish but have everlasting life.
John 3:16


Time is short. Eternity is forever. I encourage you to seek the Lord while you can.

Editor's Note:  Becky Kew lives in Portage, Manitoba. She serves the Lord fulltime as a commended worker. She works extensively in the community, in schools, First Nations communities, Gospel booths etc.
Becky's address is: c/o Seedsowers, Box 775, Portage la Prairie, MB. R1N 3C2. She can be reached at Beckykew@hotmail.com, or (204) 239-0619.


Originally published in Indian Life Newspaper, September/October 2005.

Used with permission of the author. Copyright © 2005 Christianity.ca.

]]>
shadsluiter@gmail.com (Super User) Personal Stories Mon, 16 Apr 2007 20:20:36 +0000
Shelley McKenna - Prince Edward Island, Canada http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1226-shelley-mckenna-prince-edward-island-canada http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1226-shelley-mckenna-prince-edward-island-canada

  Shelly McKenna

Shelley Reeves McKenna resides in Prince Edward Island, Canada, with her husband and three children.

On January 18, 2007 she sent an email to her friends, relatives and acquaintances. It went like this:

A Very Special Day
Today is a special day for me, and this year I thought I would tell each of you, just why it is so special. There are many events that are significant in a lifetime. For me, some of these were the day I was born, the day I graduated from school, the day I got married, and those special days when our kids were born. You might not know that January 18th is another significant day in my life, so today, twenty-five years later, I want to share it with you.

From the time I was young, we went to Church where I learned from the Bible that I needed to be saved in order to go to heaven. I knew there was no sin in heaven and I knew that I was a sinner.


Life Isn’t All Sunshine and Roses
By the age of twenty, I had lived in twenty different places and had gone to twelve different schools and universities. My parents were divorced just before my seventh birthday in 1967. Mom took us, including my sister and brother to Summerside, Prince Edward Island to be closer to family.

Church and Altar Calls Didn’t Save Me
We attended the Church of the Nazarene where we heard the Gospel spoken each Sunday night. Many times I went to the front, at the altar call, but I never got saved.

My Dad remarried in 1968, and my Mom in 1972. In October of 1972, my sister and I decided to move to Saint John, New Brunswick to live with my Dad and stepmother. My brother joined us in Saint John the following year and two more siblings were born into the family between 1972-1975.

Let The Good Times Roll!
As a teenager, I had stopped going to Church, and had no interest whatsoever in going to any kind of service. My goal was to have a good time, and Church did not fit in that equation as far as I saw it.

I discovered that I was very good at having a good time. Later in my teens I started drinking and smoking. I was the 'life of the party', at the dances and Clubs. By this time I was smoking a pack a day and I knew that if I kept drinking the way I was, I would probably end up an alcoholic.

God Tries to Get My Attention
God used dreams throughout my life to 'wake me up' to my lost condition. When I was in Grade 4 at Elm Street School, I dreamt that I was sitting at my desk when the sky all lit up brightly. In my dream, the Lord Jesus Christ had come from heaven, and I was on the earth. I knew I wasn’t ‘saved’ because I never had a moment when I had personally trusted Christ's work on the cross to take away my sins. I had never been 'saved' from the punishment my sins deserved. In my dream, I did not go up to heaven with the Lord Jesus Christ. I had been left behind because I was not saved. This terrified me, but I did nothing about it.

What Happened to all the Fun??!!
In 1981, life wasn't going so well for me. Nothing in my life seemed to be working out. I started being disturbed about all my sins because of the punishment I knew they deserved.

On January 16th, 1982, I turned twenty-one. Since it was my 21st birthday, some of my family was going to Mom and my stepfather’s home for a birthday supper. I went there earlier in the afternoon. I was really tired and ended up falling asleep on the living room couch.

Again I had a dream. I dreamt I was standing in our kitchen in Freetown looking out the window. My Dad was standing there, talking on the phone. All of a sudden I heard a loud noise and the sky got really dark. In my dream I realized that the Lord had come, and I wasn't saved. I kept screaming, "It's too late! I've missed my chance! It's too late! I've missed my chance!!!”

I must have really screamed out loud because when I woke up on Mom's couch she was there, asking me what was wrong. The first thing I remember was the tremendous feeling of relief. My mom was saved so I knew when I saw her that the Lord hadn't come. Had He come she would have gone with Him in the Rapture. I was so relieved! I was really crying and was soaking wet in sweat because the dream seemed so real. I couldn't tell Mom what was wrong because I was crying so hard.

When I finally could talk, I told her the dream. She said, "Shelley, you know that the Lord is dealing with you, and you need to get saved." She didn't need to say anything else, I knew she was right. It was Saturday, and she asked me if I would go with her to a Gospel meeting the next night. She had asked me to go with her before to special meetings, but I never agreed to go with her. This time I said, "Yes."

Who Wants My Cigarettes?
Later that Saturday evening, after my birthday supper, I went to the store to get some cigarettes and then to visit some friends who were babysitting. No one was going to the bars that night, and for once that was fine by me.

I sat down with my friends and lit up a smoke. But then instantly the craving for a smoke was gone because there was something much bigger on my mind. I put out the cigarette, and asked the girls which one of them wanted the pack because I had just quit. They looked at me in disbelief and shock, and then took the cigarettes from me. I never did smoke again.

A Storm Outside – A Storm Inside
I went home to Dad's feeling miserable, longing to hear the Gospel preached the next night. But that night an Island snow storm hit us, and on Sunday the whole Island was shut down. I was beside myself all day.

I called Mom in my frustration and asked her why God would allow it to storm. After all, I really wanted to go to the Gospel meeting so I could hear again how to be saved. My poor Mother felt helpless! She got on the phone and called some Christian friends to tell them I was troubled about my sins. She asked them to pray for me. I found out about mom’s phone calls later.

It stormed all day and continued into Monday. I called Mom again on Monday from the upstairs phone. She told me to get my Bible and to start reading the Gospel of John. I hung up the phone and went to my room but my brother was there listening to my stereo and wouldn't leave.

The Happiest Day of My Life
I picked up my Bible off the shelf and went across the hall to his room. There, I got down on my knees by his bed and opened the Bible to the Gospel of John. I read from chapter one and when I got to verse sixteen of chapter three, it caught my attention. It said:

"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that WHOSOEVER... that word jumped off the page at me and I realized in an instant that I didn't have to go to hell because Jesus died for me. At that instant I was saved, and I knew it. The rest of the verse says, "Whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life."

I was so happy; I was crying tears of joy and relief. There, all alone in the bedroom, I was saved reading God's word during a snowstorm that had shut the Island down for a few days. Amazing!

Twenty Five Years of Peace
My life changed. The parties, the drinks and the sports, all the things that I had lived for no longer were of any interest to me. For the past 25 years I have tried to live for the Lord Jesus Christ who loved me so much that He died for me… for my sins. Am I perfect? Certainly not, as you and I both know! But because Christ took the punishment for my sins at Calvary, He cleared me of all my guilt, and some day I will be perfect.

When I get to heaven, I'll have no more pain, sorrow or crying, and I'll be able to spend eternity with my Lord who loved me enough to die for me. This is a Win-Win situation.

Not saved? What are you waiting for?

Know Christ - No hell
No Christ - Know hell.


The Bible says, "Behold now is the accepted time, behold now is the day of Salvation." Hebrews 2:3

I thank God that He saved me. I pray for all who may read my story that you will realize your need and seek salvation now. Later may be too late.


Shelley Reeves McKenna

]]>
shadsluiter@gmail.com (Super User) Personal Stories Sun, 01 Apr 2007 05:55:38 +0000
Phil Sarlo - Tampa, Florida http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1225-phil-sarlo-tampa-florida http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1225-phil-sarlo-tampa-florida

Phil SarloIt has been 35 years since this adventure began.  Those that have heard me tell the four-hour version of the story have repeatedly asked me to put it in written form.  So, here is a much-abbreviated account...

In the summer of 1971 after high school graduation, I had been partying regularly with some so-called friends.  I was depressed and very bored with my life up until then.  As usual, the never-ending search for excitement in whatever form I could find would end in emptiness and depression. 

I would try not to think about the godly influence of two loving parents and all they had tried to teach me about God’s Word and His ways as seen in the Bible.  Down deep I knew they were right, but I was not ready to give up my rebellious, self-indulgent ways.  I was so convicted when I was around them that I made up my mind that I was going to “run away from home” and try to get away from the Christianity that had always surrounded my life.

I not only wanted escape from what I thought were oppressive parents and church influences, I wanted adventure and lots of it.  Well, on a summer Saturday afternoon in late June, I hurriedly made the decision to leave my small Michigan town and head for the bright lights and fun of Miami Beach, Fl.

The flight south that afternoon was a cruel thing to do to my family, especially my mother, since I left without telling them where I was going.  However, I was not thinking about them.  I was only thinking about myself and about what I thought I wanted.  The adventures in the days ahead in S. Florida are too numerous to tell here; however, one thing I know now and suspected then was that God had His protecting hand on me.  This was no doubt due to praying parents and grandparents.

After two weeks in Miami Beach, my parents discovered my whereabouts about the same time I found a “dream job” aboard a world-class yacht that chartered to movie stars and millionaires.  A few days later we headed up the east coast to NY for the summer, just as I started receiving letters from mostly my mother and grandmother. 

The next 100 days spawned adventures that Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn would have been thrilled with.  But, even so, my days consisted of loneliness, disillusionment and despair.  At every turn God reached out his hand to spare my life and speak to my empty heart in my desperate search for peace and fulfillment.  My sins were a constant burden and reminder that there, indeed, was a God who had created within me a conscience.  I knew beyond any doubt that there was a Heaven to gain and a literal burning Hell to shun, but I tried to tell myself that I was a Christian.  I had no peace about it, and I tried to do everything not to think about it.


Those dark days of storms, hurricanes, waves crashing over the entire ship, and nights with the wind tugging at the anchor caused me to think of Eternity.  I was truly “Lost at Sea.”

After miraculously arriving safely back in Miami that November, the Lord through circumstances changed my mind about not going home.  I was determined to continue my quest for peace in spite of all that God had shown me and allowed me to survive through.  I had my heart set on another adventure to California via motorcycle, but God had other plans.  I walked down the jet-way in Detroit on a cold November morning, wondering if I was in my right mind to return home.

I let my family know that I was not returning home as the prodigal son, and I had my own plans, which did not include them.  Well, after being in the biggest cities in the U.S., and then coming home to a small town was more of a letdown than ever.  The emptiness, depression, and memories of that whirlwind summer and the adventures that God had allowed me to return home from made me more miserable than ever.

After being home for two weeks and being bored out of my mind, I decided to go to church to see some of my old friends. The church was having some special services conducted by two visiting evangelists.  I had no intention of listening.  After all, I had heard it a thousand times before.

The preacher was speaking forcefully and loudly about one of the last things Jesus said while on the cross.  It was the phrase, “It is finished,” that caught my attention.  He kept repeating it and explaining what it meant.  He said that it meant there was nothing we could do to save ourselves, that the work was already done, and that all of our sins were completely paid for.  He said that all we could do was to rest in it. 

In a moment of time, it flooded over me.  It was something I had heard many times, but never realized ‘til then…that Jesus, having no sins of His own, took my place and paid the price to satisfy the justice of a Holy God.  Furthermore, God was so pleased with the finished work that He raised Him from the dead with His mighty power. 

The wonder of it all!  Then the thought crossed my mind.  Could it be so simple?  The peace that flooded through me that night and in the days ahead was the answer to that.  What could be better in this world, than to know your sins forgiven and be assured of a home in Heaven.  It does not matter whether it is large or small sins.  We all have them and the Bible says in the Book of Hebrews, “Without faith it is impossible to please God.”  That night, at the end of myself, God gave me faith to trust and rest in the finished work of redemption, receiving it as my very own.

So my dear friend, I beg you to consider these matters carefully.  Read God’s Word, the Bible.  Read St. John, Chapters 1-4, and the Book of Romans.  Ask God to show you your need of His great gift.  My earthly father always told me that God only does business with honest hearts.  Remember, there is nothing you can do to be saved. He did it all.  “It is Finished,” “Paid in Full!”  Rest in Him, as I did all those years ago.

The real adventure began on that wonderful night, now so long ago, and furthermore, it will never have an end, as the Bible reveals—continuing throughout the endless ages of God’s Eternal Day.

For questions or more information contact me:

Philip T. Sarlo   813-782-4925 psarlo@tampabay.rr.com

]]>
shadsluiter@gmail.com (Super User) Personal Stories Thu, 25 Jan 2007 21:03:06 +0000
Brian Elliott - Marion, Iowa http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1224-brian-elliott-marion-iowa http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1224-brian-elliott-marion-iowa

Brian ElliottI was privileged to be born into a family that believed the Bible was God’s Word. Growing up I frequently heard the message of God’s “good news” that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. However, God’s good news was always bad news to me. All it seemed to do was remind me that some day I was going to die and leave this world to meet God. It constantly reminded me I was going to hell. It wasn’t until the night of September 2, 1979 that God’s message became good news to me. I wanted to have my sins forever forgiven. I wanted to know for sure that heaven would be my eternal home when I left this earth. Sitting alone in the back seat of my parents’ car I told God I would just have to go to hell and that is where I deserved to go. There was no hope of heaven for me. I was unable to get to heaven on my own. Sitting in the darkness, my mind went to Calvary. As I thought of God’s Son hanging on the cross I understood, for the first time, that He suffered there for me. He took my place. He absorbed the punishment my sins deserved. Because He died for me I didn’t have to go to hell. That night I received God’s gift of eternal life—a gift that I can never lose; a gift that can never be taken from me.

 

]]>
shadsluiter@gmail.com (Super User) Personal Stories Thu, 25 Jan 2007 21:01:02 +0000
Nancy Olson - Marion, IA http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1223-nancy-olson-marion-ia http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1223-nancy-olson-marion-ia

God saved me when I was eight years old. I came from a non-christian home. However, my father, being in the Salvation Army, decided that even though he and my mom did not go to church, he made sure my sister and I did.  I remember my Sunday school teacher speaking to us about the Lake of Fire and Hell.  They even gave us a chart that showed these places.

The Salvation Army would give every child a certificate that basically says “I want to live and serve God and I accept Him as my Lord and Saviour." Then you sign at the bottom and you were ‘saved’. While I do NOT agree with this, that Sunday I asked Jesus into my heart and I believed what was written on that paper.

I believed that Jesus died on the cross for my sins, and I did want to live for Him. In my child-like faith, God saved me and came into my heart to live forever. Did I do anything? NO! Jesus did it all!

Shortly after, I started going to the Sunday school at the Gospel Hall. Being from a non-christian home, I never had anyone to “confirm” that what I had was really salvation. So by the time I was 12, I was really convicted of my sin and wondered "Am I really saved??" But then God brought to remembrance the time I was eight years old and when I asked Jesus into my heart. He gave me the confirmation from 1 Peter 1:8-9, which says…”Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold…But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.” And I knew…Jesus died for me!!!

On days when I doubt my salvation, I go to several verses, but one main one: 1 John 5:13 “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life…”

]]>
shadsluiter@gmail.com (Super User) Personal Stories Thu, 14 Dec 2006 22:00:15 +0000
Paul Vizzini - Phoenix, Arizona http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1222-paul-vizzini-phoenix-arizona http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1222-paul-vizzini-phoenix-arizona

The gospel came to our family in the mid 1830’s when my great-great grandfather (Giovanni Lenti from Italy) was touring in England.  He was an opera singer and entertained large crowds.  One evening as he was leaving the stage after a performance, the curtain puller passed along a gospel tract to the tired singer.  Giovanni eventually read the tract and trusted Christ as his Savior.  He associated himself with Christians gathered to the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ in England.  Sometime later he moved back to northern Italy where English missionaries soon followed to preach the good news of the gospel.  In the mid 1800’s an assembly was planted in his hometown, Spinetta Marengo.  Through the years many missionaries have called this little town home and it has been a center of gospel outreach in northern Italy for decades.

In 1905 my grandfather Carlo emigrated to Argentina as he knew of assembly workers there.  But after working hard for a few years and too remote to contact local brethren, he returned to Italy.  In 1908 he emigrated to the USA and settled in northern Massachusetts in the little town of Methuen.  He went there as he had a cousin who was preaching the gospel amongst other Italian immigrants.  He helped his cousin while working in a textile mill as a pipefitter.  He met a young Italian girl, Febronia, who had already been saved through his cousin’s labors and they were married in 1912.  Three children were born to the family.  All the while, they knew of no assemblies in the area.

In 1935, a servant of the Lord, Mr. Rocco Capiello, stopped at my grandfather’s home to deliver a gospel tract.  When he realized what the tract was about, my grandfather told him that he and his wife were already saved.  They rejoiced together in the knowledge of a loving Savior.  And when my grandfather found out that this man was associated with an assembly gathered alone to the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ, he rejoiced all the more.   Carlo and Febronia soon made plans for cottage meetings to be held in their home.  Before long, others were saved as they heard the good news of the gospel.  Several other preaching brethren came for tent series during the summer months and a good number were saved.  In 1937 an assembly was planted at Cook’s Corner, Methuen, MA.  It continues to this day.

I was born ten years later to Christian parents that were part of that assembly.  My earliest recollections include attending Sunday School and gospel meetings.  I knew many verses by memory both in English and Italian.  I can recall that I wanted to be saved from my earliest days.  My lost condition bothered me at times.  Often, after a solemn gospel meeting I would return home and think about salvation.  Sometimes I would even try to believe the message.  But then I would forget about it and go off to sleep.  I can remember being upset that our family went to so many meetings.  The other kids on the street had every night open to play.  It seemed to a little kid that our family was always going to a meeting either at the assembly in Methuen or to another nearby assembly.  And so it went for several years.

In 1958, I became increasingly concerned about my sinful condition and about God’s salvation.  That year, I received an encyclopedia for my birthday.  My parent’s home had bookshelves along the staircase going to the upstairs bedrooms. And that’s where mom and dad placed the 24 volume encyclopedia in hopes that I would read some of it.  I soon discovered that the “B” volume had a section on “Believing” and what was involved when a person believes something.  I often took that volume up to my room where I would place it alongside my open bible.  I’d select a gospel verse and carefully read it, then as quickly as I could, I’d read the encyclopedia – all the while trying to apply what I read in the encyclopedia to a specific bible verse.  The more I tried, I became more frustrated and aware of how lost I really was.  With all that I knew about God’s salvation, I couldn’t get it for myself.  

In June of 1958, Frank Pizzulli, a servant of the Lord who had worked in the Methuen area for many years, called to say that he had a burden about coming for a week of gospel meetings.  This was very unusual as we would normally have two preaching brethren come for an extended stay for a series of gospel meetings.  But Frank just had a week open and a burden to come.  Little did I realize that the Lord was sending him to preach to me!  Frank came and as he usually did, he lodged at my grandparent’s home.   He spoke on Sunday night and his message went like an arrow to my heart.  I knew that I was a lost sinner.  That night when we returned home, I asked dad to come up to my room to speak to me about the gospel.  It was to no avail, finally Dad prayed and I went off to sleep still in my sins, lost and on my way to hell.

On Monday morning, mom asked if I’d like a visit with Mr. Pizzulli.  I immediately said, “Yes!”  We went to my grandparents’s home and I went into the little bedroom to speak with Frank.  The scene is still vivid in my mind.  Frank was sitting on the large stuffed chair and I was sitting on the edge of the bed.  He asked me to read gospel verses, several of them over and over again.  He asked me if I wanted to be saved.  I did, but I thought it futile to read some of these verses as I knew them by memory.  I had read many of them on my own for months.  We spent about an hour together and I became increasingly aware how lost I really was.  In fact, I became sure that there was no hope of me ever being saved.  Salvation seemed too hard for me to grasp.  All the while I was convinced that I just wasn’t believing hard enough.  The awful realization finally struck me – I’m lost and lost forever, I can’t get salvation.

Just then as I was reading John 6:47, “He that believeth on me hath everlasting life,” the thought came to me – Jesus died for ME!  Like I had never heard this truth before, the fact that Jesus died became personal to me at that moment.  Why, after months of struggling, did this truth become precious to me?  I think that it was when I finally realized that I was hopelessly lost and helpless to “believe hard enough.”  Just then, my eyes opened to the truth that the work of salvation was already complete by the Lord Jesus Christ.  All my effort of believing was getting me nowhere.  I could see this, as salvation was becoming more and more remote the harder I tried.  It was only when I surrendered, stopped my useless efforts and trusted on the work that was already finished, that I found salvation through faith in Him.  Peace flooded my exhausted soul as I found rest in His finished work of Christ!  I recall telling Frank, “I’m saved!”  He probably already knew, but it was such a relief to have the matter settled! 

There have been times over the past 48 years when my salvation has been most precious.  On one occasion I lay in a hospital bed with both arms attached to IVdrip lines, I was so weak that I couldn’t even open my eyes, and the nurses thought that I wouldn’t survive until morning.  I rested in perfect peace knowing that I was ready to go out of life, into eternity saved!  If my last breath on earth would occur that night, my next sight would be of my Savior and Lord Jesus Christ.  Mind you, I didn’t want to die and leave my wife with two small children, but if it happened, I was at peace and ready to go! 

Dear reader, do you know peace with God?  Are you settled that if you should leave this earth today that you’d be in Heaven?  If not, you CAN know this most important fact, and you can settle the matter right NOW.  Trust God’s word in what it says about the death of His dear Son.  The Lord Jesus Christ came from heaven to provide a full and complete salvation.  He declared from the cross, “It is finished.” John 19:30. You cannot add anything to the work of salvation as it was perfectly completed almost 2,000 years ago upon Calvary’s cross!  You are helpless to save yourself, just accept what Christ did for you, and you’ll know peace with God.  There is no other way to be saved (Acts 4:12.)  Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life, no man cometh unto the Father but by me!”  John 14:6


Paul Vizzini - Phoenix, Arizona
Sunnyslope Gospel Hall

]]>
shadsluiter@gmail.com (Super User) Personal Stories Mon, 11 Dec 2006 18:23:31 +0000
Don Panchito - Puerto Vallarta, Mexico http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1221-don-panchito-puerto-vallarta-mexico http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1221-don-panchito-puerto-vallarta-mexico

Don PanchitoMy name is Don Panchito.  I was born in a little town in the state of Michoacán, Mexico in 1933.  My father was killed seven months before I was born and my mother died six days after she brought me into the world. 

I was an altar boy the Roman Catholic Church in another era.  The people were very fanatical in Catholicism mixed with superstition and witchcraft.  The priest had an incredible domination over all of us so we lived in spiritual darkness and terror of what was called the Holy Apostolic Roman Church.
One day in 1941 I heard a tremendous noise in the sky.  It was the first time that I had seen an airplane.  I remember how it filled me with panic. Hundreds of leaflets were scattered over the avocado fields and the plane continued on its way.  We waited a bit and then we came out of our hiding places. The young men then gathered as many papers as possible.
The pictures on the front cover awoke my curiosity and I had to know what it said on the inside but I didn’t know how to read.  I had never attended a school. 

Without knowing what he was doing, the priest agreed to read to me the stories about the love of God for sinners, the death of Jesus on the cross, Heaven, Hell and eternity.  Then shaking with anger, he commanded that everyone bring their papers to the plaza.  Everyone watched while he pronounced curses on the people in the airplane.  He forbade us from reading that heretical material and ordered us to light a fire with the papers.

But I was so intrigued with them that I hid them in my straw mattress. One at a time I read the leaflets in secret.  With time, I lost all of them or they were taken away from me, but their messages were now engraved in my child-like heart.

Fifty years later, my wife and I came to live in Puerto Vallarta on the coast, together with our children and grandchildren.  While walking one day in the main plaza a friendly person offered me a gospel paper.  I took it home and asked my daughter to read it to me.  Quickly, everything came back to my mind that had happened in my childhood in the small town six hundred kilometers away.  The message in the gospel was exactly like those papers that had fallen from the airplane.
We took note of the address of El Centro Evangélico that was written on the last page.  We found the building the next day and attended the meeting in the evening.

Never in my life had I heard the presentation of the gospel.  For the first time I heard the Bible read.  Those men read two places in the Bible that I more or less remembered and impressed me very profoundly that night.  Now I know them clearly from memory!
One of the passages from the Bible was this

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” 

The other was

“He that hears my word and believes on him that sent me has everlasting life and will not come into condemnation, but is passed from death unto life.”

I understood the message and for the first time accepted what God says in his word.  In other words, I believed, was saved and confessed Jesus as my Savior.  In a short time, I obeyed my Lord in baptism.

I have a bicycle and for fifteen years I have enjoyed going out to share gospel papers about salvation and talking to people about Jesus Christ.  God in his grace has saved my wife, four of our children and several grandchildren.  Now I know how to read a little and this helps me to understand and say what is in the Bible, the word of God.

Not everything has gone perfect for me.  I have a son who is still without Christ.  I hope that you are not found in that condition but pay attention  to the messages that I have learned in my childhood that helped me receive eternal salvation when I was an older man, or as we say in Mexico, “uno grande”.

Thank God for the people in that airplane and for the people here in Vallarta that awoke the seed that was in my heart!  I expect that I’ll go to heaven soon.  I hope that you will be saved so you can go too.

Translated into English.

]]>
shadsluiter@gmail.com (Super User) Personal Stories Mon, 11 Dec 2006 15:44:29 +0000
Sarah Stickfort - Cedar Falls, Iowa http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1220-sarah-stickfort-cedar-falls-iowa http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1220-sarah-stickfort-cedar-falls-iowa

Sarah Stickfort“You can go outside and play,” I remember my dad saying, “but don’t go on the street.” 

I quickly scurried outside to play ball with my sister, and before I knew it, the ball had rolled out onto the street.  I knew I was taking my chances of being caught, but I went out onto the street to get the ball.  Within less than a minute, I heard my dad’s voice calling me inside… he had seen me and I was in trouble.  My parents taught me from a young age that my actions had consequences and that I had to respect authority.  They taught me that even when they were not watching, there was someone else watching that saw my every action…God. 

The fact that I knew God was watching my every action spoke loudly to me one day after lunch when I wanted a cookie for dessert.  There were only five of my favorite chocolate-mint sandwich cookies in the cookie jar, but my mom told me that I had to wait until supper for my cookie so that my two sisters, parents and I could each have a cookie.  Disappointed, the only thing I could think about that afternoon was the cookie in the cookie jar that I couldn’t have for lunch and had to wait for until supper.  So, when everyone was busy and the kitchen was quiet and lonely, I decided that I would eat my cookie now.  Even though I usually enjoyed the chocolate-mint sandwich cookies, this cookie didn’t taste that good and it gave me a guilty conscience that ruined the rest of my afternoon.  That night at supper, I was nervous about dessert time because I didn’t know if Mom would discover that I had eaten a cookie.  When she pulled out the cookie jar and saw only four cookies, she responded “That’s funny, I thought for sure there were enough cookies for all of us at lunch time.  You four go ahead and have these cookies, I don’t need one.”  Too proud to tell my parents about my theft that afternoon, I ate another tasteless cookie.  As I ate that cookie at the dinner table, I couldn’t help but think “Mom didn’t figure out that you ate the cookie this afternoon, but God did, God saw you eat the cookie.  You’re a sinner.”

Even though I had heard Bible stories countless times growing up, the evening that I was able to cover my sin from my parents and recognized that I couldn’t hide my sin from God was the first time I realized that I personally needed to be saved.  My need for salvation became a priority one evening in Gospel meeting as the preacher spoke about Hell and how sinners need to be saved in order to go to Heaven.  I leaned over to my mom and asked her what verse she was reading when she got saved and she whispered back “Isaiah 53:6.”  I turned to Isaiah 53:6 in my Bible and began to read “All we like sheep have gone astray, we have turned everyone to his own way.”  “That’s me,” I thought, “I have sinned against God and am lost.”  I continued to read, “and the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all.”  As I read the last part of the verse, I realized again, “Well, that’s me too, when Jesus died, he died for my sins.”  Right there reading Isaiah 53:6 I trusted the work that was completed at Calvary for my sins and got off the road to Hell onto the road to Heaven and became a born-again Christian.  I was 7 ½ years old at the time.  Salvation is so simple. 

Salvation is so simple that often we doubt its simplicity.  I had many doubts through the years that I wasn’t saved.  These doubts lasted until I was 16 years old when I was thinking about the salvation of one of my friends who was saved through the simplicity of God’s salvation in John 3:16 which says “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”  As I thought about God’s gift of salvation that wonderful summer day when I was 16 years old, I rested on the fact that the work I trusted when I was 7 ½ years old was all that was needed to save my soul and I would never need anything more.  God is satisfied with the sacrifice of His Son and I am too!

]]>
shadsluiter@gmail.com (Super User) Personal Stories Mon, 11 Dec 2006 15:28:46 +0000
Andrew Bergsma - Portage La Prarie, Manatoba http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1219-andrew-bergsma-portage-la-prarie-manatoba http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1219-andrew-bergsma-portage-la-prarie-manatoba

I am one of nine children, brought up in a conservative Calvinistic environment in the city of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.  It was our custom to attend a Christian Reformed church, with a dutch service on Sunday mornings and in english at night.
At home the bible was read at every meal-time and believing that we were christians, we observed sabbath rest on the Lord's day.  Our separation from the world meant that we would never frequent the movies, play cards or use the name of the Lord in vain.
Because we lived five miles from our church and not having a car to go with which to drive we were forced to walk to church twice on sundays. According to our church practice we were not allowed to use the bus or street car on the Lord's day. Therefore, our parents found that to walk a third time to attend sunday school was expecting too much. In God's providential dealings with our family these circumstances proved to be God's way to bringing us in touch with the assembly at Old Cedar Cottage Gospel Hall where we attended their sunday school. 
It was then that one of the teachers took my brother John to hear the gospel during a series of meetings held by Sam McEwen.  The Spirit of God dealt with John who at the age of l5 found joy and peace upon believing.  During world war II he served in the air-force and during his stay in England met with christians who taught him the truth of  believers' baptism.  At the Bible conference in Bath, England he was baptized with others. When he returned home after the war, he identified himself with the saints at the Gospel Hall.   
It was John's genuine life as a believer in our home that made me consider my own relationship with the Lord.  He encouraged me to attend the fall conference at the Victoria Drive Hall, at which time I heard Sidney Maxwell and Theodore Williams preach the gospel.   Previous to this meeting I was questioning myself, realizing that I was religious but didn't have the liberty that others had in confessing Christ as my Saviour. 
On October ll, 195l after hearing these brethern I remained behind wanting to talk to these men.  It was Mr. Albert Joyce who showed me John 3:36 and asked me where I was in that verse.  As I read it carefully I realized that the whole human family was divided into two groups.  If you believed God's record you would possess eternal life. However, the opposite is also true. By not believing, the wrath of God then abides on the sinner.  At that point I took God at His word  and then I too could say by His grace I am saved. 
55 years have passed and His Word still asures me that I have erternal life.  Thank God His work upon the Cross that saves and His unchanging Word assures all who put their trust In Him.

]]>
shadsluiter@gmail.com (Super User) Personal Stories Tue, 05 Dec 2006 21:57:15 +0000
Charles Spataro - Palm Springs, California http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1218-charles-spataro-palm-springs-california http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1218-charles-spataro-palm-springs-california

I was born in East Boston, Ma. into a family of six children. I'm the oldest son with four sisters and a younger brother.
We faithfully went to  Sunday  school  services  at  a  Methodist  Episcopal  church. We were taught many wonderful hymns and given a  scripture  card  each  week  that  had a picture on one side and the story on the other side.   So I believed all  about  The  Lord  Jesus in my mind.  I believed that He healed the sick,  walked on the waves of the sea, raised the dead ones back to life and was  God's Son who came down from heaven.  He  was  crucified,  buried, and rose up from the dead. I wondered why the church was full of people on  Palm Sunday,  Easter, and  Christmas.  The rest of the year, it was a small congregation. 

My sisters,  Anna,  Phyllis, Violet, and Gloria went to a Thursday evening Sewing Class at the  East  Boston  Gospel  Hall.    Sister Theresa  Procopio  showed the girls how to sew and gave a gospel message before the meeting was over.   My sister Phyllis got saved and came home pleading  with  Mom and all of us to be sure getting saved and having sins forgiven and a home in heaven.   I was invited to go to hear the word of God from young people who "really" knew God's word.   I told her that I knew all about the  Bible and had no desire to go. She was persistent, so after a month I went to this "storefront" with a large Bible opened up in one window  and a marker at John 3:16.   They had chairs in a  circle or  squared  for  classes.   I sat in a class of young teenagers and before  the  class  began, one  of  the young boys said to me. 

"You know,  you're a sinner!.   I was not happy with that introduction and I began to defend myself, I stated that I did not swear or smoke, and he said.

"Look at this verse,  All have sinned and come short of the glory of God." 

Then the teacher commenced the class and all I could think of was the fact that I was sinner and although I thought I knew all about the Bible, I had not known about that verse in Romans three.   As an oldest son,  I had  thoughts  of being  in charge and  caused  my Mom some grief with my "bossy" ways over my sisters and younger brother.  

One evening I was convicted of  my  ways  and  knew  that  if I died in my sins I would go to hell and deserved to be there.   I knew that Christ had died upon the cross for sinners, and I knew that His precious  blood  shed  almost  2000  years  ago  had  the  power  to  wash  away  my  sins.    So I  prayed to God and acknowledged  my sins  telling  God that I believed  that  the  blood  of  Christ  could  take  my  sins  away  and  I  was accepting Christ as my Saviour.   I thought to myself,  Can it be this easy?   I'll ask God again to make sure.   So I told God that I was accepting His Son as my  Saviour  becuse  His  Blood that was shed at Calvary had the power to clean me of all my sins.   I felt as it were a relief and weight of my back.   Then I wrote the  date  in  my  Bible since we were taught that a person that is saved has a place Where it happened,

When it happened and How it happened. The date  was January 1st 1945. The greatest event that ever happened by the Soverign Grace of God. I pray that the Spirit of God will reveal Christ Jesus as Lord and Saviour to many  and become as myself, only a Sinner saved by grace.  Jesus saith unto him, I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life: no one comes unto the Father, but by me. John 14:6.

]]>
shadsluiter@gmail.com (Super User) Personal Stories Mon, 27 Nov 2006 20:20:12 +0000
David Zuidema - Midland Park, New Jersey http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1217-david-zuidema-midland-park-new-jersey http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1217-david-zuidema-midland-park-new-jersey

The Conversion Story of David Zuidema

as Told by Himself in Bryn Mawr, PA

Scripture read: Hebrews 9:27 "It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment." Now that's all that I wish to read. My name is David Zuidema, and I'm going to heaven. I read this verse of Scripture because of a great experience and what I went through when this Scripture came to my ears.

I was born in Holland, reared in New Jersey and I went to Iowa to farm. I loved the world, I loved pleasure. But I didn't know where I was going. I came into a condition I had never been in before; I found trouble and sorrow. I had a wife and two children; and my wife and I talked about religion, what place we should go to, should we join up with some place? should we have the children christened? My wife's folks wanted me to talk to the minister; so they invited him to the house. But they were more interested in having the children christened than in me being saved or being brought into the congregation.

Well this man came and paid me a visit. We were more or less concerned about what we should do, so he came and sat with me in my living room. I had a Bible on the table - it was not put there just for that reason; I read the Bible, but I didn't know that there was an Old Testament and a New Testament; I never knew anything about that. If anyone had asked me to turn to the New Testament I couldn't have done it. But I read it; and I said more than once, if anyone could get interested in this book, it must be a wonderful book to read. I was taught to read the Bible, but I would have people criticize me saying I was getting religious. I wasn't getting religious at all. It was a book and I thought I would read it, and I heard it was the Word of God.

Well this man came to see me, this so-called preacher; and I laid the Bible on the table and we sat on two chairs near the table. He said, "Well I've come to see you. Someone has asked me to speak to you about some different things." He talked to me about joining the congregation, about church membership. It didn't suit me very well because I lived with people who were members of his congregation , and they lived like I did, they did what I did. I said to him after he got through with his line of talk, "What good would it do me to become a member of your congregation? That's what I want you to answer me."

"Well," he said, "If you don't do it for yourself, do it for your wife and children."

I replied, "I don't see eye to eye with you on that."

Then he began to talk about the children being christened. And I told him, "Yes, we've talked about that quite a bit. What do you have to say about these children? They tell me if these children aren't christened they'll go to hell." I was facing the children, they were off in a corner in the same room where we were sitting. "Do you mean to tell me if they aren't christened, have a little water put on their head, that those poor children would be sent to hell?"

"No, they wouldn't go to hell."

"Well, where would they go? Would they go to heaven?"

He said , "No, they wouldn't go to heaven either".

I said, "That's strange; where would they go? Is there another place for them?"

He replied, "Oh yes, they'd be in the atmosphere, they would never have rest".

"Now look; we have a Bible here. Could you prove to me from the Bible that that's true what you're saying?"

"I could give it to you indirectly."

"What do you mean by indirectly?"

"Well, we have a little church book, a formula, it's in there."

"Where did you get it from to put it in there?"

He answered, "We got it out of the Bible."

"Here's a Bible. If you got it out of the Bible to put it in this book, show it to me out of the Bible." That was fair.

But he couldn't show it to me out of the Bible; and after a while he admitted to me it wasn't in the Bible.

So of course, we had quite a conversation about becoming a church member. So I said, "If I ever see or hear the right thing, I'll accept it, but I never have heard it yet"; and I hadn't. Well he put his arm on my shoulder and said, "Dave, bear that in mind, hold unto that and you'll be all right". I thought that was a rather strange thing for him to say; to tell me after trying to get me to become a member of his church, to tell me that. And with that we separated; he went his way and I went mine.

[Editor: Dave's first wife had died in childbirth when he was only l9 years old. He remarried and it was the parents of his second wife who had the minister visit him. Shortly after this he moved his little family out to Iowa where he took up farming.]

Following this I was under conviction of sin, but I didn't know what was the matter with me. You know, we had an organ, and my wife played the organ, and we sang some of the beautiful hymns, but I never knew what God had done for me in giving his Son to die for me upon the cross.

But I traveled along and that sin-question always came up before me ...

"I've got to meet God, I don't know if there's a heaven or a hell"; and I didn't.

I knew I had to go into eternity some day ; and there's not a soul in this meeting who can deny that you're on your way to eternity, that's where you're going to end some day. I was concerned about my sin so much, and about meeting God. No matter where I went I was always troubled about my sin. I was afraid to go anywhere. It haunted me; where ever I went I thought about meeting God.

One afternoon I came in from the field after harvesting some of the crops, and I had four horses abreast, right alongside one another; and as I picked up the reins, (I had a great big gate to open up to get the horses into the barnyard), and I'll never forget the experience that took place. I opened the gate to get the horses through and I threw the reins over the horses - one on this side, and the other on the other side, and as I did that, this Scripture came to me, as if someone had spoken it aloud, "Dave, it's appointed unto you once to die, and after this the judgment". There was no one with me or around me except my little boy who was there by me in the barnyard. Well, that puzzled me. That spoke to me more than anything else did. I had never heard the Gospel. I never knew that was a Scripture that came to my mind.

You know, I had a nice wife, a very good woman (but not saved). I thought if anyone had a chance of getting to heaven, it would be my wife. So I went into the house after I had gotten the horses into the barn and I said to her, "I would like to ask you a question ... where are you going when you die?"

You can imagine what she looked like when I asked her a question like that. But to my surprise, she said to me, "I believe I'm going to hell".

Well, that was a big surprise to me. So I said to her, "If that's the case, if you're going to hell, there's absolutely no chance of me trying to get to heaven".

But I went on. We had many a talk , and we used to say to one another, "We ought to do something about this, we ought to go somewhere, we ought to join up with some church".

But I could never see it; because the people who went to these places were just like me. I was comparing myself to them and comparing them to myself. So that went on. But that one thing didn't leave me; the Holy Spirit was convicting me of my sin, and this thought was always with me, "you have to meet God - you MUST meet God". And I thought, where am I going when I do meet God? For months that went on.

Finally I decided, "I've got to get out of this part of the country." I had a crop failure once with water, I got drowned out and I lost a lot of money; and I went unto another farm and I had a good crop, but after the first world war the prices dropped and I didn't make any money yet. So I made up my mind I would move out of Iowa and go up to the state of Minnesota - my people were up there dairying. I decided to go up there , and I thought I could probably get rid of this feeling. You know, I didn't know God; and I asked God to take the feeling away, because I was tormented with it ... always thinking about eternity - dying - meeting God.

I thought , "If I could get away from here, from this atmosphere, I'll probably get rid of it."

I made my preparations, I sold things, I planned things. I went to the bank and to my creditors and told them I was going to move.

They said, "If you move away from here, we'll never get our money".

I replied, "I think you will. If I get it, you'll get it".

So I got everything together, hired a box car and put all that I had left into it and went 350 miles north. I got to my father's farm, got the box car unloaded - I had some horses and hogs and a few pieces of machinery; BUT I still had that terrible feeling: sin, death, meeting God. I had no rest yet. So I was there almost a week or two when I said to my wife - she was sitting by the window, I'll never forget it.

I walked up to her and I said, "You know what I'm going to do?"

She said, "No, what are you going to do now?"

I said, "I'm going to sell what I have and I'm going back to the state of New Jersey".

She said, "What's the matter with you?"

I said, "I believe I'm going to die, and if I do, I want you to be where your folks are and your relatives; I don't want you to be here in the state of Minnesota and leave you here alone."

I gathered what I had, I got an auctioneer, and had him make out sale bills. We had to go to a town called Princeton to have those bills made out, me and the two men.

While we were there we saw a man by the name of Otto, and these two men who were with me asked, "Otto, what are you doing here?"

He said, "I'm going to die at two o'clock". I looked at him; he didn't seem to have any hesitation at all in saying he was going to die at two o'clock.

So they said, "What's the matter? What makes you say you're going to die?"

So he said, "I have to be operated on for appendicitis."

That brought to my mind something that had happened to me. A good friend of mine had been operated on for appendicitis, and you know, I once had an attack of appendicitis, and I thought of this man, and thought if I get operated on and I die, where will I go? And you know I had such pain in my side, that I had to get out of my bed all doubled up, and I prayed to God - I didn't know God, but I prayed to Him anyway. I asked God for mercy, and I asked God to take the pain away from me; and I walked, doubled-up, up and down the floor, and the pain did leave me. I stood up and thanked God that the pain had left me.

I stood with my back against the wall and I saw my wife with the two little tots and I just cried out, "Oh God, show me what to do and I'll do it".

I was looking for something, but I didn't know how to obtain it.

Well anyway, getting back to our visit to Princeton, we got finished with our business and the three of us went back home in the sled. You know, I never knew till after I got saved and wrote to these boys, but these two men who were with me were both saved men. Think of it, me going to the town, me telling them some of my experiences, yet they never talked to me about my soul. Later, when I asked them the reason why, they said they were afraid of me.

They said, "You were so big, and we were so small and we were afraid to tell you of your condition".

Well we got everything sold, and made for the state of New Jersey. But I had this before me all the time; I didn't know I was being convicted of sin by the Spirit of God, and that I was a sinner going to hell.

When we got to New Jersey we rented a little flat. I remember sitting by the window on Sunday mornings and saw the people walking up and down the street.

I said to my wife, "It must be wonderful to know where you're going. These people just keep going back and forth every Lord's Day." But I couldn't see there was anything in it to satisfy me.

About two months rolled by and we moved to a town called Midland Park. That's where I had been reared. I was three years old when we came to that town from Holland; I lived there all my life except for the seven years I lived in Iowa.

That summer there was a Gospel tent pitched in Emerson, NJ ... that was quite a few miles from Midland Park in those days. There was a man whom we had lived with in the state of Iowa, we used to talk things over; and he was interested in my soul, I think.

He came to me and said, "I want you to come with me to these Gospel meetings because these men say they are going to heaven and they know it".

I said, "You know, that's going a little too far ... I don't think anyone can know they are going to heaven when they're on this scene".

So he said, "They'll convince you".

These meetings went on for a couple of weeks; but I was building a little house. You know, the old devil he does everything he can to keep the unconverted occupied with something, and I was occupied with building this home; yet at the same time my sins were troubling me and the thought of meeting God troubled me.

After a while the tent was moved from Emerson to Midland Park on Prospect Street. I heard that these men were coming to town.

On Lord's Day afternoon I sat by the table reading my Bible, and it was as if a voice said to me, "Dave, get up and go to the tent". [The tent had been there a week or so.] So I was obedient. I closed the Bible and went to the tent. Now this was a Sunday afternoon, and there was a ministry meeting in the afternoon, ministering the Word of God to believers.

I stopped on my way at the house of the man who was interested in getting me to the tent and he asked me where I was going?

So I said, "I'm going to the tent".

He said he was glad I was going.

I didn't know what a ministry meeting was, and I didn't know what a Gospel meeting was. But I went into the tent, I was dressed in a blue work shirt and clean blue overalls, and I sat down in the back seat.

Mr. Ben Bradford and Mr. Hugh McEwen were preaching in the tent.

Mr. McEwen spoke first, but what he said I couldn't tell you, I've got to admit. But I know one thing he did say, he was speaking on the very thing I was confused about, he spoke about infant sprinkling.

He said that afternoon, "if anyone in this tent can get up and show me from the Word of God where there is anything about infant sprinkling, I would like him to do it."

I sat in the back seat with a man and I knew he had it done with his children, so I thought he might get up and challenge Mr. McEwen and show him where it was, but he didn't; he kept his seat.

Next, Mr. Bradford got up, but what he said I couldn't tell you much about either. But I knew I was interested. There was one thing I do remember. He said that present meeting was for Christians, for those who are saved, who know their sins forgiven, who are born again. He also said he was glad to see all who had come. While he was ministering the Word of God there were things he came out with made me think someone had told him about my life, and he knew all about me. The way he spoke, I thought surely this man has been in contact with someone who knows me and has told him all about my being convicted of my sin, wondering where I would be for Eternity and having to meet God. Then he said there would be a Gospel meeting at night for people not saved, who don't know they are going to heaven; and he gave all a hearty invitation to come back.

So the meeting was over; I went out and walked up the road with the man I had sat next to in the back. So I asked him, "Bill, why didn't you get up and challenge the man when he asked you or anyone else to get up and show him from the Word of God where infant sprinkling is? You had it done to your children, I'm sure."

He said to me, "It's not there".

So I asked, "Why did you have it done?" I was interested in that because I was interested in my children.

So he told me, "It's not in the Bible at all".

When I got home, my wife said to me, "what did you think of the meeting?"

I replied, "I never heard anything like it in my life. They tell you you have to be born again, you need to be saved, that you need Christ as your Saviour." I continued, "I can't tell you all they said, but I do remember that. I'm anxious to get back tonight, they're going to have a Gospel meeting; but I know we can't both go. Now you wash tomorrow," (Monday was washday,) "so you go tonight and I'll go tomorrow night."

When she returned home from the meeting on Sunday night, I asked her what she thought of the meeting?

She said, "I never heard anything like it before. You know, we're going to hell, we're not saved. We need to be born again. I was glad to be in that meeting and I can't wait till I can go again".

I couldn't wait for Monday night to come. My wife went Sunday and Tuesday, I went Monday and Wednesday.

During that week I was working at a certain place and there were some men who came along with Gospel tracts, and one man handed me some tracts. I had put my lunchbox and my jacket by a tree and they put some tracts by them.

I said, "Those belong to me; I guess you'll try to get me someway".

He said, "I hope we do".

So we read one of the tracts and I said to the young man working with me, "Who are those men?"

He said, "I don't know, but I know they're connected with some people who are having Gospel meetings in a tent on Prospect Street. They surely preach the truth."

He was a church man. I asked him if he had gone to the tent, and he said, "Not yet. But they speak the truth."

On Monday night I went to the meeting; on Tuesday, my wife went, and on Wednesday I went again and I invited the preachers to the house. I wanted this thing settled !

So they came to the house. It was 2:45 when they came and they stayed till 5:45. Mr. Bradford had a well-marked Bible and he read many verses from the Scriptures, but I couldn't tell you any of the verses he read.

But on my mind was, "How am I going to get this great question settled?"

Before he left, he said, "Young man, are you saved?"

I said, "No, I'm not saved"....."

"Are you lost?"

I said, "I can't say I'm lost either".

He said, "That's strange. People say they aren't saved and they aren't lost." Then he gave this illustration:

"Suppose there's a ship on the ocean and there are a lot of people on that vessel and everything is going nice and smoothly with nothing to be alarmed about. But all at once, the captain gives the cry that the ship is going down, she is sinking. Of those who had been on that ship were some saved and were some lost?"

I said, "Yes, those who were rescued were saved, the others perished, or were lost".

He asked, "Was there no third class of people?"

I said, "No, only two"

He said, "That's the same way it is with sinners, either they are going to heaven, or they are going to hell."

So I said "I would like to have that question settled"; and I told him a little of my experience; and he left. And we went to another week of meetings.

The second week I invited the preachers to the house again, and Mr. Bradford read and quoted Scripture to me.

Then he asked again, "Young man, are you saved?"

I said, "No, I'm not saved"

"Are you lost?"

I said, "yes, I believe I'm a lost sinner according to what you have been reading from the Word of God".

And he asked, "Would you like to be saved?"

I said, "I'd give anything to be saved, to know my sins forgiven, to have peace with God".

"Well", he said, "you can't give anything. It's all been paid for. You can't buy salvation, it's all paid for by the atoning work of Christ. God's Son died on the cross for your sins and God says if you believe that, you go free."

Yet with all the Scriptures that he read, I wasn't saved.

Then as Mr. Bradford got up to leave, he said, "I'm going to give you an illustration: Suppose you committed a crime and were to receive 50 lashes over your back. But I love you, and I say to the judge, 'Judge, I love this man, but he committed this crime and is due to get 50 lashes over his back; but I love him and I'll take his place'. If I take your place and receive the 50 lashes, what happens to you?"

I said, "I go free".

He asked, "Why?"

I answered, "Because you took my place".

"Could they hold you any more?"

I said, "No, because you suffered in my place".

"Well,", he continued, "you deserved to go to hell because of your sins, but God loved you so much He sent His Son into the world to go to the cross. Your sins were laid upon Him. He bore the wrath and curse of God for your sins; and now God says if you believe that you'll go free."

So he got up with that and walked toward the door, and asked, "Are you saved, young man?"

And I said, "Yes, I am saved. Thank God, I am saved. I believe what God says concerning His Son.

I was saved right there at my kitchen door at a quarter to six on a Thursday afternoon in 1922.

My wife got up from her chair as these men were going out the door and I just turned around and I met my wife face to face.

She said, "So you're saved?"

I said, "Sure I'm saved. I believe that Jesus died for me".

So she said, "I got saved at the same time when he told the story of how God loved us and sent His Son to die on that cross that we might be saved".

We both had trusted Christ and were saved. About three and a half years later, it pleased God to take my dear wife Home, she left this scene.

The night after I was saved there was an announcement made that if anyone wanted to be baptized, there was going to be a baptism on Saturday afternoon. So I went to Mr. Bradford and asked what a man would need in the line of clothes to be baptized.

He said, "A pair of socks, pants and a shirt".

I was saved on a Thursday, baptized on the Saturday and received into the fellowship of the Paterson assembly on the Lord's Day, where I remained until the meeting started in Midland Park in 1927.

I would like to tell you this, too. When I left the West, I left a lot of debt. They never thought they would ever get the money, and I didn't have it to pay.

One day a man came into my yard to talk to me. He had heard that I had gotten saved.

"Yes, I got saved. I never heard a story like it before."

The man said, "I went down to the tent but I can't understand the English language too well. So you are saved."

"Yes", I said, "I know my sins forgiven, I have peace with God, and that whole burden rolled away. What peace and joy settled in that bosom of mine. To think that God loved me, and gave His Son to die on that cross for me."

Now this man knew me when I was in the state of Iowa when I was going through some of this trouble.

He said, "Dave, you're a Christian now you say".

"Yes", I said, "I am. I'm a sinner saved by the grace of God, that makes me a Christian."

"You know", he said, "you left a lot of debt in Iowa."

He didn't have to remind me of that; I knew that. That was the best thing he could tell me after I preached to him. "

But I still say now what I said then, "If God gives me the money, I'll pay the money back."

And you know God did, and I'm glad of it tonight. I started in a little business; and nine years after God saved me, I went out to that country and paid every cent that I owed. The people were astonished. They didn't know what to make of it; and I told everyone of them how God saved me; and that was the reason I went out there, to pay the debt that I owed.

I went to one old man. I had given him a note, it was only a piece of paper. I had no money so he took a note. I owed him for a horse and some seed corn, it amounted to $120. I went to the door and a woman answered, so I asked if the man lived there whom I was looking for, and she said he did live there . It was more than ten years since I had seen him. I told her my name, but she didn't know me. I asked if I could see the old gentleman; so she took me into the bedroom to see him. He lay there, this poor old man, unshaven. I spoke to him in the Holland language,

"Do you know who I am?"

He said, "No, I don't know you".

I said, "Oh yes, you know me all right, but it's been awhile since you saw me. Do you remember a man who bought a horse and some seed corn from you? It amounted to $120?"

Well, he was pretty old, but he finally woke up. "Yes", he said, "I remember that".

He said, "I just got rid of that note not too long ago. I carried it in my pocket, in my wallet, and you know how paper gets worn from folding and unfolding it, and by and by it broke all to pieces, and I said, 'I'll never get this'".

"Remember how much it was?" I told him and he agreed on the amount. "Well here's your check for $120 and if there's any more I owe you, let me know." It took him by such a surprise I almost thought he was going to die of heart failure.

I went to another man; I owed him $80. He came to the door after I knocked, and said, "Who are you?"

"My name is Zuidema."

"Where are you from?"

"I'm from New Jersey. I used to farm out here. Remember a man who bought a wagon box of seed oats that cost $80?"

He thought awhile, and said, "Yes, I do". So I told him I was there to pay him the money.

The man said, "I never thought of you again; I said, 'It's gone, I'll never see it'".

"Well here's the money. The reason I'm here is not only because I got the money, but I want to tell you how God saved me." He didn't know anything about that. I told him how God saved me and I had told the people if I get the money I'll be back here to pay it.

He said, "Well I've never seen anything like this in my life". There was a paper being published out there; he said, "I'm going to put this in the paper, how a man came back after so many years to pay his debt'"

I repaid not only these two. I did it to all I owed money to.

That's what God did for me. God did so much for me. God was so good to me that I could go back and pay the debt I owed. The Word of God says, "Show what great things God has done for you". And God surely couldn't do anything greater. He saved my soul. He got me out of all my trouble, and I don't have to worry about where I'm going; because I'm going to heaven.

]]>
shadsluiter@gmail.com (Super User) Personal Stories Wed, 22 Nov 2006 16:50:29 +0000
Priscilla Van Der Hart - Omaha, Nebraska http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1216-priscilla-van-der-hart-omaha-nebraska http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1216-priscilla-van-der-hart-omaha-nebraska

Priscilla Van Der HartNot Afraid To Die

It’s a normal workday.  I’m sitting at my desk and the phone rings, I answer with the standard business greeting for the automotive facility where I work, and the voice on the other end says “Hi, this is the Sheriff’s office, and we need a tow truck dispatched to an accident scene.”  I ask the location of the accident, get the necessary details, and tell them that we can dispatch a truck immediately.  The voice on the other end thanks me, pauses for a moment, and then says “by the way, this accident was fatal.”  Instantly I’m reminded how fragile life is, and how glad I am that I’m ready to die. 

I haven’t always been ready to face death.  As the oldest child in my family, I enjoy the company of many sisters and brothers.  But I can remember a time when there was only two of us children; one sister just one year younger than me. And then I have this vague memory of there being only me again, and no younger sister.  My younger sister had leukemia, a blood disease, and when she was just 11 months old, she died.  That was my first experience with death.  And even while very very young, I knew in my heart that death was real, and that it could come at any age.  Another early memory I have, is of one Sunday morning meeting, sitting and observing my parents and other Christians remember the Lord.  As the meeting came to an end, a hymn was given out, and a brief message was spoken.  The hymn was one that had been sung at my little sister’s funeral, and I well remember sitting there that Sunday morning, crying, and knowing in my heart that death could come, but I was not ready to die.  After the meeting, my grandmother came up to me, and asked me what was wrong.  I told her that I wanted to see my little sister again someday, and she wisely told me that I needed to get ready, so that someday I could see my sister again.  I knew what she meant when she said “get ready”.  I had been taught from infancy that I was a sinner.  And if I was a sinner, then that meant that I had done wrong things against God.  I knew that God was in heaven, and that there is no sin in heaven.  And I knew that if I ever wanted to be in heaven someday, then I had to have my sin taken care of, because with my sin, I could never be in heaven.  When Grandma told me that I needed to get ready, she meant that I needed to have that sin removed, so that when it was my time to die, there would be nothing keeping me out of heaven. 

It is one thing to know you need to prepare for something.  It’s another thing entirely to actually prepare.  I was young, and had plenty to occupy my mind.  Occasionally I would think of death, and missing my chance to be in heaven.  I believed I was a sinner.  I believed I needed to have my sins forgiven, needed to be saved.  I believed that Jesus could do this for me, that He could save me.  But I couldn’t quite get it.  One summer night while a thunderstorm pounded the outdoors, I remember lying in my bed, doing my very best to “believe”.  I couldn’t figure out how to believe.  I couldn’t believe enough, or believe the right way, no matter how hard I tried.  Every Sunday night I would sit and listen to men tell how I could prepare for life after death, how I could have my sin taken care of.  How the Lord Jesus took all my sins away so I could be in heaven someday.  All I had to do was believe it.  Trust in Him to save me from death.  I knew what they said was true, because it came from the Bible, God’s word.  I wanted to be ready for death.  I wanted to have my sins removed.  I wanted God’s salvation.  But I couldn’t figure it out, and so I didn’t accept it.  The solution for my problem was available, but I had to accept it in order for it to be effective.

In January of 1991, when I was 8 years old, I decided it would be a good idea to get God’s salvation when my birthday came in February, so that I would never have any problem remembering the date when God saved me.  About a week before my 9th birthday, I was in a car accident.  The car rolled onto its top, and lay there in the ditch by the road.  I remember getting out of that car, looking back at it as we walked to a nearby home to call for help, and thinking in my mind “Priscilla, if you had died in that car wreck, you would NOT be in heaven.”  I knew God was giving me another chance to trust Him, but I still put it off.  My birthday came and went, and in the excitement of gifts, and cake, and everything that a birthday holds, I hardly thought about my biggest need.

At the beginning of March, that same year, we received news that a friend of ours had died.  I knew him very well; he was the father of some of my very own friends.  Again, I was faced with the huge reality that death can come at any age, and I needed to be ready!  His funeral was in a different state, several hours from my home in Nebraska.  I remember traveling during the night, looking out into the darkness, as we drove to that funeral, and thinking about the seriousness and finality of death.  I vividly remember looking into that coffin, and knowing that it was only his body there.  His soul was in heaven.  And if I ever hoped to see him or my little sister again, I had to make sure I was going to heaven.  When we got back home to Nebraska, I once again tried and tried to get saved.  Tried to believe.  Tried, and waited for the right feeling, so that I would know I was ready for heaven.  That feeling never came.  I knew I was no closer to being ready then I had ever been before.  Finally, one night as I lay in bed, having tried again to believe, I told myself “I can’t get it.  I can’t figure it out.  I don’t know how to believe.  I can’t go to heaven”.  And then, after I had given up on all my own efforts, God in His awesome way quietly reminded my heart that I didn’t have to do anything.  His son Jesus had done it all so many years ago when He died on a cross.  When He hung there, He was taking the punishment that I deserved for sins I had done.  He died, so I didn’t have to.  I couldn’t do anything to help my situation.  That’s why He came.  To provide me with a way to have my sins forgiven.  To give me the opportunity to be in heaven.  When I understood that, I was saved.  I was ready for heaven, just by simply accepting what Jesus had done for me.  That night was March 11th, 1991

Everyday, I see people ignore death, play with death, mock death, fear death.  Sometimes, when they least expect it, death knocks on their door, and there is no avoiding it.  That’s why I’m so thankful to be ready.  I don’t really want to die, but I know that no matter when, or where, or how death comes for me, I am ready to die.  I know I will be in heaven.  God promises that nothing can separate us from His love.  Not even death.

Even now I can think of several people who meant a lot to me at one time, but now they’re gone.  They were all ages.  From a few days old, to nearly a century old, it didn’t matter; death claimed them.  People I once knew, living, breathing, laughing, loving people; gone.  I’m separated from them, for now at least.  But the ones who were ready, the ones who believed God when He said His son Jesus had died to take away sins, they are in heaven now, and I will see them again.  Nothing compares to knowing without a doubt that when it is my turn to leave life as I know it, I’m ready, and heaven is waiting for me. 

-My helplessness-
-God’s provision-
Romans 5:8 
But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

-My hardships-
-God’s power-
Romans 8:35,38,39
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

-My hope-
-God’s promise-
Revelation 21:4
And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.

 

 

 

]]>
shadsluiter@gmail.com (Super User) Personal Stories Mon, 20 Nov 2006 05:58:55 +0000
Bob MacLeod - Hickory, North Carolina http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1215-bob-macleod-hickory-north-carolina http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1215-bob-macleod-hickory-north-carolina

Bob MacLeodBob MacLeod - Hickory, North Carolina

     I was born to Christian parents in 1966 in Okinawa, Japan, where my father, who was in the Air Force, was stationed.  From my first days I heard the gospel and of my need of a Savior.  A few years after returning to the United States we lived in McKeesport, Pennsylvania where I went to Sunday school at the McKeesport Gospel Hall.  As a child I never had to be convinced that I was a sinner and needed salvation.  I had a fear of being left behind at the Rapture.  Sometimes at night I would listen at the door of my parents’ room; I wanted to assure myself that they were still there, that the Rapture had not occurred.

    As I got older I spent several summers with my grandparents in Hickory, North Carolina, where I regularly attended meetings at the Hickory Gospel Hall.  During one visit, at the age of 10, I remember sitting in a meeting during which Mr. Jesse Howze, a man from the congregation, was preaching the gospel.  I don’t remember specifically what he spoke about but I became convicted of my need of a Savior. As I sat there on the bench, I simply accepted the truth of John 3:16

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son.  That whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." 

...that “whosoever” meant me, and I accepted the gift of God’s Son as my Savior.

   I was baptized in the Atlantic Ocean in North Carolina at the age of 14 while on a retreat with the Carolina Christian Fellowship church where my parents attended at the time.  I was received into assembly fellowship in the Hickory Gospel Hall at the age of 18, and have been in happy fellowship ever since.

]]>
shadsluiter@gmail.com (Super User) Personal Stories Sun, 19 Nov 2006 23:30:46 +0000
John Brokaw - Jackson, Michigan http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1214-john-brokaw-jackson-michigan http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1214-john-brokaw-jackson-michigan

John BrokawMy Conversion – August 21, 1961 

I was 23 years old when God saved me.  I was not raised in a Christian home.  My mother took me with her to the Lutheran Church and I went through the Confirmation Classes. 

I left home at age 17 and joined the Air Force, getting deeply involved in all the pleasures of this world.  I am not proud of the fact that I tried just about everything. It is a good thing there weren’t any drugs at that time or I probably would have tried them.

I was discharged from the service December 1959 and was introduced to my wife by a cousin of mine.  I was attracted to her immediately, because she looked and acted different than any girls that I had met before.  I asked her to go out with me.  She said she would only go with me to a Gospel meeting which was held every Sunday evening at the Gospel Hall.  After the meeting one night, when I was taking her home she opened her bible and read to me Luke 16.  It was about a Rich Man who had died and gone to Hell!  I had never before heard this and it deeply affected me.

At this time, the Christians were building an addition to the Gospel Hall.  People spoke kindly to me and I wanted to be with them, so I offered to help. Shortly after this, they pitched a tent nearby at a place called Minard’s Mill.  There they preached the gospel and I went almost every night.  Then they moved the tent to another location.  I went every night.  Even when Carolyn and Lois left for Vacation I called Carolyn’s Mom and asked if I could go with her.  She was only too happy to go with me.    The preacher, Mr. McBain, came to help me clean the travel agency that I cleaned every week.  I just knew he was going to preach to me, but he didn’t!  I was shocked and disappointed.  He just got down on his hands and knees and cleaned and hummed hymns.  He was only pleasant and kind to me.

I remember going to a funeral where the preachers said that they KNEW she was in heaven - for sure!  I knew if it were I in that casket, I wouldn’t be in Heaven.  The same night after the funeral, I was home alone and I got out the Sunday school paper that I had saved.  Inside the paper was the bible verse John 3:16. 

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son.  That whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." 

 I just sat, reading it and underlining it.  Two preachers, Mr. McBain and Norman Crawford, came over to my house and read some verses to me and prayed with me.  I still kept going back to John 3:16 as that was stuck in my mind, and I finally saw ME in that verse and EVERLASTING LIFE (knowing for sure) that I’d be in heaven. 

John Brokaw

]]>
shadsluiter@gmail.com (Super User) Personal Stories Sun, 19 Nov 2006 23:22:03 +0000
Bryon K Meyers - Pasco, Washington http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1212-bryon-k-meyers-pasco-washington http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1212-bryon-k-meyers-pasco-washington

Bryon MeyersBryon K Meyers - Pasco, Washington

How God touched my life 

I was born on a cold winter day at my Aunt and Uncle’s home in Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada on January 19, 1945. At the age of four we moved from living on the farm in the Taylorside area into Melfort. Dad and his brother continued to farm together in the summer and operated a large portable sawmill north of the town of Hudson Bay, Saskatchewan during the winter months.

When I was eight, Dad sold the farm at Taylorside and bought some land at Hudson Bay. At that time, Dad had gotten away from the Lord and eventually left the Taylorside Assembly church. Because there was no Assembly church at Hudson Bay, we stayed in Melfort. We would live on the farm in Hudson Bay in the summer months when there was no school helping Dad with the farm work. When Dad got away from the Lord and sold the Taylorside farm, we went from financially rich to financially poor. Mom took in boarders to help pay expenses. The four of us kids also did odd jobs to help out. It was a happy day when Dad was restored to the Lord.

We went to church at the Taylorside Gospel Hall which was about 9 miles west of Melfort. We had only one family car which Dad needed and he was seldom at home, so we always had to catch a ride out to church with one of the church members who lived on a farm just out of town. We would walk about a mile across town to the main road that went out to Taylorside.

Mom always read the Bible to us after breakfast every morning and taught us about God, His love and our need to be saved. We always went to church, learned Sunday School verses and understood that we were sinners.

Winters were long and very cold with lots of snow. Our church usually had a gospel series during these long cold winter nights which would usually last for four or five weeks with two preachers speaking every night except Saturday. It was during one of these gospel series in November of 1955 that I got saved. Mr. Albert Joyce was there for gospel services. After hearing night after night the truth of heaven and hell, the need of having ones sins forgiven and that Jesus Christ was the only answer, I became convicted of my sins and wanted to become a Christian. I had been taught these things in church but I really never gave them much thought. Now the Spirit of God was convicting me that if I was ever going to be in heaven, I needed to know that when Jesus Christ died on the cross, he died for the punishment of my sins.

One night I so badly wanted to be saved that I stayed in my seat while others were leaving  and waited for someone to come and talk to me about salvation. I looked up and saw some of my cousins going out. They were not saved and laughed at me for staying behind. Their look seemed to say, “you don’t want to be saved, why are you staying behind?” Foolishly I got up and walked out. I knew that if I died in my sins or if the Lord were to come back, I would go to hell.

On the way out an old aunt of mine whispered over my shoulder, “I know you want to be saved and I am praying for you.”

The Lord used that to speak loudly to my soul. It was only a few nights later, on November 15th sitting by my friend Grant Seale, that I decided that I had to get saved that night.

The thought came to me, “what if your friend Grant gets up and leaves, will you leave?”

In my heart I knew that I couldn’t let others influence my decision for eternity. Again I stayed in my seat after the service was over. Grant also stayed as the Spirit of God was dealing with him also. My uncle Arthur Taylor came and went over God’s plan of salvation with us, quoting many Bible verses.

He quoted Romans 5:6 “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.” 

That verse made me realize that if Christ died for the ungodly, then He died for me as I was ungodly. That night at the age of 10, I knew the truth that Jesus died for my sins. That night the burden of sins was lifted as I rested on what the Lord Jesus had done for me.  The people who gave me a ride that night knew that I was in a hurry to get home and tell Mom that I had gotten saved so they took me home instead of making me walk the last mile. Mom was laying in her bed reading her Bible when I walked in to tell her.

She took one look at me and said, “you got saved tonight!” 

I said, “how do you know?”

She said, “it is written all over you face.” 

I was later baptized and received into Assembly fellowship.

For the last 51 years, I have enjoyed the truth…

  • that my sins are forgiven through the death of Christ and His resurrection
  • that I have been spiritually born into the family of God
  • that God is my father
  • that God is always there for me
  • I served a living Savior who is coming again

Are you ready for eternity?

]]>
shadsluiter@gmail.com (Super User) Personal Stories Sat, 04 Nov 2006 15:20:23 +0000
Heidi McCandless - Burk's Falls, Ontario http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1211-heidi-mccandless-burks-falls-ontario http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1211-heidi-mccandless-burks-falls-ontario

Heidi McCandlessHeidi McCandless - Burk's Falls, Ontario

Procrastination.  Every one of us deals with this to some degree.  In some situations it doesn’t make much difference, in others, it can change the course of your life!  I almost missed the most important thing ever because I was too slow to realize how important it was.  I’m speaking of course of my own life – eternal life that is.

I grew up attending church, going to Sunday school and knowing that God said in the Bible that I needed to be “saved”.  I needed to have a time when my sins were forgiven so I could go to Heaven.  My family went to meeting after meeting where the speakers would explain that the Bible says we are sinners and need to look to Jesus Christ to have our sins forgiven.  I was a “good kid” trying to not disappoint my parents by breaking the rules.  This was great for my Mom and Dad but it made it harder for me to realize that I was indeed a sinner.  When attending church at the Gospel Hall I would be concerned about going to Hell but couldn’t seem to “figure out” salvation so just kept leaving it until the next meeting – procrastination! 

In 1984 I graduated from high school.  Because of Orson Well’s book, 1984, I was almost positive the Lord Jesus was coming and I would be left behind.  You would think that would have motivated me to seek for salvation with all my might.  Instead, the year came and went and of course the Lord still had not come.  I relaxed and decided to enjoy life.  I went to college and decided to try some of the things my parents had always forbidden mo to do.  Life at 21 was great.  I had a good job as a secretary, my own car, my own apartment and a good-looking boyfriend.  What else is there to wish for?  It was exciting but often at the end of the day lying in bed I realized that I was empty. 

In September two men came to Iowa to preach about being saved.  They knew me and were concerned that I would miss Heaven.  They called me and asked if we could meet to talk.  I knew what they wanted to talk about and didn’t really want to get together.  But I had good manners and we met.

While talking to the preachers and reading bible verses with them, I realized one thing – I thought that whenever I really wanted to get saved I could.  But I would soon find out that I couldn’t! 

The men told me to go home and read Romans chapter 3 and picture the scene as a courtroom with God as the judge and myself standing before him.  The next day I did this.  It seemed that every verse in that chapter described me.  I was a sinner and deserved to go to Hell.  It was a desperate feeling and I wanted help!  The next night after the meeting, the preachers met with me again.  They asked me to read 1 Peter 3:18,

“For Christ also has once suffered for sins, the Just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God”. 

I realized that I was the unjust one (sinner!) that the Just One (Lord Jesus Christ) had died for on the cross 2000 years ago!  I was saved!  God said Jesus died for sinners and that was me!  God cannot lie and I am relying on Jesus Christ death alone as my “ticket to Heaven”.

I nearly missed out on the best thing in life – eternal life.  I would not recommend that you procrastinate about your own life either!

“Seek ye the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near”

After my salvation, I met married Steve McCandless, from St. Thomas, Ontario.  We have two children - Brittany and Ian.

]]>
shadsluiter@gmail.com (Super User) Personal Stories Thu, 02 Nov 2006 18:50:40 +0000
Byrne Foreshew - Arnstein, Ontario http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1210-byrne-foreshew-arnstein-ontario http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1210-byrne-foreshew-arnstein-ontario

Byrne ForeshewAround the year 1900 or a little earlier the glad tidings of the gospel reached a small town called Arnstein, Ontario. A small village of farmers, loggers and  store keepers, having a total population of about 300 people. Nearby towns of Loring and Port Loring would bring this number up to about 1000 in later years.

I trace the message of the gospel back to its entrance into my family, starting with my grandmother on my father’s side who was saved when she was in her early twenties when she moved into the Arnstein area to teach school. On my mother’s side, the gospel first reached her grandfather and grandmother who where German immigrants who among others had settled in Arnstein. By the time my parents where born the gospel had caused very strong and bitter feelings on my mother’s side and a rather passive, carefree attitude on my father’s side. My mother was raised in a denomination that preached that Heaven was gained by “good works”, but my father was fully acquainted with the gospel, being the youngest of 9 children who all attended one of the three Sunday School’s held by the local assembly of believers.

I am the youngest of four children (all boys) and the reality of God’s salvation never entered our home until just before the birth of the third son. It was at this point that my parents both sought out God’s salvation and became the recipients of eternal life through faith in Christ (they would have been in their early 30’s). By the time I was born my brothers where going to Sunday School and as often as possible to the Sunday evening gospel meeting at the Gospel Hall.

My upbringing was the best that a child could dream of, but the presence of God’s word in my home was limited. Sunday morning we would read the Bible after breakfast and before going to bed a Bible story book would often be read to us. But talking about God and being told about what was in the Bible was what my Sunday School teachers did. They took a very keen interest in my soul and were very diligent and faithful in presenting to me, not only my sin and Christ as the Saviour, but also many things about God and who He is and all the things that he has done and can still do. What those teachers instilled in my mind and soul as a child are invaluable and where the basis and beginning of my search for “God’s way of Salvation”.

One teacher will always stand out in my mind, for this and numerous other reasons. Each Sunday as the class was ended and we where receiving our Sunday School work papers, to be completed for next week, she would say, “I’ll see you next week, that is if the Lord doesn’t come and take all the believers up to heaven”. This statement never became routine or common to me; it began to work in my young soul. It was thoughts of the Lord’s coming that would often cross my mind when someone wasn’t in a certain place or when they said that they would be there or when you expected someone to be home when you called or came in the door but the house was empty, even though the family vehicles where in the driveway. On these occasions I would be found, riding my bike at a rapid pace down the country road to my grandmother’s place to see if she was home, for if she was I knew that “the Lord had not yet come and I hadn’t been left behind”.

The assembly in Arnstein has been blessed over the years with godly elders, who had a sincere care for the “little flock” as well as those who where without Christ. Being in an assembly that has commended at least eight workers to labour in the gospel, its focus has always been in “reaching the lost”. With such a focus and desire they where able to see that there was a family of four boys, the older ones in there teens and none of them saved, but seemly showing some interest. The assembly began to pray and plan for gospel meetings in the month of March, 1981. The focus was the souls of those four brothers. With this all unknown to me, I began to be stirred in my own soul about my sin, eternity, the coming of the Lord and how I could be ready if He should come. With a solid foundation laid by two Sunday School teachers, the prayer of a godly grandmother, the exercise of a gospel minded assembly; God took up a dealing with my 8 year old soul. This working of God with me included sleepless nights, dreams of His coming and me being left behind, an awareness of my sin and a struggle as to “How can I be saved?” and “What does it really mean to believe?”.

It was a cold winters Sunday night in Arnstein and the Gospel Hall was filled as usual,  I was sitting between my parents about 5 rows from the front and the second seat in. The first speaker has finished, I haven’t heard a word that he said, all I can think of is “I want to be saved, but I don’t know how.” It’s ten minutes to 8 o’clock and the second speaker is speaking on John 3:16 and Revelation 20:15 the two “Whosever’s”. In front of me on the wall is a text about three feet by four feet, it was John 3:16. As the preacher spoke about how we can only be one of the two “Whosever’s”, either the one that has eternal life and their name is written in the book of life because they believe that Jesus died for their sins or the other whose name is not in the book of life and will never be in heaven but as an “unbeliever” they must spend eternity in the lake of fire. That night looking at that text on the wall, listening to the words of the preacher, the word “whosoever” in the text seemed huge to me. I realized then and there, that I could be that “whosoever” and I could have my name written in the book of life, if I simply “believed – take God at His word” that Jesus died for me. God can’t lie, He can’t change and His word is always faithful; therefore if God said it I can believe it.  I did that night and by His amazing grace I became the possessor of eternal life, that was February 2, 1981.

After the last hymn was sung and I had explained to dad why I was crying, we got up to go out and there coming towards us, against the flow of people, was my Sunday School teacher. Kneeing down in front of me she said with a smile and tears in her eyes, “You got saved tonight didn’t you?” How did she know? Eternity only knows. But I think that when you are so taken up with reaching souls with the gospel and constantly praying for them, when that prayer request is fulfilled the joy is not only in the presence of the angels of God but also in the hearts of those that care and pray. I am so thankful for the Sunday School teachers I had. Thankful for their faithfulness, prayer life, tenderness, godliness and interest in just one soul……mine.

Well, its only February and the gospel series isn’t to start until March, one of the four brothers has been saved. The series began and before the month ended my oldest brother was saved, that’s two of the four brothers. It was 12 years later, just after I had been involved in my first gospel series, which was in Arnstein, brother number three was saved. I have one more brother, he is next to me in age and as of yet he has not professed to be saved. Please pray for his soul, he comes to the gospel meetings and is favourable to it, only God knows why he is still outside the door. I know that the God of all mercy and grace can reach him to, just like He has the rest of the family.


This is my story of God’s grace to an 8 year old boy and the eternal value of the work of Sunday School teachers. If it wasn’t for their care I don’t know where I would be today. They truly have an awesome work and responsibility in shaping and moulding young lives in relation to eternity in the light of the Word of God

As of July 2005, with the confidence and support of three assemblies, I have been commented to the full time work of the Lord. This comes 5 years after being involved in a new work and being a part of planting an assembly in Brampton, Ontario. In order to fulfill His service He has given me a life’s partner, Lois Tait whose support, labour, help and spiritual strength has been a true benefit in our service for Him.


Serving the Best of Masters, for to Him I owe my all,

Byrnell Foreshew

]]>
shadsluiter@gmail.com (Super User) Personal Stories Tue, 31 Oct 2006 23:31:21 +0000
Becky MacLeod - Hickory, North Carolina http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1209-becky-macleod-hickory-north-carolina http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1209-becky-macleod-hickory-north-carolina

Becky MacLeodBecky MacLeod - Hickory, North Carolina

I am very thankful to God for placing me in a godly home where His Word was of utmost importance.  Born in 1968 in Santiago, Chile, the 4th & last child of missionary parents, I was exposed to the gospel- the good news of Jesus Christ- right from the beginning of my life.  Throughout my childhood I regularly heard the message of sin and my need of a Savior.  Growing up we attended meetings most nights of the week in different towns, including gospel, ministry & prayer meetings, and averaged 6 meetings on a Sunday, including 2 Sunday Schools and 2 Gospel meetings in different towns.  I don’t recall being bothered by such a number of meetings- it was just a way of life in a busy missionary family.  In fact, after moving to the USA at the age of thirteen I found myself really looking forward to Wednesday night meetings at the Gospel Hall because I was bored!

At the age of three our family returned to the USA on furlough for about two years.  We lived in McKeesport, PA and my parents were in assembly fellowship in the assembly that meets in Gospel Hall there, where once again, we heard clearly of our need of a Savior. Around the age of five I remember thinking about my soul, and going to my room and sitting down on my bed.  I knew I was a sinner and that my sin would take me to hell.  I remember asking the Lord Jesus to save me and to take me to heaven when He came back for the saved (at the Rapture).   I did not spend a long time in soul trouble at that age, but at the first serious thought I had about the matter I simply trusted, “as a little child,” that Jesus had died for me.  Then I got up and went out to play, knowing the matter was settled. 

Unfortunately, I did not speak to anyone about it at the time, and experienced doubts about my salvation for years.  My parents would ask me if I was saved and I would sometimes reply “yes,” and sometimes “I don’t know.”  By the age of twelve I knew for sure I was saved and had no more doubts.  Throughout the years, although I’ve often checked my foundation, I’m thankful that I’ve never been plagued with doubts about my salvation since then.

Shortly before my thirteenth birthday I became convinced about obeying the Lord in baptism.  Even though by then I was sure of my salvation, I was not sure whether I had really gotten saved at the age of five, or around age seven, when I had done some soul searching and had prayed that the Lord would save me, just in case I really hadn’t gotten saved. (I clearly remember that occasion as well, standing beside the wood stove in our house in Osorno, Chile.)  Before asking for baptism I prayed that the Lord would reveal to me the time of my salvation, and He impressed upon me the first experience at the age of five.  What joy it was to feel God answering the prayer of a young girl.  I was baptized in the Rio Rahue in Osorno, Chile, in November, 1981, at the age of thirteen, and was received into assembly fellowship in the Osorno Gospel Hall two weeks later. 

A little less than a year later our family moved to North Carolina in order for us to attend High School here.  I have been in happy fellowship in the Hickory Gospel Hall, NC since September 1982.

Jesus said:  “Suffer (allow) the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.”

Related content:

History of the Hickory Assembly.

]]>
shadsluiter@gmail.com (Super User) Personal Stories Sat, 28 Oct 2006 23:51:22 +0000
Bill Guiffredo - Brookfield, CT http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1208-bill-guiffredo-brookfield-ct http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1208-bill-guiffredo-brookfield-ct

When as a child of almost three, my parents divorced, and my sister and I lived with my mother at my grandparent’s home in Connecticut. At three or four years old, I remember that my father would sometimes visit on weekends and take my sister and me on long walks through the town. On occasion we would be with him as he visited the priest in the rectory. Father Garret was the priests name and I recall that as my sister and I played on the floor he would sit at a table with my father and they would talk. Always at the end of their discussion he would gather us together and while placing his hands on our heads he would pray to God for our wellbeing. He was really talking to God and that impressed me. My fathers visits dwindled until the only times I saw him were an occasional passing on the street. He was seriously alcoholic.                            

My mother had become a Catholic prior to her marriage and with what little money she had, as a single parent, sent me to a catholic school for my education. Of course there were crucifixes everywhere but what it was about was unknown to me. Periodically as a school group we would visit the church and the nuns pointed out a candle in red glass hanging over the steps to the altar. They told us that when the candle was lit that God was at home and we should behave and be quiet. I remember the catechism lessons beginning with, “Who made me?” God made me, and “Who is God?” God is the Supreme Being. As a child I never questioned these things.

My visits to church on Sunday were infrequent, as I recall, and aside from small pretty printed envelopes for our offerings I didn’t remember much about a mass. After second grade, for whatever reason, I was transferred to the public school across the street. Once a week we left school to attend religious instructions at the catholic school I previously attended. I remember being prepared for, “first Holy Communion”, when I would receive the body and blood of Christ. Whatever that meant was lost on me as I was only doing what was expected of me. I also tried for the position of “altar boy” but I couldn’t grasp the Latin and there was no help for me from the rest of my family.  For a few years I attended the “stations of the cross” where we as a group would move around the church interior stopping at relief carvings which depicted events leading up to the crucifixion of Jesus. I knew the story but it was just that, a story of what happened long ago and far away.

In 1967 I graduated high school at a time when our country was engaged in the war in Vietnam. My new Dad, Mom remarried, had served in Korea. My father was a veteran and most of my uncles had served during WWII. One served under Patton in the feared 20th Ghost Corp, another was wounded in France and another built tanks in Kentucky. My Grandmother had cherished relics from WWI where her brother survived a gas attack. Military service was honorable in our family. The cold war was real and only a few years previous I huddled against the school hallway walls with the other students as we practiced for a possible nuclear attack. In the last years of high school my history teacher was a truly inspiring man who made history alive for us. He was an officer in the Naval Reserve and only briefly mentioned he was Jewish. The “Six Day War” in Israel as a current event energized our discussions about historical events and our possible role. Another teacher was a former Green Beret who provided literature and encouragement for some of us boys as we talked and anticipated joining the service after finishing school. I had thoughts of joining the Army and attending jump school so I too could become a Green Beret. But that wasn’t going to happen.

One of my cousins visited my grandparents for a weekend and her husband, who was a Navy veteran, took interest in my plans. His tour of duty aboard a destroyer in the Gulf of Tonkin produced a slightly different picture than what I had in mind. He told of the horrors and difficulties the troops were facing and encouraged me to instead serve in the Navy and learn a skill that would serve me after the service. I listened and joined the Navy.

At that time there was a delayed entry plan whereby you made the commitment to the service of your choice, so as to avoid the draft, and four months later you would report for duty. For a few years I had been working various jobs after school but by this time I had fulltime employment with a Jewish craftsman building Formica countertops and cabinets. He had a number tattooed on his forearm and a coworker told me what it meant. I had heard about these people and history was all around me. What would my role be? I quit work with three month left to do as I pleased. Many nights I spent partying and drinking with my friends whom I might never see again. On one night in particular near the end of my time at home, I returned home from being out and sat on the front steps of the house where I lived. The sky was dark and clear and the stars beckoned me to look at them. As I lay there looking up I wondered at what would become of me. I remember thinking that God himself high above the heavens could see me and knew all my tomorrows. I believed he was real and indeed the Supreme Being. I spoke to him and told him I wanted to know him. The stars continued to twinkle and I became tired and went inside to sleep. Shortly thereafter Mom, Dad and I were tearful, as I said goodbye to Mom, and Dad drove me to the train station for my journey to begin.

The entry point for my region was Whitehall Street in New York City. There I was mingled with many others as we were physically inspected, signed many papers and took an oath to serve our country. At one point, in the waiting area, we were visited by uniformed workers from the Salvation Army. I knew this organization had a small building in my hometown. I understood that they would help truly poor people. What were they doing here? Everyone was handed a small bag containing gum, soaps, aftershave, deodorant and a small Gideon’s New Testament with Psalms and Proverbs. Everyone seemed receptive to the gift and it became part or our baggage as our group boarded a train for boot camp at Great Lakes, Michigan. Once at the camp we were shorn of hair and stripped of everything we had brought including the little bag of goodies. Our clothing and personal items would be boxed and shipped home but the bag contents were dumped on a pile on the floor and would be swept into a can for disposal. However, the man in charge said we could hold onto the little Gideon’s Bible. And so I did. This was the first Bible I can ever remember having or ever being near to. It seemed something special to me and I felt it would be awful to throw it away.

I didn’t like boot camp. Of course, nobody did. I ate every scrap of food they put in front of me and I believe I still lost thirty pounds. Staying awake for classes wasn’t easy and drill instructions with marching everywhere worked muscles I didn’t know I had. It seemed like the most important thing I would do as a sailor was fold my clothes and keep my locker neat. Sundays were different, no classes and time to relax. On Sunday we were assembled into denominational groups to attend church. The Jewish boys went wherever they went on Friday evening. I went with the other Catholics and attended Mass. At church I was handed a missal and realized I had never understood what a mass was. I began to pay attention and grasp what was happening. I gathered that the mass was a sacrifice of Jesus. Wow, did that ever surprise me. At about the third or fourth week I remember thinking that this sacrifice thing seemed ancient and somehow pagan with this fixation on blood. How could this stuff have survived into the modern age I was in? I was really “turned off” and wanted no part of these goings on. I took the remaining opportunities at church to get a little shut-eye.

The battery of tests we took at boot camp determined what jobs we were suitable for. I had mechanical ability and was offered two choices. I could go to the Construction Battalion School in Rhode Island or Submarine School in New London, Connecticut. When I heard Connecticut I wanted to get as close to home as possible and New London was my first choice. The petty officer all but begged me to choose the CB school instead but I was determined to be near home. Later I learned that many CB’s were being sent to Vietnam and the duty was in the war zone. Submarine duty was for volunteers only and that’s where they assigned me.

After Submarine School I was assigned to a nuclear Polaris missile submarine which had two crews. This was far from huddling in a school hallway. I was on the frontline. The sub would change hands between the gold crew and blue crew for three month periods. Rotation involved a one month intensive fix up of all the ships systems before a two month patrol thru unknown locations at sea. Upon return from sea the two crews would exchange information for four days before the returning crew started a thirty day rest and recreation period followed by two months of study of the ships systems and equipment. Since early school I enjoyed reading. By this time I was into historical novels and would always have books along for the voyage. I never let go of the little Gideon’s Bible, after all it was God’s book and that made it special. As a reader I was curious and maybe I could finally get to know about God. I can remember often opening the little Gideon’s Bible and trying to read it. Somehow I the only thing I could comprehend was that someone was dying and death was spoken of often. I didn’t get it. The ships library must have had a complete Bible including the Old Testament since I remember being fascinated by the title given to Jesus as the “Prince of Peace” in the book of Isaiah. Peace was a desire in that day which motivated many to attend so called “peace marches” aimed at ending the Vietnam conflict. I recall telling a shipmate about this as we were on station in the control room at the ships helm. He began to ridicule me, and as he did, so my interest in Jesus shriveled. I made five patrols on this boat and each seemed to last a lifetime.

For my final months in the Navy I was assigned to a submarine tender stationed on the Cooper River near Charlestown, South Carolina. My duty there was with the engineering gang repairing and monitoring the refrigeration and air conditioning. The pace was lax and interests and activities off duty were shameful to say the least. On one evening as a buddy of mine and I were hitchhiking back to the ship, a big flashy convertible stopped to give us a lift. Somehow the man driving turned the conversation to Jesus. At first I half listened but I really took notice as he invited us to a revival meeting. That sounded real interesting to me and I wanted to go but my friend talked me out of it and as the man dropped us off I had a feeling of missing something interesting. By this time, finding my role in history and serving my country wasn’t interesting to me. I had become self centered and the service seemed like a drag on my life. I could hardly wait to get out.

Within that year I was discharged and found myself working as a mechanic at a chemical factory. To this day I can’t remember what my job consisted of but I do remember the lunch breaks. A lad younger than me was constantly talking about Jesus and quoting from the Bible as we sat having lunch. I don’t remember the exact content of the discussions but I do remember that I sensed he was sincere and interesting. At that point I would agree that Jesus was a good man.

One night I was out with a friend and we met a group of student nurses. I had met one of them before and my friend knew some of the others. We spent time drinking, eating pizza and having laughs. One of them caught my eye and seemed very nice. We split into two groups and traveled to another night spot for some dancing. When the night was done I drove some, and the nice one named Mary Jane, back to their dormitory. As they left the car I asked Mary Jane if there was a phone here, to which she replied, “Of course there is, it’s a hospital.” And with that she turned and disappeared into the dorm. I guessed I didn’t get my interest across and didn’t count on seeing her again as I drove off.  But it didn’t happen that way. After Mary Jane got inside she realized I wanted her number and she had flubbed the exchange. A few weeks later I did get a number to call her at and soon we were dating. Her studies at the hospital ended and she began fulltime work there. I watched for an opening in the maintenance department and within months I also worked there. Falling in love was easy but getting married was a task. Neither of us was religious. As a child she too had attended Catholic Church but grew away from that. We figured on a wedding that would be a simple outdoor affair with a minister to officiate the God part. It was our wedding right? Do our own thing, right?  Not this time. Her mother insisted in the most emphatic terms that what we were doing wasn’t right and that it would be shameful to not marry in the Catholic Church. I remember telling her that it wasn’t like we were leaving God out; there would be a minister there. To which her soft spoken Dad replied, “Yes, you are.” He was right, the minister idea was a token thing and not sincere on our part. With the talk being so heated I pulled Mary Jane out of the house to cool down and collect our thoughts. Dad’s simple insight touched me deeply and I told Mary Jane that to keep peace in the family we should comply with Mom’s demands. She reluctantly agreed and from that day forward we were dear to both her folks.

In those days marriage in the Catholic Church involved premarital counseling. I felt I understood the seriousness of marriage and didn’t want the hurt that divorce causes everyone involved. Couples attended group meetings to talk about various issues and stimulate earnest commitment. Some of the things people said were quite comical but you didn’t dare laugh or show disinterest or you could be reprimanded by the attending priest. I really wanted our marriage to work but these classes just didn’t seem to be something we needed. The gist of what I recall is that we were to be good and faithful Catholics and bring Catholic babies into the world. Now that I thought I knew what it was to be Catholic, I was surely just going through the motions here. We married and moved ahead into our days without church.

Some shifts I worked at the hospital were of a standby sort. After a round of readings in the mechanical spaces you were pretty much on call in the event of an emergency somewhere. This left time to wander the building and from time to time I would stop in one or other waiting areas where there were stacks of magazines and often religious publications. Still an avid reader, I began to browse through material left by so called Jehovah’s Witnesses, Christian Science, Theosophy and others. Eventually I read them all and looked for the latest issues. I found that I would read what they said and then compare the Bible text references by reading from the little Gideon’s that had traveled with me since my entrance into the service. More often I found myself reading the New Testament and finding the words and ideas there interesting. I remember thinking that Christian Science would quote the bible and then proceed to tell you that it meant something other than what it said. I discounted it as misleading and false information about God. The Watchtower was more interesting but it too used the bible verses as a pretext. They were into selling themselves and I wasn’t buying it. At that time I encountered many Witnesses and had long discussions with them but they always seemed to be pointing to themselves. I never figured they were as perfect as they insisted. Sin was familiar to me, since in reading the little Bible I came to understand that I was a sinner before God. Some things I was doing was not good. I wasn’t too happy about that and having been married for a year I wasn’t too happy in that relationship either. I recall a discussion I had with a coworker at the hospital. He declared that all religion was the same and that Jesus was nothing special. He rejected the virgin birth of Jesus and I was at a loss since I had doubts as to what that meant myself. His disbelief challenged me and I wanted to show him scripture I had been reading that said differently. Instead of being discouraged about knowledge of Jesus I was inspired to study more. Quite the opposite of how I felt at being ridiculed while in the service years earlier.

I reached a point where nothing seemed to be right for me. I had expectations for my wife and she wasn’t meeting them. I was hurting and looking for God somewhere to help me. As a sinner my outlook was kind of bleak. One night I sat at a workbench in a penthouse mechanical room and as I was reading the New Testament I had a thought that unless Jesus really died for me it was useless to continue studying the bible. I put the book down and pondered that thought for quite some time. Jesus died for me ......Jesus died for me….Jesus died for me…………He died for me. I was reading it here in God’s book. He died for me.  It was true and I believed it. Jesus truly died for me. He paid for my sins. I believe it was here that I finally got to know God. He revealed to me that his son came into this world to die for my sins. I was extremely humbled and thankful to God that he showed this to me. Actually there were three things he made clear to me at that instant. It was unquestionably true that Jesus died for me. I should tell someone about this. And that I should love my wife as he has loved me, that is, unconditional love. You see, I was still a sinner. I was by no means perfect or holy as I was. He didn’t wait till I was good; he just made himself known to me.

Some days later a little voice popped into my brain saying, “I guess that means you believe in the virgin birth?” I thought for a moment and said, “Sure, why not. God can save me; he can do whatever he wants.” I now had faith in the Supreme Being and was confident in Him.

I told my wife what happened and she looked at me like I was nuts. At first I was probably repulsive in my efforts to see her get saved also. At one point she told me she was saved, just to shut me up. I took the hint. Showing her that unconditional love as I was instructed, involved a change of heart and behavior for me, but it did work though. About four years later she was in the same hospital delivering our firstborn son. Her room was no more that thirty feet from the location where I met God and was saved. As she was holding our son the truth of John 3:16 became very real to her. “’For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son. That whosever believeth in him, should not perish, but have everlasting life.” She called me to tell me what had happened and we were happily teary together over the phone.

So long ago I asked to know God and he answered me in his own good time. I rejected the need for a blood sacrifice and here I was accepting his Son’s death on my behalf. Seeds of the truth and the Gospel had been thrown at me over the years and I was deaf to his call and blind to his leadings. The Bible says, “Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God.” I’m an example of that truth. Since that time I have told what happened to me to numerous people. I had finally found my role in “His story.”

At that time, I didn’t know the term “born again” but that’s what happened to me then and there at the same hospital where my mother gave birth to me. That’s right; I was both born and born again at the same hospital.

I’m in a different branch of service now fully employed by another Jewish craftsman who bears the marks of mans hate. I’ve had many experiences in battle with both victories and defeats. It’s an honorable duty I cherish.

 

“He that hath the Son hath life.” 1 John 5:12

]]>
shadsluiter@gmail.com (Super User) Personal Stories Sat, 28 Oct 2006 16:34:40 +0000
Marta Shutt - Alpena, Arkansas http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1207-marta-shutt-alpena-arkansas http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1207-marta-shutt-alpena-arkansas

Marta ShuttMy personal testimony of how God saved my precious soul.
 
When I was growing up, I do not remember hearing the good news of the gospel, that "Christ died for the ungodly." Rom. 5:6.  I did not think about spiritual matters, and did not even think that there was a God to whom I was accountable.  I thought that when I died, I would just be like a dog - all would end.  I was critical of religious people, thinking they were just hypocrites.
 
One day when I was about 16, I was working on my parents lawn on a Sunday afternoon when a lady got out of her car to visit a neighbor.  In a loud voice, she said, "Humph!  Working on Sunday."  Those few words caused me to wonder - what if I'm wrong and everyone else is right?  The Spirit of God had started to trouble me, and a seed of doubt had been planted.  However, I did not get too concerned.
 
In the following spring, I worked for a neighbor cutting asparagus.  She also hired Al to do some of the heavier work, and so we met.  Se corresponded that summer and in the fall when he returned to MSU for classes, we met again and arraigned to go for a walk in the country.  When we stopped to rest, he asked me, "Are you saved?"  I answered, " What do you mean?"  When he told me the way of salvation, I immediately wanted it.  For the next three months, Al spoke to me about the way of salvation; gave me gospel tracts to read; and took me to different churches where he thought I would hear the gospel.  I became more and more troubled until I had terrible headaches and could hardly do my school work.
 
Finally, one evening I thought "I'll never get saved.  I'll just have to go to hell."  At this time, I still did not believe that Jesus Christ was the Son of God.  For some reason, I said (in my thinking) "Jesus Christ IS the Son of God."  I didn't believe it though.  I did this again, still not believing it.  Then, all of a sudden, I DID believe it, not by my will, but by the revelation of Christ to my soul.  I understood the truth of His dying for my sins and fell asleep at peace with God.
 
What a tremendous salvation God has provided for us -" For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him, should not perish, but have everlasting life." Jn. 3:16 - at such a great cost to Him - "For He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him." IICor. 5:21 - but free to us - "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast." Eph. 2:8,9.

]]>
shadsluiter@gmail.com (Super User) Personal Stories Fri, 27 Oct 2006 23:13:50 +0000
Jim Batterton III - Cornwall Bridge, CT http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1206-jim-batterton-iii-cornwall-bridge-ct http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1206-jim-batterton-iii-cornwall-bridge-ct

Jim BattertonJim Batterton III - Cornwall Bridge, CT

Born 8/8/75    Saved 1/9/89

I was born and raised in a Christian family in just outside of Pittsburgh, PA in the town of White Oak. Some of my earliest memories are of attending Gospel Meetings, Children’s Meetings, and Sunday School. At age five, I remember attending a series of Gospel Meetings every night of the week. Mr. David Oliver and Mr. Jim Smith were the speakers, and for the first time, I began to be concerned about my soul’s eternal destiny.

I always believed that the Bible contained the truth. I never doubted the reality of God, or that Jesus Christ was God’s son, or that He died on the cross. I can remember when my sister was struggling with salvation, and I was able to tell her clearly how to be saved from sin, yet I wasn’t saved. I knew the gospel. I knew my eternal destiny would be in Hell, not Heaven, yet I hadn’t accepted salvation for myself.

From about age 5 until age 8, I was very concerned about getting saved. My main fear at that age was the Lord’s coming. I knew that if the Lord came, I would be left, and my parents would be caught up with Him in the air. To someone that age, the thought of losing one’s family is very frightening. However, even though I was afraid of losing my parents, I wasn’t really afraid of losing my soul. As I got older, I began to be less and less concerned about getting saved.

My family moved to Brookfield, CT when I was about 10. From when we first moved there, we always went to the Brookfield Gospel Hall for meeting. There were occasional times that I would be concerned about getting salvation, such as after a solemn Gospel meeting, but overall I was busy adjusting to a new school and making new friends, so getting saved became a very low priority in my life.

In December of 1988, Mr. Robert Surgenor came to the Brookfield Gospel Hall for a series of ministry meetings. On Sundays, he would speak in the Gospel. Mr. Surgenor has the ability to preach in a very fiery manner. At the Gospel Meeting on Sunday January 8, 1989, Mr. Surgenor painted a particularly vivid picture of Heaven, and of Hell. I hadn’t thought about salvation in over a year, but his message really stirred me, and the Lord started to work in my heart. That night I became very concerned, but I somehow managed to get to sleep. The next morning I woke up, and went through the day, and then went to the ministry meeting at night, and I never gave it much thought. But when I went to bed, I started thinking a lot. Getting saved finally became a very urgent matter for me.

That night, January 9, 1989, I paced around my room. All of the memory verses I had ever learned were racing through my mind. I knew I really needed to be saved, and as I became increasingly more upset, I was realizing that I really didn’t know how to be saved. I began frantically paging through my Bible, and trying to remember various Gospel messages I had heard. I finally realized that I was a sinner, and that I was destined for Hell. For the first time, I knew I was truly lost and that I needed salvation. I finally came to the conclusion that I was just going to have to go to Hell, because I simply could not figure out a way to be saved. That was when I remembered that the Lord Jesus died on the cross for lost sinners. So, in simple child-like faith, I put my trust in His death on the cross to take me to Heaven. It was at that moment that I was saved.

There were no bells or whistles that went off, no flash of light, nor was there any other physically miraculous thing that happened when I trusted Christ. I simply came to the realization that I was a sinner in need of salvation, and the Christ died for me. I felt a tremendous peace after putting my trust in Him. As the hymn goes:

 

My sin, O the bliss of this glorious thought!

My sin, not in part, but in whole,

Is nailed to His Cross, and I bear it no more;

Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

 

It is well with my soul,

It is well, it is well with my soul.
 

]]>
shadsluiter@gmail.com (Super User) Personal Stories Thu, 26 Oct 2006 23:23:59 +0000
Scott Mizener - McKeesport, Pennsylvania http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1205-scott-mizener-mckeesport-pennsylvania http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1205-scott-mizener-mckeesport-pennsylvania


Scott Mizener - McKeesport, Pennsylvania
 
Ever since I can remember, I knew that I was a sinner. Perhaps it was because my parents sent me to a Christian school where I heard Gospel messages in chapel week after week, or because I went to every Gospel meeting every Sunday night, or maybe it was because I had a tender conscious. But I knew at the age of 5 years old, was I deserved to be punished for my sins. I learned verses about it in Sunday School, my parents would read the Bible with us, and I knew it just because of sinful things I had done in my young life.
But one night on November 11, 1980, as I sat in the Gospel meeting, God began to work in my heart. I don't remember who spoke that night or what was spoken on, but I knew that I didn't want to miss salvation. Even the car ride home that night was full of thoughts about where my soul would spend eternity.

Since I had school the next day, as soon as we got home, I got ready for bed. And before my dad was about the shut out the light, I stopped him and said "Dad, I want to be saved." So Dad got out the Bible and began to read verses with me. I knew all the verses from Sunday School, but I still couldn't get saved. Then he told me a story about a little boy named Johnny.

Johnny was about the same age as me and went to school just like I did. One day at school, Johnny decided to steal someone's lunch and unfortunately for Johnny, he was caught by the teacher. Soon Johnny was in front of the class and the teacher explained what Johnny had done and how he was to be punished. He would receive a spanking for his punishment. But from the back of the classroom, a hand was raised. And so the teacher called on the boy in the back to see what he wanted. The boy got out of his seat, and said "I will take Johnny's place and be punished." The teacher agreeing to this, allowed Johnny to take his seat and he would watch the other boy be spanked for what he had done.

My Dad explained that this was just like me and Jesus. I was just like Johnny in the fact that I had sinned and deserved to be punished. My sins had separated me between God and there was nothing that I could do to save myself. But because of God's great love for me, He sent His only Son, Jesus to suffer in my place. Jesus had no sins of His own, and yet He willingly received the punishment I deserved at the cross. He also said before He died, "It is finished.", meaning He satisfied God's demand for the punishment of sins.

My Dad began to pray and while he was praying, for the very first time in my life, I realized that Jesus had died on the cross for me. I knew He had died for the world, but it was personal this time. I trusted in child-like faith that Jesus suffered for my sins and I knew that God was satisfied with what His Son had done.

Over the years, I often struggled with doubts concerning my salvation. After all, I was saved so young and how could it be so easy! But I simply go back to the cross and remember why He died there. He died so I wouldn't have suffer for my own sins. And because of His suffering and the promise in God's Word, I know that my sins are washed away.

"Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein."

Luke 18:17
 
 

]]>
shadsluiter@gmail.com (Super User) Personal Stories Thu, 26 Oct 2006 22:25:25 +0000
Mary Ellen Clark - McKeesport, Pennsylvania http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1204-mary-ellen-clark-mckeesport-pennsylvania http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1204-mary-ellen-clark-mckeesport-pennsylvania

Mary Ellen Clark - McKeesport, Pennsylvania
 
As a child, I learned truths from the Bible. I learned what sin was-disobeying God. I did not have a difficult time agreeing with God that I was a sinner. I knew that I had broken God’s law by disobeying my parents on occasion, telling lies, etc. Even though I tried to be a good little girl, I was aware that this was really an impossible task; in my heart, there was the desire to do what I wanted and not to please God. I learned that I was a living “soul” and that I would exist forever in either heaven or hell. I learned that I needed to be “saved” from my sins in order to be in heaven. If I didn’t get “saved”, the Bible taught that I would have to go to Hell and be punished forever for my sins. I used to lay awake at night and imagine what it would be like to wake up in Hell and know that there was no end to the torment and no end to the suffering. I wanted to be saved, but I could not understand how I would “know” for sure if I was. I knew the Lord Jesus Christ had suffered on the cross for sinners and that included me, but I did not know how you could be sure you were saved. I had tried to believe, tried to trust, tried to pray; I was working hard to obtain God’s salvation; I was doing my part, I thought, and then when it was right, God would do His part and I would have some sort of a confirmation that I was saved. This never happened. As a teenager, my own sinfulness was manifested further by the choices I made and the things I got into. At night, I would still think about my soul and where I would be if I died. People around me had no idea that I was concerned because I seemed so rebellious.

On Easter Sunday, March 26, 1978, my family attended a Bible conference in Manchester, Connecticut. Usually at similar conferences, I would sit with my teenage friends and sneak out of the meeting when my mother wasn’t looking. But this Sunday was different. During Sunday school, Mr. Murray McLeod had spoken on the Titanic. He had an illustration of the great ship and told the touching story of the lives that were lost. He was talking passionately about the only hope for rescue: the lifeboats. He was echoing the cries made on that fateful night. ”Get in the lifeboats! Get in the lifeboats!”, he mimicked. He used this to illustrate coming to the Lord Jesus for salvation. He is the only hope for being rescued from Hell and sin. I remember saying to myself, “I want to get in the lifeboat, but I don’t know how!” That same afternoon, as my friends all left the meeting, sneaking out to have a good time, I stayed in my seat and began taking notes on what the speakers were talking about. I wanted to have what these people had. I wanted to know that I was safe from ever being punished for my sins. I wanted to be sure I would be in heaven.


That night, it was announced that Mr. McLeod and Mr. Higgins (two evangelists) would be coming to the Torrington, CT. Gospel Hall for the gospel meeting. My mother drove us home in time to attend. I listened as Proverbs 27:1 was read, “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth..” I trembled to think that I might miss my opportunity to be saved. The meeting ended and as I made my way out the door, I asked Mr. Higgins if I could stay behind and speak to him. I told him that I wanted to be saved.


As we sat on the bench in the back of the Gospel Hall, Mr. Higgins looked at me and said, “Mary Ellen, I don’t think you are ever going to get saved.” This terrified me! Imagine if this was true; even the preacher didn’t think I could be saved. He must be right! I sat there for a long time as he tried to explain salvation to me. He showed me so many verses from the Bible, but nothing gave me the assurance that I was longing for. Mr. Higgins finally got up and went downstairs to join other Christians in praying that God would save me. As I sat there alone, I thought to myself, “I am never going to get this. Even the preacher can’t help me. I will really end up in Hell." Then Mr. McLeod came upstairs and he talked with me and read me verses. I could not find anything that assured me I was forgiven. Later, Mr. Higgins came back up. They asked me to turn to the gospel of John, chapter 5 and verse 24. I read it: ”Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.” Mr. Higgins asked me where I would be if I died tonight? I told him I would be in Hell. He said “why?” I told him that I was not saved. He asked me why I wasn’t saved; what part of that verse did I not believe? As I read the words again, I realized that I had found what I was looking for. I could go to heaven because God had given me His Word, His promise, “has eternal life." I could rest on what God had said and that was enough!! I looked at Mr. Higgins and I said, “Is that all that you have?" And then to Mr. McLeod and said “and is that all that you have?” They were resting on what God had said about what the Lord Jesus had done at the cross. He had satisfied God when He suffered for my sins. God accepted His Son’s payment and credited my account. The work was done more than 2000 years ago and His Word is my receipt. How wonderful it was to be able to rest on His unchanging Word.

“In hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie promised…” Titus 1:2


 

]]>
shadsluiter@gmail.com (Super User) Personal Stories Thu, 26 Oct 2006 22:24:30 +0000
Bob Vinson - McKeesport, Pennsylvania http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1203-bob-vinson-mckeesport-pennsylvania http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1203-bob-vinson-mckeesport-pennsylvania

 Bob Vinson - McKeesport, Pennsylvania

The Gift of God is Eternal Life through Jesus Christ our Lord." Romans 6:23

Hello. My name is Bob Vinson and I would like to encourage you to read this short story about the most important event in my life. It took place over thirty years ago, but the end result is eternal.

I was born in Pittsburgh, PA, on August 2, 1941. I grew up in Etna and Shaler Township (a northern suburb of Pgh.). I was raised in traditional family by responsible and loving parents along with an older brother and younger sister. I was brought up in the religious denomination of our parents. We were taught many of the historical truths concerning Jesus Christ, such as: He was born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, was crucified on a cross and rose from the dead on the third day, and ascended into heaven. However, along with these historic truths was also added a huge and complicated system of religious teaching of rituals that had developed over the centuries. As a young boy and into my teens, I recall making sincere efforts trying to live up to the precepts of what I had been taught. I knew God hated sin so I would make sincere efforts not to sin. Needless to say, these efforts always failed. As I look back on those days, it seemed I would go through this religious cycle of trying by my own efforts to live what I understood to be the Christian life and then from my view point, fail. I was ignorant of the fact that God says we are all sinners (Romans 3:23) and there is nothing we can do that will make us fit for God's presence and heaven.

After high school, I attended Penn State, New Kensington, and graduated with an associate degree. I worked for a few months and in 1964, I was drafted into the army. It was during this period that I developed what I considered my own theology, that as long as we are sincere and honest about what we believe, God will allow us into heaven. Over the years, I have learned that what I thought was my own idea, is the most common but wrong view people have concerning our relationship with God.

After being discharged from the army, I worked for about a year and then want back to school. I attended California State Collage (now a university) in California, PA. While attending class, I became friends with Gene. I soon found out that Gene believed that the Bible was the word of God. This surprised me, because at this time, I assumed everyone viewed the Bible as just a book of ancient writings. When I told him what I thought about the Bible, he asked me if I ever read it! He was right. I never read the Bible.

Over the next several weeks, Gene and I had several conversations about the Bible and Christianity. I learned that Gene believed that we can know in this life that we are going to heaven. At first, I was surprised at such a statement. No one, I thought, can know that until they die.

I eventually moved off campus and rented a room in the second floor of a privately owned home. Another student, Joe, was renting there also. Joe came to me one day and told me how he got "saved" over the previous weekend. He went on to explain that as a helpless sinner, he came to and trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ who forgave him and saved his soul for all eternity. In other words, he now knew he was going to be in heaven!

As I look back on these events, I now see how a loving and gracious God was, making me realize that I was also a helpless sinner in need of God's salvation.

On a spring day in 1970, Joe told me that in the evening some Christians were going to be preaching the gospel on a street corner in the small town of California, PA. I went to town that evening and listened to the preaching and met some of the Christians who were preaching. They were from two Christian assemblies in Donora and McKeesport, PA.

I was soon invited to hear the gospel preached at Donora. I attended the meeting and heard a clear gospel how that Christ died for our sins was buried and rose again the third day. I'll never forget the verse on the wall, directly behind the preacher; it was John 3:16


"For God so love the world

that He gave His only begotten Son,

that whosoever believeth in Him

should not perish, but have everlasting life."

A few weeks later, I attended a similar gospel meeting in McKeesport. Over the next few weeks, I attended gospel meetings at both Donora and McKeesport. By this time, the Christians had given me a bible and several pamphlets that described and explained God's way of salvation. It was now the summer of 1970 and I was attending school full time to complete my last semester. I decided that with the gospel papers and the Bible, I would learn how to get saved on my own. But the harder I tried to get saved, the more impossible it seemed. As I look back on that summer, I now realize that God was teaching me that salvation is God's work and my efforts, no matter how sincere, could never take away my sin and make me fit for God's presence. Hidden behind these self efforts was my pride that I could do it on my own. How wrong I was. At the end of that summer, I got in touch with the Christians at Donora and McKeesport and began attending gospel meetings at both assemblies. As I listened to the gospel, I began to realize that God's salvation is not religious efforts or personal works, but a person. That person is God's beloved Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. On the evening of Oct. 13, 1970, as a lost soul in need of salvation, I trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ as my savior.


The next morning, I was reading in the book of Proverbs and when I read Proverbs 3:5

"Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding."

God gave me the assurance that my sins were forgiven because I trusted in Christ. It was not my understanding or self efforts, but the finished work of Christ

]]>
shadsluiter@gmail.com (Super User) Personal Stories Thu, 26 Oct 2006 22:22:00 +0000
Gloria Christopherson - Marion, IA http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1202-gloria-christopherson-marion-ia http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1202-gloria-christopherson-marion-ia

Gloria ChristophersonGloria Christopherson - Marion, IA

My parents heard the gospel for the first time in 1936 in Minnesota.  At that time both were convicted of their sins and were saved.   So, I was raised in a Christian home.  Because there was no assembly close by, we moved to Wisconsin and attended the Pine Hill Assembly, which is now called the Black River Falls Assembly.  My older sister Dorothy was saved about the time that my parents were saved.

In February of 1952, a man named Buzz Jamison came to LaCrosse, Wisconsin for Gospel Meetings.  My parents longed to see their 4 younger children saved, so they traveled about 45 miles  from Pine Hill to Lacrosse.  They only had a pickup truck, so three of us always had to ride in the back.  We used a bearskin rug and blankets to help keep us warm.  We were generally asleep by the time we arrived home, as meeting lasted until 9pm. My folks went as often as they could, even through the snowy weather.  Many times Dad had to stop and put chains on so we could get home. I remember, Mr. Jamison spoke much on the coming of the Lord and being left behind if not saved.  My sister Dolly professed to be saved first, then Betty and then Lois.  This really spoke to me as I knew if the Lord came, I would be left behind. In this series there were about 17 people that professed to be saved. God was working, but the meetings closed and I wasn't saved.

I was nine years old and I read every tract and many verses to try and get saved.  My parents took me to meetings in Ontario, Wisconsin, as well.  Through the summer and fall, I continued to want salvation.  I had stayed home from school a few times because I was upset but nothing seemed to come clear for me.

October 27, 1952, I was so troubled and somehow, I thought for sure the Lord was going to come that night.  I had already gone to bed and decided to get up and get a drink. Mom was still up and she asked me what was wrong.  I told her that I wanted to be saved.  She opened her Bible and showed me verses and read a few tracts but I still could not understand it.  Finally, mom suggested I better go to bed.  I had been sleeping with my sister Betty.  Mom lay down with me.  She read a letter from one of the Larson boys telling how they were saved.  I knew I was a sinner and needed Christ as my Savior.  I had read so many tracts and verses and knew I deserved to go to hell

Finally, I  said to myself,  I don't know how to be saved.  I'm lost and I will just have to go to hell.  At that moment John 3:16 came to me. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life". I thought to myself, I am that whosoever that He died on the cross for.  It was my sins that He died for and I don't have to go to hell.  I can have everlasting life.  I was saved right there lying in bed at 11:40 pm., 6 days after my tenth birthday.  Mom, Betty and I sang Happy Day and then I ran upstairs and woke my dad to tell him.  I was baptized July 10, 1955 and later received into the Pine Hill, Wisconsin assembly August 25, 1957.

]]>
shadsluiter@gmail.com (Super User) Personal Stories Thu, 26 Oct 2006 21:00:16 +0000
Sharon Whan - Toronto, Ontario, Canada http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1201-sharon-whan-toronto-ontario-canada http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1201-sharon-whan-toronto-ontario-canada

Sharon Whan - Toronto, Ontario, Canada

My Story
My name is Sharon Whan, and this is how I was saved.  I was born and raised into a Christian family, that is, both of my parents were saved (born-again).  That did not make me saved though.  Salvation is a personal decision that you make . Do you accept the work Christ did on the cross for your sins? Will that be enough to make you right with God and to bring you to Heaven?  Yes it will.

I went to Sunday school all of my childhood, there  I was taught many things about Jesus and the bible.  I was also taken to meetings where Salvation was preached clearly and plainly. Going to church and sitting and listening to preachers didn’t  save me though.

My brother Phillip was saved in March of 1988.  During that time, after he was saved he was really energized about seeing me saved.  He would give me track after track after track.  He undoubtedly cared very much about my soul.  During the winter of 1989 around February, Bracondale (Langstaff) were having meetings with Shad Kember Jr. and Jim Smith.  Again, my faithful parents wanting so much for their daughter to be saved brought me out to these meetings probably every night.  I listened very carefully to what the preachers were saying, because I wanted to be saved.

One thing that frightened me so much as a child was I did not want to be left behind.  I knew what the Lord’s coming was and I knew that it could happen any moment.  One of my biggest fear’s is loneliness.  One thing you will never have in Hell is someone to turn to; you will be left alone for all eternity. That really haunted me.

One night after the gospel meeting I had John 3:16 going through my head.  I had always loved that verse and appreciated its meaning, but to apply it to my own soul was something I had never done.

“For God so loved the world that he gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

For the first time in my life I understood that the “whosoever” in the verse meant me.  Christ died for my sins!  All Christ has left for me to do is accept what he had done on the Cross .  When Jesus said it is finished, he really meant it.  Nothing more wonderful in this world then the gift he gave through his Son Jesus Christ.  Such wonderful love he has!

]]>
shadsluiter@gmail.com (Super User) Personal Stories Thu, 26 Oct 2006 20:58:49 +0000
Phillip Warren - Etobicoke, Ontario http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1200-phillip-warren-etobicoke-ontario http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1200-phillip-warren-etobicoke-ontario

Phillip Warren - Etobicoke, Ontario

My Testimony
My name is Phillip, and I have been saved since March 22nd, 1988. It was the happiest day of my life.

I was raised in a Christian home, both of my parents being born again. However, because my parents knew Jesus Christ to be their Saviour did not mean that I was saved. The Bible tells us through out its entirety that man is born sinful, one such scripture is Romans 3:22-23, "There is NO difference. For ALL have SINNED and have come short of the glory of God." My parents knew this and always taught me from God's word, that I indeed was sinful and needed to be saved. You might say, saved from what? Saved from my sin, yes, but the Bible also states that sin must be punished. It says in John 3:18 that because of our sin we are "condemned already." God has designed a place for those who die in their sins, and that is the Lake of Fire. In Revelation 20 we read of what happens to those who die without having their sin forgiven. They are eternally punished in a terrible place called the, Lake of Fire.

The condition of myself by birth was pretty hopeless. The Bible teaches all those things that are stated earlier, and they are solemn and convicting. Yet I can I say I am thankful to my parents who taught me that there is remedy for our terrible condition. That is why God sent his son into the world. God does not want to see anyone die in their sins, his motive is quite the opposite, in 2 Peter 3:9 it says that God: "...is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." In John 3:16 we read of God's love for man, "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."

Knowing all this you would think that I would have been in mad rush to get saved. Actually for a long time I put off salvation, Pride was a major factor. I didn't want to admit I was that bad. But in reality I was, remember, "ALL have SINNED." In 1988 I began to get serious about my salvation. One night during special gospel meetings at Mimico Gospel Hall in Toronto, I finally realized how serious the matter was. In fact during those meetings one of the Preachers, Jim Smith kept on quoting a verse, that spoke of the seriousness of not being saved, "The Harvest is past, the summer is ended, And we are not saved."(Jeremiah 8:20) The night I got saved I read in Isaiah 44:22 "I have blotted out as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, And as a cloud, thy sin: Return unto me; for I have redeemed thee." When I read that I knew my sin had been forgiven, now and for ever. Jesus Christ, God's son, upon the completion of Salvation's work said, "It is Finished" John 19:30
  
 
    

"The gospel of Christ ...is the power of God unto salvation to every one who believes"

Romans 1:16
  
 

]]>
shadsluiter@gmail.com (Super User) Personal Stories Thu, 26 Oct 2006 20:57:46 +0000
Lawrence Sinnaeve - Timmins Ontario http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1198-lawrence-sinnaeve-timmins-ontario http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1198-lawrence-sinnaeve-timmins-ontario

Lawrence Sinnaeve - Timmins Ontario

Life Assurance
I am the youngest in a family of six children, nine years removed from the last sibling. This being the situation, one could say that I was a little spoiled by my family. However, there was one thing that my parents were strict about with me: they insisted that I go to church every Sunday without fail. I obeyed my parents and went to these services for them, but in those younger years it had little meaning to me. When I was about 10 years old, my oldest sister and her husband left the religious denomination we belonged to. They had accepted the Lord Jesus as their personal Saviour and decided that our religion would not help them grow spiritually any more. This is the first time that I heard about the Gospel of Jesus Christ in a manner different than what was lectured to me every Sunday.

My sister and her husband have a great concern about the spiritual well-being of my entire family, and at that time they tried to share with my parents the truth they discovered in Scripture. Unfortunately, my parents were not open to the Gospel. Any attempts made of sharing the Gospel with them usually led to disagreements where my mother ended up crying and my father ended up threatening.

However, as time went by, my family slowly began to tolerate my sister’s "new found" religion. As a result, my mother allowed me to attend a Bible camp with them one summer. While I was at camp, I had the opportunity to hear the Gospel in a more relaxed environment. One of the councillors spent an entire evening with me talking about salvation through Jesus Christ. Nonetheless, this conversation left me confused because I learnt that evening that there was nothing I could do to get to heaven, the work was done already for me. All I had to do was to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ to be saved. This message contradicted what I was taught all of my life: I was led to believe that if I was good enough, God would let me into heaven.

Shortly after that summer, my brother-in-law gave me a Bible in hope that I might read it. When I first got the Bible, I read a few chapters of it, but shortly thereafter, I set it aside.

A few years later, I went off to university where I met my wife. While at university, my wife and I participated in the on-campus religious community and attended services there regularly. After two years of active involvement within this community, the religious leader fell ill and retired. To our dismay, his replacement quickly began to make changes to the way the services were performed. Believing that the order and manner in which religious ordinances are to be conducted must be respected, we decided to attend the services of other religious gatherings within the city in hope to find this order adhered to. To our disappointment, our search led to more unanswered questions about the religious practices within our faith. Disillusioned with "religion" all together, we continued attending church services simply out of obligation. Consequently, it did not take long for us to lose interest in the system. In no time, we abandoned Sunday morning services almost completely.

In early September, 1990, my niece, the daughter of my sister who is saved, got married in Thunder Bay. While we were there for the wedding, we had an opportunity to mention to my sister our disillusionment with the religious practices we have observed. Unfortunately, we could not continue our discussion with her for long, for we were quickly interrupted.

After the wedding, my wife went off to teacher’s college for four months, and I moved in with her parents in northern Ontario: I was starting a new job in that area. Since I was living with my wife’s parents, I accompanied them to their local church services. I felt obligated to do so, for I belonged to the same religious denomination. However, I understood very little during these services because they were conducted in French, and at the time, I did not speak a word of French.

At Christmas that year, we visited my family. My sister and her husband from Thunder Bay were also there. During our visit, my wife took the opportunity to speak with my sister again but to no avail. As before, the conversation was cut short and our questions left unanswered. Frustration was setting in, and our hope of knowing the truth seemed dim.

It was not until three months later, in March 1991, when we had the opportunity to get our questions finally answered. My brother-in-law, a Shantyman, gave us a call one night and asked us if we wanted to buy some insurance. Little did we know at the time that he was talking about life assurance. Having answered him that we had sufficient coverage, he informed us that he intended on visiting with us the next day.

The next day, he showed up and spent a couple of hours talking to my wife before I got home from work. During those two hours, he presented the Gospel to her. When I got home, she jumped up with much excitement in her voice, for she was finally hearing the truth of God’s word concerning the way to know our sins forgiven and to have peace with God forever: "For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast." (Ephesians 2:8-9) The religious ordinances were not what mattered, it was the relationship a person established with the Saviour through faith that counted. I also learnt that no other person but the Lord Jesus Christ could establish the union of peace between myself and God: "For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus." (1 Timothy 2:5).

After 17 years of hearing the Gospel, these truths finally became reality to me. That night, both my wife and I accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as our personal Saviour. I now can say that I am sufficiently covered, for I have the assurance of life eternal.

]]>
shadsluiter@gmail.com (Super User) Personal Stories Thu, 26 Oct 2006 20:53:52 +0000
Carol Sinnaeve - Timmins Ontario http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1197-carol-sinnaeve-timmins-ontario http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1197-carol-sinnaeve-timmins-ontario

Carol Sinnaeve - Timmins Ontario

My Personal Discovery of the Truth
I was leading a good life: I didn't smoke; I didn't drink; I didn't swear; and I went to church every Sunday. As well, I never committed any big sin like murder or theft. In my opinion, I could not see any reason why the Lord would not accept me into heaven... some day. Certainly, he would have no reason to send me to hell: this place is only reserved for people who commit big crimes. At least, this is what I believed. Apparently, God’s word says otherwise: "But we are ALL as an unclean thing, and ALL our righteousnesses are as filthy rags." (Isaiah 64:6) "There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death." (Proverbs 16:25) "For the wages of sin is death." (Romans 6:23) "For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not." (Ecclesiastes 7:20)

However, for many years, I did not know God's word, at least not these words. I was taught that if I did my best to do good in this world, I had nothing to worry about. The Lord could surely not ignore my good works, especially if they outnumbered my sins. Besides, the Lord is full of grace, and he is always ready to forgive.

True, but God is a just God, and he cannot ignore my sins. They will have to be dealt with some day. "Fear before him, ALL the earth." (Psalm 96:9) "Prepare to meet thy God." (Amos 4:12)

How can I escape this? I could ask for forgiveness by a priest for my sins. This may give me some peace of mind. However, no matter how often I asked for forgiveness for my sins in the past, I felt that I needed something more because I knew that in no time I would sin again. Therefore, in order to appease God's wrath, I decided to do what I could to please him. Not only was I going to live a righteous life and do good in this world like I was taught to do, I was going to become more involved with my church. By participating in all of the church rituals, and by becoming an active member of the church choir, I truly felt that God would be pleased with me. However, no matter how much I tried to please the Lord, I felt empty, and I knew I was NOT any closer to God than before. I was only living a lie, a life of hypocrisy. Often I would go to church unwillingly. However, I would not dare do otherwise: I would not do anything to displease the Lord if this is what he required of me.

But I was wrong. The Lord tells us clearly in His Word that "a man is not justified by the works of the law,... for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified." (Galatians 2:16) Unfortunately, I did not know this. Instead, I was doing my best to obey all ordinances I was instructed to follow. What I DID know, however, was that this obedience did not bring me any more peace within because I could never be sure if my righteous acts were sufficient, if they outnumbered my sins.

A few years ago, the clergy of our church decided to make some changes in the Sunday celebration, changes which troubled me greatly because I did not believe that the order of the celebration could be changed. If the Lord instituted a certain order to be followed, should it not be respected? God's word tells us that "Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you." (Deuteronomy 4:2) Feeling terribly disillusioned by these changes, I decided to abandon the rituals and the life of hypocrisy I was leading. I was no longer interested in living a lie; only "the truth" interested me.

For two years I searched. During my search, I approached several members of the clergy to better understand the origin and basis of my religion and of the rituals we practiced. To my surprise, each person I spoke with had differing views concerning the rituals and the things of God, and each person only practiced what he or she believed was important. Needless to say, these differences of opinion simply caused me to question further the origin of these religious rituals practiced. If the Lord instituted them, why does man allow himself to change them? However, if these rituals were originally established by man, by what authority did he institute them?

Personally, I was only interested in what came from God. But how could I know what came from God and what did not? Where do I look? It is at this point that I decided to seek out the answers for myself. Luckily, the people of the clergy had an abundance of books at my disposal. I chose a few and began to read. What confusion! The language used was so complicated and the messages so ambiguous that I was reading in vain. Nothing seemed clear to me. I ended up being more confused after my reading than beforehand, and I was beginning to feel rather frustrated with the whole situation.

Finally, feeling like I had nowhere else to turn, I began to pray for help from God. I wanted to get closer to God, but I did not know how. Every day I prayed, and I hoped that the Lord would reveal this "truth" that seemed to be kept well hidden from me.

A few months later, my prayers were answered. My brother-in-law, a Christian, presented to me the good news of salvation by faith in our Lord Jesus-Christ, the ONLY way to God: "Jesus said..., 'I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.'" (John 14:6) I quickly learned that any observances to religious rites would not get me any closer to God. "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast." (Ephesians 2:8-9) The price of my redemption was already paid in full by Jesus Christ on the cross. "It is finished." (John 19:30) On my part, there was nothing more to do than to believe on the son of God "Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness." (1 Peter 2:24) "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16) That same evening, finally understanding that Jesus was the ONLY way to God, I accepted him as my personal Saviour. Now, I have an internal and eternal peace, for I know that my sins are all forgiven. "To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins." (Acts 10:43) As well, I also know that, one day, I will be with the Lord forever. "These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God: that ye may KNOW that ye have eternal life." (1 John 5:13)

  "Repent ye therefore, and be converted,
that your sins may be blotted out." (Acts 3:19)
"Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved." (Acts 16:31)

]]>
shadsluiter@gmail.com (Super User) Personal Stories Thu, 26 Oct 2006 20:53:01 +0000
Mark Saumure - Port Colbourne, Ontario http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1196-mark-saumure-port-colbourne-ontario http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1196-mark-saumure-port-colbourne-ontario

Mark Saumure - Port Colbourne, Ontario

The following is 'My Story'! It is dear to my heart since this is how I came to find Christ as MY SAVIOUR! My intention is simple - to let you know that God loves you SO much that He has given His only Son to die so that you might LIVE!

"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him, should not perish, but have everlasting life." John 3:16.

I thank God that I was raised in a Christian home where the Bible was and is read, and where God is feared. Ever since I can remember, I have gone to the Welland Gospel Hail every Sunday and Wednesday to hear God's Word preached and ministered. At age seven and then again at age ten, I told people that I had gotten saved. To this day, I am still not sure why I said I was saved when I knew I really was not. Whether it was because I wanted my parents and the preachers to leave me alone, I do not know; but I do know that I kept telling all the Christians that I was saved although I'm sure that many of them questioned it when they looked at my life.

I must admit that going to 'church' as I called it was more a chore than anything else. My parents made me go to every meeting, particularly the Gospel meeting. A Gospel meeting, if you aren't familiar with the term, is a meeting for the preaching of the Gospel which is God's plan of salvation.

When I entered high school, I became ashamed of my parent's beliefs and rejected God's Word. I did whatever I could to show my school friends that I was not a Christian. I got mixed up with the wrong crowd and did many dumb and 'stupid' things. It is quite interesting to note that when times were good my friends stood by me; when times became tough and I needed a friend, they all deserted me!

As some of you know, last March was quite a traumatic time in my life. I was diagnosed with a malignant form of cancer. This news really shook me up! It really made me decide what was important and what was not. However, I continued on in my ungodly ways for the next few months thinking, like most teenagers I know, that I was totally indestructible. The real turning point came when my doctor looked at me earnestly and said, "Mark, your time is limited. My guess is that you have from one to two years left." His words stabbed me. This was the first time I ever really realized that I was going to die. After all, I was young, strong and healthy. "I have many, many years left." I used to think. But how gullible I was to have believed that. The months of May, June and July were spent in the Princess Margaret Hospital. During that time I began searching my Bible. It was then that I had to face the fact that in spite of what I had said to others years earlier, I did not have eternal life. I was afraid, but my pride kept me from telling my parents of my need of SALVATION. I stayed up many nights 'til the wee hours of the morning and prayed to God saying "Lord, please save my soul!! I know I am a sinner. I need Your salvation! Please save me!" I could not understand why I could not get saved. I knew many verses by heart such as "He that BELIEVETH on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath: of God abideth on him" John 3:36. But I kept asking myself, "How do you believe?"

Then on August 3rd, alone in my parent's bedroom, I began to pray earnestly to God for salvation. Finally, I said to myself "I guess I'll just have to go to HELL! I just can't get saved. I really don't understand what more I have to do to get saved." It was then that I understood. There is nothing for me to do! IT HAS ALL BEEN DONE! Christ died on the cross for me! That is enough! At that very moment, Christ became MY SAVIOUR! What joy it brought me and has brought me ever since! I used to think "What boring lives Christians lead; all they ever do is read the Bible and go to church. I don't want that!" How ignorant I was. What a GREAT LIFE a Christian has and what a GREAT FUTURE a Christian has! To be with Him for eternity - what could be better?!

On August 3rd, I accepted Christ as my own personal Saviour. Christ has done it all! He simply wants you to believe on Him! Nothing more! What could be simpler? "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved" Acts 16:31. It still baffles me why I did not see this before. I was only interested in the cares and pleasures of this world. To an unbeliever, this world seems so bright and so inviting! But beware, my friend! Satan will try to blind and deceive you! He is very crafty and will use anything he can to keep you from Christ. The truth is, there is no real satisfaction in this world. The only satisfaction comes from Jesus!!!

If you are unsaved, what is keeping you from Christ? Could it be your pride? My pride almost brought me to HELL! Don't let this happen to you. Could it be your friends? Someone once told me "Your friends will laugh you to hell, but they will never laugh you out!" Think of it, friend! It's either HEAVEN OR HELL! The choice is yours!

Mark when home to be with his Saviour
at 5:00am, Tuesday, September 17, 1996

]]>
shadsluiter@gmail.com (Super User) Personal Stories Thu, 26 Oct 2006 20:52:05 +0000
David Robinson - Toronto, Ontario http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1195-david-robinson-toronto-ontario http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1195-david-robinson-toronto-ontario

David Robinson - Toronto, Ontario

I grew up in a Christian home, meaning that both of my parents were saved and knew the Lord Jesus as their Saviour before I was born. I was taken to the Mimico Gospel Hall in Toronto from a few weeks of age and grew up in the Sunday School. I listened to the gospel being spoken every Sunday evening. But none of that fit me for Heaven.

I had learned in the Sunday School and the Gospel that I was a sinner and was headed for Hell; I knew that the Lord Jesus had come to this earth, was taken by men and beaten, and nailed to a cross and left to die; I knew that God had punished His Son for three dark hours on the cross for my sin. But you can know all the facts and not be saved. This was my case.

I was a real procrastinator. I always wanted to be saved, but always put it off to another time. When I finally did get down to it, I tried, and tried to be saved; I prayed a prayer. But nothing I could do would save me. It was only faith in what the Lord Jesus had done on the cross to take away my sin that would do.

It was during the 1990 Seneca Series in Toronto that I finally realized this. David Oliver and Gene Higgins were the speakers that year. On that Saturday night I don't know what their messages were but I do remember the one illustration Mr. Oliver used. It is one that I had heard many times before, but this night it spoke to me. A bird takes one grain of sand in its beak from the Atlantic ocean, and it flies all the way over to the Pacific Ocean and drops the grain of sand. It then flies back to the Atlantic and repeats the task. When all of the sand has been moved from the Atlantic to the Pacific, Eternity has just begun. I went home that night and started thinking about how long eternity really was. Then I thought, what would it be like to be in Hell for eternity. The thoughts I had that night scared me. I knew I needed to be saved but at that moment, I also realized that nothing I could do could save me. I just rested on what the Lord Jesus had done at Calvary and asked Him to be my Saviour.

I didn't wake up the next morning with a great feeling inside; the grass wasn't any greener, the sun didn't shine any brighter. And I had doubts. For two years I didn't tell anyone because I didn't want to make a false profession. But I was finally helped to see that feelings didn't matter, that we will have doubts. But it is only the work of the Lord Jesus, His death for us, that matters.

]]>
shadsluiter@gmail.com (Super User) Personal Stories Thu, 26 Oct 2006 20:51:18 +0000
Matt Penney - Gander, Newfoundland and Labrador http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1194-matt-penney-gander-newfoundland-and-labrador http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1194-matt-penney-gander-newfoundland-and-labrador

Matt Penney - Gander, Newfoundland and Labrador

I was brought up in a Christian home; I was brought to Sunday School my whole life. When I got to a certain age it started to become a real drag, but I was still made to come. Thank the Great One Above!  I knew about sin, I learnt verses like Romans 6:23 "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." I learnt others like John 3:16 and Romans 10:9 and many others. But these verses never actually meant anything to me until I came to Christ as my Personal Saviour. But these verses helped me, at the time I got saved. Life was pretty much protected for me - I had Christian parents who kept me from dances, parties and bad influenced friends. But I thank God for them! I didn't at the time. My friends that of me as "religious" even though I knew the difference between religious people and born again Christians. But I was to scared to tell them the difference - why would a unsaved person want to stand up for there Church?

I sat in a lot of Gospel Series, but I never got saved, I didn't want to get saved, and then try to face my friends. My friend, you can come so close and miss it. I had planned to be saved for a very long time, and every time I thought about getting saved, the Devil put the thought of my friends in my head. The Devil works at any stage of a person's life, I was the age of 7 and he put thought's of friends in my head. You might think that he doesn't work in someone's life that young - but the truth of this matter is he did, and the scary part of it was: I didn't even know (at that time anyways.)

I think it was the end of 1994, I wanted to impress my parents. So, I asked my dad how to be saved? Dad, how do you get saved? I never cared about the answer I just wanted to look good. So my dad's reply was: Believe on the Lord Jesus and you will be Saved. Well, I thought well that's an easy thing to do, and I thought to myself: I believe in God, so I'm saved. Perfect I can tell the preachers at the door now that I'm saved.

For three years, I was battling with two forces: Am I really saved? - I was having second thoughts now, I think it was because of my age increasing - I understood more now. And, then I would think oh, don't be so foolish, of course I'm saved - I believe in God. I struggled with that for three and a half years. One can only go on so long with thoughts like that! The Gander Gospel Hall Easter Conference was coming up. In the mean time, I was still struggling with those two forces. But, I decided that now that it was Conference Time, I'll leave it at that for now - I'll deal with it after the Conference. Saturday night, we came home from the first day of Ministry and Gospel meetings, and I was really scared. We had other Christian's staying at our house, and the thought came into my head, if the Lord came I would be left here all alone! By myself, Mom and Dad will be gone home with their Saviour and all the other Christian's will be gone too - I would be all alone. I was scared. But the Lord didn't come, so I still had a chance.         

Conference time had come and gone, and I was not saved!  The next Saturday night (next weekend after the conference) came.  I didn't get much sleep that whole week. At this point I knew that I wasn't saved.  I wanted too be so bad. I thought about asking my parents, but the Devil put it out of my head not to do that. At that night I said to myself: I give up!  I was starring at the ceiling - all I saw was the darkness of the room, but I saw the flames of Hell! and I did not want to go there! I called out "Mom, Mom, come here."  She came in and said, "what's wrong?" I said "Mom, I'm not saved!"  She thought that I was and she said "Matthew, I thought you were?"  I said "no, I'm not, but I really want to be." So my dad came in and quoted verses that I learnt in Sunday School.  He kept saying the word "believe."  I didn't know how to believe.  Because of the false profession I had before- I knew that it wasn't just believing in God, there had to be more. He said "remember that Sunday School song we sing: God Said It I Believe It, And That Settles It For Me. Matthew, all you have to do is come to a point of realization, that the Lord Jesus Christ did it all on Calvary - and all you have to do is thank Him for it." He then went on to say that "At Christmas time, when you get a present, all you do is say thank-you for it right?" I said oh I get it! And right there and then I thanked the Lord for what He did! He did all.  You just have to accept it!   That's what I did there lying on my bed!  I was saved!  For all Eternity!  No more worries, I felt all my sins just being erased. It was like I had a new slate. On April the 18th, 1998 I got saved!! The Lord has been good to me ever since!

It's a Grand Thing to be Saved!

]]>
shadsluiter@gmail.com (Super User) Personal Stories Thu, 26 Oct 2006 20:50:22 +0000
Margaret Patterson - Oxford, Nova Scotia http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1193-margaret-patterson-oxford-nova-scotia http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1193-margaret-patterson-oxford-nova-scotia

Margaret Patterson - Oxford, Nova Scotia

My name is Margaret Patterson and I live in Oxford, Nova Scotia. I was born  into a family of seven just before the depression of the '30's. My parents attended the local church in the area.  My father had been pointed to Christ by an old Presbyterian elder and my mother was saved in meetings held by Mr. Isaac Mc Mullen.  Both were baptized later by Mr. W. N. Brennan in a small river on our farm. The Brennan family kept in touch with us by sending gospel tracts, calendars, and eventually Mr. Brennan had children's meetings in our area.

When I was about five or six, I had my first thoughts about eternity. Lying on top of a lumber pile  in our farm yard, looking up at the starry heaven listening to stories by my older brother and sisters talking about God.  When I asked my big brother where God was, he said that He was in Heaven.  Then I asked 'Where is Heaven?'  to which he replied something like this:  'way up there beyond those stars, and if we trust God we will live forever and ever.'  That philosophy was too big for me right then, but left its mark.

Soon after my parents changed churches and went to one where the gospel was preached.  The old time fiddle music which had frequented our home was replaced with hymns and children's choruses.  Sometimes the Christians gathered in for a Bible study.

My parents began reading the Word of God and praying with us each night.  Father prayed for us all by name, that we would come to know the Lord while young.  As a child this touched me, but I did not know that I was totally lost.  Somehow I held onto a hope that because my parents were saved; at the Lord's coming He would not leave me behind because I was not of age, no doubt one of the devil's attempts to keep me in my sins.   Then I began to realize that if I was capable of understanding my sinful condition, I was old enough to be accountable to God.

Gospel meetings came to the neighbouring district, and a number of people got saved.  I recall that one of the preachers had been, before he was saved, quite a man to drink and was well known for it, but he seldom preached the gospel without telling how God saved him, bringing tears to his own eyes as well as to ours.  You could have heard a pin drop as he presented the issues of sin, God's judgment and God's remedy.  I took it all in but the remedy,  and will never forget the sinking feeling when the meetings were over and I was still not saved.

I had an aunt who had a great impact on my young life;  she witnessed for the Lord in her public health work place, and she would often take us children for a walk into the bush, and sit down on a log or grassy knoll, read the Bible and explain it to us and sing choruses.  

My oldest sister got saved in the meetings mentioned above, my oldest brother was saved at a conference in July of '37.  A month later my mother took very ill and was taken off to the hospital for emergency surgery.  As an eleven year old, fear gripped me that she might never come back.  While my father visited her in hospital, Aunt Lu took over our bedtime Bible readings and prayer.

One night she read John chapter one, 'In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.'  She read on 'He came unto his own, and his own received him not.  But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.'

As she explained John 1, I realized for the first time that Jesus was in Heaven before he came to earth.  I thought Bethlehem was where he had his beginning.  That night I learned - that Jesus is the Son of God.  I have often wondered how much children really know, when we presume they know it all, if they have been brought up in the gospel.

Aunt Lu recognized that this had dawned on me, and mistook it for salvation.  My brother and sisters did too.  It was easy going along with it,  but I had no joy in telling my parents when they came home. Everyone was happy about it but me.  I had no peace, and my sins still weighed me down.

During the weeks that followed, my soul tossed about in anguish.  My thoughts, as I recall were something like this:  'If I'm saved, I can't get saved over again;  if I'm not saved, I don't want to give up what I have got - in case there is nothing more.  What am I going to do?'.  I needed help, would God answer me?

One day I was so burdened about my sin, I longed for peace with God.  I went up to my room, dropped down by my bedside desperately lost.  There God revealed to me, 'that is why the Son of God came, it was to die for me', and I trusted Christ and simply thanked Him.  Getting up off my knees, peace and joy filled my soul for my sins were gone!.  And now when Christ comes, I can go with him sheltered by the blood of Christ - not on my mother's apron strings, as I used to think.

I have failed and disappointed Him many times, but He has never failed me once, and best of all - he never will.   ' . . . for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day.'  2 Tim 1:12.

]]>
shadsluiter@gmail.com (Super User) Personal Stories Thu, 26 Oct 2006 20:49:07 +0000
Philip Nickerson -Argyle Sound, Nova Scotia http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1192-philip-nickerson-argyle-sound-nova-scotia http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1192-philip-nickerson-argyle-sound-nova-scotia

Philip Nickerson -Argyle Sound, Nova Scotia

How and when God saved me

My name is Phil Nickerson, and I live in Argyle Sound, Nova Scotia, Canada. This is a brief note on how and when God saved me over 27 years ago. One night having arrived home at my parents where I was living at the time, set a couple gentlemen (Harold Smith and Dick Goodwin) with their open Bibles. They were discussing God's salvation with my folks and asked me what I thought about the Bible. My response at that point wasn't any more than what they probably expected, being something to the effect "nothing more than a fairy tale."

Over the next few months, these visits would persist, to my dismay at the time. The conversation would center on Biblical things, such as prophecy, but would always come back to the subject of God's salvation through the precious blood of the Lord's Christ.

I also found they used their Bibles extensively in every aspect of the conversation. They pointed out from Scripture "my" sin, and its consequences, which would be banishment from God to the lake of fire forever, Mt. 25:41 and 46.

At the beginning I just couldn't take in what they were saying. At this point in my life, this seemed so far fetched. But the visits persisted, the pointing out of my sin, its consequences, and also God's remedy for sin, that being the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus on the cross of Calvary. His precious blood alone, I was learning, was that which could take away my sin, Hebrews 9:22, "Without the shedding of blood, there is no remission."

This sounded so different from anything I had heard growing up under some influence of the Catholic "church." Religion, baptism, keeping the commandments, turning over a new leaf so called, etc. was all part of some hope of attaining God's favour I was told.

But now I was beginning to see what the Lord Jesus did on the cross was all sufficient to take away my sin.

In January of 1973, the Lord really began to deal with me and I was beginning to see that if I died the way I was I would be in hell. Luke 13:3 & 5 kept coming up, "Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish", and also John. 3:36, "He that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him." Though I would have denied anything of the sort to any friends at the time, alone in the dark the truth began to put me in straits; to die in my sins was to be in hell forever!

At the latter end of February on into March, three to four weeks of Gospel meetings were taking place, and I found myself at nearly each one of them. One Tuesday night, March 6th 1973, coming home from the Gospel meeting with Dick Goodwin who had been bringing me God's Word, I knew I had to be saved. Alone in my bedroom, I found myself on the floor on my knees, at the end of my wits as it were, pleading to God my own sinfulness and helplessness to save myself. I had nothing to give, including my heart. I had learned even my heart was deceitful and above all things desperately wicked, Jeremiah 17:9. That night at 11.00 I confessed to God I had absolutely nothing to "give," but rather would "take" or "receive" the gift of life that He had to offer, Jn.1:12; 6:47.

At that point, I repented from my sins and received Christ as my Saviour and Lord. Did I feel I was saved? No I did not! But I KNEW I was, for taking an older Bible I had been given, somehow I happened upon (not really by chance) John. 5:24. "Verily, verily I say unto you, he that heareth My Word and believeth Him that sent Me, HATH everlasting life and shall not come into condemnation; but IS passed from death unto life."

There it was! I knew my sins were totally gone, Acts 10:43, "To Him give all the prophets witness, that through His name whosoever believeth in Him shall receive remission of sins."

Knowing my sins were gone, and taking God at His Word that I indeed had life eternal, my burden of guilt of course was gone! I knew from that point on that I was saved and ready for heaven!

From there, I've rested in the salvation God had given me the night He saved me as a guilty sinner. I'm resting in the salvation that has been completed by the Saviour at Calvary, knowing my salvation doesn't depend on what I do, or what I fail to do. That salvation was provided by the Lord's Christ nearly two thousand years ago and I thank God that He enabled me to come into the good of that sacrifice by grace, through repentance from sin and faith in the crucified and resurrected Christ!

"Unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in His Own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and His Father; to Him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen" ... The Revelation 1:5.

]]>
shadsluiter@gmail.com (Super User) Personal Stories Thu, 26 Oct 2006 20:47:55 +0000
Christine Moulaison - Yarmouth, Nova Scotia http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1191-christine-moulaison-yarmouth-nova-scotia http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1191-christine-moulaison-yarmouth-nova-scotia

Christine Moulaison - Yarmouth, Nova Scotia

How God Made Me a Christian

Born and brought up in a Roman Catholic home, I was taught in all their ways from childhood. From a very young age, I would confess my sins, firmly believing they were forgiven upon confession. Oftentimes my burden of sins would get so big, that after confession, feeling that my sins were gone, I would hope to die immediately before I sinned again. But this was short-lived, as it was only minutes before I sinned again either in thought or action.

At Easter time, during the reading of the passion of Christ and all his suffering and then finally his death, I would think, "But why did he let them kill him? Why didn't he get out of there?" Being God, he could have. But I had no answer. Many times my thoughts would be, "What will I tell God when I meet him with all my sins?"

As a teenager, my burden of sin was very great and very heavy upon me. I did not know where I was going to be in eternity and the folks in whom I confided were as perplexed as I was. "Where is the answer? Who has the answer? What religion is right?" I asked, yet I never doubted that the Roman Catholic Church was the right way. Only, I could find no peace.

After I married, it was the same. Then I thought of the Bible. Even though I had never looked inside one, I knew it would be right. The word of God would have the answer for me, the answer to my questions. Where am I going: to heaven? To hell? How can I know? If I am headed for heaven, fine. But if I am headed for hell, is there anything I can do about it? And all this time, I was becoming more and more religious.

Finally, in November of 1975, I voiced my desire to have a Bible, to read for myself the Word of God. My husband promised to get me one for Christmas.

On December 8, two men whom my husband knew came to our door, talked to us about the Lord Jesus Christ, and said they knew for sure that they were going to heaven and that according to Scripture. They left us a Gospel of John booklet, showed us a verse or two from the Bible, and were gone. One of the verses was "Verily, verily, I say unto you. He that heareth my word and believeth on Him that sent me, hath everlasting life and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life", John 5:24. I thought of how happy those people must be who know for sure where they would spend eternity.

Exactly a week later, on December 15, late at night, I sat and read another small booklet which I had obtained, "God's Way of Salvation". I understood from that booklet that even though salvation was free for me and could not be earned in any way, it certainly had cost God very much. He had given His only beloved Son to die for sin on the cross of Calvary. Still, I was puzzled as to how to obtain this salvation. Then, I thought of the things in which I was trusting to get me to heaven: My religion, I thrust it out. Religion could not help me. My baptism I threw it aside. Baptism could not give me peace. My good life, doing the best I could. I cast it away. Even my goodness could not take away my burden of sin. My prayers, I put them away. Prayers were "my" doing also, and that was no answer. My church. Even my church which I depended on so much, could not get me one bit closer to heaven; (Isaiah 64:6 states that all our rightousnesses are as filthy rags), I had nothing!

Then and there, I knew for certain that if I died right there, I would be in hell; I knew that God was right, and I was wrong. I had sinned and sin must be punished, sin had to be paid for. I would have to suffer for my for my sins. Oh, the reality of those few moments. I was going to hell, and I deserved it. I was all wrong and God was absolutely right. "The wages of sin is death." Romans 6:23.

I went to my bedroom knowing I was one breath away from hell. My sins, the greatness of my sins, my burden of sins, even greater than ever. I was overcome by the immensity of my sins. THEN, I understood for the very first time in my entire life, as in my mind I saw the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross in agony and blood; It was my sins that had put Him there. He was dying for me. Paying for my sins as He hung on that cross, taking my place. I simply rested on that fact, trusted totally in His finished work at Calvary. I knew that because He died, paid for my sins in full, I was free. My burden fell away. There was nothing for me to do. He had done it all.

I Peter 3:18 states, "For Christ hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit."

There, alone in my bedroom, on December 16, 1975, I became a child of God, a Christian. John 1:12 says, "But as many as received Him, to them gave he the privilege to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name." I finally had peace with God. My sins were gone, the Lord Jesus Christ had dealt with them fully on the cross of Calvary, had been buried, and had risen again the third day according to the Scripture. I knew that when death came, I would be in Heaven for certain.

A long time has passed since that day, yet He grows sweeter to me with the passing of time. I will never forget that moment when He saved my soul from hell, and saved me to bring glory to himself for eternity.

John 8:36, "If the Son therefore shall make you free, you shall be free indeed."

My heart's desire and prayer to God for you is that you might be saved.

]]>
shadsluiter@gmail.com (Super User) Personal Stories Thu, 26 Oct 2006 20:46:03 +0000
Jake Friesen - Aylmer, Ontario http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1190-jake-friesen-aylmer-ontario http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1190-jake-friesen-aylmer-ontario

Jake Friesen - Aylmer, Ontario

My name is Jake Friesen, and here's my testimony of how God saved me!

I grew up in a family who taught their children right from wrong. Being Mennonite by tradition, we were always told to be careful because we could wind up in Hell because of our sin. As a boy, I was in constant battle with myself, but I still sinned constantly. I knew in my heart that even though I had the best of intentions, I could not break free from the grip of sin.

My father was elected and ordained a Minister of a Mennonite Church when I was 9 years of age, and this was when I had an even tougher time with my sin. My conscience was continually pricked and it seemed as though Satan had complete control over my will.

In 1975, at the age of 14, my parents made a decision to move to Paraguay, South America. This trip was made by pickup truck and camper. My four younger brothers and I rode in the camper and our infant sister rode up front in the pickup with our parents. On the way down the Pan American Highway, I witnessed a continual downward spiral of conditions and morals. What I witnessed in the streets of some countries I would never have dreamed of seeing in Canada. Finally, we arrived in the village of Santa Clara, in North Central Paraguay. We lived there for a short period of time. While sin was not as evident as what I had seen during the trip, it was ever present. It does not matter where you live, sin is there. The human condition since the fall of Adam has not improved, not one little bit.

We then moved back to Aylmer, Ontario, Canada, where I spent the rest of my youth. At the age of 23, I came to the realization that my sins were leading me to hell, and that there was no way that I could better myself, in any way, shape, or form.

I had heard of a small group of my friends that were preparing for baptism, and my interest was peaked. I asked some questions about what was to be done for this, and I was told that if I confessed my sins to the bishop of the church where we were attending, I would be ready for baptism (which consisted of pouring water from a small glass container on a person.) I thought, “Yes, I need to have my sins forgiven. This will keep me from going to Hell!”

After confessing my sins, I went home and I did not feel any better. My conscience was still heavy. I couldn't sleep very well that night, so I opened up my concordance, and started searching and reading. Finally I found what I was looking for. I found out that Jesus Christ had already borne my sins! There was nothing I could do to save myself, Jesus paid it all!

I could finally go to sleep, knowing I was saved.

It is wonderful to know that all your sins are forgiven. A person who is saved can look forward to the moment when our Redeemer comes for us in the air. We will be completely free from sin and we will then stand in His presence for ever more!

I have since learned about the true form of baptism and in September of 2002 I was immersed in a baptismal tank at the St. Thomas Gospel Hall. Praise God for all that He has done!

I am hoping and praying that my testimony will be read by many and may help others to come to salvation through the finished work of my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

]]>
shadsluiter@gmail.com (Super User) Personal Stories Thu, 26 Oct 2006 20:43:48 +0000
Lynn Birch - Windsor, Ontario http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1188-lynn-birch-windsor-ontario http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1188-lynn-birch-windsor-ontario

Lynn Birch - Windsor, Ontario

My name is Lynn Birch. I was born November 18th, 1982, into a non-Christian home. My father was absent from the family setting, so it was just my mother, my two sisters, and myself. I lived with my mother for the first 7 years of my life, and was placed into foster care 4 days before my 8th birthday. I lived in my first foster home for five months, and then I moved to another foster home. The woman whom I lived with was a Christian, and I knew there was something different about her. No one had ever loved me as much.

I began attending meetings, somewhat unwillingly at first. But after 2 years of living with my foster mom, I was convicted of my spiritual state. I knew that I had to be saved.

I had asked before but I was having doubts and things in my life confirmed those doubts.

I was in grade 6 at the time, almost finished the school year. I was sitting in Sunday night Gospel Meeting, April 10th, 1994, when I read the verse,

"He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him." John 3:36.

It finally dawned on me that Jesus had died for my sins, like he promised, and that all I had to do was accept His free gift.

That moment, I asked Christ to forgive my sins, and to be my Saviour, and to turn my life around, to get me on the right path. He did that, and I want to give him the rest of my life, because He gave me something better than anything I could be given. He gave me eternal life.

God is wonderful!

]]>
shadsluiter@gmail.com (Super User) Personal Stories Thu, 26 Oct 2006 20:39:25 +0000
Janeen Sutko - Phoenix, Arizona http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1187-janeen-sutko-phoenix-arizona http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1187-janeen-sutko-phoenix-arizona

Janeen Sutko - Phoenix, Arizona

My Story

I came from a non-Christian home.  I was baptized Catholic at birth and went to church on Sundays, off and on, until I was about 7 years old. The Sundays I attended church dwindled after that and by the age of 16 I had stopped believing in God altogether. I ran around, did as I pleased, and eventually got into drugs. I married when I was barely twenty to another non-believer and I grew more and more unhappy as time went by.

In August of 1999 I began a new job and that is where I met a Christian man that brought the Gospel to me.  I met him about a week after I starting working. I noticed there was something different about him than the other people in the office. I couldn't put my finger on what it was, but it was like he had a sense of peace that other's did not have. I remember wishing I had whatever it was that he had.  That is when I believe the Lord started speaking to me. A short time later this Christian man started talking to me about the Gospel. At first I didn't really want to hear what he had to say and kind of put it in the back of my mind. Everyday he would tell me a little more and soon I became interested. 

As a catholic I had never heard that you had to be saved in order to go to heaven.  Still I was finding it difficult to believe God actually existed.  Then one day I was sitting in my room thinking about some of the verses he gave me:

"For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life" John 3:16

and

"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and not that of yourselves: it is the gift of God" Ephesians 2:18.

I can't say for sure why it happened, except it was the power of God, but I saw how unhappy I was and I realized that the more I tried to control my life to make me happy the worse I became.  Then I began thinking about the forgiveness of my sins.  I didn't understand how Jesus could forgive me for such horrible things I had done.  I struggled with that for many months. 

In March of 2000 I was given my first Bible and I started searching the scriptures.  Shortly after that I started attending different churches to find one that was right for me, but was unsuccessful. Then in the middle of May I asked to attend a meeting at the Garfield assembly.  I heard the Gospel for the first time and knew I wanted to be saved and I knew there wasn't anything I HAD to do to get saved but I still couldn't grasp how to get it.

Finally on June 4th , my third time out to Gospel meeting, the message spoke clearly to me. The message was on John 19:30.  "...It is finished..."  The man that was preaching explained that those three words meant that the suffering for all of man's sins had been completed. God said it, Jesus did it, and it is finished.  I didn't get saved at the hall that evening but on my drive home I was thinking long and hard about what had been preached. The verse "It is finished" ran over and over in my head.  Then, finally, it clicked.  I simply accepted the fact that Jesus died so I would be safe from the punishment of my sins and I accepted Christ as my personal Saviour.

Getting saved has turned my life from uncertainty and emptiness to contentment and peacefulness knowing that one day I will be able to see and praise my precious Saviour. 

"How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?" (Hebrews 2:3)

]]>
shadsluiter@gmail.com (Super User) Personal Stories Thu, 26 Oct 2006 20:36:38 +0000
Lynette Kremer - Saginaw, Michigan http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1186-lynette-kremer-saginaw-michigan http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1186-lynette-kremer-saginaw-michigan

Lynette Kremer - Saginaw, Michigan

A Summer Of Salvation

“Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come” (Matthew 24:42.)

During the summer months in August 1990, the Christians in Saginaw decided to have a series of gospel meeting in a tent.  That was a tortuous summer for me! It had been my first year at the junior high school and was very stressful. I wanted to fit in, but my plans for popularity and enjoyment hadn't worked out so far. Right down the street was the great big green and white tent; advertising gospel meetings throughout the month.

Every night mom and dad dragged all of us children out to the tent to hear the gospel message. I was positive that they had been ganging up on me, and telling the preacher's all my greatest sins. I thought this because every meeting I sat through was directed to me, every word pierced my thought life. The only way I could keep my composer was if I didn't make eye contact with the preacher, and didn't sing to heartily. (I loved to sing.)

Sitting through the meeting was bad, but worse was the ride home in the van. My brother Scott had just come home from the army, he was on a vacation. He had been saved for three years at that time and he loved to talk about it. And it seemed to be that Scott thought that the ride home was his dinnertime. He preyed on all us "ranting and raving" about the shortness of life and that how he knew the Lord was coming very soon. Of course that just terrified me! I didn't want to be left behind, but more than that I didn't want to be in hell for all eternity. 

Then there came the flood of joy! My sister Vanessa professed salvation on the nineteenth of the month. To me this was no good, she shared a bedroom with me and I knew after I got home from school until the next day, for the rest of my life, I would be bombarded with the gospel message.

Then five days later my brother Aaron was reached and saved by the grace of God. Talk about pressure! I was an emotional roller coaster! I would whimper through a hymn given out at the end of the meeting with tears in my eyes and then be "tortured" with the thoughts of death and hell every waking moment.

Vanessa tenderly told me that she was praying for me while Scott lectured me on the pains and agonies of hell, and Aaron would just cry as he tried to tell me whatever it was he said. I didn't want to hear them and so I tried not to listen. I would go to bed at night and cry myself to sleep. I would plead with God that I would be a good person and never sin if I could only stop thinking about the severity of hell. Then I would tip toe into the living room that is right off my parents bedroom, just to make sure they were still here on earth and living.

Everyday I felt more exhausted and helpless. I knew that if died I would be in hell alone. I hated going to sleep at night and going to the gospel meeting wasn't so bad after all.

One message was an illustration of the power of God. How He has my life in the grasp of His hand, to take when the time comes to have my soul lost forever in the depths below. At that point I knew there was nothing I could do, I was a sinner bound for hell with no hope. I could see my soul slip from the grasp of the Savior's hand as He said, "It's too late, Lynette."

Once again it was time for bed and as I lay there, looking through the window at the stars, I realized that there was nothing for me to do. He had paid the price in full. Getting down on my knees in all my sins I found the Lord Jesus Christ as my personal Savior. (August 26, 1990)

Now I can in return praise His holy name for the work He finished at the Cross of Calvary.  Because His love is so powerful!

]]>
shadsluiter@gmail.com (Super User) Personal Stories Thu, 26 Oct 2006 20:33:10 +0000
Yvonne Hess - Livonia, Michigan http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1185-yvonne-hess-livonia-michigan http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1185-yvonne-hess-livonia-michigan

Yvonne Hess - Livonia, Michigan

My 33-Year Search for Peace

I was 12 years old when I earnestly began to think about God. It happened when I read some religious literature that someone had stuffed between books at the public library. Some of the booklets discussed sin and warned that God will someday return to judge sinners. That was a scary thought since I didn’t have to be a genius to know that the lies, occasional cheating, swiping things, and mouthing off to my parents were all classified as "sin." It was clear that God wouldn’t be holy if He compromised on the issue of sin and allowed anyone contaminated with it into His presence, so I was uncomfortably aware that, as a sinner, I was heading toward Hell.

My response? I decided that I needed to solve my sin problem if I were to escape facing God’s wrath some day.

"It should be quite easy to obey God’s commandments once I know what they are," I surmised.

Was I mistaken! As I listed every commandment that I encountered in the Bible and added it to my "To Do List," I was frustrated to find that I couldn’t get through even part of a day, let alone an ENTIRE day, without sinning in some way! So, living an entire life without sinning was hopeless.

And, the most impossible commandment of all was Deuteronomy 6:5

"And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might."

How could I ever love God with ALL my heart and ALL my soul and ALL my might, as He commands? With a sinking feeling in my heart, I knew deep down that I could never reach the perfection that God seemed to require of people; yet I felt it was a swim-or-sink issue. After all, who wants to face an angry God when he dies? So I kept looking for an elusive peace; and, although many people now considered me to be a serious, devout girl, I felt that the chasm between God and me seemed only to grow wider.

When I was in my late teens, I began to attend a Baptist church with my family. My Sunday school teacher, Mrs. J., told me that all I had to do was to confess that I was a sinner, believe that Jesus died on the cross for my sin, and ask Jesus into my heart. Admiring her own bright assurance and hoping that I might learn the secret of her confidence, one day I agreed to meet with her after the Sunday evening service to discuss salvation.

That Sunday night, in spite of my intense desire for peace, I found myself strangely resistant to her urgings to be saved, but she was persistent. She pursued a series of verses, known as "The Roman Road," and when she reached Romans 10:13,

"For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved"

she encouraged me to ask Jesus to come into my heart. At first I resisted her prompting but, with tears of embarrassment for initially displaying such defiant opposition, I finally knelt beside her and followed her in prayer.

At that point Mrs. J. joyfully hugged me, pronounced me "saved" and told me to tell everyone I knew about it. I did exactly that. But within two days I was filled with doubts again.

"Had I repented ENOUGH?"

"Had I said the right words in my prayer?"

"Had I really MEANT what I had prayed?"

When I confessed my doubts to Mrs. J., she told me, "The devil is just trying to ruin your joy and confidence. Just remember what you did last Sunday night and write that date in your Bible."

She urged me to go forward at the next altar call and then be baptized. I did. But nothing Mrs. J. said could ease those nagging doubts that seemed to mock my deepest concerns about my soul.  My assurance swung like a pendulum:  some days I thought I was saved, but on other days I knew I was lost.

In a desperate search for peace, I read dozens of tracts that contained pre-written prayers and dotted lines on their last page for a seeker to sign to supposedly receive salvation. I signed those tracts and I prayed the sinners prayers that they listed, but I still couldn’t escape the hopeless feeling that I was spiritually lost.

Years passed, then decades. Finally, one summer day in 1989, when I was randomly flipping through a Bible looking for something interesting to read, I glanced at the last couple of verses of Isaiah 52. Strange verses, yet compelling. I continued into Isaiah 53, and I was suddenly transfixed by verses five and six. I had read them in the past, but suddenly they made sense!

5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.

I knew at once that the chapter was speaking of the punishment that Jesus bore on the cross for my sins. His back was slashed open with whippings that I deserved instead of Him! He was bruised for MY sin; the punishment that He willingly endured made it possible for ME to have peace with God instead of the Hell that I deserved. The puzzle pieces finally were coming together.

I knew that a fair and holy God couldn’t punish both Jesus AND me for my sin, so in one flash of understanding God gave me eternal peace that is based on what JESUS did, rather than on something that I did on a certain night. That's the only peace that lasts.

My abracadabra prayer that I had repeated with my Sunday school teacher had been as superstitious as if I had recited a magical incantation, and that’s why it never gave me peace. I was basing salvation on ME -- my prayer, my tears, my feelings, my walk up the aisle, my baptism--ME, ME, ME.

But now I understood that salvation depends on believing on what JESUS did. God will never share the credit for salvation with anyone but Him; my part was simply to believe that my sin debt was paid, and to trust God to be true to His promises. It had taken me over thirty-three years to believe this simple truth. What indescribable peace!

My great concern for you is that you might be trusting something YOU did on a certain date instead of what HE did on that date in history when He hung on the cross. Are you trusting YOUR walk up an aisle rather than trusting HIS walk to the cross, and His death there on your behalf? And, if you believe that you are saved, do you really know what became of your sins? I once thought that they were simply "washed away," but they WEREN’T washed away by a prayer, but by Jesus when he paid the debt that those sins had accrued.

With the other Sunday school students, I used to sing:

"Gone, gone, gone, gone, yes my sins are gone; ... buried in the deepest sea ...etc."

But the part of salvation that I never heard was that, before sins could be buried in that sea, Jesus had to bear the torrent of God’s wrath against them, as if He, Himself, had committed them! It was only AFTER Jesus, the innocent victim, paid the FULL penalty for every sin I ever sinned, and that I will ever commit, that Jesus was able to shout victoriously, "IT IS FINISHED!" and God was willing to commit those sins to the bottom of the deepest sea. God proved His full satisfaction with Jesus' death as our sin-bearer by permitting Jesus to be raised from the dead -- something He couldn’t have done if any trace of sin remained on Him. And, praise God, nothing can ever undo what Jesus has already accomplished!

Now that is the basis of true peace!

"He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities,
the chastisement of our peace was upon Him,
and with His stripes we are healed" (Isaiah 53:5)

]]>
shadsluiter@gmail.com (Super User) Personal Stories Thu, 26 Oct 2006 20:25:42 +0000
Walter Gustafson - Chalfont, Pennsylvania http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1184-walter-gustafson-chalfont-pennsylvania http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1184-walter-gustafson-chalfont-pennsylvania

Walter Gustafson - Chalfont, Pennsylvania

Even though my parents were unsaved, my mother brought me up strictly so that I didn't take the Lord's name in vain. At 17, I became sincerely religious, joined the neighborhood "church" and attended services regularly. Later, I taught a Sunday School Class. I didn't smoke, drink or dance. After graduation from high school, I preached a high standard of morals to all with whom I worked: first painters, then carpenters and finally, the men at the Boston Gear Works. Although the men knew that I was sincere, they kidded me a great deal. This helped me to realize I needed something myself, but I didn't know what it was. I considered becoming a minister, but I thought, "I'm not sure that I'm right with God. Wouldn't it be terrible to preach to others if I wasn't even right with God myself!"

In reading through the Gospel, I was startled one day by reading the Lord's words in Luke 5:32,

"I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance."

I had thought, up until that moment, that Christ had come for people, like myself, who were trying to live a good life. I did not know of Romans 3:10,

"There is none righteous, no, not one."

But even so, I could not rest on being righteous, because I knew I had sinned. Yet, I was prepared to take my place as a sinner. I'm thankful that God brought me to that place.

One Lord's Day when the minister was away on vacation, some young people from the Providence Bible Institute, 40 miles away, were responsible for the meetings of the day. One young man favorably impressed me. In giving his testimony, he said he was a Sunday School teacher before he was saved. He was the first person I ever heard say that he was saved. Being a Sunday School teacher myself I thought "Maybe he has something that I don't have." He surely did, for he had Christ as his own personal Savior and I only had a religion without Christ. While he was speaking, I asked myself, "Why is it that I have been trying so hard and I don't have any love, nor joy, nor peace in my heart like he does?"

After they had left, I decided that I wanted to get what that young man had above all else. So I wrote to the Providence Bible Institute hoping to go there for that purpose. I was unsuccessful, because they wanted me to be already saved. I still longed to get what that young man had, but I didn't know where I could get it. Then I thought "If God had salvation, He would mean it for anyone who desired it, not just preachers. Surely, there must be someplace where a person could get God's salvation without being a preacher."

Shortly afterwards, I was transferred at the Boston Gear Works to another building. As usual, I began preaching right away. One man asked Mr. Thomas Harvey of the assembly that met at Cliff Street, Boston, "Did you hear about the young religious fellow that has come over here to work?" Without asking me if I was saved, Mr. Harvey invited me to come with him in his car to the Gospel Hall, 12 miles away. I had never heard of a Gospel Hall, but if there was any possibility that it was what I was looking for, I wanted to go. I'm thankful to God that it was.

The late Mr. Hugh Thorpe preached the gospel that night from the Bible story of Nicodemus in John chapter 3. Like Nicodemus, I was moral and religious, but I had never been born again. Near the end of the meeting he said, "Don't wait until you're better or you may never come at all." Those were strange words to me, for I had been trying to make myself better for many months. I heard enough that night so that I desired to come again.

At the second gospel meeting, both Mr. James Stevenson and Mr. Joseph Kerr preached on leporsy as a type of sin. One verse they quoted that especially pierced my conscience was Isaiah 64"6,

"But we are all as an unclean thing and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags;"

I couldn't adequately describe in words how miserable I felt. After many months of trying to fit myself for the presence of God, I found out that in spite of all my effort, in spite of all my Sunday School work and in spite of all my preaching, I was only a guilty sinner in the sight of God with the loathsome disease of sin. But I'm thankful to God that they both preached that way for I don't believe that I would have gotten saved the next Lord's Day if they had not. I'm convinced that no one ever gets to know Christ as their own Savior who doesn't first find out, at least in some measure, their true condition before God.

The next Lord's Day I spent with the Harveys. After dinner, Mr. Harvey and his son, James, took me for a walk. In spite of all the convictions by the Holy Spirit, I still kept up a religous conversation. But when we got to a quiet section of the city, Mr. Harvey turned to me and asked,

"Was there ever a time in your life that you saw that you were a guilty sinner and received Christ as your own personal Savior?"

I hesitated and then said, "No, there never has been."

That ended my religious conversation. From then on, I was on the receiving end. By the time we got back to the house, I was feeling just as miserable as the Sunday night before. Waiting in the living room to go to the prayer meeting, I asked myself for the last time,

"What's the difference between me and these people? They are trying to live a good life and so am I."

As soon as I had asked the question, the Spirit of God brought home to me forcefully,

"These people have accepted God's way of salvation and you are trying to work your way to Heaven."

I fully realized then that I was lost, but did not know hot to get saved.

At the prayer meeting, it cheered me to hear on brother after another get up and ask God to save "sinners", for I knew now that word included me. It made me all the more anxious to get saved. I listened intently at the gospel meeting following. Mr. Fred Squire preached from Luke 19:41-44. The last hymn he gave out was:

"Is there a heart that is waiting,
Longing for pardon today?
Hear the glad message proclaiming,
Jesus is passing this way."

I thought, "If there is any possibility that I can be saved tonight, I want to be more than anything else in the world."

I went directly to Mr. Squire after the meeting and told him so. We sat down and he read some good gospel verses to me. One I remember especially, Isaiah 53:6,

"All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way;"

He stopped right there and asked me if that was me. I thought back of how I went my own way as a boy and then reformed to go another way, but it still wasn't God's way. So I answered,

"Yes, that's me."

He read the rest of the verse,

"...and the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all."

Then Mr. Squire suggested that we pray. While on my knees I felt a horror of desperation thinking,

"In a moment or two we will be up off our knees and I'm not saved."

Just then, Mr. Squire was praying that God would reveal to me Christ on the cross taking my place. I was instantly saved because I realized for the first time in my life that when Christ died on the cross, God laid on Him all my sins. I was crying for joy to know that at last I had found peace with God, not through any works of my own, but simply accepting Christ as my own personal Savior. A little old lady, Miss Mulqueen, who is now in Heaven, led the few still there in singing a hymn I had never heard before:

"Happy day! Happy day!
When Jesus wash'd my sins away."

Thus, November 2, 1941, became the happy day for me, 5 days after I was 20 years of age and the happiest days of my life have been since that day.

]]>
shadsluiter@gmail.com (Super User) Personal Stories Thu, 26 Oct 2006 20:19:14 +0000
Olivia Colvin - Pennsauken, New Jersey http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1183-olivia-colvin-pennsauken-new-jersey http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1183-olivia-colvin-pennsauken-new-jersey

Olivia Colvin - Pennsauken, New Jersey

I was a lost sinner on my way to Hell, but now I am on my way to Heaven.

It all started at a Bible study at Woodrow Wilson High School. The studies were held after school from 3pm to 4pm. Mr. Don was preaching to us about salvation; why you need to be saved, etc. When he told us that you should have a time in your life when you were saved, a definite moment, I started thinking to myself, “I don’t have that moment in my life.” A friend of mine started telling her testimony, and these words struck me, “The just for the unjust.” Later, I spoke to Mr. Don about how I can be saved. He read some scriptures in the Bible from Matthew and Jeremiah about the heart being deceitful. I started thinking about all the sins I had committed in my heart. Then we discussed Jesus’ death on the cross. I finally understood what Jesus’ death meant.

I went home and read my Bible. With what I understood still in my mind, I confessed to the Lord that I was a lost sinner, on my way to Hell. I believed that the Lord Jesus died on the cross for me, and I accepted the Lord Jesus as my personal Savior. I knew that He died on the cross for me, and there was nothing more for me to do. I was saved.

That was January 10, 2002, at 11:40pm. I continue to follow my Lord, and was baptized in April of 2002.

]]>
shadsluiter@gmail.com (Super User) Personal Stories Thu, 26 Oct 2006 20:17:30 +0000
Alex Brandt - Marion, Iowa http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1182-alex-brandt-marion-iowa http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1182-alex-brandt-marion-iowa

Alex Brandt - Marion, Iowa

I grew up in Garnavillo, Iowa where I went to every Gospel meeting of the assembly and grew up hearing the Word of God read. My name was often mentioned in my parents' prayers.

My Great Grandfather, Louis Brandt, was a preacher and though I have very few memories of him my Great Grandmother would ask me if I was saved every time we visited. It bothered me because I respected her. Otherwise as a young boy I do not remember being troubled about anything related to my sins. I went to the church meetings because my parents wanted me to but I always slept through the meeting. Even when my sister got saved I was happy for her but never thought about myself. Then my brother got save. We were very close. We shared a room and did everything together.  But again I was happy for him but did not let it bother me. I went on like that for a few more years.  I do remember complaining at school that I had to go to "church" every night during the fall because it seemed like we had a series of Gospel meetings every year!

Then Murray McCandless and Paul Kember came for meetings. I went as usual and was really bothered by my sins for the first time that I can remember. At one point Paul asked me if I would like a ride home (that was one way they could talk to you personally!) and even thought I didn't want to I said sure! On the way home he asked if I wanted to be saved and I told him, "Yes. But I am never going to be saved because I have sat through hundreds of meetings and I still am not saved!" He didn't say a word the rest of the way home.  I was getting out of the car he simply said "Alex, I hope you are wrong!"

I went on for a number of years like that and I got into rock music and bought a lot of tapes and was having a lot of fun! Then in 1988,a song became popular on the radio called "Honestly." This song was sung by a Christian rock group called Stryper. I began to really enjoy their music but not the words because I really wasn't listening to them, only to the guitars and drums. I went out and bought all their tapes.

In 1989 a new tape called "In God We Trust" came out. I immediately bought it.  As I was laying on the floor at home listening to the title track I began to listen to the words, "In God we trust, in Him we must believe, tomorrow's too late, accept him today" and everything I had heard at meetings came back to me.  I just put my trust in the Savior and the work he had done on the cross!!! That was the last week in April 1989.

Immediately I had doubts because nobody in the assembly that I knew listened to Christian Rock. I thought they wouldn't believe I had gotten saved listening to a rock band! Besides that it was too easy!!! So I didn't tell anyone but I was always looking for assurance. Then a friend in school got saved and I couldn't figure out how she new she was saved and I didn't!

One Sunday night we had visitors from Canada and one told his testimony at the meeting. At the end of his story he said he had received his assurance from 1 John 15.  Later while reading the Bible I couldn't remember which verse he said, so I decided to read all of that chapter. I never got further than the first half of the first verse! "For whoso believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God." When I read that I thought that's what I believe so I must be born of God and that means I am saved!

Since then I have not always lived for the Lord but I have recently come to realize what I have missed by not living for him. My faith in him has helped me through some hard times and I have turned to him to lead and guide. He has now blessed me with a wonderful wife, Karen, and we LOVE the meeting here in Marion, Iowa!

]]>
shadsluiter@gmail.com (Super User) Personal Stories Thu, 26 Oct 2006 20:08:40 +0000
Vicki Potter - Madison, WI http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1181-vicki-potter-madison-wi http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1181-vicki-potter-madison-wi


Plenty of Time
 
It was a glorious, sunny afternoon on October 18, 1983. I was fourteen years old and my two best friends and I were walking home from school. As we reached our driveway, I saw the car from out of state and knew that the two preachers who were having meetings at the Cedar Falls Gospel Hall were in our house. I figured they were talking with my brother who wanted to be saved from his sins, but I was full of dread because I also knew that I would be lectured next. I had been raised knowing that the Lord Jesus had died for my sins on the cross and that I needed to be believe that His work was for me personally in order to be in Heaven. Looking back, I can honestly say that my heart was full of pride. I had not done anything so bad that God would banish me to an eternity in Hell. Besides, Satan had me convinced that I had plenty of time! I was young and would have years to worry about my soul.

My mother came out to inform me that my presence had been requested inside. I watched her walk back inside and continued to visit with my friends. She had to come back out a second time and the look on her face told me that I had better follow orders or face being drug inside by my ear. I said farewell to my friends and trudged inside.
They didn’t waste any time getting to the crux of the matter either. I admitted to them that I did not have a moment in my life where I believe Jesus had died for me, but in my mind, still didn’t understand what the great urgency was.

Mr. John Slabaugh asked me to recite John 3:36. I was embarrassed that I couldn’t even start it. We turned to it and my eyes immediately focused on the words

“…and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.”

The wrath of God! This was disturbing to me. What happened to this God of love? Mr. Slabaugh must have perceived my anxiety and asked me if I knew that not believing the Bible was the same as calling God a liar. This truth struck fear into my heart. What sin could possibly be worse than calling God a liar? What was keeping Him from striking me dead in my seat and sending me to a lost eternity?

Then Mr. Slabaugh asked me to recite Isaiah 53:6. I couldn’t manage that one either, so again, we turned to verse and he asked me to read the first half.

“All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way;”

He asked me if I could see myself in that verse. It was in the first word “All”. I read it as I had gone my own way; away from God. I literally felt despair! I felt the weight of my sins and knew that Hell was what I deserved from a just God. Mr. Slabaugh had me read the last part of the verse,

“…and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.”

He asked a second time if I could see myself in that verse. There was that word “All” again; I knew that included me. But, I was still pondering the first “All” and my awful destiny! Finally, he asked me what the last half of the verse meant to me. I looked at the verse a second time and it hit me like a ton of bricks. Immediately, I could see that Jesus had died for ME! MY sins were erased when He shed His blood and died on the cross. It was at that very moment that I was assured of Heaven!

Satan doesn’t have to tell you that God doesn’t exist or that He won’t send you to a lost eternity. He just has to keep you believing that you have plenty of time. What will you do with Jesus?

]]>
shadsluiter@gmail.com (Super User) Personal Stories Thu, 26 Oct 2006 19:41:44 +0000
Shelly Wahls - Tepic, Nayarit, Mexico. http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1180-shelly-wahls-tepic-nayarit-mexico http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1180-shelly-wahls-tepic-nayarit-mexico

Shelly Wahls - Tepic, Nayarit, Mexico.

I was born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa and lived there until I was in 6th grade. My home was one that claimed to believe in God, but he was not discussed at all or even on a regular basis. My family had the feeling that religion is something that should not be "pushed" on the kids and none of us were baptized as infants. No one in our immediate family went to church, neither set of grandparents went any where. The only family members that I am aware if that attended a church was my mom's brother and his family and I attended the Lutheran Church w/ them once to twice a month when I stayed the night w/ my cousins. I remember when the pastor or Sunday school teacher (it is not clear in my memory which one) told us that if we asked Jesus into our hearts we would go to heaven. I did this at this time. I never gave heaven another thought.
 
We then moved to a small town, Garnavillo, IA. The circumstances surrounding this move were  very different and we were only there long enough for me to attend and graduate high school. My parents then moved back to the Cedar Rapids area. Now I feel that the entire reason that my family moved to Garnavillo must have been so I could be exposed to the Gospel.

While in Garnavillo, the Lord put into my life a good friend in my class who attended a place called the Gospel Hall.  I had heard things about this place, but was interested in finding out more for my self. My friend talked openly about his thoughts on creation and salvation. Another girl in my class attended a place called the Evangelical Free Church and I went with her a few times. I thought in my mind that this place was similar to the Lutheran Church. I asked my friend to take me with him to the Gospel Hall. He told me that he couldn't do it, but he told me to ask my boyfriend to take me since he went to the Gospel Hall. We had never really discussed his faith. So when I asked him, he said, "OK."

I started to attend meetings with Jason (my boyfriend) weekly. I even went to meetings on Sunday mornings when I did not have to work. I am not sure how long I attended meetings, but I did go faithfully. I did not have any real worries about my sin until March 16, 1992.  I had been out with my boyfriend for his birthday.  On the way home I heard a song on the radio. The words were something like this, "Would I see you in Heaven?" I started to cry and think about what a sinner I was and how I would be in Hell if I died. Jason immediately took me home to talk to his dad. Ron read to me from the Bible and prayed with me. I was not saved.

Ron took me up to another believer's house who happened to have a preacher staying at their house. I spoke with the preacher until fairly late into the night. I went home still unsaved.  Now I was also convicted that I was too late to receive salvation. I thought there was no hope and that I had missed it. The door was shut to me! So I went on my way, sad that I was not going to be able to receive salvation, but soon it was not on the forefront of my mind. 
 
Later, Jason's mom called and and asked me if I wanted attend Gospel meetings that were starting. I had still been attending the Sunday night meetings with Jason's parents while he was away at college.  I readily agreed, but more to make her happy than anything.  I did not have the heart to tell her that I was already too late and there was no hope for me.

I went to the meetings. After meeting one night April 2,1992 the preachers Bill Seale and Paul Kember asked me if I wanted to stay after and talk to them. I was not really wanting to, but I figured I would just tell them it was too late for me and go home. Was I ever wrong. We talked for several hours and they explained to me that while I was still hearing the word and open to listening it was not too late for me. We discussed how the Lord Jesus WANTED to die on the cross for sins. I am not sure I had ever grasped that truth. So after much reading praying and discussion I was lead to the saving truth that Jesus Died for MY sins as  I read 1 Peter 3:18

"For Christ also hath once suffered for sins the just for the unjust that He might bring us to God."

The Lord reveled at that time that it was all for me. He was the just and I was the undeserving unjust. I was saved right then and there. It was the best thing that has ever happened in my life!


Shelly and her husband, Jason, are now serving as missionaries in Mexico.

]]>
shadsluiter@gmail.com (Super User) Personal Stories Wed, 25 Oct 2006 18:44:46 +0000
Aric Stickfort - Parkersburg, IA http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1179-aric-stickfort-parkersburg-ia http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1179-aric-stickfort-parkersburg-ia

Aric StickfortAric Stickfort - Parkersburg, IA

I was born into a Christian home. My parents and grand parents on both sides were saved and in fellowship in the Stout Assembly, Stout, IA. So I grew up with a great blessing under the sound of the truth of the gospel. At 4 years old, I began attending Sunday school where we were taught the Word of God concerning the accountability our sin, its consequence & the need of Christ as Saviour. I learned the same gospel verses & heard the same gospel preached as so many that are raised in Christian homes. But I was careless of its eternal truths. I remember well, my grandpa Meyer asking me “When are you going to get saved”. I never answered his question in all the years he asked me. Then in March of 1985, he passed away. God used this to loudly speak to me. I knew for sure he was at peace, home in Heaven with his Savior. I never stopped thinking about that.

The Lord used a word to speak to me. It was the word ‘Peace’. Many of the Christians who stopped over during the time after his death reminded me that he was at peace, and if I wanted to see him again, I would need the same Savior he had. In my sin, I knew that I did not have peace with God. I thought about this while in school a lot. Gospel meetings with Roy Weber & Paul Elliott had started in Stout in February of that same year. To be honest, the thought of getting the matter of salvation and the issue of my sin settled never crossed my mind. I knew for sure that had I been the one that had died, and not grandpa, I would have not been home in Heaven as he was, but had been in Hell forever.

I wanted nothing more than to be saved from that point on. We attended gospel meetings and I listened to the gospel being preached. This went on for about 2 weeks. One Friday night, Roy closed the meeting by quoting Romans 5:6 – “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly”. Meeting ended and we left as usual. The ride back home was quiet and as I was thinking about that same verse, I remember looking out into the dark night sky, and thinking to myself, this is just all so dark to me – I don’t understand it, but I want to be saved. I knew for sure from God’s Word, that I was ungodly and in my sin, without Christ and Hell was before me. That verse came back to me – “Christ died for the ungodly”. For the first time, I had completely agreed with God, that I was a sinner and found the answer of peace in the fact that Christ died for me! I was able to understand that is was for me, the ungodly one, that Christ died for as revealed in His Word and simply rested on nothing else & nothing less. Friday March 22, 1985, I passed from darkness into God’s marvelous light. (1 Peter 2:9). I love the words of the hymn: “Was it for me, He bowed His head, upon the Cross and freely shed, His precious blood - that Crimson tide, was it for me, the Saviour died?” “It was for me, yes all for me, O love of God, so great so free, O wondrous love, I’ll shout and sing, He died for me, my Lord and King”.


Yours in Him,

Aric Stickfort

]]>
shadsluiter@gmail.com (Super User) Personal Stories Wed, 25 Oct 2006 18:19:45 +0000
Grace Stickfort - Dunkerton, IA http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1178-grace-stickfort-dunkerton-ia http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1178-grace-stickfort-dunkerton-ia

Grace Stickfort - Dunkerton, IA

Shortly after we were married, I began to wonder if I had the same salvation as my dear husband, Harold. He would often say he was as sure of Heaven as if he were already there and I would think, how grand that must be to be so sure becuase I couldn't say that.

As time went on, we had our first beautiful baby girl, Carolyn. Of course, much of my time was taken up with her, but still God had a way of speaking to me. Quite often if I couldn't see Harold out in the farmyard or he didn't hear me when I called to him, I would go right to our baby's room to see if she was still in her crib. Then I knew the Lord hadn't come yet and at these times, I wanted to know for sure I would go if the Lord would come.

Then on a Sunday evening, February 11, 1951, after the Gospel meeting, on the way home, we were visiting about the meeting when Harold said,"When you got saved, what did you get?" That was it, what had I got? I don't know how I answered him but I thought he knows I'm not saved. I couldn't get to sleep that night, I thought - What will the Christians think of me? I had a sunday School Class prior to Carolyn and had been born and raised in a Christian home, until it came to me that none of these people would take my place in Hell. My sobbing woke Harold and he said "What is the matter?" I said, If I tell you, it will break your heart." However, when I told him that I wasn't saved, he was understanding and said "Lets go back to what you think you had." I had nothing and I was just plain lost. He quoted scriptures to me and we read some from the Bible but to no avail.

On Monday morning, I sat by the kitchen table reading familiar verses. Harold was in and out while he worked. He would speak a little word to me and then he asked if he should call someone or a servant of the Lord to speak with me. I said, "There is no use, I'm going to get this myself." After lunch, I opened my Bible to Ephesians 2:8-9, "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast." These were verses that told how to be saved and that was my uttermost desire. I shut my Bible. There is no use, I can't see it and will just have to go on being lost but I opened the Bible again and there I read, Matthew 11:28, "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Come to Jesus and rest, Why there it was. I came with all my burden of sin and guilt and Jesus said "I will give you rest." Oh, that was a happy day and one I will never forget.

]]>
shadsluiter@gmail.com (Super User) Personal Stories Wed, 25 Oct 2006 18:11:50 +0000
Jamie Smid - Dunkerton, IA http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1177-jamie-smid-dunkerton-ia http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1177-jamie-smid-dunkerton-ia

Jamie Smid - Dunkerton, IA

I wasn't born into a family of wealth, fame or royalty but instead I was born into something I consider far better.  I was born into a Christian home where I grew up with loving parents that put Christ first in our family.  My parents read the Bible and prayed daily with us children growing up.  However, this did not make me fit for God's heaven.   I knew more about the Bible at the age of 9 then some people do at age 30, yet I knew that if I died I would not be in God's heaven.

All the verses I knew by heart and all the Bible stories I had heard and read were not going to take me to heaven.  But what a privilege I had to be reminded daily that if I never knew my sins forgiven, I would never be in heaven. I had the opportunity to sit in many gospel meetings and hear over and over what the Lord Jesus Christ had done for me.  Although this didn't save me I thank God that I was ever given such a great privilege.

When I was 8 years old I remember seeing my Grandpa in a casket and for the first time in my life death was made real to me.  How final it was and if I didn't get saved I would never see my Grandpa again.  I remember people talking about the last words my Grandpa spoke, "Thank God for Salvation!"  But I couldn't say that. 

In November of 1983 I was sitting in a Sunday night Gospel meeting when it was announced that Joe Clarkquist was coming for meetings starting Tuesday night.  I remember how upset I was because I knew I would have to attend each of these meetings.  I looked over at my Dad who had a smile on his face and seemed to be pleased that we were going to have some meetings.  I remember thinking, "what if these meetings are coming to West Union for a reason?"  "Well," I thought, "I'm going to get this matter settled this week so I no longer have to worry about it."

A week later I was sitting in the final night of the week of meetings that Mr. Clarkquist was having when the thought struck me that I had made a promise to get this matter settled this week and it never even crossed my mind.  I was scared, I thought I might have missed my chance to be saved.  Then Mr. Clarkquist announced that he would go on two more nights of next week.  I remember thinking that God is giving me another chance. 

So the next week I gave it everything I had.  If there was anything I could do, I was going to do it.  I tried to remember every verse I could while I was at school and went over them in my mind.  Nothing happened.  I tried to believe.  Nothing.  I didn't seem any different then before.  Finally, sitting in the final night of the meetings I gave up.  I thought maybe I had really missed my chance.  There was nothing I could do to save myself.  But then the thought came to me that Christ did die for sinners.  Well I knew I was a sinner so that HAD to mean me.  So that would mean if Christ was here in person He would say that I died for you, Jamie.  I realized something I never had before.  That Christ died for me personally and without His death on the cross I would have no hope of ever seeing heaven. I came to know something that night that is as real today as it was then.  Something I never had before, peace with God knowing my sins were laid on the Lord Jesus Christ and because of His death I go free.

 

]]>
shadsluiter@gmail.com (Super User) Personal Stories Wed, 25 Oct 2006 18:10:30 +0000
Jenny Smid - Dunkerton, IA http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1176-jenny-smid-dunkerton-ia http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1176-jenny-smid-dunkerton-ia

Jenny Smid - Dunkerton, IA

I am so thankful to God for being born into a family who loved the Lord Jesus Christ and who understood the most important thing in life was to be born again. What a priviledge!

When I was 7 years old, my youngest brother was diagnosed with Leukimia. I remember lying in bed one night thinking, "What if I was the one sick with cancer instead of my brother?" I knew if I died, I would be in Hell because I had never trusted the Lord Jesus Christ as my Saviour.

Another experience that I remember, I was riding on a tractor with my Grandpa. Grandpa said to hold on tight as he backed up to pick up a haybale. As the tractor backed up, I turned around to watch, and let go of the handle. I remember starting to fall backward towards the rear tire as the tractor jerked backward and Grandpa grabbed my arm just in time. I was reminded again of death and how if I had been run over, my soul would have been lost forever.

I remember at night before falling asleep, I thought if the Lord comes tonight, I will be left behind. I would lie really still and try to hear Mom and Dad breathing and then would know the Lord hadn't come yet because they were ready to meet God but I was not.

I was 8 years old in September of 1988 and very troubled about my need of Salvation. I wanted to be saved with all my heart. I had been to so many Gospel meetings, I could tell someone how to be saved, yet was not saved myself. On September 3, 1988, I sat in the living room with my parents who tried to point out verses, but to know avail. They finally wrote some verses down, and I went to my room to read them on my own. I read many verses and came to the conclusion, I can't get this, and I will just have to go to hell. That is when I came to the verse in Isaiah 53:6, "All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way, and the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all." I knew I was a sinner who had gone astray, but I had never believed the last half of the verse, "the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all." There it was, the Lord punished Jesus for my sin. I simply rested on God's word, the first half and the second half of the verse. I experienced doubts a couple years later, and thought did I really get saved, maybe that was too easy, and there is more to it. But I received assurance from God's word as I was sitting in a Gospel Meeting and Mr. Goff was speaking. Mr. Goff held up his Bible and said, "God's Word says, Jesus Christ died for our sins, all God asks of you is to believe it. I realized nothing else is needed for salvation, Jesus died for me, God is satisfied, and so am I. John 3:16 says, For God so loved the world,(me) that He gave His only begotten Son,(for me) that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

]]>
shadsluiter@gmail.com (Super User) Personal Stories Wed, 25 Oct 2006 18:09:26 +0000
Barb Nesbit - Dunkerton, IA http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1175-barb-nesbit-dunkerton-ia http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1175-barb-nesbit-dunkerton-ia

Barb Nesbit - Dunkerton, IA

I was saved at the age of 10, on July 9, 1954, at 8:30 p.m., in a gospel meeting, at the Stout Gospel Hall. Mr. William Warke and Mr. Oliver Smith were having gospel meetings.

I was born into a Christian home although my parents did not take us to meetings. We had Christian neighbors who were willing to take 3 of us with them to the Hitesville Sunday School. They had 5 in their family so it was a car full. I was the 4th from the oldest in our family of 7 children so I had to trade off with my brother going and I remember I use to cry when I couldn't go. I learned many verses in Sunday School and learned I needed to be saved.

I was 7 years old in 1954 when I got polio and had to be taken to the University Hospitals in Iowa City and left there. I will never forget when my dad dropped me off at the big doors and the nurse said they wouldn't be able to see me until I was better. I was so scared and so sick with a high fever, convulsions and a terrible headache. I remember thinking I was going to die and many in beds around me did! I prayed to God and asked Him to make me better and I would get saved. For a week I was so sick, so afraid, so alone. Then I got better and was able to go home. When I got home, I had a new baby sister and my promise to God that I would get saved didn't happen.

When I was about 9, we started riding to meeting with a different Christian family (John Alberts, who went to the Stout Gospel Hall). Alberts had 6 in their family but crowded 3 of us in. I wanted to be saved and wanted to go to meeting so bad.

When the gospel series started in Stout in the hot summer, I couldn't go every night but my cousin Shirley Wessels got saved and when she told me, I thought there was no hope for me as I wanted to be saved so bad and I didn't know she did.

On a Friday night, we were able to go to the meeting and we sat in the second row from the front. When Mr. Warke got up, he announced this would be the last night of the long series of meetings. I started to cry; I wanted to be saved. He started preaching and I was looking through my Bible at all the verses I had learned and underlined. My older sister kept poking me and telling me to listen to Mr. Warke. At 8:30, Mr. Warke was done speaking. I thought to myself, "I will have to go to Hell, I can't get saved". Then my eyes fell on my opened Bible and I read John 3:16, For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that "whosoever", I stopped, I thought, thats me. I am a whosoever and I continued to read, whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. Right there I realized I was saved. Jesus died for me, the whosoever. I told my sister and she told me to be quiet and listen. I did. After the meeting, a dear old sister sitting behind us said she was watching me and she could tell the minute I got saved. Praise the Lord.

 

]]>
shadsluiter@gmail.com (Super User) Personal Stories Wed, 25 Oct 2006 18:07:05 +0000
Elaine Nordman - Dunkerton, IA http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1174-elaine-nordman-dunkerton-ia http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1174-elaine-nordman-dunkerton-ia

Elaine Nordman - Dunkerton, IA

Elaine NordmanBe a Christian? Who needs it? I was young and I thought I would get saved when I was older when I didn’t need to have fun anymore. When I was a girl, thoughts of having fun and being saved were incompatible. Because of my exposure to plain gospel preaching and my belief that the Bible was God’s Word, I knew that I was born a sinner as God had said. I knew it when I refused to memorize Bible verses for my grandmother who would give my cousin and me incentives to memorize. My cousin got all the quarters but I didn’t care – I wasn’t about to say verses from the BIBLE, especially if the verse had the word “God” in it. I didn’t want to be reminded about meeting God.

I had many unsettling dreams as a child, and I now know that God used those dreams to keep me aware that one day I would meet God. Most of the dreams were a scene of falling, falling, falling. In my dream I would repeat the words, “I’m saved, I’m saved, I’m saved” as I was falling, as if God would believe it if I said I was saved and let me into Heaven. The most horrible dream was a scene of soldiers waiting for me when the school bus stopped in front of my home. I can still see them in their armor (like in Bible times) and holding spears, standing on the east side of the road where the bus door would open to let me out. They each grabbed an arm and dragged me off to be crucified because I had sinned. I was so glad to wake up from that one.

Then came a Sunday night, in July of 1961, just two weeks before I turned 16. I had big plans for my life after I turned 16. But that night it became real to me that those plans may never happen; and I may never grow old like I planned. Maybe the Lord would come back and take all the believers and I would be left behind. After the gospel meeting that night when I went to the car, I found another cousin talking to my brother who was troubled about being saved. I got in the car just in time to hear my cousin say, “Al, you’ve got to get saved before the Lord comes.” Those words were riveted into my mind and heart with great force. This time I could not shake thoughts of eternity. Once I got home, I went directly up to my room and got ready for bed. I took my Bible in hand and kneeled at my bedside. I opened the Bible to Isaiah 53:5, the verse that so many preachers had read to my parents in trying to point them to Jesus Christ. I read and re-read that verse, and then put my name in the verse, just like the preachers had told my parents to do. And then the verse read like this:

“But He was wounded for Elaine’s transgressions, He was bruised for Elaine’s iniquities, and the chastisement of Elaine’s peace was laid upon Him, and with His stripes she is healed.”

In my mind’s eye, I could see Jesus on the cross, arms outstretched, and my name branded into his chest. The thought came into my head that if I had been the only one ever born, Jesus still would have had to die in order for me to be in Heaven because He is the only one qualified to take away sin. I understood that Jesus died just for ME. At that moment I was saved.

In spite of after-meeting guests for tea, I ran downstairs in my p.j.’s, open Bible in hand, and told my parents that I had just been saved. I kept pointing at “my” verse, asking them if they could see that Jesus died just for them too. What a night! I knew my sins were gone – they had been laid on Jesus a long time ago.

The biggest surprise of my new life in Christ was that I found out you can be a Christian and have fun – loads of fun! And better yet – joy! That’s a deeper kind of happiness that circumstances can’t shake. I even liked being with the believers. AND reading my Bible. AND saying ”God”! AND I wanted to pray. What a life! I highly recommend it.

 

]]>
shadsluiter@gmail.com (Super User) Personal Stories Wed, 25 Oct 2006 17:56:49 +0000
Denise Wisecup - Dunkerton, IA http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1173-denise-wisecup-dunkerton-ia http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1173-denise-wisecup-dunkerton-ia

Denise Wisecup - Dunkerton, IA

I was raised in a home with a Mother that saw to it that I went to Sunday School, but we as a family did not attend church regularly. Mom wanted us to know that there was a God, and that is where my knowledge was; there was a God in heaven that had a son Jesus who died for us….period. I never heard that it was about a personal relationship with Jesus; that what Jesus did on that cross was pay the price for my sin.

When I was in 8th grade, my sister took me to a movie called the “The Cross and the Switchblade”. That movie really impacted me. They asked after the movie if anyone would like to give their heart to Jesus, in the emotion of it all, I said "yes".

As my life would later prove through my wandering in sin, I still didn’t have a grasp on God’s salvation. But God is just and faithful; he brought into my life a wonderful lady who was my neighbor, my friend, and talked with me about God’s plan of salvation through a person, the Lord Jesus Christ. We would have many conversations and she would tell me how she knew she was going to heaven.

I asked her, “ How can you know for sure?”

She would lovingly reply, “It is all right there in His word, you have to read it and He will speak to you.”

So, I did, and for a long time I felt like I was on this fence looking at both sides of my destiny.  I needed to make the decision to be with Him or against Him. The verse that finally revealed to me that I needed to make a choice was Rev. 3:20

"Behold, I stand at the door and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me."

On that day in September, 1996, I opened the door, and I have never once regretted it. I wish I would have told Berneice.  But three months later the Lord took her home to be with Him. As I look back over my life, I heard many times, KNOCK….KNOCK…..KNOCK. I am so thankful that I jumped off that fence and opened the door to Jesus.

]]>
shadsluiter@gmail.com (Super User) Personal Stories Wed, 25 Oct 2006 17:53:55 +0000
Viola Carlson - Dunkerton, IA http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1172-viola-carlson-dunkerton-ia http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1172-viola-carlson-dunkerton-ia

Viola Carlson - Dunkerton, IA

My brother said his gun was empty one day when he came home from hunting, but the gun discharged and the bullet went into the floor about a foot from where I was holding my little brother. The same brother was swinging a baseball bat and I was planting flowers. The bat slipped from his hand and hit me on the head. If I had been killed when these things happened I would have been in Hell as I wasn’t saved.

I never heard about salvation until I married my husband. When we were working on our house, I moved a step ladder and a hammer which was on top of the ladder fell on me. My husband had said I must get saved.

In January 1966, a lady invited me to a Baptist Church. I went forward when they had the Altar Call. I told a lady I knew I had to obey the Ten Commandments.

One day my sister-in-law, Linda, told me some ladies were studying Colossians. Colossians 1:27 said, “Christ in You”. This puzzled me. I read other places that when you’re saved Christ is in you.

One Wednesday night when a Bible meeting was at my house, one of the men asked if I wanted to be baptized. I said, “Yes”, but then thought what if I’m not saved.

On July 29, 1973, I went to the tent meeting in Dunkerton. David Adams chose a song which said, “Christ For You”. I kept thinking about Christ in you. After the meeting, I was visiting with Barb Nesbit and she said, “That was a good meeting, isn’t it good we’re saved?” I said, yes, but then thought, what if I’m not saved. I took a girl home, and when driving back to the town of Dunkerton I said, “God, why isn’t Christ in me? He died for me!"

Happy tears came and I knew I was saved because Christ died for me. I was saved on July 29, 1973 and later baptized on September 23, 1973.

]]>
shadsluiter@gmail.com (Super User) Personal Stories Wed, 25 Oct 2006 17:51:21 +0000
Andrew Musch - Dunkerton, IA http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1171-andrew-musch-dunkerton-ia http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1171-andrew-musch-dunkerton-ia

Andrew MuschAndrew Musch - Dunkerton, IA

I was born the first time on May 9, 1978 to parents who just a few years before come to an understanding and appreciation for what the Lord Jesus Christ had done on their behalf. Therefore, I had the privilege to be raised in an environment where God was respected and the wonderful story of His grace and love was spoken of, read about and given thanks for often. Many Sunday mornings I would sit at the fee of my father as he would read the Gospel accounts of the death of the Lord Jesus Christ for the Creation that had sinned against Him. The story would touch my heart but only to the extent, I would think to myself, “Wow, that is really something what Jesus went through on the Cross.” The problem was I stopped short of realizing WHY and for whom Jesus had endured such agony. I never made the story personally apply to me!

As a boy of 9 years old, I began to tell people that I was saved. I did this so the people around me who loved me would quit being so worried about me not being saved.  I also tried to convince my own heart I was saved, forgiven and on my way to Heaven.  But there was no love in my heart for God. Thankfully, the Holy Spirit of God gave me no rest about my false profession of faith. I had to admit to myself I was not on my way to Heaven. Others began to realize I was not born again of God too.

On our way home from Waterloo one summer afternoon, I began to cry silently to myself as I began to realize I was not fit for Heaven and the reality of Hell gripped my soul as a boy of now 11 years old. I thought my silent tears were going unnoticed but they weren’t. Not only did my dear mother notice, but, as only mothers can, she knew why the tears were falling from my eyes. She said, “Andrew, let’s stop over to the Nesbit’s house.” A preacher name Gary Sharp was having children’s meetings in Dewar and Dunkerton at the time. At first I resisted as I didn’t want to have to admit to anyone I was a sinner and on my way to an eternal separation from God; my pride wanted to keep me lost and blinded, but I was getting desperate for God’s salvation so even my stubborn pride dissolved. When we arrived, I wanted Mr. Sharp to just pat me on the head and say, “Dry your tears son, you’re saved, all’s okay.” But, of course, he could not do such a thing nor can any human being give another human being assurance of Heaven; only the precious Word of God can.

As we sat down, Mr. Sharp began to read over a number of verses from the Bible with me because he knew the Bible says, “Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.” Yet, as we looked at Scriptures, my spiritual eyes continued to be blinded to the truths of God. Finally, Mr. Sharp left me with a simple visual illustration of what happened at the Cross. He took his right hand and told me that his right hand was me. Then he laid his heavy, black Bible upon his right hand. He said, “Andrew, this is your burden of sins that you have offended God with.” Next, he stuck out his left hand and triumphantly stated, “This is the Lord Jesus Christ, and this is what God has done with your sin burden.” He removed his Bible (my sin) from his right hand (Me) and placed it on his left hand (the Lord Jesus). He starred at the Bible, and then looked up and asked me a simple question, “Andrew, where did your burden of sin go?” “Is it still on you or is it gone from you and dealt with by another, the Lord Jesus?” I sat there without answering for what could have been minutes. I honestly did not understand what he was trying to emphasis to my young mind. I left the Nesbit’s house with more butterflies and frustration then I had arrived with.

That night my situation continued to become increasingly burdensome and seemingly hopeless. I began to search the Scriptures myself for answers. I began to cry out in my mind and out loud, “God save me please!” But the harder I tried, the more hopeless I became. My eyes dropped to a verse on the page of the Bible before me. In John 8:44, Jesus was here on Earth and speaking to religious people who’s hearts were full of unbelief of the fact that He claimed and proved Himself to be the Son of God. Jesus said to these people with hardened, unbelieving hearts, “Ye are of your father the Devil.” The Bible describes the Devil as the father of unacceptance of God’s ways of love. I cried out to God, “God, I cannot figure out how to be saved. So, I will forever have to be a child of the Devil and banished from your love for eternity. I give up God!”

My mother told me before I went to bed she was glad I was seeking God’s salvation. She said a seeking sinner and a seeking Savior soon meet! I cried myself to sleep knowing I was not saved but on my way to Hell and the Lake of Fire. The next morning, the first thought on my mind was a verse I had memorized in Sunday School, Isaiah 53:5, which reads,

“He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities, the chastisement that was due us was upon Him, and with His stripes we are healed.”

My eyes were finally opened to the truth. That morning, Tuesday, July 19, 1989, I realized, not only was the story of Jesus at the Cross an amazing event, but it was done for me! The Lord Jesus Christ took my sin on His sinless self that I might be forgiven of God eternally. That morning I was saved by God’s loving kindness through a work which His precious Son had completed nearly 2000 years before I was born, before I even committed my first sin. At that moment, I dropped to my knees by my bed. With tears of joy in my eyes now, I thanked God for the first time in my life for loving me so much and punishing His Son in my place that I might be forgiven of a debt I could never pay. I have never stopped thanking Him since.

That was 17 wonderful years ago; not so wonderful according to the world’s perspective as my nuclear family (parents and three older brothers) has experienced the heartbreak of divorce but wonderful in that my Savior has carried and loved me through it all.  God has lead me to a Canadian mountain girl from Alberta who appreciates the sacrifice of the Savior and He is Lord over her life; Roslyn has been my wife for 3 ½ years now.  In those years, the Lord has blessed our marriage with 2 beautiful girls: Kezia Hiltje, age 2, and Selah Roslyn, age 3 weeks.  I’ve finished graduate school earning my Masters in Business Administration and am a salaried employee for a little company you may have heard of—John Deere (actually, I’m a missionary for the Lord Jesus Christ disguised as a John Deere employee)   Most importantly, the last 17 years have brought a deeper knowledge of what an amazing Savior I have.  Like the ole song says, “I just keep falling in love with Him over and over and over and over again!”  My prayer for you is that you come to accept and appreciate the One who died as a sacrifice for your sins.

]]>
shadsluiter@gmail.com (Super User) Personal Stories Wed, 25 Oct 2006 17:46:16 +0000
Shirley Johnson - Dunkerton, IA http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1170-shirley-johnson-dunkerton-ia http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1170-shirley-johnson-dunkerton-ia

Shirley Johnson - Dunkerton, IA

I was baptized as a baby and confirmed as a teenager and went to church every Sunday. When I took communion I thought all my sins were forgiven.

I took my children to Children's Sunday School Meetings in the little town of Dewar, IA and remember thinking, I've got what they have when they talked about being saved.

When my daughter was five, she ran out in front of a car and was killed. When people came to the visitation at the funeral home they told me she was in heaven and I wondered if this could be true?

Then there were tent meetings in Dunkerton and I thought I was okay, because I knew I was a sinner, but I didn't know I was lost.

One day when I was driving to work, the thought came to me, if I've made a mistake and end up in hell, no one will care and it will be my fault.

The next day, Sunday, I was sitting on my davenport reading my Bible trying to get saved. I was so lost and couldn't figure it out and finally said, "Lord, if you want me, you'll have to come and get me". I laid my Bible down and laid down to take a nap. My doorbell rang and I went to the door and there stood two of the Lord's servants. I said, "How did you two men know I wanted to get saved?" They came in and sat down and told me to open my Bible to Ephesians 2 verses 8 and 9. I read, "For by Grace are ye saved through faith and that not of yourself, it is the gift of God. Not of works, lest any man should boast."

I said, "Oh, God doesn't even care that I was baptized and confirmed. It's what His Son did for me on the cross." Then I could see Jesus hanging on the cross and saying, "It is Finished." I knew then that's where my sins were paid for. I was saved July 23, 1972.

]]>
shadsluiter@gmail.com (Super User) Personal Stories Wed, 25 Oct 2006 17:43:28 +0000
Nola Roeding - Dunkerton, IA http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1169-nola-roeding-dunkerton-ia http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1169-nola-roeding-dunkerton-ia

Nola Roeding - Dunkerton, IA

I remember, even as a young child someone told me that Jesus loved me and He was my friend. My family only went to church, sometimes. It wasn’t ever mentioned until Saturday night if they were going to go on Sunday. Then, a lot of times my parents wouldn’t wake up to take us. I remember I would get up in the morning, dress myself and walk to church. I was scared to go into church by myself ( I was only 4 or 5 years old ) so I would sit on the steps for a while and then walk home.

We moved to another town and started going to church a little more often. The church we attended taught that God sent His Perfect Son into the world to be an example for us of how we should live. We were to do our best to be like Jesus. When I was 13 years old, I started questioning this teaching. I am suppose to do my best to be like Jesus, but Jesus was perfect and I am not. How can I be as good as Jesus? What is my best? Is my best going to be good enough for God? What if God thinks I should have done better? How can I get to Heaven?

Then a family moved to town. They had a daughter and we became friends. They had an evangelist come to speak at their church for 3 nights and my friend invited me. I went the first night and the evangelist was talking about things I had never heard before. I was trying to put together the things I had learned and what he was saying. I still didn’t understand. The next night as I was listening to the speaker, I realized I was a lost sinner and the only way to Heaven was through Jesus Christ, God’s Son. He died on the cross for my sins. He shed His blood for me and I needed to believe on Him. There were my answers to my questions. It had nothing to do with me doing my best. I thought in my mind and heart, “Thank You God, Thank you God! I was trying hard to hold back the tears when my friend asked me if I wanted to go up front and speak to someone. I said, “Yes”. The person showed me in the Bible different verses and had me read them out loud. I remember reading Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 3:10, There is none righteous, no not one. Romans 5:8, But God commended His love toward us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. These are just a few of the verse I read and had never heard before. That night at home I knelt down and asked God to forgive me for my sins and thanked Him for His son, my Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Shortly after this, my friend moved away. She was a special friend God had brought into my life. Today, I praise and thank God for His precious gift of His Son, my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. I pray through my testimony it may help someone else to see Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour.

 

]]>
shadsluiter@gmail.com (Super User) Personal Stories Wed, 25 Oct 2006 17:42:48 +0000
Harold Roeding II - Dunkerton, IA http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1168-harold-roeding-ii-dunkerton-ia http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1168-harold-roeding-ii-dunkerton-ia

Harold Roeding II  - Dunkerton, IA


This is how God saved this sinner. As a young boy in Sunday school at Western Avenue Gospel Hall in Waterloo, IA, I was taught about the Lord Jesus Christ and how he died for me a lost sinner. At the time I thought I was saved but it just didn't take hold.

I just lived in the world with no thought of God or my spiritual condition. As I got older 16 or 17, I started in with alcohol. I spent pretty much the next 27 years a drunk. I could go on and on of the sin I was in.

For a period of about 1 year, I went to the Church of Nazarene. The first Sunday I went to the alter to pray for salvation, and believed I had gotten saved. But again it didn't take hold. It would be easy for me to leave out the two times I believed I was saved but wasn't, because I believe they hurt my testimony, but that's now where I believe the problem was. Now I can give the true testimony of what the Lord Jesus Christ did in this hell deserving sinner’s life.

The Lord led me to a radio preacher that I listened to on my way to work in the mornings. Through his preaching the gospel, I cried to the Lord for mercy, with tears coming down my face. I didn't have any words or know what to say. My heart just cried to the Lord. Out of his great mercy he delivered me from the death grip Satan had on me. He didn't save me then but stopped my drinking. Then over the next several months the Holy Spirit convicted my soul through the radio preaching and the preaching at Hagerman Baptist Church. During that time the Lord showed me the condition of my sinful self. I had always thought once I was sober that I would be alright.

The Lord shined a light in my heart and I saw nothing good, not one thing. I saw myself as a sinner in need of a saviour. There was nothing I could do to save myself, and if the Lord Jesus would have left me alone I surely would have spent eternity in Hell where I deserved to be.

Then on June 8, 2000, I received the Lord Jesus Christ as my personal saviour. I cling to the Lord Jesus with all I have. He showed me I was a lost sinner and could do nothing to save myself. And that he died on the cross of Calvary in my place. I deserved to die not him who did no sin. That's a testimony of what our loving all powerful Lord Jesus Christ can do.
Take a sinner from the grasp of Satan and save him for all eternity. That's a miracle.

If the Lord Jesus ever deals with your heart don't turn away. Turn toward him. Please turn to the Lord Jesus, he suffered and died on the cross for you. He loves you that much.

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 6:23

 

]]>
shadsluiter@gmail.com (Super User) Personal Stories Wed, 25 Oct 2006 17:42:03 +0000
Dennis J. Gentz - Dunkerton, IA http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1167-dennis-j-gentz-dunkerton-ia http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1167-dennis-j-gentz-dunkerton-ia

Dennis J. Gentz - Dunkerton, IA

How A Country Boy Came To Christ

I was raised in an Iowa farm family in which I had many privileges. Growing up on a farm in northeast Iowa and being the second of six children, there were many things to do and learn together. The benefits of things such as learning the value of work, being provided with more than basic needs, getting an education, and getting along with one another are just a few. However, the greatest privilege was that of being brought up under the consistent exposure to the truthful teaching of the Bible. Before I was born, my parents, grand parents and great grand parents were saved and Bible believing Christians. I attended Sunday school and gospel meetings from an early age and learned the truths of God’s Word. I soon understood that, even though I was nurtured in the Word of God, this put me no closer to heaven and I was still an ungodly sinner that needed to be saved. With this foundation, it was the sincere heart desire of my parents that I would be saved young in life and then live my life for the glory of God.

For many years I did not think very seriously about my sins or the reality that some day I would meet God. Occasionally there would be something that would happen that would speak to me about my need of being ready to meet God. At the funeral of my great grandmother I remember thinking, “If it were my body in the casket instead of hers, where would I be?” I was continually reminded of death through farm accidents, car crashes, illnesses and other tragedies. When I was 10 years old my older brother was saved. This caused me to think about my need of salvation although I could not understand how to be saved and nothing seemed to make sense. Later, as others I knew were getting saved, I became more interested but still put off being serious about this most important matter. My interest in sports and the desire to be accepted by classmates led me to join the seventh grade basketball team. My parents allowed my participation in basketball but I knew they really didn’t think it was a very good thing for me to do. About halfway through the season a special series of gospel meetings began in our area so I had to quit the team. This was not an easy thing to do, especially since the coach promised to put me on the starting lineup if I stayed on the team. I never did tell the coach the real reason for my quitting the team. The gospel meetings came and went and I was still in my sins and on the way to hell.

There were three things that bothered me most about the Bible and the fact that I was not saved. First, I knew that I was not ready to meet God and if I died in that condition I would be eternally lost in hell and the Lake of Fire. Death was a fear to me since I had no guarantee of another day and knew not what a day would bring forth. On the farm I had several near death experiences while driving tractors that brought this truth home to me in a very personal way. Secondly, I knew that the Lord could return at any moment for those who were saved and if that happened I would be left behind to face the awful wrath of a righteous and holy God whom I had willfully neglected for so many years. Several times when arriving home from school to an empty house I wondered if the Lord had come and I had missed God’s salvation forever. And thirdly, I pondered the possibility of losing the desire to be saved and living a life without another serious thought of meeting God. Then to die without knowing my sins forgiven and to be cast into outer darkness forever!

In June of 1967 the six-day war between Israel and its neighboring countries was going on. I understood that Israel had a very special place in the events of the days before the return of Jesus Christ and so I followed these events with great interest. For some reason I had convinced myself that immediately after this war was over the Lord would come back for all those who were truly born again Christians. We were finishing milking our cows at 7:00 P.M. on Saturday evening, June 10, when the headlines of the news came over the radio that was playing in our barn, “The war in the Mideast is over!” This news hit me like a ton of bricks. I was stunned, confused and afraid. With weak knees, trembling legs and troubled heart I went outside to the back of the barn where I looked into the sky and cried out to God to save me. I tried to believe, to trust or to do anything I could think of to be saved but nothing happened. Since I knew the gospel story so well I had thought I could get saved anytime I wanted to, but it didn’t work. After several minutes I went back into the barn, finished the milking and other chores, wondering when the Lord would come. What a feeling of hopelessness! After a while this concern seemed to go away and the urgency of the moment lost its grip.

In the fall of 1970 another series of gospel meetings was scheduled for our area. I went with little urgency for my need for salvation until one night mention was made by one of the preachers of the prophecies about Jesus Christ in the Old Testament that had been fulfilled to the very letter. This simple yet profound statement caught my attention and caused me to think seriously about the reality of God, His Word, and it’s inerrant truth. It made me realize that God was real and that I would meet Him someday either as my Saviour or Judge. This began my serious search for peace with God and for knowing that my sins were forgiven. I began reading my Bible and gospel tracts and listening more attentively to the word being preached. Finally on December 4 that search ended. After coming home from the gospel meeting I went to my room and continued to read Bible verses and tracts. I still could not understand and all seemed hopeless. This brought me to the conclusion that I was completely lost, without strength to save myself, and that I would have to go to hell since there was no hope for a sinner like me. At that moment a verse from the Bible came to my mind, one that I had heard dozens of times as a child. It was John 6:37, “Him that cometh to me, I will in no wise cast out.” That moment in my heart I said to God, “Then I’ll come to Jesus right now.” What I understood for the first time in my life was that Jesus Christ had paid the debt of my sins in full and could thereby say to me, “Come to me. I will not turn you away.” This and many other scriptures from God’s word have given me assurance that the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ alone has satisfied God for the full payment of my sins. Therefore, by faith I go on my way rejoicing in the knowledge of my sins being completely and eternally forgiven.

Can you say along with this country boy that you are sure of heaven? Do you know without a doubt that you are ready to meet God and dwell with Him forever? Are you willing to place your trust alone in the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ? God’s Word says, “When we were yet without strength, in due time, Christ died for the ungodly. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:6, 8.” Trust Him now! He alone is worthy of your trust.

 

 

]]>
shadsluiter@gmail.com (Super User) Personal Stories Wed, 25 Oct 2006 17:39:51 +0000
Marsha McMillin - Dunkerton, IA http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1166-marsha-mcmillin-dunkerton-ia http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1166-marsha-mcmillin-dunkerton-ia

Marsha McMillin - Dunkerton, IA

I was raised in a family that attended church and Sunday School regularly. It was a mainstream religion. I am so thankful for this, as I did believe that the Bible was the word of God and everything in it is true. I also was taught that I was a sinner and there could be no sin in Heaven. Now, as I think back, I find it strange that I didn’t question things sooner. The verse, “In due time, Christ died for the ungodly” meant just that. At the right time, the Lord dealt with me though.

I played the organ for the services, and so every Sunday I would be found at the organ bench. My husband felt religion was all hypocritical and did not attend very often. In the fall of 1973, our second son was born. I was going through some depression. All I wanted was for us to be one big happy family, with all four of us attending church. My husband, Cliff, finally agreed to take instructions and join the church. There were weekly classes he needed to go to. Each week, he would come home with questions that were not being satisfactory answered at the classes. Our church taught that a baby had to be baptized to go to Heaven. Cliff questioned why a loving God would send a baby to Hell because his parents did not get it baptized. I certainly could not answer him and began wondering myself.

Now back a few years, when I was young, we had communion every 3 months. At that time, each person taking communion would go to confession. Then, they changed it to the first Sunday of every month and no confession. During the fall of 1973, I started thinking, if I take communion on a Sunday morning that all would be fine and dandy that my sins would be forgiven to that point. But what happened when I went home and sinned many times before the day was over. (We were taught when a person took the bread and wine, that the bread turned into Christ’s body and the wine turned into Christ’s blood when it entered the body). Taking communion washed all sins away up to that point. The more I thought about it, the more questions I had.

That fall, a couple of men from the town stopped by and informed us they were having a Gospel Tent set up in Dunkerton. My reply was I had my own religion. Little did they know how the Lord was dealing with me. I am convinced all the prayers of the saints at that time had a great deal to do with me getting saved. I can remember being alone at night and watching Billy Graham on TV, wondering what it was all about. At some point that fall, I knew there had to be an answer, but was unable to really identify what it was. I did feel a sense of relief, just knowing that there was a righteous and just God and that He did have the answer.

On Good Friday, in the spring of 1974, I was attending church services, where we had communion. It was a very solemn service. The minister spoke on the last words of Christ on the cross. At the end, when He said “It is Finished,” I started to sob and say to myself “He did it for me, He did it for me,” over and over again. Everybody else there kept asking me what was wrong and I’m sure thought I was pretty weird.

For a number of years, I stayed in the religion, trying to share the love of the Lord. I really was not enjoying the Lord as He wants. My husband was saved in 1980 during a few weeks of gospel meetings, and soon after we were baptized and received into fellowship at the Dunkerton Gospel Hall. The Lord has blessed me over the years beyond anything I could have imagined.

If you would like to contact me please do at kliffmar@dunkerton.net.

 

]]>
shadsluiter@gmail.com (Super User) Personal Stories Wed, 25 Oct 2006 17:37:16 +0000
Debby Stickfort - Dunkerton, IA http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1165-debby-stickfort-dunkerton-ia http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1165-debby-stickfort-dunkerton-ia

Debby StickfortDebby Stickfort - Dunkerton, IA


Growing up I heard the gospel regularly. I believed all the things about God. I believed in God. But I was not born again. The first time I realized this was one snowy day.
It was snowing so thickly that you could not see beyond the hood of the pickup and the road was white and the banks had white piles of snow. My mom was driving and she noticed that I was nervous about arriving at our destination because of the low visibility.
She asked me don't you trust God to get us to our destination? No, I had to admit that I didn't.

One day I was arguing with my sister (she is 6 years younger than me) My mom turned to me and said, "If you could only see how silly it looks for you to be arguing this point with your sister when she is so much younger than you." What actually went through my mind was, my mom knows what a sinner I am, everyone else can see it and I know it.

Shortly after these incidents in my life some special gospel meetings came to our town. I could understand the story in theory but it was not personal. After the gospel meeting one night my thoughts were I am never going to get this.

The preacher shook my hand at the door and asked me how I was doing I said "worse". He then asked me if I had ever thought about what God did with me sin. No I hadn't. He turned to Isaiah 44:22 This verse says "I have blotted out thy sin as a thick cloud." Then he turned to another verse in Titus 1:2.  This verse says "God... promised eternal life and cannot lie."  In explaining to verse he said that what God says is true because He cannot lie. Right there God's salvation was mine as it was a personal God that was telling the truth to me personally and it was my personal sin that He had taken care of. I was very overwhelmed that God would do this for me. It is a vast relief to have my sin taken care of and that God loved and loves me so much He was willing to do this for me. This event took place on January 14, 1975.

]]>
shadsluiter@gmail.com (Super User) Personal Stories Wed, 25 Oct 2006 05:00:56 +0000
Dennis Stickfort - Dunkerton, IA http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1164-dennis-stickfort-dunkerton-ia http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1164-dennis-stickfort-dunkerton-ia

Dennis Stickfort

Dennis Stickfort - Dunkerton, IA 

I was born on March 30, 1957. The memories of my childhood are happy ones enhanced by a mother and father who were saved and loved the Lord Jesus Christ.

One of my earliest memories includes a funeral service of a man named Oliver Smith when I was only 3 years old. I had to sit on my mother's lap because every seat was filled.

The importance of being saved was impressed upon me on one occassion, when my parents asked my Uncle Delmer and Aunt Joyce to attend a gospel meeting. My siblings and I had to stay in the car because of the importance of this matter.

I was born again on October 3, 1962. The date is remembered because my mother keeps a diary. The event is remembered because it happened to me. An evangelist name Milo VanderKrol came to have children's meetings in the Waterloo Gospel Hall. I remember the night my cousin Dennis Zingg leaned ahead in his seat to listen to the speaker instead of playing tic-tac-toe with me. I was convinced that he might be the last one to be saved, Heaven would be filled and the Lord Jesus would return for the saved ones with me left out! On the way home from that meeting and knowing the concern my parents had for us children to be saved, I leaned ahead from the back seat of the car to ask Dad a question. I said, "If I believe, I'll be saved, won't I dad." I was sure he would say yes since I knew many verses from the Bible by memory already including John 3:16. Instead he told me he couldn't make salvation sure to me since it was Christ that died to provide salvation and God's word alone that could give assurance. At that point, I realized I was lost as to how to be saved.

Three nights later, and after much soul trouble, I again leaned ahead from the back seat of the car to ask Dad nearly the same question as before. He gave nearly the same answer as before and I felt that sinking feeling of desperation. I remember looking out the car window into the dark night and thinking to myself, "There's a great big God out there who made me and loved me enough to send His only Son to die that I might have Salvation." I remember resting back in the seat "knowing" it is true and it is enough. The transaction was made just like John 5:24 says, "He that heareth my Word and believeth on Him that sent me hath everlasting life."

 

]]>
shadsluiter@gmail.com (Super User) Personal Stories Wed, 25 Oct 2006 04:54:53 +0000
Jim Brown - Circle Pines, MN http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1163-jim-brown-circle-pines-mn http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1163-jim-brown-circle-pines-mn

A Dark Man Brought into Marvelous Light

Jim Brown - Circle Pines, MN 

I always seemed to know what was wrong with life, but rarely could find much positive. Even as a child, I gravitated toward criticism. I could find fault with the kindest people and the best of circumstances. But one troubling fact hung over my head. I was going to die some day.  And on those occasions where I would point the accusing finger at myself rather than others for blatant wrongdoing, the thought would hit me: How will I face God?  How can I get rid of this guilt?  Without much in the way of proper Bible instruction, I still knew I would meet God at the end of my days. Instead of seeking God’s help for the answers, I learned how protect my conscience by twisting facts to justify my bad behavior, meanwhile fostering contempt for the people around me who I am sure were not convinced. I had a fair amount of talent in both music and athletics so pride also skewed self- monitoring tremendously. I was “confirmed” in a popular church but I confirmed nothing but an intense resolve to be removed from this meaningless, phony religion business as soon as possible. With an increasingly dark view of life, I took to alcohol and various drugs to escape some of the irritation and frustration felt by a self-righteous young man with little tolerance for “unpleasant” people, the status quo “establishment” so-called, and a strong belief that life should be better than it was. In retrospect, I am sure my complaints became quite wearisome to those who knew me.

As time progressed, I was emboldened as to how I would purposefully offend, and even took pleasure in sharing with others my blasphemously uncomfortable ideas about God.  What patience God showed me during those many years!  I still marvel that he did not strike me down as I wrote and recorded songs, the nature of which I would be too ashamed to describe. Anyone who ever heard those songs (or even just heard me talk in normal conversation) would have no trouble believing I was callously disrespectful and a hater of God. Moving through my 20’s and 30’s, I developed what I would consider an obnoxious self-confidence that eventually caught up to me.  I became aware of its effect on other people and it started to bother me. Add to this an increased abuse of alcohol. It was told to me by more than one person that I was just plain no fun to be around. I had alienated even my family (my wife Mary Lou and three step daughters). So I drank alone, more and more. During this time, old childhood fears about meeting God began to crowd in with great pressure, especially now that I had much more evil to give account for.

In June of 1994, now nearly 38, after three years of trying to fulfill a lifelong ambition (that of playing professionally in a rock band) the band broke up and the wind had left my sail for the pursuit of anything else in life that would satisfy. The rock band sure didn’t!  And alcohol didn’t either. I knew what was missing, but deliberated as to moving toward God, quite afraid He wouldn’t accept me anyway since (in my mind) I had offended too long and too hard. I thought I had outlived my day of grace and opportunity. The summer of 1994 was miserable as I contemplated what was ahead after death.  I lay many nights paralyzed by dread, unable to sleep for months, convinced my doom was sealed.  I had read about a French philosopher, Voltaire, who had died in horrible despair during the last month of his life as he realized repentance was out of reach.  I began to understand how he felt because I was in the same boat, feeling helpless, as if carried along on a swift river to a roaring waterfall and I could do nothing to stop it. 

An old friend of mine, Perry Bauer, whom I had played baseball with back in college had become a Christian in 1981, and I had intentionally lost contact with him because our lives were going in opposite directions.  But now that these grave impressions were being made upon my soul, I finally sought him out.  I told him of my fears and that I thought it was probably too late for me but he assured me there was still hope and offered to hold gospel meetings in his home for my family and I. As to those meetings, I knew what he meant because he and I had attended similar meetings for a couple years prior to his 1981 profession of faith in Christ. I agreed to come to meetings every Monday and Tuesday night at his house. Most meetings would have maybe 10 people or so, occasionally as many as 20. I wasn’t concerned about the surroundings. I just wanted peace with God if I could still have it.  I sat under gospel preaching for a whole year, depressed, frightened, thinking it was futile. Yet, I could think of nothing else to do.  Many truths from the Bible were presented to me in those meetings as well as after the meetings. I knew from the Bible that I was a lost sinner and needed to be saved (Matt. 18:3, Luke 19:10, John 3:3, 7, Romans 3:23, 5:6, Acts 4:12, etc.) and that only the Lord Jesus Christ could save me. Much, I had heard before, only this time, those truths were coming home to my understanding with fresh power. I was desperate for relief so I was listening for my life!

It was this same college friend who, one year later, on June 18, 1995 had stood up to pray in a little gospel hall in Hinckley, Minnesota, giving thanks for the cup of wine (“This do in remembrance of me”  Luke 22:17-20).  I remember him saying “We have nothing to present before God this morning except the precious blood of Christ”.  Under my breath, I mumbled  “Neither do I”. Hearing that very simple thought in my mind, I began to entertain it a bit deeper. What occurred to me was this: If the blood of Christ is all these Christians have to present to God, why would it be any different for me?  On the cross, John says in John 19:34 that a spear was thrust in the Lord’s side bringing forth blood and water. In the next verse John says why he wrote that statement, “That ye might believe”.  My sins needed to be forgiven by God and I knew from Hebrews 9:22 that there couldn’t be any forgiveness without the shedding of blood. As I mused upon these things, I glanced up at the clock, noticing it was about 10:45 A.M.  Just below the clock was a 1 John 1:7 scripture text that reads: The blood of Jesus Christ, His (God’s) Son cleanseth us from all sin. It couldn’t have been any clearer to me.  But, I thought, that was too easy!  I spoke with an older man after the worship meeting.  I wasn’t sure what had just taken place so I wanted the voice of experience involved.  I told him about what I saw for the first time, that the blood required to purge my guilt had already been shed, presented, and accepted by God and that there was nothing left for me to do but give God credit for telling the truth about it. And so I did. I rested in what God says in the Bible (1 John 1:7) and disregarded my own wretched opinions and reasoning. (That’s not easy for a proud man to do, but by this time, that pride was gone).  That older man, Rollie Ekstrand, asked me, “Well, Jim. Do you need or expect more than that?”  I was very happy to say, “Nope. He’s all I need”.  I knew right then that finally, this spiritually dead and darkened man had passed from death unto life (John 5:24). That night was my best night of sleep in nearly 39 years!  Saved, forgiven, on my way to heaven with a song in my heart for a Great Savior. I’ll never regret meeting up with the Captain of my salvation and the Bishop of my soul.  I’ll only regret not having met Him sooner.

Jim Brown

jim.brown@usfamily.net

763-780-9151

]]>
shadsluiter@gmail.com (Super User) Personal Stories Tue, 24 Oct 2006 23:21:20 +0000
Shad Sluiter - Marion, IA http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1141-shad-sluiter-marion-ia http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1141-shad-sluiter-marion-ia

shad sluiter Real Life Story of Shad Sluiter 

Cold. That’s how it feels to stand outside of a soggy stadium late at night.  It’s cold waiting for a ride when your team has just lost the third game of the season.  It feels even colder when your ride is late and all your friends have gone home.  It feels especially cold when you find out you’ve just missed out on something really great. This Friday evening was in mid-October. That coming weekend would have a major impact on my life…

Pretty soon Dad’s car rolled down the wet street.

“Why does he always drive so slow?” I thought.  “Doesn’t he know the game ends at 9 o’clock?”

The back of the car opened and I dumped my trombone case inside.  I tossed in the wet marching band uniform, closed the lid and then joined Dad.  The warm car felt good.

“We lost again,” I said rather disappointedly.  “The other guys were pretty good.  But we didn’t lose the halftime show!  We marched even though it was muddy.”

Dad listened while I talked about the finer points of how a good football team should play.

“Brenda got saved tonight,” he said – totally changing the subject.

Now I was quiet. 

Dad was referring to a church service he had attended earlier that evening.  Mom and Dad were saved although my sister and I had not followed their path.  Being “saved” was an experience with important meaning to him. 

The next time I would see Brenda, I knew she would be very a happy person.  I could have predicted the conversation we would have.  She would say, “Shad, for the first time in my life I am at peace with God. I am ready to die, whenever that may come.”

Although I wasn’t saved, I wanted to be because my parents' life had credibility.  The God they believed in answered their prayers, comforted them in their sorrow and gave meaning to their lives.   Most important, they weren’t really afraid of anything, not even death. To be perfectly honest, being saved has some pretty attractive benefits. 

I wasn’t saved.  So Dad’s news about Brenda made the night feel even colder.  Something had happened at church that night that would change Brenda forever.  But instead, I had chosen to watch my team lose another game.  What had I missed?

Sunday was church day for my family.  At the Gospel Hall, people simply talked with God and helped each other live a better life God’s way.  When they read the Bible they knew that God was telling them absolute promises that would never fail.  It also told them how they could be sure of being in heaven.  I wanted to know that too.

After the evening service, I chatted with both of the speakers after everyone else had left the evening service.  In spite of some nervous misgivings, I said, “Gary, I’d like to be saved.  Can we talk?”

“Sure.  Let’s sit here.”  We found some chairs in the back of the auditorium and the three of us sat down.

“So, why do you want to be saved?” was the first question.

“I want to be in heaven,” I replied.

“Aren’t you going there now?” Gary asked.

“No. I guess not.”

It was hard to admit, but I didn’t have any assurance that I would be in heaven.  I knew a lot about the Bible, but it didn’t do anything for me like it did for other people.  I paused and looked at the floor. 

“Being saved is all about your relationship to God,” Gary replied.  “Every time you choose to do something wrong, you not only hurt people, you also hurt God.  He gave us his commands.  We sometimes choose to break them – that’s sin.  God knows every one of your sins.  Unfortunately, sin isn’t going to be in heaven.  That means if you want to be in heaven, you need to have those sins taken away.  That’s what being saved is all about.”

“I think I already knew that,” I said.  I thought it over in my mind for at least a minute.  Being saved from my sin would make me ready for heaven.

“But how do you know when you’re saved?” I honestly wanted to know. 

“Ask yourself this…” he paused.  I knew he was going to say something really important, so I waited for his words.  “If God were to gather up all your sins and then give them to Jesus so he could take the penalty for them, what would that mean for you?  How about heaven?

“I suppose that if Jesus really did take care of my sins, I would be OK.”  It made sense even if it didn’t seem fair. 

"Well,” one of the men continued.  “Is it true?  Did God really take care of your sins?  Or do you simply wish that he did?”

The last question was one that I couldn’t answer right away so I went home to think some more.  Gary put some bookmarks in specific places in the Bible so I could review what we discussed.  I opened to the first bookmark as soon as I was alone in my bedroom.  Before I read anything, I said out loud to God.  “God.  I really don’t know how this works.  I understand the story about Jesus, but I don’t know how to be saved.  Please help me.”

I read the page.  It was telling me what God did to Jesus when he died…

"The LORD has laid on him the sin of us all." (1)

“Look at that,” I said out loud to myself.  “It says HAS.  That means he already did something.  God already has taken care of my sins!”  Immediately following came an even better thought.  “If that is true, then my sins are already gone!”  What had been a mystery to me for several years was now perfectly simple.  Jesus had taken my sin penalty.  I didn’t have to wish that it were true because it was true.  God was telling me it was true. I spoke out loud to myself again, “If God said all that, then I am saved.”

I paged through the other bookmarks.   Every place that Gary had marked was telling me how I would know I was saved.  One place quoted Jesus himself saying,

"I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.” (2)

Wow! It was overwhelming to read that.  It was true.  He said I had eternal life.  Even though I didn’t feel saved, I knew I was saved because of God's Word.  I just felt tired, but very happy with these words.  I finally stopped reading and fell asleep by 3:00 a.m. 

On Monday morning when I came to class late, my best friend Marty, asked “What’d you do this weekend?”

“Oh wow!” I said.  “Do you have a minute?”


Epilogue

It’s been about 25 years since that evening. A lot has changed.  I finished high school, then college, was married, started a job, had two children and met new friends.  The one thing that has not changed however is God’s promise.  I know I am saved because of what Jesus did for me.  Jesus' death makes me safe, God’s words make me sure.

Currently (2006) I am working as a missionary in Hermisillo, Mexico. 

Bible References...

(1) Isaiah 53:6

(2) John 5:24

]]>
shadsluiter@gmail.com (Super User) Personal Stories Fri, 14 Jul 2006 01:07:28 +0000
Peter Ramsay - Prince Edward Island, Canada http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1140-peter-ramsay-prince-edward-island-canada http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1140-peter-ramsay-prince-edward-island-canada

peter ramsay1969 - The Year That ...  
 
Apollo 11 landed on the moon and Neil A. Armstrong became the first person to walk on lunar soil.
Woodstock happened – 500,000 attended a 3 day rock concert in Upstate New York, making it the largest rock concert ever.
Senator Edward M. Kennedy drove off a bridge after a party and Mary Jo Kopechne drowned.
Sesame Street made its debut.
Charles Manson cult members murdered five people.
First ATM (automated teller machine) installed in Rockville, New York.
The Beatles’ last recorded album, Abbey Road, was released.
The Brady Bunch premiered.
Richard M. Nixon became the 37th President of the United States of America.
Rev. Ian Paisley was jailed for three months.
Peter Ramsay struck it rich!
 

You can research world events for the year 1969 and you will not likely find any reference to what  you are about to read. I want to share with you my personal story of how I became wealthy. To me it is the single most important event not only in 1969, but in my entire life.

Living a Good Life
It was quite a shock for me to discover that I had no chance of ever making it to Heaven based on personal merit. Somehow, I thought I would qualify. After all, my parents read the Bible to us every day. As far back as I can remember, reading the Bible and praying to God was an important daily activity for my parents as they raised the six of us.

If attending church improved my chances of being accepted by God,  my score would have been very high. As a minimum, several times a week our family attended meetings and listened to messages from the Bible. My father, once a big-time party animal and fiddler, was a Gospel preacher. His life had been completely changed. I could see reality in the lifestyle of my parents. But as for me – I was empty. No peace.

I memorized verses from the Bible; I attended Sunday School and for the most part,  behaved reasonably well. If getting to Heaven was something like accumulating air miles or personal merit points, I had a head start on most people. But something was missing in my life. I had no personal relationship with God. The connection that real Christians had, just was not there for me.  So often, when I was alone I would think about where I would be in a hundred years’ time.

Worried and Vulnerable
I was worried about my future. I felt vulnerable and exposed when I thought of God. He could see right through me. As good as I appeared on the outside, He knew what I was really like.  I didn’t like the uneasiness, the lack of peace, the bad conscience, and the absence of joy and security in my life.

I tried to ignore my spiritual problem. I tried to cover up my emptiness and hide my worries. I enjoyed my friends – our common ground was music and general neighborhood fun. I did well at school and my home environment was stable and loving.

Despite all the positive things in my life, I was hounded and haunted by the fundamental question of my status with God. I was not willing to cross my fingers and take a chance. 1969 was the year I stopped running from the question.

Alone in the Attic on my Knees
I will never forget the evening I climbed the attic stairs of 32 Gerald Street, in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island – our homestead. I had just eaten a special bed time snack of lobsters! With pressing matters on my mind, the lobsters didn’t seem to be quite the delicacy they usually were for me. I was preoccupied with spiritual matters.

I bowed on my knees beside my bed. I knew I had to be honest with God, but it was so hard that night!  I told Him I was a sinner but I wanted to qualify the admission of guilt  -  “Yes I have done some wrong things, but I am not bad enough to go to Hell. There are many people who really deserve to be there – but I don’t.” 

On my knees, I opened the Word of God, my Bible.  “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23.  I read every relevant verse I could think of.  “By grace you are saved, through faith and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God. Not of works, lest any one should boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9

No Personal Merit Points
The Bible was clear. I could not get to heaven on personal merit points. I had none. I was a sinner. I could not hold anything up to God and tell Him to accept me because of my parents, or my decent behaviour, or my religious upbringing. The very last thing I wanted to do was to let go of the things that I thought earned me favor with God and gave me a special status. That night, on my knees, I learned from the Bible the only status I had with God was that of a helpless sinner.

Up until that time, I was completely occupied with myself; but things changed quickly.  When I discovered I was stripped spiritually naked before God and I had nothing to offer Him for my sins, I was devastated.  The last thing any human being wants to admit is ‘helplessness.’  Even a person at a beach, swept out by a rip tide, will desperately try to save themselves before they yell for help.

Cry of Helplessness
On June 2, 1969, I cried out to God words to this effect: “I am helpless. I am a sinner. I am going to Hell. Lord, save me.”  For the first time, I looked away from myself and looked to the Lord. That night, I appreciated why Jesus died. He died for me. He took upon Himself my sins and was punished on the Cross in my place as my Substitute. “But God commendeth (proved) His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8)

There was nothing I could contribute towards my salvation. When Jesus cried on the Cross: “It is finished,” He announced to the world that He paid for our sins in full. The debt was fully paid by His death.  It was up to me to either accept or reject His payment.

God is Satisfied
How could I be sure that God was satisfied with Jesus’ death as the full payment for my sins? I read in Romans 10:9 words like these:  “If you shall confess with your mouth, Jesus as Lord and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved.”   The proof that God was satisfied with the death of Christ as the payment for my sins, was the resurrection. He raised Him from the dead, indicating His full acceptance and satisfaction of the death of Christ as payment in full.

I am Satisfied
That night by my bed, I thought: “If God is satisfied that Jesus paid for my sins, who is a little pip-squeak like me in Charlottetown, PEI, to not be satisfied!” For the first time in my life, with joy I thanked God for sending His Son Jesus to die for a sinner like me. I too was satisfied with the Lord Jesus Christ.

Historians probably don’t rank my life-changing, destiny-altering experience very high in their analysis of noteworthy events in 1969. That’s okay. It may never make it to the history books of this world but the Bible tells me my name is recorded in God’s book in Heaven and will never be erased.

Spiritually Wealthy
I can lose my health; I can lose my home; I can lose my friends but I can never lose Christ. He is mine forever. I am a possessor of eternal life. In 1969, I became wealthy for eternity.  I have been enjoying peace with God through the Lord Jesus Christ for over 35 years. I am absolutely sure of Heaven. I am secure for eternity.

No matter who you are or what you have done and regardless of your beliefs or religion, Christ is available to you.  The inner peace and permanent joy for which you are seeking is found in Christ alone.

Jesus said: “Come unto Me, all of you who are weary and over-burdened and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28  God loves you. Jesus died for you. Christ is available to you right now. Will you trust Him as your Saviour? Will you accept Him? Without such a moment of acceptance you will never be in Heaven.
 
 

]]>
shadsluiter@gmail.com (Super User) Personal Stories Thu, 13 Jul 2006 15:47:30 +0000
Peter Orasuk - Prince Edward Island, Canada http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1139-peter-orasuk-prince-edward-island-canada http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1139-peter-orasuk-prince-edward-island-canada
peter orasukHow I Found  The Real Meaning of Life

Personal Testimony
of Peter Orasuk


Does life have any real meaning or purpose? Why are we here? In my search for the answer to these questions, I turned to drugs. I won’t go into the things I did to support my drug habit. I am ashamed of them, even though all my sins are under the blood of Christ and that one Great Sacrifice at Calvary has made me perfect in the sight of God.

I was married when I was twenty years old and brought my wife into my misery. To make things worse, we had a little girl. By that time I knew I was a hopeless addict. All I had to look forward to was to be found in an alley with an overdose.

One day a lady called to take our daughter to some children’s meetings. I asked her what she was. She said, “I am a Christian.” She told me that the Lord Jesus had died to take the punishment for her sins, and at the moment she trusted Him,  she became one of Christ’s, and that meant a Christian.

Later two men visited us. I said, “You know, you and I like people stranded on a desert island. We have told ourselves that a big ship is going to come and take us off the island. That is what keeps us going from day to day – we have our big ship. This syringe is my big ship. It gets me from day to day. Your Jesus and your Salvation are your big ship, but really we are just in the same boat.

I want to read something to you,” one of the gentlemen replied, and he read, but I know it seemed that in the middle of a dark empty existence, there was just the inkling of a hope that softened and touched me the first time I heard it.

I know the Jesus story. Anybody could write something like that,” I said. “But not 700 years before it happened,” he responded, “and besides, who told you it was talking about Jesus?” It just came to me that everything God said would happen, did happen, and I was afraid.

One of the men kept coming back. I would tell him what a righteous drug addict I was and what he would say, “You know, it is a wonderful thing that God loves you and sent His Son to die for you.” He told me that Christ was the Savior and no matter how vile you were, “this Man receiveth sinners.”(1) But one day tears were in his eyes as he said, “Oh Peter, salvation is not only the joy of receiving Christ, it is being delivered from a real hell. Unless you get serious about this matter you are going to die in your sin and go to hell.”


That night I went to a party. I used as much as I could in order to forget his words, but I could still hear and see him. I said to a man I knew, “Billy, I have to go. I can’t stay here. I am going to hell.” Billy said, “We are all going to hell.” “But,” I replied, “someone told me there was a way out, I have to find it.” Billy said, “You go. I’ll cover for you. But if you ever get it, let me know.”

Unlimited Mercy

The next night I was invited to a Bible reading. No matter what portion they were reading they would say, “Isn’t it wonderful that there is no limit to the mercy of God?” After the meeting a man asked me I was saved. “No,” I replied, “but I really want to be saved. I don’t want to go to hell.”

He started reading Bible verses, but I couldn’t understand how I could know my sins forgiven. Finally he said, “The Word of God tells you that the work that can take you to heaven has been perfectly done. If that is not enough, you will just have to go to hell.”

I thought, “I can never live knowing that I am going to hell with all the sins I will have to account for. I can’t live that way and I certainly can’t die that way.” I started to cry and said, “I don’t want to go to hell. Please help me.” “The Bible tells us that the very worst sinner is in heaven tonight because of the power of the blood of Christ,” he replied. “
It’s too bad it isn’t enough for you.”

It just dawned on me that the God who told me that I was going to hell was also telling me that the worst sinner could be in heaven. At that moment I couldn’t think of one reason why it wasn’t enough. Not one. As low as I was, I realized that I could go to heaven because the power that was in the blood of Christ. I accepted by faith the truth that, “the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin.”(2)

I bowed my head and prayed. “It seems so obvious and yet so simple that the Lord Jesus did it all and because of Him I can go to heaven. Lord, is that it, is that salvation?” I looked down at the Bible and saw three words, “It is finished.” It seemed as if God was saying, “Peter that is it.” I cried, “Oh God, it is not fair! It is not fair that I should do all the sinning and He should do all the suffering.”

God saved me that night over twenty years ago. “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.”(3)


You may here an audio recording of Peter telling this story in the audio section here.


 Peter Orasuk passed away in October of 2005.


1. Luke 15:2, 2. 1 John 1:7,  3. 1 Timothy 1:15
Reprinted from VIA Magazine

]]>
shadsluiter@gmail.com (Super User) Personal Stories Thu, 13 Jul 2006 15:30:40 +0000
Dan Shutt - Northville, MI http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1138-dan-shutt-northville-mi http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1138-dan-shutt-northville-mi

 Testimony of Daniel D. Shutt

Northville, MI USA
 
My early childhood was molded by Bible-believing parents who diligently taught me spiritual truth. There was never a time when I did not want to have a right relationship with God, or when I did not want to be in Heaven at the end of life.

As I learned more about the Bible's message, I discovered that there was a hindrance to achieving what I so earnestly desired. I found that I routinely disobeyed God, and that this behavior sprang from a profound inner problem. The Bible teaches that we have a sinful nature that rebels against God and His Word, and I quickly learned that I was no exception. The apostle Paul states this with great clarity:

"For there is no difference: for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God." (Rom. 3:23)

Any comfort that I might have derived from finding that I was like everyone else in God's eyes was quickly dispelled when I learned that these sins barred me from Heaven and exposed me to God's righteous judgment. I began to feel the guilt of my sin, and longed that it might somehow be forgiven. The age-old question "How can a person be right with God?" became a consuming passion in my soul.

One night, wrestling with these issues, I recalled a Bible verse that I had recently heard. In it, the Apostle Paul says:

"For by grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast."
(Ephesians 2:8-9)

As I pondered those words, it occurred to me that God didn't want me to improve my life or become more religious; rather, He had a gift for me, one that could not be earned or merited, a gift of everlasting life through Jesus Christ.

How could He offer such a gift? Of course, that is the story of the Cross. Into a world where all had sinned, God sent His sinless Son. On the cross we all deserved, the holy One was Himself crucified. And all the punishment that I deserved because of my sin, was laid on Him, and He died as the sin-bearer, and as the Savior.

Did I not know this before? Of course I did, but in that moment, the personal implications of Christ's work became clear: He died for me! And with that recognition, I simply depended on Him and on His work, and that instant became His child, and entered into His kingdom. He took my guilt, and I took His gift, and I was forever changed.

I now have peace, knowing that all is right between my soul and God. I now have assurance that I will never face my sin again, and that Heaven is my eternal home. I now have life, as Christ himself said:

"I give unto them eternal life and they shall never perish" (John 10:28)

Our desire is now to spread this message of forgiveness and peace through Jesus Christ, and to invite others to trust this great Savior. Many have rejected Him, but He will never reject an honest seeker:

"Come unto me (Jesus said), and I will give you rest." (Matthew 11:28)
"Him that cometh to me, I will in no wise cast out" (John 6:37)

 

]]>
shadsluiter@gmail.com (Super User) Personal Stories Thu, 13 Jul 2006 14:05:06 +0000
Joel Hovey - Marion IA http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1054-joel-hovey-marion-ia http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/1054-joel-hovey-marion-ia

It was the late morning on sixteenth day of November 1997. I had taken more than my usual amount of drugs the night before.  I was lying on the dirty carpet, flat on my belly.  I had no more drugs and reality was beginning to take hold of me.  With no will to move, I didn’t want to face even one more day of life.  I wanted to be done with it.  Today, I thought, would be a good day to end my pain.  It would be so easy.  I knew just what to do...

joel hovey

I was only four years old in 1974 when I first recall being told that I needed to be saved.  I had heard that I was a lost sinner, and warned that I must be saved or suffer the judgment of God for my sins in the lake of fire for all eternity. 

What had struck fear into my young heart most of all was the thought of being separated from my parents, when Jesus would come again.  I began to have nightmares that my parents were whisked away, and I was left alone.  For years I had the same terrible dreams of being left behind.  The dreams were so real that they began to affect even my waking hours.  I could never be left alone or I would begin to panic.  On some occasions when separated from my parents I was sure that the rapture had come.  On the nights when I would awake from my dreams, I would walk softly into my parents’ bedroom to see if they were still there. 

Frightened as I was, I knew that I had to do something.  I knew that all would be well if I could just somehow become saved.  I would no longer worry about being abandoned and perishing in fire.  I was determined to find out what I had to do in order to get saved.  Somewhere along the course of my searching for this answer I was told, “You need to ask Jesus into your heart.”

As I thought about what had been told me, I went into a room alone.  I got down on my knees and prayed for the first time in my life, “Jesus, please come into my heart.”  Despite my prayer, I continued to have the same fears of being left behind throughout my childhood, and with them doubts that I had been truly saved.  I wondered if I had said the right words, believed hard enough, or been in the right place when I asked.  “What ifs” continued to plague my young mind, so that I could not shake my uncertain feelings.  This simple prayer had by now utterly consumed me with worry and frustration.  The prospect of salvation was growing more complicated and it did not seem to make sense.

  As I grew older, I still longed for a salvation free from fear and doubt.  Over the course of my teenage years I would plead with the Lord to come into my heart, using the same prayer I used when I was four.  New doubts arose.  Was I sincere, was I good enough, and did God care?  Many times I would break down into tears, having become frustrated with my doubts and weary of my petitions.  I would remember the first prayer and the next, until the amount of times I had prayed could not be numbered, but instead blurred into an agonizing collection of innumerable, doubted prayers.  “Why is it so hard?  What am I doing wrong?” I asked, as I began to question myself and to doubt God.

When I was ten years old I was brought under the sound of the gospel for the first time.  The words of truth were faithfully preached to me from the Word of God.  I was told of my condition before God, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” ~Romans 3:23  I was earnestly told of God’s love for me by the giving of His Son for my sins, “But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” ~Romans 5:8  I was honestly warned, “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.” ~John 3:36  Unfortunately, I did not heed these wonderful words of life.  Instead, I tried to assure myself that I already was saved because I had said those “asking” words.  I was misled at a very early age by a blind guide.  I was lost and could not see past my “sinner’s prayer” to the LORD of life.  All truth concerning salvation that I would hear from true Christians would be filtered through the deep mire of those few ignorant words that I had formed so many times before upon my lips.  I had a little prayer but I did not have Christ. 

By the time I had reached age eighteen, I had come to the point where I tried to push thoughts of God out of my mind.  I saw salvation as an agonizing puzzle that I could not put together, so complex was it to me, and so painful to reflect upon.  If anyone asked me if I was saved, I answered in the affirmative, but deep down I felt as though I was lying.  I began to wonder if others had the same doubts that I had, but I would not dare speak of it to anyone, not even my parents or the people at church.  “Maybe I will never be saved,” I thought bitterly.

 Following high school, I enlisted in the Navy.  It seemed that all my cares and fears were left far behind as I traveled overseas thousands of miles away from home.  I was free, had new friends, a new home, and plenty of adventure to keep me occupied.  Life no longer seemed complicated.  From the start I lived each day to its fullest, hung out with the guys, drank, and did whatever it took to have fun.  There was an entire world to explore, with endless wonderful adventures.  I was blissfully distracted from my soul’s terrible fears of a lost and painful eternity.

After finishing four years of active service, I was far from the former soul-searching child I had once been.  Gradually my attitude, language, and appetite for fun had all changed dramatically.  My friends, too, had changed, and I no longer enjoyed spending time with the guys, or even going out on dates.  I had one purpose in my life - to stay high.  My body changed.  My clothes no longer fit me as I began to lose many pounds.  I could no longer tolerate public places, and stayed home most of the time surrounded by my associates and so called friends.  My natural affections that I had once possessed for family and friends were gone.  I no longer needed them.  I had something else instead – addiction.

At the age of twenty-seven, I was surprised that I was still alive.  My habits had grown more expensive, I was in pursuit of that first-time high feeling.  I was living on the verge of catastrophe.  I began to get in fights, my life was in a state of perpetual jeopardy because of my declining lifestyle.  I could no longer imagine a future for myself and I felt that it was only a matter of time before I would die a young man. 

As I contemplated that my days were numbered, I did not want to wait for death.  Instead, I wanted to meet death before enduring any more of life’s disappointments.  I had by now pushed away all who ever cared about me.  Those who knew me were afraid to be around me, and I was beginning to become deeply depressed about it.  I was helplessly in the grip of my addiction.  I could not turn from it.  I was controlled by it. I would die by it.  My life was spinning fast out of control which brings us to where we started.  Lying on the dirty carpet, flat on my belly,  I had no more drugs and reality was beginning to take hold of me. 

As I lay there trying to put closure to my life, my thoughts were arrested by a thought.  “Am I saved?”  I groaned inwardly.  I could not ignore the fear that was beginning to well up deep within my soul.  “Where will I be one moment after death?” My heart began to pound as I realized for me it could only be hell.  There was no need to lie to myself any longer.  I didn’t know what it was to be saved.  I was a sinner headed for hell and ultimately the lake of fire.  I was lost and perishing.  I rolled over onto my back, hot tears springing up.  “My sins!  Oh, my awful sins!”  I yearned to know them forgiven. 

It was when I realized my lost condition and where I was going that I cried out to God, “God, please save me!”  As I lay there looking up at the ceiling, I recalled John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him, should not perish but have everlasting life.”  There it was! God loved me so much that He gave His only Son to go to the cross for me! God meant for me to have faith in His Son that I might have what I wanted more than anything at that moment, forgiveness. 

There was no more question of “What ifs” in my mind.  I simply believed in the Son, and knew from that moment on that it was through Him and in Him, that I had salvation.  That morning when I got up off that floor I was a truly happy man, a changed man, a forgiven man.  From that day until now I have not touched drugs, God helped me overcome my appetite for all drugs, alcohol, and cigarettes.  My new life by grace began, I was born again and my life was irrevocably changed.

God spoke to me that morning through His word.  He answered my earnest cry by revealing to me His dear Son.  Today I am reminded of the Apostle Paul’s words to Timothy his own son in the faith, “And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” ~II Timothy 3:15  I had memorized the words of the Lord in John 3:16 from early childhood.  I knew now that it was not possible to be saved through speaking out the vain words of a “sinner’s prayer,” but only by believing in the Lord Jesus Christ and not in what I may say or do.  I believe with all my heart that God made known to me His provision at just the right time in my life.  A time and place not expected, yet a time most wanted, desperately needed, and gladly received. Yes, it was that very moment when I saw myself as God had always seen and known me to be, a powerless, miserable, lost, hell-deserving sinner in need of a Savior, in need of His Son.  How wonderful to know forgiveness, having the eyes of my understanding opened by the light of God’s Word that shown the way through the thick darkness where I stood in my sin.  Having the peace of God which surpasses all understanding in place of a fearful waiting for of God’s eternal judgment and fiery indignation.  Obtaining the promise of everlasting life with the Lord in His glory, instead of the eternal wages of sin by complete separation from God in the Lake of Fire.  Being made a joint heir with Christ in God, having all my sin taken out of the way by faith in him.  The Greatest aspect of my salvation is that which I never even imagined, a Savior in the Glory, with the prints of the nails in His hands and feet, waiting to bring me unto Himself.  My new life now has clear meaning, for I am no longer a stranger to God, to be occupied with self and sin.  I am now a worshiper of God, this is my eternal joy and high calling.  Awaiting my Saviors return, when He will change this vile sin loving flesh into a glorious new body that is made fit to be in His presence.  This corruption will take on incorruption, my mortality will take on immortality.  It is this sure hope that I await in wonder and expectation, never to wander again in sin, but to bring delight to the One who loved me and gave Himself for me. 

I have been brought from a life of slavery to sin by a new and living way.  I am no longer my own I am bought with a price, the precious blood of Christ shed on the cross for me.  I can find no more pleasure in a life of sin, for each time I do for a moment stray and go my own way I feel alone and far from God.  I have learned that fulfilling the lusts of the flesh robs me of that precious fellowship I have with God.  Each time I have taken my eye as it were from my Savior, I find myself so suddenly far away.  Each sin I have committed since being saved has brought me bitter disappoint in myself, as I am aware that I have brought dishonor to my Lord.  The Spirit of God that dwells within me urges me to deny myself that I may follow Him.  As I wait for my Lord I know His close presence as I allow Him to lead me.  When I make myself available to Him, He works with me to show more of Himself, that my joy may be full.  I live by Him, too Him, and through Him.  His Word is my guide, full assurance, instruction, and there He speaks to me all His love and will. 

  “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” ~Romans 6:23  A sinner must believe (have faith) in the Son to receive salvation, to be born again, this time into God’s family.  “But as many as received Him to them gave He power to become the sons of God.” ~John 1:12

Many in the world have put their faith as I did in the ritual of the sinner’s prayer, or have “given their lives to Jesus,” in the religious sense, never realizing that they are lost, that their sins separate them from Gods acceptance.  Not knowing the scriptures that declare so plainly that we are altogether unfit, unworthy, and so unprofitable that God should not see within us any redeeming quality, or merit in or of ourselves.  They find their form of merit instead of accepting that the Lord Jesus has given His own life for them at the cross for their sins.  Christ by offering Himself a spotless sacrifice for sin, because in Him was no sin, was the only possible way that God could pardon sinners without compromising who He is, HOLY GOD. 

This is God’s grace, and many continue to pass by it looking for some other way. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:  Not of works, lest any man should boast.” ~Ephesians 2:8-9  Salvation for the guilty sinner was accomplished when Christ shed his blood as an offering for sin on the cross.  “…the blood of Jesus Christ His (God’s) Son cleanseth us from all sin.” ~1 John 1:7  He died for me!  Glory be to God and to His Son, I am a sinner saved by grace!


Naught have I gotten but what I received;

Grace hath bestowed it since I have believed;

Boasting excluded, pride I abase;

I’m only a sinner saved by grace!


CHORUS

Only a sinner saved by grace!

Only a sinner saved by grace!

This is my story, to God be the glory,

I’m only a sinner saved by grace.


Once I was foolish, and sin ruled my heart,

Causing my footsteps from God to depart;

Jesus has found me, happy my case,

I now am a sinner saved by grace!


Tears unavailing, no merit had I;

Mercy had saved me, or else I must die;

Sin had alarmed me, fearing God’s face;

But now I’m a sinner saved by grace!

                                                                                    Tune R. S. No. 605

 

 

]]>
shadsluiter@gmail.com (Super User) Personal Stories Tue, 11 Jul 2006 02:33:35 +0000
Larry Perkins - New Lenox, IL http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/731-larry-perkins-new-lenox-il http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/731-larry-perkins-new-lenox-il

larry perkins

I was born in Toronto, Ontario in 1945. My father was extremely interested in music. So in my teens I began playing in bands with my dad. My ambition in life was to be a jazz musician. But I really lived for pleasure. Being a Christian was the furthest thing from my mind.

            Moving away from home to go to university meant no more parental restrictions. To me this was really living and I pursued pleasure and sin with increasing intensity. During my last years at university, I was introduced to drugs. I thought drugs were opening my mind to new realities. How deceived I was!

            After graduating I worked as a professional musician in nightclubs. My family and friends thought I was doing great, but inside I was empty. I began to investigate eastern religions such as Hinduism and Zen Buddhism. I soon found that trying to lift myself up to God on my own power was impossible. Eventually I left the entertainment business because it seemed so artificial. I was looking for something real but didn’t know where to find it.

            About that time an elderly widow for whom I was doing some work began to speak to me about the Lord Jesus Christ. Although she was very kind, I didn’t believe her. Instead, I argued in favor of eastern religions.

            I tried to change my lifestyle, but I was powerless. Habits now had me in a vice-like grip. It was like waking up in the middle of a nightmare, only this was real. What happened to the bright future I once had? Life had suddenly become a dead end. At twenty-five years of age, having forsaken all for pleasure, I was all alone. I felt like I was sliding down a greased tube with no one to help me and no hope of escape!

            This was the worst time of my life. I had been proud, self-willed, and self-righteous. But God made me see that I was spiritually lost and on my way to hell. Although I knew very little about the gospel, I did know that I was a sinner without strength to save myself. I needed a Savior more than anything else in the world. One afternoon in June 1970, like a drowning man, I simply placed my trust in the Savior of sinners, the Lord Jesus Christ.

A wonderful thing happened that afternoon. The Lord saved me - without special feelings, visions, or anything spectacular. What joy filled my soul as I learned truths such as “the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth from all sin” (1 John 1:7). There was no more guilt. The Lord Jesus Christ had washed me white as snow and that, in Him, I was a new creation.

Slowly and steadily, the Lord delivered me from my enslaving habits. I began to cry to the Lord in prayer because I could see that He was the answer to all my need.

            Since then, I have been through good times and difficult times. One thing I always appreciate is that God is faithful “... there hath not failed one word of all His good promise, which He promised...”(1 Kings 8:56).

            “Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think ... unto Him be glory...” (Ephesians 3:20-21).

]]>
shadsluiter@gmail.com (Super User) Personal Stories Sat, 01 Jul 2006 16:39:47 +0000
John Prins ~ Sarnia, Ontario http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/730-john-prins--sarnia-ontario http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/730-john-prins--sarnia-ontario

 

Do you ever feel you are missing something as a Christian’s child? You look around and realize you have many blessings in your Christian home, but what about all the restrictions? Wouldn’t it be great to have all the blessings of a Christian home and none of the restrictions? “God is the ultimate killjoy.” This is what Satan whispers in your ear. The devil’s plan for your life is to go to gospel and prayer meetings in your spare time and read the Bible with whatever time you have left. He wants you to believe that God is the enemy of a “good time” and wants to keep you back from sins you really could enjoy.

 

My name is John Prins and this is the lie Satan used, with great effect, on me as I grew up in a Christian home. I actually came to believe that Satan was right, even though the Bible says, “he is the father of lies.” As a teenager, I began to pursue things that as a child I thought I would never do. Even with my conscience bothering me, I would engage in behaviors that I clearly knew were sin. The big surprise was, instead of growing happier and more satisfied, the opposite occurred. I became increasingly dissatisfied.

 

By the age of 20, I had come to a point where I realized that the Christians were the happiest people I knew. My so called “friends” were as miserable as I was but could not admit it to themselves.

 

I started reading my Bible and attending Gospel meetings once again. I had heard every part of the gospel and agreed with all of it. Yet, I could not figure out how to be saved. I became bothered by the idea that God could not save me as I had sinned too much.

 

On a cold winter’s night in January of 1981, as I sat reading my Bible and trying to understand God’s salvation, I came across words in Proverbs 1 that filled my heart with fear and dread. “Because I have called and ye have refused, I have stretched out My hand and you did not regard it.” I realized that I had committed a sin that was so terrible that I was sure there could be no forgiveness for me at all. The sin was rejecting God’s offer of mercy. Often I had felt the Spirit of God dealing with me in gospel meetings and yet I had not received Christ. I told my father I never could be saved as I had sinned too much. He asked me if I would like to be saved.

 

“Of course!” I said. He then told me that “a seeking sinner and a seeking Savior always meet” and that God was more interested in y salvation than I was.

 

As I sat there full of despair, a verse that I had learned long before in Sunday School, came to me, “But He was wounded for our transgressions” (Isaiah 53:5). Suddenly it hit me, that in spite of all my sins, God says “BUT” Christ was wounded for you. I understood that, while I deserved judgment, it had fallen on Christ instead. Since my judgment fell on Him “by His stripes I am healed (saved).” What a wonderful day! I knew that my sins were all forgiven and I had done nothing but take God at His Word.

 

At that moment Christ became my Savior and very precious to me. Also, the Word of God became interesting, and now praying was something that I wanted and needed to do. I had a new life begin in me the moment I trusted Christ. Now, I realize that receiving salvation was the greatest moment in my life.

]]>
shadsluiter@gmail.com (Super User) Personal Stories Sat, 01 Jul 2006 16:39:22 +0000
Martin Prins ~ Sarnia, Ontario http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/729-martin-prins--sarnia-ontario http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/729-martin-prins--sarnia-ontario

martin prinsI was brought up with seven brothers and seven sisters in Holland. We were very religious. We didn’t drink, smoke, or dance and we thought riding a bike on Sunday was sin. We went to church twice on Sunday and we read the Bible three times every day.

God spoke to me many times and I often wished I knew for sure I was going to heaven. But through 20 years of life in Holland, I never met anyone who knew for sure. Everyone just “hoped “they were going to Heaven.

During World War 2, the Germans executed my brother, Peter in Rotterdam. Three days later, I went to view the body. When I arrived, I was sent into a barn where there were 40 corpses. Eventually I found my brother’s body. When I came home, I went to my bedroom thinking, “Martin, if your body lay in that barn, where would you be?”

Another day, I was outside watching some airplanes in combat. “Martin,” my mother yelled, “Get in the house!” I took one step and a bullet slammed into the ground where I had been standing. I was one step from eternity.

Eventually I came to Ontario to work. At that time, my sister and brother-in-law were returning to Europe so they asked me to come to Sarnia, Ontario to look after their house. I had no family or friends there, but I did find a Dutch Church.

One day, I went next door to get my clothes washed in the house of a neighbor. They invited me to have a cup of tea. I knew the lady was a Dutch woman so I said, “By the way, I haven’t seen you in church.” I soon learned that she did not go to the Dutch Church.

Later, she asked me, “Where will you be if you die?”

“I-I-I don’t know,” I answered, “Nobody knows.”

“I do,” she said confidently. Sixteen years ago, I came to know the Lord Jesus as my personal Savior and I received eternal life.” She then got out her Dutch Bible. Together we read, John 3:3: “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” I always thought I had been born again when I was baptized as a baby. The neighbor lady showed me from the Bible that I was wrong. They went on to tell me that without being born again I would be lost forever.”

That night, I could not sleep. When I went to talk to the Dutch Church minister, he told me I was already in a special relationship with God, but I needed to learn the catechism and do confession.

            Soon Mrs. Stute, the neighbor lady, invited me for dinner. With every dinner I got a sermon on salvation. Eventually I understood that it did not matter how many confessions I made, I still needed to be born again.

One day in October of 1948, Mrs. Stute invited me to a special series of gospel meetings. While listening to the truth of the Bible, I decided, “If there is such a thing as knowing my sins forgiven, I am not going to rest until I know for sure.”

I listened intently but religion and self-righteousness kept me from salvation. But slowly I came down. Finally I realized that I was lost and without hope. I thought God could not love a sinner like me.

Then one day in February 1949, at age 20, I went to the feed mill to pick up bags of feed. I had a feedbag in my hand when I suddenly remembered a verse I had learned when I was six years old, John 3:16. That Saturday morning I read it again in Dutch, “For God so loved the world, that he gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). That morning, for the first time, I read it personally. I realized that God did love Martin Prins and that Christ had died for me. In simple faith, I accepted what God handed to me.

]]>
shadsluiter@gmail.com (Super User) Personal Stories Sat, 01 Jul 2006 16:38:53 +0000
Eric Prough ~ Akron, Ohio http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/728-eric-prough--akron-ohio http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/728-eric-prough--akron-ohio

 

My parents took me to church where I learned Bible verses and was taught about Jesus who died as the Savior of the world. I participated in church plays, I sang songs about God, learned verses and even memorized the books of the bible. I thank God this foundation was formed within me, which God used later in my life.

            As I grew older, I remember going to my grandparents. They had my brother and I kneel down in prayer at night. Grandmother taught us to “accept Jesus into our hearts”. I never really knew what that meant. Also, the churches I attended never taught me my need of salvation. I never did find out why Jesus went to the Cross, shed His blood, and suffered for sins.

In high school and college, I had everything a young man could want – friends, fun and worldly things. The working world was an extension of college – no concern for the things of God. Once, when a close friend of mine got saved, I wondered why he was so happy and different. If only I had listened to him!

            Several years after college, a Christian friend, invited me to gospel meetings at the Akron Gospel Hall. It was there the memories of my youth and of my saved friend spoke to me. I also learned that I really did need the Lord Jesus as my personal Savior because of my sin. God’s word showed me that I needed a time and place when I was saved. After sitting through my first meeting, I could not honestly say that I had a time of salvation. At that moment, my friend told me I was not saved.

            As a man of 24 years of age, I took my children’s Bible home to read that week. The Scriptures clearly pointed me towards salvation. The next week, at meeting, God’s word (the Bible) told me that Jesus had done everything and that God was satisfied with His work at the cross. But it wasn’t good enough for me – yet.

            That week, God took away my enjoyment of worldly things. I could not focus on work, friends, or money. All I could think about was being saved. I was afraid to go to meeting – everyone would see my trouble. Although I wanted to be saved, I kept trying to save myself. I did not realize until the night I was saved that I was “without strength” (Romans 5:6).

            Upon leaving meeting on Friday night, the preacher asked me, “Are you saved yet?” I had to respond that I was not. He handed me a tract to read. As I read it at home, I understood the fullness of my helplessness. Then, I thought, “Do you believe Christ died for the sins of the world?” To this question, I could answer, “Yes!”

            That night, I rested on Christ’s work at Calvary, that His death and suffering was for me. At that moment, it took me in. It wasn’t just that “God so loved the world”, it was that Christ loved me and “gave Himself for ME”. That’s why He took my place on the Cross. Although I deserved to be there, He took my punishment. Praise heaven and the Savior for the glorious gospel that brings salvation to lost sinners, even me.

]]>
shadsluiter@gmail.com (Super User) Personal Stories Sat, 01 Jul 2006 16:37:42 +0000
Albert Ramsay http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/727-albert-ramsay http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/727-albert-ramsay

 

It Must Be First!

 

Albert Ramsay lived in Prince Edward Island, Canada. At age 5, his mother died. Albert lived with his Grandmother. She taught him Bible Stories. He never forgot the story of the “Two Roads” in Matthew 7.

Albert learned to play the violin. Soon he was playing at dances and parties. It was fun, but he felt empty.

One night he told his sister, “Eva, if this is all there is to live for, I feel like taking my own life.”

When he was 18, he went to some “Revival Meetings.” He tried to “dedicate his life to Jesus” but it was a hopeless attempt.

Soon he was back living the same old sinful, life. Because his religious experience had been such a flop, he began to hate religion.

One day, a man tried to give him a gospel paper. “I’m not interested in religion.” Albert replied. I don’t have time to read.”

In November, Mr. Harris came to town to preach. Albert and his friends went to the meeting and then to the dance. While they partied, they joked about the preaching.

Six months later, Mr. Harris and Mr. Joyce set a tent up by the school.

Albert listened as they preached about salvation. One Thursday, Albert went to a dance instead of the meeting. He felt miserable. All he could think about was getting saved.

The next day, Albert was hauling logs to the mill. Mr. Harris stopped him and looked him straight in the eye. “Albert, we missed you last night.”

“Yes, I had to go away.”

“You had to go away, eh.” Albert’s eyes dropped as Mr. Harris continued. “Albert, do you want to go to hell?”

“No, Mr. Harris, I don’t want to go to hell.”

“Well Albert, that is where you are going. If you don’t make one mighty effort to get God’s salvation, you are going to be in hell as sure as you are sitting on that old farm wagon. Will you come to meeting tonight?”

Albert promised and he went. The message was on the “Two Roads." He thought back to his Grandmother. 

            Albert longed to be saved but he didn’t know how. He wished they would ask him to stand up or raise his hand. Instead, they said there was nothing to do. Everything was finished at the cross.

Mr. Harris closed the meeting. Albert thought, “The meeting is over and I’m not saved. I’ll just have to go to hell.”

Suddenly it came clear to him. “Oh! I don’t have to go to hell. That’s why Jesus died!”

Albert went after salvation and found it. You too must do the same. As the Bible says, “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God” (Matthew 6:33).

]]>
shadsluiter@gmail.com (Super User) Personal Stories Sat, 01 Jul 2006 16:37:21 +0000
Angela Robertson ~ Chatham, Ontario http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/726-angela-robertson--chatham-ontario http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/726-angela-robertson--chatham-ontario

My parents divorced when I was 7 years old. When I was 8, a friend from school invited me to a “Kids Bible Hour”. I had never heard the Bible stories about Daniel in the lion’s den, Joseph, David, or the Lord Jesus. For the first time, I heard that I needed to be saved to go to heaven.

            In the summer of 1990 a tent, for the preaching of the Gospel, was pitched in Alpena, Michigan and my mom and step-dad got saved. Afterwards, I remember thinking, “I know I need to be saved, but I’m going to do it just like mom: get married, have kids, and then get saved.”

            I had a miserable start to Junior High School. I was part of the popular crowd and did everything that everyone else was doing. But, I sank deeper under my burden of sin. I didn’t know what was bothering me at the time, but now I realize God was working, convicting me of my sin and my need for a Savior.

            The summer after 7th grade, there was another series of Gospel Tent meetings in Alpena. The problem was that I had worked hard to be popular at school. I knew that if I got saved, that would all end. I wasn’t sure I was ready to give that up. On the other hand, I was miserable. Something was missing.

            The first night of the tent meetings, I went home wanting salvation desperately but not knowing how to get it. The time away from friends during the summer was enough to make me realize the seriousness of my situation. I kept thinking, “Where will I spend eternity?”

            The next night I came ready to get saved. But again, I just couldn’t get it. I went home discouraged and feeling so alone. What was my problem? I had a loving mom and step-dad, a terrific brother and sister, I was doing well in school, and I had gained the popularity and friends I wanted. Yet, it wasn’t enough. I had never felt so empty, so alone.

            I went to bed thinking that I would never get saved.  As I tossed and turned, I kept thinking over and over again, “You need to get saved tonight, Angela. If you don’t, you never will.” But then I’d think, “Oh, don’t worry...it’s not a big deal.” After an hour or so of going back and forth in my mind, I got up and knelt by my bed. I reached for my Bible and somehow I got to John chapter 3 and verse 16. I had memorized the verse at the Kid’s Bible hour. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son; that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

            Suddenly, I realized for the first time that God gave His only Son, the Lord Jesus, for me. He took my punishment on the cross for my sins. Right then, I knew that I would not spend eternity in hell. I knew I would be in heaven forever. My burden was gone. I was free. That night, for the first time in over a year, I slept peacefully. That was July 15, 1991 at 11:45 pm. I was 11 years old.

            Where will YOU spend eternity?

]]>
shadsluiter@gmail.com (Super User) Personal Stories Sat, 01 Jul 2006 16:36:54 +0000
Mark Saumure ~ Welland, Ontario http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/725-mark-saumure--welland-ontario http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/725-mark-saumure--welland-ontario

            I thank God my parents were Christians who read the Bible, feared God and took us to gospel meetings at the Gospel Hall. At ages seven and ten, I told people I had gotten saved. I’m still not sure why I said I was saved when I knew I wasn’t. Soon, gospel meetings became a chore.

In high school, I was ashamed of my parent’s beliefs and I rejected God’s Word. I did whatever I could to show my friends that I was not a Christian. I got in with the wrong crowd and did many “stupid” things. These “friends” only stood with me when things were going well.

In March 1995, I was diagnosed with a malignant form of cancer. This really shook me! However, I continued for the next few months thinking, like most teenagers, “I am indestructible!”

Finally, my doctor looked at me and said, “Mark, your time is limited. My guess is that you have one to two years left.” His words stabbed me. This was the first time I realized I was going to die. I used to think, “I am young, strong, and healthy. I have many years ahead.” NOT TRUE!

I spent May, June and July in Princess Margaret Hospital. During that time I began searching my Bible. First, I faced the truth that I did not have eternal life. I was afraid but too proud to tell my parents. Very late at nights I would pray, “Lord, please save my soul! I know I am a sinner. I need Your salvation! Please save me!”

I knew many verses such as “He that BELIEVETH on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him” (John 3:36). But I kept asking myself, “How do you believe?”

Then, on August 3rd, in my parent’s bedroom, I prayed very earnestly for salvation. Finally, I said, “I’ll just have to go to HELL! I just don’t understand what more I have to do to get saved.” Right them, I understood. There is nothing for me to do! EVERYTHING HAS ALL BEEN DONE! Christ died on the cross for me! That’s enough!

At that moment, Christ became MY SAVIOR! Since then, I have had true joy. I used to think, Christians have boring lives. I was wrong! A Christian has a GREAT LIFE and a GREAT FUTURE. To be with the Lord Jesus for eternity – what could be better?!

I used to think “having a fun time” would satisfy. It all looks bright and inviting. The truth is, there is no real satisfaction in this world. The only satisfaction comes from the Lord Jesus!

What is keeping you from being saved? Don’t let your pride, your friends or anything keep you from getting saved. Remember, the promise is still good, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:31).

 

Editors note: Mark Saumure passed into the Lord’s presence on September 17, 1996. Age – 19.

]]>
shadsluiter@gmail.com (Super User) Personal Stories Sat, 01 Jul 2006 16:34:30 +0000
John Sharpe ~ Kitchener, Ontario http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/724-john-sharpe--kitchener-ontario http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/724-john-sharpe--kitchener-ontario

A poor, crippled man lay by a pool in Bethesda. Every so often, the pool was mysteriously stirred and the first person in was healed. The next time it happened, he wanted to be the first one in to receive “his miracle.”

Suddenly, from what seemed like nowhere, the Savior of sinners came and stood before the crippled man. When Jesus saw him He said unto him, “Wilt thou be made whole?"

“Sir, I have no man…” responded the man. All that mattered was finding some way of getting into the pool of Bethesda first so he would be healed. This poor man lived, thinking only of “me first," even though the only one who could meet his great need was standing before him.

The poor man had never actively looked for the Savior of sinners before. He never cried for help until the Lord Jesus asked, “Wilt thou be made whole?” In a similar way I was like the man who lay by the Pool of Bethesda, the House of Mercy. God was rarely in my thoughts and the only one I really cared about was myself. I did not know what it was like to be raised in a Christian home and consequently I knew very little about God. I knew absolutely nothing about the Gospel. I had very little interest in the Lord Jesus and I did not know He was able to meet my greatest need.

In 1981, for the first time in my life, when I was 18 years of age, I heard the Gospel preached by two men in a "furniture warehouse" in Sarnia, Ontario. I was startled to learn that I was a sinner, I was on my way to hell and that if I died without the Savior I would be eternally punished for my sins. I could not believe my ears. Like the man who lay by the pool of Bethesda all around me there were “a great multitude of people, which were blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water.” As I looked around at others in my life I believed I was no different from anyone else, no better and no worse.

Prior to hearing the Gospel message I was not actively looking for the only One who could satisfy the emptiness and longing of my soul. However, the Lord was gracious to me. After reading the Word of God over a period of two months and hearing the Gospel a few times, I understood that I needed to be saved (Act.16:4). The words of Romans 5:6 struck my heart and I understood what God said about me was true, I was without ability to save myself and I was “ungodly.” But, like the man by the pool of Bethesda, “The House of Mercy," I heard those lovely words, “Wilt thou be made whole?” At that moment, on December 22, 1981, for the first time, I understood that when Christ died upon the Cross and shed His precious blood, He died for me “the ungodly.” At that moment I was “made whole,” my sins were forgiven and I was ready for God’s Heaven.

]]>
shadsluiter@gmail.com (Super User) Personal Stories Sat, 01 Jul 2006 16:34:05 +0000
William Skates ~ Wisconsin, USA http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/723-william-skates--wisconsin-usa http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/723-william-skates--wisconsin-usa

My conversion and call to evangelism service.

Edenderry Village near Belfast, Northern Ireland, was the place where I was brought up. It comprised a linen weaving factory, a small grocery store and a Gospel Hall, along with almost 100 row houses. With no through traffic, the village had a rural character and it is a special place in the world which will always be dear to me. Father and mother were both saved and in a local assembly of Christians from their teenage years, so the home in which I was raised was marked by a godly atmosphere and the assembly was central to family activities. Morning meeting, Sunday School and gospel meeting were standard on Lord's Day and between meetings we were permitted to go for a walk through the fields or along the banks of the river Lagan on which the village was built.

Eternal things were impressed upon our minds from earliest days and our need for salvation was brought before us with sincerity and weight, both at home and in the meetings we attended. Consequently, I cannot remember a time when I did not want to be saved, to a greater or lesser degree. The imminent rapture of the church was a truth from Scripture that troubled me, but thoughts such as these did not stay long and life continued. Although not saved, my brother, sister and I would often sing ourselves to sleep with hymns and choruses or we might have been found after "lights out" reading a Sunday school prize book under the bed clothes using a flashlight.

Preachers would regularly come to our house for some lunch after gospel meetings and mother's shortbread and pavlova cake would be accompanied with discussion of the Scriptures and hymn singing. "We're marching to Zion," was my favorite, although I was not saved. The reality of death was learned when my two grandmothers were called home in 1968, I was then just 8 years old. However, it was not until the first day of October 1973 when my sister Elizabeth was saved that I became stirred in my soul and longed to be saved also.

On Lord's Day October 7,1973 the late Mr. Eddie Fairfield came to Edenderry at the start of a week of ministry meetings. That first Sunday night was a solemn gospel meeting. Weight and power characterized our late, esteemed brother's message. I went home convicted and sobered. "Righteous judgment from God was what I deserved and should receive," was my honest confession of heart. Getting alone upstairs, it came to me like this: "William you are a sinner who deserves to be in hell," and then I thought of Christ, "He came to save sinners," then very simply I understood, "He was punished for me so I don't have to be punished - that means I'm saved!"

I did not tell anyone for a week but when my friend Graham Maze professed the following Lord's Day, I had to tell it too. There was much joy that night in Edenderry. Soon we were baptized and came into the assembly. School and college years came and passed by. When my wife Ethna and I were married in 1984, we made our home in Bangor, Northern Ireland and were in fellowship in the Ebenezer Assembly. As the years were passing, invariably Lord's Day evenings would find me going with older brethren to the various halls around the Province to preach the gospel. My father, and others, often took me with them and gave encouragement when appropriate.

During the summer of 1988 my wife and I visited Vancouver, British Columbia, in western Canada for a holiday. I took the opportunity to go and talk with some property valuers/appraisers in the city (the profession I was in). Although we were not determined to emigrate, our minds were open and a job offer was necessary for such a move. The last interview. was with an expatriate Englishman. Being early for the interview, I sat down beside a fountain in a plaza to commit issue to the Lord. Opening my eyes I watched the water cascading down and with freshness Psalm1:3 flooded into my mind. "And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water ... and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper." Reinforced with this assurance from the Word, I sat the interview. After some time, with this verse before me, I inquired about work and to my surprise Mr. Nilsen offered me a job if I could get through immigration.

After returning to Northern Ireland we submitted an application to the Canadian authorities and in due course the way opened up. We found at each stage of the process an increasing willingness to go to Canada, but at this time my father's health was deteriorating. He had heart surgery six years previously and now the old problem was flaring up. The waiting list was a year long and we could see he would not last another year. How could I leave for Canada with father in such a state and mother in the middle of renovating their house? Before the Lord one December night, grace was given to resolve to do what seemed to us to be His will, to go, and leave the consequences with Him. Amazingly, next day the visas arrived, although they were not expected until February. Father also had his operation early January, and made a good recovery, being spared to us for five and a half more years.

Selling our home proved to be a slow process in a difficult market. However, with suitable encouragement from the Scriptures, we were assured again of the leading hand of God upon us. We arrived in Vancouver with our two year old son in May 1989. We came into fellowship in the Woodland Drive assembly and I started work with the man who offered the job. In the fall of that year, Mr. Tom Bentley was in the city and one day at lunch, he asked me if I had any aspirations for the Lord's work. I replied that I saw my work to be a help in the assemblies in Vancouver and to gain the confidence of my brethren. However, a seed was planted.

In the fall of 1991, Mr. Ward (Wisconsin) visited the city. Again, at lunch we talked about an exercise I had for some gospel meetings in Vancouver, when he said "you know, you should think of Wisconsin." Impossible to emigrate again, I thought, and tried to dismiss it from my mind, but another seed was planted. Wesley Barr (a solid brother) and I, had a couple of series in the gospel in 1992 and 1993, and although we were encouraged, openings for such work were few and far between in Vancouver. Meanwhile, correspondence with Mr. Ward told of blessing, opportunity and a great shortage of workers in the American Mid West. My interest in Wisconsin began to deepen to an exercise to try to help. Just at this time (March 1993) a letter from an esteemed servant of the Lord, Mr. Tom Bentley, set out in clear language his belief it was "time to get at it while you are young!" Little did he know the tremendous impact that had on my exercise of heart. The major obstacle before us was "impossible" immigration procedures to the States. But God is able.

A few days later I saw a newspaper advertisement for an immigration program to the States, so I made inquiry and applied. It was an abbreviated process for immigrants from certain countries, N. Ireland included. The documents indicated that if we had not heard anything from them by the end of June, we were not selected. June came and went. Nothing! Burden of heart and confusion of face was mine. So once more I left it with God in prayer. Before turning out the light that night I read Psalm143. Here was the burden of my heart reflected in the word. Verse 8 fairly stood out, "cause me to hear Thy loving kindness in the morning." Friday July 9, came and went, nothing! Early next week a letter arrived from Mr. Ward, post marked July 9th! "A great need still exists in Wisconsin, where are the workers?" So it seemed to us that the Lord was leading still. But what about immigration? It wasn't until October that the big white envelope arrived confirming we had been selected and we should get our papers in order. I visited Wisconsin early 1994 and after that spoke to the brethren in our home assembly (Woodland Drive, Vancouver) about our exercise. In due course our visas came through and we were commended by the Woodland assembly, with endorsement from the Fairview assembly. The Lord has since been pleased to confirm the work in these parts with His blessing. We are at best "unprofitable servants" but we look up and on to the coming day, when we may hear that "well done" from the Master. MARANATHA.

 

]]>
shadsluiter@gmail.com (Super User) Personal Stories Sat, 01 Jul 2006 16:33:12 +0000
Shawn St. Clair ~ Toronto, Ontario http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/722-shawn-st-clair--toronto-ontario http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/722-shawn-st-clair--toronto-ontario

shawn st. ClairA good breeze, bright sun, sandy beach, and two boys. It was our week at the cottage in Grand Bend, Ontario on the shore of Lake Huron. We had already been swimming and flying kites earlier that day. In the afternoon, my younger brother Cameron and I were playing catch with a new beach ball.

The beach seemed deserted because of the wind. Mom and Dad were up in the cottage, reading as usual. They allowed us to play outside as long as we didn’t go in the lake.

            Suddenly, the ball landed in the water. Immediately, the breeze started to blow the ball away.

I panicked. I tried to decide what to do. Run up and get Dad? The ball would be too far out by then. Watch it float away? But it was our new ball! Find a good swimmer to rescue it?

Being almost nine and having taken a few swimming lessons, I thought I was a great swimmer. Splash! It did not take long to get to where the ball was, but every time I reached to grab it my hands slipped off, pushing it farther away.

Eventually, I decided I was too tired. I turned to swim back to shore. It looked so far away -- too far away! I knew I did not have the strength to swim back. “Why did I do this?” I thought. “Why didn’t I just stay on the beach? I’m tired. I’m going to drown. I don’t want to die. I’m not ready to die. I’m going to be in hell!”

Thankfully, I did not drown -- only because God is gracious. A wave pushed the ball right beside me, and I was able to grab it. I floated by holding it under me. After resting, and thinking, I headed back to shore.

That day, I realized God was speaking to me. I decided I would get saved soon. But, like everyone who says “soon," days passed, weeks went by, another month, and soon I forgot all about it. School started, Christmas came, New Years, springtime, and I still was not saved.

That Spring, I went to a Christian Conference in Toronto on Easter weekend. Friday night I began thinking about my soul again. God had saved me from drowning almost a year before -- but my soul still was not safe from His wrath. The more I thought about it, the more I wanted to be saved. I thought I knew how, but I couldn’t seem to do it. Saturday was the same.

Sunday night I tried and tried. It was just as if I was out in the lake again. It was hopeless. I could not do anything to save myself. That night, the preacher said, “After all the Lord Jesus suffered from the soldiers, God put the world in darkness. During three hours, God took every sin ever committed and punished His innocent Son for each one. Then, Jesus shouted, ‘FINISHED!’ ” (John 19:31).

Right there I understood for the first time: Jesus Christ already did everything to save me. I’m saved because my Savior finished paying for all my sin! What about your sin?

]]>
shadsluiter@gmail.com (Super User) Personal Stories Sat, 01 Jul 2006 16:32:47 +0000
Pauline Sulava ~ Leechburg, Pennsylvania http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/721-pauline-sulava--leechburg-pennsylvania http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/721-pauline-sulava--leechburg-pennsylvania

When I was 3 1/2, my father’s uncle brought us to the U.S.A. from Czechoslovakia. We were Catholic, but my uncle read from the Bible. I learned the truth from the Word of God and at a young age, I was very concerned about my soul.

            As I grew older, I became very religious. I wanted to please God, but was not successful. I did not realize I needed to be saved to be right with God first.

            Being religious but confused, I started seeing things that upset me in the Catholic Church. When the Church changed the rule about not eating meat on Fridays, I was really confused. I could not understand how it was a sin to eat meat on Friday one week, and not a sin the next week.

            The priest confused me even more when he announced one Sunday that since man made the church rules, man could change the rules. I had always thought God made the rules. It also was hard for me to believe that this man in a black robe could forgive sins, because I knew he was a sinner too.

            When Pope Pius XII was dying, the Catholic paper said he was worried about the hereafter. It amazed me that the leader of the church was admitting that he did not know if he was going to heaven or hell. I had always felt our religion would take us to heaven, and the Pope had done everything to win favor with God. I know now the Bible says WE CAN KNOW FOR SURE that we are going to Heaven (1 John 5:13).

            My Catholic faith was shaken but I did not tell anyone. At the same time, my oldest son was attending college. His roommate told him about God’s salvation. He got saved and came home to tell the family shortly after. He asked me to go to a Gospel Meeting on March 3, 1972.

            At the meeting, two men told how the Lord Jesus Christ was crucified for me and my sins. I knew that if I died my sins would take me to hell. This thought sent terror through me. Nobody ever told me before that I did not have to go to hell. These men told me that God laid my sins on my Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ when He was on the cross (Isaiah 53:6). I learned that the Lord Jesus is the only way to Heaven (John 14:6) and no other way will do. Right there, listening to the first Gospel message I ever heard, I accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as my own personal Savior.

            There was nothing more for me to do; just look at what God had already done through His beloved Son, the Lord Jesus. I could not make a sacrifice for my own sins (Isaiah 64:6) and I didn’t have to. The sacrifice of the Lord Jesus is the only one God will accept. He is my Savior; I am on my way to Heaven; and I know it! You can too! Trust him! , “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that WHOSOEVER believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

]]>
shadsluiter@gmail.com (Super User) Personal Stories Sat, 01 Jul 2006 16:32:23 +0000
Robert Surgenor ~ Cleveland, Ohio http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/720-robert-surgenor--cleveland-ohio http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/720-robert-surgenor--cleveland-ohio

It was a cold February night, but less than seventy feet away was a molten, boiling, lake of fire! Behind fire-brick walls, and heavy water-cooled steel doors, a 500-ton mass of seething molten steel bubbled at 2,800 degrees Fahrenheit. It was fed by a tremendous flame that required 700 gallons of oil per hour. This was an open hearth furnace -- the very heart of steel making.

            Over the years, God had spoken to me through two motorcycle wrecks, three near disasters while piloting a plane, and a near drowning in the Atlantic Ocean. But, like many brought up in a Christian home, I did not want God’s ways (Job 21:14).

            My mother objected to me going to the mills for work, but it was “big money.” However, during my first month I witnessed the gory death of a fellow worker. As my father, the melter foreman, took his remains away, I thought, “If that were you, Bob, where would your soul be?” Immediately I pushed the thought out of my mind.

            In the course of twenty years, three men had fallen into the pits -- a fifteen-foot drop in back of the furnaces. Two were burned alive, but I survived. A brush with death was nothing to laugh at. God was speaking to me again. Mother cried, and pleaded with me to quit, but money, sin, and fun were my gods.

            Then one day, a swinging overhead crane hook just narrowly missed my head. I was shaken! Fellow workers on the scene shouted in jest: “Hey Surgenor, if that thing had hit your head, you’d be shoveling coal in hell right now!” Their laughter pierced my heart! I had heard the Bible enough to know that there is no shoveling coal in hell -- just a flame that torments its victims. A steady, piercing flame on the soul! A place of no comfort, water, or hope! But their words of jest were like arrows from Almighty God in my heart. They stuck, and I couldn’t get rid of them.

            Looking into the furnace through a wicket hole, preparation was made to draw out a sample of molten steel for testing. As my eyes beheld the white-hot roaring flame and the steel lake of fire, my soul trembled. A voice said, “He that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed and that without remedy.” It was a Bible verse I’d learned in Sunday School many years before, and now God was bringing it to my remembrance to awaken me (Proverbs 29:1).

            After the shift, I went home from the steel mill a young man convicted of sin, scared of going to hell, and wanting to be saved. A few days later, on February 10, 1952 I was humbled, broken, crying and trembling for fear of meeting God in my sins. At that moment, my dear wife who had been saved just six days before pointed me to the Savior. I trusted the Lord Jesus Christ who died for me on the cross.

            The Lake of Fire is a real place you deserve to suffer in, forever, for all of your sins. As a helpless sinner, you too can be saved because, “Christ died for the ungodly” (Romans 5:6). Are you saved?

]]>
shadsluiter@gmail.com (Super User) Personal Stories Sat, 01 Jul 2006 16:32:00 +0000
Stu Thompson ~ Sherman, Michigan http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/719-stu-thompson--sherman-michigan http://gospelhall.org/index.php/personal-stories/719-stu-thompson--sherman-michigan

stu thompson

 
Stu Thompson lives in Sherman, Michigan.

 “Oh God, No!”

Those were the first words I spoke as I dropped to the ground. Lying on the grass that hot June Sunday, I knew that God’s hand had touched my life. A collision with a competitors crashed motorcycle on a dusty moto-cross track had left me with a severely broken leg. My plan for a summer full of racing was now over.    My parents hoped this accident would be some sort of spiritual wake up call for me, but I determined not to let it hinder my way of living. Even with a plaster cast from hip to toe I went on to live the summer to the fullest, but without God.

Five months later, still in my cast, while I watched from the sidelines my best friend crashed practicing for an up-coming race. The paramedics hoisted his dirty, limp form from the track and I struggled into the ambulance with him.  The 15 mile drive to the hospital seemed like for ever. The sober manner and intense radio exchanges of the paramedics with the hospital were a powerful voice telling me, "Death is real.  And my buddy is not ready for this!" He slid into deep unconsciousness and upon arrival at the hospital was not responding. Wonderfully, two days later, he awoke. Later he returned to full-health, but I never was the same inside.  Through the fall and winter though still “having fun”, I was often reminded that I was not ready for life after death. I was not prepared to meet God.

New Year’s Eve found us at a party.  But even in the middle of a party I was troubled about my future in eternity. The next day while returning home, my companion lost control of his car on the ice glazed road.  As the tires skidded helplessly we came within a moment of a head on collision!  When the car finally came to a halt, it's headlights shining into a deep roadside ditch, I let out a sigh of relief.  But the thought stormed into my mind, I could have gone into eternity!
Two weeks later, my parents' church started a series of nightly messages. I went a few times to hear these messages, but I was struggling with an internal choice: continue pursuing fun or turn to God. The Bible made it very clear that the first choice would eventually find me lost for eternity. As I wearily undressed for bed, my mind was in a turmoil about what I had heard in the messages.  It was clear to me that God could not accept me into heaven the way I was. I had known for years that the Bible said I was a sinner. But now I fully realized that my sins would take me to hell. I needed forgiveness, or as God's word says, to be saved, but I could see nothing but darkness. There was no hope! Just then, another thought from the Bible flashed into my mind, “Christ died for me.”
Sitting there in my bed it was all settled. One moment I had been in dark turmoil now I had total peace! I was saved, saved from Hell!  My sins were forgiven!
I looked down at a pamphlet I had started to read about being saved, and there was a Bible verse that I had known as a child, “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.”. Yes it was true, I had just believed in Christ. His death on the cross had been for me. I had peace, I turned out the bedroom light and I went to sleep.

]]>
shadsluiter@gmail.com (Super User) Personal Stories Sat, 01 Jul 2006 16:31:36 +0000