My testimony starts just like that of many church members. I was raised in a fundamental Baptist home. My entire life, we attended church each Sunday morning and evening, as well as on Wednesdays. I was not particularly a good or bad child growing up. I mostly just went along with whatever kids around me were doing. Growing up in church, that didn’t prove to be a problem, but when I got a little older it became a whole different matter.
I really started chasing the world as a young boy in my early teens. I was bored with church, I was good at sports, and I liked girls. I got to the point where I was not just following others, but being a leader—and not the good kind. I never got in a lot of trouble because I was not an openly bad kid. I just followed whatever I wanted to do to please myself. A lot of my issues stemmed from my frustration/confusion with salvation. I was always so scared that one day I would die and go to hell. All that fear and confusion turned to anger. Eventually, I decided I would just forget about “church” and all the stuff my parents believed.
About a year after high school I joined the Air Force. I made this decision because I thought it would give me the most freedom to be independent and live my way and not my parents’ way. Looking back, this is where I really took a nose dive. In high school I had my parents keeping me in church and around Christ-serving people. Once I got out on my own, I completely lost my way (not that I had ever really found it before). I became completely “of the world.” This went on for several years. During this time, I would openly admit, “I don’t know what I believe…there’s gotta be a God, because evolution just doesn’t make sense. Other than that, I just don’t know.” That was the extent of my faith for about seven years while in the military.
In 2012, I separated from active duty, and joined the South Carolina Air National Guard. Almost immediately after joining the Guard, they informed me that I would serve on yet another deployment to the Middle East. I thought, “Great! Another miserable, hot deployment! It’ll be just like the rest of them.” Little did I know the work the Lord was about to do in my life…
On February 8th, 2013, I was driving home from working at the military base I was preparing to deploy from. It was getting close to midnight, so I turned on the radio to stay awake. For some reason it was tuned to a Christian station. This was only odd because I rarely listened to anything other than country radio. I assume I changed the station earlier in the day before arriving to work because of a commercial. I didn’t even notice the music until this version of “Amazing Grace” came on. The song said, “My chains are gone, I’ve been set free. My God, my Savior, has ransomed me. And like a flood His mercy reigns. Unending love, amazing grace.” At that moment, I don’t really know what was happening. All I know is that the Holy Spirit was moving in my heart. My sin and shame was overwhelming me. I began to realize all that Christ had done for me. I knew I needed Him. I knew without Him that I would continue to be the miserable, worthless man that I was.
Over the next couple of days I began to pray. I drove to the Christian book store and bought a new Bible. I started searching and reading about what salvation really was. I came to truly understand John 3:16, Romans 10:9-10, and the rest of Romans Road. I knew that Jesus Christ, the living Son of God, was the only way to heaven, and that He paid for ALL my sins on Calvary! That next Sunday, February 10, 2013, I bowed my head and prayed with my pastor. I asked my Savior, Jesus Christ to save me and to change me. And like that great song said my heart was singing, “My chains are gone! I’ve been set free! My God, my Savior has ransomed me. And like a flood His mercy reigns. Unending love, amazing grace!”
Since that time, God has continued to change me and mold me into the new man that He has meant for me to be. He changed every desire of my heart. I had previously been majoring in Political Science and Law. I wanted to be in politics and “change the world.” God quickly showed me that He is the only hope and only redeemer of this world. He has given me a heart to serve Him and to tell others of His great Name. I’m so grateful and humbled that God is opening the doors for Atalie and I to serve Him together in Thailand. I’m thankful for the burden He has placed on both of our hearts to reach the Thai people and tell them the good news of my Savior!
That “miserable” deployment that I mentioned turned out to be a blessing in disguise. It gave me six months to completely read through the Word of God. It gave me six months to learn to lean on the Lord and not on man. It gave me six months to find out what “standing for Christ, even when you stand alone” truly means. It gave me six months to share the blessed life of Christ with nearly every person I had the opportunity to work with. It amazes me to look back now and see what God has done. I know that I had nothing to do with it. Before Him I was weak. I fell for all the things of this world, but He taught me how to stand strong in His abundant love and grace.
God graciously saved me when I was seven years old, at Maranatha Baptist Church in Okinawa, Japan. While sitting in Children’s Church one morning, the preacher stressed the importance of knowing “beyond a shadow of a doubt” that if we were to die, we would go to heaven. As a child, I had thought I would go to heaven, but I was not absolutely sure. During the invitation, the preacher encouraged those who were not sure of their salvation to meet one of the helpers in the back. So, I went. A lady helper was waiting there, and she took me and several other girls to a classroom to explain the plan of salvation to us. That day, I confessed my sins and placed my faith in Jesus Christ for salvation. Several months later, I was scripturally baptized by immersion.
When I was twelve or thirteen, I heard a message on surrender. Never having surrendered my life to God before, I decided, that night, to surrender to do whatever God called me to do. Little did I know where that decision would lead.
In the summer of 2009, my dad decided to take our family on a missions trip to Thailand. Although I had been considering missions, I was not sure that God had called me to the foreign mission field. At the time, I was working on a degree in English and was not intending to become a missionary anytime soon. But God used that trip to burden my heart for Thailand. That summer, I earnestly prayed for God’s leading and He made it clear to me that He wanted me back in Thailand. So, after graduating with my Bachelor of Arts in English, I started the process of deputation. I began full-time deputation in April of 2011 and arrived on the field in September of 2012. During my year and a half in Thailand, I’ve been able to learn so much about the language and culture. I’ve learned about what teaching English in a foreign country is like. Most importantly, through building relationships with people, God has taught me how to love these precious souls and to be His witness. I still have so much to learn, but I am so excited to see how the Lord will lead as Adam and I join hearts and hands to serve Him here in Thailand.