My Testimony

I had originally posted my testimony on February 21, 2009 in a post called I’m sorry…an open letter to my family and friends.

As most, if not all, of my blog posts come from a Christian worldview, I thought it might be helpful to the reader to know where I am coming from. So without further introduction, here is my testimony as included in that letter:

I suppose it makes sense to start by sharing a little bit about my own personal experience. Prior to coming to Christ, I was extremely wary of organized religion. Perhaps the term wary is a bit of an understatement. The reality was, I had an overwhelming distrust and distaste for organized religion. As a child, we never went to church other than for the occasional Christmas Mass at the local Catholic Church. I felt like religion was for people who needed a crutch and couldn’t think for themselves (the “flock of sheep” mentality). I was certain that churches existed primarily to con people into giving them money, and I was very cynical and sarcastic when it came to organized religion.

As a result of all this, I began to develop my own ideas of what God must be like. These ideas were not based on any particular research or knowledge, but more on how I wanted and expected God to be. My mother died when I was young (6 years old), so I always liked the idea that there was an afterlife and a heaven. It gave me hope that I would see her again someday. I wasn’t really sure how you got to heaven, but I figured I was a pretty good person, so I’d probably make it. When it came to the idea of Jesus, I felt like maybe he was a good teacher, but the idea that he was God in human form (i.e., the “Son of God”) seemed to far fetched to me to be real. I thought that the Bible was probably full of good stories illustrating certain points (I hadn’t actually read it), but I figured there wasn’t much more to it than that. I snickered at people who took the Bible too seriously or too literally, and I wondered how any intelligent person could have that much “blind faith.” I was also annoyed by any type of evangelism. In my mind, religion was a very personal thing between me and my God. I was offended by anything that I perceived as people trying to force their beliefs upon me.

I did leave room for the possibility that the Church might potentially serve two useful functions for some people. First, I thought church probably served a social function. It was a place where people got together and met other people from their community and maybe had lunch together after the Sunday sermon. Secondly, I thought church might be good for kids to teach them about the idea of faith. I didn’t necessarily think that that faith had to be in God, but I thought it was important to teach kids to have faith in something.

I don’t know exactly where these ideas and notions of mine came from, but they worked well enough for me for the first 30 years of my life. I was happy to keep God in the small box that I had constructed for him and to go about living my life. It was a fairly good life that I was leading. I managed to graduate from college, get a good job, start my own company, get married, buy a house and have some kids all without giving much thought to God or spiritual matters at all.

Then, after the birth of my daughter (my third child) in 2003, my wife and I decided to take some friends up on an invitation to their church. In the past I had half jokingly referred to their church as “the cult.” I was still wary and extremely skeptical, but I decided it was a chance to hang out with my friends which was important to me, so we went. After going the first time, my curiosity was peeked, and we started going more regularly in the weeks thereafter. When I started to put my preconceived notions of organized religion aside and really listen to what was being said, I began to realize that Christianity was not at all what I presupposed it to be – a series a rituals and unthinking followers led by blind faith. I remember reading 1 Thessalonians 5:21 which says, “Test everything. Hold on to the good.” Reading that dispelled any notion I had previously held that Christianity required blind faith. Here was a faith (Christianity) which invited me to research and question it, and then decide whether it was true.

That realization sparked questions that I needed to find answers to. I wasn’t much of a “people person” at the time (I’m still not, really). So, I wasn’t interested in talking to a bunch of Christians about their belief system. In hindsight, I think I was still distrustful of them when it came to getting at the truth. Instead, I began to read – a lot. I wanted to find out what Christianity was all about and whether there was actually any truth to it. I wanted to find out for myself, but I was also driven by my desire to make sure that I passed on truth to my kids. I needed to find out what that truth was! As I did my research, I came to discover the historical accuracy of the Bible, the archaeological & scientific evidence, for the Bible, and the evidence of its own validity found within the Bible itself (i.e., fulfilled prophecy). I came to find out, and believe, that the Bible was a lot more than just a collection of good stories written by men to illustrate their point(s). I came to realize and accept that the Bible was God’s Word given to men to, among other things, provide adequate evidence and proof of the existence of God, and Jesus.

I will never forget the day when, in the midst of researching Christianity and the Bible, I sat watching my kids play. They were driving me nuts, I’m sure, but they were having fun. All of the sudden, my love for my kids began to well up inside of me to the point that it almost brought me to tears. I have always had a deep love for my kids, but this was different. In that moment, I caught my first glimpse of how God must feel about me. If the Bible was true, God loved me eternally more than I was even capable of loving my own kids. That realization floored me. I realized in that moment that I was at a crossroads in my life. That kind of love deserved a response. I could no longer keep God in the neat little box I had relegated him to so many years ago. I needed to make a decision.

Then, one Sunday morning while I was listening to another Bible teaching, it finally hit me. I had tried to lead a “good life,” but it wasn’t enough. I was a sinner. Because of my sin, I was alienated from the God who created me, and nothing I had done or could do would ever fix that alienation. The Bible says that God does not want or require me to jump through a lot of religious hoops to go to heaven. Instead, God paid the price for my sins when he sent his son to die on the cross in my place to be my savior and redeemer, and all he wanted was for me to admit that I needed him and ask him to come into my life as Lord and Savior. That morning I talked to God and admitted that I did need him in my life. I asked him to forgive my sins and come into my life, and I thanked him for giving me the proof of his existence that allowed me to take that step of faith. I have never regretted that decision.

In that moment, and from that moment, I experienced a deep sense of peace and belonging. Although I still face tough moments and decisions in my life, there is a peace in knowing that there is someone there with me the whole way. I am part of God’s family – an adopted son, and I know that when my time here on earth is done, I will live in the presence of God forever. The original thirst for knowledge that led me to make the decision to investigate Christianity has only increased. I’m continuing to read more and more about the Bible and Christianity, and everything I’ve read thus far has only served to deepen my faith (including the Bible itself).

For many people, the decision to accept Christ into their lives is a very emotional one. They come to a low point in their life or a breaking point, and they realize their need for a relationship with God. God then provides the foundation and reasoning to back up that emotional decision. God didn’t wire me that way though, and my journey to faith was a little different. In my case, God opened my eyes to the reasoning and proof of his existence which led to my decision to accept him. That decision has since led me to the emotional side of the equation as I have come to realize the love, the justice, and the sacrifice that went into God’s plan to redeem me, a sinner, from the hardness of my own heart. The realization of the depth of God’s love for me that led him to give me that free gift of life by his ultimate sacrifice simultaneously fills my heart with joy and my eyes with tears. It has also led to a very deep sorrow and conviction born out the realization that I accepted God’s gift of love and salvation and have failed to share it with the people that I love.

In short, here is what I have come to know as truth. At some level, we all feel the need for God because we were created to be in a relationship with him. Our sin separates us from our holy God eternally, and somewhere deep down we all feel the desire to bridge that separation. Some people realize this earlier in life, but many don’t acknowledge the emptiness caused by the absence of God in our lives until much later. The sad news is that our sin separates us from God, and there is nothing we can do to bridge that gap. The good news is that God may a way for us to be reconciled to him. He gave us the gift of salvation through the death of Jesus on the cross so that we can live forever with him. All he requires of us is that we accept his free gift of salvation and make him Lord of our lives. I share this with you now in love and all humility knowing that it is not something I discovered or learned on my own, but something that was revealed to me by a gracious God.

My prayer is that you will come to make the decision to accept Jesus into your life and experience the unmatched joy and contentment that comes with that decision. That said, I encourage you not to take my word for it. Take the challenge of 1 Thessalonians 5:21 and “test everything.” God’s love can, and will, live up to the challenge. Investigate Christianity for yourself. If there is any chance that it is true, you owe yourself at least that much. As I was researching Christianity and the Bible, I was skeptical, but I resolved to try to approach it with an open mind. As I continued to learn more and more, I wrestled with the question: “What are you going to do if you find out the Bible and everything it teaches about Christianity are true and accurate?” What will you do in that circumstance?

May the peace and love of God be with you always.

Love,

Wayne…a sinner saved by grace

zv7qrnb

10 responses to My Testimony

  1. Great testimony, Wayne. Thanks for sharing it.

  2. Thank you for sharing your testimony and for convicting me for not sharing mine more vocally with my family.

    Blessings,
    Juli

  3. Hi,
    I “happened” upon your blog and I am glad that I did. My daughter is preparing to marry and atheist in 2 weeks. I have gone from almost hatred of him to now an acknowledgement of my own need for forgiveness and hope that God would one day open his eyes like he opened yours. One of his brothers committed suicide and as a result both he and another brother are atheists. Please pray.

  4. Hi I am Sheeba, this is my Testimony: To Jesus Christ Be All the Glory

    The Diagnosis
    In the design of God’s will, I suffer from GERD. My problem heightened in the last two years as I had considerable challenges with my breathing. Consulting a pulmonologist only resulted in being poorly medicated with no improvements to my health. I sought one doctor after another in the hope of finding relief. Finally an ENT doctor checked my voice box and vocal cord with a laryngoscope but came up empty with any conclusive solutions except more impotent medication.

    At last I turned to my Great Physician. The Lord promises to do what is impossible with men (Matthew 19.26) I said:
    O Lord my God, I am broken and empty. I am nothing before thy sight, but if you wish to use me I am available for you. Rabbi, my teacher, speak to me your words, you are the treasure of hidden wisdom and knowledge, fill this empty vessel with your living words and let me proclaim your Good News to all who are thirty.

    As I started to read the Bible regularly, the Spirit of the Lord guided me in understanding His words with clarity. God was teaching me to know Him intimately through His words and prayer. In the following two month, I was given an opportunity to share His words at our church’s women’s ministry. I gladly agreed to serve the Lord. That evening I knelt and prayed to the Lord and told Him that I had difficulty breathing and could not speak continuously. How then was I to share His words with His people? I petitioned the Lord to reveal my problem. Within two days I consulted a Gastroenterologist. He performed an endoscopy as my frame had gotten thin and I had lost 10kgs. My medical reports confirmed that I had Esophageal Cancer. As my family stood in disarray at this shocking news, I thanked my Lord for revealing this problem to me. My heart rested content in the hope that my Lord would heal me, even as my family were unsettled in their hearts with the whole matter.

    Waiting on the Lord
    One month following my cancer diagnosis, I had a lot of follow up tests and scans done. This part of my life was filled with travel from one hospital to another; one test after another; one doctor after another. Finally a second opinion on my lab biopsy from Mumbai confirmed that I had cancer. My situation had gone from bad to worse. My breathing diminished and I was not able to swallow food. The doctors were concerned about my cancer’s rate of growth and worried that it may have spread to other parts of my esophagus.

    I was referred to a Radio Oncologist to provide radiation therapy to kill the cancer. Unfortunately in my case, the Radio Oncologist refused to treat me due to my young age and the long term side effects. I was sent to another Gastroenterologist to surgically remove my cancer. His assessment of my tumor made him helpless and he hesitated to operate given my tumor’s location and complexity in my throat. The cancer was situated at the center of my voice box, food and wind pipe. Any wrong move by the surgeon would mean drastic life-long problems. I stood to lose my voice. This doctor declared my surgery complicated and said only four doctors in the world were talented and trained to handle it. By the grace of my God, one of these surgeons – Dr. Reddy (Dr.R), lived in Hyderabad, India. Getting an appointment with this world renowned surgeon became my next challenge. It was in a race against time, as my life was at risk. Yet my God was in full control.

    The Promises of God Never Fail
    By the mercy of God, we got an appointment in a few weeks time. I traveled from Bangalore to Hyderabad to the Institute of Gastroenterology and consulted Dr. R. He was a very pleasant and humble man, down to earth and elderly like my father. He reviewed my report and assured me the surgery would be a simple one. In order to confirm the location of my tumor, he did a Narrow Band Endoscopy. All seemed well, or so I thought. After the results were evaluated, Dr. R seemed perplexed. As a guest lecturer at Harvard Medical School and a man of many prestigious awards in his field of medicine, Dr. R was shocked at my cancer. In all his years of experience, he never saw a condition like mine, and therefore he did not want to operate without further consultation with another specialist in Japan – Dr.Ii. If he was not able to perform my surgery, I needed to travel to Japan to get it done. This meant that I needed to spend more than 25 laks in addition to all that I had already spent to treat this cancer.

    Dr. R was honest about my situation. There were three major complications in performing my surgery:
    • I might lose my voice permanently
    • Nothing can be done to stop the internal bleeding, as they had to operate through endoscopy. He was afraid that he lacked resources to treat me.
    • As they operate the inside of my throat, I might have a hole on the outside of my throat.

    As Dr.R laid out the details, the Lord spoke three powerful promises to me:
    • “I am the LORD, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?” (Jeremiah 32:27)
    • “Can I not give life to dry bones?” (Ezekiel 37:3-5)
    • “I have spoken; will I not bring it to pass?” (Isaiah 46:11)

    I was in the midst of a fierce storm, but the Lord was my Shelter and High Tower. The Lord alone was my Dwelling place; therefore, I closed my eyes and worshiped Him:

    O Lord my God, to you alone are all things possible. You have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. There is nothing too hard for you.

    The Power of the Gospel on to Life
    Dr. R said he will consult Dr. Ii and let me know if he can operate with his guidance. My sister, husband and I went to our rooms. There we read the scripture and prayed. The Gospel of John (John 6.1-12) tells the instance of a large crowd following Jesus. Moved with compassion for the people Jesus asks his disciple Philip where to buy bread to feed them. Philip in all practicality weighs the cost at half a year’s wage to feed such a massive crowd. At this most overwhelming time Jesus performs a remarkable miracle. He feeds the multitude. I was reminded of my situation. The cost to Japan was more than 25 laks. Dr. R said he lacked the equipment to do the surgery in India. I realized that the Lord was testing my heart as He did Philip to see if I would believe Him. My God knew how He was going to heal me and treat me. I only had to believe in Him.

    Whom Shall I Fear
    The next morning, Dr. R agreed to perform the surgery with the help of Dr. Ii. The only condition was that I sign a High Risk form releasing the doctors from any responsibilities in the event I die during or after the surgery.

    Again the Lord spoke to my heart:
    From the ends of the earth I call to you,
    I call as my heart grows faint;
    lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
    For you have been my refuge,
    a strong tower against the foe.
    (Psalm 61:2-3)

    The Lord answered: “I have bought you for a price; I have engraved you in the palm of my hand; death cannot snatch you from my palm.”

    I attended the surgery and within an hour it was complete. However, there was more shocking news to come. While performing the first surgery, the doctors noticed the cancer to have spread and it had gone deep inside my esophagus. I needed to have radiation after the surgery

    The Lord Who Owns All My Ways
    The Lord would take me to another place of worship after my surgery. The next forty days, at the Baptist hospital, would also become my place of ministry. Forty days of intense radiation to my throat physically weakened me and I had to endure severe burning pain. This all happened two weeks after my surgery. However, it is here, that God would pour out of me the faith that He gave within my heart to speak of the great Hope that I have in His unfailing love. The Lord would refine my faith in a fire and use me to speak of His goodness in the midst of my trials. Since my Jesus suffered, I too was granted the privilege not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for Him. In my deepest of pain, the Lord showed me His great strength. He allowed me to walk amongst the lowly and downcast, to be a voice of comfort to the people whom He loves. Since Christ Jesus comforted me, this Lord is in the midst of the broken hearted, and has asked me to comfort others. I have come to bear witness to this great God of Glory. This is One and Only God who saves men from sin and death.

    I am a cancer survivor by the power of Jesus Christ and His grace. Do you want to know this Jesus as your personal Lord and Saviour?

    Thank you for reading.
    God Bless You.

Trackbacks and Pingbacks:

  1. 25 Reasons I Believe the Bible « Dad In The Middle - August 19, 2009

    [...] My Testimony [...]

  2. The Non-Negotiables #3: Church | Kidmin1124 - August 5, 2010

    [...] My Testimony, I talk about the general distrust I has of the church prior to accepting Christ as Lord and [...]

  3. Why I Believe the Bible #17 (The Bible’s Impact on Individual Lives) | Dad in the Middle - December 1, 2010

    [...] My Testimony [...]

  4. Sunday Afternoon Tea with Wayne – Part 1 | Kidmin1124 - March 13, 2011

    [...] can find the long version of my testimony on Dad in the Middle on the testimony page.  Here is the short version from a presentation I recently recorded for the CM [...]

  5. Introducing Wayne Stocks | Divorce Ministry 4 Kids - August 9, 2012

    [...] I am, first and foremost, a sinner saved by grace.  I will save that testimony for another time, but if you are really interested you can find it here. [...]

  6. Non-Negotiable #3: Church | Dad in the Middle - December 5, 2013

    […] My Testimony […]

Leave a Reply