TESTIMONIES

Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story...

christian testimonies
My Story, by Bernadine Barber

NOTE FROM THE EDITOR: I am so happy to share Bernadine Barber’s story, in video form, which is a first here on Faith + Testimony. It has been a blessing to collaborate with Bernadine. I met her online, through a blogging network, and I was so impressed with her talent for spoken word and her strong faith and wisdom. Please check out her website, and connect with her on social media. I think that God has great things in store for Bernadine!

And now, to the testimony…

 

 

eye opening
Eyes Opened (Keith’s Testimony)

For 35 years I was an Atheist. Darwinian Evolution was as real to me as the Sun in the sky. Growing up, I would constantly mock and make fun of “Bible Thumpers”…even some family members. How could they BE SO STUPID to believe in all those ancient Fairy Tales?

In my 30’s, as I matured I began to take a closer look at my beliefs in evolution that had been indoctrinated in me from my earliest memories. For most of my life, I just assumed it was all true, I mean all the smart guys in lab coats said it was true, my school textbooks said it was true, my teachers, almost everyone around me…it was the cool thing to do.

But something was missing, something didn’t seem right to me. How could all of the universe and its contents just be a result of a random roll of the dice? Well, conveniently the world had an answer to that question, if you roll the dice enough times, the results no matter how improbable become almost guaranteed. That seemed logical, so that kept my blinders intact for another few years. But then more questions began to arise and more and more.

Finally one day, seven years ago, God decided he had enough with my frolicking about, and revealed himself to me in a very real and physical way, that made me see the REAL TRUTH.

At this point in my life I was living in Las Vegas with my wife Keturah, and going to church with her just to make her feel good, she was raised in a Baptist family in California. On one particular Sunday I was sitting at Oasis Baptist Church, bored out of my mind, thinking about the football game I was missing…when the strangest thing occurred.

As I looked up at Pastor Neal giving his sermon, things suddenly changed in the room…almost as if things went into slow motion, only they didn’t (if that makes ANY sense). Suddenly it seemed as if every word he was saying, was directed right at me…we made eye contact from across the room as he continued to preach.

Something was happening inside, something I had never experienced before, I looked all around the room and every head was bowed, every eye was closed. This was the invitational, I remember this from other times I have been in church, when they ask you if you want to be saved by God’s grace. I knew deep down inside that I was a horrible person, that I was unworthy of any grace and I had kept this locked up inside me all of my life. Well now the flood gates were about to be opened.

Was anyone else seeing this light? Am I going crazy?
As I am sitting there this beautiful white light filled the room from behind me…so perfectly beautiful, so bright yet not blinding, tears began to well up and this massive amount of emotion flowed through my body. My first thought was why would someone open the curtains like that in the middle of service? But as I looked over my shoulder to see who it was, there was no window, no curtains, just the back wall of the room.

The next thing I know I am standing in the aisle about 10 feet from where I was sitting next to my wife, as I glanced over almost in a trance like state, my wife was sitting there with her head bowed in prayer. Was anyone else seeing this light? Am I going crazy? My body begins to move down the aisle to the front altar, only I never commanded my legs to walk, I felt the loving grasp of my wife on my left arm as I approached the steps and then my strength gave way, and I bowed on both knees to the Lord. As I did, complete sadness and joy swept through me at the same time, a Deacon of the church named Rich was there by my side with his Bible to guide me through to my salvation.

It was the most overwhelming experience I have ever had and I knew from that moment that Jesus Christ is real and He was with me in church that day.

eye openeningOnce my eyes were opened, that Jesus Christ was REAL, I began to study scripture and was amazed at what I discovered. The more I STUDIED the more answers became crystal clear, the more I realized that my former religion of Atheism had led me down a path of deceit, immorality and darkness.

Since that fateful day at the age of 35, I have strayed away from God more times than I can count…the allure of the world is very potent, the sins of the flesh are incredibly powerful in their temptations. But today I can honestly say, I feel closer to God than I have in years, and the signs of this reality are all around me. Whenever I begin to utter the words JESUS CHRIST many around me get very uncomfortable…many get offended, many get angry…sometimes in ways that seem irrational. But as scripture reveals, they are just being convicted.

This is exactly the reaction God tells me to expect. Whatever your reaction to reading my posts (like this one), please understand I am not trying to FORCE my religion upon you…I am trying to share a truth with you, that has changed my life. This has nothing to do with my fear of eternal torment and everything to do with the gift of everlasting life that can be had by anyone that asks.

God Bless You.

grace
My Journey of Grace (Susan’s Story)

Seems appropriate to write this on a damp, foggy morning – it is a repeat of that morning eight years ago. After the nightmare that lasted nearly four years I was finally able to lay my head down at night knowing my adult daughter and her son were not only safe, but secure in the love and redemption of Jesus Christ.

My daughter refers to those years as being on tour, on the road, her rock star years. I refer to them as living hell on earth. But it was over. Every prayer I prayed had been answered; every tear I cried had been wiped away; every moment of pulling the sheets over my head and crying No More, Lord, No More, had been removed. My daughter was healed, clean, and addiction free – all of the messes of those years washed pure by the Blood of the Lamb. Free – free, at last.

However, those years took their toll, as hard times do. That August morning was the culmination of so many emotions I couldn’t unravel and I sat in that sacred space in the corner of our living room and cried out to the only One who knew my pain.

Why is it when we are in the throes of emotional tumult we lash out at those closest to us? For me, it was my husband, stepfather to all my children. He had ridden the roller-coaster of the previous four years with me.

grace-graphic3He was the one who would get me up on Sunday mornings and say, “Yes, you can go to church and you will go to church – now come out from those covers and get dressed!” All done in love and tender care. But that summer things got a little wiggy – daughter and rambunctious four-year old, toddler boy were staying with us and, although the miracle of Calvary had taken place three months earlier, the stresses of life and living were at an all time high. Financial. Little boy tantrums. Financial. You get the picture? Hubs and I weren’t good. We weren’t good at all.

That August dawn I sat in the small corner of our very large sectional, in the still and darkness of the morning.

Lord, I’m done.
Done with what?
I don’t love him anymore.
I know, but you love Me.
Yes, Lord, more than life and I’m so grateful. But I can’t live with him any longer. I’m done.
But you love Me.
Yes, Lord. I do.
Do you trust Me? I want you to stay and I will give you the grace to do that – I promise you.
O! Lord, I don’t know I can but I will try.

THAT day was the beginning of a journey of grace for me. It sounds crazy but my husband had NO idea I was so miserable, nor knew I pleaded with the Lord to let me leave – to this day he doesn’t, but it isn’t even needful because you see, God kept His promise. He didn’t just give the grace, He flooded me with it. Our marriage was in grace overflow!

It still is. Eight years later. I breathe grace. I walk grace. I talk grace. I sleep grace. I love with grace.

My journey of grace – God promised me grace if I would trust Him.

God is a Promise Keeper.

I love Him so.

God restores
He Restores What We Lost (Kristie’s Story)

I remember that night so clearly. I was sitting on my bed, crying, my mind running a million miles per hour. I felt defeated; I didn’t want to live anymore.

After years of suffering from an eating disorder, self harm addiction and depression, I was done. I believed that nobody cared about me, or would even notice if I was gone. I was angry at God and believed He had just abandoned me.

The hate I had for myself was huge. Looking back, I think that the intense self hatred was the reason I didn’t want to live anymore. Believing that nobody cared played a part, but ultimately I just hated myself, I was disgusted with myself and didn’t want to be me anymore.

I planned to overdose that night. But before my thoughts could be put into action, something amazing happened. God showed up. He showed me a picture of a funeral, my funeral. People were weeping, Jesus was weeping. The pain in that place was overwhelming. Then He walked me over to a photo hanging on the wall. It was a photo of me. People walked by and stopped to look at my photo, but over time people stopped by less and less. What Jesus said to me is still so clear, it’s as if He just said it to me 5 minutes ago.

He said, “Are you seriously willing to be just a picture on a wall? A memory?” He began to remind me that He has a plan for my life, that it was not meant to end that night, He wasn’t finished with me yet.

God restoresIn that moment chains were broken off my life. I wanted to live. I wanted Him more than everything, I needed Him more than anything.

No matter where you are at in your life right now, whether you are at the top of your game and everything is great, or if you feel like you’ve hit rock bottom and, like I did, wanted to call it quits, I want you to know that God is not done with you yet. The reason that you still have breath in your lungs is proof that He is not done with you.

As long as there is breath in your lungs, you have a purpose.

When we surrender our lives to Jesus and trust Him despite what our life currently looks like, it changes the whole game.

He takes our depression and gives us joy.
He takes our anxiety and gives us peace.
He takes our broken pieces and makes us whole.
He restores what we lost.
He is good. Always.

Precious one, you are deeply loved by the King who died to know you.

messianic jews
In Old Testament Black and White (Joanne’s Testimony)

I didn’t know much about Christianity as a kid.

Why should I? I was Jewish, Bat Mitzvahed at 13, born and raised in the San Fernando Valley near Los Angeles. Though my high school wasn’t closed for Jewish holidays, a quarter of the students were absent for the High Holy Days. My father was raised as an orthodox Jew; my maternal grandfather was a former cantor; my great aunt still kept kosher.

My Jewish roots ran deep.

I do remember my first church service, however. I was nine or so, and we were visiting my aunt and her family. I recall the pastor saying something disparaging about Jews during his sermon. I ran out. I still don’t remember what he said, but I did not enter a church again for ten years.

messianic jewsThe next one was Catholic. I was in college, dating a Catholic who brought me to Mass. I remember looking up at the front of the church, seeing the crucifix, and feeling more uncomfortable than I ever had before. I kept my eyes down for the rest of the service. That cross haunted me for quite a while.

I had other minor “encounters” with Christianity, but it wasn’t until I was married and living in the Midwest twelve years later that that cross grabbed my attention again.

My husband was nominally Jewish and we both followed our faith for a while. We soon stopped attending synagogue, however, neither of the local ones being to our liking. We still celebrated the major holidays, but nothing more.

I was working as a freelance writer for the local daily paper, and the religion editor had taken a liking to me, so I was writing for him. One day, he called and asked if I would cover a Christian women’s conference the following Saturday. I agreed skeptically, assuming it would be a bunch of fake, mushy women screaming “Hallelujah” and praising God for their wonderful lives.

I felt a camaraderie among the women there, and a peace I simply couldn’t explain.
Was I ever wrong.

The moment I walked into the arena, I felt a camaraderie among the women there, and a peace I simply couldn’t explain. The speakers, who I normally would have dismissed as hokey, resonated with me, and I felt myself filled with the same camaraderie and peace as those around me. I didn’t want to leave.

Unfortunately, I had no choice – I had a deadline to meet! And, as I left the building to walk the three blocks to the newspaper office, I felt that peace leave me just as suddenly as it arrived.

A myriad of questions ran through my mind.

  • What did those women have that I didn’t?
  • Could I find that kind of peace in Judaism if I was more devout, or was this a Christian phenomenon?

I decided I needed to start this quest of mine with my own faith. I found my English copy of the Hebrew Bible and read the entire Old Testament from beginning to end in two weeks. I also typed out about 20 pages of notes.

messianic jewsThat fortnight brought several things to light, including my lack of obedience to God’s laws, and the emphasis throughout the Old Testament on vengeance and justice.

I knew what I had to do next. I began reading the New Testament. And there, it seemed, were answers to all my questions, comfort from all my fears. I finished the NT in another week, and added another dozen pages of notes to my collection.

Yet, I had some serious misgivings. I saw Jesus as a wonderful man, someone to emulate, but as God? As Messiah? My Jewish background and teachings were digging at me – “God is One,” “Christ was a Jew-hater,” and other mantras reverberated in my mind. I MIGHT be able to accept Jesus as Lord, but Savior?

Still, I started attending a bible-believing church, and began reading the bible through again. I got many new revelations on the Old Testament the second time through, but none as monumental as the one I received about 5 months after the women’s conference, from Isaiah.

But he was wounded because of our sins,
Crushed because of our iniquities.
He bore the chastisement that made us whole,
And by his bruises we were healed.
Isaiah 53:5 JPS

There it was, in black and while – in the Hebrew Scriptures: Christ’s death on the cross as payment for my sins. At this point, I had no choice. I embraced the cross, and have never turned back.

Cross photo by Fr Lawrence Lew, O.P. via Flickr, cc.