Here are several short excerpts from stories of people whose lives have changed by the power of Christ…
JESUS WAS EVERYTHING I WAS LOOKING FOR
by Ari Hamalainen
At university I became exposed to ideas and philosophies that were new to me. I became interested in Buddhism, Occult, Astral Projection, Meditation, Life After Death, Pyramids and some Greek philosophy. I joined the Ancient Astronaut Society because Daniken’s theory seemed like a good answer to many questions concerning Man’s origin.
Looking at the stars at night I often thought “Where do we come from in this big universe and why are we here?”
I thought the Ancient Astronaut theory was true. I practiced some meditation and fasting, made pyramids and tried to experience Out of Body Experiences. I wanted to cut short my university studies to go and become a Buddhist monk in Tibet (my fellow students thought I was nuts).
These things brought deception and confusion into my life and my relationships. At the end of my freshman year my brother (who was also searching for Truth) shared with me what he had found in the Bible.
I read the Bible and God began to minister His Truth to my heart. It made more sense than all the other philosophies and theories I had been reading. Later I came to understand that the Bible is not just a book but is the faithful and preserved record of God’s revelation of Himself to mankind (the very Word of God).
I was 20 when I believed the gospel of Jesus Christ with all my heart; that I was a sinner desperately in need of God’s salvation. I prayed to God asking for the forgiveness and salvation which is available only in Jesus. Then I got baptized at a local church. Jesus, the Son of God, is the Truth. (John 14:6; Colossians 2:3).
Apart from Christ a person is in darkness and you don’t know it until the Light shines in (2 Corinthians 4:4). I was living in spiritual darkness and God shined the Light of His Word into my heart. Jesus was everything I was looking for. This is not surprising in retrospect: Only God can truly satisfy; man cannot. There is only one way to God. God’s way is true and it brings freedom and hope, man’s way is false and it brings bondage, vanity and death.
I STARTED TO RETHINK THE WHOLE CHURCH THING
by Jill Cherni
I guess I’ll start out by saying I have been brought up in the church and never had “bad” parents or any unusual childhood memories that normally turn people away from God.
I grew up and went to college and worked as a young adult with partying as the center of my life. After about the age of 20 I never really thought about going to church anymore because I only went on Christmas and Easter, so what was the use?
I went on like that until age 24 when I made a major move away from my hometown and family where the partying became a more intense thing and more kinds of them. I met a man that I eventually married and had 2 children with and started to rethink the whole church thing.
I was brought up in church and knew the “right” thing to do. I began taking the children to church. We went, without my husband for 6 years (we were still partying without a thought), till I began waking up on Sundays and wondering if we should go at all. Nothing was happening and again, what was the use?
My neighbor and I were talking and she invited me to her church. I went and was completely blown away by the presence of God! It took me about 3 months of sitting there trying to figure out if it was real. Well, to make a long story short, that was 2 years ago and since then the Lord Jesus has cleaned my closets and has set up His Kingdom in every area of my heart and life, my husband is saved, and we are just praising God for His mighty hand in our lives!
I’M STILL HOLDING ONTO THAT ROCK
by Jack Butler
In 1973, as I was floating down some lazy rapids, I reached out and held tightly onto a rock when I heard the thunder of a waterfall up ahead. To my surprise, all the things that were floating with me in that river began to bump into me and hit me and cause me to almost lose my grip on that rock.
That rock has a name. And the name of that Rock is Jesus, the Christ, the rock of my salvation. I had been floating along with the world, unaware of the danger I was in.
I had been notified about this “Rock” many times and either I didn’t listen, or I took the message lightly or I just blew it off. Fortunately, during my life, many messengers were sent to me at different times, to inform me of my peril.
That messenger in 1973 was an old navy friend, who had turned Christian. His former life and mine were anything but “Christian!” That’s probably why his words and messages to me were so effective. He was just a man like me, not a paid professional trying to sell me “his religion”. He was introducing me to “The Rock”. Twenty four years later I am still holding onto that “Rock.”
WE ALL SCREW UP AND DO STUPID THINGS
by Liz O’Conner
My name is Liz O’Connor, and I was saved by the blood of Jesus Christ last September (written in Nov. 1997). Until then, the only thing I used Sunday for was work and sleep.
I got into Phantom of the Opera when I was in 8th grade, and that was helped lead me closer to Satan. In January of last year, my friends and I almost committed suicide over a friend’s depression, and our own non-communication with each other.
By last September, I’d read the Satanic Bible, dressed in black and wore charms to protect myself from the evil presence that hung around my friends and I. To say I was scared and frightened and all words related to that is an understatement. I felt as if I were playing a game for my life, but I’d never asked to play, and I never learned the rules.
I began talking to my friend, Mary, on the way to Marching Band trips last September, and she introduced me to Jesus. A few weeks later, after overcoming the block inside of me, I accepted Jesus, and my life has been wonderful since.
If you’re not saved, and you want the greatest life has to offer, while gaining your ticket to be with God, admit you are a sinner, you can’t earn you way into God’s graces, and that you need the sacrifice of Jesus to clean you of your sins. You are not alone, we all screw up and do stupid things, and we can all be forgiven if we accept Jesus. God bless you all!
MY FINGER COULD NOT MOVE
My way to Jesus has been a long road. I was sent to church at a young age with my grandmother. My parents didn’t go to church themselves. My father didn’t believe in church or God. As I grew a little older my mother became addicted to alcohol and drugs. My father went to work out of state.
That left me and my sister alone with her. Abuse followed. We would have to sleep in shifts because she came after us while we slept. We woke up one night to find her standing over us with a knife. I was 9 my sister was 8. After about 2 years my younger sister was already doing drugs, hanging out with much older people and not coming home for days at a time. Finally, our older sister came to our rescue.
To me she was perfect and anything she wanted from me was ok. I was so glad to be where someone wanted me. She was very beautiful and I wanted to be just like her. The time came when she did ask something of me. My sister told me there were friends of hers that liked me and it would make her happy if I would spend time with them and do what they told me to. Well her friends were involved in the occult I didn’t know what that was but for the next couple of years
I found out. I was 11 then and I was told this is what I was supposed to do. So I was used for special services for sex, with anyone I was told to. After about 3 years I was no longer used. Then I found out there were others my sister knew who liked me.
I continued on doing the same things, only not in occult ways. This continued and actually I thought this was how it was supposed to be. I went to school but was told not to ever say anything because she wasn’t supposed to take me from my mom. I never said anything and grew to like what I did. I thought this was the way people showed how they liked you. I could go to bed with anyone but I couldn’t talk to them or even eat in front of them because that was something I never did.
I was home on a Mon. and was looking for Jerry Springer on TV. I clicked over channels looking and came across a station that was giving an altar call and singing Just As I Am. I had never thought about being a Christian, didn’t know God, I liked my new age life BUT MY FINGER COULD NOT MOVE. This is true, it would not. I saw everything going on and it was a man named Benny Hinn, I had never heard of him.
Listening to him, seeing the people, I started to cry and then I got on my knees and asked Jesus to come into my life. I didn’t really know what I had done so I called the lady I had worked with. We had become friends by then and I knew she prayed for me daily. I told her what had happened and she prayed with me on the phone. That week I started going to Bible study
A scripture that I stood on is in Psalm 34:18: “The Lord is close to
the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. That was certainly me in the beginning. Then God gave me this scripture Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord. That is how I am living today: trusting In Jesus Christ as my Lord and savior. He is my best friend, and I am learning everyday to let Him have control of all parts of my life.
I GOT A GLIMPSE OF GOD’S GRACE TO US
I came from a broken home. Broken is a good description, that’s exactly how I felt. I remember crying myself to sleep at night. I would have given anything for my parents to get back together, but it never happened.
I had asked Jesus into my heart when I was little, but there were many weeds in the garden & growth was stunted. I started doing drugs when I was 11 & a few years later my only brother was killed. I felt like everyone I had ever loved had left me.
Then, I met my husband, my Knight in Shining Armour, and I thought he could take me away from all my problems. At first, things were great. I even stopped doing drugs….for a while, but when the pressures of every day life came rushing in, I found myself rushing out to get high. I eventually ended up prostituting myself to support my habit over the first 10 years of our marriage.
In 1984, I had been gone on a binge for two weeks. My husband had every right to divorce me according to Biblical law, but someone suggested he read the book of Hosea first. In chapter 2, God promises to make Gomer a faithful wife to Hosea after she had been a prostitute, so my husband decided to give me one last chance.
On the other side of town, God was working on me. I heard Him say, “Jill, you’ve gone far enough! If you don’t leave this place right now, your heart will become to hard and you won’t be able to hear My voice any more.” I immediately sobered and went home.
One of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do is look into my husband’s tear filled eyes & tell him what I had been doing & ask for his forgiveness. He loved me so much he forgave me, and at that moment, I got a glimpse of God’s grace to us and His faithful endurance.
It has not been an easy road, we really do reap what we sow. I have a mind cluttered with dark memories that surface at just the wrong time. Whenever I am tempted to sin in any way, I look up and see those tear filled eyes again, but they’re not my husband’s, they’re my Savior’s, Jesus Christ. There’s no way I want to hurt anyone like that again.
Those verses in Hosea have become very special to me. Over the years God has allowed me to minister to many different people through them. We all at some time or other commit adultery against God by the things we place preeminent in our lives that should only be occupied by Him. But God is faithful to finish the work He has started in us and see it through to completion.
I FELT LIKE I NEEDED TO TAKE MY BIBLE WITH ME
by Erin Butler
When I was 16, my Academic Decathlon team made it to the state competition in Clarksville, Tennessee. I was packing, when all of the sudden, I felt like I needed to take my Bible with me. I didn’t know why, but I felt like it would come in handy.
So, one night, in our hotel room, I pulled out the Bible and began to read, first to myself.
My best friend, Casey, who doesn’t normally go to church, came over to my bed and asked if she could read with me! I was like, SURE! That was great! My first opportunity to witness!
Then I thought, “There is so much I wanted to tell her! Where do I start!?” So, I pulled up my favorite verse, Psalms 105. I just really like it!
Then, the other girls in our room wanted to read too! I was just amazed! So, I thanked God, and we had our own little bible study. It was just really cool, to be able to witness to people like that.
It actually inspired me to go to Mexico that summer and do door to door evangelism and build houses and have vacation bible school for the “ninos and ninas” of the colonia. It was a life changing experience. Thanks for listening!
IT WAS LIKE I HAD NEVER BEEN IN A CHURCH BEFORE
by Brian Neal
When I was growing up, my family wasn’t Christian.
We didn’t talk about God and I didn’t know anything about Him. My family was not church-going at all. I went to church sometimes with my grandfather, or my my other grandparents. God and religion were never talked about, not even at Christmas or Easter. We never knew the real reasons behind those holidays when we were growing up, and I remember going to church and not knowing anything about what was being said in the sermons I was hearing.
When I was twelve, my parents divorced. It was not a good time in my house, and it was not an amicable split between my parents. To this day I am still struggling with the decisions my father made and ultimately, the separation and distance that I still feel towards him today. So we moved in with my father’s “girlfriend.” She’s my step-mom now and I love her very much. She is a very godly woman whose faith is evident in her life from the moment you talk to her. But growing up, it was not always the case. Shirley and her son and daughter went to church sometimes, but not regularly. We attended the occasional youth class and then Church service, but I never saw it more than anything as a chance to goof off with friends. I remember chewing Copenhagen and drinking Dr. Peppers in the back pew most of the time.
After I started High School, Church was never a thought. I played football, and there was prayer before and after games in the locker room, but God was never something that ever mattered to me. I wasn’t interested in it and I was doing fine. My junior year I dropped football, rather it dropped me. My grades were so bad, I could not keep playing. And eventually I got in with the drug and alcohol crowd. Eventually school didn’t matter, I had a job to go to and so I decided to quit. I remember standing in the attendance office at school. I asked for the forms to fill out to quit. The lady behind the counter wanted to call my dad first to make sure it was ok, and I remember the lady talking to him on the phone. He never asked to talk to me at all. She hung up and I quit school. From then on it was sex, drugs and rock and roll! I never looked back.
My life was not bad, but it wasn’t anything like it could have been, and certainly nothing that I was proud of. There is not a drug that you can name, that I haven’t at least seen…. and very few that I have not put into my body. You name it, I’ve been around it, or sold it, or knew people who did. It is a wonder, and I know now, it was by God’s Grace alone, that I didn’t end up in prison, or dead.
Fast forward to age 28. I was working for Ozarka in Ft. Worth. My supervisor was beautiful, and I’m sure still is to this day. She is a very devout Christian woman, with a great husband and two beautiful kids. Every day I would hear her radio in the warehouse office, tuned to Dr. Charles Stanley. Eventually that led her to sharing her faith in Jesus Christ with me and I became more interested. She was a great influence and really helped me to understand how far of course I had gotten.
Seven years later, while still at Ozarka, I began to date a girl. She was also a Christian, but led a very open lifestyle. She went to church occasionally, but she didn’t really live it. She was caring, and friendly, and really a great person. But I know now that she was not where we should all be in our faith. The drugs continued, although on a very, very low occurrence rate. But we weren’t hurting anyone. We had our small circle of friends that we hung out with. The whole time, I continued to date other girls. Traci and I had never lived together, we often did our own thing, and we would go for a week or ten days or two weeks without seeing each other. We understood that we still had our own separate lives. But occasionally, I would go to Church with her and her folks.
Eventually, she gave me something that I still have to this day, my very own Bible. It even had my name on it, and I knew then that I had to make a change to start on a different path in my life. I started reading it sometimes, carrying it with me. But I never actually made any great changes I was still living the same lifestyle, although it wasn’t nearly like it was, it was still not the way it was supposed to be, and I was just going through the motions.
Then I met another girl while at Ozarka. I still talk to her often, and she was someone I liked to hang out with. I never knew how God would use her in my life. Eventually she moved to Houston. Houston was originally home for her, and after being offered a job back home, she went. Over the year or two after she left, we stayed in touch. E-mailed back and forth all the time and kept up with each other. As it turned out, she was very involved with the Pasadena Rodeo, and the Pasadena Strawberry festival. She volunteered out there on the beverage committee and in 2001 she invited me to come down to the festival. I thought this might be the perfect opportunity to introduce her to a friend of mine. So, I picked up my friend and went to the festival. As I introduced him, she introduced her friend…. Jeannie. I thought she was really cute, and we talked some and had a nice time at the festival, but I didn’t think really about it more than that. But something happened. We stayed in touch.
After several months of e-mails and phone calls, I decided to go back to Houston for a visit. And this time when I saw her, I knew, I was in love. Visits became more regular, and I met her parents and I also visited her Church. It was like I had never been in a church before. The people there made me feel welcome, and I actually listened to a sermon, I think for the first time. At the end of the sermon was the time of invitation. I didn’t go that first time there, but eventually I felt God tugging at my heart, and I knew that this series of events was meant to be. It was part of a bigger plan than I could ever imagine. So, one Sunday after service, I decided to give my life to Christ. I made a public profession of faith in Baptism. And it was in Jennie’s parents’ pool that I was raised to walk in the light of His glory.
Since that time, God has graced me with Jeannie becoming my wife. Her daughter Kimberly is now my beautiful stepdaughter, of whom I am so proud, and also he has blessed me with a son, Jacob.
A man wonders what he will become, what his own family will be like, his kids and his wife. If I could have seen into the future so long ago, I would have never believed the blessings and joy that he has given me. I know now that I am so unworthy of the gifts he has given me, and I pray every day now, to be a man that can live up to those gifts. I strive to be worthy of the things he has given me. I strive to be a good father and husband, role model for my kids, teacher and youth leader. Most of all, I strive to have the firmness in my faith to proclaim to not only the world, but to my Mother and Father and brother and sisters, that Jesus Christ, is truly…my Lord and Savior. He is my salvation. He is my constant cheering section. He is the one who loves me with an unimaginable grace and glory. And I know that I will never be able to repay him for the price he paid.
Thank you God almighty. Thank you for being in me. Thank you for your love and blessings. My faith in You will forever be my guidance and my life. Amen.
KEEP GOD IN THE CENTER OF YOUR LIFE
I found your website on Mr. Billy Graham’s website. You’ve done an excellent job. I am so glad God put it in your heart to create the site.
For about a week now, I’ve had an urge to tell someone what has happened to me in the past 6 weeks that has brought me much closer to God than anything ever has before. The story isn’t really finished yet, because I don’t know what the final outcome will be; but this is just to encourage anyone, if you want to post it, to keep God in the center of your life and to lean on HIS understanding, not our own.
I was fired from my job as a bank teller in May. I was fired for theft. How on earth I ever found myself in this kind of a situation, I still can’t comprehend. By looking at me, you’d never think I am the type of person to commit any sort of crime at all. Married, mom of 3 kids, hard worker, will help any one who needs any help. Always with a smile on my face and always laughing about something. But here I am today, with no job and probably no professional reputation left to even attempt re-entering the work force.
The devil is sneakier than you would ever think he is. We all say, oh, I will know it when the devil is trying to lead me to do something wrong. Sorry, but I’ll be the first to tell you, if you don’t keep close to God, you’ll never have the first clue when the devil decides to use to bring us down to his level. And temptation isn’t the only tool Satan has. There’s fear, pride, and desperation. And he uses these things to his fullest ability. These three tools of Satan are what drove me to make the choices I made. Desperation and fear put thoughts in my head: “How am I going to buy groceries? How am I going to be able to put gas in my car to get to work? How am I going to be able to pay for [my oldest son’s and my husband’s] dental bills? How?” And it was the fear of having to have these things, but not making enough money to afford them, that made me go a little nuts. Pride kept me from asking people in my family for help, even though they’ve offered it…and desperation drove me to just take a little, here and there, out of my working cash to deposit in the bank account to cover checks for bills, gas, and groceries.
Over the course of about six, seven months, I had taken over $5,000. For that length of time, I was constantly sick at my stomach, couldn’t sleep, couldn’t think. Satan just loves it when we have such severe anxiety that we can’t eat or sleep. He probably dances a jig and laughs.
It was during an audit when my “shortage” was discovered. The next day, I was fired, and restitution was ordered. I thank God every day for having the earthly father He gave me. My dad was there with me that whole next day. He went and made a loan to repay the amount I was out. At the end of that week, a detective called me to “talk” as he said. I met with him that following Monday, and was arrested – I had no idea that any of this was going to happen — but again, I give thanks to our Father that I have the family I have. A cousin works in law enforcement, and quickly set about getting me out of there, without having to post bail or do a property bond. My mother came and paid the small processing fee and picked me up.
The following Sunday, I attended church at a small church close by to my home. I had visited that church before, but was technically a member of another church in a larger town about 20 miles away. I had not attended any services in quite a while, although I had been baptized about a year and a half before. But during that week before the service, I prayed, more than I ever have in my life. I asked God to sustain me through this ordeal, to direct me to the place He wanted me to be, not where I wanted to be. And He used my neighbor to remind me of that little church.
When I went to that Sunday morning service, the message was about keeping God at the center of our lives. I listened and I listened hard. The more I listened, the more I realized that I had never made a true commitment to our Lord. I had not kept Him at the center of my life. Because I had not done this, I found myself at the lowest point of my life, ever. Even when I threw my first husband out because of his drug abuse, I wasn’t this low — because these circumstances I brought on myself entirely. That sermon I feel is what saved me.
I want people to know, that even when you think you won’t be able to keep a roof over your head, when you’re worried about feeding your family and keeping electricity on and gas in your car, keep God at the center of your life. He will take care of you! Like Jesus said, our Father cares for the sparrow — how much more will he care for us? Don’t let stupid pride keep you from asking for help. Don’t let the fear of worst-scenario circumstances cause anxiety to eat you up inside. Don’t let desperation drive you to do things that are illegal, because no amount of justification will make it “all right”. I am so thankful that God saw what I was doing and that He brought it to an end because He knew that I was just going to keep digging a hole that I wouldn’t be able to ever get out of, no matter how intent I was on replacing the money.
Thank you for allowing me to tell you this story. I think God’s been wanting me to tell someone because there’s probably somebody out there who might be getting to that point of desperation, and I don’t want them to listen to Satan’s lies like I did. Bless you and your family.