Saturday, June 29, 2013

Redeemed, How I Love to Proclaim It

            Recently, after sharing his own testimony, Pastor Clay encouraged those who are Christians to share their own. A few weeks later, at the camp in Missouri, the counselors and campers were encouraged to share their testimonies during the girls’ nightly devotion. I had never really told anyone the full story until that night. I guess it's because I compare myself to others too much. I don't remember the specific date. I wasn't saved from a life full of regrets. Many testimonies people give include factors like those and I guess I always found mine to be uninteresting in comparison. In retrospect, I now know that my viewpoint has been wrong. Jesus Christ saved me from my sins. It doesn't matter how great or small those sins are in the world's eyes "For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). So, getting saved was the most important thing I've ever done, and I will share my personal testimony.

            For most of the first 9 years of my life, I attended Mesa Baptist Church. I remember some of my Sunday school and singing in the children's choir. My more vivid memories come from AWANA on Wednesday nights. I remember practicing verses and struggling with praying in front of my mom. I also remember one night when the leaders invited us to accept Jesus in our hearts and I raised my hand and was led to another room with some other kids. I was 6 and I really didn't understand what was happening. I knew who Jesus was, but I didn't have a grasp on what it meant to be saved. A few years later, my family moved and we had a hard time finding a new church. I still wanted to be involved in AWANA, so my dad took me to a new church on Wednesday nights, but the rest of my family didn't come. During those years, my family was struggling a lot. We would attend church together some Sundays, but it was always somewhere different. We tried my cousins' church for a while, we tried local churches, and we even went with a family friend, but his church was a little too far. Eventually, Sunday church seemed to fade out except when I visited my grandma, who was as devoted to her church family as she was to her ailing husband. Despite the spontaneity of my church attendance, it seemed that one message still rang through everywhere I went. God loves me, He has a plan for me, and He sent His Son to die on the cross to save me. I think understanding finally hit me after my cousins were baptized when I was 10 or 11. I remember asking questions about what they were doing and my mom explained that baptism was a visual representation of salvation. I don't know how much time passed after that, but I do remember reading my Bible one night in my bedroom, and I fully understood that I was lost and needed a Savior. I remember talking with my mom and I accepted Jesus into my heart that night and I was excited! I brought my Bible over to my neighbor's house the next day and tried to lead her and my brother in a salvation prayer. Only God knows if they really understood what I was so excited about or what the words they repeated meant, but I hope that I at least planted a seed. Since I was not a member of any particular church, I was not baptized until my family moved to Oklahoma. Although baptism is not necessary for salvation, it does symbolize the cleansing and new life God gives us when we are saved, and I was glad to finally feel like I was a part of the church body. That is the story of how God saved me. I wish I would have shared sooner, I felt so free after sharing with the girls in Missouri. I also wish I would have had a better grasp of time when it happened; I think it was part way because I was homeschooled for 3 years and I had no sense of time or what day it was or even the month! It took me many years before I began keeping track of time. :)

            If you are reading this and you don't understand what I'm talking about, then I would be happy to show you some more verses from the Bible that explain our sinful nature and our need for salvation. We all are like lost sheep in need of a shepherd to save us. I don't really think there's a right or wrong way to pray, you just need to admit to God that you are a sinner and that you believe with all your heart that His Son, Jesus Christ, died on a cross for our sins and He rose from the grave on the third day. Salvation is a gift from God, and if you accept His sacrificial gift, you can be saved from an eternity in Hell. If you are a Christian, then I challenge you to share your salvation testimony with at least one other person. It truly feels great to let others know what God has done for us. Like one of my pastors likes to say: if God never blessed you after the moment of your salvation, you are still blessed and have a reason to be joyful! I have been blessed in so many ways beyond my salvation, and I know I’m not usually the brightest light to others, so this challenge goes to myself as well. We do have joy and hope and even if circumstances are tough, we know that one day we will all be in Heaven. Let’s share this message that God has commissioned to us so that others may join us.

“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you; and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” Matthew 28:19-20
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