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This Is My Story


December 15, 2011
Summer Rohe

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I grew up in church.  I was brought up as a Methodist and in the Methodist faith you are baptised as a baby and then confirmed as you commit your life to God .This usually happens in the 8th grade.

My family was very much into sports and 8th grade soccer seemed to get in the way of confirmation.  I couldn't let my team down.  I was going to wait till the next year. The same situation happened in the next two years.

At this point, I was now in high school and making new friends.  My life was beginning to take off. My boyfriend was a senior and I was the star of the tennis team.  From the outside everything looked perfect.

This relationship was tearing me down from the inside.  I was starving myself, drinking when I was too young and engaging in pre-marital sex. During this time, I did not tell anyone.

After the relationship ended, I kept busy to keep from thinking about what I had given up.  I didn't realize I was running from my guilt.

It was now my senior year in high school, a year or so after I had been in the poor relationship.  I dated a guy who helped me realize I had this heavy guilt and a living breathing relationship with God was the only way to release it. I will never forget that afternoon outside of his house. Since that day, God has not stopped doing great work in my life.

In 2009 my best friend passed away and I thought there was no way that God was ready for him.  I knew God was with me the whole time.  We had a lot of time together. My closest earthly family was 800 miles away.

I have gone through many trials that have strengthened my relationship and faith and also humbled me as a believer.  I always have to remember that God comes first. I cannot do it alone!


February 20, 2008
MARIA SOLOMON

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This Is My Story

 

I felt hopeless, unforgiveable, unlovable, defeated, the exception to God’s promise. 

For so many years I had these feelings.  I believed that Christ died on the cross to save me from my sins but I always felt that I was the exception to His forgiveness.  I was saved when I was 13 and baptized in Runnelstown, MS .  I was raised in a Christian home with wonderful parents who loved me but I just couldn’t grasp that I could be loved unconditionally by anyone, including God. 

 

My husband and I, along with our 9 month old daughter, moved from CA to Ocean Springs in October 2005 due to my father’s illness.  I felt so empty and lost and I knew that we needed to find a church. I felt that God was present in my life but He was just so distant.  We really didn’t know where to begin our search so I went to the Southern Baptist Convention website and printed a list of churches in the area.  On the evening of January 1, 2006 we decided to begin our search.  We began at the top of our alphabetical list and found that our first church was closed for the evening service due to it being New Years Day.  So we drove, searching for our second church on our list but couldn’t find it.   We had passed by Woodhaven Baptist Church two times and saw that it was open.  We decided to give this church a try, bypassing all the other churches on our list.  On that evening, my life was changed.

 

Looking back on that day, it was as if God handed a list to Bro. Sam of everything that I needed to hear.  On that night, Bro. Sam preached a message of “Which Path Are You On”.  That message really hit home with me and I knew that I was on the wrong path.  My husband and I felt that we had found our church home based on that one message and the warm welcome that we received that night.  Since then, God has slowly moved down that list with the help of Bro. Sam and with the help of other church members to cover each area of weakness that I have had in my walk with Christ. 

 

Over these past 2 years, I have had a lot of heartache.  I lost my father to cancer, my husband deployed to Iraq , and I miscarried a child, all of which were almost too much to bear.  However, God was right there by my side to help me through it.  It has been a slow process but God used these experiences to change my mindset about His love for me.  During one of the women’s bible studies, Discerning the Voice of God, His Word was finally driven home.  It was as if God flipped on a switch in my heart and I knew that I was forgiven!  I realized that Satan had made me feel unforgiveable by continuing to bring up sins from my past.  Because of this, I was not allowing myself to experience the fullness of God’s love.  God is a package deal!  You can not experience all He has to offer if you do not believe that He will forgive you!  

 

Now I am hopeful, forgiven, loved, victorious, and a child of God! 

 

I have finally accepted that God’s love is unconditional and that I am free!!  I am free from the bondage of sin and I have an inner peace that I have never felt before!  I desire to NEVER return to the lonely place that once consumed my life.  I desire to seek God on a daily basis; I want Him to be the Lord of my life forever!  I know that I must continue to pray, study, and fellowship or I will be susceptible to Satan’s deceitful attacks.  I can not put into words how thankful I am for God’s work in my life.  I am so thankful for Bro. Sam’s obedience when he prepares the messages for us each Sunday.  I am so thankful for the wonderful church family that I have and for the friends that I have made here.  God is alive and working in Woodhaven Baptist Church and because of this, I am free!  Now, as the military takes us to other places, I will take all of this with me.  I can’t help but tell others of how He has changed me and I pray that everyone finds this new found peace that God has given me.  There is no greater feeling!

 

 


January 21, 2008
DANA ADKINS

     I did not grow up in a Christian home. My father died when I was very young and my mother remarried when I was 5 years old. My stepfather was an alcoholic and a fairly mean drunk. My mother and step father did, at least, send me to church, but, what that taught me was that "Church" is just something you do, not something that impacts your life.  I heard the gospel preached and was baptized at 12 years of age, but I never experienced any real change in my heart.  In fact, every time I came to a point in my life where I realized I had messed up, I just kept getting baptized. I was truly sorry for the problems I had caused and I really wanted things to be different, but I didn't want to have to change me; I just wanted to change the circumstances and the consequences.
     As I got older, I traveled down a lot of wrong roads, destroyed a lot of relationships, and pretty well messed up everything in my life. Then in March 2000 the consequences of my sin finally caught up to me and I came to the end of myself. I prayed these words to God, "I don't want to live like this any more, God, please change me." For the very first time, I totally submitted myself to God's will and acknowledged Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of my life.  I gave all control of my life to Him. Immediately, peace washed over me. It was so powerful, I physically felt it, and God has been changing my life ever since. In the beginning I tried to "do" all the right things. I still had that sense of "I'm not worthy of God's forgiveness so I have to earn it." God blessed me however, with a wonderful pastor and loving church so that, little by little, I grasped the truths of God’s love and mercy.
     Gradually my prayers changed from "here's today's shopping list, God" or "attention, God, clean-up on aisle 3" to genuinely asking God to teach me and and help me mature in  my faith. I wanted to know His blessings, but even more, I wanted to know Him.  Since I couldn't earn my worthiness, I asked God to make me into the person He wanted me to be. Praying for maturity is a lot like praying for patience; you have to go to the classroom. Contrary to popular opinion, God doesn't simply sprinkle us magically with maturity, patience, meekness, or whatever and suddenly we are whatever we prayed to become. It's more like physical therapy, and most of the process involves some pain.
     Stangely, it was after I accepted Christ that my marriage fell apart and, at the same time, I lost my job. I had great difficulty finding another job. In fact, at times I worked as many as 3 jobs simultaneouosly just to earn enough money to survive. My husband's poor financial decision-making adversely affected me as well since we were only separated and not divorced. I moved 6 times in 4 years with the last move coming in July of 2005, just before hurrican Katrina.  After that move, I was physically, emotionally, and spiritually exhausted. I even shared with my Christian sisters at church that "just walking down the hallway felt like it would cause body parts to drop off of me. I was exhausted and if I had to move again, I would just burn everything and start over." 
     God must have took me seriously because in Aug 2005, I lost my home and everything in it to Hurricane Katrina. I was left with 3 changes of clothes and a crock pot (the only things I took with me when I evacuated). When I returned to my home the morning after the storm, all I could say was, "well, you go, God!"  I suddenly had great, unexplainable peace. Those words I had repeatedly shared with my friends rang in my ears. Somehow, I knew this was God's answer. He had something in store for me and He wanted to start a new beginning.
     He has been faithful every step of the way to meet my every need (including building a new house for me), continually showing His personal love for me, and teaching me to trust Him. The Bible has truly become the "Living Word" to me and God has drawn me so close to Him that, given the choice to experience the painful things again or to stay a spiritual baby, I would choose to go through it all again. Because the relationship I now have with God so totally eclipses anything I used to hold dear, I am now 100% sold out to God and willing to do anything He asks.
     Please understand, I am still human and often fall short of His mark, but now I trust in God's promise in 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” And, in Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” In Philippians 1:6, “Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” And especially, Romans 8:28, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.” What a great God we serve! 
 

Dana Adkins


June 7, 2007
James hogancamp

Greetings in the name of Jesus! My name is James Hogancamp and I would love to share with you the life-changing power that has turned my life around.  As a child, I had a praying mother who raised me in the church. I thank her for that. I also had a father who was a good provider so that I never lacked anything. I was the baby of the family with five sisters older than me.

As I grew up, my mother tried to teach me the right way, but unfortunately, I listened to the devil as he showed me the things of the world, tempting me and causing me to feel as if I would miss out on something if I followed my mother’s teachings. By the time I was in seventh grade, I had already started using drugs and was being led into the fast lane. As I think back, I remember so many occasions when I literally should have died. God spared my life and I can only contribute that to having a mother who was always praying for me. Yes, I believe God spared my life because of my mother’s prayers.

I ran with Satan for twenty-three years, doing drugs, selling drugs, and making drugs.  My life revolved around drugs. Anything I found that made me feel good, I just had to have more of. I took drugs to stay awake and I took drugs to sleep. I had a good job and had no reason to mess with drugs, but the lifestyle had me hooked. I could not survive without drugs. Because of that, no matter where I went, from state to state, I stayed in trouble with the law and was never able to stay anywhere for very long.

I could go on and on about the condition my life was in because of drugs and the desperation that those drugs had driven me to, but what I really want to do now is to share with you how, on June 6, 2003, Jesus set me free from Satan’s captivity and changed my life forever.

I was on the run, charged with two counts of murder and was not willing to face the consequences.  The charges were heavy and the penalty was too great. At this point in my life, I could not go long without my drugs.  My life was a total mess and I was literally at the point of killing or being killed.  I had no hope and no help. John 6:44 records the words of Jesus, “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him, and I will raise him up at the last day.”

I was running from the law and had plans made for my escape. I had a destination in mind, but I did not end up there. My mother and my sister began to pray in earnest for me without ceasing. While at her house in Illinois, my sister began to talk to me about how good her life was when she was living for Jesus. It was at this point that the drawing Spirit of God began to tug at me. I told my sister to call the preacher where she used to go to church.  He wasn’t home, but she left him a message to meet us at the church. This was a Friday afternoon and we had no idea where the preacher was, but my sister’s faith drew us to the church anyway.  As we pulled into the church parking lot, we saw the preacher also turning in. He opened the building and as we went in, we immediately started praying.

I was truly tired of what my life had become and really sorry for all I had done.  As I began to cry out to Jesus, I repented from my sin.  Satan began to tell me that it was too late, that I had done too much for God to forgive me. He said, “It’s no use now, James;” but as I continued to pray, Rev. Gray and my sister prayed with me. I remember pouring my heart out to God. I was completely broken and knew that Jesus was the only hope I had.  My sister came over to hug me, but as soon as she touched me, the Spirit of God came over both of us in such an undeniable way that I knew it was God.  I felt, as the old hymn says, that my burdens were rolled away.  I felt clean, cleaner than I had ever felt before.  I felt love come into my life and there was a peace that came over me that gave me joy!  I asked Rev. Gray to baptize me and before he had the baptistry full, I was in there being baptized with my sister right behind me. 

There is no doubt about it, God saved me and put his Spirit within me that day. He took my drug craving away instantly.  I experienced no withdrawal.  It has been four years now and I am still clean and free of drugs, there is no desire at all. The lonely craving I have now is for more of God’s Word every day and to draw closer to Him. My greatest desire is to share the hope and help that I have found in Jesus. 

I turned myself in that day even though I knew that it would mean my freedom and possibly my life. God has been with me every step of the way and I have been able to share with many lost souls in the jail and prison system the life changing power that comes only through Jesus Christ, my Savior.  I pray that everyone who reads this will feel God drawing them for a closer walk with Him. 

In Jesus name I pray, Amen

James Hogancamp

We met James while he was at the Jackson County ADC. He is currently serving a life sentence, but faithfully and joyfully sharing Jesus with all who will listen 


April 25, 2006
LORI GOFORTH

WHAT JESUS MEANS TO ME

I was raised in a loving and stable home, but for some reason I always struggled with self esteem issues. Although my Mom was a Christian, having placed her faith in Christ, she had never been taught some of the important and essential truths about what being a Christian really means. Consequently, she was unable to share them with me. As a young girl, I attended a Methodist church, but during my teen years, I chose not to attend at all. My teenage years brought tremendous rebellion and I kept looking for love and acceptance in all the wrong places.

It wasn’t until after I was married that I began to acknowledge God’s presence and work in my life. Although I felt a tremendous sense of responsibility as a mother, I also felt that I finally had what I really wanted from life: love, acceptance, husband, kids, and a stable home.  In short, God was so good to me I could no longer deny Him.  Our family started visiting different churches and after just a couple of months, on February 10, 1985, I responded to an altar call (an invitation) to accept Christ as my Savior. I was 25 years old.

My life changed immediately. I realized that Jesus was the answer to all my searching so I determined to be the best Christian I could be. As I grew in my knowledge of the Lord, another problem developed – pride. Often I looked at other Christians with a judgmental attitude and God had to teach me, through my own personal trials and temptations, that “I” can’t do anything on my own.

God has taught me, through hardships and trials, that the same grace that saved me can keep me saved through the years. He used some serious family trials to get me to depend on Him and His Word. He has directed me to churches, Sunday School classes, and Bible studies that have taught me His truth and I know that He will continue His work in me until the day of Christ Jesus’ return.

Lori Goforth


March 5, 2006
BEVERLY ALGER

MY APPOINTMENT AND GOD’S AGENDA

had an appointment with a heart surgeon for August 30, 2005 in Gulfport, MS, but God had his own agenda; Hurricane Katrina hit August 29.

My daughter Angela, granddaughter, Brittney, grandson Anthony, and I evacuated Sunday, August 28 to a motel in Marietta Georgia.   While we were there, I called Sue, my old friend of more than 30 years, now living in Eatonton, Georgia. She in turn called her daughter, Becky, living in Dallas Georgia, a mere 30 minutes away from the motel.   Becky phoned me at the motel and invited us all to come and stay with her.

Becky and her husband have a new, very large three-bedroom home, which they graciously opened up to us. Becky was so thoughtful -- not only stocking both the pantry and the freezer during our stay, but also taking off work to carry me to the doctor because I needed refills on my medications.   I am a diabetic with high blood pressure and am very overweight (not a good surgical prospect).

When we evacuated our home in Mississippi, I brought my medical records regarding my heart and all the results of the tests I had done before Katrina.   I was scheduled to have an aortic valve replacement, a bypass and a left carotid artery repair for a blockage.   The doctor I saw in Georgia told me that I should not delay my surgeries and that upon my return to Mississippi, if the surgeon and the hospital were not able to perform the surgery, that I should call him right away so he could contact a surgeon in Atlanta for me.

We returned to Mississippi and found that my surgeon had not returned to the area and the hospital had sustained damage. My surgery was not going to take place in Mississippi. I notified the doctor in Georgia and the very next day received a call from his office wanting to schedule an appointment for me to see him again. My appointment was October 4.

My daughter and I drove back to Georgia and stayed with Becky again.   When I saw the surgeon, he referred me to a friend of his who is a vascular surgeon.   The cardiac surgeon stated that I had to have my artery cleaned out before having the heart surgery.   He wanted all the blood flowing correctly without blockages. They scheduled my left carotid artery surgery for October 10 and my heart surgery for October 12.

My Pastor, Sam Johnson drove from Mississippi early Monday morning on the tenth and was there waiting for me before I ever got down from my room.   After  “prepping” me for surgery, they allowed Pastor Sam to come back and pray with me.   As he was praying, I felt something like a “big rush” leave my body through my arms and hands, then the same thing happened through my legs and feet. Suddenly I felt relaxed and comfortable.   I had no fear, just a sense of well being. No, they had not yet given me any medication. I was given a local anesthetic in the operating room much later.

Pastor Sam waited with my family in the waiting room. Of course the surgery lasted three hours longer than expected, but he stayed there until they came out and said I was in recovery. Then, He drove back to Mississippi with no sleep. My pastor is a man who not only talks the talk, but also walks the walk.   He called my daughter at the hospital and apologized for not being able to return on Wednesday for the heart surgery because there was a disaster-relief team coming to stay in our church and he needed to be there.

The surgery went very well on Wednesday and the next day I went to my room from recovery.   Saturday they came in to tell me that I was going to be discharged on Monday.   The doctor stated that I had a miraculous recovery considering all of my handicaps.   I told the doctor that God’s hands were all over this.   He brought me out of harms way from Katrina and took me to Piedmont Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia. He directed the surgeons and the hospital he had pre-selected for me.

There is not a day that goes by that I don’t thank God for all he has done for me even though I don’t deserve any of it. Because of His love for me, God saved this 65 year-old obese diabetic with high blood pressure.   How does that old hymn go? Oh yes,  “He saved a wretch like me.” These words were written for me; I honestly believe that!

Thank you for allowing me to share this story with you.   I hope it helps someone who reads it to accept the Lord, Jesus Christ as their Savior and know that He died for our sins.   God truly loves you.   God always has the best of things in His agenda for you and me.   We need only to accept his love and acknowledge that He is the only true God.

Your sister in Christ,

Beverly M. Alger


June 10, 2005
LIZ GARIBELLE

APPROVED

I take in a deep breath as I pick up the phone to make a call that could change everything.After a series of automated prompts, I finally hear a real person’s voice on the other end. We quickly exchange pleasantries and then it’s down to business, the real nature of my call. “Yes Ma’am, “I begin, “I’m calling in regards to a home equity loan that my husband and I requested. Could you tell me if a decision has been made yet?” A long pause, several identification questions and then the answer, “No Ma’am, I am sorry,” the lovely voice starts. “No, it hasn’t been approved or no a decision has not been made yet?” I interrupt. “No, a decision has not been made yet, but if you call back in the morning, I am certain we should have an answer by then.” Whew! We exchange pleasantries once more and then I hang up the phone.

I turn to my husband, who has been listening and I shrug. “Oh well! Not yet.” We both have so much invested into this loan. We searched our records for the countless required forms, took time from our day for a face to face interview, and spent far too much time calculating the amount we wanted to borrow. All said, we were asking the bank to loan us 23,000 dollars, of which we would pay off all our debt, repair the Florida room of our home, buy new equipment for the business, and use a small portion to buy a newer vehicle (by trading our present one in as a partial credit).

I sit next to my husband and say, “We need to pray about this.” He assures me that he has, many times.But something doesn’t feel right for me.“I think we need to pray again, right now, and I think we need to take a minute to prepare ourselves for a denial. I mean, we need to put it in God’s hands and accept his perfect will, whatever it may be.If we don’t get approved for this loan, there must be a reason and we need to take the time right now to acknowledge that.”My husband shakes his head and takes my hand in his. “Father,” he begins, and for the next several minutes we pray together for God’s will, not our own.

The next morning I fearlessly grab the phone and once again start the whole process.I ask my big question, while images of my new van fleet through my head.There is a long pause, several identification questions and then the answer, “No Ma’am. I am sorry, but you were denied.”“What? Say again. Are you sure?”All of these responses run through my mind, but all I can speak out is, “Do you know why?”She tells me about ratios, my husband’s income, percentages and the like and still I am lost.“What else is available for us?” I ask in desperation.She kindly informs me of signature loans, credit cards and suggests that perhaps I ask for a home equity loan of a lesser amount. Aha! “Thank you!” I chirp as I hang up the phone. My husband, after being filled in, goes directly to the bank to see about this lesser amount.The phone rings.It’s my husband. He’s at the bank and it seems I was misinformed, or maybe, in the lady’s defense, I had misunderstood.The only option we have is a signature loan at a much higher interest rate. I take a deep breath and tell him to make the decision, that I trust his judgment, and that it will work out.

As I hang up the phone, a stunning conviction overwhelms me – Just hours earlier I had made the same statement to my Lord in prayer.It had seemed so easy to hand the reigns to God when I felt that he was going to work this one out my way.I mean, we had it all figured out, right?Surely God wanted us to just try a little harder or maybe he wasn’t in this one at all.I was taking the reigns back and handing them to my husband.No offense to my husband, I mean he is wonderful, but I must admit this was very stupid on my part.I pushed the guilt aside and tried not to think about it.Then, my husband calls me back.“Well?” I eagerly ask.“I decided not to take the loan.”His voice is firm but surprisingly not sad.“Why?” I softly ask.“Honey, there must be a reason.Remember? If it’s not God’s will then we don’t want it.”I listen and my heart both cries and rejoices at the same time.He has to get back to work, so we end with that and decide to talk about it later.

I hurry about my day, taking the kids to the grocery store, paying bills, and cleaning house.While driving in my car, my mind races through the situation.I think about all the things we won’t be getting and doing when it strikes me like lightning.My spirit cries in disappointment of my rebellious mind.It convicts me of my offenses, reminding me of my loving, gracious, merciful father and asks my heart a simple question, when has God even let me down?

I know the answer immediately; never! I drop the reigns right then and there and pray for forgiveness.I suddenly feel so foolish, so guilty and so sad.But God in all his mercy and kindness gives me peace.Then, as a bonus, he gently reminds me of the many times He processed my requests in prayer.“Lord,” I once asked, “please give me a loving husband to share my life with,” Approved. “Lord, please let this baby live, I’ve already lost his twin and the doctor has advised me to abort,” Approved. “Lord, please guide my Mother through this operation. I’m not ready to lose her yet,” Approved.So many times, so many requests, though I have nothing to offer you Lord, no collateral, you’ve approved me.Though I fall so short of the glory of heaven, and my offenses are many, you, in your ever loving mercy have approved me for eternal life, by giving me your Son as the blood security, the only security that really matters. Thank you!

Suddenly, I don’t care about fixing up that room or buying a new car.My eyes have been opened and I realize that I have everything I ever wanted and far more than I ever needed.Looks like God knew where He was going all along.

posted 06/27/05


May 1, 2005
DOUG PRIDDY
Before I even get started on my story, I want to first and foremost give Jesus the glory and honor for this opportunity to share my testimony and tell you about my redemption through and relationship with Jesus, Christ.Ohio and raised up in church. The church I attended as a child was Baptist and although I never made a formal commitment to Christ or got baptized as a child, I do remember having a strong belief in Jesus and faith in the things I learned about Him. My parents taught me that if I put my trust in Jesus, God would then work all things out for my good. I know I did trust Him even way back then, and remember being very much aware of his presence with me. He was my friend, my protector and my Savior.

 Being raised in the country with a sister ten years older and a brother five years older, I spent a lot of time playing alone and entertaining myself. My brother, who was closest to my age, did not like me very much at that time in our lives. In fact, you would probably be safe in saying that he could not stand to be around me. Consequently, he made me tough by making my life tough. Looking back, I realize that it was all for a purpose and he really did me a favor because his roughness toward me turned out to be the means of building my character and making me stronger.

 For most of my childhood, my parents were faithful churchgoers and spent a lot of time and energy in studying and knowing God’s Word. I specifically remember my mother being involved in an intense study of the book of Revelation, the “rapture” and the second coming of Christ. I did not understand the prophesies concerning His return and therefore it scared me and even made me sad at times. I was very young and wanted to be able to grow up and marry and have a family. I prayed that God would allow me to do those things. I especially prayed that God would let me have two sons that would be closer in age than my brother and me so that they could grow up together, play together and just be close to one another.

 As I moved into my teenage years (14 –15 years old) I started to turn away from the Lord and the church. About that same time my parents began to have marital problems that eventually ended in divorce. The instability of our family may have somehow contributed to my loss of faith. It was then that I began to drift even farther away from the Lord and doing things that I knew in my heart were sinful and wrong. Over the years, the joy and love I had once had in my heart for the Lord slowly dissipated until it was gone completely. It was so gradual that I didn’t even realize it was happening. I knew that something was missing from my life, but I just wasn’t sure what it was. I had no satisfaction and, although I would not admit it, I think I knew that it was the absence of Jesus. I was living wrong and would not listen to the Spirit of God that kept trying to bring me to salvation.

 Finally, both my boys and my wife received Christ into their lives and began to pray for me along with my Mother, my Mother-in-Law and both of their churches. I believe it was the power of those prayers that caused God to give me another chance and to open my eyes to the truth. After watching the film “The Passion of the Christ” with my family, I was sitting on the couch. Then, as if the Lord Himself was sitting beside me and talking to me, I was reminded of the prayers I had prayed so many years before. God has answered every one! I realized that through all my pain and tribulations, he had never forsaken me.  I surrendered my life to Him that night and the following Sunday made a public profession and commitment to Him as my Lord and Savior. I am so glad that my Father did not allow me to become hardened against Him. I now possess the full promise of eternal life in the Kingdom of God. I praise the Lord for my two beautiful Christian boys and my wonderful loving wife. God truly blessed me. Each day I feel a little more close to Him.

 Jesus loves you too.

 Your brother in Christ, Douglas Priddy


May 1, 2005
DAVID ALLEN
I am a thirty-six year old husband and father of three. I was born in Biloxi Mississippi, raised in Ocean Springs, Mississippi, and brought up in a good, stable home along with one brother and one sister and a lot of traditional values and ideals.We were members of a local church and attended every Sunday. 

I was raised to be independent, logical, practical and self-reliant.  As I became older some of these characteristics became more prevelent in my life and in my rush to grow up and be my own man, I became over confident in my own abilities and wisdom.  I stopped going to church completely and all but abandoned my family and childhood friends.  I developed a "I can whip the world" attitude and thought I could handle anything that life could bring my way.  All my focus and concern was on doing what I enjoyed in life getting what I could for myself. All my energy and time was directed toward self and what seems good for today. With no direction or discipline in my life, I was headed down a road to self destruction.

Although I managed to become a husband and father, my lifestyle remained very self-centered. I loved my family very much, but I seemed to still put my desires first. After a while my family seemed burdonsome and heavy. The responsibilities of heading a household felt overbearing and my life appeared to be slipping away from me.  The more things I was denied, the more I blamed the family. The financial, physical and emotional strife in my life became so overwhelming that I lost all hope. My own wisdom and abilities were no longer enough.

Long before I realized it, the Lord had begun a work in my life.  My mother-in-law began to take our children to church.  Not long after, my wife, who had been raised in that same church, began attending with the children. After some time, I too reluctantly went with them. Before long I realized that there was something missing from my life.  There was an emptiness, an unfilled void in me.

Even as I began to realize the great works that Jesus Christ was accomplishing in the lives of my wife and children, my own pride and self-reliance would not allow me to respond to the Lord's call. I actually made myself content with simply attending church.  I thought It was enough for me just to see the lives of my children changing for Jesus.  Yet, the more involved I became in church, the more my heart became burdened by the Holy Spirit.   I found my thoughts becoming consumed by God.

Then one day, while focusing on the recent changes in my family, my mind began to focus on my children. I thought about how they were saved and how much difference Jesus had made in their lives. They had a new outlook that was different from mine.  They had hope and joy. I was glad and thankful to God for rescuing them from the destructive path I had been leading them toward, but there was still a burden on my heart. I felt true joy as I pictured my wife and children in the presence of the Lord, but there was something missing from the picture.  It was then that Jesus spoke to me in one simple question, "What about you?" At that moment I realized that I was lost without hope and in desperate need of a Savior.

I don't know the words to properly describe all the difference Jesus has made in my life.  Sometimes life still gets tough and circumstances seem to go against me, but now I have peace knowing that the Lord is there for me.  He will always be there.

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths."Proverbs 3: 5-6


April 1, 2005
BRENDA WATKINS
I was born and raised in loving and caring home 

Times were hard for our family in those days and both of my parents worked. My mother held two jobs while also attending school. For that reason, my older sister, Gale did most of the raising of my other sister, Sharon and me. She taught me about Jesus, and to this day is my mentor in the faith. I still run to her frequently for spiritual guidance. I remember when we were small, she got us up early on Sunday morning to get us all dressed up.  Then we would walk a mile to church. When summer came, it was the same thing for vacation bible school. It was in VBS that I finally gave my heart to God and was baptized.  

As a born again believer, I have not always been obedient to his Word. At different times in my life, I have been sidetracked into worldliness, but I have never let go of Him, and what is better, He has never let go of me! Gale used to tell me that no matter where I was or what I was doing, I would never be alone, and that I could talk to Jesus anytime I wanted to.  I haven’t stopped talking to Him since, and God has always held me faithfully in His hands.

 I am still growing and learning about my Savior today.  I thank God every day for the love of my pastor and my church family who help me to grow and give me strength.

 I love you ALL!


March 1, 2005
Susan Shambley

 
I grew up in a very large and loving family, a middle child with five older and five younger brothers and sisters, and a wonderful church family surrounding me.  As a toddler I stood by the music director as he led the singing.  My mother taught Sunday school and my father was a deacon.  I knew my Bible stories as well as most children know their fairy tales, but I also knew that my stories were true.  I eagerly looked forward to Vacation Bible School every summer.

 By the time I was 13 or 14 years of age, I had been baptized and was playing the piano for our church, just as my older sister had done before me.  My whole social life was with my family and church friends.  At the age of 17, I married and eventually had three beautiful children of my own. Throughout all this time, I continued in my church activities. 

 We moved from Florida to Mississippi where I found such a sweet little church that was so much like my church back home. Yet, something was just not quite right in my life. By now I was in my late twenties and felt I had to do “something” to recapture the religious feelings that I thought I should have. So, I was re-baptized!  Well, that kept me contented for a number of years, but in the early part of 1999, the Holy Spirit began dealing with my heart. 

 You know, the devil wants us to be satisfied with doing the “church thing”, and he tries his best to keep us believing that everything is fine.  “After all,” he says, “aren’t you a Sunday school teacher? Don’t you sing in the choir? Don’t you get goose bumps when the preacher preaches? Yes, but somehow, these religious feelings were just not enough anymore.

 Finally, after fifty years of being surrounded by religion, on Father’s Day of 1999, I realized my real problem and surrendered to my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  The sweet Holy Spirit spoke to my heart that morning and revealed to me that I was as the tares Jesus spoke of in Matthew 13. I grew up in a field of wheat and looked every bit like the wheat, but I was not real. I realized that I had never committed my life to Jesus, or surrendered to His authority.  On that day, I gave my life fully to him.

 Boy, what a difference now! Those old Bible stories speak directly to my heart.  I will never have to doubt again. What I have now is far better than religious feelings.  Now I belong to Him.

Susan Shambley


February 1, 2005
Mary Lee Piner
Before my thirteenth birthday, I began to realize that something was not quite right in my life. I felt discontented and empty. I noticed that there were people in our church, even some my age, who seemed to be truly happy. They had something that I didn't. I watched as people went to the front of the church during the invitation and prayed with the pastor. I wanted the same happiness that they had and sensed a need to accept Jesus as my Savior. Although my family was not what you would call regular church attenders, my father, being raised in a small Methodist church in North Carolina, knew that his family needed Christ and took us to church on occasion..

We attended church with my grandmother several times in Pascagoula but did not have a church home of our own until 1970 when we started attending Bellehaven Baptist Chruch. It was a year later before I finally got up the nerve to go talk to the pastor about my need for salvation. He explained to me how every person is separated from God by sin. We are all guilty. I knew I was. Then he told me how Jesus gave His life on the cross to atone for my sin. He was my substitute. All this so I could have eternal life. I realized that the emptiness I felt was the separation from God that my sin had caused, so I repented and prayed for forgiveness. I accepted Christ as my Savior and was baptized along with my sister and mother who also accepted Christ on the same day.

In 1974 we moved our membership and became charter members of Woodhaven Baptist Church where we still serve today.  I enjoy singing for the Lord and going where he leads me.  I also especially enjoy working with children and seeing them grow up in church.

Jesus is a wonderful Savior and friend and I have never regretted my decision to follow Him.


January 1, 2005
RON JOHNSON

I was raised in church and went faithfully, my daddy saw to that. Yet, even though he insisted on our church attendance, I cannot honestly look back and say with any degree of certainty that my daddy was saved. Only God knows that. Daddy died when I was sixteen years old. On the other hand, I know with absolute  certainty that my mother was saved. She passed away when I was fifty-nine. All my brothers and sisters are still alive and are all saved.

 I received Christ as my Savior when I was 22 years-old having been led to the Lord by Brother Elton Slater, a Baptist preacher in East Moss Point. I was baptized in the river canal behind the old paper mill in Moss Point, Mississippi and began serving God faithfully. During this period of time, I sensed God issuing to me a higher calling to serve Him, but instead of obedience, I found it was easier to turn away from God and turn to the ways of the world. In fact, I turned away from God for many years. I turned to my job for satisfaction and worked  long days and many hard hours. I was very successful and made a good living. We bought a house and had a car as well as a truck. In fact, I had everything that I thought I needed to make me happy. I felt ten feet tall and bullet proof and didn’t need anything or anybody. Everything was great.

 Then things started to happen.  I had a good friend whose wife died of cancer at the age of thirty-eight. This woman never drank, smoked or did any bad thing. She seemed to be healthy and it was hard to believe she would die, but she did. I couldn’t understand why bad things happen to good people, so I began to pray and ask God why, but God doesn’t have to explain himself and often doesn’t. He did put a burden on my heart though, to pray for others, my friends and relatives that were lost and sick.

 Then things really began to happen in my life. I started having heart problems, Actually there were two kinds, one physical and one spiritual.  I went to the doctor for the physical problem, but that little five letter word, PRIDE would not let me turn to God for help.  IN 1983, I had by-pass surgery and was forced into retirement by my ill health. My job was my life, it had become everything to me, even taking precedence over my wife and children who were now grown.

 I could bore you with a lot of details, but it would not excuse the things that took place over the next fourteen years. I will tell you however, that we spent a lot of time in hospitals and doctors’ offices.

 In the meantime my Son, Sam who was working in Georgia called to tell me he had been going to church and he had been saved. Later he called to say that he had been called to preach.  That old pride inside of me said, “we’ll just see how long that will last.” In 1995 Sam and his wife, Anita gave me a bible for Christmas.  I already had several bibles but wasn’t reading any of them. I began reading but soon found myself with even greater heart problems.  In 1998 I was told I would have to have by-pass surgery again, not knowing whether I would live or die.

 Sam and Anita had moved back home so he was on hand to pray with me.  I told him that if I didn’t make it that I was sure that I would make it ot heaven because I had asked for forgiveness and God always forgives us if we ask.  After surgery, I started going to church and in April 1999, I returned to God with all my heart and soul and made a promise to serve him with all my being until death.

 I tell these things not to excuse the things that I did in life, but to show people that we have a loving God who forgives, forgets and restores us back to Him.  He loved us so much that He gave his only Son that whosoever believes can have everlsating life, just for asking.

My biggest regret is that I stayed away from Him so long and let people separate me and my family from a loving God and His people.  Folks, let me tell you, if at any time in your life, you feel empty, void, left alone with no one to care for you or to love you, remember, God loves you and cares what happens to you.  if you take anything with you from what I have written here, let it be the vision of renewed vision of  the wonderful, loving God we serve, a God who gives us a second chance just for the asking.  I hope and pray that if someone reads this, their focus will be on what God does in one’s life. Just remember, God loves you.

I write the following not to boast in myself, but to give all praise and glory to God for he not only restores me back to Him, but he allowed me to serve him. On June 11, 2002, I began teaching the men’s Sunday School class at Woodhaven Baptist Church and am still teaching today. Then on May 19, 2002, I was ordained as a deacon to serve my pastor who is also my son, Sam Johnson. So you see how God has restored me and my family.  I also minister each Tuesday night along with Gary Shirley at the Jackson County Adult Detention Center where God is using me to do His work and share His love.


December 1, 2004
BONNIE JOHNSON

I was born in 1941 in Pascagoula, Mississippi then moved to Moss Point where I grew up. I attended Moss Point High School until withdrawing early before graduation.  My parents were Cleo Poole Linder and Leo Linder and as a small child I remember our family being involved in the church.  Mother sang in the choir and Daddy was always doing something in the church. Although  I never what happened, something caused them to suddenly stop attending church. During my teen years, my aunt and uncle took me with them to their catholic church where I continued to worship until I was married in June, 1960.

I married Ronald Johnson and we had four children, three boys and a girl. Today we also have ten grandchildren and two great grandchildren. When our children were small, we started attending and eventually joined a Baptist church in East Mosspoint where we were both baptised. I thought I was saved, but would come to realize later in life that I wasn't. I did the religious thing, but I did not give my heart to Jesus.

As the years passed, my husband started doing construction work that required us to travel a lot. Going wherever his job took us, we didn't stay in any one place for very long. In fact, one year was about our limit. We both fell away from regular church worship, grew distant to God, and started living in the world again, acting just like the rest of the world.

In 1979 we finally moved back home. Although back home, I realized that I wasn't very happy and  didn't know why. My husband then developed serious heart problems requiring surgery. It was a terrible and frightening time for me, I was so afraid I was going to lose him!  You can imagine how relieved I was when God brought him through the surgery. Yet, I soon forgot how really frightened and concerned I had been. Since we were still doing our own thing and pretty much ignoring God, I did not recognize that this was God's hand of mercy and grace bringing us through it all.

My husband's heart problems did not go away and soon we were facing more tests and even more dangerous surgery. By this time my son, Sam who had been saved and called to preach, moved home to pastor Woodhaven Baptist Church and was able to be with me in the hospital. As we sat waiting together, we prayed. God told me that He was giving me one more chance to come to Him, to give my heart and life to Him, to worship him, and to return to His church and His people.

After the surgery, I began attending church and at a Christmas program on December 22, 1999, I gave my heart to Jesus. On February 14, 2000, my son baptised me. I have been serving in His church ever since. Now I teach Sunday School, sing in the choir. God is blessing my life and using me for his glory and now I am truly happy.


November 1, 2004
RON GROUE

I'm forty-four years old, have been married for twenty-five years, and am the father of two grown children. I soon will be a grandfather. Yet,it was only seven years ago, when I was 38 years of age that I gave my heart and life to Jesus Christ.  Before I asked Jesus to come into my heart, I thought of myself as a good person. I was hard working, a good husband and dad, and I generally liked people and treated them well. I often helped people so that I could get that pat on the back. I also thought though,  that I had to be the best drinker, tell the tallest tales and the best jokes in order to be liked and accepted.

My idea of self-worth was about pleasing myself and doing things the way I wanted to do them.  Things suddenly started changeing in my life however, when my wife and I were dealing with the illness and subsequent death of her mother. That experience awakened something within my wife.  She began seeking answers to questions she had about life and death and as a result began attending church. 

I continued to live the same way I always had lived and leading my children in the same direction. The fact that she was going one way and I another finally took its toll on our relationship and our marriage became very shaky. I tried to appease her by telling her that I would go to church with her even though I really had no intention of following through. As you can imagine, our marriage just continued to deteriorate from that point.  We finally reached a place in our relationship where my wife told me that if she had to choose between God or me, I would be the loser. 

That got my attention. I knew now just how serious she was, and although I knew nothing about a realtionship with the Lord, I knew that I loved her and it was time to make a decision.  My wife and daughter were attending Woodhaven Baptist Chruch when I got a visit from the pastor and a church member who invited me to go to church.  I went the next Sunday and in that one hour learned more about God than I had learned in my whole lifetime. God opened up my head and my heart and I began to want more.

The next Sunday I didn't feel like I had to go, but I wanted to go.  I didn't understand why, but I felt like something drawing me back to hear more. When the Word of God was preached, the Spirit of God began to break down the walls of pride, selfishness and anger that I had built up in my heart.  I had a choice to either hold on to my sin or give it over to Christ as my personal Savior. On that Easter Sunday morning in 1999, I decided to give it to Jesus.

Accepting Jesus Christ as my Savior was a turning point in my life and I no longer feel like I need to be accepted by the world. I know now that it is not all about self, but about Jesus.  I am serving God today at Woodhaven Baptist Church and strive to live my life daily for Jesus Christ and his glory.  I'm so thankful for Jesus' love and forgiveness for me.

Saved by grace, Ron Groue 




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