Readers Testimonies
Brent Vincent

I thought I was the only one who was plagued by pride and suffered separation because of obnoxious behavior.

If you have time I tell you my story. I grew up in a catholic home and was baptized as a baby. I was raised by two loving and caring parents. God was not a major part of our life. I thought you just had to be good and you would go to heaven. I was very popular in Jr. high school but when I went to High School I was a nobody.

The transition from somebody to nobody was more than I could handle so I shielded my self with pride. I became a smart mouth know it all. I was so critical of other people, I was trying to make my self appear greater.

I started going to this very conservative church that was totally against the spirit of God. My faith was based on how much you could know the scriptures and very little about behavior. I was so zealous for knowledge that I studied only controversial matters because I liked the victory in knowing more. I could prove the ceasing of tongues and all the other common arguments so I thought. It only made matters worse. I became so full of pride and so critical that I was a Pharisee. A wolf in sheep's clothing so to say. When I turned 21 I lost my girlfriend of 8 years. We meet in Jr. high school and when she left I was totally alone.

I was on the verge of destruction. I turned to drugs to ease the pain but they brought no fulfillment. The next three years was a struggle for my life, but in the summer of 99 I met the daughter of a preacher and my life began to change. Her father was a spirit filled preacher and I was a hard headed know it all. I attended his church for three months but refused to participate in the worship service and ignore the message. On one Sunday that would all change. It was worship time and everyone was rejoicing but me. The preacher during song service walked up to me and lifted my face which was facing the floor and said in a forceful voice "what are you hear for" "what are you here for" he repeated. I felt something break inside and the tears began to run down my face. I was broken, yet I finally had victory at the same time. That day I asked Jesus to be my Lord and Savior but the battle had just begun. The carnal mind rage against the Spirit of God for it was well trained. I was enveloped by flesh and the Spirit could not move. I had no clue that your own mind can be God's greatest enemy. After months of seeking to be filled with the Holy Spirit victory finally came. I went to my now father-in-law wanting to be filled at all cost. He prayed over me but the mind was fighting with thoughts of unbelief. Then I heard the Spirit say "speak, speak in faith" and the words I spoke, I had know understanding of them. It was the first time I did something that my mind was not in control of because there was no understanding of the words. The mind soon retaliated that evening and was wanting to repent, because my mind said that I made it up.

The next day a Spiritual High I like to call It swept me off my feet. I could no longer deny that the gifts were for today. My walk had just begun, the pride was to return and the Spirit told me that if I ever forgot where I came from I would go back. That's what happened the old person that was nailed to the cross some how got off. I became critical all over again and I began to see sin working in my flesh and was unable to repent at the time. I cried out that God would have mercy on me and he replied "Do unto other as you would have Me do unto you."

I'm 26 now and still working on overcoming the flesh and probably will as long as I live. The is a way to victory and it is a walk that we must walk with Jesus. No man knows the way even though they themselves or on the path. I thank God for His Holy Spirit to guide me where no man can lead, and for giving me strength to over come my weaknesses. Glory to God and may He be exalted by His people.

Brent Vincent

RONALD L. MITCHELL

About four months into 1990 I had a dream. In the dream I was seated with five or six people in a clinic for AIDS. I remember looking around at the people and then taking a pamphlet from the display on the table beside me. The pamphlet described the classic symptoms of a person who has the HIV virus, which causes AIDS. Symptoms such as weight loss, perfuse sweating at night and loss of appetite. When I awoke from the dream I was very scared. It seemed so real to me. At this time, I was working for the state as a correctional officer. I shared my dream with a friend I was carpooling with, who laughingly made a joke of the whole thing. Funny as it may have seemed, deep inside it really bothered me. On June 1st 1991, I began working with a county Law Enforcement agency. As the months unfolded it seemed my problems grew worse. Everyday I thought about old girlfriends and wondered if they had given me AIDS. My bills were piled out of reach and I was a mental wreck. One night while at work, I remember being very cold so I put on a heavy jacket. One of my co-workers walked by and said, “Mmm, Mmm, Mmm Mitchell, I believe you’ve got that thing”.   He was referring to AIDS. I thought to myself, “If he knew how much that hurt me he would have never said it”. It seemed like everywhere I went I either heard about or saw something about AIDS. In less than one month I lost more than twenty pounds.

I wasn’t eating regularly and when I did, I didn’t eat much. Many nights I awoke to find my body drenched in sweat and my bed soaking wet. I was so worried. I had to talk to someone so I talked with my friends who really gave me a lot of support. In fact, one of my friends volunteered to take the HIV test with me, just so I wouldn’t be alone. When I explained to her all the things that had happened to me, both of us cried.

Soon after this I had another dream. I dreamed that it was night and I was walking down a road which runs between the trailers where I live. Ahead of me was a garbage Dumpster and mailboxes. About twenty men were standing in a circle near the garbage Dumpster and each one of them had a machine gun. As I walked to the center of the circle the men began shooting me. I fell to the ground in a puddle of blood but I was still alive because I could still hear shots being fired at me. Suddenly, the shooting ended and I opened my eyes and saw one of the men pointing his gun at me. This thought ran through my mind at that very moment. “If he shoots me one more time, I’m a dead man. Or I have one more chance to live”! I awoke from the dream and was so scared. In the following days I thought about many things, but mainly this; how hopeless ones life is if you have AIDS.

I met a girl in Lima, Peru about 10 months earlier and fell in love with her. She was beautiful and so different. I loved her accent, her laugh; I loved everything about her. Four months later we were engaged to be married. I never looked at another woman, but I thought in my mind, how could I tell her about my past? How would I explain to her that I might have AIDS? I wanted to kill myself and leave her my insurance policy in an attempt to express how much I cared for her. I was so miserable and unhappy. If only I had never slept with anyone! How could I have been so foolish? My parents never taught me to be this way. In fact, for 21 years they took me to church and taught me the word of God. I knew that I had sinned against God. About one week had passed since I had taken the test for AIDS, and I had another week of waiting before I would learn the results of the test. It was the longest two weeks of my life! A few days passed and after coming home one night; I noticed two messages on my answering machine. The first message was from a good friend of mine whose name is Jenny. Very urgently she said, “Ron, Ron, This is an emergency, you have to call me as soon as possible.” Immediately, I thought of her best friend whom I had dated and in my mind I said, “ Oh my God, she’s got AIDS, and she gave it to me!” I can’t explain how alone and scared I felt.

The next message was from my brother who lives in Virginia. He said “Ronald, I need to talk to you so give me a call.” I could tell by the urgency in his voice, that whatever it was, it was serious. My brother and his wife are Christians and they had been praying for me a long time. Very nervously, I called my friend Jenny who said, “ Ron, the other night I was at a party and an older woman slapped me. What should I do?” I let out an enormous sigh of relief and said, “ Is that it.” Although, she had no idea what I was going through, I was so relieved. She knew that I worked in Law Enforcement and she merely needed some legal advice, so I explained to her what to do.

Next, I called my brother in Virginia. When he answered the phone I nearly lost my breath. He said, “Well, Ronald I called because of this. The other night Renee (His wife) and I both had a dream, and the dreams were so serious that God impressed us to pray about them. He said, I dreamed about you’re twin brother Donald. I dreamed that he was walking down a road, which ran between two rolls of trailers. He walked into a circle of people who stood near a Garbage Dumpster. They began to beat him and wouldn’t stop. They beat him to death and took his body and threw it in the Garbage Dumpster”. I listened in almost total shock. The similarities between the dream that I had and this one were amazing. Furthermore, neither my brother nor his wife had ever been to my house in Okeechobee, Florida. I was so scared. My brother said, “Donald has gotten discouraged and stopped going to church. He said that he just couldn’t bear the pressure anymore, so, him being beaten to death in the dream must represent him spiritually dying. He really needs prayer. I was so frightened, I could barely talk but I agreed with him. Then he said, “Okay, I’ll tell you about my wife’s dream. She dreamed that you called us and you were upset and crying. You told her that no one loved you or cared about you and that no one would keep you because you had that thing”. When he said that, I knew what it means in the bible when it says, “They were sore afraid”, Because I was! I could not feel my head it was so numb. I could hardly talk but I ask my brother to pray for me and I hung up the phone. I thought to myself  “I’m going to die”. I walked outside. It was cold, clouded and windy. Everything looked and felt so depressing and hopeless. That night I called a friend and ask if I could join he and his wife in Sunday school the next morning. He said sure, lets all meet at my house and ride together.

Sunday morning we all arrived in Sunday school and I had never been so glad to be in church in all my life! I wanted God to help me; He was my only hope. The best doctor in the world couldn’t help me. All the money in the world couldn’t help me. As close as my friends were, none of them could do anything for me. Eagerly, I sat in my seat as tears collected in my eyes. I heard the pastor say these words, “Make sure you bring your swimming trunks and go swimming, it’ll be right after the service is dismissed”. I said in my heart, “God, here I am, I’m dying and I’ve come here for help and this man is talking about going swimming”. And God spoke right back to my heart and said, “I never told you to come here, I told you to go to the little store front church by your house”.  And I said, “Why”? And God said, “When you see them pray, tears run down their faces because their prayer comes from the heart and they preach my word”. On our way back home I heard my friend say, “That service was dead”.

I had never felt so lonely and afraid in my life. That night I visited my best friend to watch some TV before going to work that night. For about two hours I sat and hardly said a word. Finally, I stood up and said, “It’s time for me to go home and get ready for work”. My friend said, “Are you okay”. I said, “yeah, I’ll be alright”.  I went home and put on my uniform and gun belt. As I drove down the road, I approached the intersection to make my turn but I couldn’t go any farther. I turned my car around and drove straight to that little storefront church. I stood at the front door gazing through a small opening in the curtain, which hang on the door. I could see everyone standing with his or her heads bowed. I heard the preacher say, “Gods calling someone, someone needs to come and pray”.  It was an altar call. I glanced down at my watch and noticed that I was late for work. I thought about the written reprimands I had received before for being late for work. All due to the mounting pressure I was experiencing in trying to cope with this whole ordeal. But I just couldn’t leave. I looked inside the church as the preacher continued his plea, begging for someone to come and pray. He kept saying, “God is calling someone to come and pray”. Looking at the people I thought, “Someone needs to come and pray”. God spoke to me and said, “It’s you”. I said in my heart, “God, I’m already late for work and I’m going to get fired if I’m late again. What can I do?” God spoke to my heart and said this, “Go to the pay phone and call your friend collect. Give him your work number and have him call them and tell them that you’re in trouble and you will be about an hour late”. I looked around and right there beside the church was a pay phone. I walked over to the phone and reaching into my pocket, I realized that I didn’t have a penny, I had to call collect. I gave my work phone number to my friend and ask him to call and tell them that I was in trouble and that I would be about an hour late. He said, “Okay, I’ll do it but what kind of trouble are you in?” I said, “I’ll explain it tomorrow”.

I walked back to the front door of the church and listened. I heard the preacher say, “You don’t have the promise of tomorrow”.  I thought to myself, “What if I reject this opportunity to be saved and get killed in a car accident on my way to work. I know that I’m not ready! I opened the door and made my way to one of three available seats on the front row. Every head was bowed. I looked up at the preacher and as his bowed head turned upward our eyes met. He pointed his finger right at me and said, “You’re the man that God is calling”. Using his finger he summoned me up to the altar. My eyes burst into a flood of tears as I confessed and repented of my sins and ask Jesus to forgive me and come into my heart. I cried uncontrollably as I felt a peace that passes understanding fill my soul. My misery turned to joy as Gods Spirit broke the heavy chains that burdened my heart. Instantly, I knew that I was fine. I knew that I was born again and I knew that I didn’t have AIDS!

The first thing I did when I got home was phone my brother in Virginia. Before I could tell him the good news he said, “You got saved didn’t you” I said, “Yes, but how did you know?” He said, “We went to church last night and I stood in the prayer line for you. God spoke to the pastors heart and he told me that everything would be alright, you didn’t have what you thought you had”. A few days later I walked into the clinic to receive the results for my HIV test and before the nurse could speak I said, “There’s nothing wrong with me, I’m fine”. She looked at the results and said, “You’re right, Its Negative”. God used the thing that I loved the most to bring me to repentanceMy Life!

BLESSED BE THE NAME OF THE LORD!

Kathleen Rasmussen

FINALLY FREE!

Are you miserable? Are you looking for something to fill your innermost being that gives you happiness? Read how someone else found happiness - a happiness that was obtained by finding out something about God she never knew before.

I am the youngest of seven children. My parents were faithful in taking our family to a Christian church on a regular basis. But my father passed away when I was six, leaving my mother to care for us. My mother, bless her heart, worked hard to fill the void he left, and she did well, but I missed my Daddy dearly. Spiritually - I am very thankful for the Christian exposure I received in my childhood. Even though I eventually strayed from God after making a profession of faith to Jesus Christ at age 13, I still had some knowledge of right and wrong, which kept me from straying even farther than what I did.

In my teens and early twenty's, loneliness held a grip on me. In my ignorance of the ways Satan leads one away from Jesus Christ, I began to look for peace and happiness with the party crowd. After all, they looked "happy." I began frequenting bars and places where I could drink and dance. I thought that if I hung out at these places long enough, I might meet the right man - the man of my dreams. A man who would take away my loneliness and give me a purpose in life I had not yet experienced. Along with meeting men came alcohol, drugs and sex.

It all came with the package. I soon discovered that "happiness" became an illusive term. The few times I was happy did not make up for most of the time I was miserable. Somehow, I seemed to attract men who simply wanted to use me for their own selfish purposes. These relationships only brought hurt and pain and rejection when these men were finished with me. Little did I realize that having sexual intimacy with a man, and hinging an entire relationship on sexual fulfillment is one of Satan's greatest tools for leading people into relationships for the wrong reason.

At age 26, miserable beyond description; tired of being left and rejected; tired of not having a man to give love to and receive love from that had any lasting duration - I came to the realization that my life was going nowhere. Ever get that feeling? It's an ever-present feeling that makes you wonder why you're here on earth. Why can everyone else be happy, but not me?

It was around that time that my thoughts began to drift to an old girlfriend I had partied with in the past. I wondered if she was still happy. We had always been close, until she became one of those "fanatic" Christians. Her life had changed dramatically, and although she was happy, I just felt she was too religious to hang around anymore. So I willfully lost contact with her for six years. On one particular evening I began watching a Billy Graham crusade on TV and reasoned in my mind: Even though she is religious, she can still be my friend, can't she? I was lonely for companionship. The next evening I was at a bar (typical of me on a Friday night) andI went to a pay phone to give her a call. She was glad to hear from me.

We talked, reminiscing over old memories, and catching up on friends from our past. Our conversation ended by her saying she would call me back again soon. Two weeks went by and she didn't call. Finally I decided I'd call her one last time, and if she couldn't make plans for us to get together, I'd just forget her. So I called. Fortunately for me, she was there, and toward the end of our conversation she invited me to a young people's potluck gathering being held at someone's home that was being sponsored by her church. After we hung up, I began thinking: 'I need a change' Why not? What would it hurt?

During the gathering, I sat there staring at these beautiful people. There was a glow about them I had never seen on anyone. Their faces radiated peace and joy, and their words were so gentle and kind. Later on in the evening many of them were asked to testify of how they had entered into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, and how it had changed their life for the better. Each of them gave glory to God for doing it all, because it was not of their own doing. It was God doing it through them by His Holy Spirit, they said.

Two weeks later I decided to surprise my girlfriend by showing up unexpectedly at her church. When I arrived, I found she wasn't there because she had to work that night. But there were many faces I recognized from my old party days, and I loved being there that night. From then on I started attending that church and eventually gave my whole life to Christ. I asked Him to not only be my Savior, but also be Lord of my life, which is what I neglected to do at age 13. Lordship, I was soon to learn, was not obtainable without having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

The loneliness and lack of peace I had experienced before began to leave. It was replaced with peace and joy I know now only Jesus can give. I found myself surrounded with a whole new set of friends, and the loneliness was also replaced with the hunger and thirst I now had to grow in Christ. I came to realize that no man could give me what I really stood in need of, which was the peace and security of knowing who I am in Christ Jesus. Whether I live or die, I know I have eternal life in Him, and through Him. Jesus Christ is my closest friend. Problems and suffering drive me to Him - not away from Him. And He always rescues me. His Spirit always comforts me.

Since I have decided to seek my Heavenly Father and please Him through this personal relationship with Jesus Christ, by being obedient to His commands in the Bible, He has been so faithful in my life in adding those things that I had so deeply desired within my heart. One of those desires was to marry a man, someone who loved Jesus Christ more than he loved anyone or anything else, including myself. I wanted someone I could share Christ with - not about.

It has been many years now since I made my decision to live for Jesus and several of those years have been with the man who God so faithfully and lovingly gave to me to be my husband. I can honestly say I never knew how precious and fulfilling a relationship with a man could be when Christ is the center of each of our lives. I thank God so much for His faithfulness in answering my prayers for a godly man. It is through this marriage that I am learning to depend and trust more in Christ to meet my every need, because my husband can never meet them all, nor can I meet all of his.

Even though I knew this before I had a husband, I am learning that even with a husband, Jesus Christ wants me to be totally dependent and trusting in Him to meet all of my needs. When I do this, there is no leanness in my relationship with God or in my marriage. It takes the pressure off from my husband in asking him to do things he is not capable of doing.

I take great comfort in knowing that God is faithful to complete that which He has begun in me through my personal relationship with Jesus Christ my Creator. (You may want to read Philippians Chapter 1 for a clarification of this statement).

For those of you who have a lack of peace, who fear dying, have something missing, who have no real meaning or purpose in life, or experience loneliness and sense a lack of motivation - I delight in saying that Jesus Christ desires to come and fill those voids in your life. But it requires that you let Him have total control of your life. That may seem scary or threatening to some people, but it shouldn't. The Bible says Jesus Christ is the One who made you. (See John 1: 1- 14 for Scripture reference).

Thank you and God bless you for letting me share my heart with you. If this has touched you in any way, please don't go on in life without searching for answers to your questions. My questions brought me to see and realize that only Jesus Christ is the answer to all of my needs. I never knew I could be so free within myself, and it's all because I decided to follow Jesus - letting Him make me into the person He wants me to be - in His image and for His glory.