From the very start of my life, God had been good to me. He allowed me to be born into a solid Christian home. My parents believed that if the church doors were open, our family should be at the meeting, so consistent church attendance was taught to me at an early age. I had frequent illnesses as a child, but my parents knew that it did not require both of them to stay home with me. So on Sunday morning my dad would go to church, and in the evening he would stay home with me, and Mom would attend. Every night after dinner, my parents would get down the Bible and a devotional book, and we would have our family altar. Biblical values and standards were established in our home. Conservative Christian music played through the stereo. I was surrounded by Christianity, and God used that to direct my life.
As a boy, I made a profession of faith at the age of seven after family devotions at my grandparent's home. I remember that event taking place, but that is all that I remember.We were attending an evangelical Presbyterian church at that time. My parents, though attending a Presbyterian church, would not allow me to be baptized because they understood the Biblical doctrine of baptism by immersion. A few years later I was baptized by immersion in the Baptist church where my grandparents attended. When I was in the sixth grade, we left the Presbyterian church and my parents and I joined an independent Baptist church, Calvary Baptist Church, in Allison Park Pennsylvania.
As I grew older, I became more actively involved in the church and it's ministries. I became the president of our youth group, as well as one of the church pianists. At a youth rally in 1974, I knew that God was calling me to preach, and I surrendered my life to "full - time" christian service. I preached my first sermon that summer. I got involved in both the Thursday night and Saturday morning visitation programs. I served as a captain on one of the church bus routes. I was as involved as any young person could have been.
Yet in my heart, there was a problem. I was becoming more and more concerned about my salvation. Messages preached on the subject of Hell would terrify me. I began to realize that, although I had said all the right words, salvation was a heart attitude of repentance and belief. I knew that repentance had not been a part of my "experience", and that I was not saved. Yet now I had a new problem: pride! How could I, as active as I was in the church, admit that I had been a fraud? What would people think? I can remember lying in bed at night devising schemes whereby I could get saved and then get rebaptized (I knew that was proper), and still not have anyone find out. Obviously, there was no way for that to be done, so I didn't get saved.
In 1977, I went off to Bible College to prepare for the ministry, still unsaved. I got involved in a traveling choir, and even traveled for two summers representing the college in an ensemble. I began serving as Youth Pastor/pianist at a small church about fifty miles from the college. Yet, the conviction of God in my soul was constant. In 1979 I began my Junior year. I had just returned from another summer of traveling for the school. I gave testimony during the first week of the semester before the student body concerning the great ministry the Lord had given us. But inside, I was miserable. The following week, on September 3rd, 1979, I went to chapel with a heavy heart. Without going into detail, God had allowed circumstances to come into my life that day which had taken away something that was very important to me. That morning, one of the professors preached on How to know if you're saved. I put up my defenses; yet each objection I made he destroyed that day with the Word of God. Finally, the invitation came. It was as if God said to me, "What else do I need to take away from you before you will accept me." That day, I finally put pride aside. I met with the preacher, and finally allowed myself to be broken, and I repented of sin and called upon the Lord to save me. That night I gave testimony before the student body of my salvation. I found that those who I feared would ridicule me rejoiced in my conversion! The next Sunday I presented myself for baptism at the church where I was serving, and was baptized.
I praise God that He never gave up on me. Though I rejected over and over for many years, yet He still drew me. I am thankful that I got saved when I did, for perhaps God would never have spoken to me again, because He surely had given me ample opportunities. My prayer is that you might examine your own heart. Do you think you're going to Heaven because of all the good things you do? That's what I thought. But salvation is only through accepting Christ. I'm so glad that I know today that Christ is my Saviour, and Heaven is my home.