To to read for further study. My childhood
To any of you who doubt the presence and magnificence of our Lord, Jesus Christ; first, I must say that I understand exactly where you are coming from. I, too, at one point was a non-believer. Moreover, I was violently anti-Christian to the point of persecuting these children of God. The following is a letter of my conversion to Christianity. It reads through from my early years and the person that I was at that time through to my troubled childhood and teen years all the way to where I am right now. I will focus on and demonstrate the many ways in which I know that Jesus Christ is Lord and God. Hopefully, you will listen with an open heart and realize the wonderful truth that took me so long to see. At the end are a few easy Bible verses to read for further study.
My childhood was much like any other. I was born on January 13, 1980 to loving parents and a solid home. Everything was as good as things could be. I very vibrantly remember when I was two years old writing my name on a piece of paper and running around to show my mother what I had done. It was very important to me even at that young ago to feel respected and loved. I remember playing with my sister and chasing her around the house. We loved each other and our situation. When I was very young, my mother and father divorced and my father left us completely. That was the deal; if he left, it was going to be a clean break. I still remember seeing him for the last time when I was four years old. In the coming years, I would end up seeing him again, but not before much damage had been inflicted in our home. My mother remarried a friend of my fathers’ and things again went quite smoothly indeed. I had a fairly strong bond with my stepfather. We did many exciting and interesting things together. I very much enjoyed our time and could not get enough of it. When I was seven, I gave the word that I desired to quit Cub Scouts. This was one of the stronger bonding opportunities between the two of us. I did mention that I had good reasons for my request, but I knew at that very moment that things would never be the same. Storms came and washed away the happiness of my youth. Pressing financial difficulties coupled along with my family’s growing lusts for material possessions drove us out into the wilderness of lies. From about this time, I was fascinated by everything mechanical, electrical and involving biology. My spare time at home was spent going through encyclopedia books in a concerted attempt to appease my desire for knowledge and at the same time to draw my mind away from my home life. At home, I would make various gadgets and take them to school. My classmates would marvel at the things I was doing. This, eventually, would be one of the many undoings of my life without God. As the years passed, my former “friends” became very weary of my trinkets and tricks. They began to call me names and taunt me all the day. This escalated into a full torment which lasted approximately until I was 16.
During this time, I fell into a deeper and deeper depression that never faded not even for an instant. I would go to sleep at night hating my life and hating everything else around me. The searing hate and unyielding depression would permeate my mind up until the moment that I fell asleep. Even in my dreams, I would hate myself. In the morning, I would open my eyes and the first thing that would pop into my mind was how angry and let down I was that I woke up again. My typical day would consist of waking up with a burning rage at 5:00 in the morning and going to school, where people would follow me around telling me to kill myself. I was followed around everywhere. No one would ever leave me alone. I even had a few teachers taunt me — teachers that I didn’t even have class with. I literally had no friends and no family. No one to turn to at all to vent my feelings to. Something happened along the way and my ability to actually feel any form of joy suddenly and inexplicable disappeared. When I was about eight years of age, my sense of pleasure, accomplishment, amusement and happiness simply vanished. I distinctly remember on many occasions trying desperately to laugh at anything in this world. I would do things such as watch television shows like Friends and no matter what I did, I was physically an emotionally unable to laugh. Everyone around me was laughing and talking about how funny these things on television were. I would move the air in and out of my lungs to fake a laugh because I didn’t want anyone to know what was going on inside my head. Days ran into each other and there was no way to tell one from another. I no longer had “days”; I simply had one long never-ending day. This strengthened the non-stop barrage of condescending hate that drove me quite literally insane. After years of taunts and torment, all of a sudden, out of nowhere, everyone who used to follow me around and tease me just ended their torture and I was left all alone in my own mind.
When I was 12, I discovered music. Up until this point, I had never listened to music because the only bands that I had ever come into contact with were terribly unmusical ones. This is the time that I discovered my bad music. The music I was listening to did very much make me feel better at the time and made me realize that I was not the only one in the world feeling this way. It did, however, help to drag my spirit even further down without my knowledge. Through years of torment, coupled with a uniquely strong video recorder-like memory and an uncontrollable ability to continually run through my day over and over again, I eventually did go insane. Because of my memory, even when people were leaving me alone (which in itself may have even been worse — to be completely ignored) I constantly played back what they did do to me. When I would “re-experience” the memories over and over again, all of the accompanying emotions would play back along with the images. The burning hate and rage and depression was right there in the memories, too. In my mind, I quite literally was going through a constant torture even when I was perfectly alone.
At some point during these years, the pressure built up in me and other than being extremely susceptible to illness, I began to develop a tightening in my chest. It began as what would feel like a tension that would come and go, but after a while, it never left. Slowly, this tight feeling in my chest began to grow and manifest itself in much more powerful ways. The tight feeling I was having grew more and more unbearable and its hold on me was too much to take. These pains felt as though a car was actually parked on top of my chest. As this phenomenon grew in intensity, it also expanded in duration. No longer was I getting pangs of chest pain, now I was having in all-out non-stop flood of physical pain that was so intense I had to fight in order to breathe sometimes. It was incapacitating. Eventually, it came to a point where it would never go away for even a second. From the very instant I woke up in the morning to the last thing I remember at night, these extreme chest pains were torturing me. It got to the point that I would have done anything to get rid of them.
All that is written above built up over the years and when I actually reached this point, I was paranoid-psychotic. It had been nearly a decade of my more impressionable years since I’d felt pleasure or happiness or love in any respect and all that I knew was hate. At this time, I literally had no moral center at all. I could have and very much would have done anything possible and not have cared. Think of the most absolute worst thing you can imagine a person doing to anyone and I would have beaten that. I was 100% completely free of any conviction of wrongdoing. Nothing I did could make me feel remorse. There was nothing that seemed wrong or out-of-line for me. I was a worthless, disgusting person and, quite honestly, the world would have been much better off without me. Then came the summer of 1997, when I was 17 years old. I was all alone and walking down the roadside in the town of New Richmond, Ohio. This was one of the few times when my mind was almost completely blank. There was still the pounding screaming voices in my head that were always there to turn me aside, but they were a bit subsided more than normal. My mind was almost clear. At that point, the ultimate lie of all lies entered my mind, “There is no God.”. Out of nowhere, a new voice, one that I’d never heard before, simply whispered, “There is no God…He’s not real.” and I repeated it back out loud. At that point I had it set in my heart that all of the anger and fury that I had toward God was misdirected. In my mind, God did not exist, so how could I be mad at Him? I look back at this decision and literally get cold chills sometimes because now I can see how I almost turned out. But for the grace of God, I would be dead right now; most likely as a result of some type of kamikaze plot to kill myself and take as many people out with me as possible. I came so close to committing a Columbine every single day of my life and I especially hated Christians. I get creeped out that I could have been that person, but it was all set to change very soon.
I spent the rest of my summer as a complete atheist and doing anything that came to mind because I knew that there were no repercussions. If the town I had been raised in had many drugs, I would have been on them all. Luckily for me, the only thing that ever really made it in was alcohol and marijuana. Just as easily as I could have been a cold, evil, unholy killer, I could be living in a dumpster right now as well. I thank God for every single passing second that I breathe because I know who I was and it was only by the grace of God that I am the man I am today.
Around late September or early October of 1997, I was killing time in my town by, of all things, hanging out at a party in the basement of a local church. This didn’t even bother me anymore because I knew that God wasn’t real. All the people around me were the local people that I grew up with and hated. The only reason I went was because of the free pizza. It was just as you might imagine a small church in the midwest would look like. The basement was set up with a few badminton tables, some ping-pong and a game of twister. There was a sound system blaring what I considered to be “disgusting Christian music” in the background. Everyone around me was smiling and having a great time. After the party, which ended at a little before midnight, I walked over to the PA system and began to inspect, quite sarcastically, just what these people had. I had always been fascinated with electronics and since I played guitar, sound gear as well. After looking at all of the equipment for a few minutes, the pastor of the church approached me. He believed I was interested in Christianity when it was really simply a curiousness in their sound setup. He wanted to pray over me, but I was completely against the idea. Then, his daughter and (I believe) another man stood beside him and the three of them asked if they could pray over me. I knew from their dedication to the cause that they weren’t going to give up easily and I just wanted to go home and get to sleep, so I simply decided to let them. In my mind, I thought that they would do a small minute-long prayer and it would be all over. So…they began to pray. I closed my eyes because that’s what everyone else was doing and I just stood there. When they finished, I could tell that there was something very alien and new inside me. Immediately, the first thing I noticed was that the incredible, crushing chest pains that had plagued me for years were gone! No doctor could ever get rid of this. In fact, no doctor even knew what it was…but it was GONE! I stood there wide-eyed and confused for a few seconds and the people asked me how I felt. I replied that I actually felt really great. That was the first time in approximately 10 or 12 years that I had felt what could even be described as “OK”. Now, I was feeling “great”! They asked me if I would consider going to their church the following Sunday and I replied that I would. As I was leaving I was astonished at how a simple five-minute prayer could ever cause so much change in me. I looked down to my watch to check how much time I had left to walk home and those five minutes that I was being prayed over was really closer to 35 minutes! As I was rooted very strongly in science, none of this made any sense to me at all. All that I knew was that this all came about in the name of Jesus Christ. This is not for my glory, but for God’s to show the effect He had on me.
I attended the same local Baptist church for six weeks. I’m not sure when it happened, but some time during those six weeks, I was changed forever. At the end of the sixth week, I actually believed that God was real! In fact, I KNEW that He was real. Other than the remarkable healing that occurred in me, I could feel God every time I was in church. I attended church every Sunday for several months and was part of many fun and useful things, such as a missions trip to Tennessee to rebuild a church that was burned down. I was part of a great youth revival going on in my hometown. In a small town of only few thousand people, there were at least six churches that immediately come to mind, with others in the outskirts of town I’m sure. Of these six churches, I could tell that there was something different about the other five. I could sense that there was something wrong with the rest of them. As I read more of the Bible and listened to certain wise men speak of God, religion today and life in general, I came to realize what it was that was wrong with these churches. They were what was called a “dead church”, meaning that, just as the Pharisees, they were all talk and no God. This is one of the more important distinctions to make when choosing churches. If you try to attend a dead church, it may actually hurt your relationship with God. I cannot even go to a dead church more than once without feeling sick and disgusted at how my day unfolded before me. Please remember that NOT ALL CHURCHES HAVE GOD. These churches that lack are part of the problem — they give Christianity a bad name. This, coupled along with unloving Christians, really turn people off to God. I know…I’m proof. Before my conversion, I was witness to many uneducated Christians screaming at me that I’m going to Hell and that I’m a bad person and that God hates me. This is not the way it is at all. The Bible explains that the only way to heaven is through Jesus Christ, but God loves every single person and wants everyone to go to heaven. Furthermore, we humans do not know everything and we are not authorized to say who is and who isn’t going to Heaven – we just don’t know. Maybe you make that decision in the last seconds of your life and you are saved. Maybe not, but we don’t know. The people who approached me told me I was going to Hell. They didn’t say, “Unless you accept Jesus.”. They told meand look how wrong they were. It is true. And I’m sure you may be asking the question, “Well, if God loves everyone so much, then why does he make people suffer?”. First, God doesn’t make people suffer. The Bible explains that the evil one, Satan, has to ask God for permission to afflict and tempt people. God lets people be tempted and afflicted in order to test and strengthen them. Doesn’t every good father discipline their child? It is true and I would not wish my childhood, which was inexplicably horrendous, on anyone. It just simply had to be. I have been told in the past by certain atheists that I was the only Christian that they would listen to because I never yelled or judged or hated them for not being Christian. This is all due to my childhood. I was allowed to go through incredible pain so that in the end I could proclaim how great God was through it all. Even now, I can see how God protected me all through my life. I was brought to the very edge of sanity, safety and existence and God pulled me back just in time, every time.
I can see now just how much God loved me all through my early years even when I screamed at Him and cursed His name and even when I didn’t believe he was real. I now am at ease with life because of Him. Sure, life is not easy, but it’s different now. I have my mind set on a new focus and it has changed me. No longer am I ruled by what doctors or science may say or what evil may come my way. I have a great protector that is very real and fights my battles for me. It is true. If you believe that Jesus Christ is Lord and came to earth to die for your sins and on the third day was resurrected from the dead, then you are a child of God and you may follow in his steps. The wages of sin is death and Jesus is the only one who can take away your sins. As long as you believe in Him and try your best to follow Him, then he will do the rest for you. He truly is a marvelous God.
But beware, because there is a very real battle being waged in the spiritual realm. One that I was stuck right in the middle of, but God won me over to the winning side and gave me life! Be on guard because after reading these words, if you decide to give your life to God, there will initially be an enormous opposition and you will be pulled in two different ways. As long as you are not of God, you are siding with the devil…there is no middle ground. If you are not for God, then you will be used for evil — even unknowingly. I was on a path to be a very powerful instrument of evil in this world. If only I had known that I was helping out the very one who was destroying my life, I would have stopped and reconsidered where I was going. Please, just take a step back from yourself for a moment and consider all the things you have done today that may have helped the evil to spread just a little farther in this world. Every time you said an unkind word to someone or lied to someone or cheated them you have helped to bring a little more evil into this world. I was so blinded to all this before my conversion, but now it is all so very clear that at times I am amazed how I didn’t see it before.
In closing, I testify that all these words are true and I hope and pray that this has helped you in some way to understand God and why we Christians love and trust in Him. This is not some unseen force which may or may not exist. We can actually feel His love and care. When we pray, our prayers are answered. When we are attacked, we call His name and He gives us relief. On top of that, some of us have seen amazing and sometimes even frightening things which can only be explained by the fact that God is real. Some of us have even prophesied the future in the name of the Christ to watch it come true in front of our own eyes. So, if you realize how much you can’t go through life alone or have something pressing down on you so hard you think you may die, call out His name and ask that He show you His love so that you may believe. God desires all to come to Him, no matter who they are or how bad they may be. If I can be forgiven, anyone can. I was the worst of all and the Lord called me out personally to fight for Him. Remember, many will come claiming to be God and claiming to know the way. Test everything and never believe a word unless it can be backed up by verse. God be with you all.