Thursday, November 12, 2009

Last day in Peru

Somewhere around a year ago, I began to hear from a young woman who lived out east. She is of Asian descent, and grew up in a Buddhist family. She never knew anything of Christ.

Through a series of events, she would find "I Would Die for You." After reading it, she surrendered her life to Christ, contacted me, and eventually joined me on the mission field this past March. God was doing a radical work in her life!

As Christ saved her, He began to cause within her, a desire to see others receive His Salvation. As each of us are supposed to do, she took her role of being Saved and set apart for a purpose, seriously.

In the following testimony, watch how she reached out, when compelled by God's Spirit.

I praise God for her life, and for the life of the young man who sent me his testimony! (His name has been changed)

Today is an extremely important day. A day that I never thought would come, but I’m so glad it finally did. Today, on 1/17/2009, at 1:30pm, sitting on the side walk next to my house in Belize waiting for a bus to come, I, John, found Jesus! I’d like to share the story of how this came to be. God has taught me that by writing it all down, my faith will be strengthened, I will gain wisdom, and I will experience joy because life is all about giving the glory to God! So I must tell you my friends, for me, this is the most exciting thing I have ever written.

I was blind towards living a better, joyful life throughout my childhood and teenage years. I had no sense of sin and I believed that deep down we were all good people. I smoked weed often at the start of high school. I drank liquor until a passed out or threw up, all through high school and college. I was also bulimic, and I must let you know that during this time, I was never once at peace or experiencing any lasting joy. I was simply escaping the strong sense of hopelessness I had for my life.

I realize now that until I was 23 years old I was completely lost. The worst part was that I couldn't even comprehend I was lost, and how do you find yourself if you don’t even know your lost? Only though the grace of God was I saved from that horrible life. I lived an upper middle class life as a US citizen too, so I’ll tell you right now, it doesn’t matter how much money you or your family make, if you don’t have God, life sucks.

Towards the end of college I began to see the signs that something was immensely wrong. After class I would go back to my room, turn the light off and lie on the floor for hours staring at the ceiling with this horrible mindset that everything in life was meaningless. It’s the scariest place you could ever be; because it’s in moments like these that you begin to believe that if life is so pointless, then why don’t you just kill yourself. I had thought of this idea many times growing up, but those nights in college, the power of that extreme depression, it’s a miracle from God that I’m still here today to write about it.

Things were looking pretty grim. The only thing that brought me any joy was playing sports. That joy would only last moments though. After that it was back to feeling that awful numbness. I would attempt to socialize with school friends, but truthfully, 95% of the conversations I had were of no interest to me at all. This portrayed me as the quiet guy in the group. Mostly I was just waiting, waiting for life to become exciting again like it once was when I was a little boy. The feeling never came. Not until I let God into my life.

I was getting desperate, and right when I needed it, God smacked me with a wake up call. I was playing sports like crazy because it was only during those short moments of prideful fame that I felt any joy at all. God knew that if I were to continue living my life like that I would have destroyed myself. So He stepped in.

I jumped up for a pass one game, and landed uncharacteristically awkward, with no one else even close by that could have caused such a sloppy landing. I heard a tear. I ignored it, kept running, but suddenly I was struck down by the intense pain of a knee cap popping out of place causing muscles and tendons to further tear. It’s the most physical pain I’ve felt so far in life.

I was furious and terrified at the same time. My one source of pleasure was stripped from me. My prideful self (aka Satan) told me it would heal in a week or two. But again and again I’d find myself back on the field running and pop, each time the pain would be worse and the injury would take more days before I could walk without limping. I must have popped my knee about 20 times over the span of a year, thinking each time, it’ll get better.

Eventually, the physical and psychological pain became so unbearable that I broke down crying in a phone conversation with my parents, finally asking for help to get an operation to heal my leg. I cried for hours and hours that night and didn’t fully understand why until right now. I was asking the wrong person for the wrong thing, I should have first asked God to come into my life and guide me.

Broken and beaten by the world, I started dating a girl. She was lost, same as I was. We knew nothing of the true joy of God, the eternal love of Jesus Christ. In our broken state of low self esteem we acted out of lust for one another, faking a sense of marriage and oneness which in the end drove us away from each other through selfish desires.

I’ll tell you right now, any lasting joy in a relationship with anyone can only be sustained with God in the center of it. I’ve seen so many people out there in relationships that are so selfish and empty, void of any possible joy, people cheating on each other left and right, constant divorces, unhappy marriages. But it isn’t even this; it isn’t this life experience and knowledge that I have come to deduce the only way a relationship can work, no, not even close. It’s through the wisdom that God has given me through prayer, that I am SURE there is no other way.

There were some positive things that came out of my relationship with this young woman though. God worked with us both to have her invite me to church.

At this point, I had a feeling, just a subtle feeling that there was something better out there for me. I was cautious about this feeling at first, like an unpopular, paranoid king eating his breakfast slowly thinking someone might have poisoned it. It had been so long since I experienced any hope for a better life and if I went out and reached for it only to have it pulled away from me, I wouldn’t have been able to go on. But God is trustworthy, as I would come to realize much later.

So I went to the girl’s father to profess my feelings about her, but at the same time I sounded lost and depressed. Her dad, the Christian that he is, picked up on my pain and explained to me why I felt so lonely and how I could live a more joyful, meaningful life. I was intrigued by the possibility of something better. I began to go to church with my girlfriend and on the first day, sitting down listening in the middle of service, I looked up and felt the presence of something powerful and peaceful looking down on me.

At 23 years old, God struck my curiosity.

For about six months straight, I went to bible studies, and mass, loving every minute of it. My thirst for the word of God grew, and I started believing in it. But the sins I had been continuing to commit were tearing me apart. After those six months, I joined the US Peace Corps, something I had begun planning to do a year earlier. It was an awful experience for the entire first year. I slowly began to lose my faith and question scripture. My priorities were solely based on seeing my girlfriend because I missed her terribly. I had made her more important than anything else, even God.

I swear, one time as I was heading home to see her, I thought I heard my flight was canceled while I was at the airport and she was going to pick me up. I almost completely lost my sense of reality and let rage cause me to scream at this poor teller to get me on a plane to Miami or I’d kill her.

Luckily, a millisecond before I could say that, she repeated the message which was apparently for another flight. Satan almost had me there. But I was so crazy about this girl to the point where nothing else mattered, and that my friends, is so unhealthy. I’m clearly seeing now the importance of putting God before any person.

She and I eventually ended things through the advice of a Pastor. I literally could not end it on my own, so I trusted in a spiritual advisor. It saved my life. Not because she was awful, she wasn’t, or that we hated each other, we didn’t. But the sin was killing me and I could feel my life and my faith slipping away to that place of numbness again. It freaked me out because I never wanted to go back to that place.

I had to go through all the withdrawals of addiction to something worldly. Eight months of pain, lying on the floor at nights again, feeling so lonely, sometimes shaking from the loss of fake oneness and lust for a woman. It was bad; sometimes I would fall and take a look at her pictures, and try to contact her, prolonging the amount of time it took to heal. I reached that point of numbness again, I would be riding my bike and a bus would rush pasted me at 60 miles an hour literally brushing the hairs on my elbow. It had no effect on me. I lost my fear of death completely.

I began to test myself to see if I could find even an ounce of a need to survive by provoking drunkards and angry men. They never did attack me but there was no fear in the possibility that they might, and that they probably had a weapon on them. I was there again, in the hellish pit of life without hope, life without God. Only this time I knew better, I had learned of the way out.

It was time to heal.

God waited patiently for me to ask for his help, to send a rope down to me and pull me out of the pit I had dug for myself with Satan's shovel. And I swear to you, right when I began praying for wisdom and a better life, He presented me one. I still took a little while to accept his invitation. My heart was rock solid at that time. My pride was through the roof. I clung to the belief that I could get out on my own. But His invitations were there, and slowly my heart melted and I began to let Him in.

The messenger He sent me, hilarious now that I look back on it, was my high school prom date. It was so random that it was funny. God does have a sense of humor. I sensed she was filled with the Word of God and His spirit. It was something that I was able to sense when first meeting my Pastor and his family two years before. It was as if the colors of their faces were brighter, more vivid, and they contained no “fakeness” in the sound of their voices. It was a very strange but pleasant feeling.

I later realized that these were the attributes of a follower in Jesus, who has God living in them. My messenger had it as well. I experienced much joy hanging out with her, talking about life and God. But this joy was lasting, it didn’t stop!!! I was so surprised and thankful and I craved more of this feeling. I wanted the light of God to shine in me like it had in them.

I struggled with my belief in Jesus for two years after God touched me that first time in church. I was too paranoid and skeptical. I read the entire bible from beginning to end and still couldn’t let Him in. Then, the heavy story reader that I am, I prayed for God to send me something my style that I could learn from. I asked for a more modern book with a main character and a bit of a story line. And I kid you not my friends, THE next day, I received a present in the mail from my messenger, it was a book, a very powerful book, about a young man coming to faith and loving Jesus, who died not three years ago (“I Would Die for You: One Student’s Story of Passion, Service and Faith)”.

I did not ask her for this book. She could have sent me thousands of other text style books on God, but she didn’t. God had her mail me this book the day after I asked Him, not her, and it takes weeks to get things to Belize from the States. I started to see that God is real, and if He’s real, it’s time to start living for Him.

After beginning to read this book and reading through a couple of lengthily messages from my messenger, my faith began to grow. I thought about everything that night.

In the morning I was getting ready to go to my host family’s house sitting on the sidewalk waiting for the bus. I had just finished reading a message the young man in the book was writing to a good friend of his. He told his friend how he can pray to God, to ask Jesus to make Himself known and receive the Holy Spirit.

Right after reading that message the bus had arrived. I entered, sat down in the back and gazed out the window. I thought back to what the young man had said to his friend, and in my curiosity, I talked to God myself, “God, I want to know you, come into my spirit, let me know if your Son is real. GOD ANSWERED!!!

I was looking out of the bus window and the colors of the world came to life. My heart was filled with joy and a powerful love, everything was so clear. When I got off the bus with a dazed smile, I was confused. I asked God, “What is this?”

He answered again, “Jesus is real.”

He answered so clearly that I yelled in excitement “Jesus is real!”

I was so thrilled by all of this that I told all my friends. The love that had poured into my heart was powerful, something I had never experienced before, and it wasn’t going away. I had received the Holy Spirit of God and I was experiencing the joy of my salvation and the love of God.

To all of you who know me, this letter will probably come as a bit of a surprise. I myself, before the last couple of years, would never have even imagined that this was the way things would turn out for me. But this is too important to be kept quiet, even the threat of losing people’s ability to take me seriously after reading this doesn’t faze me at all. I don’t want to sound condescending, but I have searched many areas for an alternative to making me happy and giving me meaning. I never found anything that would give me lasting satisfaction and I never would have.

The only answer is God.

I want all of you out there to share this joy with me. I pray that you will find your way. Ask yourselves, does this life satisfy me? Could there be something better out there for me? I’m telling you there is, and if you let down your pride for just one minute, you might hear the whisper of God telling you the same thing.

Let us go and tell others of Jesus Christ, the Saving One!!!



At 1:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What an awesome letter.
Aunt Maralyn

At 5:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree...God is Awesome....
God Bless,
Greenfield, Indiana

At 10:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...



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