A testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ about faith and the certainty of salvation we can have by the relationship with God the father, though Jesus and empowered by the Holy spirit. I share my testimony, not to lift myself up but to share with others that there is so much more to learn, experience and to accomplish with Him. I want to make it clear that I am not any better than any other person. I’m only a child in the Lord, called because of the Lord’s love. Acts 2:17 makes it clear that anyone has the ability to be filled by the holy spirit. There is NO partiality that God has for His children (Acts 10:34+35). Everyone is asked to come and enjoy the best from our father. Remember while you’re reading this testimony that the Lord has so much more for YOU! (smile) Paul wrote (1 Cor 12:31 NKJV) "But earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way." Jesus said (John 14:12 NKJV) "Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father."

Growing up in the United Methodist Church my idea about getting into heaven was doing more good than bad would earn my way. God was untouchable. Knowing that Jesus was the son of God but without realizing the importance of the virgin birth or that he rose from the grave. As far as the holy spirit, I really didn’t know/understand anything about Him or His purpose. My church was active and I participated with every chance. Spaghetti dinners, car washes, Bible studies, retreats and fellowship were greatly enjoyed. In spite of the lack of understanding of the gospel, the Lord still had a touch in my life. At four or so, I had dreams of wonder telling me of my death and how I would see Jesus face to face. I felt God watched over me.

School had its own problems. I was teased constantly and had no more than three friends at one time. Cloths were hand-me-downs and a decade behind. I liked to wear slacks, dress shirts and a cross while everyone else wore jeans and T-shirts. ADHD (attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder) only complicated things even more. It was a way of putting up a bulls-eye for the bullies. Through elementary and junior high school I had been beaten, teased, and tormented not really understanding why. My grades began to slip due to the lack of enthusiasm and hating school. My emotional state was a slide toward the bottom of the gorge where depression wasn’t hard to find. Trust for anyone was far away. It was hard to feel love under those conditions even from my parents. In the midst of all this the Lord didn’t forget me.

At the age of twelve I joined the church youth group. A group of wonderful kids that didn’t judge you for your appearance and accepted you as you were. At the first bible study Karen asked me for my name. Thinking she already knew my name I answered "Alfred" and she promptly brought me back to the rest of the group introducing me. Before I knew it I was affectionately nicknamed. My first retreat with them was special. I participated with the group with all their activities, from bible studies to horse back riding. The second night I remember looking at them from my seat next to the fireplace. I felt so alone as they were all standing and talking. I remember how happy they were as they talked. Suddenly a girl named Joy (the pastor’s daughter) came to me and gave me a hug. She looked sad and I asked her what was wrong. She said "You just looked like you needed a hug." I was shocked and sat silently as she left me to my seat and the Lord. She was smiling gently as she turned and tears began to roll from my eyes in disbelief. Then Karen came and asked me why I was crying. I was so choked up that the only word I could utter as I started to get up to run out was "Nothing!!" Not a minute after Penny came to me angry, demanding to know what I had said to make Karen cry. Puzzled and concerned I asked, "She’s crying!?!" I ran back inside to see and comfort her. When I came to her I asked her what the matter was and She said, "I thought I said or did something to hurt you." I grabbed and held her tight with tears rolling down our faces. I cried out" You didn’t hurt me… it’s OK." The next day was Sunday. After our church service and a lot of explaining about the night before, I was taken through initiation along with six others.

The next few years the group and I had grown very close, having very special times together. Later, I learned the saddening news that my dad had to move to Charlotte, NC for a job change (I moved to Dayton, Ohio from Flint seven years before, and moving was a lot easier to take then, because of not understanding much of what was going on, I was Now fifteen and a lot more concerned about the friends left behind.) This caused a lot of pain along with the problems the youth started to have. At the time the youth group was beginning to split. The junior high kids quarreled with the senior high leaving my heart torn in two. I went on one last retreat before the time that I moved. As usual, we had a beautiful time. Being afraid of acceptance I had asked Joy for some tips. She gave me hours of advice on appearance and attitude. Later, after the retreat, they threw me a going away party. They even gave me a banner to take home to remember them by. To this day, she’s kept in touch with me, and she’s been a very special part of my life. The youth group at that time was my whole life. God blessed it more deeply each day. School on the other hand was a different story. Every day someone was there to pick on me. At this point I gained a collection of stitches and broken bones. There was even a time some kid decided to unload a pencil lead into the scalp of my head. Problems I had at not being excepted didn’t change along with my attire and attitude. I had the same problems all over again. This time everything was more complicated because of moving, family fights, and leaving the youth group behind. Every night I would go to bed and wouldn’t be able to fall asleep until three or four in the morning. I’d feel pain, anger, hatred, and depression build in my spirit nightly without relief until finally passing-out from exhaustion.

At the same time I still didn’t forget or leave the Lord behind. In fact I had a very real prayer to the Lord. "God, I know you are real and I know about you, but I don’t know anything about Jesus your son, or the Holy Spirit. God, I know that we celebrate your son’s birthday at Christmas and that he died on Easter, but I don’t know anything about him. God, help me to get to know about your son. Teach me about your Holy Spirit. I want to be real with you. I want to get to know you. I’m tired of all the games. Help me!"

Finally 9/30/83 4:00 AM I realized that there was no way I’d be able to sleep. Suddenly I felt the presence of God in the room. Drawn by God I got up and got dressed. I went outside then around back. I looked up and the sky was beautiful. The moon wasn’t out although the sky was clear without a cloud in sight. You could see more than the usual set of stars. Then, right where I was looking in the sky I saw a shooting star. I remember thinking to myself how neat it was because it was the first shooting star I had ever seen. Then the Lord opened my eyes and an angle appeared. While I was looking at him, I told the Lord, "God, that’s the most beautiful thing I had ever seen." Then the Lord baptized me in the Holy Spirit. I stood only for a moment in awe, then I went and sat down on the bench swing we had in back. Standing in the Lord’s presence I felt the guilt of my sinful nature and the Lord had mercy on me and forgave my sins. The main thing that I felt was the love that He had for me. All I could do was cry. After some time I calmed down and not being aware of the spirit, I looked to the sky and asked the Lord if He was still there. Right where I was looking, Two shooting stars shot across the sky, one after the other. At the same time the spirit flowed in a very powerful way. I asked what the Lord what he wanted me to do. I mean that if he wanted me to wake up my neighbors at four in the morning to tell them how much He cares, I was willing to do it. If He wanted me to cross the Sahara just to tell one person about the love that Jesus had for them, I was ready. When I asked for His instruction He said," John, you’re tired, go to bed." Shocked I realized that all the oppression that was in my spirit was gone. In love, I looked at Him with a smile, thanked Him, and went to bed falling right to sleep. The next day I woke up after having the most sleep I had in a very long time. It was a school day and I realized that I was in for a difficult walk. Being in the presence of the living God I felt the perfection of His spirit. It was an indescribable Holiness.

The next morning I was set on imitating His perfection. So, after getting ready for school, I went to the bus stop and waited for my first challenge. During the day it was pretty much trouble free. I didn’t talk much because I really didn’t know anything about being a witness, plus I knew that I didn’t want any type of confrontation. It was on the way home that I was really tested. Somehow, some kids came up with the idea to tease me. They had the idea of teasing me for not swearing (Before now, I felt that I did my share.) After the thirty-minute bus ride, I was cussing them out like the best of them. Almost instantly I felt guilty and was completely crushed and ashamed. Throughout the rest of the week I was really down. All I knew was that God had forgiven me of all that I had done and I blew it. The weekend came and I went out to speak with the Lord. I looked into the night and asked," God, I know I blew it and I don’t know what to do…" then after hesitation," will you forgive me?" Right where I was looking, two shooting stars shot simultaneously across the sky. The Lord gave me His peace and comfort once again. Then I looked again saying, "Father how can I help? Teach me to be a teacher. Help me help your children and my brothers and sisters. God, make me a leader for them. Father, Help me to help your children." At that, I told Him that I loved Him then went to bed.