How I Became a Christian – My Testimony

I love hearing other people’s testimonies of how God reached them with the gospel and how they came to believe it and be saved. The stories are so encouraging and they always remind me how loving and personally invested God is in us. They remind me that God’s Word is truth and He really does desire “all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4).

I hope my testimony encourages you. 

Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will declare what He has done for my soul. (Psalm 66:16)

I grew up going to a couple different Christian churches so from a young age I knew that God existed and dutifully learned things like the books of the Bible, the Apostle’s Creed, and popular Bible stories. One church taught that to be saved I needed to ask Jesus into my heart. So I did. I asked Jesus into my heart hundreds of times but I was never sure it had worked. Was He really in there? If He was, then why was being good so hard? A rule-following perfectionist by nature, I was driven by a desire to be good and do the right thing. I believed that being a Christian = being good. Even as a kid it aggravated me how often I tried to be good and not do bad things…and failed.

When that church got a new pastor, the teaching changed from “ask Jesus into your heart” to altar calls after the morning sermon. “Come forward and receive Jesus Christ as your Savior,” the pastor invited. I felt the pull but was too embarrassed to actually get up from my seat. I knew I was a Christian—I faithfully went to a Christian church, Sunday School, summer Bible camps, and thought myself a good person—but why was I still so anxious about it? Why did I feel the need to answer the call to come forward to receive Jesus? Wasn’t I saved?

Then I began to sense something amiss at home and my confusion and unease grew. There were problems and when I was about thirteen years old my parents announced they were getting a divorce. I didn’t know how to process the situation and I didn’t understand how God could’ve allowed this to happen. Not long after this pronouncement, my younger brother and I began living a life of shared custody by switching houses every week.

In those early days of the divorce, I remember many nights either lying awake or crying myself to sleep because I was deeply troubled by fear and confusion. They were my constant companions—they rode around in my heart where no one else could see them and I didn’t know how to talk about them. My emotions often overwhelmed me, but I learned to squash them down and stuff them inside. The less emotions I showed, the better my chances that my back-and-forth weeks would be less contentious. I was in survival mode. I didn’t know where God was in my life or what He was doing and I lived under a cloud of hopelessness and confusion. God wasn’t living up to who I thought He was and I didn’t know what to believe anymore.

After my parents split, my Dad began church hopping and sometimes he’d bring my brother and I with him. I didn’t like it at all—each time was just a test of endurance. Finally, he landed on a nondenominational Christian church he liked and we started going there consistently on his weeks. I was skeptical and frustrated with being forced into yet another big change, so I didn’t talk to people and didn’t pay attention. The worksheets handed out at the beginning of each sermon would become filled with doodles as I passed the time, just waiting for it to be over.

However, gradually, the preaching made it’s way through to me. The doodles became less and the note-taking became more. I had never heard the Bible taught so clearly before. I learned “ask Jesus into your heart” wasn’t even in the Bible and neither was going forward to the altar to receive Jesus. What!? The pastors and teachers read verses from the Bible and then explained them, often word-by-word.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)

I had memorized John 3:16 as a young kid but I’d never heard it explained so clearly. They preached, “For God so loved Bailey, that He gave His Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross in her place as payment for the penalty of her sins, so that if Bailey believes He did this, when she dies she would not be separated from God in hell but instead would spend eternity with Him.”

I heard Ephesians 2:8-9: For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is a gift of God, not by works, lest any man should boast.

I learned there was nothing that I had to do to be saved and have a relationship with God—just believe. I didn’t have to ask Jesus into my heart, come forward, pray a certain prayer, be baptized, go to church, or even be good. God would accept me just as I was, sinner and all, if I simply accepted what His Son did for me.

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)

This is the message I heard at church and at home with my dad. Together we listened to a book on tape, The Lamb by John Cross, which was a children’s book about the gospel. I also sat in on a book study Dad hosted on The Stranger on the Road to Emmaus by John Cross, a book designed to give an overview of the main message of the Bible. Dad says that while we listened to The Lamb I claimed to understand the gospel and be saved, but I don’t remember this.

Hearing the gospel at church, listening to The Lamb, answering the study questions for The Stranger, and conversations with my dad were all pieces to the puzzle of my understanding. I don’t know exactly when I was saved, but what I do know is I needed a Savior. I knew I was a sinner, I knew I could never measure up to God’s standards (I couldn’t even measure up to my own!), I wanted to know where I would go when I died and I desperately wanted hope in place of my despair, comfort for my fears, and strength for living that I didn’t have on my own. Amidst the confusion of my circumstances I yearned for truth. Solid, reliable, rest-your-life-on-it truth. I’d been shown the evidence of the Bible’s authenticity—that it was the very word of God as it claimed to be—and I was convinced I could trust what it said to be the truth. About me. About God. About the world. About this life and the next. So, when I was about 13 or 14 years old, I placed my faith in Jesus Christ as my Savior.

Over time, the truth of the Word of God cleared up my confusion and answered my fundamental questions. I came to know with certainty that I had a relationship with God and that He was inside of me and would never leave me (Ephesians 1:13-14; Hebrews 13:5). His many promises backed up by His good character brought me peace, stability, guidance for life, and hope for the future.  

Though I had crushed myself under my own perfectionism and didn’t come away unscathed from my parents’ divorce and switching houses every week, the Lord drew me to Himself. First to save me from the penalty of my sin and then to enjoy a relationship with Him, being sanctified as I walk with Him through this life. I’m so thankful that He loved me and saved me.

2 thoughts on “How I Became a Christian – My Testimony”

  1. Thanks for sharing this! I, too love hearing how others have learned about Jesus and what drew them to trust Him. It is so encouraging

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