August 18, 1974. Wow! It was 40 years ago. As you can see in the picture, my hair was long and black. This picture was taken in the day that I was found by Jesus. How can I forget it? It was a wonderful day. Let me share with you a little bit of my testimony.
Being baptized and raised in a Presbyterian church does not guarantee salvation and membership in the Kingdom of God. I learned that when I was 11 and decided to leave the church because my basketball practice was Sunday morning 9:00 am. Being involved with sports and other activities as a teenager gave me immense pleasure and satisfaction. I was a winner and that was the most important thing in my life. I did not know that I was part of a generation that would become self seeking in everything it touched.
From sports to drinking problems, from there to sex was just another small step. Also during that time I started to have an involvement with occultism. Attending pagan services with strange rituals that were totally against my weak beliefs became constant in my life. My father did not care because he was an atheist. My mother even being a member of our Presbyterian church would go with me and would support that kind of worship.
All of this happened during my high school years. It was an intense degradation to my character, and spirituality. I was able to experience almost everything that a young man could at that time in my town. I was lost, without direction, without life and without hope. Life had no more meaning for me.
That time was like a summer storm. It was quick, just a few years, It was noisy, caught the attention of many people; and it was destructive, producing much damage in its path.
That is the beauty of the gospel. When we think that there is no hope; there is no light; a brighter light shines in the darkness, and changes the course of our lives. This happened in my senior year in the high school. A classmate from my church invited me for a youth retreat. Some other friends and I were very excited about the invitation. We were thinking only about the girls.
I went there to meet girls and have a good time. While I was there I heard and saw people talking about Jesus, as if they knew him personally. At the beginning it was strange. After a while it started to annoy me. They tried to convince me of my need to give my life to Jesus. I knew that they were right, but I did not want to give up the only life that I had.
A few months later that group visited my town for a special program in my church. I went there and I listened the message again, but this time it was different. The testimonies, songs and message penetrated my heart and soul like a dagger. That night, August 18, 1974, I could not sleep, I knew what I had to do, so beside my bed I kneeled and surrendered my life to Jesus Christ.
My conversion was in the middle of a revival. Young people started accepting Jesus. We had prayer meetings almost everyday. Our youth group in the church had an Evangelism Team that used to visit churches and cities to sing, share our testimony and preach. We would do that inside the churches, in youth meetings and outside in the public squares, streets, and plazas. That was my first training in preaching. I loved the experience. It was something that I loved more and more.
Now, 40 years later, I look back and I see the hand of God with me during all my years. I am extremely grateful to the young people and adults that helped me during that time.
God has been good!
Have a blessed week,