I remember feeling the presence of God for the first time when I was just six years old. It was an incredible feeling of love and peace, but I want to save that story for later because it correlates to something that happened to me recently in my life. It’s important for me to mention this now because that moment ties into my entire testimony.
I’ll start by sharing the story of the second time I came across the presence of God. I was about seven years old and was outside playing in the yard with my older brother. My mother was about to pull out of the driveway to run errands and she asked me to grab the mail for her.
The mailbox was on the opposite side of the driver’s seat so I would have to grab the mail and then walk across the car and give the mail to my mother through the car window. So I grabbed the mail and began walking across the front of the van (without being able to see the entire left side of the road because the van was gigantic) and then something happened. I couldn’t move! My entire body froze and I couldn’t move a single bone in my body.
When it happened, I wasn’t scared at all and was very much at peace about what was happening. It only happened for around three seconds, but I remember I was looking at the trees being blown by the wind and thinking, “Wow that is so beautiful”. The moment I could finally move an eighteen-wheeler truck came from the side of the road the van was blocking and it drove by relatively fast (30 mph if I had to estimate) right past my mother’s parked van.
There is no doubt in my mind that it would have killed me if I was right outside my mother’s driver’s side window. Thank you, Jesus! I went into my mother’s van and tried to explain what happened, but it was pretty hard as a seven-year-old. She knew exactly what happened though and said to me,
“Joseph, your guardian angel saved you!”
So it was at a very young age I knew God was real and I would pray every night to thank Him for what He did for me. I also began praying more and more at night when I was trying to fall asleep because I would become extremely paranoid and scared. I would constantly feel a fear surrounding me and when I finally fell asleep, I would have nightmares that were terrifying.
It slowly became worse and sleeping in a bed alone became a living nightmare. When I was in bed alone at night (and this never happened during the day) it was like I became a schizophrenic. I’d rather not talk about all the ways that Satan tried to break me down, but more so how if we put our trust in Jesus Christ, we have complete authority over the enemy!
The nightmares occurred less frequently as I prayed more and eventually it got to a point where I barely ever had them. It wasn’t until I was around 20 years old, I could fall asleep and not worry about what types of dreams I would have. At this time, I began to take for granted what the Lord had done for me, and I slipped into a life of sin. I had accepted Jesus into my life as my Lord and Savior, but I wasn’t living a Christian lifestyle. I would constantly swear and use the Lord’s name in vain, fornicate, judge people, which lead to hatred in my heart, and had a love for the pursuit of money. As I became buried in my own sin, I noticed it was harder to even open up the Bible and the nightmares began occurring more frequently again.
It was June of 2010 (I was 23) I started to have nightmares that weren’t like anything that I’ve ever experienced. They were incredibly vivid, and I knew they were demonic dreams. Most nights I didn’t fall asleep until the sun came up at around 6:30 AM because I thought the dreams would be less likely to occur. Then they started to get so bad that I didn’t ever want to fall asleep. They were just so real that I could even feel pain and would be tormented in some of these nightmares. I began to sleep during the day and be up at night, but even then, they still occurred.
Fast forward to August 2010, I was up for three days straight with no sleep. I was in my bed laying down and I felt swarmed with fear out of nowhere. It’s really hard to explain other than you just know something is around you. So I went downstairs into my living room and sat up on the couch just looking around in a paranoid state of mind.
This was the moment where I hit my rock bottom. I started to think to myself, “What is going on with me, I can’t control this, I don’t want to go to a mental hospital because I’ll probably lose my girlfriend (who I’ve been with for six years and is the love of my life), if this keeps happening will I kill myself?” That last thought made me cry uncontrollably and I finally cried out to God. I looked up and said,
“Jesus! Jesus! I can’t do this without you! I know this is satan trying to break me down, please help me! I surrender my life to you! I will do whatever you ask of me, just take away this pain, please Jesus!”
I slowly stopped crying and felt His peace around me and eventually I fell asleep.
I did have a dream that night, but this time it was from God, I’ll tell the short version. I was in an open field and a stampede of black horses started to run at me. There were thousands of them, so I turned and began running in the other direction, but they were in every direction I looked, and I was swarmed by them. So I looked in the sky and said, “Jesus help!”
Immediately after I said this I started to fly into the sky and I began laughing because I knew He saved me. But then I looked down and I noticed all of these black horses were flying also and were right behind me. When I woke up, I was upset because I thought God had heard my prayer that night.
I started to pace around the house in prayer asking for help non-stop and was given a word of knowledge from the Holy Spirit. It wasn’t audible, but came from my heart and it said, “Go to the basketball courts.” So I immediately got changed and drove there. After about 30 minutes of shooting around I saw something in the sky. The sky was completely covered by dark black clouds, but there was an opening where the sun was shining through. It was the only opening in the entire sky that I could see, and the sun shined through it and the light went from the opening all the way to hitting the ground. It was amazing and I knew God was letting me know that he was always with me. Praise God!
It wasn’t soon after that I told my girlfriend that I needed to be baptized again. I wanted to fully commit myself to live a Christian lifestyle and do whatever the Lord called me for. We baptized each other in her pool and we both felt the love of our God with us. It was an indescribable feeling of love and peace that I’ll never forget. The nightmares completely stopped after the baptism and I no longer had any depression in my life.
I became hungry for God and needed more of Him; it was like a drug. I would tell Him all the time that I was his servant for whatever He needed me for. I just love Jesus so much for everything he has done for me and I’m not ashamed to say it!
Now it’s time to rewind to the very first time I felt the presence of God. I was six years old, and my family and I had just come home from church. That day the choir sang a song that was called “Hosanna”. I really liked the song, and it was stuck in my head when we came home. My brother and I started playing a game in the yard and I began to sing it,
“Sing Hosanna! Sing Hosanna!”
I was having so much fun and I felt the love of God around me. It was a feeling I had never felt before at the time and I actually remember thinking (yes, I was six and still remember), “I know God is real, because I can feel him right now.”
So fast-forward back to 2010. It was November 17 and I started looking on YouTube for Christian music that was being played live at concerts. I came across this one band that I really liked called, Hillsong. I started going through all of their songs and came across the song, “Hosanna”. When I saw the name, I remembered the time when I was six, but there was something I needed to check out. For some reason I never really looked up what the word hosanna meant, mainly because I always thought it was another name for Jesus. When I looked it up I saw that it is actually a term that is a cry for salvation, a declaration of praise, or the old interpretation means “Save Now!” Little did I know that day I was singing “Sing Hosanna” I was asking Jesus to save me. Well, He sure did that day when I was getting the mail for my mom!
I began to watch the video on YouTube named “Hillsong- Hosanna (High Quality)” (for those that want to see it) and it really touched me. First off, it’s an incredible song by a talented band. The biggest thing though was the crowd and how they were praising God. There were people in the crowd that were my age, and they weren’t ashamed to show their love in public for their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. They were all so happy and it was obvious that they had a hunger for God like I did.
I then began listening to the lyrics and a couple of lines really stood out to me. It was when the lead singer said,
“I see a generation, rising up to take their place, with selfless faith, selfless faith. I see a near Revival, stirring as we pray and seek, we’re on our knees, we’re on our knees.”
I continued to listen and at around the 4-minute mark I was given another word of knowledge from the Holy Spirit. It was once again very simple and was only two words that were repeated, but the feeling I received was incredible. The Spirit said, “My people! My people! My people! My people!”
I began to cry, and I knew the message had more than one meaning. The first was the people in the crowd were truly the people of Jesus. They didn’t just label themselves Christians but were also living a Christian lifestyle. The other meaning was He was saying that He needed our help and that we need to be the near revival that the song speaks about! Jesus needs our help! He wants every single soul to make it into his kingdom, but he can’t do it without us, and we need to be His mouthpiece.
I just want to encourage everyone to try and spread the Word of God. He is waiting for people to open up the door for Him. I know how hard it is to try and talk to a non-believer about Truth, but we all need to trust Jesus through it. Why fear man when Jesus is always with us! Even if you don’t think they’ll listen, it’s okay, the Word is still getting out. Let’s start the near revival today!
And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.