As a teenager I felt uneasy that many of our prominent Adventist evangelists were converts to the faith. Doug Batchelor, Louis Torres, John Bradshaw, and David Asscherick grew up anything but Christian. As young adults they were deep in the world when God dramatically arrested their attention. Their colorful conversion stories are told and retold to the glory of God.
None can be surprised that the ones who tasted the darkness of the world often become the most articulate and passionate advocates of light. Those who suffered the bankruptcy of this world know the value of Christ. They preach the beauty of Christ who once groveled in the pit of Satan.
But it was not their story that made me uneasy; it was my own. I grew up in the church loving God. And, well … I am still here, and I still love God. It’s not that my story is entirely different. I also battle the flesh and struggle through severe hardships. My heart has often drifted, and my flesh has often failed. But my story begins on the other side of the spectrum from theirs. I was raised knowing God and have always desired to be with Him.
Sometimes I felt jealous of the converts’ testimonies. Their stories of transformation bolster my faith and courage. They love much because they were forgiven much (see Luke 7:47).
But somewhere along my journey I decided that I did not have to plunge myself into the world before realizing how much I need Jesus. I need Jesus as much as anybody, and I already knew it.
One Who Stayed
Most of the friends I grew up with in the church decided otherwise. They left the church, and when they left the church, they left Jesus. It still breaks my heart.
As friend after friend made an exodus away from the church and away from God, I began reexamining the reasons for my faith. Studying prophecy convinced me that our generation has stronger reasons to believe in God than ever before. Studying Christ at creation, at the cross, in the heavenly sanctuary now, and in the clouds of heaven soon persuaded me that our generation has more compelling reasons to love God than ever before. I felt that if ever there was a time to love and obey God, it is now.
Without God’s direction I might have become an evangelist who always told the stories of others. I do not know when I first realized that God also needed my story told. It may have been in California when that teen coming from the gangs and drugs of the city told me he would not become a Christian unless he first met some young people raised in the church who stayed in the church. I had to agree with his sentiments when he asked, “What would that say about the church if everybody growing up in the church left?”
Thankfully, I was not the only young man he met who grew up in the church and still loved God. After deleting dozens of dark songs that he himself had composed, my new friend decided to be baptized as a born-again Seventh-day Adventist Christian. I could see like never before why God needed my story too.
Keeping the Faith
My story is about keeping the faith more than it is about obtaining the faith. But, after all, whole books of the New Testament (e.g., 2 Peter and Jude) are dedicated to the warning that many obtain the faith while only a few keep the faith. If keeping the faith is a theme God inspired the prophets to write about, maybe God is also calling you to testify about keeping the faith.
It comes as a commission from God. Go out and share your testimony, no matter where you come from. If you believe in God, tell people why. If you love God, show them why. Tell about those difficult moments in your life that God brought you through. Tell them about the fork in the road where you decided to risk something for God. Tell them why you chose God and why they should too.
No matter how boring you think your testimony is, go testify to the world about why you are keeping the faith in this faithless age. God needs your story of faith today while the world is spiraling into unprecedented times of doubt and uncertainty.
Jesus posed the question, “When the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8, NKJV). As that moment draws closer, I pray He finds faith in my heart and yours. And I pray that our faith is solidified by the confession of our own testimony. “Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 10:32, 33, NKJV).