Last Sunday the sermon we heard centered around St. Paul and St. Timothy. Our priest talked about how the world changes and how we change but how we should always consider what we believe and how we believe. He went on to say that we must not allow the world to rewrite the Gospel to suit itself, but rather that we should, in each of our lives, understand how our relationship with Jesus works and how we can remain true to His teachings.
In the midst of his sermon, Father Klein asked each of us to ponder our first encounter with Jesus.
As a child raised by a Christian couple in a small Central Texas town in the 1940s and 1950s, I really never knew a time when I wasn’t surrounded by the love of God and Christ Jesus. However, there came a time when I felt Jesus’ love surround me and I knew Him personally as my Lord and Savior.
I was just out of third grade at Central Ward Elementary in Stephenville, which is still functioning as a public school, by the way, and a close family friend, Brother Frank Turner, along with his brother-in-law Brother James Shuler, was leading a revival in the First Methodist Church of Bluff Dale. I had been raised as a close friend of the Turner family. In fact, we are still in touch today.
Anyway, I remember sitting on the front row in the middle of the church when Brother Turner was preaching, and I remember, as though it was yesterday, even though it was 1952, that I felt my heart “strangely warmed.” (That was actually a quote from John Wesley, but that’s exactly what happened.)
I knew in that instant that I wanted to be baptized and that I wanted to dedicate my life to Christ.
However, my mother was somewhat skeptical, because of my age, and she and Daddy wouldn’t let me go to the altar until I had first talked privately to Brother Turner.
At the end of the service, my parents and I did just that, and Brother Turner assured them that I understood what I was saying and that he felt I was ready for baptism. And so, the next night of the revival, I was baptized.
Thanks to the wonderful, Christian parents I had, and to their equally wonderful Christian friends, I am a very blessed individual. I am in contact with many people I met in my formative years in the church, and they bless me often, as well.
I asked several people to tell me about their first encounter with Jesus. Here are the responses I received.
My friend Susan here in Mineral Wells said, “I met Him for the first time in Zion Harbor, Minnesota, 43 years ago and only He would believe what an amazing journey it's been!”
My friend Barbara in England said, “Sixty-four years ago I found a Heavenly Father who has never failed me since, through the joys and trials of life on an amazing journey.”
And, finally, the son of the minister who baptized me said, “Through my Mom and Dad, both sets of grandparents, and both aunts and uncles.”
Sometime I would like to hear your story, as well.