A Personal Testimony About Why The Church Is Important
I have been asked for my personal testimony. I have never given a
testimony before, mainly because I do not like to talk about myself or
draw attention to myself. I would like to speak about other issues in
the Christian life but I pray that this testimony will inspire those of
you in church to do more and be more for our Lord.
When I was growing up, I was always in church. For me, my church and
Christ were inseparable. I'm sure the people who attend there now, many
of whom do not know me, would be surprised to realize how much of Christ
they reflect. Those persons who have gone before them reflected Christ
to me when I was growing up. More accurately, the people, the
adults, the teachers, and the ministers of my church gave me a chance
to know Christ. They gave me the opportunity to renew my relationship
with Him repeatedly during my life. Those Christian people gave me the
opportunity to always come back to Him when I needed Him. They provided
a shelter for me...a place to feel secure and safe. The
people of my church opened the door between Christ and my heart. When
I invited Him in, He filled my life with His love, because they had
paved the way.
I grew up in a mainline Baptist church in a mainline Baptist church
family. No one at home or at school used evangelical jargon, which may
be the reason I tend not to use it now in most of my current messages.
My church was the safe center of my formative years. My school was a
safe place, but also a place where I felt enormous emotional pain and
humiliation. In my mainline life, Jesus was always there. I do not
recall a time when I ever questioned whether Christ was alive or dead,
there or not there, real or not real, He was just always there in my
Maybe it was the fifties, but sin was not something that was a tragic
flaw with which I had to deal. My sense of the sin in the world appalls
me today. Back then, sin was not so appalling. Sin was just the result
of a wrong thing you did and that you were supposed to stop doing.
However, I was a kid in the fifties in a small town in Indiana. Things
were very different then.
When did Jesus come into my heart? When did I accept Him? If I had to
choose between many profound events that have occurred in my Christian
walk, the reading of a Billy Graham book may be the moment when I became
fully aware of or formally accepted Christ into my life. This full
awareness or acceptance of Christ was after I had gone through many
pain-filled years. I was struggling to survive emotionally. Pain
separates us from God, and for me, the place in my life just prior to my
accepting Christ was a very empty place because of the pain. The book was "Peace With God" and I
believe I still have it somewhere in all the books and materials that
When I repented, the act of repentance was an act of turning away
from the pain I was in and a turning away from trying to fill the
emptiness with a lot things other than Christ. Pain blinds us. Pain
makes us go in directions ending up being blind alleys and dead end
streets. Upon my acceptance of Christ, the in-filling love of the Holy
Spirit filled my heart. The love of the Holy Spirit remains with me to
What the people of my church did not know, nor did most people who
knew me know, was how I experienced terrible distress, humiliation, and
shame as a youngster. I was born with a facial deformity. Although I had
over twenty-five surgeries to attempt to correct the condition, emotional scars
remained on my heart until I was an adult.
When I was twenty years old, or in 1964, I received a telephone call
from a graduate student at Indiana State University who wanted to
interview me. He informed me that my name was given to him by my plastic
surgeon and the interview would be very helpful in his research. I
agreed to meet with him. Although I do not remember all the questions he
asked of me, I do remember why he was doing the research. He informed me
persons born with a facial deformity in the 1940's usually wound up
in institutions. People with facial deformities did not live out in the
community. He wanted to find out from me what there was about me, or
about my life, that caused me to be able to live on the outside. I do
not recall the answers I gave to his questions. However, I have an
answer for him today. It was my church. My church enabled
me to "live on the outside".
Of all the positive influences in my life, the church was the
shelter. The church gave me a chance to find out how much
God loved me and cared for me. Most of the people in the church when I
was a youngster have gone home to be with the Lord. Unless I send this
to the current members, they will never know about the wonderful legacy
of Christ entrusted to them by the members who have gone home. They will never know what the
church did for me and what they (and every other Christian) can do for
others. Perhaps this is why the Lord is leading me to write this message
even when I would rather not write it.
It was not until 1987 I realized how much pain and humiliation I
had endured as a child. In that year, I went back to a high school
reunion. Attending the reunion caused me traumatic flashbacks and it
took me weeks to recover from the trauma. A year later I was in the
gymnasium of my high school (where I had not been for 26 years) setting
up a display for my wife. There must have been something about the
lighting or colors because I went into the flashback mode again. What
cringing humiliation I experienced growing up!
Although I was living in a trauma most of my growing up years, I
somehow adjusted to the trauma because of my church. I now treasure so many
sweet memories of my growing up years. The experience of the trauma has
been sealed over by Christ and His love for me. I treasure the
schoolmates and friends I had. I treasure the young people my age I went
to school with. I treasure the Sunday School teachers, the
schoolteachers, and the adults of my little town. I treasure my family
members who lived with fear that I would not make it in the world.
Praise God you were all who you were. And for all the people who have
gone to be with the Lord, take care of them Jesus, for I want to see
them again at your big party upon my arrival.
The fondest memories of my youth were of the church. The church was
such a free place. It was full of security and I did not feel ashamed or
feel humiliation there. We had all these dinners, and programs, and
events. Of course, business in the church picked up around Christmas.
Life was a wonderful whirlwind around Christmas. Back then, Christmas
was not about presents, it was about the birth of Jesus.
What the church people did not know was how important they were. What
the church did not know is when I was just a boy they were paving
the way for Christ to come into my life. What they did not know is they were healing me as I was hurting. In addition, they were giving me
substance to fill my life in my later years. I hope they (and every
other church member on the face of the earth) never doubt their mission,
especially with young people. They planted seeds in my life and the
still sprouting and growing. I would not be in the ministry today if
they had not sown those wonderful seeds when I was a youngster. I would
not be reaching over a million people for Christ in this Internet ministry
if it had not been for them.
When I was in high school, I began to have attacks or seizures of
fatigue or sleepiness. As I grew older, these seizures grew worse and
more disabling. Although I have been severely disabled due to this
seizure condition for many years, God is good. He is wonderful and He
has been wonderful to me and my wife and son. Praise His name. Only God
could enable a person with so many limitations who He called to the
ministry to reach over a million persons for Christ. The substance of Christ given to
me by my church still produces fruit for His work.
Thank you Lord Jesus. Thank you Waldron Baptist Church.
In Christ's Love And Grace,
My Internet ministry address is: http://www.findthepower.com