God has been so good to me; I give Him the glory for all He has done in my life. I was born and raised in a Christian home. My father was a holiness preacher, and he and my mother raised my sister and me according to the Bible principles by which they were raised. Throughout my childhood and teen years I believed that I was a Christian, and I wanted to live the way the Bible teaches.
But I had never had a personal experience of salvation, so when I graduated from high school and started college, I was unprepared to live in a way consistent with my upbringing when surrounded by ungodly influences at the Christian college I attended. My roommate for the first year listened to rock music all the time, as did most of the students. Smoking and drinking were also common, even in the dorms, and movies were sometimes shown on campus.
For the first few months I just wanted to resist all those ungodly influences, but I finally succumbed to all the peer pressure. Eventually I was listening to rock music, watching movies and TV, and letting my hair grow longer. My best friend at college seemed to be a helpful, caring Christian. He had the most plausible arguments I had ever encountered for getting acquainted with some of the ways of the world.
I lost interest in my studies, and eventually abandoned my original purpose for going to college, which was to prepare to be a Bible translator. After a year and a half of college, I’d had enough, and dropped out. I moved from place to place and from job to job, mostly on my own, but occasionally staying with my parents for a while. I usually attended church, but finally almost entirely quit.
In 1976 I moved from Denver, Colorado to Ponca City, Oklahoma, and began using marijuana regularly. I also tried getting drunk a few times, but never enjoyed it much. So only a few years after leaving home I had rejected all my parent’s moral training and was addicted to immoral thoughts, rock music, movies, and pot.
By the grace of God I was so much of a loner that I hardly got involved at all in the sexual immorality of the people around me, but I mentally indulged in it constantly. I also began to suffer from paranoia, confusion, anxiety, and depression, as a result of the drugs and music. But, praise God, my mother had never stopped praying for me and trusting that God would save me. I remember a certain time in 1977 when I had just ordered several tapes of my favorite rock music, expecting to enjoy life more than ever by listening to that music daily and using pot on the weekends. But the music made me feel strangely depressed, and the pot didn’t help me feel any better.
For two weeks I got daily more depressed and desperate for help. I thought if I could change my life, I could be happy again, but I wasn’t sure what kind of change I needed. I considered things like becoming a drug dealer or a mercenary soldier, something that would be entirely different from anything I had done before. I also had an idea that if I could know that God loved me, I could find a reason for living. But I was in such a confused, darkened spiritual condition that I didn’t know if God existed, or what the difference was between right and wrong.
One night I came home from work and decided I must settle what to do that night, because I was so desperately depressed that I couldn’t go on like that. I remember walking into my apartment and wondering how it would be to meet Jesus personally. So I tried to imagine that Jesus was sitting there with me and listening to my thoughts. I opened up and shared all the trouble I had been having, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. As each of those things came to mind, and I mentally tried to explain them to Jesus, it seemed that I was being counseled about those problems, and it was the same answer each time,
“Give that problem to Me and I will take it away and give you peace and joy instead.”
I thought that would be impossible, or too simple, to give up things that troubled me so much. But I tried to do that, then finally I heard Him say,
“Now you must believe that I am Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and am really present with you here, and that I can do what I said.”
I thought, “But I don’t know if God is real; how can I believe? Then I tried to believe, and as I tried, He helped me, and suddenly I knew, that Jesus Christ was real, and that He had come to visit me in my apartment (not physically, but spiritually), and I knew that He loved me, and that He could help me like no one else could.
Then suddenly the trouble and darkness in my heart and mind vanished, and I felt empty. Then love, and joy, and peace began flowing into my heart, and filled me, and filled the room around me. I could only weep for joy at the sudden complete relief from all the burden of darkness; for 15 minutes or more I rejoiced with tears in that heavenly atmosphere. Since then, no one could ever convince me that Jesus Christ was not a real person or not able to save, because I knew I had met Him personally.
For a few weeks after this experience, I was constantly aware of the peace of God in my heart and mind. Then I began to realize that the Lord wanted me to make a complete surrender to Him. I was afraid of what the Lord might ask me to do if I surrendered completely to Him, so I began to back up from the light He had given me.
Soon I began using drugs again, listening to rock music, etc. In other words, I backslid, and remained backslidden for about 3 years. But all that time I deceived myself into believing I was still saved, even though I was involved in the same sins I had been saved from. Somehow I rationalized about my sins until I felt comfortable with them and didn’t think of them as sins at all. Then when those 3 years had passed, I began to think seriously about giving up my sinful habits (drugs, rock music, etc.), but when I tried to quit I always came back to them eventually.
One day in 1980 when I was living in Oklahoma City I started home from work with nothing on my mind but the desire to get drugged. I had just recently decided to put off seeking God’s help for a while so I could enjoy drugs for a while longer. On my way home (a 3-mile walk) I stopped to smoke pot, then instead of going home I stopped in an abandoned warehouse to smoke some more. I was bothered by the fact that no matter how fast I smoked it, I wasn’t getting as drugged as I usually did.
Then suddenly, sitting there on the floor in that dark, smelly building, everything seemed to change. I was suddenly clear minded, not drugged at all, and seeing a vision. I saw a bright and glorious light shining from a Man standing on a hill, and as soon as I saw Him, I knew it was Jesus. I remember thinking, “Jesus is so holy and loving and perfect in every way, and I’ve spent these last 3 years seeking to be happy and satisfied by drugs and just living to please myself, when I’ve already met Jesus and know that only He can satisfy my heart. Why have I tried to be satisfied with these imperfect things when only Jesus is perfect, and I could have been having fellowship with Him?”
The vision changed somewhat, and I saw the same glorious, holy light shining from an opening in some rocks. I wanted to draw nearer and enter into that place and be with Jesus, but I suddenly realized how unclean and unfit I was to be in His presence. The vision was so bright and clear that it seemed to burn into my mind and heart, and to be imprinted there within me.
Then it faded away, and I reverted to the drugged condition I had been in before, but with that vision still burning in the back of my mind. All I wanted to do was to seek the Lord, but I had to wait until about noon the next day until the drug effect wore off enough that I could really pray. Then I realized clearly my backslidden condition and began seeking forgiveness.
Praise the Lord, He had mercy on me and took me back. As soon as I knew my sins were forgiven, I began to really be burdened for the souls of the people around me, especially my fellow employees. Every day I walked and talked with Jesus Then He told me that I needed to make that absolute surrender that I had failed to make 3 years before. This time I was eager to get all that God had for me, so I started seeking the best I knew how. After about 10 days of desperate soul-searching, in cooperation with the Holy Spirit, it seemed that I had surrendered all that I could, and I was desperate to pray clear through, but wasn’t sure how to manage it.
One night I told the Lord that if I had to spend the rest of my life in the same kind of desperate seeking and dying out to self that I had been going through for those 10 days, I was willing to do it. The Lord knew I meant it, and the next morning He told me,
“You’ve done all you can do to surrender, now you just need to trust me to do my sanctifying work in you.”
I began to exercise faith, and the Spirit of God helped me to believe, and after about 2 hours, I got clear through. Then as soon as my faith took hold of God’s promises, the work was done.
The Holy Spirit filled me with His perfect love so that I knew that I loved everyone with His own love within me, and I entered into a kind of union with Jesus that I had never experienced before. Then I realized that because the Holy Spirit had filled me, there was no place for carnality to remain within my heart, so I was also cleansed from all sin.
From that time on, I had victory over all sin, had no more desire for the things of the world, and had constant communion with Jesus. The Lord gave me light on various things, until within several months’ time I was living according to the same Biblical standards of holy living that my parents had taught me. For about one year I had that blessed victorious life, then I began to be a little careless about some things until I yielded to temptation and used drugs again. But the very next day after I did that, I realized that I had lost the presence of the Comforter from my heart, and that life was not worth living without Him. So, I repented and started seeking to be sanctified again. It took 3 months of earnest seeking to get back the assurance of entire sanctification.
Then for about 10 years I lived in fellowship with God in the way of holiness. During that time I lived and worked in various places as I felt the Lord leading me to do, then went to Union Bible College in Westfield, Indiana to prepare to be a missionary to the Chinese people. After graduation I went to Hobe Sound, Florida to prepare to go as a missionary to Taiwan associated with the Florida Evangelistic Association.
In Hobe Sound in 1991 and ’92 I had some spiritual trouble again connected with a romantic involvement, which romance ended when I went to Taiwan in 1993; however, the spiritual effects of this continued to trouble me until 1998 when I came home to the U.S. for the summer and attended a camp meeting in Indiana. Under the anointed preaching of John Macdonald I was convinced that I needed to seek forgiveness for the spiritual inconsistencies of the past several years, then I began to seek to regain a clear sanctified experience.
The third time I went to the altar in that meeting, we prayed until after midnight. Then the Lord began to really help me in prayer, and I found myself running the aisle and shouting praises to God. From that day until now I have had no interest in going back on my commitment to God in any way. I can’t imagine turning away from Him again for any reason.
I spent about five and a half years from ’93 to ’99 in Taiwan and in Mainland China as a teaching missionary. In 1999 I met the lady who became my wife. We have been blessed with a son and have been trying to follow God’s guidance ever since, concerning how and where we can best serve Him. I praise God that by His grace I can bear witness to a present experience of full salvation with daily victory over all sin. May God’s perfect will be done in my life and may all be done for His glory.