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Just before their baptisms in June of this year, Philip and Justine shared these testimonies with the church family.
My childhood home was just a few blocks from the old campus of Wheaton Bible Church, and near Wheaton College. Even so, I grew up in a family that didn’t believe in Jesus Christ. To be sure, there were many Christians around who I knew and respected. Yet Christianity seemed like something other people believed.
Eventually I went to college, became a software developer, and moved away from DuPage County. But I never had a strong sense of purpose. And things often didn’t work out for me. Frequently I didn’t fully understand why. As a result, I learned to have little faith in the future, and mostly focused on just getting through the day.
About a year ago, I returned to the Chicago suburbs and started reevaluating many things about my life. I began to question some of the things I thought I believed—like evolution. I started to realize that there were issues with this theory that troubled me, a hard-evidence kind of guy.
In 2012, I attended the Christmas Eve service here at Wheaton Bible Church. I’m not really sure why I wanted to celebrate the birthday of Jesus Christ. It might have been because my extended family had been praying for me for many years. After that service, I learned about Alpha, a course that covers the basics of Christianity. So I started attending when Alpha began several weeks later.
The lectures and small-group discussions helped me learn more about Christianity and Jesus. And as I understood more about the historical evidence for the Resurrection, I began to be convinced that Jesus Christ truly is the Son of God.
In the fourth session of the Alpha course, on February 14 of this year, I prayed to accept Jesus Christ as my Savior.
After making this decision, I soon felt more at peace. I’m gradually having more confidence that God will provide for my needs.
Understanding the book of Proverbs, as we’ve been learning together, is also increasing my skill in living. It is amazing to hear Pastor Bugh teach from this book and feel as if he is describing exactly where something went wrong in my life years ago.
I always wanted to make the world a better place, but now I live with an even greater sense of purpose—a purpose that is shaped by God. Ephesians 2:10, says, “We are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
Even more important, I now have faith in the future—faith that rests on the trust I’ve placed in God the Father and Jesus Christ, His Son.
Even as a child I believed in a heavenly Father. I could see evidence of God around me in nature, in the love from my family, and in answered prayers. But as a child, I was also full of fear. My prayers went something like, “Please protect all my family, and help me to be good and not get in trouble.” I was very afraid of death, especially after losing two grandparents and two great-grandparents. I also saw God as a distant, unapproachable judge, and I felt I was forever failing His standards of behavior.
I grew up in the Catholic church, so I knew some things about God. When I went away to college, I thought, Maybe it’s time to figure out how Jesus and the Holy Spirit fit into this picture.
I was eager to read the Bible for myself, and I joined Intervarsity Christian Fellowship. I was amazed and overwhelmed by the joy, peace, and security I witnessed in the lives of my fellow students—those who called themselves followers of Christ. They were not slaves to fear. And they had a real sense of purpose. They had a foundation for their lives where I found myself drifting.
I spent nine months studying the Bible, praying, and meditating, asking God to take away my fear and to show me how I could forgive those who had hurt me most deeply. I also prayed for understanding of my purpose in life.
On May 25, 2005, at an Intervarsity camp in Michigan, I made a commitment to follow Christ, no matter where He would take me.
Since that day, when fear rises up, I hold on to God’s promises in the Scriptures. I find solace in prayer and in the support of my church and my fellow Christ followers who are praying for me.
I claim this life verse from 2 Timothy 1:7: “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (NKJV).