Testimonies

  Testimonies  
    Andy C - Southlake, TX
  • Complete in Christ


    I fell away from the Catholic Church by the end of college. I guess I never really accepted my religion growing up but I never understood what bothered me about it, I never had a good experience; it all seemed to be about guilt and punishment.

    As I got older, I began to feel restlessness in my life. I sensed something was missing, but I had no idea what. I threw myself into my career and had a lot of success, but I never gained peace of mind. Life had treated me pretty well, but that uneasiness was always just below the surface, ready to bubble up.

    It came down to this: despite family and friends, despite career success and a good level of financial security, I felt I was failing somehow. Also, I always felt that when I died, I would face the end all alone. Like that was payment for a failed life. It nagged at me: something was missing that would make my life complete. And I felt this way for years.

    On a recommendation of someone Lucille met, we tried a church in 2003 and after hearing the pastor, something clicked for me. Not noisy or dramatic more soft but sure. The message was one of hope: I needed to trust Christ for my salvation, to accept Him into my life. I realized I had rebelled against God, but Christ died for my forgiveness, so I can avoid the penalty of eternal death. I am no longer confused about God. I rely on Christ in my life; I believe in my heart that He is the only way to my salvation; through faith by His grace.

    I feel so much more at peace with my life, I appreciate the good God has put into it, especially my wife. I know He provided it all; I didn't do anything to earn the good things I have.

    I have learned to trust Christ in my life, even when I don't understand what is going on. I have learned not to place reliance on myself in my pride. I still grumble from time to time, but I know the end of the story now. I feel a more complete person, more caring of others. I have a deep sense of inner peace that I never had before, that restlessness is gone. Whatever challenges I face in life, I know Christ is with me, so it will be OK in the end.

    He has seen me through my "retirement" and put it on my heart to attend seminary; has me praying on what ministry efforts I should do post-seminary. I so love that move in the direction of my life. I do not know what God has in store for me in the remainder of my life but I am ready to listen. Whatever it is, He will be by my side.
    B. V. M. - PA
  • No Longer Trusting In the Doctrines of Demons


    I had belonged to the Roman Catholic Church all of my life. I knew and believed all that they had taught me.  After high school I entered the Monastery of Poor Clares, where I lived for eighteen months until an act of religious obedience violated my conscience. By the time I was in my thirties, I had been married for a few years and had begun to spend much time reading my New Jerusalem Bible, which had been recommended to us by a Jesuit priest. Each time I read, I prayed that God would show me what I needed to see in its pages.  I was in for a huge surprise: my Catholic Bible did not say what my church had been teaching me.  I saw that some Catholic doctrines were called "doctrines of demons" by the Apostle Paul (1 Tim 4:1-5)!  I will never forget the day I read that statement!  There is no way I could ever fully describe how much I was shocked by what I read. It was as if the earth had dropped out from under me.

    To follow the truth God was showing me by personal instruction from His Book, I had to sever my affiliation with my ancestral church.  It took me nearly a year to finally make the complete separation from the traditions of men which were so contrary to what I found in my Bible.  I will not say that it was easy.  Family members were angry.  But I thought, "You just don't play games with God!"  Since Jesus prayed before his arrest in the garden, "Consecrate them in the truth. Thy word is truth." (Jn 17:17), the choice is what they now term a "no-brainer".  Truth really does stand alone and calls everything different a lie.

    Thankfully, my husband came to understand these things at about the same time, which spared us the tension of conflict under our roof.  Each of us made personal appropriation of the good news of Jesus Christ.  We no longer thought that we could make our good deeds outweigh the bad.  We no longer needed to beg Mary, the mother of Jesus, to be with us when we die.  We learned that we would not be sent to hell for missing church on Sunday or alternatively Saturday night. We found out that we did not need to confess each of our sins to a priest and recite the prayers he ordered to get sin forgiven, at least in part, with the flames purgatory to finish the cleansing process after death. We had discovered that Jesus Christ accomplished full salvation for all who would simply believe his message as delivered by his apostles and found in every New Testament.

    Hallelujah from our hearts! Repentance means to change your mind, and consequently your behavior.  In our case, our religious practices had to go in order to follow Christ, the Lamb of God and our Passover!  He died so that we can live. We both applied the blood of Christ to our own sins for forgiveness, just as the Israelites who applied the blood of the first Passover lambs suffered no death in their homes on that night of escape from Egypt.  Jesus rose in newness of life from the grave as proof of God's acceptance of his full sin payment. Now God's born-from- above life is ours! Please look at Titus 3:4-7 to see what might well be called "the Trinitarian Gospel".

 
    Bart Brewer - San Diego, CA Pilgrimage From Rome, A Testimony Of A Former Priest
  • Romans 10:2-3 For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.

    Millions - perhaps the majority -of Roman Catholics, are Catholic by name, by culture, or by inertia. Our family, however, was Roman Catholic by conviction. We understood and practiced the teachings of our religion. We believed it to be the "one true church" founded by Jesus Christ.

    Because of this, we accepted without question everything our priests taught. In those days before Vatican II, the common belief was that "outside the Roman Catholic Church there is no salvation." This brought us a feeling of security, of being right. We were somehow safe in the arms of "holy mother church."

    From the time my father died (I was almost ten), my mother attended daily Mass, not missing even one day for over twenty-four years. Our family faithfully recited the rosary every evening. We were encouraged to make regular visits to the "blessed sacrament." In addition to the teaching at home, all of our schooling was Roman Catholic. Monsignor Hubert Carwright and the other priests at our home parish, the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, used to say that our family was more Catholic than Rome.

    It was no wonder that as I approached high school age, I felt called to prepare for the Roman Catholic priesthood. Rather than the secular priesthood, which serves parishes, I chose to apply to the Discalced Carmelites, one of the more strict and ancient monastic orders.

    From the first day at Holy Hill, Wisconsin, I loved the religious life, and this love was the motivation I needed to get through all the Latin and other studies, which I found very difficult. The dedication and self-sacrifice of the priests who taught our classes was a continual reminder of the value of making any sacrifice to reach the goal of ordination.The training I received in four years of the high school seminary, two years in the novitiate, three years of philosophy, and four years of theology (the last after ordination) was thorough. I was sincere in praciticing the various mortifications and other disciplines and never once doubted my calling nor anything I was taught. Taking the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience represented my lifetime commitment to God. For me the voice of the church was the voice of God.

    My ordination to the Roman Catholic priesthood was at the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception of Mary in Washington, DC, the seventh largest church in the world today. When "His Excellency, the Most Reverend Bishop" John M. McNamara imposed his hands on my head and repeated the words from Psalm 110:4 ..... "Thou art a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek:", I was overwhelmed with the belief that I was now a mediator between God and the people.

    The anointing and binding of my hands with special cloths signified that they were now consecrated to changing bread and wine into the real (literal) flesh and blood of Jesus Christ, to perpetuate the sacrifice of Calvary through the Mass, and to dispense saving grace through the other Roman Catholic sacraments of baptism, confession, confirmation, marriage, and the last rites. At ordination a Roman Catholic priest is said to receive an "indelible" mark: to experience an unending interchange of his personality with that of Christ, that he may perform his priestly duties as another Christ" (alter Christus) or in the place of Christ. People actually knelt and kissed our newly consecrated hands, so sincere was this belief. After completing the last year of theology, which was principally a final preparation for preaching and hearing confession (which involved giving absolution or forgiveness of sin), I was granted my long expressed desire to be a missionary priest in the Philippines.

    The change from a regimented, monastic life to the simplicity and freedom of the missionary life proved a challenge for which I had not been prepared. I loved traveling to some of the eighty or more primitive barrios assigned to our parish. I also cherished teaching my religion class at the Carmelite high school in our small town. Until then my life had been almost exclusively among men. I enjoyed watching the girls giggle as they flirted with teasing boys After a while though, my attention was drawn to one of the more diligent students who thoroughly captivated my interest. This young lady was mature beyond her years because of the responsibilities that had fallen to her after her mother had died. She was lovely and shyly responded as we stole moments talking alone after class. This was a new adventure, and I soon interpreted our newly discovered affection as love.

    It is not surprising that soon the bishop learned of this, though he was many miles away, and he quickly returned me to the States before any serious relationship could develop. The embarrassment of this discipline was difficult for both of us, but life always moves on. After the adventure and freedom in the Philippines, I had no motivation to return to monastic living, so the Father Provincial granted permission for me to work at a Discalced Carmelite parish in Arizona.

    I enjoyed my responsibilities in that parish, but my next assignment was not so fulfilling. Soon I was granted a dispensation from Rome to leave the Carmelite order to serve as a secular (diocesan) priest. While serving a large parish in San Diego, California, I requested and was granted permission to enter the United States Navy as a Roman Catholic Chaplain. There, new goals, rank and travel served as an escape from what had gradually become a sterile parochial life of ritualism and sacramentalism.

    My religious life broadened quickly as I mixed with non-Catholic chaplains. For the first time, I was living outside my Roman Catholic culture. Amid the ecumenical atmosphere I gradually became neutralized. Then as Vatican II opened the windows of rigid tradition to let in fresh air, I took in a deep and delightfully refreshing breath. Change was in. Some wanted it to be radical, others wanted only a little modernization.

    For many, the Roman Catholic faith was failing to give answers to common modern-day problems. Many felt alienated and misunderstood. This was especially true of priests. With all the change, the priesthood was losing its glamour. No longer was the priest's education considered far superior to that of the parishioner. No longer was the priest cultured above the majority of his people. To experience an identity crisis was more common among priests than any were willing to acknowledge, even among the chaplains. At first I was scandalized to realize that some of the Catholic chaplains were actually dating. I listened with interest as some openly discussed the impractical nature of mandatory celibacy. Soon I also gained the courage to question the authorities of our church who persisted in retaining such traditions, especially when the law of celibacy was the source of so many moral problems among priests. For the first time in my life, I doubted the authority of my religion, not because of intellectual pride, but in conscience, in true sincerity.

    As students for the priesthood, we were well-informed regarding the ancient tradition that binds the Roman Catholic priest to celibacy. We well knew that the few who are granted permission from the Vatican to marry may never again function as priests. But times were changing.

    Questions never before voiced were being raised at the Vatican Council in Rome. Many thought that priests with wives could, as the Protestants did, bring greater sensitivity and understanding to marital and family issues. Discussions about such things were commonplace wherever priests got together, even as they visited the apartment that mother and I shared off base.

    Mother was not shy in joining the discussions. She was a well-informed and intelligent person, and I greatly valued her opinions. I recall how appalled she was that evolution was being taught in Catholic schools, and that Rome had established dialogue with the Communists. She had long been disturbed over the conflicts she had observed between the principles taught in scripture and the lack of principles among many of the religious leaders of our own church.

    Many years before, Monsignor Cartwright had comforted mother with the reminder that, though there were many problems in our church Jesus promised that "The gates of hell would not prevail against it." Mother always expressed a tremendous respect for the Bible. Though she read it faithfully through the years, she was now becoming an avid student of scripture. As I observed a general liberal trend among my colleagues, mother was leaning in another direction. It was a mystery to me. While others discussed desires to see a relaxation and loosening of traditional rules and rituals, Mother expressed her desire to see a more Biblical emphasis in the church - more attention to the spiritual aspects of life, and a greater emphasis upon Jesus, even a personal relationship with Him.

    At first I didn't understand, but gradually I observed a wonderful change in Mother. Her influence helped me realize the importance of the Bible in determining what we believe. We often discussed subjects such as the primacy of Peter, papal infallibility, the priesthood, infant baptism, confession, the Mass, purgatory, the immaculate conception of Mary, and the bodily assumption of Mary into heaven. In time I realized that not only are these beliefs not in the Bible, they are actually contrary to the clear teaching of Scripture. Finally the barrier against having personal convictions was broken. There was no doubt in my mind about the Biblical view on these subjects, but what affect would all this have on my life as a priest?

    I truly believed that God had called me to serve Him. An ethical dilemma was staring me in the face. What was I to do? Yes, there were priests who did not believe all the dogmas of Rome. Yes, there were priests who secretly had wives and families. Yes, I could remain a Catholic Chaplain and continue serving without voicing my disagreements. I could continue receiving the pay and the privileges of military rank. I could continue receiving the allotment and other benefits for my mother. There were many reasons to stay both professional and material, but to do so would have been hypocritical and unethical. From my youth I always tried to do right, and that is what I chose to do now.

    Though my bishop had recently granted approval for me to pursue twenty years in the military, I resigned after only four. Mother and I simply and quietly moved near my brother, Paul, and his wife in the San Francisco Bay area. Shortly before we moved, mother cut her ties with Roman Catholicism by being baptized in a Seventh-Day Adventist church. I knew she had been studying the Bible with one of their workers, but she did not tell me about the baptism until I had already decided to leave the priesthood.

    The decision to leave was anything but easy. Rome's claim that there are no objective reasons for leaving "the one true church" was something to be carefully considered. Traditional Catholics would still consider me to be a "Judas priest," "damned, excommunicated, and to be avoided."

    Yes there were many difliculties involved in leaving the security of the Roman Catholic fold, but I have found that Jesus never fails.

    After shaking the Roman Catholic dust off my shoes, I faced a momentous issue: Where is ultimate authority? Through the process of elimination, I gradually concluded that the Bible is the only authority that cannot be shaken. Many systems, including Roman Catholicism, have attempted without success to undermine its sufficiency, its efficiency, its perfection, even that it was written not merely by the will of men but by holy men of God as they were moved by the Holy Spirit: "For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Ghost " (II Peter 1:21).

    Oh, happy day when all who name the name of Jesus Christ understand that the Bible is the only source of authority that doesn't change! It is the final authority because of its complete identification with its unchanging Author. God has communicated clearly. It is tragic that Romanism and most of traditional Protestantism, as well as many Pentecostals and other groups, reject Biblical sufficiency. They choose rather to trust questionable traditions, visions, apparitions, or prophecies. Not only are these unsubstantiated as being "of God," but many contradict clear Biblical teaching.

    Perhaps the reason that many regard the Bible as insufficient is that they have not thoroughly studied it. My transcripts from thirteen years of formal study in the Discalced Carmelite order shows that I had only twelve semester hours of Bible. This alone is evidence that Scripture is not the basis of Roman Catholic teaching.

    After leaving Roman Catholicism I wanted to study the Bible. I was a "church-oriented" person, not being opposed to joining another denomination. After investigating some of the Protestant churches, I sadly concluded that in their ecumenical folly they were Rome-ward bound at the expense of Biblical truth. Viewing the smorgasbord of churches can be discouraging and even dangerous for the former Catholic in his search for truth. Meeting mother's Adventist friends, however, was a delight. They were enthusiastic about their faith, and their love of the Scriptures echoed my desire to study the Bible. This resulted in a somewhat premature decision to join the Seventh-day Adventist denomination. The pastor who baptized me arranged for the Southern California Conference to send me to seminary at Andrews University for a year. While making plans for a year of study, I met Ruth. I was hoping and praying to find a wife for about a year. From the first time Ruth visited our church, I knew she would be my life's companion. We were married shortly before leaving for the seminary. She was a convert to Adventism and like everyone else had assumed that since I wanted to enter the seminary I was a Christian.

    Realizing that I never mentioned anything about being "born again, "one day my wife asked me, "Bart, when did you become a Christian?" My unbelievable reply was... "I was born a Christian." In the conversations that transpired, she tried to help me understand that man, being born in sin, at some point must recognize the need of a Savior and be born again spiritually by trusting only in Jesus Christ to save him from the consequences of sin. When I responded that I had always believed in God, she observed that according to James 2:19"Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble."

    In time, because of these conversations and because of classes in Romans, Galatians, and Hebrews, I finally understood that I had been relying on my own righteousness and religious efforts and not upon the completed and sufficient sacrifice of Jesus Christ. The Roman Catholic religion had never taught me that our own righteousness is fleshly and not acceptable to God, nor did it teach that we need only to trust in His righteousness. He already did everything that needs to be done on our behalf. Then one day during chapel, the Holy Spirit convicted me of my need to repent and receive the "gift "of God.

    During all those years of monastic life I had relied on the sacraments of Rome to give me grace, to save me, but now by God's grace I was born spiritually: I was saved. Being ignorant of God's righteousness, like the Jew of Paul's day I had gone about establishing my own righteousness, not submitting to the 'righteousness of God' (Romans 10:2-3).

    I do not know who you are or what your relationship with God may be, but may I ask you the most important question in life: Are you a Biblical Christian? Are you trusting only in the completed sacrifice of Christ for the forgiveness of all your sin? If not, why not settle it right now? As in the simple wedding ceremony, promise Him your love, your devotion, your trust. Receiving Jesus as Savior is not something you do as a religious ritual, it is a one time commitment of your life to Him for the forgiveness of all your sin.

    The very moment you do that, Jesus Christ takes up a vital position in your being, and you receive eternal life. After that, you will change. The Bible says, "Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:" Philippians 1:6.

    Near the end of my fourth year as an Adventist I was influenced by several church members to attend some charismatic meetings. They said that the Holy Spirit was breaking down denominational barriers in the last days before the return of Christ. Wanting all that God has for me, I went into a prayer room to receive the "gift of tongues." I was somewhat leery of it all, especially since I didn't experience the feelings that so many described. I did privately practice tongues, but I could not get myself to recruit others into the movement. It was far more important to me to move people to study the Bible, to bring people to trust Christ, and to live by Scriptural principles. My major interest in the charismatic movement was the concern for others that it seemed to inspire. This, along with the spontaneity and zeal, impressed me as exemplifying a Biblical lifestyle which seemed to be missing in many churches.

    Not long after I was ordained as a Seventh Day Adventist minister, the Southern Conference had a special promotion for the writings of Ellen G. White, one of the founders of Adventism and one whom the Adventists believe to be a prophetess. Ruth and I found the series of pastors seminars very helpful and informative until the last one. The lecturer was from the General Conference in Washington, DC, and some of his statements were highly disturbing. The one that became a turning point in my life was that the writings of Ellen G. White are "equally inspired as Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John." Disturbed, I counseled with a highly respected leader, but could in no way reconcile this in my conscience. I had already begun to feel spiritually shackled in Adventism because of its legalism and exclusivism, but this in my opinion, was adding to Scripture.

    When I chose not to begin the series called the "Testimony Countdown" in our church, several members protested. Within a few days I realized, in conscience, that I could no longer continue as an Adventist minister. Had it not been for the encouragement and help of several non-Adventist ministerial friends the transition would a have been much more difficult.

    During the next four years I pastored two churches and grew rapidly in the knowledge of the Bible and realized the difficulty of dealing with people not under an authoritarian system. I also had many opportunities to give my testimony. I was convinced that God had "counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry" but not as a pastor.

    I prayerfully and deliberately decided to return to San Diego, where I once served as a parish priest. Aware that Vatican II had brought many Roman Catholics confusion and disillusionment, I felt led to begin a ministry to help them in the transition from the Catholic denomination. Before long, the Lord opened doors to speak. People wanted to know the name of the ministry. Our answer was that it was like a mission to Catholics.

    As Ruth and I grew spiritually, we were convinced of the ecumenical nature of the charismatic movement and left it. About that same time, we met some Biblical Fundamentalists who believed and faithfully practiced the principles of the Bible. Though we have many friends in independent Bible churches, we were members of a Fundamental Baptist church, in which I was also ordained.

    Mission To Catholics International was incorporated and granted non-profit status. Since that time it has distributed millions of tracts, books, and tapes exposing the contradictions between Roman Catholicism and the Bible and presenting Biblical salvation. A monthly newsletter is available to any contributors requesting it. The Lord had allowed us a bit of radio and television exposure and we are pleased that my autobiography, Pilgrimage From Rome, has been published and is receiving an excellent acceptance in both English and Spanish. We have held meetings and taken literature into many foreign countries, and mail orders are sent out five days a week from our home office in San Diego.

    Meetings keep us busy often for as much as thirteen weeks traveling throughout both the U.S.A. and other countries. A School of Roman Catholic Evangelism provides a week or more of intense training for pastors and key workers who desire to establish specialized ministries for effectively reaching the Roman Catholic community through their churches. Missionaries and ex-Catholics are also encouraged to attend (especially converted-priests and ex-nuns, so that they may be prepared to minister within Biblical Fundamentalism.)

    At Mission To Catholics we are convinced that it is not love to withhold the truth from those in darkness. Roman Catholics need to be challenged to think about what they believe and to study the Bible, comparing their religion with the truth of Scripture. Only then can they experience the freedom and light of God's truth. "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." (John 8:32).
    Dennis Reid - Schriever, LA Researching Catholic Teachings and Scripture Brought New Life

  • After being raised from infancy as a Catholic, I did not question salvation or anything else the Church taught. I knew in my heart that I loved Jesus. From about the time I was about 12 years old, I kept thinking that something was wrong with the whole Mary thing and why they weren't they talking about Jesus more. I had read and heard through many television preachers that salvation was by grace through faith in Jesus, a gift from God and not of works, but they never spoke about Mary except for the Christmas story of Jesus' birth. I went to high school at Vandebilt Catholic in Houma where we had a religion class each day.

    When my mother and sister quit going to the Catholic Church. I didn't ask why and they didn't offer any explanation, I just thought then that they didn't have a strong enough faith and they kept going from church to church trying to find answers. Then I met my wife and a year later we were married at the Catholic church. Our daughters were infant baptized and were alter servers. I got involved in the church more and more serving in different capacities. During this time, my neighbor Chris DeGeorge would visit me in my shop where usually I was doing many woodworking projects for this church. He would bring up different things about Christian living and we had many great, spirit filled conversations. I always enjoyed and looked forward to speaking with him. Chris invited me to attend different functions at Coteau and University Baptist. I would go with him and saw real fellowship for the first time.

    I continued to attend the Catholic Church faithfully but there was something missing in my life and I started listening to Christian radio and reading the Bible. I listened and asked God for discernment to weed out the untruths. Then one day, a preacher was talking about false doctrines and gave examples of the Mary thing in the book "The Catechism of the Catholic Church". I started feeling defensive toward many of the things he was saying. He quoted page numbers and canon numbers saying that according to the Catholic faith, Mary is the mediator, Mother of God. Then he said the RCC is anti-Christ and gave examples. I remember feeling hostile and thinking I'd read what he was talking about, research it and send him a fiery rebuttal by letter or email. To my surprise, and let down, I found backup for what he was saying in the Bible and in historical documents. I then started my own research comparing these "canons" to the Bible. Most of these I found were very strange ideas of Bishops and Popes, and not at all Biblical. The RCC says we need the church for salvation but we are never assured of our salvation. I emailed a former priest of my old church who I respected, admired and loved like a brother and questioned him about these things I had found. This was 3 years ago and I'm still waiting on a response from him. We attended a function together where he avoided and hid from me the entire time.

    I really felt lost, used, lied to and led astray by the one thing I thought I could count on, my church. I now made up my mind to pray for guidance and attend different churches to find the right one. Little did I know at that time that this was all a blessing from God, He was drawing me to Him and when we are at our weakest, He is at His strongest. After one unsuccessful visit to a Lutheran church, I decided to research doctrinal statements on the internet to speed up this process since I no longer trusted religions. Through all of this, I found that my faith was really never in any church but in Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior. I started attending UBC regularly with my wife, Sunday school and a Bible study group. By reading and hearing the Word of God, my prayers for guidance were answered. I learned that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. That by the finished work of Jesus on the cross at Calvary, I have remission for sins and boldness to enter into the holy of holies through the shed blood of Jesus. One Sunday during the invitation, I walked to the front and told the pastor that I reject the doctrines of the Catholic Church and trust Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. I now pray throughout the day and read my Bible daily to find out for myself, God's Word.

    Celeste H. - Barclay, TX From Performance Driven to Forever Grateful
  • I was raised in a large Roman Catholic family and was baptized as an infant, received my first communion, and was eventually confirmed in the church. My RCC training consisted of attending catechism classes which were taught by nuns. I remember memorizing answers to the catechism questions and fearing the wrath of the nuns if I failed to answer a question correctly. I learned to fear hell (which was the punishment for missing church on Sunday or "Holy Days of Obligation" unless you were deathly sick), and remember having frequent nightmares as a very young girl about burning to death in a dark, bottomless pit.

    My world of acceptance revolved solely around performance, whether it was in my family or in church, and it became obvious to me very early that I was incapable of living up to the expectations of my parents or the church. God was the angry, short-tempered, emotionally abusive "Father" who was waiting to smack me whenever I blew it because my earthly father was the only model I had for comparison. My mother disciplined in the only way she knew how—in anger and disappointment with children who simply would not act like mature adults. I'm sure there was an element of unresolved anger because she had "lovingly accepted children from God" to the tune of 8 babies by the time she was 27 years old.

    I was married in the RCC at the age of 19 to the "good Catholic boy" of my parents' dreams and had our son seven months later; our daughter was born six years later. The wheels came off our God-less marriage within the first year, and it finally culminated in divorce 11 long years later. The divorce was like a death in my family. They were certain that everything was my fault because they had always loved the reserved, innocent boy who became my husband. So I essentially lost my entire family in the process. I spent the next four years trying to fill the vacuum in my heart with a very promiscuous lifestyle that included weekend trips and vacations, alcohol, smoking, clothes, jewelry, and school and extracurricular activities for my daughter. I honestly did not look forward to every other weekend visitations with my son because that meant staying home rather than doing my own thing.

    In late April 1987, I was abruptly dumped without explanation by the man that I thought was God's latest gift to me. His rejection devastated me and set me reeling. At the same time I was working in an office with an older woman who was bent on destroying me and my career. I became suicidal. A co-worker had sweetly continued to spend breaks with me (in spite of the profanity and dirty jokes), and she had been witnessing to me about the love of Jesus for about a year. It was during this valley time that she finally got my attention. I remember going back to her and asking if I would have to give up all my friends if I received Jesus, and she promised that I would not. I asked her if I would have to give up other things that mattered to me, and she assured me that I would not. Finally, on Friday, May 8, 1987, I repented and trusted Jesus as Lord and Savior. I remember feeling as though the weight of the world had been lifted from my shoulders.

    My friend invited me to attend her Bible church where I opened the Bible for the first time in my life. She helped me select my first Bible, and purchased it as a gift to a brand-new believer. I couldn't believe that God had written this love letter to me and that I had never read it! I couldn't believe that the Creator of the universe wanted a personal relationship with me! I was a sponge for the Word of God. I got involved in small group studies and began to grow. The Lord gave me an insatiable appetite for truth.

    I wish that I could say that I was immediately convicted about all the sin in my life. The important thing was that the faith journey had begun, and I was taking baby steps. One of the first things that I was convicted about was my language, and eventually I was convicted enough about sexual sin to turn away from it. In my zeal to share my newfound faith with others, I managed to further alienate my family. As I have matured, I have learned to not run ahead of the Lord but to go through doors whenever He opens them for witnessing. Most of my siblings and many of my nieces and nephews have heard the Gospel as a result of opened doors, and the Lord has given me compassion for my family in spite of their persecution.

    Four years after my conversion to Christ, my son died in an accident only seven weeks prior to his high school graduation. His death rocked my world, and I was paralyzed by the unspeakable pain and suffering from such a tragic loss. The anguish was magnified by my family who was spiritually unprepared to comfort me, and who even said that my son's death was a punishment for leaving the Roman Catholic Church. As if it wasn't tortured enough to live with myself for having made the last seven years of his life miserably painful through the divorce I had instigated and carried out.

    In His love and mercy, the Lord had placed me in a loving church family that ministered to me and loved me through the darkest night of my life. He gave me a radical heart make-over in the process, and turned my heart toward compassion for those who are suffering. He gave me a ministry of friendship and encouragement to bereaved mothers and grandmothers who are walking the same path. He gave me a burden for folks who grieve. He gave me a burden for people who are in the end stages of life when He made me a hospice volunteer. And along the way there have been countless opportunities to share the Gospel with folks who are suffering and desperate for relief, comfort, and life. The original "re-cycler"—the One who wastes nothing--has turned all the pain and suffering into something that will glorify Him.

    He gave me a whole new set of perspectives. He taught me about ownership—my children and grandchildren are not mine, nor is my husband, my family, my resources, my time...nor any of my possessions. They are all His. He taught me that the most important thing that I can do for my children and grandchildren is lead them to Christ. He taught me to pay attention to the leading of the Holy Spirit: to seek forgiveness now, apologize now, reconcile now, speak or write blessing into the lives of people now.

    Above all, He grew and matured my faith in ways that could not have come about without affliction. He drew me into a deep intimacy with my Heavenly Father—a relationship that is transparent and real and abiding. He showed me that there are no gray areas about the sanctity of life. He taught me that earth is not my home, and gave me a longing for Heaven...and I already have some treasures there. He showed me that all His promises are true: He will comfort, He will heal, He loves me unconditionally, and His grace IS sufficient.

    As a result of the years of emotional trauma, my daughter nearly died of an eating disorder when she was a senior in college. My sweet little girl, who had become a born-again believer by the time she was 9 years old following my own conversion, had been tormented by the losses in her life and had internalized and personalized them. She now lives a victorious life with a wonderful husband and three little boys—the grandchildren I never dreamed I would have—all from the hand of a gracious Father who withholds what we deserve and gives us what we don't deserve.

    And I have had a believing husband for nearly 20 years—a second chance to honor God through a most sacred relationship.

    My son never graduated from high school, even though he was the Valedictorian of his senior class and a National Merit Commended Student. He never went to college or had a career. He never married, never gave us grandchildren—and the family name was buried with him. He wasn't there for his sister's ballgames, graduations, her wedding, the births of her three sons. Our first grandson will never know the uncle for whom he was named, and our grandsons will never have an uncle in their mother's family. From an earthly perspective, it all sounds like an unfinished book.

    But from God's perspective, our son's life was complete, done, finished when he met the Lord face-to-face in April 1991. And that is a constant reminder to me that we are to live with an eternal, Kingdom mindset because earth is not our home.

    I still find it incredulous that no one ever shared the Gospel of grace with me until I was 34 years old. And that a sweet co-worker had the courage to risk a friendship by telling me about God's great remedy for my sin. I hope I never get over the wonder of His indescribable gift. And that I never lack the courage to share the best news I ever heard.

    My life verses are 1 Timothy 1:12-17 because I identify with Paul's sinfulness and depravity. "I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service, even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief; and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus. It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all. Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

    "Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make your paths straight." -Proverbs 3:5-6
    Dr. David H. Stone - Rockford, IL From Catholic to Atheist to Born Again
  • I wasn't "born into" a Biblical worldview. I was raised in a very traditional Roman Catholic family, detoured into atheism as a teenager, was challenged by reasonable arguments to consider the truth of the Gospel, became a Christian, and finally settled on a solid Biblical foundation. Over the years I have come to recognize and validate that the word of God is fully trustworthy, consistent, and perfect, both theologically and scientifically.

    As I grew up in a large Roman Catholic Church on the south side of Chicago I was fully engaged in religious activities, but had never carefully examined the foundations of my beliefs. In short, I was an eager churchgoer and would have professed to be a loyal Catholic youth. Through grade school I was educated by nuns in our church's private school and I served regularly as an altar boy. I can still remember one of the long Latin prayers I used to recite.

    I certainly wasn't a born again Christian, however. I trusted that some combination of canned prayers, active service within "The Church," and avoidance of "big" sins would earn me a ticket to heaven. I didn't realize that ALL sins are "big" (mortal) enough to earn hell: "For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all." (James 2:10)

    There were two powerful forces working against my belief system. Even though all in my extended family were religious churchgoers, my dad was a skeptic. He took delight in pointing out inconsistencies in church doctrine and in the bloody history of what has often purported to be Christianity — most notably the Inquisition. What I didn't realize was that true Christians were always on the receiving end of persecutions. If you have studied the subject at all, you are aware of competing versions of history. The RCC claims to be the founder and keeper of the Christian faith, claiming a line of papal succession back to the apostle Peter. These claims are easily found to be specious, but you'll have to decide which historians are telling you the truth. (It's not hard to figure out.) For a short review of who the Christians were and how they fared since New Testament times, you should access The Trail of Blood, by J.M. Carroll, which can be found online. I also recommend David Cloud's book, History of the Churches, (wayoflife.org). Validating history will also help you discern among the confusing variety of present-day branches of Christendom, so you can avoid teaming up with the wrong (unbiblical) crowd.

    The second force was the culture of evolutionism in which I was immersed. I spent considerable time in the museums in Chicago, which have always been completely saturated with evolution as the naturalistic explanation for life. Additionally, everything I was exposed to in literature and the media that touched the subject of origins was evolutionary. I didn't know then that I'd been sold a "story," but that all the scientific evidence pointed overwhelmingly to Biblical creation, as recorded in Genesis. In the 1960s there were a very few books on creation out there, but I certainly hadn't noticed any. The Roman Catholic Church is perfectly happy to endorse evolution, the theistic variety, and so I found no encouragement there to question what the culture was preaching about origins. Why does the RCC endorse evolution? They are content to undermine the word of God, including the book of Genesis, because they embrace a philosophy of replacing Biblical truth with their own traditions and papal pronouncements.

    As a precocious 13-year-old, and at the insistence of my mother, I brought a flock of questions to the smartest priest my family could find. We spent an hour together one Saturday afternoon discussing the origin and meaning of life and the universe. I had even prepared a "white paper," four single-spaced typed pages that laid out my version of a mechanistic universe, void of free will. After all, if physics and chemistry explain everything, then wither free will? He couldn't give me an answer for any of my concerns. That unsatisfying meeting confirmed my decision to be an atheist. Who needed God? "The Church" didn't make sense, especially in lieu of its bloody history, and everything in the universe could be explained by atheistic evolution — it seemed.

    I was a miserable atheist for the next three years. No one in my life was even aware of my agony. I was a "straight-A" student and enjoyed playing varsity sports. I had it made in the shade. Inside, the story was very different. What point is there to life if we are just animals and death means the end of it all? At the depths of my depression, God had mercy on me and sent me a friend who was a Christian. He and his family embraced me and answered my arrogant questions with kindness. They gave me some books to read that convinced me that I didn't "know it all." Importantly, I saw the love of Jesus in their lives and a purpose lacking in mine. That gave them high marks for credibility in my eyes, so that I was encouraged to grapple with the issues. Their consistent Christian behavior and testimony were not capable of converting me, of course. My mind had to change. But this family's care opened the door for me to look critically at the evidence. Which worldview made more sense of life and the universe?

    It took me about four months to realize that the Bible is absolutely true – scientifically, logically, historically, prophetically, and above all . . . personally. Namely, God's word convicted me of my sinful life and my need for the Savior. In a flash I realized that if the Bible is true, I'd be crazy to defy God. It's not enough to "know" the truth. I had to repent from the specific sins of my daily life and the arrogant attitudes of my mind and heart, trusting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. As Paul describes in 2 Corinthians 5:17, old things passed away and I became a new creature. I was born again and haven't been the same since.

    I certainly did not return to the RC Church. They had never told me how to be saved . . . God's only way, through Jesus Christ by grace through faith . . . and they continue to deceive multitudes by teaching a sacramental, works-based religion. My heart breaks for the deception that has gripped the hearts and minds of precious Catholic people. I work hard to try to reach them with the Gospel whenever anyone will give me an opportunity.

    I didn't entirely understand how to reconcile evolution with my new faith . . . the scientific culture that I so admired was completely saturated with naturalism . . . but I had great determination to do so. I knew that the evolutionary paradigm and the historical record of Genesis chapters 1 to 11 are implacable enemies. So I began to study the subject over the next few years. Finally I concluded that true science is perfectly consistent with the Bible. I could accept the truth of Genesis — most notably a six-day creation and a literal worldwide flood — without compromise. I figured out that hybrid positions like theistic evolution were offenses both to God and to scientific reason. Theistic evolutionists attempt to peacefully coexist with atheists. But there is no communion between light and darkness (2 Corinthians 6:14). God reveals Himself in the Bible as the source of life and goodness. Man brought sin into the world (Genesis 3, Romans 5:12, 1 Corinthians 15:21). That's why we need the Savior (1 Corinthians 15:21-22, Romans 6:23). When God pronounced his creation "good" (Gen 1:31), He meant it!

    As I studied the literature on origins I was impressed that there were fatal weaknesses in the arguments for evolution. These discoveries excited me because my spirit (and the Holy Spirit inside me) seemed to cry out for a simple trust in the word of God. I became convinced that evolution as an explanation for life and the universe itself is impossible.

    As an ex-religious-Catholic, an ex-atheist, and for the last forty-three years a Bible-believing Christian – on the battlefield of ideas and contending against the world's varied philosophies – I am happy to face-off my Biblical worldview against all-comers. There is only one system that works consistently to explain observational science, history, politics, the multiplicity of religions, and the nature of man . . . and that is the revelation of the Creator, Jesus Christ, through His word. All other man-made systems are rife with mysteries and contradictions.

    The Lord has blessed me in this life with a wonderful wife, our three (now adult) Christian children, and a career that includes 20 years of service as an officer in the U.S. Air Force (Lt Colonel, retired). God also gave me the ability to earn a Ph.D. in laser physics, which I have been able to use in a second career by leading a large research team at a major aerospace contractor, and then teaching for nine years as an engineering professor at a state university. The more I learn, the more I am impressed and awestruck at the brilliance of God's perfect word and the glory of His creation.

    God has also increasingly burdened me with the need to share the Gospel with the lost and to stir up Christians to do likewise. Six years ago we were blessed to "give up the paycheck" and go full-time in street evangelism in northern Illinois, especially Chicago and Rockford. We have been able to average handing out about 1,000 tracts per week and we share the Gospel verbally with everyone who will listen. I encourage you to contact us through our website, truthreallymatters.com, which includes a number of articles on how you can very practically share the Gospel in a careful, Scriptural manner.

    I praise God that my faith continues to grow stronger as He teaches me more and more. The glorious truth of the Bible seems more vibrant every year. The glories of God's creation speak volumes toward the truth of God's design and handiwork. The bottom line is: "The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth His handiwork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night showeth knowledge." (Psalm 19:1-2). If you do not know the Creator, the Lord Jesus Christ, as Savior, God, and Friend, I implore you to repent from your sins, call upon Him for salvation, and live for Him every day that He gives you on this earth.

    Contact: drdave@truthreallymatters.com
    Kurt Baney - Beaverton, OR I don't know when I was saved. I only know that I am
  • I didn't come to this conclusion on a whim. I lived the first 37 years of my life as a Roman Catholic. I consistently attended mass and received the sacraments. During my Catholic upbringing, the Bible was always conspicuously displayed at home, along with the crucifix, St Christopher medals, and other religious artifacts. But the Bible never had significance for me.

    The Word of God was never preached during Catholic services. It was read and identified as "Paul's epistle to the Romans" or the "gospel according to St. Luke". The priest would never explain the meaning of what he read. For 37 years, I only knew the Bible to be something read at a religious ceremony.

    When my wife of twelve years divorced me, I found myself without a church. Divorce was not condoned by the Catholic Church, so I was "excommunicated" – discarded by the church whose teachings I had faithfully followed. .

    I began dating a woman whose next door neighbor was the pastor of a Bible-based church. When I attended this church, I heard the Word of God preached for the first time. I learned about a loving, merciful God. I learned that God the Father sent His only begotten Son to die on the cross for my sins (John 3:16, 1 John 4:9-10).

    Suddenly the "epistles" and "gospels" I had heard read many years earlier started making sense. The books of the Bible came alive for me. The book of Ephesians for example, was a letter written by the Apostle Paul to the church in the city of Ephesus (which is in modern day Turkey). Paul wrote the letter while in prison in Rome. In the book of Ephesians, chapter 2, verses 8 and 9, Paul declares a fundamental truth of Scripture:

    "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast."

    For the first time, I realized that the Catholic Church had buried Biblical truth under man-made traditions, such as abstaining from meat and using "holy water". I learned that religious rituals do not save souls. I discovered that no one is saved because they attend a church or because they have been baptized.

    Grace is a gift of God. My faith is a gift of God. Salvation requires my faith and trust in Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. Without faith, salvation is impossible. Contrary to what I had been taught, there is absolutely nothing I can do to earn my salvation. Being a "good person" will not do it. A lifetime of good works will not do it.

    That is because my good works are tainted. Let me explain. If I am kind to my neighbor, in all likelihood I am doing it to hear someone say "You are a really good person!" My good works are tainted with self pride. If I tell someone they have a very nice house, chances are that I am coveting, rather than admiring it. Coveting my neighbor's house breaks the tenth Commandment. If I break the tenth Commandment, I dishonor my parents and break the fifth Commandment. Since God demands perfection, if I break any Commandment, I break them all! (James 2:10)

    All men need forgiveness, because all men are sinners. I was born a sinner, and will be a sinner all my life. The Ten Commandments reveal to me the righteous standard of God. They enlighten me as to the serious nature of sin.

    Sinners think they are "good" because they have no true understanding of God's Law, and "good" becomes subjective. Scripture tells us that we are already condemned (John 3:18). The Commandments show us our true state. In the book of Romans, the Bible tells us "There is none righteous, no not one." (Romans 3:10) And Romans 3:23 says "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."

    The Ten Commandments convinced me that I am a sinner and that I need a Savior. Through a saving faith in Jesus Christ, my sins are forgiven, and I can look forward to eternal life.

    I did not know a loving, merciful God until I began reading the Bible.

    Even after years of reading the Bible, I still had doubts about my salvation. I looked for assurances, and while I found many encouraging verses, doubt continued to lurk in the recesses of my mind. These doubts continued until I read a book by J. C. Ryle. John Charles Ryle (1816 -1900) was the first Bishop of Liverpool for the Church of England. In his book he said it requires the co-operation of all Three Persons of the Blessed Trinity to make a man a real Christian. It requires the election of God the Father, the blood and intercession of God the Son, and the sanctification of God the Holy Spirit. I knew God the Father and God the Son, but I knew very little about God the Holy Spirit.

    All I knew from my Catholic catechism was that the third person of the Trinity was the "Holy Ghost", and that three persons in one God was a mystery. I was taught that to believe in the Trinity took an act of faith.

    J. C. Ryle explained that the work of the Holy Spirit is just as essential as the work of the Father and the Son to make a man a real Christian. He explained that the Holy Spirit opens our eyes to the truth – that we are sinners before a Holy God, deserving eternal punishment.

    I cannot tell you the day, the month, or even the year the Holy Spirit began His work in me. But I did notice one day that I had changed. I noticed certain effects of His presence in my soul. I had a greater understanding of Scripture. (The Bible has no meaning without the work of the Holy Spirit.) All Scripture was written under His inspiration. The Holy Spirit alone opened my eyes to the real extent of my guilt and corruption before God.

    By nature we all think we can work out our salvation by being a good person. In our blindness we rationalize that we can make our peace with God before we die. The Holy Spirit delivers us from this miserable blindness. He revealed to me that nothing but the blood of Jesus can atone for my sins.

    The effects of the Holy Spirit's presence in my soul are evidence that I am traveling in the way that leads to everlasting life. The "Fruits of the Spirit" are becoming more evident in my life. The Fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. (Galations 5:22-23) The Bible tells us that a tree may be known by its fruit (Matthew 7:17). A true Christian may be known by his habits, tastes, and affections.

    In one of the Apostle John's epistles to the early church, he said "These things I have written to you who believe in the Name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life" (1 John 5:13). I know that I have eternal life because I believe that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, died on the cross for my sins, and rose again from the dead three days later.

    This is evidence of my eternal salvation. I don't know when I was saved. I only know that I am.
    Jason Hauser - Dallas, TX God Used an Atheist to Reach Me
  • A Proud Catholic

    Growing up in a Catholic family I always had a strong reverence for God and appreciation for my Catholic faith. It was more than just a faith I adhered to but the history, identity, and blood of my family. My confirmation, first communion, and first trip to the Vatican were each very memorable and important events for me as a young Catholic. I never rebelled against my Catholic upbringing and always felt assured I was in a good place because I knew a long list of Catholics who who didn't know, believe or practice half of what I did.

    Reflecting back on my childhood, I providentially had a few friends who belonged to grounded Christian families but in my Catholic pride I actually looked down on them spiritually. I believed them to be well meaning but misguided because they adhered to just a "splinter" of the one true Catholic Church. In hindsight, I thank the Lord for these friends who were grounded in Christ and welcomed me into their lives with their biblical values. Looking back, all the trouble I got myself into was when I was with other groups of friends (Prov 12:26).

    When I moved away for college, I was well aware that the direction of my Catholic faith was now completely in my hands. I religiously went to Mass throughout college, often alone because few Catholic friends of mine had the same interest. In the mix, along with my Catholic faith during college, was my personal belief that college was a season of having fun and enjoying the experience. My priority for "having fun" quickly gave way to a party lifestyle and it led to one bad decision after another. Despite all the sin in my life, I never felt guilty because I always compared myself to others who were worse. I also rationalized that, even though I didn't do a lot of things right, my intentions were good.

    A Hypocrite Exposed

    One Sunday morning, during my senior year, I was leaving for Mass and my atheist roommate asked me where I was going. I told him that I was going to church and then he asked me "why." I reminded him of the obvious that I was a Christian and sarcastically stated, "that is what Christians do." He then said, "You're not a Christian" in a confused way as if he didn't understand how I could say I was. I knew he wasn't being mean or attacking me but simply being brutally honest with what didn't add up in his mind. He didn't need to explain himself as it was common knowledge throughout our apartment how often and crazy I partied, how often I spoke with obscenities, and how immoral my lifestyle had become. With a hangover that morning even, I rushed off to Mass and continued to ponder that conversation throughout the week. I recognized that he had called me out and with good reason. Though I affirmed the Catholic teaching I had been taught and considered myself a strong Christian, what truly governed my day to day decisions was my own value system.

    A week later, still without resolution with this personal dilemma, I found myself having trouble sleeping at night. Up to that point my prayers were frequent but casual and often repetitive and memorized. I needed to talk with God and I had both a lot to say and ask. I had been greatly humbled and couldn't lie to myself any longer, I didn't know God and I felt like a phony hypocritical Christian. How could I go to Mass, wear a cross around my neck, and call myself a Christian when I knew nothing I did was grounded in biblical teaching. Broken and humbled, I pleaded with God to reveal Himself to me. I was at a new low and out of desperation confessed to God that I didn't know if He existed or not. I knew I was sitting on the fence, claiming to be a Christian when I lived like a pagan. I prayed to God that He would reveal Himself to me so that I could confidently follow Him with all my heart which is what He deserved if He did exist. If I came to conclude that He wasn't real, I was prepared to stop "wasting my time" trying to be spiritual. Little did I know that over the next year the Lord would begin to answer my prayer to know Him.

    Through a series of events God providentially brought strong grounded Christians who truly lived out their faith across my path. One of those influential people was a Christian girl, who I became very attracted to because of her faith which she truly lived out. Trying to keep up with her, I bought my first study Bible, began journalling about my prayers and what I believed the Lord was doing in my life, and I started asking her lots of questions about important matters of faith that I never fully understood. Humbled by how grounded she was in her faith, I agreed to attend my first non Catholic church service. I was skeptical of anything non Catholic but at the same time curious because she had something I didn't. My initial impression of the church was that without stained glass windows or candles it didn't seem very spiritual of a place. I thought the pastor's suit made him look more like a business man than a man of God and I thought the words on the screen for the hymns we sung felt like Karaoke. Despite my criticisms, I couldn't deny that I learned a lot in the Bible study before the service. I was amazed with the fellowship of people who came early and left late. There was a true community unlike the Catholics I knew all too well that slipped in late and slipped out right after communion. When people sang it was with a passion that was foreign to me than any mass I had ever attended. The pastor's message was four times the length of the average homily I was used to, and I was greatly convicted to apply the biblical truth discussed to my life. Though I tried hard to look down on this Christian church, I couldn't deny that it had more heart than anything I had ever been exposed to. Upon graduating college, though I parted ways with that Christian girl who was such a blessing in my life, I would continue visiting different protestant churches and providentially meeting strong Christian believers in the most random of places.

    My Salvation

    All this time I had been growing in my faith and thought if ever I was a Christian it was now. After all, I was reading my Bible regularly, excited about church, and encouraged by everything I was learning. After moving, I needed to find a good church that was true to the Word of God. I had mixed feelings about Catholicism and wasn't growing in that environment and at the same time I was weary of mainline Protestant churches that had their own biases. I simply wanted to study the Word of God and live it out based on what it says. I found a small independent Bible centered church that expressed just those values. I then discovered that there was a Sunday morning Bible study before the service for new believers. Considering myself relatively new with a new boost in my faith over the past year I signed right up. The class worked through Jerry Bridges' book "Growing your Faith" week by week, chapter by chapter. It wasn't but a few weeks into the class that I stumbled uponEphesians 2:8-9 for the first time.

    "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast."

    I couldn't believe what I was reading, it was as if the words just leaped off the page. As a Catholic I always knew Jesus Christ died for my sins and rose from the grave but I never knew what to do with that truth. I found myself simply trying to stay close to the "true Church", keep the sacraments, and be a good person. In my Catholicism with my own best efforts, my sin ran rampant which was evidenced based on how I spent my years in college (Rom 7:10). It wasn't just the wild partying though, I had all kinds of other sin throughout my life that I casually found myself partaking in and so easily overlooked up till now (Rom 3:23). Now I saw that Christ died for me and my sin, and this was a gift, given by God's grace. There was nothing I could do to earn this gift (it goes against the nature of a gift to try to merit it, Rom 11:6), I simply had to receive it. In receiving this gift, God gets all the glory, not me, I simply am the beneficiary. Right there I found myself driven to prayer repenting of my former lifestyle, sinful ways, trusting in my own good works to save me, and acknowledging that I was turning my life towards Christ and receiving what He had accomplished completely for me through His death and resurrection. For the first time in my life, the words to the hymn "Amazing Grace" which I learned as a child came to mind and now made sense. All of this felt analogous to me believing I had perfect vision and then one day someone handing me a pair of eyeglasses which I felt I had no need for. It was as if when I put them on for the first time I saw the details of the world around me and realized that all my life I had been blind. I thought I knew what a Christian was, I thought I understood salvation, I thought I was doing things right, but I couldn't have been more lost.

    A New Creation

    The next day, there was something new in me that I didn't fully recognize at first. As I found myself presented again with old sinful habits and partaking in sin that never once crossed my mind before, for the first time ever I was convicted and burdened by such sin. I realized that I was willfully heaping more sin on my Savior who died on the cross for my sin. I no longer saw sin as something to blindly indulge in and enjoy but rather as something I desired to steer as clear away from as possible.

    Up to this point, I had never settled where my Catholic upbringing and faith fit in with all of this I had experienced so I began studying the issues. I soon found that in the Council of Trent and other various Catholic teachings that Rome spoke very clearly against everything key to my new salvation by faith through grace. In fact I saw that Rome taught I was an anathema if I didn't renounce giving my life to Christ and trusting solely in His perfect work on the cross. Catholicism was still part of my identity, so walking away from it was not something I could easily do. I found myself arguing for both sides and wondering if there was some possible way that I was misunderstanding what Rome was teaching and how it so blatantly was opposed to what God's Word says.

    I signed up at a large local Catholic church's evening classes on the Catholic faith. I recognized that I needed to hear Catholic teaching right from the source if I was going to make a fair analysis. I went there with my Bible and a notepad week after week listening to every detail and looking for traces of the gospel of salvation in the teaching. Over the months that followed, we learned about church history, the Catholic sacraments, and Vatican II. As the last few classes neared the end of the series it became apparent to me that I was not going to hear the gospel message. I also noticed a theme that as much as the church was talked about, seldom if ever was Jesus Christ ever spoken of. Sadly none of the disciplined people attending these classes would hear the gospel message and how they could find salvation in Christ. Rather, we were all taught how one must simply adhere to Roman Catholicism and receive the sacraments and through that we were right on track. I became upset that the priests were instructing these people of all the things they needed to do and yet the gospel of salvation was never addressed. People were given false confidence and putting their trust in the church and its leaders rather than their Lord and Savior. I now had clarity that not only did their traditions nullify the Word of God and oppose the gospel, but that they didn't even know the gospel. I had no choice but to part ways with Roman Catholicism and renounce its false teachings and put my trust in Christ alone according to the teachings of God's Word alone.

    Good Fruit

    From the time of my salvation and growth in the grace and knowledge of Jesus, the person I am today is night and day different from the person I used to be. As I went on to share the testimony of God's grace in my life and His Gospel with others, especially Catholic family and friends, I soon found it was not welcomed and often met with hostility. My biggest surprise was the large amount of Protestants who though they didn't adhere to false Catholic teaching were just as far from Christ and salvation. I soon learned that Jesus spoke with great clarity and offered the best explanation regarding those who have found eternal life. In His sermon on the mount He says:

    "Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few." -Matt 7:13-14

    "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?' And then will I declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.'" -Matt 7:21-23

    I have a great burden for Catholics who are still in bondage to Roman Catholicism. In our current Christian culture the truths of the Reformation have been marginalized and many Christians have little discernment regarding the gospel. There is great need for clarification of what the gospel is and how groups like Roman Catholicism are leading others astray by their false teachings.

     
    John Fallahee - Testimony of God's Grace
  • It was approximately September of 1995, after reading the Bible which states clearly that everyone, including myself, are sinners (Romans 3:23), condemned (John 3:18) and in need of a Savior for forgiveness of sins (Hebrews 4:14-16, Colossians 2:13-14) that God granted me repentance and I repented (2 Timothy 2:25), God granted me faith and I believed (Ephesians 2:8).
     
    However, about 6-7 years prior to my regeneration, my being born-again (John 3:5-7), the Gospel was presented to me in such a clear fashion that my sinful and rebellious sick heart (Jeremiah 17:9, Romans 3:10ff) concluded the following. I did not want to submit to God, I did not want to submit to His Word, and I did not want to turn from my sin. Prior to my conversion, I was in bondage to the Roman Catholic religious system, a drunkard and committed other sins against the Lord, His people, and His Word. It was only a matter of time before death would come for me (Job 14:5) and usher me into eternal separation from God (1 Corinthians 6:9-11) in Hell because of my sins (Romans 6:23).
     
    But God was longsuffering and patient (2 Peter 3:9) and He extended His effectual grace to me (Romans 8:29-30). God the Father took the righteousness of Christ His Son and put it to my account (2 Corinthians 5:21), secured my salvation (Romans 8:38-39), and reconciled me to Him (Colossians 1:21-22) and gave me His Spirit (2 Corinthians 1:21-22). Jesus alone paid for my sins on the Cross with His death. Jesus’ resurrection three days later (1 Corinthians 15:3-4) was proof of His perfect and acceptable sacrifice to God the Father as payment for sin. Therefore, I did not have to earn this salvation nor could I have worked for this redemption (Romans 11:6), but have received a full and complete pardon from my sin (Psalm 103:12) by faith alone in Christ alone by grace alone according to His Word alone to God be the glory alone!
     
    Because God loved me first (1 John 4:19), I have been enabled to love Him and others. He has changed me (2 Corinthians 5:17-20) to serve Him. Through God’s help (Philippians 2:13), prayer (Phil. 4:6) and Bible study (2 Timothy 2:15), I continue to serve Him, my wife (Ephesians 5:28) and my children (Proverbs 22:6, 1 Timothy 5:8), and the Church in all that He has prepared beforehand for me (Ephesians 2:10) which includes discipling, teaching and preaching; so that all that hear His Gospel may repent, believe and be reconciled to Him (Romans 10:14-18) for His glory.
     
    Today, I no longer desire to pursue sin, but instead desire to worship Him with all of my heart, soul, strength, and mind (Deuteronomy 6:5). I am certainly not without sin (1 John 1:8), but growing in maturity in Christ (Ephesians 4:11-16). In love, humility, and faith (Hebrews 11:6), submitting to His Word (Ezra 7:10), and by His power (Philippians 4:13) I seek to pursue righteousness to the ends of the earth for His sake and His glory, regardless of the cost to me in order to worship and exalt Him, edify His people, and evangelize the lost that I encounter (Matthew 28:16-20). In real hope, I await His return (1 Thessalonians 4:16) or my death, when I will be judged and ushered into in His presence in Heaven forever (2 Corinthians 5:1-10).
    John Kuspa - I never considered that Catholicism wasn’t true
  • Christian Testimony of Dr. John Kuspa – Dumfries, VA
    “I never considered that Catholicism wasn’t true”

    I was a devout Roman Catholic for 25 years, my ‘own god’ for ten years (while I pursued educational and military achievement), was in “Churchianity” for 12 years (attending as a good practice for the family), and was brought to saving faith by the Holy Spirit of God at age 46.  I used my doctorate in Nuclear Engineeringt for military applications and taught Thermodynamics at West Point for 3 years. 

    I had been in church faithfully for 36 of my first 46 years, but was not headed for Heaven and eternal life with God, based on what the Bible clearly teaches about such vital matters.  The precipitating event of my conversion was an endorsement of abortion at the dead “protestant” church we had been attending for years.  The Holy Spirit prompted me (and gave me the words) to speak against abortion at the end of a Sunday service, and we left that church never to return.  Within a few weeks we were led to a local Baptist church, heard and accepted the gospel, and were baptized as believers later that year.  

    Seven years later the Lord showed me, through a very humbling Spiritual depression lasting seven months, that the saying that “but for the grace of God, I was a hopelessly lost sinner,” actually applied to me!  I needed to learn that God had graciously gave me the faith to believe the true gospel of Jesus Christ, and saved me for His purposes and His glory, and through nothing I deserved or could ever merit.  As Paul states in Ephesians 2, versus 8 to 10: “8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.”

    As a good Catholic in those formative years, I was trying to DO my way into Heaven, becoming good enough through religious practices to achieve and retain my salvation.  I did not realize until well after my conversion by God -- through good discipling as a new believer -- that the work of salvation was DONE entirely and forever by the Lord Jesus Christ alone, and that believing and trusting solely in His finished work is true saving faith.  I now understand that only after I was made a new creation (per 2 Cor 5:17) am I able to -- and can I even desire to -- do good works (i.e., those of Kingdom value).  All such works are the fruit of and an expression of that faith in Christ alone, done in gratitude for the salvation we already enjoy, They can NOT be done in order to merit salvation and store up sufficient merit so as not to lose our salvation, which is a central tenet of the false Roman gospel.  

    It has become clear in recent years that the works the Lord prepared beforehand for me to do is to teach about the false doctrines of Roman Catholicism, in contrast to Biblical Christianity.  Having been in Romanism and thinking it to be true for so many years myself, the Lord has given me a useful perspective and hopefully the credibility to be heard, as He leads and opens doors for such teaching and witness.  
    In conclusion, I have led so much of my life for my glory and achievement and comfort.  I join Paul the Apostle in saying that all of that is as filthy rags.  God gave me talents and aptitudes to use for His purposes and His glory.  I now understand that on the basis of Scripture alone one is saved by Grace alone, through Faith alone, in the finished work of Christ at the cross alone, for the Glory of God alone.  So, I now gladly seek to serve Him in the tasks He has set before me!
    To God be the Glory, great things He has done!

    John.Kuspa@verizon.net
    Mary Freeman - NC I Recognized Jesus' Single Blood Sacrifice for Sins
  • I was raised catholic and just about 8 years ago (2004) is when I saw the catholic church for what it really is. What really turned me around was the people I worked with. I had mentioned to them one day at work that I prayed the rosary and that I heard a female voice calling my name, so I naturally thought it was Mary calling me. So I prayed the rosary every night hoping I would hear her call me again. Well my working associates told me that there is only one name in which we pray - Jesus. So I said OK. I thought about it for a while and I also thought about the Lord. I have always known Jesus as Savior and the One Who died for sins and resurrected; but I also thought that it was perfectly OK to pray the rosary. I honestly thought that Jesus wouldn't mind me asking Mary to pray for me. My associates and I talked more about intercession for quit awhile almost everyday. One Sunday while at catholic mass I listened for the first time while the congregation prayed the "Memorea" prayer to Mary. I thought, "Wait a minute this isn't right, we should take our prayers and sins to Jesus." A couple of weeks after that I threw my rosaries away and I wrote a letter to the priest saying that it isn't right to call on Mary, we should call on Jesus. From my heart I understood that I would rather go to Jesus instead of Mary. I told one of the church parishioners that praying to Mary is idolatry and that Jesus can help us not her. The parishioner almost hit me and she told me that I had made her very mad.

    As this rosary thing was going on I had more concerns, such as the sacrifice offered at the altar and confessing my sins to a priest. I got as much material as I possibly could about these two subjects. As a child I had no idea what was going on at the altar. As a matter of fact I really wasn't that educated about the Lord's Supper either, so what the priest was doing at the altar didn't bother me in the least, UNTIL I read some catholic articles and the catholic catechism, which said point blank that His Supper is offered as an unbloody sacrifice and that He really didn't suffer enough on the cross to satisfy the forgiveness of sin. I indulged myself in the Bible and I kept going back to my work associates to discuss more about what the Bible says and what the RCC says. I also wrote some letters to the editor of our hometown newspaper about the lies and confusion that the RCC teaches, my letters were posted and I got a lot of hate mail, in one of those responses the person wrote telling me to "SHUT UP." Now I know there is only one sacrifice and it was bloody and Jesus really suffered above and beyond for our sake, and His resurrection was glorious. Oh by the way I don't believe the image on the shroud is that of Jesus. There is only one intercessor - Jesus. He makes it all happen. Transubstantiation and praying to those who have passed on is wrong.

    God's Word has made me realize that we must call on Jesus to save us and put all our faith and trust in His saving blood sacrifice. Any attempt at trusting in our good works or even well meaning religious practices compromise the gospel of grace (God's freely given gift, Eph 2:8-9, which cannot be earned, Rom 11:6). In the Lord's Prayer Jesus said that we are to ask for forgiveness and to forgive others who sin against us. This cancels out the RCC belief that only a priest can forgive sin. The book of James says that we are to confess our faults to one another, meaning that if we hurt someone we must go to them and tell them we are sorry and to make it right with them. While the RCC in its pride, arrogance and man created traditions teaches that Jesus listens to it through Mary, the reality is that they truly believe they created the Bible therefore they have sole rights to add and take away from it.

    Well I have left the RCC and I am working on my children praying that they will do the same.


    Many blessings from Jesus as you spread His Word, and don't apologize to anyone when you tell them what the bible says.

    In love, Mary
    Michelle Hartman God's Word Opened My Heart and Eyes
  • 1 Peter 3:15 says that a follower of Jesus Christ should always be prepared to give an answer for the hope that lies within them. The reason I want to tell you about the hope that is within me is simple: I know that because I truly believe in the message of the bible and am convinced of my faith in Jesus Christ, It would be a most unloving, selfish thing to keep it to myself! So, here's my story:


    I was born into a fairly traditional Catholic upbringing. As a child, I went to catechism classes, attended the Holy Days of Obligation, went to mass every Sunday, and prayed every night. For the most part, people who knew me would have said I was a pretty "good", nice person, and a fairly successful student. But, In reality, I was no different than a lot of kids in their teens and 20's. I was self-centered, drank too much, had too many boyfriends, etc...In fact, by biblical definition, I had easily and regularly broke all Ten Commandments.
    In those years, My lifestyle and thoughts were worldly and my pursuits superficial. In between periods of euphoria and grandiose notions, I fought frequent bouts of depression and struggled with feelings of hopelessness and inadequacy. I cared a great deal about what my peers thought of me; how I looked, dressed, and performed. Did I have the best-looking boyfriend, the highest grades, the lead in the play, the right designer jeans? Though I never put these standards on others, I held myself to them and it was frustrating, exhausting, lonely, impossible, and empty! My parents loved me a lot and told me I was fine just the way I was but my self worth remained tied up in how pretty and popular other people perceived me to be. Let me tell you, it was pretty unstable ground to stand on.


    In my college years, I knew something was missing and prayed to God nearly every night no matter what circumstance or location my lifestyle found me in. Primarily, I stuck to the usual rote Catholic prayers but sometimes I asked for help and forgiveness as well. During the day, however, I never gave God much thought and didn't really rely on Him for anything that pertained to my life with exception, perhaps, in moments of fear like driving on icy roads or walking home alone from campus in the dark.


    I had a New Testament and thought most of it to be distant and confusing. Once in a great while I would read the "scary and mysterious" things in Revelations and the "red letter" parts. I also had one of those little green New Testaments that the Gideon's handed out on campus and read the "Sinner's Prayer" in the back a few times or more and even signed it "just to cover my butt". If there was one thing I was familiar with it was formula prayers, and so I considered the possibility that maybe the old protestant guys handing them out perhaps knew of some mysterious benefit in reciting those particular words.

    I counted myself a Christian and had developed my own notions regarding God, man, Heaven, Hell, prayer, and the bible. I knew about Christmas and Easter; that Jesus was God, born a man, died on a cross for sins and rose again, but I had many unanswered questions with no idea as to the actual necessity of it or what it really meant. For the most part, I was perfectly content to debate and discuss it every now and again but felt no sense of urgency or need for serious pursuit. After all... Unless you were Hitler, a murderer, or a rapist "It would all work out in the end, right?"

    I didn't attend church regularly after I left high school but when I did, the ritual of the Mass gave me a sense of identity and made me feel safe and "holy". I wore the label "Catholic" as if it were a nationality. It was part of who I was! Knowing that others viewed the teachings of the Church of Rome as heretical made me all the more proud to belong to it!

    I had a fairly negative view of other Christian faiths. I used words like fanatic, fundamentalist, and hypocrite. I was sure that most Baptists hated Catholics and were horrible restrictive, "holier-than-thou" subjugators of women! I thought "protestant bible thumpers" were self-righteous and arrogant for purporting the inerrancy of the bible and in the assertion that Jesus was the only way! What about all the people in China?

    How ironic! I now realize that it was I who was at the height of arrogance in my assumption, that without any outside source to go on and relying only on my own limited intellect; that I knew what God was like, what was right and wrong, and how He must think and operate. In my summation, of course, I was pretty certain He thought a lot like me!

    I couldn't believe people went around asking other people whether or not Jesus was their Lord Savior! I was always deeply offended that someone would even dare to assume I wasn't "saved". Who were they to tell me or anyone that we might go to Hell? Who made them god? After all...I was a darn good and nice person...nicer than them I bet!

    In all reality, I persisted in my sinful lifestyle and loved my freedom from answering to God even though it created misery for me! I rationalized my sinful behavior by believing that it was what I needed to make me happy and keep me sane. What a lie from the pit of Hell! In fact, living outside of God's parameters was having quite the opposite effect. The things I placed importance on and what I thought to be pleasurable and fun resulted only in confusion, emptiness, self-degradation, and depression. I figured that I had time to live as I pleased and when I got married and had kids, then I would settle down. It was about this time that I began to make physical lists of the things I'd done wrong (of course, I'd rip them up after! After all, I may have been a guilty sinner but I wasn't stupid!).

    Fast forward. When I was 26, I got married and just two months later moved from Ohio to Wyoming! It was there that Mark and I decided that if we were going to settle down, have a family, and follow the responsible example set by our parents, we'd better quit the party scene and "grow up". My husband agreed to go with me to the RCC even though he wasn't Catholic.

    I couldn't sleep at night until I made the Sign of the Cross, said the Lord's Prayer, The Act of Contrition, and a Hail Mary. Once in a while, I even broke out the rosary which I used as a comfort and talisman of sorts when Mark worked late and I felt nervous in the country house alone. It wasn't long before lingering questions about doctrine, beliefs and traditions made us say, "Let's look around for another place to go to church". It was a daunting thing to leave the church and I was concerned as to how my Catholic family would react.

    During this time, I was feeling the weight of the sins from my past. In fact, I had trouble sleeping. Some nights, when Mark worked the late shift and the baby slept, I would cry and cry. Thoughts and images flooded my mind and I'd begin to go over my sin list again. I now know there was a reason for my angst! The Holy Spirit was working in me helping me to realize that I was pretty wretched before God and that there was nothing I could do to make it right.

    Eventually, when I was pregnant with my second son, we began attending a Lutheran church. It was at this time that the Holy Spirit graciously lifted the blinders from my eyes and prepared me to really hear the Gospel. It was a small church and we fit in quickly. There was no sitting back...They had us greeting, going to bible studies and groups, and teaching Sunday school classes. Evidently, no one realized (including me) that I was an unsaved person learning right along with the kids!

    The pastor there, Clyde Seifert, encouraged the entire church to participate in a "read the bible in a year" plan. I had a lot of preconceived notions and biases toward the bible and particularly with the Apostle Paul, who I perceived to be quite a misogynist. And so, before I began, I said a simple prayer; "God, please let me read the bible without my presuppositions and with only your intentions." You know what? He did and I did. For the first time, I began to understand how the Old Testament and New Testament fit together, perfectly and prophetically to tell the story of God and His sovereign plan for mankind.

    I was enjoying the guidance and fellowship of Christians in the church and learning more and more all the time but still, sometimes at night and in the early hours of morning, those images of my past haunted me. And still...I made lists. I knew my guilt and resulting depression affected not only me, but my family too. Finally, one night, while Mark worked and the children slept, I'd had enough of trying to hold life together on my own. I decided to lay down my pride and control and take God at his Word.

    I had prayed many times before, but this time was different. I was about as low before God as a person could get; crying heavy tears, on my knees, face down on the bedroom floor. I prayed, something like this: "Jesus, I know you took my place on the cross. I know you died to save me. I can't hold onto these sins any longer. They're too heavy and they're killing me! Please forgive me! Please take them away! I give them all to you. Thank you, thank you. I love you." And one by one, I confessed every sin I could recall, gave Him my list, and placed all my faith in Christ alone to save me!

    I was exhausted from emotion and crying and slept soundly that night. the following morning, when I awoke, I instantly knew the burdens I had carried for so long were gone...I felt free! I finally understood the Gospel! The cross was real and Jesus meant everything to me! He was my very life! From that morning and every day after, I've never again felt the weight of those sins! Now, the only time I bring them up is when I want to give someone help and hope by sharing with them how; by the grace of God, a wretched sinner like me, was led by the Holy Spirit to repentance and, through the blood of Jesus Christ on the cross, was redeemed and made clean!

    Now, I have the assurance, that I will spend eternity with God, my Lord and Savior in heaven and I know nothing can separate me from the love of Christ (Romans 8:35-39)! Later, my husband, two sons, and I, in obedience to God's word, were baptized as repentant and confessing believers in Christ! As a born again creation in Christ, my life has been a continuing journey of learning and growing. Life can be challenging, uplifting, exhausting, sad, happy, or frustrating, but I'm never alone in that the Holy Spirit is always there in every moment to comfort, convict, teach, and guide me in matters of scripture, prayer, worship, family, church, friends, and work!

    And this journey changes and is new all the time! For example, at this time in my life, more than any other since Jesus saved me, I have a hunger and fervency to read and learn about detailed aspects of God's word! I have never been so excited about studying anything in my life! And in that, the way I worship and pray has changed as well! I find myself completely grateful, humbled, and overwhelmed by the glory and goodness of God!

    And what's more, God has given me a growing sense of grief and urgency for the lost, specifically for those in the U.S. who count themselves as Christians but are, in fact, not saved! The prospect of this is exciting, daunting, and humbling and I know I must lean heavily on Christ! In relation to this, God has also given me a drive and desire to teach and so I am praying and relying on the Holy Spirit's leading in this! God is showing me that in order to do these things, I need to have a greater love for Him, His church, and for others!

    Now after telling you what Jesus has done and is doing in my life, I will be quick to tell you that my walk is far from perfect! As my walk progresses, I find myself having a more awestruck understanding of God's sovereignty and a heightened awareness of my own sinfulness. Because of this, I long for Heaven! In fact, today, more than ever before I am often led to sorrow and repentance for my sins, not a repentance unto salvation as I know that has been firmly secured, but I continue to repent and seek forgiveness in order that I may grow in an ever closer relationship with my God and be an effective worker for His purpose!

    Jesus' gift of salvation has changed my life, continues to leave me humbled, teary-eyed, and awestruck, and provides my life with purpose and meaning! So basically, here is the Gospel message and "the hope that lies within me":

    With any good new there has to first be bad news. We were made by God for His glory to be in relationship with Him but the bible says we have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).

    If you ask someone if they think they're a good person, most will likely say "yes" because they are measuring themselves against other sinful humans. But, the standard is not set by man but by God; our creator, who is holy, good, perfect and righteous.

    Unfortunately, the bad news gets worse because Romans 6:23 says the wages of sin is death. The bible says that by sinning against a holy, perfect, and just God through the breaking of His laws, we have earned death and separation from Him forever in a real place called Hell (Matthew 25:41) . A holy and perfect God cannot abide the presence of sin. Since there was no way we could come to Him; God, in his abounding love and sovereignty, made a way for us.

    You may have heard the following verse, but today, ask God to let you read it with new eyes:John 3:16 says, For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. Read it again. Now that's good news! God could leave everyone of us in our destructive ways, separated and Hell-bound for eternity but He doesn't. Romans 5:8 says God demonstrates His love for us in this, that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

    The bible says that Jesus Christ, fully God and fully man, lived the perfectly sinless life that we couldn't and took upon Himself; the penalty, the justice, and the punishment that we deserve and died in our place! Three days later, Christ rose from the dead thereby proving that His claim to be both God and Savior was true and that sin and death had been conquered! Jesus' sacrifice on the cross bridged the gap willful sin had created between God and Men! And there's more:

    Christianity is different from all the other world religions in so many ways but really sets itself apart in this: God's gift of Salvation through Christ and eternal life is a free gift that cannot be earned. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

    You must depend on Christ and His redemptive work on the cross alone. Good living, going to church, faith traditions, helping the poor, or any other good thing you might do cannot clear your sin slate and gain you passage into heaven. (These things a saved person should do and will want to do, not to earn their way to heaven, but out of a love for God!) You must repent and put all your faith in Jesus Christ and His perfect atoning work alone and God will grant you eternal life; a gift, totally free and unearned! No other religion can or will say this! Why would anyone refuse such a gracious, miraculous, and loving offer!?

    Romans 10:9 states: If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.

    So, in closing, It's my prayer and hope that upon reading my personal testimony and the message of the Gospel, that any questions, doubts, wandering, guilt, and hopelessness will stop here. I pray that God, through the Holy Spirit, will speak to your heart and that, like me, you will fall down on your knees before a holy and perfect God, repent of your sins and put all your faith in Jesus Christ! Don't wait, because not one of us is promised tomorrow!

    Oh yes, and be sure to get a bible and pray that God will give you new eyes and a heart to hear the word as He intends it! The book of John is a great place to start! -- Michelle
    Mike Gendron - Plano, TX A Testimony of God's Amazing Grace
  • God's Amazing Grace

    As a devout Roman Catholic I believed I was on the way to heaven until I began reading the Bible at the age of 34. I was horrified to see that I was really destined for a Christ-less eternity in hell. Being ignorant of God's word, I was following a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death (Proverbs 14:12). Then God called me to Himself through His Gospel which is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes (Romans 1:16). Now I know Jesus has saved me completely and forever! He has paid the complete punishment for all my sins and has given me the assurance of eternal life. Through His amazing grace, God has brought about some dramatic changes in my life.

    As a Catholic for over 30 years, my life was characterized by four words–worldly, religious, enslaved and deceived. But thanks be to God, my life is now expressed, with heartfelt gratitude, by these four words–liberated, forgiven, reconciled and secured.

    My Life Without Jesus
    Worldly


    From the world's perspective my first 34 years were uncommonly successful. I excelled in athletics, playing varsity baseball all the way through college, and winning a gold medal in springboard diving. After earning a master's degree in business, I channeled all my competitive energy into a rapid climb to the top of the corporate ladder. This enabled me to quickly obtain great wealth and recognition but it also led me into a hedonistic, pleasure-seeking lifestyle. I was corrupted by deceitful desires and had given myself over to sensuality, with a continual lust for more (Ephesians 4:19). I built my half million-dollar dream house in one of the most prestigious neighborhoods in Dallas, joined a fabulous country club and purchased a Mercedes 380 SL sports car and the universal sign of accomplishment, a gold Rolex watch. Yet with all this success and wealth, there was still a nagging void in my life. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from God, but is from the world (1 John 2:16).

    Enslaved

    My enslavement was all encompassing and I was powerless to do anything about it. Not only was I in bondage to sin but also to the legalism of Catholic traditions (Colossians 2:8). The Catholic priests, like the Judaizers were false brethren who kept me in bondage (Galatians 2:4). Their confessional box was a place I dreaded to go. Each week I had to confess the same sins to the same priest because I was disobedient, deceived, and enslaved to various lusts and pleasures (Titus 3:3). Many times I would disguise my voice so the priest wouldn't know it was me again. Undeniably, I was ensnared by the devil, held captive by him to do his will (2 Timothy 2:26).

    Religious

    As a devout Catholic, I faithfully participated in religious rituals and received the sacraments to merit God's grace and to avoid the fires of hell. In retrospect I was motivated more by a fear of hell than a desire to be with God. Some of my good works included being an altar boy for 7 years, teaching Catholic doctrine to high school students and initiating the first Little Rock Scripture Study at a Catholic Church in Dallas. This religious activity gave me an external righteousness that covered my corrupt and depraved nature. Yet according to Isaiah, all my righteous acts were like filthy rags (64:6). I had a zeal for God but it wasn't based on biblical knowledge so I sought to establish my own righteousness before God (Romans 10:1). Now I know how Satan destroys religious people for their lack of knowledge (Hosea 4:6).

    Deceived

    I had no way to discern truth from error because I was biblically ignorant. It wasn't that I didn't have a Bible, in fact, I had a huge one displayed in my home as a sign of piety. I never bothered to read it because the priests told me it was too difficult to understand. No one ever told me the Bible sets forth the truth plainly to every man's conscience (2 Corinthians 4:2). Because of my lack of biblical knowledge I was easily deceived. I lived in error because I did not know the Scriptures or the power of God (Matthew 22:29). Satan, who deceives the whole world had blinded me from the truth of the Gospel (Revelation 12:9, 2 Corinthians 4:4). I was separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that was in me (Ephesians 4:18).

    My Life With Jesus
    Liberated


    In 1981, after attending an apologetics seminar called "Evidence for the Christian Faith," the Bible became my sole authority in all matters of faith. I began searching for answers to questions that priests were unable to explain. I was amazed at how often the Bible contradicts Catholic teaching and tradition. Soon I faced a difficult dilemma. With my eternal destiny hanging in the balance I had to make a decision. Should I trust the Word of God or the teachings and traditions of the Catholic Church? Once I saw it from that perspective it became an easy decision. The truth of God's word began to set me free from the legalistic bondage of the Catholic Church. I read where Jesus came to release the captives, and to set free those who are downtrodden (Luke 4:18). He said: If you abide in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free (John 8:31-32). The ransom payment for delivering sinners from the bondage of sin was the precious blood of Jesus. He gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds (Titus 2:14). It is through the power of the Holy Spirit that I can put to death the evil deeds of the flesh (Romans 8:13). The battle between my sin nature and the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit is ever present within me but by God's grace, sin no longer is master over me. Thanks be to God that, though I was a slave of sin, by His power He made me a slave of righteousness (Romans 6:17-18).

    Forgiven

    As a Catholic each time I confessed my sins to a priest he told me I was forgiven. But was I really? I never even knew what God's forgiveness meant or what God's justice demanded as punishment for sin. Each time I entered the Catholic Church I saw Jesus hanging on a cross but I never knew why he had to die. I never knew, that is, until I read in the Bible that the penalty for sin is death, eternal separation from God in the lake of fire (Romans 6:23,Revelation 20:14). The sin debt that must be paid to satisfy God's justice is death. Then I discovered "to forgive" means "to cancel a debt that is owed." So when God forgives a sinner He cancels the entire debt for all their sins–past, present and future. My substitute, Jesus Christ cancelled the certificate of debt against me. It was nailed to the cross (Colossians 2:14). Jesus suffered and died so that I could live. He was pierced for my transgressions. He was crushed for my iniquities (Isaiah 53:5). Oh how can it be that my God and Creator should die for me? The answer is profoundly given in one word – love. God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). My sin, not in part but the whole, was nailed to the cross. I bear it no more! God made Him who knew no sin to be sin on my behalf, so that I might become the righteousness of God in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21). This was the greatest news I had ever heard! No longer was I condemned to death but justified to life! I was acquitted because God, the righteous judge, saw that justice was served through His Only Son. Jesus abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel (2 Timothy 1:10) Through His name everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins (Acts 10:43).

    Reconciled

    Once I knew I had been reconciled to God through the death of His Son, I no longer needed priests offering sacrifices for my sins. For by one offering Jesus has perfected for all time those who are sanctified (Hebrews 10:14). No longer is there a sin barrier separating me from God (Isaiah 59:2). Jesus has given me access to the Father (Ephesians 2:18). This was powerfully demonstrated at His death when the four-inch temple veil, separating man and his sin from God, was torn open from top to bottom. Christ died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, in order that He might bring us to God (1 Peter 3:18). Those who trust the redeeming work of Christ can exchange their religion for a relationship with almighty God. Through the blood of His cross Jesus is able to present me before God holy and blameless (Colossians 1:20-22). Jesus changed my relationship with God from one of hostility to one of peace and harmony.

    Secured

    Each time I got on an airplane as a Catholic I experienced a nagging fear as to where I would spend eternity if the plane went down. I never knew if my sins were serious enough to warrant hell or if I had done enough good works to qualify for heaven. Now as a Christian, I know eternal life is not determined by what I do for God but by what God has done for me. I no longer have to wonder about my eternal destiny. It is based on the assertive faithfulness of God. I am secure in Christ and nothing I do will ever change God's promises to me. Jesus promised that He will lose no one the Father has given Him. For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him, may have eternal life; and I Myself will raise him up on the last day (John 6:39-40). I came to realize that eternal life, by its very nature, can never be terminated. I am held securely in the hands of the Father and the Son and no one can snatch me away (John 10:27-30).Those whom God justifies He also glorifies (Romans 8:30). The Holy Spirit, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, seals everyone who hears and believes the Gospel of salvation in Christ (Ephesians 1: 13-14). Based on God's promises, I am more confident of spending eternity in heaven than one more day on earth.

    I am forever thankful that God has made me alive in Christ, healed my spiritual blindness, adopted me into His family and given me the privilege of telling others about His amazing grace! The life I live, I now live for Him!
    Rindo Barese - Boston, MA No Longer Deceived
  • I grew up in an Italian Roman Catholic household in Massachusetts that never read the Bible and could care less about God. We only went to Church on Christmas and Easter as most Catholics do. We were blind as a bat when it came to spiritual things, we never talked about God, never prayed, never determined ourselves to even find out. But we were true to the traditions and sacred holy days even though we didn't understand most of what Catholicism taught. We were devoted to the Pope and our local priest.

    Does this sound familiar to some of you ex-Catholics reading this? I now call the Catholic Church the largest and most destructive cult Church in the world because they do believe in some correct doctrines like the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus and that He was born of a virgin. But what makes this so evil is mixing some truth with false teaching of their own. The exaltation of Mary that Catholics look to for divine intersession, the idolatry of the Pope thinking he was God's leader for the world, salvation by works which the Bible actually says is a curse to anyone who tries to make it to God on their good works(Gal 3:10) or merit.

    A friend of mine got saved in the Army and came home on leave to tell me about his new faith in God. He was a deceived Catholic like me, then he found God and told me he was born-again (John 3:3). I can remember him telling me about how he prayed directly to Jesus as if it were a personal thing. Most Catholics like me was not used to that, God was someone who was very distant and far away or impersonal. As we talked for 3 hours in his driveway I came away with a new sense of who God really was. I realized I was a sinner and needed to start following God for real. I understood that God's grace saves us and it is a free gift. I drove home and thought about what my friend said about Jesus and my faith, or lack of faith, as a Catholic. I can remember saying to myself, "Who am I kidding, I'm not a follower of Jesus".

    I started to go to the 7:00am Mass every week to find God. One week the priest got up to say the sermon and he said something that blew me away, "I don't have a sermon today". I went home confused and uncertain what to do next, after all, priests were representing God, and he had nothing to say? I met with a priest that married me years ago to get some council and told him my friend was born-again and that I wanted to find out how to be born-again also. This priest said that I should work on the sacraments first before doing such a drastic thing like being born-again. So I called up my friend and he quickly told me to get out of that Church and find a real Christian Church that teaches the Bible.

    Why was my friend so against the Catholic Church? Why was my friend trying to get me to go to another Church that taught the Bible? Well thank God he told me because I found an evangelical Church within a mile from my house where they taught me the Word of God and I grew every day in my new faith in Jesus. Before I was saved I thought I knew God and thought my sins were forgiven but now I humbled myself and repented my ways and sought after God by reading the Bible every day for 4 or 5 hours a day. Slowly my Catholic stuff melted away and scripture now became my new passion. Wow, I was deceived, wow was I blind.

    I actually began to have a hatred for the catholic Church because of it's stronghold of religion and tradition that kept me so blind.
    I started witnessing to all my family, friends and relatives and boy it was like I was forsaking all that I was a part of with family and Catholicism. They hated that I was jumping ship, they not only didn't understand, they got violent at times proclaiming I was brainwashed and deceived by some cult that only desired to take my money. To this day no one in my family has seen the light yet but I'm praying for them every day. Please witness to your Catholic family and friends before it gets too late. "Forgive them Lord, they don't know what they are doing".
    T W - NC I Had to Hit Rock Bottom To See My Savior Clearly
  • I come from a long line of US-born irish-catholic family, where all grandparents were catholic, except for a german grandfather convert to catholicism. One side of the family goes back to the american revolution, the other to after the the potato famine. Mostly coal miners and steel workers. One uncle was a priest, and I was the firstborn of my generation, coaxed and groomed for the priesthood through catholic grade school and public high school. Went to mass every morning before school in grade school.

    I suppose I was good catholic up through freshman year in college, attending church, keeping out of trouble, and following most rules pretty well. Then fell away with partying, wildness, and meeting my first loves. From college on, I was pretty much a fun-loving but not religious person, living with my future wife, and beginning a career. At any rate, i still felt i was a good person.

    It all was going to plan, got married, settled down, and had two wonderful daughters. Then it all started to fall apart, got divorced, financial problems, and difficulty coping. When i thought i hit rock bottom, i found a woman who became my new love, saved me from my lows, and recovered. But three years later, that relationship crumbled, and i fell even lower than before. I moved to another city, and got to spend summers with my children, and things seemed to be getting better. Then my ex got remarried, and my children turned, and i finally hit true rock bottom after a 10 year spiral.

    In and out of various stages of troubles over those years, i read the bible when nothing else seemed to help. And over those years i had become more familiar with the bible, and i had my kids in a local evangelical church in my new city. At various times in these years i thought i was a Christian, but the "born-again" and "being saved" things seemed mysterious yet. I didn't quite get it, although i had fully bought into the "by faith alone" concept. I enjoyed a trip to israel and seeing jerusalem. I was feeling comfortable with the new evangelical services focused on teaching, and the new protestant songs. I especially liked amazing grace. But i was unknowingly suffering from what may be the most difficult sin, the sin preventing me from being saved by Christ, a sin pervading my life, .... the sin was that "i thought i was a basically good person."

    By God's mercy, He totally crushed me, and truly i hit rock bottom. And i read John 3:16, that i had read many times before, and in an instant i knew what it meant, and by the grace of God, the Holy Spirit opened my eyes and my heart, tears rolled down my eyes, and i totally accepted Yeshua The Messiah, Jesus Christ, as my Lord and my God, my personal Savior, and i am absolutely thankful for His grace, and i was saved. I was truly blind and could not understand the bible, until after my eyes were opened. there was nothing i could ever do to see, to save myself, it is completely a gift of God for which i am utterly unworthy, except that God has granted me this gift by His grace alone. i am forever grateful. by faith alone, by grace alone.

    I will never be the same. At the bottom of my soul, in my innermost being, i have a deep and abiding joy and unspeakable love for my Lord and Savior, Yeshua, Jesus, with all my heart and all my soul and all my being. this is who i am now. I hunger for the scriptures, because they now have much deeper meaning. i do not know how i did not understand what is now so obvious, except that only the Holy Spirit could open my eyes. i no longer have any concern about death, i look forward to some day being with my Lord and my God, my salvation is assured, and it is as sure as anything can possibly be.

    I have gladly accepted the gift of forgiveness, my sin washed away, my tears turned to joy. I pray that you will be saved, that you will find unspeakable joy, and that you will believe too. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

    TW,

    NC, USA