My Testimony (by Dan)

Approximately forty-one years and two weeks ago I got a call from my oldest brother, David. He told me that they had finished raising their support to go to Brazil as missionaries, and they had just received their paperwork so they could leave the USA. David told me that they would be leaving soon, but he said that he wanted me to go and tell them “goodbye.” I was living outside of Athens, GA, and he was in Orangeburg, SC.

I need to say right here that I was not a Christian at the time. Soon after I finished high school I left home because I didn’t want to follow the rules that had been established many years ago by my Christian parents. For the next five years I did what I wanted, went where I wanted, listened to what I wanted, and said what I wanted. I was an “adult,” so I thought that I could live my life as I pleased. The only thing was that I wasn’t pleased with my life. I was not happy about where I lived or where I worked. The people with whom I worked only led me further down the wrong road. Honestly, I was miserable, and I had come to the point where I started thinking that there had to be something better, something more meaningful to life than the life I was living.

It was at that point in my life when David called me. He wanted me to go and visit him. I knew that meant that I would have to go to church with him on Sunday. It had been about five years since I had been to church when I left home. I knew that when I went to visit him that he would ask me if I was going to church. Although our lifestyles were worlds apart, I respected David and what he and Vicki were going to do. I thought to myself that I would go to church the Sunday BEFORE I went to visit them, so that when he asked if I was going to church, I could say that I was going to church, and, in my way of thinking, that wouldn’t be a lie.

The church I visited before I went to see David and Vicki was Emmanuel Baptist Church in Commerce, GA. My Dad had pastored there when I was a young teenager, but at the time there was another pastor that was one of those old-timey preachers. I thought he was preaching only to that visiting twenty-two-year-old man (me), and he knocked it out of the ballpark! I did not get saved that day, but I left the church under deep conviction.

I want to add the following incident for those who may read my testimony. When I walked out of the church that day, I knew that I was not saved. It was as if the Holy Spirit of God was squeezing my heart. I left the church and got in my car. When I put the key in the ignition and turned the switch, my radio was tuned to “96 Rock,” and as the rock music began playing, it was like I could sense the Holy Spirit leaving. It was at that moment that I realized that the Holy Spirit does not feel welcome and will not stick around when a person invites the devil and the devil’s music into one’s life.

Getting back to my story, I went the following weekend to visit David and Vicki to tell them goodbye. It “just so happened” that the preacher got up to preach on “the prodigal son,” and how he left home to waste his money on riotous living. I knew that David MUST HAVE told the preacher that I was going to be there, so this preacher was also preaching only to me. That’s two Sundays in a row! At the end of the service, I did not go forward during the invitation, but I probably left fingernail marks on the bench in front of us.

We went back to David and Vicki’s place for lunch, and after lunch I told David that I wanted to go for a walk. After a short distance, he asked me what I wanted to talk about. I told him that I wanted to get saved. He knew that I had been baptized and had become a church member as a child, so he questioned me about that. I realized that my baptism and church membership did nothing to take away my sin or forgive me, so David showed me some Bible verses to explain how to be saved. It was on that day, June 26, 1983, that I repented of my sin and accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior.

After we got back to their house, while we were talking the subject “came up” (coincidence?) about marriage. David asked me if I wanted to get married one day, so when I said that I did, he asked me what kind of woman I would want to marry. I told him that I would like a woman like Mom, or Vicki, so he told me that I needed to go to Tennessee Temple University (TTU). It was at that moment that I decided to go to TTU to find a wife.

June 26th is also my Mom’s birthday, so we called Mom and sang “Happy Birthday” to her. It was on that phone conversation that I told Mom that I got saved and was moving to Chattanooga to go to TTU. Of course, Mom and Dad were thrilled.

It’s been 41 years. If you are reading this and know me, I did meet a godly young lady and married her. We have seven children, one granddaughter, and a grandson on the way. We have been missionaries in Brazil for over twenty-five years, and we love serving the Lord. God has been so good to me; to us.

On the 41st anniversary of my salvation, I want to thank the Lord Jesus Christ for saving me and making me a child of God.

I also want to say “thank you” to my brother, David, for praying for me, leading me to the Savior, teaching me, mentoring me, counseling me, and being my friend. Thank you for allowing me to work alongside you as one of your assistant pastors in São Paulo. Every soul that has come to know Jesus through our ministry is “fruit to your account.” May God continue to bless you and use you as you invest in the lives of others around the world.

Thanks for investing in me! I love you, big brother!