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A Life Forever Changed

This post today is extra dear to my heart. This is my Mom’s testimony. By God’s grace, both of my parents came to Jesus before I was born. Their faith and testimony played a very large part in my understanding Jesus at a young age. May this testimony stir your heart towards Jesus too.

Written by: Sheila Johnson

The caption of my daily devotional Bible one morning in February was “We have a Living Hope!” During the reading in 1 Peter 1:1-12, I was taken back to the evening of July 10, 1977.

My boyfriend had picked me up to spend Sunday afternoon together.  He mentioned he was going to church that evening and I asked if I could go along.  I had to know why this young man would want to go to church, and on a Sunday evening, no less. Little did I know my life would forever be changed that evening.

We attended Roseland Baptist church; a tiny little church on Cabana Road in Windsor, Ontario.  (It is no longer there).

As we entered the church we were greeted by people at the door. People were standing around chatting. They were visiting as friends do instead of just walking in, sitting down, and waiting for the service to start. I felt welcomed.

As the service was about to begin, the Pastor stood and I remember him saying, “Let us open the worship service with prayer”. Then he asked the congregation to stand to pray; to give thanks to the Lord. “Hmmm, interesting”, I thought … he didn’t say God.
(So many new references and concepts such as Pastor, Lord, worship, praise!)

I remember looking around and to my complete astonishment, heads were bowed and eyes were closed.  (Were they actually praying and not just listening to what was being said?!)  People were worshipping.  What reverence I thought as I too closed my eyes, bowed my head, and listened intently.

We then sang a song and people looked happy as they sang hymns that spoke of Jesus’ love for us and about the cross. Some were singing without the book of hymns!

During the sermon he spoke about Jesus’ love for us. He spoke about sin and the sacrifice Jesus made for us.  My mind was curious and my heart was stirred.  He related current day-to-day life events to Jesus. He showed us verses in the bible to guide everyone to live according to this “living word”.  Real life application; how could this be?!

At the end of the service a hymn was played and the Pastor asked if there was anyone in the congregation that did not know Jesus as their personal Lord and Saviour.  Wait a minute – I could feel my face flush as I wondered if I had a sign on my forehead that told him it was me!  I knew of God and heard about Jesus but I did not know Jesus.   

He then gave an invitation to anyone who didn’t know Jesus as their “personal” Lord and Saviour to attend the front of the church; to give opportunity to speak with someone about finding forgiveness in Jesus and inviting him into your heart to be your Lord and Saviour.

My heart ached and I felt like it was…could it be…an invitation from Jesus?  I stood still, tears flowing, heart and mind racing.

Another song played and it was as though a movie film was playing, frame by frame, and that movie was my life, my very own life events. The sadness, guilt, remorse and emptiness I felt was profound and real. My heart was pounding harder and faster.

The song “Just as I am” played.  “Just as I am without one plea, but thy blood was shed for ME and that though bids me come to Thee O Lamb of God, I come, I come.”  The words of the song made me feel like they had been written for me at that very moment.  My heart ached for Jesus. I wanted to know him, to ask His forgiveness, and surrender myself and my life to Him.  I wanted to know Jesus, personally!

I left the pew and headed straight toward an elderly lady, tiny in stature, wearing an endearing kind smile.  She awaited me at the front of the church and led me to a tiny little office so we could have privacy to talk.  A place where she asked me if I would like to meet Jesus!  She told me through verses that showed me the way, the truth and the life to follow.  She showed me with great compassion that “everyone sins and falls short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23), and that “the consequence of sin is death” (Romans 6:23), but that it didn’t have to end there.  There was a gift, a free-to-us gift; a cure because “God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (for Sheila Richardson she said — for ME!) (Romans 5:8).

She turned to John 3:16 and read, “For God so loved (Sheila)”, (she said again in place of (the world)), that he gave his only begotten son (Jesus Christ) that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life.”  (Eternal life in heaven with Jesus)

She acknowledged the sadness I was feeling and gave it a name. It was the weight of my sin and it required repentance.  I was filled with remorse. I wanted, needed, desired, and longed for His forgiveness.

She then led me to these verses in the Old King James Bible.  “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him (Jesus) from the dead, thou shalt be saved. (Sheila can and will be saved). For with the heart man believeth (faith) unto righteousness and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation … for whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. (No more condemnation)” Christ died for me!  Once and for all.

1Peter 3:18 “Christ himself suffered for sins once.  He was Not Guilty but he suffered for those who are guilty (me) to bring you to God.  His body was killed, but he was made alive in the Spirit.”

John 10:28-29 “And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.” (I was SAFE!).

July 10, 1977 following an evening service I gave my heart and my life to Jesus!  Jesus Loves Me!

He has prepared a place for me in heaven (John 14:3) and I shall one day spend eternity with my Lord and Saviour.

I pray you make that life changing decision if you haven’t yet.  There is no better time than now.

“Great is Thy Faithfulness Oh God my Father…
thou changes Not…
Strength for Today
Bright “HOPE” for tomorrow!”
(“Great is Thy Faithfulness” hymn by Thomas Obadiah Chisolm)

Love in Him

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