(Editor´s Note: This is part four of an article proclaiming the way of release to every man who will put his faith in Jesus Christ!)
I stand in awe of the great liberator, Jesus Christ, who thoroughly releases willing men from Satan´s ties that bind and shackles that enslave! Not only does He use His superior power to set men free, but also truth, faith, hope and love! Tragically, many of the men who have been reading this article series do not believe what is being said. You are skeptical because you think I am simply writing about religious stuff and you don´t want to be religious, although you really would like to be free from the power of sin in your life.
I am not peddling some religion, but presenting a living Person who has done everything I have written about in my own life. Truly, I have found the Messiah, Jesus, the Son of the living God, formerly of Nazareth, Israel and currently seated "at the right hand of the Majesty on high," (Hebrews 1:3, NKJV)! As it concerns the works of release He has done in my life, I can testify to the truth of His words, "Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed," (John 8:36, NKJV).
A Personal Testimony
Growing up in the 1960´s I was like many of my male peers in Seaside, California. My chief interests were sports, music and females. I was driven by pride, ambition, a need for attention and lust. There was a very serious side to me that cared about the plight of black Americans, but you would not have guessed it based upon how even in Middle School I treated my girl friends. I could be very mean and violent.
After a few talent shows in singing and dancing groups imitating The Temptations and one humorous turn as a soloist, I was very pleased to start a band called The Sounds Of Persuasion in 1970, my ninth grade. For the next three years the young men and women who participated in this band were fixtures in my life as we performed together all over the north central coast of our state. It was my first experience with seriously deep group camaraderie and my memories remain fond of my former band mates. However, there was a down side.
Most of us guys in the band abused alcohol and drugs. We were also very sexually promiscuous. I was the first to father children. I could not play football my senior year and nearly did not graduate from High School. When the band broke up I was devastated and adrift. I did finally recover an interest in getting an education and after two years at Monterey Peninsula College, transferred in 1976.
At Howard University in Washington D.C., I started out well, but loss momentum through a series of heart breaks including delayed grief at my dad´s death. I had continued to abuse alcohol and drugs but found little comfort in them. As a student intern at Walt Disney World in the winter/spring of 1977, I visited the home of a family friend in Jacksonville, Florida who had moved there from Seaside. I kept trying to tell Mrs. Altamese (momma) Lee all about my problems. But she just kept insisting I needed Jesus.
During my childhood, I had learned about Jesus and had even been baptized at the Friendship Baptist Church. My grandmother, Eunice Campbell, was instrumental in that as she often took us to Sunday school and worship. Both of my parents would have said they believed in God, but they were not anything like churchgoers then. I remain grateful to my grandmother for the seed of knowledge about Jesus that her efforts planted in my heart.
I truly met Jesus Christ on that Easter Sunday in 1977 in the living room of momma Lee when at last, I conceded that maybe she was right; maybe I did need Him. She prayed with me to receive Christ and with all my heart I hoped I would have some answers when we finished. I did not have an ecstatic or emotional encounter. But I did hear for the first time in my conscious life the voice of the living God in my heart. He said, "As your faith grows, so shall you." How true those words have been! Needless to say, I was stunned and filled with wonder at the time. I left momma Lee´s home that day with some hope.
For the next two years I struggled. I was so accustomed to coping with life through the filter of an alcohol and drug induced high, it was hard to let the Lord deliver me. I also kept trying to address the loneliness I felt in disco clubs and casual sex. I was no longer motivated to study or attend classes at Howard. I was without purpose and fought depression.
On the brighter side, I had started to attend the Mt. Zion Baptist Church in D.C. after being directed there by a woman I dated only once. Slowly, the Lord began to draw me closer to Himself until in February of 1979 I heard His voice again. He commanded me to fast seven days without food or drink. With some fear, I obeyed. I met the Lord daily in Bible study and prayer. The old me died in surrender; the new me born that Easter Sunday in 1977 emerged. With indescribable joy I was baptized shortly thereafter at Mt. Zion.
To Be Concluded Next Issue