In the past I attended [a church which] had the practice of giving personal testimonies. I have always felt that personal testimonies are a powerful way of witnessing to the power and love of God in our lives. People want to know why you are a Christian, how did you become one and why is it that you want me to be one. Often times these testimonies have a bigger witnessing impact on those hearing the testimony than the sharing of scriptures alone with people.
The time setting of this testimony is August 1995 through February 1996. My testimony begins with a series of bad, trying events that happened during this time period. One Saturday morning in late August of 1995 I decided that I would rotate my truck tires. It was a hot, humid, ozone alert day as I proceeded with this task. I was putting the second tire back on the wheel when I felt a sharp pain shoot through my left shoulder blade. The tires on my truck are large and heavy, I thought, gee I must have pulled a muscle in my shoulder blade. Then the pain quickly spread to my chest and down my left arm. I immediately thought that these are signs of a heart attack, as I was familiar with these symptoms because my Dad died of a heart attack when he was in his mid 40's. But, then the stage of denial set in, maybe it was heat stroke, the flu, food poisoning - besides I am only 34 years old, far to young to have a heart attack! Since my Dad died of a heart attack when I was 12 years old, I have eaten a relatively lean diet and always stayed very active.
My brother took me to the hospital where they confirmed that I had a relatively major heart attack, which destroyed about 20% of my heart. During the week I was in the hospital, one day my heart began to beat very fast and erratically, I thought for sure I was going to die! I pressed the Nurse help button, as I waited for her to arrive, I thought well this is it! I also prayed, "God into your hands I place my life". Luckily after a few shots and a new IV my heart began to stabilize. I was out of work on medical leave for the whole month of September during 1995 doing cardiac rehabilitation. It was also necessary for me to begin a strict diet that is about 90% vegetarian, which I will be on for life.
In the beginning of October 1995 I returned to work and things seemed to be finally returning to normal. At the end of October 1995, 30 other employees and I were laid off, so much for things returning to normal! I prayed Lord please help my find another job quickly I have a family of 4 to support as well as my Mom and sister who I am assisting financially. During the prior month of September when I was on medical leave it was an unpaid leave of absence.
Shortly there after as the feeling of uncertainty due to unemployment hit me, as I sat at home on a workday, the phone rang. It was the Landlord of the house I rented for 4.5 years, she informed me that she had sold the house, I had two weeks to be out. This caused a lot of confusion, because I had no idea where or when I would be working next. We moved to a considerably cheaper, nearby apartment.
During the 6 month period covered in this testimony, my wife _______ was pregnant. On 2 occasions during her pregnancy, she experienced premature contractions that resulted in a 2 day stay at the hospital, during which time we almost lost the baby. Medical leave of absence was necessary for my wife, now the only family income would be reduced to 2/3 of its regular amount; she is a Electro-Mechanical Assembler, which isn't a high paying position.
During my 3rd month of unemployment, I thought why has this happened to me? I've done all of the right things for a secure, rewarding career, including obtaining two college degrees, taking continuing education classes to enhance my software knowledge and even learning a foreign language - Spanish. I reflected on the last 6 months and thought what else can go wrong? I remembered the verses of Proverbs 3:4-5 - Trust in the Lord your God with all of your heart... which I tried to do although very difficult.
Yes, there was more, one evening during this time period while my family was visiting my Mom, we received a call. A good long time friend of my wife and I had been killed in a car/train accident along with her 9 year old daughter and 2 of her daughter's 9 year old friends. The funeral was very sad our friend's mom and son were breaking down with grief as the train could be heard in the background as the final verses of the graveside service were said.
During this 6 month time period I did my best to keep the faith by regularly attending church, trying to read the Bible daily and praying frequently. During the 3.5 months of unemployment I received 1/3 of my regular pay. A few years back I decided to my 10% of my income tithe as directed in the Bible in verses (Leviticus 27:30, 32 and Numbers 18:21).
I continued this tithing during my unemployment, even though it was difficult to give a 10th of the 3rd of my regular pay I was receiving in unemployment payments. In the Bible verses (Luke 4:12) of the story of Christ's temptation by the devil, the devil tells Jesus to jump off the top of a tall building and that his angles will prevent him from being hurt. Jesus told the devil that you shall not put the Lord your God to the test.
However, there is an exception, when referring to tithing, the Bible in verses (Malachi 3:10) challenges us to put God to the test. In this verse God says give me your first fruits, 1/10th of your income or more and see if I don't open the skies of heaven and shower you with more blessings than you can image.
In the book of Psalms in various verses the Bible indicates clearly that God will be with us even through the valley of the shadow of death (Psalm 23), but we must maintain our faith in him.
All of these 3 areas of the Bibles teachings now have even more significance in my life as after this 3.5 month period of unemployment I started a new, better job than I had previously. This job is close to home, a 15 minute drive as compared to an hour drive each way. The benefits are much better and the pay increase is enough to more than make up for the amount I lost by being unemployed for 3.5 months. Our baby girl ___________ is now happy and healthy, as am I.
I feel God has blessed me much more that I deserve and more than I can ever repay. This is why I wanted to share this testimony with you so that you too will realize the importance of maintaining strong faith through good times as well as bad times. Also so that you will consider taking God's challenge in your life to increase or maintain your tithing. This is ever so important as the harvest is plenty, but the workers are few. Who will help the Lord with the harvest at hand? Send me Lord, send me! What will your answer be to this question? Thank you for permitting me to give this testimony, may God bless you as he has me. Amen.