I was what you would call a false convert. Most of my youth and early adulthood leading up early thirties I thought that I was saved because I said this magic prayer (repeatedly over the years…) and because I thought I was saved from the wrath to come, I lived like a saint on Sunday and like hell Monday through Saturday – always finding a way to go and say this magic prayer when I needed a pick me up or if I was guilty of whatever sin I was involved with.
I was not living a Christ-like life and did not have any desires to be more like Christ, my desires were selfish and material and often led to more sin. I was a rotten apple; I was not producing any good fruit. My church attendance was good, and that was about it, besides when I needed forgiveness for whatever I did I just sought out that sinners prayer.
Fast-forwarding to 2008-2009, the Lord really started working in my life. God started challenging me through sermons or areas of teaching that were bringing conviction, which was different from the guilt I would carry from previous sin. I wasn’t sure how to handle this or what it really meant. But I continued in what I knew and practiced, although it didn’t quite feel right.
Around this time I had tried to lure one of my best friends to the Lord through this sinners prayer and he was not having anything to do with it and thought it was ludicrous and started asking me lots of questions that I didn’t have answers for. This brought more conviction, for I thought, if I was a Christian and yet didn’t know my Bible or what Gods Word said, that was a pretty pathetic and poor defense for God (not that God needed defending). I started buying books on apologetic’s and reading them. This soon became a little more than a hobby. I tried finding all the right answers to talk to my friend, so that I could convince him and save him, by me having all the answers and not letting him stump me in his questions. I was determined to have the answers, yet in conversations with him, it would go nowhere and it continued to trouble me.
One night, my wife was watching TV and came across Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron witnessing and teaching Biblical evangelism. She called me into the room and shared with me and I was blown away by what they were saying. However, I became heavy with conviction, listening to them describe God’s laws and showing the violation of breaking them and God’s judgment, because He was a perfect and holy God who could not allow sinners or sin to pass or get away from His judgment. They spoke of repentance like I hadn’t heard before. The whole thing intrigued me and drew me to their website http://livingwaters.com. There, I heard Hell’s Best Kept Secret and realized my sin separated me from a Holy, Just and Perfect God and that I deserved Hell. This realization brought me to my knees in repentance and confession of sin to God. There He met me and saved me. I began to have new desires and study God’s Word.
I realized that God’s grace, plus anything, was not the way to Salvation and neither myself nor anyone could save ourselves by saying some repeat-after-me prayer, but only by God opening my eyes and ears to the Gospel and recognizing my need for repentance and God granted that to me.
Living Waters site became a regular place for me to visit and to continue in my learning. There I came across the School of Biblical Evangelism and spoke with my Pastor who graciously paid for my enrollment and I began right away diving into the lessons and teachings and learning more all the while reading my Bible – now with a new-found desire and what appeared to be a new set of eyes, as verses brought conviction and a new light that brought an amazement in my study.
Over the next year I started handing out tracts and engaging strangers, friends and family members and learning how to share the gospel with them. Somewhere around this time I would connect with a dear brother, Virgil Patterson, through an online video game forum for Christians and start to hang out and play with him in games. We both had a passion and desire to evangelize and study God’s Word. I introduced him to Living Waters and the School of Biblical Evangelism and he started attendance and going through the courses and material as well. As we both got towards the end of the training, I came across a training session at Living Waters called the Ambassadors Academy. This was a lot more robust training and focused heavily on Open Air preaching and witnessing. I spoke again with my Pastor and he graciously again provided funds to help get me to California where the training was and also where my dear brother Virgil lived. Virgil also registered and the two of us embarked on a journey that would forever change our lives and God would use to put a burden in our hearts for the lost and to share the Gospel with them.
Virgil and I continued to proclaim the gospel in our areas where we lived and use what we had been learning in a ministry that we had started to use as a vehicle to share the gospel with people through video games, http://digoutreach.com. Virgil and I grew very close, closer or as close as a blood brother. He was my “brother from another mother” (as we often said) – he was my brother in Christ. Virgil and I encouraged and spurred each other on as if we were neighbors, yet separated across the United States.
I met up and found other local brothers and sisters in Christ by this time and continued growing in my faith and evangelizing and open air preaching, as I felt led by the Lord. I got involved with a Church plant through the church I was attending and serving there in sound and setup and tear down and would one day be granted the privilege of preaching one Sunday. This eventually turned into something that was somewhat regular for me and another brother at the church as we shared that responsibility over a year or so. During that time, the Lord granted me growth in study and understanding of His Word and allowed many evangelism opportunities and a desire to know and grow closer to my Savior, Jesus Christ. After a period of about 2-1/2 years that church plant was abandoned and dissolved. My family and I stayed at that church for a little while longer and then felt led and called to leave and go someplace else.
We found another church and quickly, way too quickly got involved and lacked discernment in our decision and attendance there. I taught evangelism there for about 15 months and after some time, wisdom and prayer a number of differences in theology became very evident. I understood that the Lord would have me take my family and seek a new church to call our home. So began our journey and what would lead us to our current Church today. During this time and transition my dear brother Virgil was called home to The Lord, 10/8/2013, as he had his second round with Melanoma and the Lord saw fit to bring him home. The Lord provided Virgil in my life as an encouragement and a true laborer for His Kingdom who passionately shared and proclaimed the gospel to Dr.’s, nurses, patients and anyone he could talk with and used his cancer for the glory of God! Virgil will never be forgotten and continues to this day be an encouragement in sharing my faith and being bold for the Lord. You can read more about Virgil, his passion for the Lord, and different evangelism efforts we have had over the years at our blog – http://digoutreach.blogspot.com – may you be encouraged.
Over the last 7 years, evangelism and teaching evangelism have been my passions and desire. I have had the joy of laboring alongside many different brothers and sisters in Christ on the streets, in classrooms, conferences, fairs, festivals, campuses public squares and other events. It has been an absolute joy and privilege to have the Lord save me and redeem me through His blood that was shed on that cross 2000 years ago. It is only by His grace that I was saved and I thank Him for opening my eyes to the falseness that I was living and showing me the truth through His Word.
I am blessed to have my wife, Leah, of 18 years of marriage as a supporter in my evangelism efforts, and she is a source of encouragement and accountability for me as I labor for the Lord. My two sons, Gabe (17) and Noah (13) continue to bless me and amaze me as I watch them grow up before my eyes. I thank the Lord for all that He has provided and done in my life to date. I especially am thankful for Him granting repentance and salvation to my family and I. May He be exalted and proclaimed, may His gospel go forth boldly from each of us.