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I started looking to God at a revival meeting at our church around 1989. It was the first message of the meetings. Brother Merle was the evangelist. He called the sermon something like "Saturated With the Spirit". He talked about commitment. I didn't know you could be committed like that. I didn't think Christians were honest or serious. But Merle talked about passion and commitment.

I knew I needed some work. I remember pacing the basement floor deciding what I had to change in my life. What is God's will? I found Romans 12 and took from it that I had to be transformed before finding God's will. So I transformed.

I kept a list of sins I was working on. Looking at girls/dirty thoughts. Comic Books. Going to the arcade. Doing devotions. I would experience victory in one area and move on to another. I got rid of a lot of bad habits during this time. I cleaned out my mind, something I didn't think was possible. But it wasn't Jesus. I was just doing stuff. I didn't know about Jesus, so I couldn't have been a Christian. I just knew him as a good example.

This was during high school. My junior and senior years were really weird. I got to thinking I knew everything, what with all this victory over sin in my life. I wrote essays in English about serving God. I "witnessed". Ever try to witness before you're saved?

My senior year was the only year I wasn't picked on by anybody on a regular basis...maybe because I was happy and confident, which was totally new to me. But I was also proud—I knew it all. I remember a confrontation with Mr. Woodward. I didn't want to do homework at home, because I had more important things to do like feed the poor in York (I never fed the poor in York anyway—I think it was just an excuse to get out of homework). I became frustrated with my holier-than-thou-ness. I knew Christians were supposed to be humble. It got to the point I knew so much, I didn't trust the Bible or the preacher or God anymore. Is there a God anyway? Is the Bible true?

Right around graduation is a lousy time to face these kind of deep uncertainties. I was trying to decide where/if to go to college and what to study. And I was trying to decide if there was a God. I was confused, depressed and frustrated. I was laying on the couch one day really depressed. What was I doing wrong? I went outside. I resolved to go down to the creek and not come back till I had some answers. I guess doing something was better than doing nothing. I found a feather down at the creek. It was really pretty, but I couldn't say why. I couldn't define its beauty. So I took this as a sign from God that I was supposed to continue being a Christian because it felt right. Even if I didn't have all the answers. Ever try to keep being a Christian before you're a Christian? I'm glad the Mormons or Muslims or whatever didn't come around. I mighta bought into it.

I applied to Messiah College and was accepted. I think I was going to major in Social Work. I could see nothing else worthwhile. Who needs artists? Who needs mechanics or carpenters or whatever? I wanna impart my wisdom to the masses! There's no time to waste building houses or whatever all the rest of you schmucks are doing.

Then I got a note about BRF/BVS. I decided to go. No strong calling. I just decided to go. Ever tried to sense God's leading before you're a Christian?

BRF/BVS orientation was the greatest week of my life. I learned how to cook and shop and stuff. And the people were friendly. I couldn't believe that. I'd never had friends before.

So we went off to Aurora, Illinois for the best year of my life.

Sometimes it was a drag. I was lonely. It was just Ken and Anna Mary and two girls. Girls were evil, so I couldn't do anything with them. I got bored. I was still profoundly confused about everything. I was depressed. And really tired. Anna Mary thought I had mono or something. I knew I was low. I was scared to die. I knew I wasn't a Christian. I didn't know why. So I started looking for answers. You will never get your answer until you start listening and looking and needing. I needed Jesus.

A couple people witnessed to me. That was weird. But it was what I needed. I was surrounded by great people at the mission where I worked. I don't know what I would have done without them. One of the first lessons I learned out there was that I needed other people. One night Ken and Anna Mary and Beth and I were playing Scrabble or something, and we got to talking about me. How do you get saved? Well, what does it mean to ask Jesus into your heart? Anna Mary fretted that they didn't have any of those Roman Road tracts to read to me. I went downstairs to my room, closed the door, and started reading Romans. Who needs a tract? I'll just read the whole thing.

20 Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.

21 But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25 God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished-- 26 he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.

And I finally understood. Kinda.

First of all, I wasn't righteous by sinning less. Second, I am saved by faith. Faith...Believing this. That Jesus was God's sacrifice for my sin.

So it's about Jesus.

So I prayed. Something like, "I don't really understand my sin. I don't really understand Jesus. But I believe in Jesus. Help me to understand." I was so tired of wondering. I was so tired of trying stuff on my own. I was so tired of looking for the answer. Here was the answer in black and white—Jesus. So I went for it. It was February 14, 1994. Romans chapter 3 is very special to me.

I told Ken and Anna Mary and Beth the next day. They were happy. I was, too, but I couldn't help feeling like I'd done something stupid. I'd found this in the Bible after all, and I still wasn't sure the Bible was legit. And was I really that sinful that I deserved hell? I didn't feel like it. And how exactly does Jesus take care of all this? But that's what it says. That's definitely what it says. So I stuck with it. I only felt stupid for a couple days.

I told some more people. A week or so earlier, Bernardo had taken me to the local taco joint for lunch to talk about this stuff. He cared about me. So I reported back to him after I was saved. Where would I be without my Sunday School teachers and parents and those people at the mission? Anna Mary didn't know the Roman road. But she just said "Romans" and it led me to Jesus. You never know how you're helping someone. Just try. Pray and try—God does the work. I probably talk about God / Jesus less now that I'm saved. That bothers me. But I think it's because I no longer feel that I have to prove I'm right to everybody. I used to be scared that I was wrong—And I was. Now I am at peace. Are you at peace? There is no substitute.

So, that was in '94. I've lost much of my idealism, now that it's Jesus instead of me. I don't have to do stuff anymore. Jesus does. I never went to college to be a social worker. I just got a job. I never really answered my questions about God and the Bible. I know the answers are out there, and maybe I should take the time to look into it. But it doesn't bother me anymore. You'll never prove your way into heaven. You'll never have all your questions answered. The Christian exercises faith—you have to believe Jesus.