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
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
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 "What
Changed My Mind?" 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
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
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...