Salvation is an experiential event that is neither merited nor earned. It’s a gift from God and God alone. We can do nothing but go before an Almighty God: repent and ask for forgiveness in humble faith. Just simply accepting Christ does not save one’s soul from the tormenting fires of Hell, as we are saved by grace not by works. Christ paid the price on the cross that allows us to go to God as a poor beggar asking for forgiveness that only God can give. Below are testimonies reflecting the event that affects eternity.
Lucile Meador Palmer
In July of 1938, the revival started on the third Sunday, as the custom had been for many years. My father and mother had carried me to church all my life, for which I am thankful. Brother L.A. Stewart was pastor and Brother C.B. Massey was assisting in the revival.
On the first Saturday night of the revival, Mrs. Annie Ingram came to me and asked if I felt like I was lost. Trying to think that maybe I wasn’t, I told her I didn’t know. She said, “You will know.”
On Sunday afternoon, my mother asked me if I was lost. I began to cry and told her I was. She stressed the importance of seeking the Lord at a young age.
I went to the altar that night. The next day, I prayed all the time and went back to the alter that afternoon. On Monday night, I went to the altar again. I was depending on the prayers of my mother, father, and all the other good Christians. They told me that I had to forsake everything, including my father and mother. That seemed to be hard for me to do, and I felt impressed to tell someone, and I did.
I stayed on the altar (the front seat, which was known as the Amen Corner) after services were dismissed. My mother was kneeling beside me, praying. She got her prayer through to God and rejoiced. A short time later, as they were singing “How Beautiful Heaven Must Be,” the Lord saved me. My dad had already gone outside. When he came in, he rejoiced as I had seen him do so many other times.
I joined Old Union Church the next afternoon and was baptized the following Sunday, July 31, 1938.
As I write this, tears are steaming down my face as I thank God for what He has done for me, and for all the good Christians who prayed for me when I was lost. Most of them have already gone to be with the Lord.
Joe Paterson
I was raised in a Church of Christ church, but I never joined the Church of Christ. I met Lorie and started going to Church with her a Fairview at Woodburn. After we got married I continued to go to church and I realized that the people at Fairview had something that I didn’t and I realized that I was lost and that every time the song “Glory Glory Glory, Somebody Touched Me” was sung, I didn’t have a time that I could go back to.
It was revival time in August of 1986, and one day I was coming home from work in a storm and I got to thinking about salvation and dying and when I got home that night I almost didn’t go to church, but I changed my mind and decided to go. That night after the preaching was over and the altar call was given, I went to the altar. I don’t know how long I was there, but as I prayed for the Lord to save my soul, I went to a place I can’t explain and there was peace that came into my heart and I remember looking up and everything seemed brighter, and I got up and told everyone that I had been saved and I joined the church that night, Tuesday, August 12, 1986.
Lori Paterson
I was nine years old when I realized I was lost. I was at church on a Sunday morning in March 1974 and our pastor, Brother Junior Farley, was preaching and by the time he finished, I knew that I was lost and I was scared. He gave an invitation to come to the altar, and I went. I didn’t get saved that day, but the next Sunday we had a visiting preacher, and once again when alter call was given, I went. I had more conviction that week and was afraid to die, and I remember I just kept praying and I felt that Peace come over me, and I turned around and told my Mom that He saved me. It was a wonderful day and I remember going to my grandparents’ house and playing outside. I didn’t have any cares, because I knew that I was well with the Lord. I was saved on March 31, 1974.
Keith Rafferty
I had been lost for about three and a half years, and one night, right as soon as school started in August, I went to sleep but woke up from a bad dream about my little cousin dying, and I started to pray. I prayed for a little while, I would guess twenty to thirty minutes, and then all of a sudden, it was just a sweet peace that had come over me. I t was just like a burden had been lifted off of my soul, and I knew that I had been saved by the grace of God. I then got up out of bed and went up to my Aunt Lorie and Uncle Joe’s room and told them that I had gotten saved. We were all excited. The next morning I called our pastor, Brother Matthews, to tell him the good news, and he was relieved because he said that usually when he gets calls in the morning, they aren’t nearly as good as the news of a soul being saved.
Ann Reynolds
Can you be religious and not be saved? I was born and raised in a very religious family. My dad being a minister, I attended about every function the church engaged in from before the time I can remember.
At the age of seven I said that I had been saved, following the pattern of those around me. As I look back now, I know that I was not even lost (accountable for my sins before God) at the time. About a year later, at the age of eight, I did feel the Spirit dealing with me during a revival service one night, and I fled to the front of the church. The preacher asked me why I was coming since I had already said that I was saved and belonged to the church. I replied that I wanted to give my life to Christ. Later in the service, the minister told the church that I wanted to be a missionary.
Time went on and I took an active part in church, although from time to time I would do and think things that were not Christ-like and this would bother me. I tried praying to the Lord at night, since I had a great fear of God and felt condemnation for my sins.
On several occasions the Lord greatly condemned me of my sins and I would rededicate my life. For a while I would try to live closer to the Lord but always drifted away from Him. All through these years I went to church regularly, read my Bible and tried to pray. I remember once when I was about fifteen or sixteen years old thinking, “How could something as wonderful as Heaven be as easy to get into as accepting Christ?” But this was only a passing thought
After I graduated from high school, I went to a private religious college located in southwest Missouri. I had not been there too long when I began to feel that my motives, desires, etc. were not pleasing to the Lord as many around me had so much zeal for Him.
I tried once again to become dedicated in my heart and soul, but once again it was with my mind. I began attending church less and less, and did not have a car and I had lots of studying to do. I was cheerleading for the basketball team at this time, and that took lots of time and thought, also.
In November I was asked by a dorm mate if I would go on a double blind date with a friend of her boyfriend’s. I said that I would go on the date because I had not been satisfied with anyone I had dated on campus thus far. This date turned out to be with a young man who had truly been saved and knew the way of truth. One Sunday evening, we went to the church I was attending. After service I could tell he was upset and I wanted to know why. During that service, the preacher had used the demonstration that salvation was as easy as taking a drink from a glass of water. My date said that he disagreed with that and told me his salvation experience in detail. I then told him mine, but I could only remember the outward things, not the inward feelings that he described so vividly; from that point on the Lord really troubled me. I began to doubt that time when I accepted Christ as being true salvation. I believed that the Bible taught that without salvation I would not enter Heaven. One day I could think I was lost, but the next day I would convince myself I was all right. This is the turmoil a deceived person goes through. The turmoil went on for several months. I finally consulted with my parents, but they were sure I had been saved.
One night as I knelt in the dorm and tried to pray, as I was so troubled about my soul’s condition, it came to me that God was nowhere near me. I tried telling one of my friends that I was doubting my salvation and as I told her, there was the loudest thunder and lightning storm, as if to say, “You are lost.” I still would not accept that I was not saved until I went to a revival with my fiancé one night n July. A man was gloriously saved that night and I had no doubt of his salvation by the look on his face.
The next night we went back to the meeting. I did not know a word the preacher preached, but my heart was beating like a drum. Then the altar call was given, my heart was beating so hard I thought I would fall over. I turned to my fiancé and asked him if I went to the altar if the people would pray for me like they did for that man the night before. He nodded yes, and I went to the altar. I took the preacher by the hand; he asked me if I was saved. I said that I did not know, and he pointed me to the mourner’s bench to pray and ask the Lord to show me. I was broken-hearted when I knelt and prayed. I shed many tears and knew beyond a doubt in my heart that I was lost. While attending college, I heard a scripture the Lord sent to my heart, which made me realize that I was not saved but condemned to die. The scripture was, “Many are called, but few are chosen.” I came to the knowledge that getting to Heaven was not easy like I had been taught.
After I returned to college for the fall semester, several revivals were in progress and every weekend my fiancé and I would go to church where I would seek the Lord for my salvation. His Spirit would lead me to cry aloud, “Oh, God save me,” over and over. I broken-heartedly called on the Lord and shed many, many tears in repentance of my own sinfulness. The more I sought the Lord the more I saw myself as I was. I was not the nice person I had thought I was, but a sinful, wicked person separated completely from a righteous God. He had every right to cast me into outer darkness for an eternity. I knew after much seeking that if I ever got saved, it would be because of His marvelous grace and mercy.
During the time I was under this terrible load and burden of sin called conviction, I was a full-time student. It was difficult to study, but it was also difficult to seek the Lord with all my heart, soul, mind and strength as the two worlds were in conflict with each other. I remember being so miserable that I wanted to go to sleep and stay that way so I could forget the struggle that was going on within me, but I was afraid to go to sleep for fear I might not ever wake up. Thank the Lord for His mercy and longsuffering.
I went through several revivals during the next four months. I had such a hard time following the impressions from the Lord. Satan would say, “That is just your thoughts, people will make fun.” I just did not want to do what the Lord wanted me to do. One night in September or October, I was knelt at an altar seeking the Lord and in His still small voice He said, “When Jerry (my fiancé) preached you’ll be saved.” I thought that was utterly ridiculous so I ignored it, but I knew within my heart it was true. The last thing I wanted to do was marry a preacher! About a month later, when I was at the altar, Jerry told Brother Keith Frieze the Lord had called him to preach. Brother Frieze told Jerry to tell the church. After he told the church I told Jerry what the Lord had told me a month earlier. He still did not want to preach, and I did not want to believe it, but I needed salvation.
My fiancé graduated at the end of January with a degree in electrical engineering, and I finished my third semester of college. We planned our wedding a day after our final examinations. We moved to Kansas City where he went to work for the Bendix Corporation. I determined I would be a housewife until I got this settled with the Lord. We had not been married a week when Brother Chester Viles knocked on our apartment door and told us of a revival going on at the church he pastored in Independence, Missouri, called Jericho. Being a newlywed, I was not ready to go to church, but I knew I needed to, so on Saturday night we went. Once again the great conviction fell on my heart, but it seemed I just could not have the faith. It just was not in me. I could not trust someone I could not see with all my heart, but I certainly knew He was real because I could feel Him condemning my heart.
On Monday my husband was so burdened for my soul he lay across the bed almost lifeless for most of the day it seemed. I knew I had to get this settled. I had to bring surrendering myself down to NOW. That night, January 31, 1966, about ten o’clock, I followed every impression the Lord gave me just as soon as He gave it to me, and the Lord lifted my burden, washed me clean in my heart and soul and gave me peace. Monday night, my husband stood in the pulpit to preach since the church had asked him to help the pastor finish the revival. That afternoon laying across our bed he completely surrendered his life to the Lord, giving up the profession he had prepared for five years and all other ambitions.
I was so afraid of being deceived by myself, and being of a pessimistic nature I did not tell the church about my salvation that night and robbed myself and others of a great blessing. I thought no one would believe me, as I was so quiet when the Lord saved me. As we left church I told my husband I did not feel bad about leaving the church service, and I talked all the way home. This behavior was the exact opposite of my usual behavior. Usually, I was so disappointed I had not met the Lord’s conditions and received salvation I would say very little. The next night we did not go to church because Tuesday was Jerry’s first day of his new job. During our conversation that evening I did tell him I got saved the night before. Wednesday night, I told the church my salvation experience with the Lord and joined the church.
Truly, salvation is the most important, wonderful and peaceful experience a person can have in this life. This experience that I actively sought after for several months will last eternally. I am so thankful for the one the Lord put in my life that told me the truth even when he knew it would cause me much sorrow and pain for awhile. Many saints of God prayed with and for me many hours, for which I am very thankful. “The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh and whither it goeth: so is everyone that is born of the Spirit.” John 3:8
Jerry A. Reynolds
I can’t remember when I learned that what happened at church was concerned with the most important part of life. My parents were Old-Time Baptists who were pillars in the church where we attended. My earliest memories recollect watching people praying, singing, preaching, testifying, and rejoicing in the power of the Holy Spirit. I could not sense the moving of the Holy Spirit, but I never doubted that He moved among those people among whom I walked in earliest childhood.
I know that I was taught that sometime in life I must be “saved” if ever I expected to live with God in eternity. I know that I was taught that I would sometime in the future be ‘lost” and separated from God and in need of salvation, and that I would know when I was lost in God’s sight. I would then have to seek the Lord, repenting of my sins and trusting in HIM alone to save my soul. I would know by the feelings of my heart when I was lost and just as assuredly I would know by those same inner senses when I was saved. I do not distinctly remember being taught any of these ideas, but I know that they were very much a part of my thinking long before I was accountable for my sins in God’s great sight.
Many times I saw lost sinners kneel at an altar of prayer with praying Christians gathered around them. I saw some get saved in such a manner I was never able to doubt that God had spoken peace to their hearts. Shortly before God first spoke to my soul I saw my sister, three years older than myself, experience this salvation. I distinctly remember how convincing that event was. The same revival season yielded the salvation of many young people and among them was one boy whose expression of joy I shall never forget. It was etched upon my mind so deeply that it became impossible for me to ever doubt that God truly did reach down from Heaven and “save” souls.
On the morning of October 15, 1953, I awoke in the morning and was thinking as I lay upon my bed. That was my tenth birthday.
I had been born on the eleventh birthday of one of my sisters. That sister had been saved on her tenth birthday. I reasoned that if she was saved on her tenth birthday that she first must have been lost. If my sister had been lost on her tenth birthday, then it must be possible that I could be also. With that last thought came the most dreadful sense of fear and condemnation into my heart, and I KNEW that I was lost. The following July approached me with increasing dreadfulness. The annual revival meeting had been scheduled in the summer months with the advent of school consolidation. No longer was it possible for the children to walk from school to the daytime meetings. In our household revival time meant two weeks or more of going to meetings twice a day. I determined to hide the fact that I was a lost sinner. I was small for my age and I had only to lie to a few good Christian people to get through that ordeal. While it was not among my habits to lie, I did so about that. The meeting thus closed with no resolution to my greatest problem.
Realizing what that meant was a horrifying thought to me. I greatly feared I would die before another season of revival came. I never doubted that God would save me as soon as I met the conditions of the Gospel, but I doubted that I could or that I ever would unless it was during a great revival. For a full year it seemed that my lost condition was before me continually. Many nights before I could go to sleep I prayed that God could spare my life until I could be saved.
During that period I had a recurring dream from which I would awake with the greatest fear that I have ever known. The contents of that dream are still somewhat mysterious, but I knew at the time that they were reminders from God that I was lost from Him that not even sleep could remove. Except for the hour in which I made peace with God, the moments following those dreams were the deepest I ever knew in terms of conviction that I was a sinner bound for Hell. I had a grandmother who became formidable to me during that period. I deliberately avoided her all year. I was certain that she would question me about my soul, and I was just as certain that I could not endure that questioning. My grandmother was a skilled burden-bearer, and she was continually praying for me. I did not understand then as I do now how that worked.
All year long I had promised God in my prayers that I would take the very next good opportunity to seek salvation if He would spare my life long enough. The following July such an opportunity came on the second day of revival meeting. When I saw my grandmother coming back to talk to me, I ran out the front door of the church building into the yard. When I realized what a dreadful thing I had done it seemed as if a greater darkness seized my soul, and there I repented of my flight away from the Spirit and power of the Almighty God. I promised with all my soul to do all that was in my power not to run away again if God would give me one more opportunity. I do not remember what happened at the meeting that night. I do remember very vividly that when meeting started about 11:00 the next morning, that hot summer day in July was the darkest day of my life. I do not remember the preaching, but when the altar call came I saw my dear grandmother coming to me again. This time I ran past her and fell on my knees at that old brown bench and cried mightily until God to save me. When I came to myself perhaps fifteen to thirty minutes later, I noticed a friend seeking salvation on the other end of that bench and Christian people praying all around us. My storm of inner trouble was quiet. After nearly two years of suffering such fear and misery, I was not sure what was happening.
As I pondered the situation I felt a strong impulse to stand to my feet. I was afraid to do that because I did not know what to make of such an impression. This recurred perhaps two or three times. Just then the old pastor walked behind me and spoke a few words to me. I have never been able to remember what he said in those few short words, but his words worked like turning on a light in my mind. I suddenly understood that the impression I had been sensing in my heart was the voice of the Holy Spirit that I had often heard the people of God talk about. Just then the same impression came again, and I was instantly and effortlessly on my feet marveling at the brightest day I have ever seen. As I marveled at the brightness of the day someone lose to me asked, “Are you saved?” The answer “Yes!” came out almost involuntarily as someone deep within my soul answered it for ne. With that confession and the realization which produced it, I felt the stirrings of joy begin to well up from deep within until joy overflowed inside and outside. I thank God for that unspeakable joy of that moment which I have never been able to doubt in all the years since that Wednesday about noonday, July 20, 1955.
Elizabeth H. Runner
Members of my family have been a part of Old Union Church for many years. My grandfather and grandmother, William Walter and Lula Elizabeth Hendricks held their membership here from 1931 until death in 1964 and from 1925 until death in 1939. My parents Naldo and Roxie Hendricks became members in July 1944.
I came under conviction at the age of ten in 1945. Each service I attended and each altar call given, I went forth. I recall going only a few times. Brother Luther Stewart was the pastor at Old Union during this period. On a memorable Sunday in which I felt the message was directed to me, I thought I couldn’t wait until he made the altar call. I hurriedly went forward and poured my heart out to God. I was begging the Lord to save me. I felt it had to be today. There were many saints around the altar singing and praying. I often heard my daddy praying and asking the Lord to save his children and grandchildren. As they were singing “I’ll Fly Away,” I left the bench and rejoiced with my Daddy and Mother and others there that day. My burden was gone. I joined Old Union soon afterwards and was baptized at Massey’s Mill. In July, I will have been a member here for fifty-four years [as of 1999]. I have never doubted my salvation. There have been times I have not been as close to the Lord as I should have been and have failed Him many times, but He has never failed me.
I am thankful for my parents who made church a priority in their life and that I was saved at an early age. In doing so, I have had the Lord with me in good times and bad, during my school days, in my profession, as a wife, mother, and grandmother. My advice to young people would be not to put off salvation and live close to the Lord and your life will be happier and more complete.
Wayne Runner
In July 1944, we were in a revival at Rockfield Methodist Church in Rockfield, Kentucky.
Brother Marshall Owens was the preacher. I had sat and listened to the singing, praying, and preaching for several services and began to realize I needed the Lord in my life. I went to the altar and prayed for God to save me, and after a while I knew there was a change in my heart and God saved me.
Following the revival, I was baptized in a pond on Virgil Scott’s farm. I can’t thank God enough for what he has done for me.
Carl Gray Russell
My mother passed away in April 1945, when I was only six years old. I don’t remember too many things about her, except that she was sick often. I do remember the day she died, and how my heart was broken. I’ve been told that she was a good woman and a Christian.
She had her brother-in-law, Brother D.C. Russell, my uncle, summoned to her bedside to request that he would see that her four children were carried to church so they could hear the gospel and be saved.
Since I lived with my grandparents after Mother died, on Uncle Dowell’s farm, I was always handy to be carried to church. I went to many revivals, which lasted most of two weeks and had services twice a day, back then. I was always miserable at revival time, simply because I felt I was being made to go. I guess I kind of rebelled, and wasn’t going to the altar for the right reason.
But as the years went by, I realized that I really needed to do something about my lost condition. I lived with my grandparents until I was twenty-five, when Margaret and I were married. We went to Fairview Church at Woodburn regularly. Even before marriage, I would carry my step-grandmother to church each time they met. She was a charter member.
Through the years, we continued to go to Fairview, although I was a slacker at revival times. I always had a guilty feeling when Margaret, who had been saved years before, went without me. I did continue to go sometimes, though, and the harder I tried to get through, the less I believed I could be saved. I begged and pleaded, to no avail, it seemed. When I had done all I knew to do, and tried to do what others said I needed to do, I decided it was no use. Then a calmness came over me, and I felt as ease, peaceful. They were singing “I Am Bound for the Promised Land,” and I just wanted to get up and sign aloud. However, I went from 1991 to November 2000 before telling it. I was baptized and joined Fairview at that time. I am thankful that I can say it is well with my soul.
John Russell
I don’t remember the specific day I became accountable, but I do remember that it was during a revival at Fairview Missionary Baptist Church in Woodburn, Kentucky. I remember hearing the preacher talk rather loudly about this awful place called Hell. It was the first time that I realized something was wrong. I felt different than I had ever felt before at church. There were already others on the altar seeking the Lord, and my mother through her tears suggested I go and bow with them and seek the Lord. I did that night, and I remember calling out for my mother several times. I thought she could help me, but she came and told me she couldn’t save me. I didn’t get saved that night or any of the following nights of that revival.
I would continue to go to the altar for several years and try everything to get saved. Several others got saved around me over those years, and each time I would try to pray through to the Lord even harder as the house erupted in the Spirit. I was still lost. My conviction would waver over those years, but the Lord was still drawing me to Him. I thank Him for that today. It was during our summer revival in August of 1988, after some ten or eleven years of being lost, that I finally reached the point where I gave up, and the Lord saved me. I went to the altar like I had done hundreds of times before. I left the altar just like I had done hundreds of times before, and went outside. I didn’t notice that my sister Audrey, who had been seeking the Lord for a few years, stayed on the altar. I was outside for a while, just leaning against the car, when I could hear shouting in the church. Conviction hit me like a ton of bricks. Someone came out and announced that Audrey had been saved. I remember thinking my family was going to Heaven, and I would spend eternity in Hell.
I didn’t see any bright lights like had heard others testify of, but that awful feeling disappeared as I prayed, looking up into the night sky. I didn’t say anything when I went back into the church. The preachers and deacons knelt around me in the foyer and prayed with me. My burden was gone, but the Devil put doubt in my mind that salvation wasn’t what I got in the parking lot that night.
I continued to go the altar off and on for another thirteen years. I had accepted that what I felt that night couldn’t have been salvation. Then one day, in June 2001, my former pastor Doug Matthews came by my house for a visit. We sat out on the deck and talked about the Lord. It was revival time at Fairview that year, and I figured he was going to talk to me about seeking the Lord, and that I needed to this taken care of, but he began talking about being disobedient to God. I was struck by this feeling that I needed to tell about what happened the night of August 20, 1988. Tears began to roll down my face as I told Brother Doug about that experience. I finally felt the joy of my salvation that day sitting out back on the deck of our home. I felt that joy and peace again as I told the members of Fairview that night when I joined the church. I was baptized into the church on June 17, 2001. The Lord has blessed me in so many ways and I can never thank Him enough for His love and mercy toward me.
Margaret Ann Gilmer Russell
In 1955 or early 1956 my dad, mom, brother and I began going to church at Fairview Missionary Baptist Church in Woodburn, Kentucky.
Brother Levi Smith was the pastor at that time. The revival was in October that year. Brother D.C. Russell was helping in the revival. I had never felt lost until Wednesday night of that meeting. They had an altar call, but I still did not feel lost. They were singing and shaking hands. When I looked up, I was Mrs. Goldie Clark coming toward me, and at that moment, I knew I was lost. No one had to tell me. I made my way to the altar to seek the Lord. I don’t know how long I was on the altar, but a little after 8:00 P.M., the Lord spoke that sweet peace into my heart.
When I came up from the altar, there was Mrs. Margaret Board. She was a beautiful lady to me as long as she lived. The most beautiful part of all is that sweet peace has been with me ever since that day, October 11, 1956. What the Lord did for me that night is going to take me home some day.
Melanie Gray Russell
I first went to the altar in October 1984 during the annual revival at Beech Grove Missionary Baptist Church in Eighty Eight, Kentucky. Even though I knew I was lost, I did not have a heavy burden. I sent to the altar for seven years, but only during the yearly revival. I really didn’t give my condition much thought the rest of the year. God was exceptionally merciful to me during those seven years. I look back and shudder when I think of how easily I have gone into eternity lost. I let pride, my shyness, and a lot of other distractions keep me in serious jeopardy for a long time. When the revival was in October, I was thinking about the basketball practice I was missing, and when the revival was in July, I was thinking about the softball game I was missing. I continued this way until 1990. Even though I didn’t seriously seek the Lord until the revival, my condition was on my mind much more frequently throughout the year.
In May 1990, a young man in the church was killed in a car wreck. He had been saved during the second revival I spend on the altar. I knew if it had been me I would have been eternally lost. Later that same month we were on our way to a softball tournament and passed a burned car on the side of the road. Again, I realized if I had been in that car, the burning would not have stopped for me even after the fire was extinguished. In August, I was driving and notice how big and orange the moon was that night. Normally, it would have been a beautiful sight, but all I could think about was the verse my mother had made me read several times over the last seven years about the moon turning to blood. Even with that thought, I still didn’t get serious about seeking the Lord until the revival in October.
The revival began on the first Monday in October, and I once again began my trek to the front bench. During the course of seven years, I nearly wore out the front benches on both sides of the church. The service on Wednesday night was a good one. It was evident even to a sinner that the Spirit was present that night, but I still failed to find peace. However, when I left church that night I was more determined than ever to get my situation resolved. The next day, October 11, 1990, was unlike any I had experienced in the previous six years. All day long I seemed to just be going through the motions. I went to class at Western, but my heart and mind were far from that classroom. That night while getting ready for church, I realized it was already Thursday, and the revival would soon be over. I knew I could not endure being left on the altar at the close of another revival.
That night Brother Doug Matthews preached from the sixteenth chapter of Luke about the rich man and Lazarus. When he talked about the rich man being tormented in the flames and begging for just one drop of water to cool his tongue I didn’t hear him reference the rich man. Instead, he was talking about what would happen to me if I continued in my current condition. I had heard many sermons through the years including several from that same text, but I never really “heard” it with my heart until that night. It was as if Brother Matthews and I were the only two people in the building. God sent that message directly to me that night, and I am thankful for it. I later found out my father had told my mother I looked sick during the sermon. I was sick. I had the worst disease imaginable; one that would destroy the soul eternally. That night when I bowed at the altar it was different from all the other times. The congregation was singing and Brother Matthews was kneeling beside me praying, but I quickly became unaware of what was going on around me. I prayed harder than I ever had before, but got nowhere. Without actually saying any words, the thought went through my mind that I would just have to die and go to Hell because after seven years I had done everything I knew to do. I had said that many times before, but never really meant it. I always tried something else soon after I said it. But that night I meant it. I didn’t try anything else. I just surrendered, realizing I had gone as far as I could on my own, and at the moment I finally gave it ALL to God, He saved me. It was as if I had gone away, and when I came back to myself the congregation was still singing the same song. It happened that quickly. After seven years of agonizing, I had been saved before the first song had ended.
Even though I felt pretty certain that I had been saved, I didn’t tell anyone that night. I don’t really know what I was expecting, but I guess that wasn’t it. I had heard people talk about seeing lights and shouting among other things. I didn’t do any of that. I just experienced peace. That night after I got home I was unable to sleep for the first time in seven years. I thought about what had happened, and I thought about being baptized at the end of the revival. My heart was pounding so hard it felt like it would jump out of my chest. The next morning I still didn’t tell anyone. I tried to pray for my soul which did no good because I didn’t need to pray that prayer any longer. I also tried to ask God to help me know for certain. Numerous songs and verses of scripture came to mind throughout the day, especially the 116th Psalm. Every time I read those verses I knew that was my story, too. The pains of Hell had certainly brought much trouble and sorrow to me the night before, but that feeling was gone. Around three o’clock that afternoon I had that pounding in my chest again and finally told my parents what happened. I joined the church that night and was baptized on October5 21, 1990.
Sally Skinner
Conviction hit me with breathtaking force one night during the singing of “O Why Not Tonight?” What joy and (temporary) relief I felt the next morning upon discovering that “Tomorrow’s sun” had risen!
True to my stubborn personality, I refused to seek God for two miserable, terrified years. I feared everything. Ever strong wind was surely a tornado, each airplane overhead must be a bomber (Cold War days), and the red lights across the sky had to be the end of the world…
The service in which I finally yielded and sought God ended with me still lost, but determined to return to the altar and to not leave it again lost. When the evangelist finally stopped preaching the next night, I rushed to the altar and began to earnestly seek God. Much later, out of tears and prayers, I was bowed – waiting. There is a space of time I cannot recall, but the next thing I knew, I was sitting on the altar with my arms around Daddy’s neck. Then the shouting started. And then I realized I was doing the shouting. That expression of joy soon ended, but the peace remains.
Each time I thank God for salvation, I am newly amazed that He extended mercy to this stubborn sinner for so long. Wailing storms sirens and bombing, crashing airplanes do not hold the old terror since that happy day. Maybe God will be merciful and let me see the Northern Lights again.
Stephen Skinner
Sometime during the late fall of 1955 I became accountable before God. Being the child of God-fearing parents, I had been the beneficiary of rich spiritual instruction and, even at nine years old, I planned to be saved.
My plans included going to the altar at church, probably during a revival. I had witnessed many people doing that and then being saved. In fact, I promised myself that the first time I felt like going to the altar, I would do so. That, of course, would be some time when I was older.
The condemnation never occurred at church, but did so constantly at home. Finally, on Saturday evening, February 25, 1956, I acknowledged to my mother that I was not saved. She knew that I hadn’t been saved, but understood that I was under conviction. My parents, and another couple from church whom I had requested to come to our house, prayed with me. I did everything I could think of to get saved. When I had tried everything and was still lost, I began to look to the One who was drawing me: the One who soon was to become my dearest friend.
Sometime around 11:00 P.M., coming to the end of my struggle, surrendering my will to God, while bowed under the dining room table, an (I believe) inaudible cry came from my deepest being – “Lord, I’ll do anything if you’ll save me, even to preach!” With that cry came eternal peace with God.
God DID NOT call me to preach that evening. In fact, I pretty well forgot that. That is, until the first Wednesday evening in July that same year. During the prayer that was always offered between Prayer Meeting and Business Meeting at True Hope Missionary Baptist Church, my head was bowed on the back of the seat in front of me. Most vividly, my mind, heart, and soul were inundated with the words, “But to preach!” Those words came as a belated, but very sudden, exclamation of those words that had ended this sinner’s please to God – “…even to preach.”
Bessie Daniel Smith
I was saved in the July revival in 1947. I was in my early twenties and had gone to the altar for years. For some reason, that night seemed a little different. Brother Overton’s message was mostly to the Christians, but it hit me more than usual.
I went to the altar, don’t know how long I was there. There were a few seconds I can’t explain. The next thing I remember was I was up hugging everybody. I can remember thinking, “Why didn’t I do that a long time ago?” When Brother Overton asked me how I felt, I told him, “I don’t feel a thing. It’s just like I’m walking on air.”
I joined the church a couple of days later and was baptized on Sunday at the close of the revival by Brother W.R. Overton in Drakes Creek.
Monica Rhea Smith
In the summer of 1997, I was 10 years old. The night of July 20, I was at Old Union Missionary Baptist Church revival. Brother Herbert Vanderpool was our pastor. During the revival, Brother Paul Bryson was the pastor was helping preach. Brother Vanderpool preached that night. I felt like a ton of bricks was on my chest at butterflies were in my stomach. Many people had come to talk to me about my soul. I was sitting in the middle of the church. I felt like was lost. I started praying in my seat. My mother asked me if wanted to go to the altar and I said no the first time. Then, later, I felt that I needed to go to the altar. I felt as if I was being pushed by hundreds of hands. I knelt down at the first spot that I came to and started praying. I was on the altar when I looked up and smiled at my mom and sister. My sister started shouting and my mom said, “Be sure.” I already knew I was sure. God had put a wonderful peace it my heart when he saved my soul. I joined the church and was baptized at Middle Fork of Drakes Creek, Gillis Goodrum Bridge. Since then I have attended Old Union Missionary Baptist Church.
Tenito Smith
All of my life, I had attended Old Union Missionary Baptist Church, and I knew what it was to be lost, and of the saving power of the Lord. Brother Vanderpool was our pastor. I was probably lost sooner than I admitted. When Mrs. Margaret Board and Brother Vanderpool would slowly start to the back of the church to speak to a lost person, I would think to myself, “Please don’t let it be me.” The Lord must have been placing a burden in my heart then. But one night, the Lord got hold of my heart and there was nothing that could have stood in the way of my going to the altar. I felt every aspect of my life was a shambles. I begged the Lord to save me and take away all the bad feelings in my heart. I hadn’t been up at the altar very long when a peace came to me. But the bad side is that the Devil comes to you and puts doubts in your heart. I didn’t share my blessings with anyone. The next day I told my mom that I was saved. She said I should tell my dad. I was standing behind my dad not even looking at him. I simply said I was saved, not even in a rejoicing way again. The next night I joined the church. When I was asked to give my testimony, all I said was that I was saved and wanted to join the church. Brother Vanderpool baptized me at Massey Mill Bridge on Drakes Creek.
What I did all those years was cheat myself out of a blessing. I would not give all the glory to God by truly sharing my salvation experience with everyone. I did not honor God for many years. Then one night at church, the Lord gave me such a burden to tell my experience that I let the Lord use me the way that I should have the night that I was saved. What a blessing I finally had from letting the Lord guide me when I gave my testimony.
Remember to wait on the convicting power of the Lord. Let no one tell you to accept Christ. REMEMBER that you have to get your heart into a condition so the Lord will accept you. The Lord is the only one who can tell you that you are lost and can tell you that he has forgiven you and saved your soul. Pray earnestly to the Lord to use you after you are saved. When he speaks to you in a still small voice, your life is changed forever. It is such a privilege to have the Lord be with you. Remember this and pass it on from generation to generation.
Ruth Smith
When I was going to grade school at Plano, Plano Baptist Church was having a revival and they met in afternoon services. When I got under conviction and was saved during one of those revivals, I was almost grown. I didn’t join the church then, but I did a little later, and was baptized at Massey’s Mill Bridge in the creek below-this was Drake, Kentucky.
I stayed a member at Plano for several years. Then, later, we started going to Old Union. They ordained Steve Wheeler as a deacon and Mary Loyce became the pianist. Brother Paul Bryson became pastor over there at Old Union in 1978 – 1984. During that time, I joined there, and I am still a member. I am satisfied with my move, and I thank the good Lord for saving me and my family. I thank him for saving Brad and Mark, and for Brad accepting his call to preach. I pray that Mark will soon get his education finished. They are real good boys.
I am praying for everybody and I love everyone.
Nancy Hayes Spicer
I began attending Old Union Missionary Baptist Church when I was 5 years old. My mother and father, Pauline and “Red” Hayes, were faithful to attend and take me to church. At that time the preaching services were held only half the time, but we attended every time that services were open.
I remember first feeling accountable for my sins at age nine. Every time I would attend preaching services, I felt as if a ten-ton rock was sitting on my chest. I went to the altar the first time that I felt conviction. Although I thought I was praying earnestly, I could not find any relief.
When I was eleven years old, I attended a Bible School with the family whom I stayed with while my parents worked. This was a Bible School at a local Methodist church. While at classes, the pastor asked for a show of hands from those who were not saved. I of course raised my hand and we were told to remain after dismissal. The pastor talked to us and asked us questions. The questions were: Do you believe that Jesus is the Son of God? Do you believe that Jesus died for your sins? Do you believe what the Bible teaches? Of course, anyone who has been raised in church believes these things. When we answered “yes,” we were told that we had just been saved.
I told my parents that night what had happened and they told me to wait and see how I felt the next time I went to our church. That next Sunday, I immediately knew that I had not been saved and that the pastor at the Methodist church had deceived me. My parents were very wise. They knew that the Lord would deal with me, and they also knew that if they tried to tell me that I had been deceived, I would not have listened to them.
At that time, our summer revivals ran for two weeks with day and night services. We never missed a night service, but could not attend the day services due to my parents working. One night, the family that I had attended Bible School with came to the services. When the altar call was given, I did not go up for it because I was afraid that I would hurt their feelings. I knew that they thought I had been saved at their Bible School. I’ll never forget that night, because the weight on my chest had grown double.
The first week of this revival had gone by without anyone professing salvation. The attendance was good and all of us sinners had gone to the altar. On the second Sunday night, July 25, 1958, I had been on the altar around one and a half hours when someone came and told me that Barbara Ferguson, one of my friends, had gone to the altar. This was Barbara’s first time to go. About five minutes later, someone came and whispered in my ear that Barbara had just gotten saved. I remember thinking that it sure did seem easy for her, and that it was being so hard for me. That’s when I realized that I had not believed and trusted that God would save me. I felt unworthy of His saving grace and knew that He could not love me enough to save someone who had sinned as greatly as I had. At that exact moment the choir was singing “Love Lifted Me.” All of a sudden, the peace I had been seeking washed over me and I felt as if I was being thrown off the altar. Love really did lift me from the altar. The first thing I remember seeing is my sister-in-law’s, Martha’s face and the grief on it. I told that I had been saved. That night there was a total of five saved and the next week held great services for Old Union. One night, there were so many saved that they began lining them up across the front of the church so everyone could shake their hands and rejoice with them. I was baptized on August 1, 1958 by Elder H.C. Vanderpool at Drakes Creek. Of the twenty-eight baptized that day, I believe I am the only one who is still attending Old Union. Others have gone on to their Heavenly reward, some have stopped attending any church and some attend other churches.
During the years since my being saved, I have had times of great rejoicing with the Lord and I have had times that I have drifted from God. I regret those years of drifting. It was me who went away from God; He was always with me. My life was never happy during those years and is only happy when I try to be close to God and work for Him.
Dumont Stringer
I grew up in the Hillsdale community of Simpson County. There was a Baptist church on one side of the road and a Methodist church on the other. They had one preaching service each month. My mother and dad, my grandmother and grandfather belonged to the Baptist church. My great-grandmother belonged to the Methodist church, so we attended both churches. The Methodist church had an altar where the lost sinners could come and repent and be saved.
The churches had union revivals at that time. In August of 1930, I was fourteen years old. During that revival, I went to the altar and was saved. I didn’t know how to repent and be saved. I just knew I was lost and wanted to be saved. A quiet peace came over me. I had hardly gotten out of the church when the Devil came to me and told me, you have made a big mess of everything. I joined the Baptist church at Hillsdale and was baptized. The Devil kept working on me, telling me I might not be saved, and not to take a big hand in church work or lead in public prayers.
Hazel and I married in 1938. I still belonged to Hillsdale and she to Old Union. We attended both churches some. When Phyllis was born and grew up, she was saved and joined Old Union. I joined Old Union at that time. The Devil kept working on me, trying to hinder my church work. It came to me several years later: if I hadn’t been saved at that time, why was the Devil working so hard on me? That is one of the best proofs that I had been saved. The Devil will never stop trying to hinder you, but with God’s help, you can overcome him.
Hazel Galloway Stringer
I was saved during the revival of the year 1930 at Old Union Church.
They were having both afternoon and evening services. I had gone to church all my life, and it had never entered my mind that I needed to be saved. I was twelve years old. But one night, the preacher started telling about what would happen to people after death if we didn’t know the Lord. I realized I was lost. I was standing by the organ crying, when Sister Stewart came to me and asked me if I was lost, and I said yes. She said, “Let’s go to the altar and pray about it.” I went with her and I wasn’t a very quiet mourner. I called out to the Lord. I was saved during that meeting.
The night I was saved, I thought about my dad, who had never told anyone he was saved. I went with Uncle George Meador to talk to my dad about being saved. He said the Lord saved him when he was fifteen years old at Mount Vernon Church, but the Devil had tried to convince him that nothing happened, so he never told anyone. My dad, my oldest sister, my oldest brother, and I were baptized at the end of that revival. Our home was changed as a result of that meeting.