Dale’s Testimony

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Dale and his wife Judy are faithful members of Elkhart Life.

“I grew up in the country, the youngest of 4, in an alcoholic home that consisted of a lot of arguing and my stepfather molesting my sister. I grew up with a dad that was suppose to come pick us up on the weekends only to be disappointed by the fact that he couldn’t keep his commitments and promises to spend the weekend with us. In my early teen years my mother laid in the hospital after having surgery for a cancerous mole on her back. They had to scrap her spine and open her up from one shoulder blade to another. My stepfather left, leaving the four of us to fend for ourselves. Leaving us to grow up with a single mother who just wanted to go to the bars. I was 16 when she almost died when she flipped her car after a night of drinking and then heading to work.

At 17 I moved out of the house after quitting high school and just wanted to drink and smoke pot. So all I worked was in restaurants living in places that were not the best places to be.  I began to work in van custom paint shops making good money but most of it was spent on my weekend party life and smoking pot all of the time. When I met my wife Judy she was a backslider trying to raise five kids. I still continued my path of smoking pot and experimenting with drugs. She took me to my first bar at the age of 20 and we began bar hopping all the time. I got my first DUI in 1987.

I told Judy I would never be married to a woman that went to church; she stayed with me though and we were married a month later. I spent a $100 a week just on smoking pot, not including the time on the weekend spent drinking and smoking cigarettes. In 1990 God began to work in my life because I had a backslidden wife that got her dad to get a prayer cloth; which she sewed into my pillowcase. She laid in bed next to me praying and crying over me. I’m thankful God answered her prayers.

The paint shop that I worked in at that time closed and they were beginning to start drug testing, I had to quit smoking pot to support my family, so 30 days from the date of the shop closing I got a job building boats. In 1991 I decided I needed to quit smoking cigarettes because of the cost of the cigarettes  andI could put more money towards the family. God helped me remove the addictions cold turkey and I didn’t even realize it.

All the time that we were married I would go to my father in laws and he would try to talk to me about Jesus and the plan of Salvation, after leaving I would tell Judy that I am not going over there again if he is just going to keep preaching to me. Nevertheless, we would go back the next weekend. We sent Angel and Adam to church but didn’t go ourselves. In March of 1992 my oldest stepson was killed while he was drunk and passed out at the wheel and hit a semi head on. In October of 1992, after months of grieving, I told Judy something has to change. We started looking for a church and after going to another church once, we went to her dad’s church Calvary Chapel when they were on Grape and Catalpa in Mishawaka. A couple taught me a bible study after I was baptized in Jesus Name on October 31, on Halloween. I received the Holy Ghost on November 30th.  It hasn’t always been easy in the last 24 years trying to raise a family and changing my lifestyle but the one thing that I have learned is that he has always been faithful to me and taken care of us.  “



Denise’s Testimony

 

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Denise has gone to Life Tabernacle for most of her life. She was baptized at Life Tabernacle when she was 8 and received the gift of the Holy Ghost by evidence of speaking in other tongues when at age 9.
Even though I had the Holy Ghost since I was a child, I suffered from chronic depression. I never sought out help for the problems I had but thought it was just a part of life. When I was 20 years old my sister, who was four years older than I, died in a car wreck that had a significant impact on my life. I look back and realize my depression grew even worse when I lost my sister. A year after losing her and battling severe depression I looked for medical help. The doctor gave me medicine that seemed to work. In fact, it worked so well I stopped taking it because I thought I was healed. After I realized my mistake, I went back to the doctor again for help.
A year or so after that I went to a prayer meeting at Life Tabernacle. I remember that night on my knees in prayer weeping, asking God “Why?!” about so many things that were not right in my life. God did not give me the answer to my question. Rather he gave his answer which was so much greater than the answer I was asking for. He spoke to me, saying I no longer needed the medicine I was taking. But that He would be my joy and my piece if I just let Him be the lord of my life.
After seeking counsel from my pastor, he directed me to discuss this change with the doctor. And surprisingly the doctor was in favor of it. The doctor told me that he was a Christian and whole heartedly believed God could heal me. His only stipulation was that I would check in with him and schedule another appointment to see where I was in a few months and to call him if I needed anything.

27 years later I do not take medication and I do not suffer from any traces of depression. When I quit cold turkey I never experienced withdrawal or any other symptoms. In today’s world where depression is so common I am here as an example of the power of Jesus and the joy He brings. I can never heal you, but I know a God that can!



Nikole’s Testimony

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Testimony Tuesday
 
Nikole and her husband, Ryan, have been members since 2003. They serve by their unmoving faithfulness and commitment to Life Tabernacle Church.
 
“O Lord my God, in You I put my trust; save me from all those who persecute me; and deliver me.” Psalm 7: 1
 
I am a child of an abusive, alcoholic, rage-oholic, dysfunctional home (just a repeat of what my father, his father, and his father’s father experienced as a child). The primary dysfunctional rules: ‘don’t talk, don’t trust, don’t feel.’ I trusted only myself. Perfectionism and anxiety were my result. My value or worth was based on my performance as a ‘good’ girl. An approval seeker who lost her identity. Frightened by angry people and personal criticism. Confused love, with pity for others or for myself. Stuffed feelings from a traumatic childhood and lost the ability to feel deeply, or to trust as an innocent child.
God our Father must be like my earthly Father, right? An authoritative figure, looking down at me with anger and annoyance at my imperfections. Ready to punish me with lightening for any mistakes? How can a God love me, when I did not love myself? I didn’t trust God to fulfill His promises; I did not trust others to follow through. How could a loving God let me live in a family with such dysfunction?
Bondage. I attended church throughout childhood; I had a praying mother. However, I questioned what I learned. Praying to Jesus and God the Father (equal time each of course). Looking for an identity in Christ. ‘Hoping’ I was saved by the ‘sinners prayer’ (which I prayed several times a year, just to make sure). Again, not able to trust fully what I was being taught. So many questions unanswered.
Freedom. One day, a man walked through the doors of a local coffee shop. I offered my telephone number to “help him find a pair of running shoes.” He, in return, offered a Bible study called Search for Truth. A year later we were married. I was Baptized in Jesus name (previously Baptized in the Trinity, so I was re-baptized as in Acts), and filled with God’s spirit (Acts 2:38). God opened my eyes; I was blind but could see. God’s breath was in my lungs. I was free. I automatically felt the chains being lifted.
Over the last 13 years, God moved me from shame to self-worth, from secrecy to honesty, loneliness to connection with others, from silence to having a voice, and from mistrust, to trusting in Him for my life’s path. No matter what dysfunction you came from, God can restore the person you were meant to be, and use your past as a Testimony to others on a daily basis. You CAN trust God; He will not forsake you.”
 


Jamie’s Testimony

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Jamie and his family are faithful members of Life Tabernacle Church. Husband, and father of four boys with twins on the way, Jami is an excellent role model for his family, and others in the church
 
“I am so thankful that the Lord is as close as the mention of His name! It all started on a normal day trying to provide for my family with a second job. I delivered newspapers before going to the factory I worked at every morning. I usually was in a hurry to get the job done so I was not late for work. This particular morning I went a little too fast around a sharp curve. I drove an older top-heavy Bronco which rolled twice before skidding into a tree. My left arm was out of the window dragging on the ground as I slid and the first thing I yelled was, “Jesus help me!” The truck landed on the driver side, and the severity of the injury to my left arm disabled me from climbing out of the passenger side. I looked in back of the vehicle and the hatch was open so I could crawl out that way. It may seem little, but I believe that in itself was a miracle from God.
 
There was a house across the road from where I had wrecked but something told me to go to the house down the road a bit. So I walked ¼ of a mile down the road with my arm wrapped in my shirt.. I was told later, by the man whose house I walked to, that the people who lived across the road from my wreck were on vacation so I believe the Lord spoke to me and directed my steps. Jesus knew exactly where to send me.
 
To make a long story short, I had a large gash in my arm and that cut was one centimeter away from slicing a main artery in my arm. The doctors told me after the wreck I would have limited mobility in my left arm, specifically in my thumb. They required three surgeries and ten full days in the hospital to fix the damage in my arm. Some may thank the surgeons, but to this day I thank God because I have nearly full mobility in my entire arm, and still believe God can heal me completely.
 
There is a scar to remind me how great God is and how tragedy can be used to testify of His goodness. There is so much more to my testimony than this; but this was one of the many examples showing that Jesus has done the miraculous in my life. What an amazing God!”
 


Aaron’s Testimony

Aaron is a member of Life Tabernacle Church. He has four children; Anna, Hannah, Aj, and Isaiah. You will always find him at the alter praying with his children

“I never viewed my past as a testimony but rather I viewed it as a story of pain and resentment. But one day I realized that was simply a lie of the devil and he wanted me to continue to feel sorry for myself and be bitter. But I will tell you today, because I have stopped listening to the devil’s lies, I have been healed in ways I never knew I needed healing in.
My childhood and teen years were full of turmoil. When I was seven years old, on September 27, 1981, my father was murdered in an attempted gas station robbery. The man who introduced the Bible and it’s importance in my life was gone and I was the last person to see him. My mother, who was four months pregnant with her sixth child at that time, struggled to provide for our family. After a few years of fighting to survive she put us in a Children’s home in an attempt to get back on her feet and provide for us better. And I was even removed from my siblings and placed in a youth shelter. I was molested on three separate occasions in just a matter of ten years. The first time when I was three and the last time when I was thirteen.
After that last time I became angry, hurt, and broken. Why should I care if no one cares about me? I am just a thing to them. An item to be abused, made fun of, unlovable. My anger had no limits. I hurt and I was going to hurt others, which I did. Internally, part of me knew I was lashing out, hurting the world that had hurt me. Part of me knew all I really wanted was to be loved unconditionally, to be viewed as a person.
I remained hurt and broken for the better part of my life. But on December 15th, 1990 I walked into an Apostolic church and my life was changed forever. I finally found a place where I felt at home and loved. I received the gift of the Holy Ghost with evidence of speaking in other tongues April 1st, 1991. I experienced the unfailing love I had been searching for my entire life. My brokenness and anger was gone in a moments time because of the blood of Jesus.
I don’t know who will read this and what you have gone through, but know this, a big lie of the devil and one of his favorites is that you are alone and no one knows what you have gone through. I beg you to not believe it. I was a three time molested, angry, broken, boy who didn’t feel loved. My father was murdered. I smoked, have been drunk, been high, had premarital sex, been arrested, been in fights with knives and brass knuckles, hurt people purposely, went to 18 schools by the time I graduated, did everything I could to do things my way, to control my life so I wouldn’t be hurt again. And in spite of all those things God looked at me and said, “I love you. And you are worth more than you could ever imagine.” 25 years later and I am still walking with God. He took a broken and hurt 17 year old and molded him into a 42 year old father of four beautiful children. I’m not perfect, but He is and I have Jesus to thank for everything.”

 
 
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Sonny’s Testimony

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Sonny and his wife are active members of Life Tabernacle in Elkhart. He is apart of the worship band and is a very passionate and skilled songwriter. Sonny is currently sharing his testimony all over the country, hoping to make a difference in someone’s life. You can read more about his efforts to fight against drugs and addiction by visiting his blog at www.mywaronaddiction.blogspot.com .Hope you enjoy this week’s testimony from Sonny. God bless!

 

I have this equation that I have been living by for the last 14 years, Me +Jesus = Better. I got this calculation from one of the first interactions I had with Pastor Mark Johnson.

It was a concept that was strange but not unfamiliar to me in its nature since I was raised in a home that did their dead level best to teach me the ways and things of God. However, my thirst for the world and its pleasures outweighed my parents’ prayers and I ignored their godly advice. I walked right into a world that I was completely unprepared and not designed for. The human body was not constructed with the need to add chemical intoxicants to create emotions such as happiness and joy. But that’s exactly what I did. I was desperately wanting to fit in amongst my peers.  I did not know that these substances would change the very fabric of my DNA to the point where I quickly lost the ability to control my own thoughts and emotions. This created a NEED for me to manufacture my own emotions through drugs and alcohol that God intended to be present naturally. Throughout my teens and 20’s I was a slave to these products that would masterfully control every aspect of my life. While I was bound by these feelings that would ridicule, mock, and abuse me, I would justify where I was in life for just a few minutes of that high that would gratify my sense of self… over and over again.  The process of addiction had become who I was and who I would remain to be forever.

This brings me back to Pastor Johnson and this equation that “rudely” interrupted a perfectly addicted life. Lol!  A few months before this chance meeting I checked myself into a rehab facility.  The purpose of this was not really to stay clean and sober but to learn how to use drugs more efficiently without becoming suicidal or experiencing all the depths of depression that come along with them.  This didn’t work and I actually began to see where I had a serious problem and needed to make a change.  One of the things they taught me in my classes was that if I came across somebody that looked like they had something I wanted, to ask them how they got it.  So on my first day out of rehab my path crossed with Pastor Johnson, as I was surprising my mother at church, and it was what he told me that day that has forever changed my path.  He told me that he loved me. Then he had the nerve to look me straight in the eye with the utmost confidence and tell me that it’s the best life living for the Lord.  I thought he was crazy at first and was just being polite. But as his words kept echoing in my head, I decided I should investigate this idea of “a good life” a little further.  After 14 years of listening to a man who truly loves people and being a part of the best church on planet earth, I now have my very own relationship with the King of all kings and I can truly say that Me + Jesus=Better!



Mandy Nord has been healed

Mandy
Mandy and her husband, Chris, are our Sunday School department leaders. They have a passion for children’s ministry and outreach. They work very hard at what they do and we appreciate their heart and effort. We love them and know all of the kids in our Sunday School and Wednesday night One Way Club love them too. We hope you enjoy Mandy’s testimony about the healing power of Je

sus.

” About 2 1/2 years ago I started dealing with back pain that just wouldn’t go away. I have struggled with back pain since my teens, but this was different. It was constant and affected everything I did. After about six months of frequent chiropractor visits, I was sent to get an MRI. I knew it was going to take a few days to get the results so I just went about my business. Then, after an evening out with friends and family (celebrating my birthday nonetheless), I received a call from my doctor at 9:00 pm. My first thought was, “This can’t be good!” And it wasn’t. He originally thought that I might have a bulging disc, but was now saying that I had two bulging disc, one with a tear, several vertebrae showing degeneration, nerve impingement, and the list went on. His recommendation was to stop doing my current job as a dental assistant and find something new to do and that surgery would be my only option. I had been working as a dental assistant straight out of college for almost twenty years, and to top it all off, we had no health insurance. So needless to say I was scared to death. Fortunately I was able to switch to a front desk position with my current employer which was helpful to a degree physically, but not financially. Thankfully, I have a wonderful husband that changed jobs to obtain insurance for us so that I could get my surgery done, but it was a long wait for the actual surgery. And I was getting worse. The doctor had me doing physical therapy, injections, pain management, and all it was doing was helping me barely get through the day. After a while I was being seen by a spinal specialist who was the one that was going to do my surgery. He insisted on doing some follow up x­rays because he wasn’t convinced that the above listed items were my exact problem. And just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse, just when I thought my surgery and relief was close at hand, he tells me that I was misdiagnosed. That my spinal issues are much more complicated and I only have two options: 1. Extensive spinal fusion surgery that would leave my with very limited mobility and would more than likely not cure my pain or 2. indefinite pain management. That was it folks, I was done. At this point it had been a year and a half of misery and I had no definite solution.I had prayed and been prayed for many times over that awful year and a half. I never once doubted that God could heal me, because He has healed me so many times before in my life. I was born with heart problems, healed. At 27 my heart began to struggle again and I suffered from congestive heart failure and God healed that, and so many other small things. But, I had no answer as to why God was silent this time. But on May 9, 2015, during a revival service, I went down to the altar to get prayed for one more time. This time, I had no other option but God. There was no doctor, no medicine, and no procedure to fall back on. He was my only hope. And right then and there, instantaneously, He did it again! I was finally pain free, able to move, bend over, everything! And today on my one year anniversary of my healing I am happy to report that I am still pain­free and I have been back to dental assisting for almost a year now. I am back to being the wife, mother, and worker in the church that I want to be. This year has been full of new beginnings and I thank God everyday that He cares enough to meet our needs, great and small.”



Sister Johnson’s Testimony

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Sister Marci Johnson is our Pastor’s wife. She is an amazing lady who is respected by everyone who meets her. Along with serving our church in every capacity imaginable, she serves as the Indiana District Ladies Secretary. There is no doubt of the love, admiration, and respect our whole church has for this godly lady. We love us some Sister J!

 

“God’s miraculous healing power has been a big part of my life.  At the age of two years old I was bitten by a sweat bee. The outcome of that bite was a very sick baby that ended up in Riley Hospital.  I was diagnosed at that point with Nephrotic Syndrome/Nephrosis.  This disease is simply this:  the kidneys spill protein and keep bacteria, causing excessive swelling and loss of kidney function.  At that time, (in the early 60’s)  no one that had been diagnosed with Nephrosis lived passed their early teen years.  But, fortunately for me they had recently discovered that the steroid Prednisone would not heal but would throw the disease into remission.  So that began my life of doctor visits and sickness.  Swelling and high doses of Prednisone for long periods of time and then remission and weaning off the Prednisone.  At one point we tried an experimental drug that could have caused me to be unable to have children.  Praise God that was not the outcome of that drug!  The Prednisone though unpleasant with it’s side affects kept me through my teen years!
My husband and I felt God call us to AIM Missionaries to Hong Kong.  During that preparation time of going over seas I became very sick again and also was pregnant with our second child Titus.  The doctors first suggested that we abort the baby because of the high risk it was to me.  After they realized that was not going to be our choice they begged us to stay in the States until the baby was born.  My husband and I were determined to go to Hong Kong.  We believed God had called us to this ministry, and we believed that God would go with us and protect us.  AND He did just that!  While we were in Hong Kong I delivered Titus, a healthy baby boy and was healed of Nephrosis at the same time!  I have not had one symptom of this disease for over 27 years!  To God be the glory!  Was it faith that brought my healing?  Was it obedience to God’s call?  Maybe it is both!”



Amanda’s Testimony



Dave’s Full Testimony

“I came to God later in life than most. I am 52 years old today in 2006. Until a little over six years ago, in June of 2000, I was an atheist. I want to share my story with you. It is a story of answered prayers, not my prayers, but my wife’s. I was an atheist. I married a Christian lady. She prayed for me for 10 years. I can remember watching at night as she prayed. Thinking how very foolish she was praying to a God that I was certain did not exist. I was the fool.

The first crack in my shell came in the fall of 1999. I had been having some health problems and my doctor did a personal lifestyle inventory. One of the questions that he asked me was, “What were my religious beliefs?” I told him, I was an atheist. Then he asked,”How is your relationship with your father?” I told him it was pretty bad. My father was an alcoholic and consumed with his addiction while I was growing up. I really don’t have much of a relationship with him to this day. The next thing that he said was like a cup of cold water thrown in my face, “Well, It’s difficult to have a good relationship with your heavenly father if you have a bad relationship with your earthly one.”

There were many many people across decades of time that affected me, seeds planted, but this the first definitive step for me towards God. It was such a perceptive question and in many ways it went straight to the heart of my disbelief. I thought about that little exchange many times over the next few months.

In the end we discovered that I had a bad aorta valve. This is really interesting in itself. I’ve led a very very active life, been in the military, played sports, and been hiking, backpacking, really no restrictions to my activities at all. The doctors at the major medical center where I was operated on said that my pediatrician, when I was a very small child should have been able to hear this big leak that I had in my heart. My wife is a nurse. She listened to my chest and said that my heart sounded more like a mop squish squish squishing up and down in a mop bucket than the thump thump thump of a normal heart.

I was the captain of an 8-ball billiard team. One of my best players also started having health problems and had to quit the team. His name was Butch. He was turning his life over to the Lord, quitting drinking and smoking and could no longer play pool on the team. I told him that I respected that, no hard feelings and wished him the best of luck.

In March my praying wife writes in her diary, “Soon David will know the glory of the Lord.” We don’t discover this until months after my surgery, when she is flipping through past pages for some reason or another. It’s prophetic. . . .

I don’t know if you’ve ever been through anything like this, but it weighs very heavily on your mind. I was going to one of the best cardiac centers in the country. Lots of people from all over the world go to this center. In February, my surgery was scheduled for the middle of June. About the first week in May, I received a phone call, while at work, from the heart center asking if I would mind if they moved up my surgery by three weeks. I burst into tears while on the phone, weeping, embracing, caressing the anonymous lady on the other end of the phone with my words, “Thank you . . . thank you . . . thank you. . .” I hadn’t really even known how heavily it was weighing on my mind till that moment.

My surgery was scheduled for Wednesday May 24th. The Wednesday before, my father-in-law and I went to a local veteran’s club to play pool. It was a quiet evening in the place. A young boy maybe nine or ten years old, came and watched for a while, asked if he could play. We said sure. We talked and played for a couple of hours. He listened as my father-in-law talked about my upcoming surgery. I didn’t know the boy. I had seen him around, but never really had spoken with him. We made plans that night for my wife’s uncles and aunts to come back on Friday for the fish fry at the club. They would have a little send off for me going to the heart center in another state. Friday night comes and we got a big table. We’re sitting there when this boy that we played pool with on Wednesday walks up. He’s got something behind his back. He takes it out. It’s a Chicago Bulls championship season plaque. It’s got Scottie Pippin and Michael Jordan’s NBA basketball cards and the team’s picture. He tells me that he was in the hospital and this plaque brought him good luck. He wants me to take it with me to the hospital and keep it with me to bring me good luck. . . I am touched. I am humbled. It’s obvious this is very special to him. I am honored by the loan of his prized possession.

I go to the hospital. My friend Butch, who quit the pool team to give his life to the Lord, tells me that his church, Life Tabernacle, is praying for me. I don’t really understand, but I am appreciative. My surgery goes wonderfully. I have no problems whatsoever. By the following Monday, I am on the way home. I face a good six weeks off from work and some cardiac rehabilitation, but the surgery went very well.

I decide to go to church the first Sunday in June. I want to say thank you to the people of Life Tabernacle for their prayers. I had never been to a Pentecostal church before. I was unprepared for what I saw. The worship was so intense, so alive, and so real. We sat on about the second row from the back, on the left side of the sanctuary. A couple of rows ahead and to the right was an older man. His name, I now know, is Brother Studt. I owe him a lot. He was probably in his late sixties or early seventies. I was fascinated by him. I couldn’t take my eyes off of him. His worship was so fervent. I couldn’t understand why a man his age wasn’t taking a little nap in the back row. How may songs had he sung in his decades in church? How many thousands of sermons had he heard? Why was he still so obviously excited and passionate about worshipping God? My unbelief wasn’t gone, but I wanted what he had. His worship created a hunger, a thirst in me. I wanted a relationship like he had with God. I asked my wife if she wanted to go to the evening service. She was so surprised. I think her jaw almost hit the floor

For the next three weeks, we went to church every time the doors were open: Sunday morning, Sunday evening, Thursday evening Bible study. I think I even went to the Tuesday prayer meetings. My unbelief did not change. Finally on a Thursday evening after the lesson, I went down to the alter. I told the Pastor, Mark Johnson, that I was an atheist. Belief is like a light switch. It only has two positions. It is either on or off. I wanted to believe, but I just could not make the jump. He told me that I had done the right thing. I had come and I had opened my heart to God. Now it was time for me to let God work. A mountain for me would only be a mole hill for God.

I had had some problems in the recovery from my heart surgery. My wife and I were on the way to my daughter’s high school graduation and had stopped off at McDonald’s for a drink. One moment I was standing in line, the next thing I knew, five or six people were peering down at me as I lay on my back with a terrible headache. I had passed out while standing in line and hit my head pretty good. I ended up in the hospital for a few days. It really wasn’t anything serious. I had just tried to do too much too soon, so I had to slow down. I had not yet been back to the veteran’s club.

The next day after going down to the alter at church. We had planned another night at the veteran’s club fish fry. I took the plaque the young boy had given me and my wife and I walked in the door. From across the smoky room the young boy saw me. He came running and gave me a hug. “Dave! Dave! I’ve been so worried about you. You’re here!” He was helping with the fish fry, putting together Styrofoam to go boxes, wrapping up plastic knives, forks, and spoons, just helping out where needed. It was obvious he was very very happy to see me.

We went and got a big table. My wife’s aunts and uncles, mom and dad were coming again. We were sitting there a little while later, when I felt someone sitting next to me and it was this young boy again. “Hey Buddy!” I was surprised to see him. In just a couple of minutes, a girl, a little older, maybe thirteen or fourteen years old came up, hands on hips, her finger in his face, “What are you doing sitting over here. You’re supposed to be over there helping me.” “I quit! I quit! I ain’t doing that no more.” he replied. She stomped off in a huff. He turned to me, “What would she do if her best friend were here and she couldn’t talk to him!”. . . . . . . I melted. . . . . One evening, a couple of games of pool almost a month ago. . . . I’m his best friend. Oh man!

The memories came flooding back. I knew what was going on. He was reaching out. He has no father, in many ways like I had no father. For years I tried to attach myself to any man who paid me any attention. A boy needs a Dad. My heart was deeply deeply touched by this boy.

A few years before, I had dug a pond, a water garden in my yard. I was active on this forum on the Internet. On one section of the forum we talked about our fish and plants, problems with water quality, etc.

The site was: http://www.watergardening.com/

I just checked a few minutes ago. As of right now anyway, the forum has either been discontinued or is maybe just temporarily not working. Anyway on the other side or section of the site, people posted personal things: books they’d been reading, personal stories, jokes, non-pond stuff. On Saturday morning, I wrote a long post telling about my surgery and what had happened with this boy.

On Sunday, before church, I got up to check the response to my post on the forum. I was amazed. People from all over the world had replied. I remember posts from New Zealand, Australia, England, Japan and several from the United States. Pretty much all of them said the same thing, “Don’t you see what God is doing with you and this boy?” They didn’t know. . . They didn’t know. . . They didn’t know, they were speaking or writing to an atheist.

In a moment, sitting in the same room, the desk has been moved a few feet, but in almost the same spot that I now write this testimony, I saw my life pass before my eyes. You hear about people coming close to death and having this experience. I had this vision sitting before my computer on that Sunday morning. It was vivid, like a movie. I saw vivid vivid scenes from my life, times where I should have been terribly injured or hurt or killed or in trouble and every time. . . (I had called it coincidence, good luck, good fortune) . . . every time things worked out. I was OK. Well if you flip a coin and it turns up heads fifteen times in a row, it could be good luck, right? But it really is something else . . . my unbelief was gone.

There were about, maybe fifteen of these scenes from my life that I saw. I’ll share a couple of the more dramatic ones. These are memories that I had not thought of for years and years.

The first was when I was a boy of nine or ten. It was in the spring. A storm had come through the night before. I went down to a friend’s house to play. It must have been on a Saturday. In his back yard was a little crab apple tree. On the ground was a robin’s nest. There were two little birdies on the ground, very wet, but still alive. Mama was frantically chirruping in the fence near by. My friend and I decided to put the nest back in the tree. I took off my tennies and put the little birds in them to keep them warm while we shinnied up the tree and replaced the nest in a crotch in the tree.

Everything was OK till I looked in my shoes. There were all sorts of bugs crawling in there. I thought they were lice. I don’t know what they really were, but I thought they were lice back then and I sure wanted no part of that. I’d seen kids in school get called out for having lice and I would do anything to avoid that embarrassment. I was a real bright kid. I’d drop an atom bomb on those lice, so I went to the shed and got the gas can for the mower . . . and poured gasoline into my tennis shoes. Ya know what? It worked. The lice were dead.

I was a pretty bright kid, but not too good at thinking ahead, for as you might have guessed by now I had another problem, gasoline filled tennis shoes. Well that’s a pretty easy fix. I took them into the house, into the hallway . . . and put them into the gas dryer. . . I turned it on. . . A half hour later, my mom comes home. I’m not sure where she was, probably at a neighbor’s. As she walks in the door, she begins shrieking, “David! David! What did you do?” The house reeked of gasoline. She walked to the hall. The shoes were in the dryer a thumpity thumpity thumping around in the dryer . . . she opened the door. The pilot light had blown out that day. What good luck. What a coincidence. Now I saw, thank you Lord!

The next vision or scene that I saw was probably thirty years later. It was in the mid to late nineties. I had an old Chevy S-10 pickup truck. It was broken. I replaced the ignition module and took it for a test drive on a local state highway. I went maybe five or six miles to a major intersection, pulled into a gas station, bought a cup of coffee and probably a box of cigars. I parked right in front. The truck was an automatic transmission. I put it into reverse and began backing up. The gas pumps were right behind me. I don’t know if you’ve ever had this happen, but it is spooky, when I put my foot on the brake to creep out of the parking spot, I had no brakes. I mean my foot went to the floor and I couldn’t even begin to slow down the truck going at an idle. I had to slam the transmission into park to stop the truck. I got out and all along the side of the truck was a big puddle of brake fluid. I found out later that a steel brake line had corroded through and ruptured. All the brake fluid was there on the pavement. One stop before . . . one stop before, I was going 50 or 55 M.P.H. down the highway, up to a major intersection. The brake line lasted just long enough, just until I was backing out of a parking spot.

Another coincidence, another piece of good luck . . . thank you God! Again and again and again I saw these things, these times when my back was turned against God and yet He was still there, still watching over me, still protecting me. He is so good. Almost my entire life was spent in unbelief. My wife prayed for me for ten years. . . I was baptized in the name above every other name, in Jesus name July 16th and I was filled with the Spirit of God on August 17th. I spoke in a language I did not understand of that same year.

My life is completely changed. Never say never. . .”

I love you Jesus. Thank you.

Dave Stokely