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.
Marsha A. Thornton
I remember being invited to a summer revival. Brother Paul Bryson was the pastor then, and I think the year was 1982.
I went to church for several nights, and one night I went to the mourner’s bench, but I was not saved that night. I think I still didn’t know what being saved really was. I felt so bad and burdened after that I almost didn’t go back to church, but I did.
The next time I went to the mourner’s bench, I remember praying, and then I stood up and said I was saved. They say I had the sweetest smile on my face, but then quilt set in. I felt I had said something that was not true. I cried and prayed for forgiveness.
The next day I went to work. I still was burdened. I remember praying, and then this thought same to mind: this is just me and not God thinking this way. Then a sweet peace came over me. I felt so good that day. I remember talking to a stranger as though I had known that person for a lifetime.
Travis Tims
The best night of my life is easy to remember! It was the night God saved my soul. For a long time my family would go to different churches if they were invited by a church member or pastor. It’s not that I hated church when I was younger, but I thought it wasn’t that important. My mother and father always wanted the best for me while I was growing up. My family started going to a small country church by invitation of an old-time friend that was now the pastor. My sister and I got involved in Sunday school and really enjoyed the teenagers there who were our age.
I remember one night during Vacation Bible School, the pastor sat down with all the young kids. Everyone began asking questions. Suddenly the topic of salvation came up. I honestly didn’t know what salvation was. The pastor explained how it was necessary for life with God in Heaven. I remember the pastor talking about how everyone could be saved if they would just accept God in the heart. The next thing I remember is a small boy going up to the pastor. They talked for a moment and he smiled. He announced, “I just got saved.” I couldn’t understand how, but I knew he was younger than me. I remembered telling myself that if he could do it, I should be old enough to accept God in my heart. I walked up front that night and accepted God for salvation. Later that night I told my parents, and they were proud of me. I was in high school at the time.
A couple of years later, I met a young lady and started dating her. One Sunday, she asked me to go to her church. I thought to myself, she had great parents and her church would be no different than the one I was attending. I believe it was a night during revival. What happened at the revival is hard for me to talk about with words. That night I realized something for the first time. After the message, a couple of people started telling their testimonies. I noticed my salvation was different than theirs. They shared an experience with God, and I thought about mine. My experience wasn’t with God. It was with a man that told me the words to say to be saved. That night I realized I was lost. I had no experience with God.
I remember one night after that night at Old Union’s revival, in my room with the girl I was dating. I remember her saying I needed to pray and get an answer from God. Only God could settle that uneasy feeling I had, she said. That night in my room I had an experience with God. I didn’t say any magic words or repeat a prayer. At the time it seemed so hard, but I simply met God that night, and he gave me unspeakable peace. I didn’t scream out loud. I didn’t smile. That night I cried with God. I didn’t know what salvation was till that moment.
I often go back to that first experience, when I thought I was saved with that pastor, and the little country church. My love for the people at that church will never leave. I hope and pray they have the same salvation I now have. I have a great burden for people who need the truth: that there is only one way to salvation. For that night in my room, something happened to me that I’ll never forget. That night God accepted me and saved me, giving me a friend I can always humbly call on.
“Lean on God and you will never fall.”
Laura Lee Tomlin
March 6, 1982 was the day the Lord saved my soul. I was raised in a loving Christian home and God’s presence in my life up until that day, I took for granted. As a child I just always knew He was there for me if I needed Him, much like my Mom and Dad. But as I grew I became more inquisitive about God and my relationship with Him.
As a kid, I spent a lot of time in the home of my Aunt Joanne and Uncle Ken Collins. This was also a good Christian home full of love and support. I always looked up to my cousin, Nicole, as she was older and wiser in my eyes. One day, Nicole and I had a discussion about religion in general. As the conversation progressed my conviction grew by the minute and the burden of sin hit me like a freight train. I knew I couldn’t spend another day with the burden I felt. Nicole and I went downstairs and asked Aunt Joanne to pray with us. Aunt Joanne sat in a rocking chair and I knelt with my head in her lap. And the three of us prayed, sometimes out loud, sometimes in silence for what seemed like an eternity to my eleven year old soul. The instant God saved me was unquestionable. I stood up and shouted. Then, the three of us hugged and cried some more until I thought I was going to burst at the seams. I wanted to call Mom and Dad right way and tell them the great news. I still remember the joy and relief in Mom’s voice as I shouted through the phone, “I’ve been saved!” At that moment she knew she’d led five children to the Lord and each of them had received the greatest gift of salvation.
It’s amazing how vividly I remember the sights, sounds, smells, and emotions of that day twenty-three years ago. And as I grow older, I’m forever humbled by the realization that God saw fit to save me, just a skinny little girl full of flaws and sure to disappoint Him as life rolls on. But His love is too astounding for words. And I have a little piece of it right here in my heat, always.
Alta Maynard Vanderpool
I grew up in Smith County, Tennessee, near Carthage. My dad was a tenant farmer. We moved into the community of Enigma. I was thirteen years old at the time. We did not live close to a church. There was not a Baptist church in the community, but there was an old-fashioned Presbyterian church.
It was too far to walk to church and we had no transportation other than to walk. But during the summer and fall when revivals were in progress, my dad and other neighbors would load up the farm wagon and we all went to revival services.
It was on a Thursday night at the old-fashioned Presbyterian Church where I went to the altar to pray. I didn’t get saved the first night, but I was very troubled. So, the next night, my dad took the farm wagon, and our family and our neighbors went to the revival. I got saved that night. I’m so thankful for that time, and that I had a dad and mom, Audon and Audie (Greer) Maynard, who put forth extra efforts for me to hear the gospel and be saved.
I didn’t join that church because I was never led to do so. I understand why now, because I know the Baptist church is the true church.
The next year, we moved into a community where there was an old-fashioned Baptist church. It was close enough to walk to services. So, every Sunday, our family went to church and Sunday school. This was Caney Fork Missionary Baptist Church. When the pastor, Brother Henry Oldham, gave an invitation for members, I joined that church and was baptized on August 11, 1940 in Caney Fork River in Smith County, Tennessee, at the age of fifteen.
We enjoyed the little church very much. This was also the place where I met my wonderful husband, H. C. Vanderpool. We have enjoyed almost 57 years together [as of 1999]. We had a wonderful son, two granddaughters, and all have been saved. One wonderful granddaughter, Dawn Vanderpool Smith, has gone on to be with the Lord. She left a thirteen-month-old son, Benjamin Kyle Smith. We are so thankful for him, and we hope and pray that he will be saved when he becomes accountable. Thank the Lord for all His great blessings!
I was born October 4, 1923, the eldest of five children, to Garland Butler Vanderpool and Essie Durham Vanderpool. This was in the 22nd civil district of Smith County, Tennessee. Our home was the old homestead of our family since 1795, the same year Old Union Baptist Church was organized.
My paternal grandmother, Eliza Rittenberry Vanderpool, had passed away a few years before I was born. My grandfather, Robert Lee “Bob” Vanderpool, continued to live at this old homestead and farm where my dad and mom were now living.
My parents and grandfather were my first teachers. In the home and on the farm, at an early age, I heard them read the Bible, sing religious songs, and heard them pray. These devoted lives left an influence upon my heart and life that remains to this present day.
About one mile east of our home was a little place of public worship. This was Caney Fork Seminary Missionary Baptist Church, which was a small, one-room, white framed building. It still stands today with full-time services each week. I was taken to Sunday school and church, and always sat in the Amen comer with my dad and grandfather.
As I began to grow up, I asked my dad one day while out in the field plowing, when I should go up to the altar to pray. (I had been seeing boys, girls, men and women doing this from time to time, not knowing why they did.) Dad said he couldn’t tell me when to go, as he could not know. I loved my parents and trusted them so much that I thought he had the answer to this important question. He said that I would know. I didn’t understand. He asked me why I would come home from school and go to the kitchen and get something to eat. I told him I did that because I was hungry. Then he asked me who told me that I was hungry. And my answer was that no one told me I was hunger because I knew I was, because I felt hungry. And that precious dad said, “Son, when you become accountable to God and need that spiritual food, He by the Holy Spirit will let you know.” Then he asked me that when I was eating something, who told me when I was full and satisfied. And I said, “Daddy, I know when I’m full and no one has to tell me I’m satisfied.” He replied, “Son, when you become accountable, God will let you know. When you pray and ask Him to save you, and you trust Him with all your heart, He will save you and you will know it and will have peace and will be satisfied.”
Time moved on and the first Sunday in September, 1935, just a few days before my twelfth birthday, a revival meeting began at Caney Fork Church with Elder Paul Wilburn, the pastor, doing the preaching. On Thursday, September 5, 1935, I was seated in the Amen comer. I was doing fine during the church services. When Brother Wilburn gave an altar call and asked the congregation to stand and sing, in a moment of time I realized I was lost, the feeling that Daddy had told me about, and I headed for the altar. Oh! How terrible and condemned I felt. I had been taught how to live to be honest, not to lie, not curse, not to drink alcoholic beverages, to be obedient to my parents, to my school teacher, to treat other people the way I would want to be treated. Yet, I felt to be the meanest person in the world because I realized for the first time in my life I was separated from God!
I don’t know if others were on the altar or not. They stayed and prayed with me after services were dismissed. They talked with me and continued to sing. And finally, everyone began to leave and then we walked home. When we got home, I didn’t go in the house to eat dinner. I went around the house and went up into an apple orchard behind the house where I spent the afternoon under conviction and praying, wanting to be saved.
Time arrived to go back to the night service. I still was not hungry and didn’t eat. Again, I sat in the Amen comer beside my dad. When the altar call was made, I didn’t go all the way across the altar where I had prayed that day, but I just went around the end of the bench in front of me and fell down there to pray.
The altar, as always, was filled with God’s people singing, praying and talking with the lost. Finally, services were dismissed and many left church to go home. But I was so convicted and in agony, I told the Lord that if everyone there should leave and blow out all the old oil lamps on the walls, and leave me in total darkness, because I was already in spiritual darkness that I was not going to leave. I felt that this was the only time I would have to be saved. I also determined in my heart that if I didn’t get saved during the night that I would still be there when sunrise came the next morning. It was then that I fully surrendered to the Lord and put my trust in him, and he saved my soul. Again, I felt just like daddy told me I would, and God so blessed me that I shouted all over that little church.
When we all went outside, before going home, I stood looking up at the beautiful moon and I had never seen it so beautiful and bright. Years later in my ministry, II Corinthians 5: 17, has been one of my favorite scriptures. Paul said, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”
The following night, I united with Caney Fork Church and I was baptized by Brother Paul Wilburn into the fellowship of the church on Sunday, September 8,1935. My ministry has been for 51 years, May 2, 1948 – May 2, 1999. All that I may have been able to do for the Lord would not take me to Heaven. But, one day I’ll be going to meet the Lord and the saints of all ages, because of what the Lord did for me on that Thursday night.
Beverly Wells
In January 1951, my older brother and I were sent as usual to church by our mom, who was at home with our younger brother, to Walnut Street Baptist Church. While there, something took a hold of my heart and I almost ran up to the pastor and told him of the great sadness and then the great warmth of a powerful love in my heart. I asked to be baptized, and I was that very day. That great love has never left me. Sometimes in the dark times of life, I have felt the dark, but the great light of salvation is always there. Thank you, God.
Bob Wells
In 1947 Brother Bryant Houchens and Brother Rigdon were conducting a revival at Plano Baptist Church. I was eleven years old at the time. I realized that I was lost and started going to the mourners’ bench. After several days and nights of misery and many prayers from my parents and the members of the church, the good Lord saved my soul. Praise the Lord.
Martha Ozie Wells
I was at Old Union before I was a teenager. I didn’t go to the mourners’ bench. I felt in my heart I was lost, but my mother was there at the church, and I knew she didn’t believe that way. There were several other people there who came and talked to me. Brother Massey was the preacher at the church. Mr. Henry Goad took me and my mom to the revival. My mother was a member of the Christian Church at Richpond.
After I married Lewis I got saved at Old Union, but didn’t join the church until later. I was baptized at the end of State Street by Brother Massey. My home has been Old Union for a while.
Patsy Wells
I am Patsy Wells and when the Lord saved me, I was fourteen years old. The revival started on Sunday, July 20, 1947. Brother Darrell Russell assisted Brother Overton. During the message on Sunday night, I thought Brother Russell had singled me out and was preaching to me. This is when the Lord convicted my soul. We didn’t have altar call that night or the next afternoon and night. The first altar call was on Tuesday afternoon and I was one of the first ones to go. No one had to invite me. The Lord had already made me know I had to go. I had the same fear most have: I was afraid something would happen to me before the Lord saved my soul. I went back to the altar two more times. On that Wednesday afternoon, Mrs. Georgia Meador had talked to me, and Mrs. Margaret Board, two very dedicated sisters in encouraging us to seek the Lord. There were several others telling me to keep praying and not give up. Mama was at work and I wanted to be saved when she was there, but the Lord had another plan. When I turned it all over to the Lord, He blessed my soul with the sweetest peace. It grows sweeter every day. On August 3, 1947, I followed our Lord in baptism and became a member of this dear old church.
Bradley A. Wheeler
I remember myself as a six- or seven-year-old boy asking my parents, “When will I know that I am saved?” I was brought up in church and I must have heard the preacher talk about being saved and lost. My parents responded by telling me, “God will show you.” Which bothered me even then, because I felt they did not answer my question. The next question that I posed was “How will I know that I am saved?” Their response bothered me even more because, once again, they answered with “God will show you.” I am very thankful for those answers even until this day.
God first revealed to me that I was lost in 1981. My grandfather, whom I loved very much, had just passed away, so death was actually real to me at that young age. He departed this life peacefully leaning up against a tree on the farm that he had labored upon so many years. My family and I had just moved from Bowling Green to Alvaton to live on that very farm. I had spent the day playing with my cousin, who lived down the road, and I walked her halfway home and proceeded back to the farmhouse. As I passed near the place where my grandfather had passed from this life, the burden of my sins fell upon me. I felt a heavy pain in my soul, and the only way that I can describe this feeling is that it was as if God was placing his hand down upon me and pressing all my being to the ground. I had experienced pain, because I was dealing with the loss of my grandfather, but not like this pain. The loss of someone you love is difficult at any age, especially to a small boy, but the pain of me being in a sinful condition and accountable to an almighty God was far greater than the pain of losing my grandfather. At this moment, I realized that if I were to die that minute that I would not spend eternity in Heaven with him nor would I ever see him again.
I knew that my dad was out plowing the tobacco ground and I ran with tears in my eyes to try and find relief from the feeling I felt. I had always gone to my father for everything. I ran and met him in the field as fast as my feet could carry me. He turned off the tractor and got down. He was concerned because of the way that I was crying. He asked me if I was stung by bees or if something scared me. He asked me if all these physical things could have happened to me when all I really wanted him to say was, “Are you lost?” After I realized that he was not going to ask me that question, I knew that I would have to tell him. However, I was like the Old Testament leper that went to the waters, but only went in six times and not seven. I told him that I thought I was lost, fully aware that I was lost. He responded by asking if I wanted to pray. So we got down in that same substance I will return to some day and prayed together. I was glad that we prayed together, but I knew then that he could not save me. I knew then that it would have to be God. For the next two years, I ran from the Lord.
Two years later, the summer revival was coming up and God was starting to deal with me more. The church was praying for the lost and I knew it because I felt it. There were twenty or more young people my age that were lost. As the first week went on, many of those young people were being saved and I was being left behind. I wanted to be saved, but I didn’t want anyone to know I was lost. One night after the message, the preacher (either Brother Paul Bryson or Brother Neil Forshee) had the altar call. I knew I had to do something. If I went up front, then everyone would know I was lost. But if I got up and left the building, then everyone would know I was lost. So I decided to go to the bathroom. If I could just go to the bathroom, lock the door, and regain my composure, I would be okay in a few minutes. However, when I looked down the aisle there was a line of about four people waiting on that same restroom. I had to stand there and wait.
While I was waiting, a young lady named Lisa Bowles touched the back of my shoulder and asked me the question, “Are you lost?” When the Lord leads, it is important that we follow what God wants us to do. A simple question, at the right moment, will break a lost sinner. I broke falling on the floor, calling on God for mercy. She then asked me if I wanted to go to the altar, and the place that I had dreaded for so long looked now to be a good place to pray. I prayed that night still not truly relying on the Lord. I did everything that I had ever heard anyone do in a testimony. I pounded the bench, screamed out loud; I was under the bench and over the bench, praying as hard as I could. But you see, I was trying to work or it. I was trying to do something within my merit and power to save myself. I was trying to make God save me. I would have done anything at that point. I would have been baptized one hundred times, and accepted Christ two hundred times. I wanted God’s peace and would have done anything to get it. That night, I went home in the same condition that I had come to church – lost. The next night I came back with a different attitude. The Lord, the previous night, let me know that I could not save myself and if He was to give me peace I would have to fall on His mercy, truly repent of my sins, and believe. I was very quietly praying on the altar. Sister Linda Roark came around to talk to me. She told me about Christ and what He had done for me. She told me my sins were guilty of His death. She told me I was the one for which He had died and Christ had done that in His love for me. I began to pray and there was a space of time that I do not remember, but all of a sudden I could not pray anymore. I just felt a quiet still in my soul. Was this it? Had I found God? The service dismissed that night and I grabbed Mom’s hands to talk with her outside. I told her that I felt better, but she told me that she could not tell me that I was saved. I asked her to get Brother Bryson. We talked for a while and I had an overwhelming urge to hug his neck. When I did, it was beautiful. I had never felt such joy, love, and peace. I hugged everyone and cried tears of joy for the first time in my life feeling the release from my two years of running. What a wonderful night that it was, even as I look back many years later. Tears of joy and happiness still flow when I think about that night.
The Lord has since called me into the ministry. My prayer for you is that all who read these testimonies, maybe in very distant places, after I am long gone to praise and thank my Lord for how He delivered me, will find that same joy and peace I found that night.
Hebrews 8: 11 “And they shall not teach every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest.”
Mark Wheeler
I was saved when I was nine years old. The night I realized I was lost was either a Sunday night service or a Wednesday night service. It was a regular preaching service and Brother Reynolds asked if anyone had any testimonies before dismissal. Someone in the congregation requested a song. During this song, I knew without a doubt I was lost. Conviction set in so deeply and instantly there was no way to deny it. After this song, the service dismissed and I ran, with tears pouring down my face, up to the front of the church where my mom and dad where sitting, and hugged my dad. He asked me what was wrong and I did not want to tell him. I do not remember if I did tell him or if he knew, but I remember us going to the center altar and praying. I do not remember how long I prayed that night, but I did not get saved.
Spring revival was coming up. I do not remember for sure how long it was from this night to spring revival, but I do remember this revival. Every night I practically ran to the altar as soon as the altar call was made. I do not remember one word any of the preachers said, because the burden was so heavy, I just remember wanting the preaching to be fast so I could get up to the altar. We went to every service, and I went to the altar every night and prayed as hard as I thought I could and as long as I thought I could every night, but I arrived at the last night of the revival as lost as I was the first night. One night I was walking out the doors of the church and Mr. Hargis told me not to give up. Shamefully, the first thought that came into my mind was, “That was easy for you to say.”
The night before the last night of the revival, I had a dream. My family and I were sitting in a dark dirt-floor jail cell on the floor. Someone came to the door and let my father, mother, and brother, who were all saved, out of the jail. The door slammed shut and there I was by myself. I watched the three of them in silhouette walk up a dirt street until they were out of sight. I woke up absolutely terrified by this dream going into the last night of revival. The last night for the scheduled revival was Sunday night. I came into that meeting tired, desperate, and scared I would leave the meeting lost. I thought to myself, “I cannot leave that altar tonight without getting this worked out.”
I do not know how long I prayed that night, but I think it was late into the night. I remember being so desperate and helpless, but at the moment that I totally gave in and promised God everything in my life, I was saved. For me, the burden had been so heavy. Salvation released that burden and gave me an overwhelming feeling of relief. Then I leaned over to my dad and told him I was saved, and I remember the shouts of my mother filling the church and me walking around amongst everyone as they hugged me. I remember the feeling as light as a feather, bouncing from person to person being hugged and embraced while everyone was crying.
That night I had a dream similar to the dream I had before. My family was in the same jail cell except instead of dark it was light. Someone came to unlock the door and we were all released and all walked up the road together into the distance.
Mary Loyce Wheeler
When I was about eight years old, my family and I were attending Plano Baptist Church. In October of that year, Plano was carrying on a revival. The first night, I felt I might be lost. The conviction wasn’t very strong so I didn’t go to the altar. However, the next night, the conviction was so bad I got to the altar and started praying as quickly as I could. In fact, I don’t remember going to the altar, but’ I was there, pouring my heart out to God to save me. I realized that if I died in the condition I was in, my soul would be in Hell. I didn’t get saved that night, and I went home and was afraid to go to sleep.
The next day, I went to Alvaton School, still very much troubled and lost. All the other kids were out to recess, but I was under so much conviction that I stayed in the classroom at my desk. My desk was in the row next to the windows, and there I prayed. I wanted to get as close to God as I could. I remember reaching up to Him with my heart and my mind. When I was finally able to ask Him to save me and believe that He would, He reached down and removed that terrible fear and burden and replaced it with a calming peace. What a great change had occurred in only a matter of seconds, once I completely trusted in Him. I immediately jumped up and told my teacher, who had just entered the room. I also yelled out the window to my cousin, Coy Allen, Jr., who was playing in the schoolyard, that the Lord had just saved me there at Alvaton School.
I didn’t join the church at Plano and shortly after that, we started attending Old Union Missionary Baptist Church. I joined there and was baptized when I was twelve years old.
I appreciate Brother Howard Taylor, who was carrying on the revival at Plano when I got under conviction, and Brother William Overton, who baptized me into Old Union. I also appreciate family and friends who prayed for me during the short time I was lost. But most of all, I appreciate and thank my Lord who saved me with a most glorious and everlasting peace that passeth all understanding.
Steven Allen Wheeler
God’s love is something that I am unable to fully understand. He knew that I was unworthy of His love. He knew that I would fail in my service to Him. He knew that I would fail in my service to His church. He knew that I would fail in my fellowship with my brothers and sisters in Christ. He knew that I would fail in my role as a husband. He knew that I would fail in my role as a father. He knew that I was a sinner. He knew that even after He saved me that I would only be a sinner saved by grace. Yet, my Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ, died on a cross and shed His blood so that I could be saved and avoid my just reward. With so much failure on my part, it is such a blessing to be in the hands of a Savior who will provide the final everlasting victory. His grace allows me to partly understand His love. I so love Him, who first loved you and me.
The Holy Spirit revealed to me, when I was under deep conviction, if I died in the condition of being lost without a personal relationship with God, then God would for all eternity turn His back on me. There would be no light, only darkness. There would be no love, only suffering. There would be no hope, only despair.
My family did not attend church on a regular basis when I was young. I am not sure of the reason. My mother taught God to me even as a baby from His Holy Bible. My father, Darrell M. Wheeler had been saved as a young man at a revival at Mt. Lebanon Missionary Baptist Church. My mother, Wanda Louise Sledge was saved as a young woman while attending Greenhill Methodist Church. My future step-father, William Thomas Sledge was saved as a young man at Bays Fork Missionary Baptist Church. At the time of my salvation, we were living in Hopkinsville, Kentucky. We were extremely poor and as a child, my health was bad. Occasionally, my mother, brother, sister and I would attend a large General Baptist church located in downtown Hopkinsville.
While attending a vacation bible school at the General Baptist church, I remember a lady discussing Jesus with a group of us young people. The Holy Spirit used something she said to cause me to consider my soul’s condition for the first time. I do not remember her name and I do not remember what she said, but from that time until I was saved, I felt condemned. At the time, I didn’t know what it was, but I knew something wasn’t right between God and myself. I am thankful for God’s plan of salvation, and that God can deal with the inward secret part of even a small ignorant boy.
I was under conviction for several months, it seemed. Searching for answers, searching for God, without success. I remember crying myself to sleep, afraid to go to sleep, that if I died in my sleep I would be lost. My mother, all of the time trying to instruct me and comfort me. At the time I felt all alone. Looking back on it now, I am sure there were people praying for me. However, I did not have the blessing of a-church like Old Union. I am truly thankful that God can save a person whenever and wherever His conditions are met. Those conditions of leadership of the Holy Spirit, conviction, hearing the word, complete surrender to God’s will, repentance of sin, God’s grace were all things that happened to me. They are all a part of God’s love for you and me.
I was a very shy young boy. I never wanted to attract attention from anyone. I was happiest when people ignored me. I wanted God to save me privately. I had told Him I would do anything, if He would just save me. God had given me the impression that if He saved me, I would have to publicly stand for Him. I refused. One Sunday morning in church service while singing a hymn, that same impression came to me again. If I was going to be saved, I must be willing to give up everything, trust in Jesus and follow Him. At that moment in time I surrendered all to Him and He saved me. I was still standing holding the songbook, but I don’t think I was singing. Time seemed to stop; the very large dark church building seemed to turn very bright. That small, shy, poorly dressed I am sure, ten-year-old boy walked to the front of that very large group of people and told them that he had been saved and wanted to be baptized. My voice was very soft, my speech was very simple, my words were very few, but God walked up there with me and has been with me until this very moment.
I have the assurance that God will be with me when I cross over Jordan. I look forward to spending eternity in Heaven with my Savior, Jesus Christ.
I am so thankful that I was saved at that time. Shortly after being saved, my world as a child was turned upside down. My father left us. My parents were soon divorced. Some very hard times lay ahead. However, God was always there with me. Soon I met Mary Loyce, and through her, Old Union Missionary Baptist Church. I grew up in and had been baptized into the Methodist church. Even as a young person, in reading the bible, I could not understand the inconsistency of what the Bible said and some of the practices of the Methodist church. When I first attended Old Union my spirit burned for joy within me. God had led me to the “Old Ship of Zion.” When I listened to Brother Vanderpool preach from the Word, I knew this was a church like Christ set up. After several years I could no longer resist God’s leadership and I joined Old Union Church and received proper baptism. Through Old Union and God’s grace, our sons Brad and Mark have been saved.
I thank God for salvation, I thank God for His Church, and I thank God for his many blessings. “And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto His Heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.”
Carol Yokley Wheet
I think I was about eleven years old when I felt I was lost. I was in a revival at Maple Grove Missionary Baptist Church in Monroe County. My brother Murl was on the altar too. He got saved, but I didn’t get saved.
For three years, I was in an awful shape because I was in so much conviction. I couldn’t understand why God wouldn’t save me. I prayed a lot everywhere I went. I had to walk up to the main highway to the mailbox to get the mail, and I would stop and pray off by the side of the road. I would pray when I did all my chores, but I just couldn’t get saved.
We had church twice a day when our revival was going on. We rode to church with our neighbors, Carl and Ellen Goad. They would come to school and pick us up for the afternoon service, and at night we would walk up to the main highway to meet them. They were such good Christian people. Carl died last year, 1998. I know he is receiving his reward now. I love them very much.
I was saved in the back seat of their car coming up a little hill, just before they got to our road. I was praying so hard to get saved, and all at once all the burden was gone and I felt like I was so light I could float. I had the best feeling inside. I was so happy. I remember walking home after we got out of the car and I felt like my feet wouldn’t stay on the ground. I just floated all the way home. I didn’t tell anyone that night, but the next day I told my mother how I felt, and I said I wanted to be sure that I was saved. She said just pray and be sure. She couldn’t tell me that I was saved, that was between God and me.
I walked around all morning with that happy feeling. I remember I was standing at the window and I was praying to God to let me know for sure, and I got so happy, I ran to tell Mama I was saved. She was so happy, we were both crying, and she was shouting all over the house. I ran out the back door to go tell my brother. He was coming back from the bam. I ran and hugged him and told him I was saved. I felt like the weight of the world had been lifted off my shoulders.
Kenny Wheet
I was about eleven or twelve years old when I realized I was lost. I was on the mourners’ bench for three years at Union #1 Barren County. I heard the truth preached there all my life, but couldn’t get the Lord to save me. I would pray almost every day When I went to get the cows to milk, I would pray, but couldn’t go anywhere. I always wanted to be saved in the school house field where my daddy was saved.
Revival was going on at Union. I was on the mourners’ bench again July 1955. I was fifteen years old. I got in such a way, I knew if died I would go to Hell. I was praying one night about midnight in bed when the Lord saved me. I called for Mother and she came it my bedroom. Meanwhile, the Devil told me I wasn’t saved, so I told my mother I just wanted a drink of water. The next morning, Mother asked me if anything happened last night and I told her the Lord saved me.
I went about five years before I joined Union #1 Church. It took me a long time before I got back in church, because Carol and I were living in Louisville, Kentucky. She joined Lyons Missionary Baptist Church, but I always believed we would move back home. In 1973, we moved to Bowling Green and joined Old Union Church.
Jackie Wheet
I was fortunate enough to be blessed with parents that knew the Lord and took me to Old Union since I was a baby. I was always told by my parents and by the preacher that when I got old enough, God would let me know when I was lost. I wasn’t really sure how I was supposed to feel. When I was around ten years old, I realized I was lost and felt that conviction. It was a terrible feeling, mostly because I knew that if I died I wouldn’t be in Heaven with my family. I started going to the altar during revivals, but had a hard time trying to let go of everything. The Devil was dealing with me, trying to distract me and make me think of other things. Soon it started to be a routine to go to the altar and pray and then go home.
In 1987, Old Union had their two week summer revival. Our former pastor, Paul Bryson, had come to help Jerry Reynolds in the effort. I was fourteen years old and by this time, I was so miserable and under conviction that I didn’t enjoy very much of anything. I was scared to go to hell, and it started to become such a reality to me. I knew I needed to get serious about being saved, or that was where I was going to spend eternity. I had already wasted around four years of my life in this condition, and I hated feeling the conviction. I needed relief and didn’t want to go another year like that.
The first Wednesday night of the revival I went to the altar, just as I had the nights before. I can’t remember who preached, but there were a lot of people on the altar seeking God. Someone on the altar was saved, and there was rejoicing all around. I wanted what they had, and knew that God was there to save me if I could just pour all my heart and everything I had out to him. As the service continued, a couple more sinners were saved. This was a very spiritual service and people were shouting all over the church. All of this made me feel worse and worse. I tried to pray harder and harder until I didn’t know what else to do. It felt like I was praying so loud that everyone could hear me, and that was something that I didn’t want to do. I didn’t want to draw more attention to myself, but by this time I wanted to be saved so much that I wasn’t worried what others thought. I didn’t even seem to notice what was going on around me. I had blocked everything out and just called out to God. It seemed then that something happened. The burden was gone, and I wasn’t worried anymore. I thought God saved me, but the Devil was telling me that wasn’t it. I started praying again, but the more I prayed, the more I felt like I had to get up and tell someone what happened. I still had doubts. I had been lost for years and now that it was all over, the Devil wouldn’t let me accept it that easily. Finally, the only thing I knew to do was to get up and tell the church what happened. It was such a blessing and I was so happy. Before the night ended about seven or eight people had been saved.
I joined the church the following night, and was baptized at the end of the revival. For some time the Devil still tried to put doubts in my head. The following year I was at a youth weekend in Bolivar, Missouri. The services were very spiritual, and I received such a blessing that I knew that I couldn’t feel this way if I didn’t have God in my soul. God had assured me that I was saved, and I have not doubted since.
Since then, God has continued to bless me and prove that he is there for his own.
I have learned as a Christian that if you follow the Lord and not the world, that God will take care of you and you will be happier with your life. God has recently blessed me with a Christian wife in December of 1998. She is the daughter of David Bryson and granddaughter of Paul Bryson, both preachers. She joined Old Union and we pray that we will follow God and serve the church as the Lord allows. The Lord blessed me with salvation that gets sweeter ever year, and I owe the rest of my life trying to serve and praise God.
Tangi Wheet
He Touched Me
I was ten years old. I had always gone to Missionary Baptist churches, and the majority of the men in my family are Missionary Baptist preachers. What I am trying to say is that I have always known the truth. I was always told that one day I was going to feel the Lord calling me to him.
Well, up until that day, I didn’t know what they were talking about.
It was March 24 of 1999. We weren’t in revival at Union Hill Missionary Baptist Church in Hollingsworth, Georgia, but that service will always be special in my heart.
During the sermon that afternoon (I can’t remember who was preaching), something started to stir in my soul. All of a sudden it felt like I had the weight of the world on my shoulders. It was hard for me to understand what was going on, but I knew something was wrong. I didn’t say anything to anyone, I just wanted the service to be over (we had my uncle’s wedding to go to).
As service began to close, a sister in the church got up and started to give her testimony. She said that more than anyone else, she deserved to go to Hell. “But thank God I don’t have to” were the words that she said that made me realize that what I was feeling was conviction.
The service finally came to a close and everyone started leaving, but the conviction was still there. I found my mom in the crowd and threw my arms around her. I thought that Mom could make this feeling go away, but still, it lingered. She asked what was wrong, but all I could say was, ” I do. I do.” . . . meaning, I do have to go to Hell. She then found my father and told him that we needed to pray.
We sat down on the fourth pew from the front. I kind of sat there for a while, then I started to pray. I didn’t know how, but God knew my heart. When I was tired of promising and running. . . I gave up and said, “Lord, just do what you have to do, I just don’t want to be lost anymore.” But before I could get it out of my mouth that burden was lifted. I felt that peace that my poor soul was craving. Finally. I knew what the songs, sermons, and testimonies were saying.
The next Sunday, I joined Union Hill. The Sunday following, I was baptized and became a member with the full rights and privileges of the church. Nearly eight years later, I married a wonderful Christian m that the Lord had given me, and moved to Bowling Green, Kentucky (He was already a member at Old Union.)
The first Sunday of January of 1999, I came before Old Union to join by promise of a letter. Since then the Lord has blessed me with the love and the fellowship of this church.
Ruby Willoughby
I am so thankful that I was raised in a Christian home where I was taken to church, where I could hear the gospel. I have been saved fifty-eight years. The gospel pricked my heart one day. I went to the altar but I didn’t get saved for about three years. I would go to the altar and everything would get on my mind but calling on the Lord like I should. But one night, a good ole man said the words that brought conviction on me. I didn’t surrender it all to the Lord that night. I went home and didn’t sleep, because that burden was so heavy I couldn’t have lived with it very long.
I went back to church the next afternoon. I couldn’t wait to get to that altar. The precious Lord saved my soul when I really got down and prayed from the depths of my heart. I was sitting on the mercy seat laughing before I knew what had happened. My dear sister, who has gone on to be with the Lord, said to me, “Why have you quit praying?” Then I realized what had happened to me. I was so happy I felt like I could fly away. I was still happy when I went back to church that night. I united with Bethany Missionary Baptist Church and was baptized by Brother William McDonald. I haven’t lived for the Lord like I should, but I know the Lord is in my heart. I hope this might help some lost soul.
William B. Willoughby
I was in the Army hospital in Augsburg, Germany, on the first Monday night of January, 1965, when the pains of Hell or sin got so heavy on me that I just felt like I could not go on any longer without knowing I was saved.
I had heard the gospel preached many times, and had many different ones speak to me about my soul, but I never really tried to do much about it. But this night something kept after me and I could not go to sleep, so I went up to a library room on the third floor. I just started praying out to God. I don’t know how long it was. But when I realized I couldn’t pray any longer, I went back to the ward and to my bed, and had trouble going to sleep. So after that, I started reading the Bible on up until I got out of the service.
After that I got away from Bible study and started going along with the world and didn’t go to or unite with any church for a space of six years. Then I met Ruby, and we talked about being saved and all. So the Devil got me to thinking I was not saved, and I would try to pray about it within myself. Around the last of September or first of October I went back on the back side of my place over in Allen County, right off Highway 234. I started praying and told myself I was not going back across that hill until I got saved. I kept hearing that still, small voice saying the only salvation you are going to get is what you got over in Augsburg in that hospital. So we got married on November 5, 1971, and in January 1972 we started going to church at Hopewell in Allen County. Ruby was already a member there, so in July when the revival was going on, I joined the church and was baptized by Brother Johnnie Meadors the first Sunday in August, 1972.
David Witty
God saved me when I was eleven years old during a summer revival service at Old Union Church in 1982. I had gone to church off and on during my life, and had been attending Old Union regularly with my mother for about one and half years. During that time, I really did not pay too much attention to any of the sermons that were preached. All I knew about God and religion was that church was a good place to be. I spent most of the time during a sermon playing puzzle games with a friend.
I had been attending the revival services that summer for about a week with my family and everything was as usual. Then one service, everything drastically changed. Instead of sitting through the service and then going home, a horrible burden had been placed upon my heart. When the preacher spoke of sin, I knew that I was guilty. For the first time in my life, I knew something was wrong between God and me. God showed me that night that I was accountable for my sins. Later that night, at my home, I was having trouble sleeping. My heart was greatly troubled because I knew I was not right with God. I went into my parents’ room and told them what was going on. They knew that God was dealing with me about my soul. We talked for awhile, and then I went on to bed.
The next afternoon I was playing ball at a friend’s house when my mother pulled up in the car. She told me to get home and get ready for church. I put up a brief argument about not going because I knew that if I went back to church that the horrible feeling of the night before would return. In my ignorance, I thought that I could run from this situation by not going back to church. I now know this is not true. God can deal with you and save you anywhere and at anytime. That night at the revival service, the feeling of conviction returned and I knew that I needed to go to the altar and pray, but I kept telling myself that if I went up there, everyone would laugh at me. Then, without me telling her of my fear, a friend of mine told me that nobody was going to laugh at me. She said that these people loved me and would pray for me. I went to the altar and I prayed for God to save me. I begged Him to take away the horrible feeling I had inside my heart. I told Him that I would give up anything He wanted me to if He would just save me. I kept praying to God and then in an instant all the pain that I had been feeling in my heart was gone. All the tears that I had were also gone. The burden of sin that I had been carrying had been removed. I knew that everything was all right. The pain in my heart was now peace. The Lord had saved my soul and He was letting me know it by providing this sweet peace to me.
Please notice that I did not read a “sinner’s prayer,” nor did anyone tell me I was saved. Why? The salvation of any soul is between God and that particular person. God does not listen to a set of words; He looks at the condition of a lost sinner’s heart and when He saves someone’s soul, He will let them know it.
Leslie Witty
I can’t remember exactly when I knew that I was lost. What I do remember is carrying around a horrible feeling of guilt and shame. I remember talking to my best friend about my concerns and she gave me a copy of “The Sinner’s Prayer” to read. After reading the prayer, the little piece of paper said that I was saved. I tried to be happy and relieved, but I knew in my heart that I had not been saved; I knew that something so precious could not be obtained in that way. I continued going to church regularly, looking away from the preacher constantly because I just knew that he was preaching right to me. I felt as if everyone in the church knew what an awful person I was; the embarrassment and shame were with me constantly.
It was during a revival when I was sixteen that I truly became under conviction. I would listen to the preacher with my head down and my heart about to beat out of my chest. I wrestled for many nights about going to the altar, but I kept holding myself back out of fear. Finally, the Sunday morning service during revival, I felt a sense of urgency. The church was packed and I thought about waiting until that night to go to the altar when so many people wouldn’t be there – but I didn’t. I fought off the feelings that had been keeping me pinned in my seat and made my way down to the altar. I remember the preacher asking me why I had come and I told him, crying, “I want to be saved.” He told me to pray at the altar and I did. I wanted more than anything to be saved, and I asked God to please save me. I don’t know how long I was down there. The next thing I knew I was standing up; I was still crying but this time it was out of joy. I felt a peace that could only come from salvation.
Looking back, the things that were keeping me from being saved were trivial; I was embarrassed of going to the altar and of admitting I was lost. I was worried that I would look foolish or that people would talk about me. Although these worries seem small now, to a sixteen-year-old, THEY SEEMED QUITE BIG. Anything that keeps someone from getting right with the Lord seems enormous to that person. Until all these hindrances are released, a lost person cannot be saved. They have to want it more than anything else, and they have to be willing to put these worries and concerns aside. As soon as I did, I was able to get the peace I so desperately wanted.
I am so thankful for being saved and for being led to Old Union. This church and the people in it mean so much to me. I am very blessed to be involved with such an extraordinary place.