By the time I reached the age of 19, I didn’t want to have anything to do with God. By the age of 28, I assumed Jesus was just a good teacher from history. Then I met my wife, Tina who grew up in the Christian faith. We hit it off very quickly and got engaged within six months. As the weeks went by we started making wedding plans. Then the discussion of Jesus being the Son of God and the only way to heaven were being initiated by Tina. I was annoyed and aggravated by the discussions and eventually Tina obeyed the voice of God telling her not to marry me if I didn’t believe in Jesus. So she broke off our engagement. But that’s when God came in and worked on me with strange events and a terrifying dream about being completely separated from the presence of God. A few days after having this dream, I said a simple prayer like this: “God, if Jesus is your son, I ask that you reveal that to me”. After the prayer, I did feel that something was different. I called Tina and told her about the prayer and within a few days and some discussions with Tina she lead me through a prayer of repentance and I became a believer in Jesus, the Son of God who died for the sins of mankind and gives eternal life to all who believe in Him. We called the wedding back on and got married.
In the first few years of our marriage we were very casual about our church involvement. Then we had our first son, Rex and decided to get more involved at church. We started putting our faith into action by going to church, spending time with other believers, serving at church and tithing our money. On June 15th 2003, I followed the instructions of the Bible and made my public profession of faith and got baptized. At this point God gave me a passion to follow Him and study His words and obey Him. Looking back on the events, from becoming a believer to getting involved at church to completely committing my life to following Jesus, I see the evidence of my spirit becoming alive to the things of God. My mind and thoughts are now in line with Him. Since I began reading the Bible daily, God has continually directed the steps of my life. He shows me how to treat my wife Tina and our two sons Rex and Asa and has given me a heart to reach out and share the goodness of God with others.
There is nothing in this world that compares to knowing God and walking with Him. God’s desire is for you to know Him and be in right standing with Him. All it takes is a conscious decision to seek Him with a humble and repentant heart.
To be in right standing with God admit you have sinned against Him and ask to be forgiven. Commit your life to following Jesus. Be devoted to reading the Bible and believe God’s words above all else. Turn away from sin and turn to Jesus. Believe that God sent His son Jesus to die as a sacrifice for your sins and raised Him from the dead so that whoever believes in Him, follows Him and confesses Him will have eternal life with God and escape the torment and agony of a place prepared for those who have rejected Him.
From Bass Guitar to Shofar
Before devoting my life to Jesus I was an avid music lover. By the age of 18 I was a heavy metal bass guitarist playing in Atlanta night clubs. After surrendering my life to Jesus, getting baptized and filled with the Holy Spirit, God made it clear to me that I had made music an idol in my life. I looked at my wall full of CD’s and knew that I had loved listening and making music more than I had loved Him. Within a few days of wrestling with this issue I did what I knew had to be done with idols and I threw away about 500 music CD’s. Then I started to sell or give away my musical equipment. It was a wonderful and freeing experience and another important act of obedience for me. Almost as soon as He told me to lay aside music He gave me a passion for evangelism.
I started out by telling just about anyone who would listen to me that I was now a follower of Jesus and how great the Bible is. Then I started sharing my written testimony with people. After getting on Facebook I realized it was the perfect place to share my testimony with as many friends as possible. Since getting on Facebook God has given me many ideas for Gospel tracts to share in person or electronically.
Which brings me to the story of the Shofar. As my family started getting interested in the Jewish roots of our faith we decided to go visit a local messianic congregation. These Jewish believers in Jesus were on fire for God and were blowing Shofars during praise and worship. We loved the service and they invited us to stay for lunch. My son Rex discovered that we could purchase Shofars there and Tina was prompted by the Lord to buy one for me that day as a gift for my birthday. After hearing stories of American missionaries sharing the Gospel in other countries by using musical instruments to gather crowds in public settings I felt that God was telling me that the Shofar is unique enough to get the attention of people and would be a great conversation starter. I don’t use the Shofar as a musical instrument but as a call for people to turn to God. Since blowing the Shofar in public God has allowed the Gospel to be shared with a multitude of people.
It’s my prayer to know God’s truth, walk in His truth and share His truth with others. Please pray about how God can use your unique personality or abilities to reach the lost with the good news of Jesus.
Awhile back my husband, Scott, wrote out his testimony and started passionately sharing it with others. He also encouraged friends to share any life changing encounters they had experienced with Christ. For a long time, I had wanted to do this but was so ashamed of my prodigal walk in my early twenties and the numerous foolish choices I had made during those dubious years. Finally, I decided to push aside those feelings of embarrassment and veraciously put pen to paper because God deserves the glory for the radical healing in my life!
At the age of 6, in Birmingham, Alabama, I remember asking Jesus to come and live in my heart while at Briarwood Christian School. It was a very simple prayer, but even as a child, I sincerely meant it. I wanted to be with Jesus and for Him to be with me. Looking back on my childhood and teen years, He was with me. My walk with Him was real and wonderful, and I never felt alone.
Right after accepting Christ, I remember knowing that I could always go to Him with anything and be sure that He was listening and cared. I always wanted a little brother and so I started to put in my request to the Lord. As a parent now, I often wondered what was going through my parent’s minds. I remember them just smiling as I prayed nightly for 7 years for a baby brother. On Valentine’s Day of 1983 my little brother, Jimmy, was born. I was so excited that God had heard my prayers! There were many, many more answered prayer requests over the years to come.
In June of 1988, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. She told me later, that the night before her outpatient biopsy, she had a vision of wing tips fluttering in front of her, as if she were being held in the arms of amazing love. She said she felt an enormous sense of peace. Things were quite different for all of us after her diagnosis and in the years to follow. In June of 1989, on a Friday night, she went home to be with the Lord. The day before she died she was the most peaceful I had ever seen anyone. She told me she was going home and not to worry. I knew deep down she was right. Honestly, I didn’t understand, but had heard of God turning tragedies into triumphs and that gave me hope during such a difficult and painful time.
In the summer of 1992, my dad and brother and I went to Africa, for 3 weeks, to visit my dad’s cousin, Larry, who was serving as a missionary in Kenya. It was a mind blowing adventure and I experienced things I will never forget. Most memorable was a 3 hour bouncy drive on unpaved roads to a small concrete church in a beautiful field. All of the sudden, it became like a spectacular movie scene. Villagers came over the top of the field already worshipping the Lord in glorious singing. They were worshipping God before they even got to the church building itself, what a difference that was! I remember the curious, cute children giggling at me, because of my red hair. It was the most amazing trip, and I saw God work in many ways.
Sadly, after witnessing so many wonderful things, I unexpectedly went down a treacherous path. It was never a conscious decision to walk away from the Lord. It happened very gradual, like a child who goes wandering around and then looks up only to realize that they have somehow gotten away from the parent they love and are filled with panic, sadness and despair. I went from not attending church every Sunday, to just occasionally visiting and then to not going at all. I started seeing other Christians as no longer friends, but almost as enemies. Even spewed out recriminations at a dear friend who confronted me. I found a new group of friends to spend the majority of my time with and to encourage me in my new ways. We had gotten into the habit of going out to clubs every night after work. Just like the song, it was a Slow Fade. At first, in those dark places I found excitement, but it wasn’t long before I found heartache, pain, loneliness, depression and despair. After dangerous experiments with drugs, alcohol and relationships, I attempted and thankfully failed at suicide. I then sought the help of two mental health professionals and was placed on 60mg of Prozac. That didn’t work either, because I was unable to feel any emotions. Any mirthfulness I might have occasionally enjoyed was now in a stupor. It seemed the more I tried to find happiness it just kept escaping my grasp. I languished in my depression and longed to feel free from torment. Before wandering away from the Lord, I was happy, content, peaceful and full of joy. But during this prodigal, dubious walk, life was just the opposite. Why was that? I was living for myself, pleasing myself and yet had never been more miserable in all my life!
One morning around 3 a.m., outside the Backstreet nightclub in Atlanta, I realized that I had lost an earring. I was walking around the parking lot, upset with the guy who I had gone partying with, who sat in my car while I searched a very unpleasant and dark area. I was in a miserable relationship with him, because I had grown co-dependent upon him for my happiness. I basically had turned him into a false god. Yet, there was no reciprocation. While searching, I felt this strange sensation and heard 2 voices, not audibly, but very strongly in my spirit. One was the voice of Jesus and the other was the voice of my mother. They both were saying at the same time, “Oh, how I wanted so much more for you than this” and the way I heard it, it was if their hearts were broken over my choices. I knew then that God had not left me, but I had walked away from Him. It was then that I knew I needed to repent, change and turn back to my Father.
It was hard changing lifestyles overnight, but God led me to a job as a nanny in charge of four precious children, and I started visiting churches. The best part was I started talking with God again and asking for His direction, instead of leading myself. I started to then ask God for a husband who loved him as well. Funny how God works, because when I first met Scott, I felt he was the one. However, through further discussions, I came to realize that he did not regard Jesus as the Son of God, but as just a good person and teacher. I came under very strong conviction at this point to break off our engagement. I felt I was to pray and give the situation over to God and let Him deal with Scott. This is where Scott’s testimony picks up the story.
If you have never seriously looked at the words of Jesus, I encourage you to decide who this man is. He can only be one of three things . . . a liar, a lunatic or the Son of the Living Most High God, creator of you and me. I tried living life my way and I’ve tried living it His way. I can testify that His way is the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father without going through Jesus. I love Luke chapter 15, because God speaks of the lost sheep, the lost coin and the lost son. I too was lost but now am found and am so thankful that we have a God that loves us! I placed the remaining earring on a chain and turned it into a necklace. Every time I see it, I am reminded of what was lost, what was salvaged and transformed into something even better.
It is with love that I write down this testimony and share it with you. I would like to thank my friends, Laura, Gianetta, Mrs. Glenos and Carla for their confrontation, taking me in, encouragement and rescue! I was in distress and they noticed and said something about it. I will never forget to be thankful for their true love and friendship.
Proverbs 27:6 Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.
With Love, Tina