I came from a large Catholic family, I was 3rd of 9 kids. My parents were very serious about their Catholic religion, so we all went to Catholic Grade School and High School; and me and my 3 brothers were also altar boys (we served the priests during Masses) during Grade School. Going to Mass was how each school day began, and most of our teachers were nuns. The Catholic teachings were integrated into our schooling, where we also learned all about the Sacraments, which we were to later take. Of course I went through all the Sacraments like the other kids at school, and at home dad had even gotten all of us kids our own rosary, and as a family we would all kneel and pray the rosary together. Dad also made wall stands for statues of Joseph and Mary, and we hung all our rosaries on hooks right next to them. I can’t seem to remember my first Holy Communion, but when it was my grade’s time to start going to Confession, I remember how petrified I was of going into the Confessional! I made up sins to tell every time I had to go, just to get it over with, and when saying my penance afterwards, I was just relieved to get out of that thing! (the confessional)
Growing up Catholic all seemed pretty normal, but by the time I was old enough to be confirmed at age 14 (the Sacrament of Confirmation is where you commit your future marriage and children to the Roman Catholic faith), I had already formed a very skeptical opinion about the Catholic Religion- I resented having to be an altar boy during Masses in Grade School, and seeing up close all the robes the priests wore and all the things they had to do- it all just seemed strange. Another thing I dreaded was going to the Stations of the Cross- with all the black incense and bowing to each picture on the wall etc! I just didn’t believe in all those things they did- even as a young person God gave me discernment to know He was not like that- wanting us to do all those weird things etc! I remember telling my parents I wasn’t ready to make the commitment of Confirmation, but at 14 they wouldn’t listen to any of my reservations and I was confirmed anyway.
As teenagers, things in our family got very bad, and we had a lot of trouble. No real love or communication from our parents, combined with their performance only based expectations of us kids, made for a real disaster! We saw many things in our parents that we never saw before- hypocrisy, dishonesty, blame shifting, double standards etc! Most of us kids ended up rebelling against this system, and the authoritarian rule of my father. My older brother and I also started getting involved with the wrong crowd at school- cigarettes, drinking, parties, drugs etc. All these elements were very destructive to our family life, and our home became an increasingly hostile environment: my dad’s constant fits of rage, yelling and hollering all the time etc. My mother, also having three miscarriages, just tried to escape with sedatives, alcohol and sleep.
I did believe in God at that time, but I remember as a teen reasoning that He couldn’t be like the Catholic God who always wanted us to be “shaking in our boots” every time we walked into church! The God I learned of from my parents and schooling was not a loving or approachable God, just an angry God who was to be obeyed and feared etc. I rejected this God I had learned, and remember believing at that time that God had to be more like the beauty I saw in nature! But coming from a bad home life, little did I know the bad choices I would make in the near future would soon take my life on a very destructive course!
When you’re an un-loved child, you really have no idea what’s wrong with you- you just have this inner hunger that you’re not even aware of, for love and acceptance etc. For me, I sought that acceptance from friends at school- the wrong kind of friends. And that hunger made me willing to do many things I shouldn’t have done.
While a teenager, God did some very amazing things in my life. But I started making very bad choices-and their consequences were very hurtful and damaging, especially because of my young age etc. And not having the love at home I needed to help guide me through them, I become very angry and wreckless! Eventually I just didn’t care anymore, and I began to involve myself in many dangerous activities. So serious were these, that by the time I was 19, I had already dropped out of High School, and was very seriously addicted to drugs and alcohol. I had also been in trouble with the law numerous times and had spent time in jail. I had miraculously survived 2 serious car accidents, and because of repeated excessive intake of alcohol had been near death on other occasions. Underneath all of this carnage was the real issue: I was still seriously wounded inside from a former relationship- someone I still loved very much- her and I also had a 3 year old daughter! Not being able to stop drinking, I became very desperate. Obsessed with suicide, I planned and nearly jumped off an overpass bridge to end my misery. But while I was balancing on the rail ready to jump- I was startled by what sounded like a voice I heard speaking to me, and thinking it was some kind of a sign from God- I decided to not go through with it, and I walked back home! After this, I was finally convinced I was headed for an early grave or insanity, so I decided to seek help for myself!
The next 2 years I spent in and out of Alcohol and Drug inpatient treatment 3 times, and was very fortunate I was able to stay in a drug rehab house. During this time I was having ongoing recurring hallucinations that were very horrifying- due to drug withdrawal symptoms. [When God takes His hand of protection away from your mind, it becomes as pliable putty in the hands of demonic forces, who then can deceive and torment you at will.] Still obsessed with suicide, and knowing how much I really needed God at that time, I remember reading the Bible, but I didn’t really know how to understand it.
After things got better, I moved out and worked and lived on my own for a couple years. Then, at 24, I wanted to do something with my life, so I decided to go to college at the nearby University. I thought I would be able to stay away from parties and drinking because I had already been straight for over 3 years etc. But all the previous years of the AA 12 step program, psychologists, group counseling and self willpower- they still rendered me powerless when I got back into a drinking and drug environment! (in reality Satan still controlled my life.) So while in college, I also got into 2 more bad relationships which ended in more hurt, and was again getting drunk every weekend- by now my hangovers were lasting 3 days- my body had just had enough! After breaking up with my last girlfriend, I was very depressed and in the depths of despair. I couldn’t understand why the same things kept happening to me! I realized I still had no power whatsoever to stop doing all the things that I knew were destroying me... and it was then that I began to believe that my only hope of surviving, was if God would do a miracle for me! I knew I had tried my best- and I just couldn’t do it!
So there I was, 26 yrs old, in college, and at the very end of myself... despair and hopelessness were again the banners over my life... and suicide again was almost constant in my thinking! I knew I was truly and utterly LOST!
It was in 1985, during winter break, on a very cold January night, when I cried out to God to help me! I was all alone, in an old house my brother was renting, and everything just hit me... and I was in total misery! I was carrying the weight of guilt, shame and remorse- from years of sinful behavior and its consequences. I was so sick of my life and who I had become! I had lost everyone and everything I had ever valued in my life! In desperation I was just crying out to God! ... And in the stillness of that house, the most amazing thing began to happen! The presence of God began to fill that place, and I could feel God right there with me... and JESUS was there too!... caught up in Their loving presence, Jesus began telling me how He was aware of my sufferings and pain during all the times when I had gotten so hurt from my dad and all the other things that had happened in my life, and that He fully knew and understood all the things I had been through... and that He loved me very much, and that He had wanted to come to me many times and comfort me, but that He was waiting... for me to give myself to Him etc! Jesus was just like sitting there with me very calmly and telling me these things, and how much He loved me and cared about me, and I was crying for a very long time! It seemed a question came up, if I would give my life to Him- to serve Him etc. I remember I said yes- that I wanted to serve Him- for the rest of my life! I was totally caught up in the spirit during this whole time!
Then God allowed me to see into the Spirit- a vision: I saw black clouds- all churning in mighty power and rumbling with thunder! I knew God was behind those clouds, but He would not allow me to see Him etc! And then God spoke to me! He said, “NOW YOU WILL DO MY WILL!” ...and again, “NOW YOU WILL DO MY WILL!” He said this twice to me, but I didn't really know what He meant by this! [When God spoke it was not audible with my ears, but I heard Him in the Spirit. It seemed that when God spoke to me, He just impressed His thoughts into my understanding, and because He is God, I knew exactly what He was saying to me!]
Shortly after this I heard what sounded like a HEAVENLY ARMY marching with GREAT POWER, and they were playing music that was very POWERFUL! I couldn't see this Heavenly Army, but God let me HEAR it. They were playing a VICTORY SONG. The music was very powerful and beautiful, but the POWER coming from the music was the most startling of all! Music in Heaven is very POWERFUL!
I didn’t know it then, but God was changing the whole course of my life right in front of me! And for many days after this God was still pouring His love into my heart and leading me by His Spirit- almost constantly. I KNEW I was a totally changed person, and that He had miraculously delivered me totally from every single destructive habit I had- drugs, alcohol, bad relationships, even cigarettes! And it was just the beginning- of a brand new life with God as my Father, and Jesus my Lord! Hallelujah!
I’m not sure why God chose to reveal Himself to me in such an amazing way, but He may have been preparing me for the many things He would later call me to do. My life has been forever totally changed since then, and even to this day 25 years later, God continues to reveal His love to me with His continued presence, and through reading His Word the Bible. During my walk with Him, God has placed me in many different churches/situations and has taught me many important things regarding the problems within the professing Body of Christ. He has also led me to be a bold witness for His truth, and to confront many things which have caused much persecution and sorrow in my life! (Saddest of all has been trying to lead my own unsaved family to Christ- who are mostly Roman Catholics!) But God has taught me that such is the cost for any true servant of God- who chooses to be a bold witness for His righteousness in this world!
All my years growing up in the Roman Catholic religion- I was never taught or learned how to find the True God who loves me, nor how to really KNOW Jesus as my Savior! The real God is the God who wrote the Bible... He is a loving God- full of compassion, and ready to reveal His great love to all who will willingly serve Him and obey His Word the Bible! Jesus Himself said,
Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.
If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.
If you are a Roman Catholic and you believe what the Roman Catholic Church teaches- you are deceived; and you are enslaved to a religious system of man-made doctrines and idolatrous practices... all of which are contradicted by the Holy Scriptures! Your only hope is to turn to JESUS CHRIST and obey His Word! JESUS is the ONLY ONE who can take the blinders off your eyes! The Apostle Paul wrote:
And even if our gospel is veiled [hidden], it is veiled to those who are perishing. The god of this age [Satan] has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. (2 Cor 4:3-4)
But whenever anyone turns to the Lord [Jesus Christ], the veil is taken away. (2 Cor 3:16).
If you are a Roman Catholic and assume you can love Jesus yet stay in the Catholic Church: Do not be deceived... Jesus said we love Him only if we OBEY HIM! God said He would receive only those WHO COME OUT FROM THEM.
What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? ... Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you... I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty. (2 Cor 6:16-18)
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