Sharables – Testimony
Ken Perry | Assistant to the Reach Pastor
Time sure flies when you are having fun. With that said, I cannot believe it has been 32 years since I made a decision to accept Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. Sometimes I think I should be further along in my faith, but there is a great assurance in the fact that I know I am right where God wants me to be.
Testimony is defined for us this way, “A public recounting of a religious conversion or experience.” That is it, nothing flashy or earth shattering. Just our retelling of the single most important moment in our Christian lives. For some, this conversion comes as a realization that the particular path they were headed down was going to be a dead end, that the choices being made were not turning out the way they had planned. We know this experience as a “Rock Bottom” conversion. The reality of the situation so confronts a person that they understand they cannot do life under their power anymore. There is a desire for spiritual intervention, and the only way to do that is to allow God to have total control of their lives. As the title suggests; however, that was not me.
I grew up in a loving middle-class home. That is not to say we did not have our fair share of issues, but I did have everything I needed and most things I wanted. My dad coached many of my sports teams and for most of my adolescence, my mom stayed at home to raise my brother and me. I began wrestling in high school and started dating the stats girl (probably in the hopes that my scores would improve). Before long, she asked if I would like to go to a youth group event at her church. I had gone to church as a kid… well, a truer version would be that I was put in the back of the station wagon and made to go to church with my mom and her friend. I had no other experience with the church up until I was asked to youth group at 15. I said yes because I wanted to be with her but did not realize the impact it would have on me.
Two things happened that night. First, I saw that the Youth Pastor was my wrestling coach. You might say no big deal, but it showed me you could combine the worlds of athletics and religion which was a new concept that helped as I started processing Christianity. I did not have to give up what I loved to do to come to Christ. The second thing was that I felt an amazing energy created by this group. I had felt the energy coming from crowds before (there is nothing like wrestling in front of a packed gymnasium) and it truly can be electric. This was different, though. I saw every type of person from my high school in that room. Silly teenagers that we were, we had to keep up our personas on campus, but at this youth group, I saw barriers broken down and kids having a great time worshipping Jesus together. I can not help but think of the book of Esther when I think back to this group… “for such a time as this.”
That group became my life. Sure, I still played sports, but the group of friends that came from this time was so much more important. They had the effect of cementing my heart to Christ before I even became a believer. After about a year of listening to the messages I came to the biggest realization of my life, and this is what I want you to grasp dear brothers and sisters. No matter where you come from, what you did, rock bottom or not, we are all separated from God by sin (Isaiah 59:2) until we ask Him for forgiveness and accept Him as our Lord and Savior. I was no better than the drug dealer, thief, adulterer, or murderer. The degree of sin was different according to the world, but God does not grade on a curve. He only sees the heart and mine was just as wicked according to Jeremiah 17:9, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” Unless I made a decision to follow Him, I was eternally lost.
So, that is what I did at the ripe age of sixteen, I settled the separation issue once and for all, and as you can imagine, it was the best decision of my life. Not everything has been rosy and right, but let me encourage you with this, it is not supposed to be. John 16:33 clearly tells us, “in this world you WILL have tribulation(trouble). But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
When the world knocks us down, like the big bully that it is, we have an advocate that is bigger than anything the world can throw at us. If you are on the fence about this thing called Christianity, settle the separation issue today. If you have strayed from God like many of us have, take a note from the prodigal story and realize you are better off being a “hired hand” in the Kingdom rather than a “king” in the world. Come back to Christ while there is still time. Personal experience tells me you will not be sorry you did.