God is real! My Personal Testimony.
By Mark B. Lord
Growing up in a family of various denominational backgrounds, I had exposure to some of the different branches of Christianity, both Catholic and Protestant. We often took turns visiting each other’s churches on Sundays. My grandmother was a Sunday school teacher and brought me to her class regularly. As a result, I became familiar with most of the common Bible stories at an early age. We were a typical, hard working, American family, and our lives somewhat resembled a Norman Rockwell painting! But God was just an idea or concept in my mind; I did not know Him personally and wasn’t even sure if the Bible stories I was taught were true.
When I was about twelve, our once happy family was shattered by alcohol and divorce. Our family was split up and we no longer went to church. I blamed God and began to live a life of rebellion. I became involved in gangs, violence and vandalism and all the other bad things that go along with that lifestyle. I practiced martial arts and never went anywhere without a weapon of some kind concealed on my body. Most of the sinful things I did, I didn’t even like, I just wanted to hurt God and other people in the same way I was hurt. Eventually, I became “burned out” in my war against God. I came to realize that I was only destroying myself.
As a young adult, I was invited to a Christian youth ministry called “Teen Challenge” where I watched a documentary on the life of a New York city street gang leader, Nicky Cruz, who was converted to Christianity. The documentary was called “No Need to Hide” and was narrated by Art Linkletter. I found myself relating to and identifying with the people in this film. I came to understand that although God allows bad things to happen, He doesn’t necessarily cause them. And that He really loved me and wanted the best for my life.
Several times I went forward at these meetings and prayed with counselors, but I was full of doubts. My problem at this point was believing the Bible was really God’s Word. I only knew Jesus in the form of statues and paintings I had seen in church when I was a child. I didn’t know Him as a real Person alive today. I believed in God, but why was Jesus the only way back to God? Why wouldn’t just any religion do?
I started reading a book called “Evidence That Demands a Verdict” by Josh McDowell. This book showed me that the Bible is supported by more documentary, prophetic, historical and archeological
evidence than any other religious book in the world. And the Bible states, “Neither is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men, by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12.
But would God save me? I didn’t deserve it! I had spent my whole life rebelling against Him. I decided I would give it a try anyway; I wanted to try receiving Jesus as my “personal Savior”, as they say.
On September 5th, 1976, I was invited to attend an actual church service one evening. It was an Assemblies of God church that was in charge of the Youth ministry I had been attending. It was the first time I had set foot in a church in years. We had arrived late and the service was just ending. My heart sank because I thought we were too late, but as it turned out, we were just in time for God!
We had just gone through a storm and the power was out, so the church had been lit up with candles, creating an awesome spiritual effect. As the service ended and the crowds were leaving, I made my way forward to meet the Pastor whose name was Jon. I said, “I’m sorry I’m late.” He said, “You’re not late, I think God brought you here tonight to receive Jesus.” He invited me up to the altar and we sat down on two chairs. He showed me a few Scripture verses to make sure I knew what I was doing and then we began to pray. As the Pastor was praying, I repeated after him, “…Jesus, I believe you died on the cross for my sins, that you rose from the grave and are alive today – seated at God’s right hand, and that you promised to come again to receive us who believe. Come into my heart and life, forgive me of my sins, and fill me right now with Your Holy Spirit like you did to all the disciples at Pentecost…” (He began to read the names of the saints listed in Acts 1:13-14 who had received the Holy Spirit.) “…like Peter, James, John, and Andrew; Philip and Thomas; Bartholomew and Matthew; James… and Simon… and Jude… and Mary the mother of Jesus…”
At this point, the reality of what was happening overwhelmed me; these were not just the saints I knew as statues and paintings I had seen in church as a child, these were people who really lived in history, whose lives God had touched! Tears began flowing from my eyes as I remembered all the things I had done rebelling against God. After we prayed, the Pastor said, “By faith let’s give thanks for your salvation.” We began lifting our hands up and saying, “Thank you Jesus! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!” when God’s presence suddenly seemed to fill the room. The feeling was like an invisible blanket of pure holiness and love that came down upon us. It pressed down on me and I fell to my knees in awe. I opened my eyes and looked at the cross on the wall behind the altar. It was as though God’s Holy Spirit gave me a vision of Jesus dying on the cross and the amount of suffering He went through while bearing the sins of the whole world. It was more than any statue or painting could possibly depict. I wept for almost an hour because of what I had seen in that vision and I went home that night a new man.
About a month later I was baptized. Although I had been baptized as an infant in the Catholic Church, I felt the need to follow Jesus’ example and be baptized as an adult believer, since Jesus Himself had also been baptized as an adult.
As a new Christian, I started trying to read the Bible from cover to cover, but I found I couldn’t really understand everything I was reading. A friend of mine showed me a verse in the Book of Revelation that promised that God would bless anyone who read or heard the words of that book (Revelation 1:3) and also, James 1:5 that says if anyone lacks wisdom, ask God for it. Determined to obtain that blessing, I opened the Bible to the book of Revelation and prayed “God, I can’t understand Your Word. Help me. You promised here a blessing on anyone who reads Revelation. The blessing I want is that from this day forward, I will always understand Your Word. Amen.” That night, I laid on the couch with a flash light and a cup of coffee and stayed up the whole night until I finished reading Revelation. I wasn’t able to comprehend everything I read that night, but God kept His promise and did bless me with what I requested. From that day until now, I have not had much difficulty understanding the Bible! Try it sometime!
To the best of my recollection and understanding, this is how I came to be saved and know Jesus Christ personally as my Lord and Savior. I have been a Christian now for more than 35 years and have never regretted it. The Lord has blessed me in so many ways. My father has since passed away, and my mother remarried. I could never repay the Lord Jesus for what He has done for me. That doesn’t mean I’ve never sinned again or been discouraged. Since being saved through Jesus Christ, I have struggled with old habits and sins to the point where I have sometimes questioned if my salvation experience was real. There have even been times in my life when I have backslidden and not lived for the Lord as completely as I should. But God has always brought me back to Himself whenever I would go astray. He truly is “the Good Shepherd”! (John 10:11; 14 – See also, Revelation 3:14 & 21:5, Hebrews 13:5, Jude 1:24).
I hope and pray that my testimony for Jesus Christ as presented here might encourage someone else to come to Him in faith. To God be the glory!