Monday, December 27, 2010

My (Raymond's) SalvationTestimony

So here it is eventually my salvation testimony. This is the letter I was talking about in my previous post which I wrote to someone I love very much who is still with the Jehovah's Witnesses. I wrote this letter in 2007 but I'm posting it as current date.Hope it's not too loooong!!

My Dear ??????,

I’ve been wanting to write this letter to you for about three years. But I’ve always been stumped as to how to write it and what to actually say in it. So I’m just kinda going to tell a story ‘bout my journey and relationship with our Almighty God.

I can remember sitting on the couch with you all those many years (15!!??) ago talking to you about the bible and the Jehovah’s Witnesses. I know I was excited and wanted to share and tell you about what I was finding out. This was the first time that I had found a bunch of people who actually made use of God’s word and knew what they were talking about. They believed they had the truth and I remember saying to you that we should check it out to see if this was so.

Well we both did that. You stayed and I left. I could not really explain at the time why I left but I will try to put it down in writing in this letter.

While with the Witnesses I developed a huge desire to study and read God’s word and to get involved with the proclaiming of Jehovah’s Kingdom to this world. I read the Bible avidly, about three or four times from cover to cover, over that four year period and also did in depth topical studies. Two things started to happen to me. First of all the more I read the Bible the less sense that the Jehovah’s Witness’s teachings made to me. I started to feel terribly guilty on two accounts. First off about questioning the beliefs of the organisation that has the Truth and secondly the Bible was revealing my sin to me big time and there seemed no way out for me. What I was learning was not enough to save me and I started sinking deeper into depression, many times not wanting to get up out of bed in the mornings to face the world. I felt so unworthy. Then I hurt my leg (do you remember?) and could not walk for about three weeks and I did not go to any meetings. This made me become even more introspective and I came to the conclusion that I had to walk away as I was just not worthy enough and could never ever measure up to the standards that God required of me. The teaching of Jesus as ‘someone’ who had died for my sins was not enough for my salvation. So that was it I left and was ashamed of myself and turned my back on God.

You know I got married to Allie (thanks for coming to the wedding it still means a lot to me) and we had this beautiful boy (Matthew) I started to change the way I looked at life. God from the time I met Allie was starting to heal me but of course I was clueless to what was really going on. Man through two divorces and the four years in the Truth I was such an utterly broken man but my pride kept God out. I could do this on my own all I needed was my family and I could live for them. Shortly after Mattie’s birth Allie had her first breakdown and I didn’t know what really was happening. Somehow we got through it, I now know that it was by God’s grace alone, Ann, Allie’s sister helped us so much during this period. Then when Mattie was about four Allie had her second breakdown and I thought that life was so cruel. Lisa, Allie’s daughter was such a tower of strength for us during this time. I thank God for her now at that time. But for me when we were going through this I just relied on myself and some people around me. While Allie was busy recovering from her second breakdown she said to me one day, “There must be more to life than just getting up in the morning going to a place you don’t really want to go to, doing what you don’t really want to do then coming home to do some more work at home, eating, cleaning up and then going to bed. Then getting up the next morning to do it all over again.” I really did not know what to say or how to answer. This started Allie’s search for the TRUTH. So she started going to different churches, sometimes I went with her, but she became despondent as nothing seemed to ‘feel right’. After a few months we were talking one Thursday evening and she was feeling very disappointed I still remember saying something to the effect that God knew what was in her heart and that He would answer her prayers. I did not really believe much of what I said. (Inadvertently quoting from Jeremiah 29:13)

That Saturday at the Portofino’s restaurant at N1 City we just happened by ‘chance’ to bump into Bev (for some reason or the other we had not been in contact with each other for about a year), Allie’s best friend who told us about this wonderful church in Goodwood. Allie was very keen and she said she would go with Bev on Sunday night. They then both looked at me and I just said “No ways, I was not really interested, church is just a place full of hypocrites.” To Bev’s credit she didn’t reply that there is always room for another one. Well Allie went with Bev to church that Sunday night and I stayed at home probably crouched in front of the PC. When she came back she shared with me that it was really good and that she enjoyed it. She kept on asking me to go with her but I kept on saying no. After about a month I decided to do the good husband thing and go with her to church. What a shock! This was a ‘happy clappy’ church aargh! One part of me hated it and one part kinda liked it. A huge battle was starting inside me. Something was really special about this church it was just a feeling that I could not really work out. I continued to go to church with Allie and actually started to look forward to it, but there was no ways that I was going to clap, I mean really……..

Come the new year (2001) we did something called the Alpha course, which is a course in basic Christianity. I used my copy of the New World Translations (JW bible translation) during this 9 week course. After about four weeks you go away for the Holy Spirit weekend. Man everything went wrong in our lives during the lead up to that weekend. Even on the way there, we had a minor accident, got lost and Allie cried most of the way there. When we got there she didn’t want to get out of the car but eventually we coaxed her out.

I can remember that Friday night I gave my life to Jesus but typically like me I made a deal with God that I did not really believe in this ‘Holy Spirit’ thing that was definitely only for 1st Century Christianity and that I knew that He existed but I didn’t need any of this ‘Holy Spirit’! Come Saturday night there was a session where you could go up to be prayed for, to be filled with this ‘Holy Spirit’. There was no ways that I was going up for prayer I was so ‘poep bang’ (very scared) of this thing. Eventually after a long while I just could not sit in my chair any longer and ‘sluiped’(dragged myself up) up to where the guys were praying. I told them that they could do their best (ha, ha) and that I did not believe in this ‘Holy Spirit’. Well….. they started to pray for me and I started to shake but I told myself that this is not really happening, so I fought it off, this happened a second time and a third time and then our minister came and put his hand on my head and I just submitted to God’s incredible love. I gently went down to the floor and felt these incredible feelings of love like electric impulses going through my body, I really can’t fully describe it, it was an awesome experience. That first encounter with His Holy Spirit has changed my life for eternity.

I remember that I cried for about a week after that, shedding all the hurt and pain that had built up in my life. I had found the truth and it really had started to set me free. I developed a new hunger for God’s word and a love for Him that is just incredible.

God did something special for me, knowing what a huge skeptic I can be He gave me a special little gift. The battery on my watch was going flat and my watch would stop about two or three times a day. I had to constantly adjust the time and bang it a few times and then it would start working again. I just had not got around to putting in a new battery yet (you know me, typical). When I went up for prayer my watch stopped on 8.30pm. I noticed after I came back to sit down that my watch had started again so I adjusted it to the correct time, 8.45pm. Well my watch never lost a second for six months after that. I could hardly believe it! I used to phone up and constantly check the time but it was always correct. Then my watchstrap broke and I put the battery into another watch but it only lasted a day and then never worked again.

Since that first encounter with His Holy Spirit which was just so WOW (Walking on Water) I was chosen to serve on the next Alpha team and God started to use me in ways that I would never have dreamed of. Being there as His minister and His ambassador what an awesome privilege it has been and continues to be an exhilarating experience.

After about a year I knew I had to address the Jehovah’s Witness teachings that I knew ‘head on’. For the sake of my faith I had to test what I was learning and being taught now to the only other teaching that I knew. I was a bit afraid about this and I prayed a great deal about it and asked for God’s help. Amazingly He provided. Andrew to know that you really have the truth you have to test it, like the Bereans did in Acts 17 (verses 10-12), some times you have to batter it and wrestle with it, the Bible is the most incredible book and if you read it and study it with the help of His Holy Spirit the truth will be revealed to you. Like Jesus said we are to worship in spirit and truth (John 4:23-24). If you cannot test what you believe or are not allowed to do so then how do you know what you really have? If your belief is strong and you have the truth then it will always come shining through no matter what you subject it to or no matter what you are subjected to.

I have been blessed by Jesus Christ. He died for me and through Him I’m truly saved and forgiven. Just recently God revealed to me why I felt like I did when I was with the Jehovah’s Witnesses, it was because only God can forgive sins and that’s what happened when Christ died on the cross for us.

So God has also seen fit to give me more responsibility. I headed up the soup kitchen on Voortrekker Road for just over two years, taught Sunday school for the past three years, been on Alpha team for the last four years and am currently a home bible study leader. This year I have started a ‘new’ ministry. Every two weeks we walk up and then down Voortrekker Road and hand out booklets, speak to people, pray for and with them and just proclaim the truth of the gospel.

Has life been easy, no it has not but Jesus never said it would be (John 16:33). It’s truly great to be part of a Spirit filled church, are the people perfect of course not they are there to teach me to love and forgive them. I have two friends who are also ex Jehovah’s Witnesses who now have become Christians, we also have a coupla ex Jews, lotsa ex Catholics, lotsa ex atheists so we really are a mixed bunch, so its pretty dynamic and exciting. We have been blessed to see God move and work in so many ways.

I now have hope and purpose in this life and know that I will be with our Saviour in eternity, which they tell me is quite a long time.

?????? I know what you have now. I would love you to have what I have now because you see I still love you as much as I ever have, you are still like a brother to me and I would love you to really experience the love of God through Jesus Christ.

Remember if the Son has set you free you are free indeed (John 8:36).

With Love from

1 comment:

Pastor Melinda said...

Awesome testimony! God is so amazing! I tell people that God still preforms miracles today, if he can use a donkey he can use anyone. He turned Paul's life around in an instant and He can do the same for you. Keep the faith brother.


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