From Skeptic to Salvation
Hello my name is Richard. I have been asked to record the words of my testimony as I read them out at my Baptism in June 2009. Before I read my testimony at my Baptism, I said a short prayer. I shall start by saying the same prayer now. Heavenly Father, Almighty God, please hear my prayer. Please give me now the strength, ability, and most of all, the humility, through your Holy Spirit, to say what I want to read out to this congregation, as you would want me to read and say it Lord. Please allow me to keep control of myself, and my emotions, whilst doing so. I stand humbly before you Lord God, and before your beloved Son, Christ Jesus. Amen.
Before I speak out my Testimony to you, I wish to thank "all of you" for coming here this evening. I especially wish to thank the fellowship of Poulner Baptist Chapel ( The Church On The Hill ) for all their prayers, kindness and care shown to me over the past months, of what has been, for me, a difficult time. I praise the Lord for Dave Roberts, for his help and support, and his World Wide connections through Partake Ministries and his wonderful Web-Site. Because of Dave and his Web-Site, I have received, e-mail prayers from Christians all over the world, which have given me great heart and comfort. So much so, that they have made me cry with joy. I think whenever I re-read them they will always do so. It is due and down to Dave Roberts, that I am standing here today being Baptised.
I wish to give a special thanks to Jeremy Andrews " Pastor " Jeremy from my previous chapel who, through kindness and no small sacrifice to himself, and to his own Church and Fellowship, has come here this evening to Baptise me with Adam. Thank you my Christian friend Jeremy.
As I have said, my name is Richard. I am 62 years of age. For 59 years of my life, I lived with faith " only in myself ".I was at best a Skeptic, at worst an Atheist. I would go right out of my way to test and very strongly argue against anyone I met, who professed to have a faith, in any sort of God. I needed nothing, but my own free will. All my faith was "only" in myself.
In 2002 / 2003 my world fell apart. I was left alone to myself. All my lifelong responsibilities disappeared. I became for 2 years a solitary hermit, living in my house, completely alone. It was during this time, alone, that I started to question, :- What my life was about. What was I here for. What was the reason for my being, if there even was one. I wanted, and so needed contact with other people. I needed to talk, to be listened to, and to listen to others. We are not meant to be solitary beings we are social creatures. We so need fellowship with others, like we need food.
After over 2 years of self imposed solitary confinement, I was becoming worried about losing my ability to communicate with others. It was back just before Christmas 2005, I received through my door the usual annual programme of all the Churches in my area, listing all their events, over the Christmas period. I decided to systematically visit all of them. Not to seek faith, Oh No', I'm a Skeptic, an Atheist. I just want to have communication with others. I visited most of the local Churches over the coming months, and always found people to speak and listen to, but none of the Churches somehow felt right for me, until I visited " Verwood Road Evangelical Chapel", just up the road from where I live, in Three Legged Cross. Here I felt good, " well better ". I liked the way they did things. It was not a liberal church. It was more leaning towards, a Brethren sort of fellowship, but not too hard line. There was no pomp or high ceremony, no fancy clothes or precious things to see or worship. These were ordinary people, just like me.
Over the next 10 months I visited V.R.C. " on and off " at first, maybe once or twice a month and found that I liked it more and more, so I went more and more. By October 2006, I found that I was wanting to go not only every Sunday but twice on Sundays. It was at this time that I seriously decided to the best of my ability, to very fully investigate just what this Christianity was really all about. How could so many intelligent, thinking people, believe in it?
For the next 6 months, I lived in the single minded state of total study of the Christian faith. I devoted all of my time to the study of the Bible and many, many books, both for and against the Christian faith. I prayed and prayed so very hard to God to give me a definite sign - a proof that God was out there and not something made-up in my own mind. I was in heartfelt tears, many, many times, asking for some proof, a miracle even, a certain sign, anything, but no sign or proof came. I was God's for the taking, but both He, and my heart, wasn't ready.
In late March 2007, something happened to turn me completely off Christianity. I went from very serious " single minded seeking " with all my heart and soul, TO - " This Christianity is certainly not for me ". It is not " at all " important what " event " occurred to cause this absolute turn around. It is only important to understand that it was very strongly driven by " My Own Self Pride ". God knew that it had to be, for Him to use it, to turn this 60 year old Atheist into a Christian. It was during my very powerful, and emotional efforts, to try and take a wrong, and turn it into a right, No matter what the cost, that my eyes were turned back into myself. To see, or to start to see, that all I hated and despised in others, was also, very present in myself. I was no better, than all those that I felt the very strong need to " bring to rights " in my life. It was at this moment in time, of now seeing, just what " I Am ", that my life changed forever. I was born on Easter Friday, Good Friday, the 4th. April.
In 2007, Three days after my 60th. Birthday, at exactly 12:32 p.m. lunch-time on Easter Saturday, the 7th. April, I at last discovered, that I was nothing, undeserving of my life, A Sinner that so needed the forgiveness of God. This opened my heart to God, and at that very moment, He Came In. It was at this time, that I understood, for the very first time, the Amazing events of Easter, and that Jesus died for me, that I may have life, and live life, to the full.
The next day, Easter Sunday, 2007, I took my first communion with my God. I would now like to say, that I am not a writer, I agree with " Winnie The Pooh Bear ", when he said.:- "Yes' I know all my letters, but my spelling is wobbly. It's good spelling, but it wobbles, and my letters get into the wrong places!" I'm not a poet either. I'm a practical man, an engineer. In the early hours of Easter Monday morning, 2007, at 1:30 a.m. whilst I was sat in my back porch thinking " in a daze " about what had happened to me on Easter Saturday, I picked up a pen and without thinking, wrote out the following poem. It is un-referenced, original and un-edited. It is just as it came down to me, 37 hours after finding my faith.
This poem is called :- The Fellowship - ( Revealed )
I don't know where I'm going,
I don't know where I've been,
I don't know what's in store for me,
But God has hold, to let me see.
For he will surely show my way,
to change each day.
To give me life, I've never seen,
To serve, to try, to make life clean,
To hold me close, to let me go,
To understand, To love me so.
My God is One, with saviour Christ,
He gave for me, The Total Price.
My heart is found, the Ghost within,
Salvation sealed, Forgiven Sin.
My past remains, but all washed clean,
My future comes, like it's never been.
I cannot say the words I feel,
Of things that are, to me so real.
My sad, sad past, is gone, my futures clean,
For with my eyes, new life I've seen.
This gift of love, that has been given,
Shall remain with me, right through to Heaven.
I believe that this poem was written with God's help. There is nothing good that can come out of me, from my own self, Self. Any good that may come from me, comes through me, from God. So please just Praise the Lord. ( Thank you.)