For thirty-four years I was an unsaved “dead man walking,” but I didn’t know it. I was dead in my sins, and God’s condemnation was upon me.
I was successful in my area of business, but eventually my wife, Dale, and I realized that there must be more to life than material benefits. We tried job changes and location changes and back-to-the-farm living, but we were still dissatisfied. Then I lost my job because my employers went bankrupt.
Two things happened: I started listening to radio preachers, and my sister-in-law Patty came for a visit. I invited her to tell me about Jesus, and she did her best to witness to me. I thanked her, and that was the end of it. But before she left, she asked if I would listen to some expository teaching tapes. I said I would, and I did.
It was through the Word of God and His grace alone that I surrendered to the truth of my sin and my need of a Savior. I knew I was a “dead man walking.” In just a few days, Dale also trusted Christ. We were completely absorbed with God’s Word and with His will for our lives, but we were ignorant of spiritual things.
We began attending my Christian secretary’s church. It was there that the Lord impressed my heart to serve Him in preaching His Word. I returned to Bible college, prepared for ordination in the Wesleyan Church, and served in Wesleyan churches for thirty-one years.
However, I found it difficult to find fellowship with people who were continually focused on contests, fund-raisers, programs, and worldly means to increase attendance. My Bible tells me that the Lord will build His church, and I concentrated on the Word of God each time I stepped to the pulpit. I was allowed to preach as God led, and I was grateful for the opportunity to do so.
About five years ago, my daughter and her family moved to Waterloo, Iowa, and began looking for a church that met the Biblical standards—and they finally found these at Walnut Ridge Baptist Church. When my daughter later told us that the church was a GARBC church, I wondered, “A Baptist church and a GARBC church. . . . What was that?”
Concerned about my family’s choice of a church, I ordered and read books from Regular Baptist Press. I also met with Rich Van Heukelum, pastor of Walnut Ridge, who invited me to monthly pastors’ meetings. At these meetings I found no reference to weekly attendance, offerings, contests, programs, etc. Instead I found a group of Christian men who were deeply in love with the Savior, Jesus Christ—men who did not take their Christian faith for granted. Their desire seemed to be focused on service, help, and prayer. I could hardly believe it. They were the kind of men I had read about in my Bible.
During one of these monthly pastors’ meetings, I spoke my heart to those men. Afterward, Richard Johnson asked if he could be my “Barnabas” to help me make the difficult transition I was considering. Richard is a member of Walnut Ridge and the chaplain at Friendship Village, a retirement community in Waterloo.
I enjoyed many lunches at Village Inn with encouragement and guidance from Pastor David Moore. I received wise counsel and oversight from Pastor Rich. Pastor Johnson was always at my side with encouragement and assistance, for which I am grateful. After some time I was examined by Pastor Moore, Pastor Johnson, and Pastor Tom Rosekopf of Burton Avenue Baptist, Waterloo, about my statement of faith.
Now it has been almost four years since my resignation from the Wesleyan Church, with many changes in my circumstances as well. Dale and I are members of Walnut Ridge Baptist Church, which ordained me on October 9, 2007. I have preached in a few GARBC churches in the last several years, and I have found people in the pews who glow with the love of God and gratitude for being chosen by Almighty God to be His child.
Now I am a walking with Christ unto everlasting life in Him. I have been pardoned. I have been forgiven. I have been justified. And one day I will be like the One Who saved me. To God be the glory!