Friday, August 14, 2009

My Testimony: The Early Years


This blog's new incarnation is approaching the one-year mark, and I recently realized that I've never shared how I came to the Lord. Let's fix that right now.

I was born in Romania, in a non-religious home. I think my parents did a good job teaching me right from wrong, but I had very little knowledge of the Bible or its Magnificent Author. As a teenager in the U.S., I was pretty much an atheist.

My first real exposure to the Christian religion (but not really Jesus) started when a high school classmate invited me to a Young Life event. I had no idea what Young Life was; I thought it was just a party. We did volleyball and lots of fun competitive games, and at the very end, one of the leaders gave a short message. I liked it and went back the following week, but with each successive event, less and less time was spent on fun and more on the Bible. I started to realize that the games were a way to get young people to come and hear the good news.

Unfortunately, while they taught about man's sinful nature, I only remember a "believe only", watered-down version of Salvation. I "decided" to follow Jesus, but did not repent of my sins nor gave my life to Him. Aside from their organized events, I didn't read the Bible, much less study it. I prayed to God, but He didn't seem to respond back. I continued in my sinful ways, unaware that Jesus had so much more in store for me.

The one unforgettable experience I had, in my one-year foray into Young Life, was a summer camp in British Columbia. There, at the Malibu Club, is some of the most beautiful country that God has ever made! But aside from the fun and challenging activities (especially the zip line that I almost chickened out on), I did not grow at all spiritually. I can't blame the staff; I wasn't ready. I now think that God was preparing me, but He was not calling, yet.

After I returned home, they kept asking me to come to other events, throughout the week: church, Bible studies, picnics, etc... I went more out of a sense of obligation, than anything else. Oftentimes, I would make up excuses, when I really didn't feel like going. The last event I think I ever attended was a mini-camp, ironically not far at all from where we now live. The last evening, I took a walk with my counsellor, and we chatted for a while. I mentioned that while the Bible has great teachings, I didn't take everything in it literally. I said that since men wrote it, it must have many mistakes. He didn't take that very well. It wasn't so much WHAT he said, as HOW he said it. He said that I couldn't follow Jesus if I didn't believe the ENTIRE Bible as true. Of course, I see that now (thought there are many parts that are symbolic, not to be taken literally), but his reaction was the last straw for me. From that point on, I saw religious people as no different from anyone else, except that they were stuck following a bunch of rules and doing boring things, like going to church and reading outdated writings. I felt sorry for them. I think that was the last time I had anything to do with Young Life.

As I got into college, I not only finalized my decision that there was nothing to Christianity (or any religion, for that matter), but also that I would never let any girl change my mind.

By the way, the picture of the guy on the zip line isn't me, unless I fainted on the way down! No, if it was me, you'd see a guy desperately clutching the rope. I think I'm getting better about it now, nearly 20 years after the fact, since a new friend has introduced me to rock-climbing. But that's a story for another time.

10 comments:

That Girl said...

Whoa! That last line is a cliffhanger! ;-)

~Farrah

Nitewrit said...

Greg,

Don't leave us hanging too long. I am glad to see you posting again.

Larry E.

Greg said...

Not to worry! Already working on Part Deux!

Dusty Chris said...

Good stuff so far. Waiting for part Deux.

DJRodger said...

Greg,

thanks alot for visiting my blog and glad you liked the response I gave haha!

Now I know your blog exists I'll be sure to visit. Look forward to the next part of your testimony!

Daniel

Greg said...

Thanks for dropping by, Daniel! Parts II and III are already waiting in the wings (very unusual for me!), but will be posted a couple days apart, for effect. :)

thekingpin68 said...

'As I got into college, I not only finalized my decision that there was nothing to Christianity (or any religion, for that matter), but also that I would never let any girl change my mind.'

Yes, God comes before a woman for the Christian, but easier said than done sometimes I suppose for many.;)

thekingpin68 said...

'As I got into college, I not only finalized my decision that there was nothing to Christianity (or any religion, for that matter), but also that I would never let any girl change my mind.'

Now from the non-believer's perspective (different than my first comment), I can also see that a woman is not always going to change a man's mind, although God may use a woman to assist in the regeneration of a man. Calvin stated that The gospel is only ‘granted to a few without human aid’ in Bondage and Liberation of the Will. p.34.

Greg said...

Good points, Russ. It's kind of a chicken-and-egg problem, isn't it? Ideally, you should be well-grounded in Jesus early on, so that you will find a mate who is also sold out to Him. But sometimes it takes a romance to lead someone to the Lord.

Here's a little background into why I decided not to let any woman change my beliefs. When I was in high school, my parents and I had dinner at their friends' house, their son also being present. Turns out that he grew up Catholic, but fell in love with a Mormon girl and changed religions to marry her. Their relationship failed, but he remained a Mormon. My dad pointed this out as a problem, that now he was stuck in this messed up religion.

I realized much, much later that no one is "stuck" into their set of beliefs, certainly when there is an all-powerful, all-knowing, all-loving God, who can get them out and into the light. But that experience served to reinforce my view that I should not compromise my beliefs for anyone.

I suppose in a way, that's still true; I certainly wouldn't give up on Jesus now, even if you put a gun to my head!

Great Googly Moogly! said...

Greg,

I hate to admit it, but in my very early "Christian years" I used to hit many a people over the head with my Bible instead of patiently dealing with their issues.:-(

Now I just hit them with my blog! :-)

GGM