A Personal Testimony© E. E. Perry 2001
“I was raised in a Christian family, and had attended church every Sunday.”
Driving a two-and-a-half ton army truck can be compared to riding a wild bronco. The engine screams like a banshee, and the body shakes and rattles like an old horse-drawn wagon. Learning to keep a large vehicle on the small roads in South Korea had greatly improved my driving skills.
On the day of the question, my military unit was returning from a field exercise. I was tired and in little mood for Korean roads or traffic. My assistant driver that day was a young, female African-American soldier named Walker. I knew Walker was a Christian, and she was known throughout the company to witness to other soldiers.
I was raised in a Christian family, and had attended church every Sunday. After joining the army, I had left church behind, proclaiming that all Christians were hypocrites and that I wanted nothing to do with them.
As I followed the convoy through the Korean countryside, I became aware that Walker was watching me. This made me very uncomfortable, and I wished she would stop.
"Do you ever think about Jesus?" she asked.
I had heard her loud and clear, but I used the noise of the truck as an excuse. "What?"
"Do you ever think about Jesus?" she repeated, loudly.
My mind began to swim for an answer, any answer, to give her to avoid hearing the sermon I thought would follow. Nothing came to mind. "We'll have to talk later. I can't hear you."
She gave up and went back to watching the countryside pass. I sighed. I was happy to have avoided the question. I figured she would forget about it, and I would hear no more of the question.
I was the driver for our platoon's lieutenant. Before going to work myself, it was my job to assure everyone got to their respective job sites. Walker worked at the bulk perishable foods warehouse, and a few days later, I found myself giving her a ride to work. I knew what was coming.
"Can we talk now?" she asked.
She asked the question again, and I felt my stomach turning. I knew I had forsaken the faith of my parents and became a rebel against God and religion. I searched my mind for something to satisfy her and get her off my back.
"Well, I do believe in God," I told her. "I know I don't live a very good life, and I know I shouldn't do the things I do. I know I should go back to church and all."
It was all a lie, but she was satisfied with this answer. After dropping her off, I began to feel guilty. I had lied about my faith, or lack of it. I felt convicted, but the guilt soon passed and I was back to my normal ways.
For me, the greatest hardship of my tour in Korean was the fact that my family had to stay stateside while I was overseas. While I was in Korea, I had submitted paperwork to get an early discharge from military service. The paperwork was delayed, and my tour in Korea was extended from twelve months to fifteen. My wife did not like the idea of my tour being extended, but she was ready for me to get out of the army.
"I have something I need to tell you," she said, and I noted the caution in her voice. I was afraid she would tell me she was leaving me.
"I found Jesus," she told me.
I felt like a ton of bricks had landed on my chest. I had never expected this. "Really."
"Yes," she said, "and I feel great. It is wonderful."
I was in shock and really did not know what to say. I told her that I would need time to think all this through. Once she had broken the ice, I noted the joyful tone of her voice. This piqued my interest, and the next day I went to the Stars and Stripes bookstore and purchased a Bible.
I knew from all my years in church that I needed to begin in the New Testament. I began to read in Matthew's Gospel. I found the teachings of Jesus to be revolutionary when compared to my previous misconceptions about Christianity. I began to pray. "God want am I suppose to do?"
I picked up a book for new Christians and found the verse that brought it all to light for me:
"What does the Scripture say? 'Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness'" (Romans 4:3).
All my life, I heard, "Believe in God" and "Believe in Jesus", but I found in the scriptures, "Abraham believed God." This made all the difference to me. It is one thing to believe in the existence of God, but another to believe Him. The verse was telling me that I needed to trust God, and believe the things He is telling me in His word.
The Apostle James wrote in his epistle:
"You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that -- and shudder. You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did" (James 2:19-22).
I realized that merely acknowledging God was not enough. I had to have faith, and that faith would be evident in my actions. I needed to trust God, believe His word, and live what I believed.
“I only knew that the Creator of the universe was my new spiritual commander-in-chief.”
There, alone in my barracks one night, I told Jesus, "Yes, I believe you. You are God."
That night, my life was changed. I was not perfect, and I am still not perfect. I made and make many mistakes, but I learned Jesus could forgive my mistakes.
From that day forward, I became a soldier of the cross, and just as when I joined the army, I was not sure what to expect. I only knew that the Creator of the universe was my new spiritual commander-in-chief.
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission.
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