Gabe's Story

    I grew up in a Christian family... My parents were not die hard hell fanatics, in fact, growing up I
    never really thought about Hell as a possibility for myself or my family. We believed that Jesus
    Christ was our savior and never really worried that our sin was too much for him. We were
    human, right? Well, we still did right by the world's standard, but we still had sin in us, who
    didn't after all? So, my family and myself were quite ok with Christ. Ironically, this is where I
    believe most Christian's today reside in their mind. They know enough about the Bible to
    believe they are saved, but neglected to look over the passages that seemingly theaten that
    salvation.

    As I grew up through my teenage years, I was introduced to a new world... Certain sins creeped
    up and grabbed a hold of me. The more I fought the sins, the worse I became in those sins... I
    found it far better to just "give up" because I could see the path I was going every time I
    attempted to stop them. After several years went by, I read some passages of scripture and had
    a talk with a pastor and introduced me to the warnings in scripture and the result of Hell if I
    failed to overcome my sin. This had me frantic, like a rat trapped in a cage... I couldn't help my
    sin, and now I am going to suffer eternally... The mere thought was so despressing it made me
    lose sight of my life. I did everything I could to stop sinning, I just couldn't... I prayed to God to
    help me, and nothing worked. So, I gave up again for a few years...

    I had a few years of relative peace until I finally realized that I am not getting any younger and
    deferring my sin just increased my chances that I am going to end up in Hell eternally...
    I was so scared that I was coerced yet again to follow Christ. Now - mind you, I wanted to be
    free from my sin very much but, but the concern of my final destiny mattered more.

    About the time I turned 23 I went through a nervous breakdown. This toll that the fear put on me
    had finally taken its toll. I couldn't function at work, I developed OCD in the form of wicked
    thoughts that kept coming into my mind - the more I tried to oppose the thoughts, the stronger
    they became! I was losing everything and I knew very shortly I would probably be put in some
    mental institution (willingly, I might add) if something didn't change. I did everything I could to
    earn favor with God. I felt guilty about everything in my life... I felt guilty about spending money
    on anything for myself, I felt guilty about enjoying life, especially when others needed to be
    saved from this fire...

    After about a year of this complete torture, I tried to latch on to Calvinism, because that was a
    way to ensure I was "saved". The problem with Calvinism is that it is circular reasoning and is
    merely a selfish belief. Sure, it is conforting to those who are deluded and selfish, but offers
    little beyond themselves. Never-the-less, I did adopt Calvisnism - for a while.

    At this point in my life I was sort of ok about my final destiny, but how to know if I am truly of the
    elect? I couldn't possibly know until I persevered until the end! Oh my, even Calvinism doesn't
    comfort much, but even so, what about my family? My mother and father were very good
    people, they believed in Christ, were charitable (in fact, more so than any other people I have
    met) but they still had sin in their lifes, certain sins they struggled with. I took Galations 5 to
    heart, and listed the sins of those who do not inherit the Kingdom of God. My parrents had
    some of those sins, I had some of those sins... In fact, I never met anyone that didn't have one
    of those on their list. Was the human race helpless? Was Jesus really here to help us? I felt
    Jesus was a sham... He offered so much hope in the scriptures with his words, but then
    seemingly shot down all that hope with a few other verses.

    Finally, my brother in law emailed me... I asked him what he was studying and he said "Well, I am
    trying to figure out if the Church Fathers believed Hell was eternal or not" and that was the
    spark that ignited my search for the Truth.

    My first search led to me an SDA Pastor. I had always believed the SDA to be some type of cult
    (because my grandmother was from it) never the less, they are view "ok" by evangelicals. So,
    this pastor was named "Doug Batchler". He basically brought me to the idea that Hell couldn't
    be eternal and that they had scripture to back it up. He also, in his video on his website said
    that "fear" is not a good motivater. I agreed with him, as fear did nothing for me except serve a
    frightful God like a kidnapped child serves their kidnapper creep of a person.

    I searched several other websites, some with some very strange beliefs, but after looking into
    it, I found that Hell was not eternal, at least, there was more scripture to prove it was not, than
    proved that it was. But, even though this was more merficul, it still saddened me. I didn't want
    to cease to exist... I love my family, I love my parrents. How cruel was God to give us
    communities, only to say good bye to them eternally? What is the point? Is this a GAME for
    God? Is God sick in his head? I had so much anger towards God and even as I type this, I can
    feel the anger I had towards him... But, as always the Lord leads us through in steps...

    I came upon tentmaker... When I first read an article and realized it was Universal Salvation, I
    closed it out and disregarded it. Surely, Universal Salvation is the most ridiculous thing that
    entered in my mind! It isn't that I hated the idea, it is just that the idea was plainly false. There is
    no possible way it could be true, so I exited the website as one does something that is useless.

    As time went on, I continued my searches and eventually came across tentmaker again. This
    time I just decided to read what it had to say... I was so broken and angry, then I guess I didn't
    care at that point and was open to another possibility. After reading the articles, I started to see
    it. I started to see what I had missed on these years. I resisted it at first, very strongly because I
    didn't want to be fooled... Remember, even though Hell was no longer believed to be Eternal, I
    still believed in Annihilation and that is something I wanted to avoid too! So, I was extremely
    hesitant and devoured every article on tentmaker, read every book I could on Universal
    Salvation and I couldn't believe how the scripture became so harmonous! Everything could be
    properly explained without butchering the text! Amazing! Just around this time, my first child
    was born. I remember how much I loved him, how much care I had for him, that no matter what, I
    would never hurt this child intentionally and that I would love him until my own undoing. I
    realized that is the same love that God has for us!

    Over the next year, I let it sink in until I no longer had any reservations. I am now open with this
    truth to everyone! I no longer serve God with fear and guilt, but with confidence that Christ can
    accomplish any work within me. God will free me from sin... Without the fear of going to hell, I
    can fight sin without having to look behind my back, or without the fear of slipping. I know that I
    am secure, and knowing that allows me to freely serve him with love for all he has done for me
    and for all of humanity. This is true love.



                                                                  My Story

    I grew up going to church at Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church. I have many memories of
    seeing broken people make their way to the front of the church to be saved. My mother was the
    church clerk and my dad was the head deacon. We always Kept the evangelists at out house
    during revivals...good memories :)

    I remember watching Billy Graham on TV and feeling so emotionally drawn to do something...
    didn't know what, just knew I should do something. My friends felt the same way( age 9 or 10).
    We used to discuss getting saved. We knew from being in church that all we had to do was ask
    the Lord and He would save us. We probably did that many, many, times lol.... Obviously the
    main ingredient, faith, was lacking not to mention the fact that we wouldn't have known what
    the heck we were being saved from. We just knew that everybody that was anybody got saved.

    We got older and grew out of that phase. I was fourteen when I made my proverbial trip down
    the isle. My parents thought I should have "made a move" way before then. I could tell by the
    remarks that were made to the preacher or evangelist..in my presence, embarrassing the life
    out of me. It's a shame that religion hides the truth isn't it? I felt like I was a total embarrassment
    to them because I had not "made a move".

    Well, I decided it was time to get saved. So at the invitation one night of the summer revival, I
    took the first step and before you knew it I was crying and shaking the preacher's hand, saying,
    "I want to be saved." He said,"we've been waiting so long." We all had a crying, good time and I
    was "voted" on and approved to be a member of the church but walked away from that
    experience lost as a goose. But, I thought I was saved. I had done exactly everything everyone
    else did when they got saved.

    Naturally, I grew into my teen years being sucked right into the foolishness that a lot of
    teenagers get sucked into. I was faced with all the questions...drinking, smoking, wrong
    relationships, sex..., but, hey, I was saved, I couldn't go to hell. Little did I know that I was
    creating my own hell by breaking the laws that God laid down for my good, not just to keep me
    from having fun. So, here I was... living like the devil on Saturday night, playing the piano at
    church Sunday morning. Thank God for His mercy. He could have fried me on the spot!

    I was married at 19, had two children by 21. This is when the miraculous drawing process of the
    Holy Spirit started in my life. I was doing my daily chores around the house, one day in particular
    while loading the dishwaher, I noticed something different, almost like someone was in the
    room with me. There wasn't so I just continued with the dishwasher and other chores. This little
    "nagging" just hung on and would not quit. I went to bed one night and was trying for the life of
    me to figure out what was going on. The thought struck me, " could this be the conviction of
    the Holy Spirit?" I thought, "no, I am saved already." I lay there that night going over my
    "salvation experience" at church when I was fourteen. Then, it dawned on me, I never even
    talked to God that night! I completely left Him out of the whole ordeal."

    I realized that I had never been saved at all, that I simply went through the motions that I had
    seen everyone else go through. I was shocked. So, for about two weeks I rationalized and
    grappled with things. The scriptures that I had been hearing preached fervently from our pulpit,
    same church, different preacher, like.....no man building a tower does it without counting the
    cost... were all coming back to me. "Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of God."
    And, a story our pastor, Brother Ralph Brand, would tell. It was about a hen that was hatching
    some eggs, Someone put a duck egg under her with her eggs. When the eggs hatched,
    naturally, the duck found some water and got in it while the mama hen watched in horror. He
    said it's as natural for a born again person to want the things of God as it is for a duck to go to
    water. I knew my heart was not after the things of God. I was also car pooling with a friend
    taking our children to pre school during this time in my life. This woman was always talking
    about God like she knew Him personally or something. She made the statement one day in the
    car, "I don't know what I would do without God in my life everyday." That really got my attention.
    I didn't think about Him at all. I knew she must have had something that I didn't. I am really
    thankful that she was in my life at that time. God used her to help draw me to Himself.

    Realizing the experience that I was having was not coming from myself and admitting my lost
    condition, I knew deep down that I wanted this God, who evidently wanted me. Even as a lost
    person I knew that if I was to come to the Lord for real, I wanted it to be for real! Not just some
    religious, mechanical, routine that I would go through three times a week and live like anybody
    else the rest of the time. (the leaven of the Pharisee starts early doesn't it?) So, the very next
    opportunity I had to go to church, I was there and couldn't wait for the invitation...too ingrained
    with religion to call on the Lord at home. When they gave the invitation I went to the preacher
    and told him that I had been a church member for 8 years but had never been saved and I
    wanted to be saved for real. This time I talked to the Lord and told Him that He said if I came to
    Him that He would in no wise cast me out. I confessed to him that I was a sinner and wanted to
    be saved. I called on the Lord and He heard my cry! My life has not been the same since. I can
    truly say, like that old song....The Longer I Serve Him, the Sweeter He Grows!

    I grew up being taught eternal torment. I questioned it as much as I thought I could and once
    felt like I had an answer from God about it. And, at that time in my understanding, it was fairly
    enlightening. I simply asked God, “if you are a God of love, why did you create most people to
    go to hell?” His reply to me was, ”I did the same thing you did. I created billions of people and
    you just happened to create three. “ It’s like He asked me, “did you know when you had your
    three children, for sure, that any of them would spend eternity with Me?” Well, according to my
    theology, my answer was no. So, I felt like I didn’t have much of a complaint anymore. It actually
    made me feel closer to God because it made me see Him in a light that I could understand…He
    desired a family……just like I did!

    That answer satisfied me for several years, but about 6 years ago, I became extremely grieved
    for lost people. I was more than just confused why God would come up with a plan like hell. I
    realized that I actually believed that most of humanity would be going to a literal, burning, hell,
    with no hope of getting out. This revelation came after the death of both of my parents, eight
    months apart and dealing with the fact that my oldest son battled drug addiction. Knowing the
    Bible like I knew it, I knew what it said about people who do certain things not inheriting the
    kingdom of God. And what the Bible said about a man's religion being vain if he could not
    control his tongue...

    Well, my daddy was a good as gold but his words could peel the paint off the wall if you caught
    him at the right time. So, what was I to think? Would my son die and go to hell because he was a
    drug addict? If he had the power in himself he would have gladly walked out of that role. Would
    my daddy hear the words of Jesus..."depart from me I never knew you" because he cussed like
    a sailor? There was no way I would be able to stay sane thinking that someone I love like I love
    them, would be suffering horrible pain and torture with no end in sight! These were very real
    fears of mine. I have to give credit where credit is due though. In the waiting room at the
    hospital, when my Dad was in ICU, I came out of his room and sat down. God knew my concern,
    He very sweetly assured me, "I love him more than you do."

    Having gone through my parents deaths and watching a movie called “The Perfect Storm,” I
    became obsessed with hell. On the "Do You Believe In Hell?" page there is a picture from the
    movie that shows the horrible looks on the fishermen's faces when they realize they are not
    getting out of the storm alive. At that point in the movie I started thinking about Jesus talking to
    his followers about His coming again. He said the times would be like they were in Noah's day.
    Basically, folks would just be living life as usual, not worrying about too much, when the
    judgment of God was about to be unleashed on them. Which meant, if what I believed was the
    truth, that most of humanity would go to hell forever. ( that was my understanding of
    eschatology at the time) Being totally consumed with that fact, evangelism became a priority to
    say the least. I made a fool out of myself on the elevator at a local hospital attempting to "be a
    light for Jesus" and keep people out of Hell. A nice, well to do, gentleman got on the elevator
    and said, "hello, how are you?"  In all sincerity I replied, "I'm fine thank you and I am so glad I
    don't have to go to hell when I die!" From the look on his face I am sure he was thinking,
    "another nut."

    In my zeal I found a website that gave the numbers of evangelized people in the world.
    According to this site, from the six billion people of the earth, 31% were affiliated with the
    Christian religion. 21% of these were Roman Catholic (who did not believe in being born again,
    so that left them out). That left the other 10% that might possibly go to heaven, and this number
    even included Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons. It didn’t look good.

    I bought books and videos on intercessory prayer for family members that were lost and sunk
    myself into them. I tried praying detailed prayers for each one that I was concerned about,
    attempting to bring down the strongholds that kept them from the knowledge of God. Well, as I
    prayed for my family, I begin to consider all the people I was NOT praying for! I prayed not only
    for my kids but for their cousins and friends... I could have prayed constantly if it had been
    possible and still not prayed for everybody that needed to be saved. The job was just too big
    for me to do. It made me sick to think of anyone being burned forever with absolutely no hope
    of an end to it. I cried at Bible study, I cried at church, I cried at home…I was a mess.

    Then, thank God, I happened to read an article on “Beliefnet.com”, entitled, “Will Everyone Go
    to Heaven?” It was an interview with Bishop Carlton Pearson from Tulsa OK. He had started
    preaching the gospel of inclusion, better known as Universal Reconciliation. Can you imagine
    how I felt to see such an article? This was sweet music to my ears....eyes! I read the article and
    found out that Bishop Pearson was having a conference on "Contending For The Faith Once
    Delivered" in Tulsa in the near future. I went to that conference at Bishop Pearson’s church in
    Tulsa, OK.

    There, my husband and I met Dr. Harold Lovelace and found out that he lives only about 2 hours
    away. He has been so faithful to help and teach and lead us as we would have questions to
    arise coming from the eternal torment teaching. As a result of this soul searching journey, I am
    more in love with the Lord now, than ever, including all the people He created.

    I know now that Jesus was the propitiation not for our sins only but for the sins of the whole
    world. The first Adam was the problem(by God's own design) and the last Adam was the
    solution. And, this scenario was orchestrated and played out under the loving eye of our great,
    sovereign God before the foundation of the world.

    We have been set free from the law of sin and death. The wages of our sin was death and
    Christ tasted death for every man and conquered it by rising up from that death. We are free to
    love each other as Christ loved us, no racism, no prejudice, no holier than thou…. God’s
    judgments are more real to me now than ever before. They just happen to make sense now
    because I know they are designed to bring us all to the end of ourselves

    That is my testimony so far. I look forward to the rest...


                                                             Byron's Story  

    Before my re-birth I was totally lost in spiritual darkness - an atheistic, God concept hating,
    Christianity loathing type person. How that led to what I am today makes no natural sense at all.
    It happened alone in a deserted room after losing the woman I loved and falling into a deep
    depression for over two years. At rock bottom for months on end, I finally ‘lost it’ one night,
    rolling around on the floor and spontaneously screaming out for help (to no one in particular)
    and basically wishing to die very badly. My spirit was crying out over and over and over "What's
    wrong with me? what's wrong with me?!!".  Finally, out of the clear blue I heard this voice inside
    calmly say "You're starving... to death".  A voice??? This was a first. I was absolutely stunned
    and thinking "wow, did I imagine that?!! What the heck is going on here?"  A strange calm came
    over me. There was a love, a compassion in that voice and as I dragged myself up into bed and
    drifted off to sleep my memory echoed softly those words over and over again "You're
    starving... to death, you're starving... to death, You're starving... to death.....

    The next morning I started putting 1 and 2 together: 1. I was crying out 2. a voice answered  ...
    so could it be like.... (gulp) maybe... God? Answering? Like a prayer or something? I began to
    tremble thinking “This is impossible”.  I got up and decided to go see a friend whom I hadn't
    seen in months. Not seeing him was on purpose because he was a Jesus freak who would
    sometimes tell my friends and I that we needed to 'seek God' and 'know Christ' etc. I was a nice
    person, but inside it would anger me and I remember wishing that he would just shut the -
    bleep- up.  But now I'm thinking maybe he could shed some light on what had happened.
    "You're starving... to death"? What in the world was that supposed to mean? It was driving me
    nuts!  So I show up at his door early in the morning, knock, and he is very surprised to see me
    and says something like "Hey there stranger, what's going on?" All I said was "I think God might
    have spoken to me last night". That's ALL I said. He invited me in and I was ready to explain
    what I meant but before I could say another word, He told me to sit down and he'd be back in a
    minute, and he scurries off into his bedroom.  Keep in mind, all I'd told him was "I think God
    might have spoken to me last night" and I mentioned nothing at all of the "starving to death"
    thing.

    After about ten minutes he comes out of his bedroom with an open bible, and while pointing
    down to a particular spot on the page he says "Read this".  I looked down and read where he
    was pointing.  It said: "I have food to eat that you don't know anything about". (John 4:32)  Can
    you imagine what went through my head? How could he have known???  "Why did you show me
    that?" I demanded. He replied "I just went back and prayed and felt like you needed to read that
    verse." And so I start asking him "How did you know?" and he says "Know what?"  I was
    speechless. The stunning truth became clear, it WAS God who had spoken - it had to be. There
    was no other possible explanation. All the sudden this love came washing over me like waves. I
    can't explain it - love, forgiveness, compassion. I had done nothing to cause/deserve this. I was
    crying, couldn't speak, and left back to the deserted room - but now I was in the presence of
    perfect love. The depression disappeared INSTANTLY, just vanished. I was flying inside - it was
    like a dream, a fairytale.  That night I did have a dream.  In the dream I could see underground, a
    side view, (mmm.. like remember in Jurassic Park - the illustration of the diggers going down
    into the cave to find the amber? Like that). I saw a man, whom I knew to be Jesus, buried, lying
    under the earth just below the surface in the darkness. All the sudden he started to glow and
    then broke upright through the ground and stood (floating) a few feet above the ground in the
    open air, now shimmering in white light. A voice spoke and said "This is you" and I replied "No
    it's not... that's Jesus" and I woke up.

    I pulled out a bible that my former lady friend had given me from under a pile of junk and
    started reading - it had opened to Romans. Again a shocking moment came when I got to 6:4
    "just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk
    in newness of life" and later in Colossians "having been buried with Him in baptism, you were
    also raised with Him through faith produced within you by God who raised Him from among the
    dead". All the sudden the "This is you" thing started making sense.  For the next couple of
    weeks I was in the presence of Deity, really, it was like He was in the room with me. Intense Joy
    had replaced the sadness and emptiness. Physical food became optional as I devoured the
    scriptures for several weeks and soon saw the "big picture" ie: creation being made subject to
    vanity - but only for a season, all of creation groaning for the manifestation of the Sons of God,
    The ultimate restitution of all things etc. I was still in a daze though, why me? I had been
    basically lazy and self serving my whole life, and yet this all knowing, supernatural ‘person’ is
    treating me like I was the best thing there ever was. IT MADE NO SENSE AT ALL! I realized one
    thing for sure: God is sovereign. He planned all this and has great plans for all of His creation,
    to bring all out of darkness and into His marvelous light.  Just as the first Adam chose death for
    all mankind, Jesus, the last Adam, has now chosen life for all mankind, to be manifested in due
    time.


                                                               Derrick's Testimony

    I have been a Christian since the age of 15(I'm currently in my 40's). I couldn't help BUT believe
    in the doctrine of eternal  torment because that was what I was taught as a child. It was in 2004
    when I  suffered a major injury that God made me sit still and He revealed to  me His wonderful
    plan to reconcile the whole world unto Himself, and  that no one will be burning in hell for
    eternity. This was very hard for  me to accept at first, as my traditional foundation came
    tumbling down  beneath me. But God rebuilt that foundation, not on the false doctrines  and
    traditions of orthodox Christianity, but on Jesus Christ, the  Saviour of the world, who will
    indeed save the world. I can appreciate why  people fight this fact so much. It's so hard to
    surrender  traditions(e.g. the pharisees). This revelation has cost me many friends that I once  
    fellowshipped with, but Jesus did say that we would be hated of all  men for His sake. I didn't
    think that hate would come from so-called!   Christians.


                                                                   Elwin Roach

    (July 1971)

    There are many things that I am not aware of, I am sure, that brought me to the place of what is
    commonly called salvation; but those things that I do know, I will relate.

    My family has always been very loving and supportive. As far back as I can remember, not only
    my immediate family, but all my aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents have been close-knit.
    Therefore, I was fortunate to have such an atmosphere in which to grow up. Nevertheless,
    there has always been an element in our family’s fabric which was responsible for shipwrecking
    lives — alcoholism. My oldest brother, Bobby, died in 2002 at the age of 64 due to excessive
    drinking and smoking, as did my uncle, Delmar, at the age of 62. They were afflicted with that
    demon more so than the others.

    Bobby, being my older brother by four years, was my standard by which to live, my idol.
    Wherever he went or whatever he did, I was there and doing it along with him, and most often,
    everything revolved around drinking and smoking. He taught me how to inhale cigarettes at the
    age of six years old. I can remember at that age, we used to sneak our grandpa’s beer from
    underneath his and our grandma’s bed and sitting in the scorching desert heat drinking a hot
    can of beer. We couldn’t take a cold beer from the refrigerator, for he only kept one or two in it
    at a time, and it would be missed if we took it from there.

    It goes without saying, that by the time I was fourteen, my mind and habits were set fairly strong
    toward destruction, and by the time I was twenty-one years old, the tree of my life seemed to be
    permanently bent in that direction. I lived to have fun, and fun to me was drinking, smoking,
    motorcycle racing, and frequenting bars with my brother.

    I met and married Margit while stationed near Nuerenburg, Germany (Fürth), she was nineteen
    (19) and I was twenty (20). We had three beautiful children, two boys and girl. Even with a family
    I loved dearly, they were second to my brother and our drinking together.

    God gave me a wife who could not easily go home to Mamma, due to lack of finances on both
    sides of the ocean. If I had married a local girl, there is no way she could have lived with me for
    six years; but with Margit being trapped, she endured until the day of my end, and that end
    came in a very unusual way, and it was after I have been drinking beer all day and riding
    motorcycles with my brother.

    My brother and Shirley, his wife, and Margit and myself, were visiting our parents for awhile
    before going home. We were drinking beer and complaining about the long-haired hippies who
    were ruining my barber business. You see, I had just gotten out of barber college and went to
    work at by my cousin's barber shop, this was 1971. Even the business men were going longer
    between hair cuts, and this was not good for a new barber struggling to build a clientele with a
    family to support.

    In the midst of our disgruntled discussion, my mother said, "Do you know that there is a place in
    the Bible that says it is a shame for a man to have long hair." I replied that I didn’t believe such
    a thing would be in the Bible, which would be good if it was; for I’ve always worn short hair, and
    such a verse would go along with our dispute about those "long-haired hippies." But it just
    didn’t seem to me that there would be anything like that in the Bible.

    Nevertheless, she let us know that it was there, and she would prove it if she could find her
    Bible. She went to her bedroom closet and in less than a minute she returned with her Bible,
    which had not been read for more than twenty years. (My mother and dad had read it some
    when they were attending a country Seventh Day Adventist church, hoping to prove the
    preacher wrong.)

    The first miracle was that she found her Bible, the second miracle was that she opened the
    Bible to the scripture. She didn’t have to spend time looking for it, and the verse wasn’t
    marked. It was simply God setting the stage for a lost young man of twenty-seven years old who
    thought he knew what he wanted in life. My mother read the verse: "Doth not even nature itself
    teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him?" 1 Cor. 11:14

    Even after she read the verse, I didn’t believe it was there. I thought she was making it up. And
    that is what I told her. She said, "Here, read it for yourself." The picture is still clearly imbedded
    in my mind with finger pointing to the verse as she handed me the Bible. I took the Book and
    read the verse for myself, and what an explosion of life that erupted in me! I felt like reading
    and absorbing every word in the Bible.

    I can remember saying, "Wow! That is interesting!" I then asked my mother if I could borrow her
    Bible, since I didn’t have one. She, of course, said "Sure. Take it as long as you like. I don’t read
    it anyway," and I took it home with every intention of reading it. However, I did not feel the same
    way the next morning. The fact is, I was very embarrassed for showing such weakness in front
    of my brother, my wife and sister-in-law, and my parents. I remember thinking that I must have
    been really drunk to have pulled such a stunt as telling everyone that I wanted to read the
    Bible; for to me, that was a sign of weakness, and I certainly didn’t want my family to think I was
    some kind of a weak cripple.

    After a couple of weeks, Margit, asked me if we should return my mother’s Bible, since I was not
    reading it. I told her to take it back for I had no plans of reading it, and I didn’t. Ah, but God had
    other plans. From that fateful night of reading that seemingly insignificant verse, the very
    presence of Christ Jesus was with me. I did not know that was what it was at the time; but I can
    remember the warm feeling in my soul, and the desire to experience the joy and happiness that
    Jesus was experiencing at all times with His Father. And this was a God and Jesus, so I thought,
    that I did not believe really existed; yet I wanted their joy and happiness.

    I did not stop drinking; but for three months after that initial experience with 1 Corinthians 11:
    14, the more I drank the worse I felt. Where I used to know a similitude of joy, I could no longer
    find it, and this was terrifying; for the joy of drinking was my life. If I could not enjoy drinking, my
    life was over. There was no reason to live, so it seemed. But my thoughts kept going back to
    wanting to experience the joy and happiness I knew Jesus was experiencing all the time. This,
    however, was an impossibility, as far as I could see. For my concept of such joy could only be
    known in heaven, and, of course, I knew I couldn’t go to church every Sunday for the rest of my
    life, which I thought would be necessary make it to heaven after I died. Such a thing would be a
    much too severe hell for me to endure. I knew I didn’t have it in me to be obediently and do for
    the rest of my life that which was contrary to everything I had always lived for. Therefore, I
    resigned myself to live the rest of my life as I had always done, but now without the joy I once
    had in drinking, and wind up in the tormenting flames of hell forever. What a terrible dilemma I
    was in. No solution was in sight.

    But God knew exactly how to draw me into the loving arms of Jesus Christ. A fellow barber was
    reading Billy Graham’s book, "World Aflame," and he commented on how the prophecies in it
    was like reading the daily newspaper. I politely responded that I would like to read it sometime.
    Being the good Baptist that he was, I found the book instantly shoved into my hands, with him
    saying, "Here. Go ahead and read it." I tried to wiggle out of the trap I had set for myself, and
    said, "No, I mean, after you read it." He quickly responded, "I’ve read it several times. I was just
    glancing back over it." I quickly processed thoughts in my mind and deduced, "I can take this
    challenge. I will read the book; for if the life-style I have always known is right for me, and I
    believe it is," I can recall thinking, "then nothing, not even this book can change my believes,
    shake me, or alter my course of life." Although I was thoroughly miserable, I could not turn
    loose.

    The book was entitled, "World Aflame," and it set my world aflame. Every word was like the
    verse I had read three months prior to this. I was deluged with waves of excitement, of
    encouragement, of enlightenment — of Life. When I read the part about Jesus dying for the
    sins of the world, which included my own, that salvation comes by confessing Him as Lord, and
    being born again of His Spirit. — I knew something with crystal clarity. I knew that if I was born
    of Him, and His Spirit was in me, then I did not have to go to church every Sunday the rest of my
    life and wait until I died to go to heaven in order to know the Joy of Jesus Christ. If He was in
    me, then I could know that joy right now. That is what I was looking for all my life, but could not
    find it. There was a fragment of joy in the bottle; but now I knew this was the real joy, and I
    would be a fool to turn from it. I then confessed Jesus as my Lord to the glory of God my Father,
    and the weight of the world was suddenly lifted from my weary shoulders. Life, and life more
    abundantly was mine forever!  It was at that time that I had a burning desire to share this
    wonderful phenomenon to the world.  


                                                                     Anna's Journey

    I have been on your web site a lot, and it has been a comfort to me. I am a member of a Baptist
    church, and no one other than my husband knows what I have been going through over the
    past year.

    I was raised by Christian parents, and I became a Christian at the age of 9.  I am certain I did not
    understand everything when I was 9, but in a child-like way, I knew what sin was (lying, treating
    my brother and sister badly, disobeying my parents, etc).  I struggled with those things, as all
    children do.  I knew I needed forgiveness, and prayed the so-called "sinner's prayer".  I went
    through the normal teenage stuff, and I haven't lived a perfect life, but I love the Lord, and He
    is my reason for living!

    I can honestly say I only remember being afraid of hell for myself one time, as a young child.  I
    was told about it about at the age of 7, the traditional view of hell as a place of unimaginable
    torment (literal fire and pain), and everyone who did not accept Christ in this lifetime would go
    there for all eternity.  One day I called my brother a fool, just being silly as a child, and my
    mother reprimanded me and told me the Bible said anyone who called their brother a fool was
    in danger of hell fire!

    I was drawn to your website because, like you, certain events in my life have led me to
    seriously question that doctrine.  I am also a 52-year-old grandmother, and the questions you
    asked eight years ago, I have been asking.  I am still struggling, but God has heard my prayers!

    Some friends lost their son to leukemia about a year and a half ago.  My friend was very
    comforted by a book she had studied entitled "Heaven" by Randy Alcorn.  She wanted to lead a
    class at church on this book, and we started meeting on Sunday evening to study this book.  
    There was a section at the beginning on hell, and the reality of it, which troubled me.  I couldn't
    fathom how we could all be gloriously happy in Heaven, knowing that we had loved ones in hell
    suffering horribly, or that anyone, for that matter, would be suffering for all eternity.  I also knew
    that most of the people God created would not even have the opportunity to accept of reject
    the Gospel in this lifetime, because they would never hear it.  It did not make sense to me.  

    When we got about half way through the book, I agreed to teach a section of the book entitled
    "Whom will we meet, and what will we experience together?"  Unknown to me at the time I
    volunteered, there was a subsection entitled "If our loved ones are in Hell, won't that spoil
    Heaven?"  The answer for me was "yes!"  I won't go into detail, but there were some quotes in
    the book by Jonathan Edwards, which you are probably familiar with:  "When the saints in glory,
    therefore, shall see the doleful state of the damned, how will this heighten their sense of the
    blessedness of their own state, so exceedingly different from it.  They shall see the dreadful
    miseries of the damned, and consider that they deserved the same misery, and that it was
    sovereign grace, and nothing else, which made them so much to differ from the damned".  That
    did not make sense to me in the least!  

    When I voiced my questions about this, I was told I was "going the way of Oprah, looking for
    something to make me feel good", etc.  Since then, I have kept my doubts and questions to
    myself, other than talking to my husband.  He has tried to be understanding, but even that has
    not gone well.  He believes I am being gullible (I do have that tendency).  He has told me I am
    going down a slippery slope.  

    About that same time, I was taking a class by Lee Strobel on Wednesday night, entitled "Faith
    under Fire", a video series.  I have always admired Lee Strobel for his ability to contend for the
    gospel.  There was section in the book entitled "Hell:  Fact or Fiction".  Once again, Jonathan
    Edward's sermon "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" was quoted.  In the next section, Lee
    interviewed Jerry Walls, who wrote a book entitled "Hell: the Logic of Damnation", and Gary
    Amirault.  You may have seen the video, it is on U-tube.  

    I began to look at some of Gary's information on line.  I read everything I could find, arguments
    for and against Hell, even some on annihilation.  I pleaded with God to lead me to the truth.  
    When I found your website, I was drawn to it, especially after I read your testimony.  

    I have read "God's Plan for All", and am now reading "Hope Beyond Hell".  It all makes so much
    sense to me!  All the verses in the Bible that really could not be explained or understood,
    especially the verses on predestination, make sense if God's plan has always been to
    eventually save everyone.

    My husband is a deacon at our church.  All our closest friends are there.  I am still not sure what
    I am supposed to do with what I believe God has revealed to me, or what the next step is, but I
    am waiting on the Lord to show me.  I did want to say "thank you" for your website.  I know God
    loves me, and is not angry or impatient with me for questioning.  In fact, I feel His love and his
    presence more now than at any other time in my life!

    Anna













                                                                                                                         

Many, O LORD my God, are thy wonderful works which thou hast done, and thy thoughts
which are to us-ward: they cannot be reckoned up in order unto thee: if I would declare
and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered.
Psalm 40:5


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