I was introduced to the Seventh-day Adventist church at age 27. Prior to that, I lived the proverbial life of sex, drugs and Rock n' Roll. You name it, I did it! As a matter of fact, at one time I was in an adulterous relationship with a married woman who attended an Adventist church. One Sabbath after church, I picked up a copy of The Great Controversy. Now, I had never heard of Ellen White and I knew less than nothing about the Bible.
As a child, I hated school. The deepest book I ever read was a science fiction novel and the only reason I graduated from high school was because my parents begged my math teacher to give me a D. So to read a book as profound as The Great Controversy was a real stretch for me.
FROM MINDLESS DRUGS TO MINDFUL LIVING
But as I read, I was amazed. I mean, I was dumbstruck! I couldn't believe what I was reading. My mind was being challenged. I found myself going to the library to read history books to verify the facts in The Great Controversy. Every page held new ideas and new thoughts that invigorated my mind. I found I couldn't put it down. Then I opened the Bible for the first time in my life. Suddenly, I was having conversations that were meaningful. I remember sitting with one fellow at work, discussing the binding requirements of the Ten Commandments. Just months before, I had never heard of the Ten Commandments!
Of course, my life began to change. The married woman I was seeing broke off the relationship and I spent less and less time hanging out with my drinking and drugging buddies. As I discovered salvation in Jesus, I felt the Holy Spirit drawing my heart to spiritual things and I longed for something better than the endless rounds of parties and drugs. I knew that if salvation was real, it was going to be found in the remnant church of God. I had gone to church occasionally, mostly dragged there by my mother. Interestingly, I had even completed two years of Catechism, but that was only because the girl I was sleeping with was Catholic. But now I was changing and I desired the company of those who had given their hearts and lives to Jesus.
I continued attending the Adventist church. One fellow, not much older than I, began to mentor me. He taught me how to study the Bible and how to teach Bible truths to others. At age 28, I gave my heart to Jesus and was baptized. That was when life began to get difficult. Before, I just went along with whatever my pals were doing. Where once I had no guiding principles, I had no moral compass. Where once I stood for nothing, I disguised myself to fit whatever situation I was in.
But now I had a foundation, a Rock to stand on. I had guiding principles and I no longer wanted to compromise principle for whatever situation I faced. Satan knew this and I started to face difficulties unheard of when I lived like the majority of people in my world. One day, my boss told me that I would be required to work overtime on the following Saturday. I explained to him that I would not work on Sabbath and then offered to work that Sunday. He told me that if I did not show up for work on Saturday, I would be fired. With the love of Jesus on my lips and the conviction of the Holy Spirit in my heart, I politely refused and resigned then and there. The union steward that was representing me was in awe. He asked to have a moment alone with me and asked why I would do such a thing? I patiently explained about salvation in Jesus and obedience to the law. I do not know what his response to the Holy Spirit was. I can only hope that my testimony was an influence in his decision for God.
That day, I gave up everything for the truth. I lost my job, my house, my family and my friends. When my parents found out, they were beyond angry. They barely spoke to me after that and then only when I called them first. Sadly, my sister did not speak to me until years afterward. People I had known since grade school and others I had worked with for years, were gone overnight. In one weekend, I had left behind everything that was familiar to me.
FROM $75,000 A YEAR TO ONE ROOM AND A BORROWED BED!
By God’s grace, I wasn't despondent because I knew that the sacrifice I had made for the truth was nothing compared to the sacrifice Jesus had made for me. My mentor invited me to live with him and his family and I spent my days laboring on his truck farm for room and board. I had gone from a $75,000/year job and a three-bedroom house to a small room with a borrowed bed. Believe it or not, I was ecstatic! I spent all day planting tomatoes and corn and all night reading the Word. My mentor taught me how to teach Sabbath school and how to nurture in others, a love for the truth. I met my wife during this time and quickly realized what true love was. I must have come on a little strong, though, because she bolted for Colorado. Even that, however, was by God's design, because we spent hours getting to know each other over the phone. Later, I asked her to marry me when we reunited, and we've been together ever since.
After our wedding, we went to Uchee Pines in Alabama. I was given the job of managing the Country Life Restaurant across the river in Columbus, GA. There I was brought into contact with people from all walks of life. I found myself giving the three angels messages to many people ranging from executives to the homeless. Many people from all walks of life came through the door of that restaurant and all heard the lifesaving truth of salvation in Jesus and obedience to the law. I was so pleased to be used by God to speak the truth in due season to any and all who would listen.
GOD’S WORD IS A CONSTANT THREAD RUNNING THROUGH MY LIFE
Eventually, God moved us from the Country Life Restaurant and we went to various places at various times. Through the years, I've had my ups and downs like many others. But in spite of all that life could throw at me, through the sin and repentance, the ebb and flow of life, by God's grace I have held fast to the anchor that holds within the veil. I have never had doubts about my salvation in Jesus. Even during the times when I wondered where God was, my faith in the truth stayed strong. The unique message of the Seventh-day Adventist church was a constant thread running through my life.
Sadly, as I look around our world, I see that God’s truth is being threatened. By small degrees, the lies of Satan are supplanting Jesus’ truth. Even our precious duty, as God's remnant church, is being pushed aside by those who would have us follow after the world and its ways. Instead of being urged to give the Loud Cry of the third angels’ message, we are being lulled to sleep by a message of peace and safety. God raised up the Seventh-day Adventist church at a specific time for a specific purpose. We have a narrowly focused scope of work to do in the last days. However, the third angels’ message is unpopular and uncomfortable for those who hear it as well as for those who speak it. But it is God's warning to a lost and dying world and it is our privilege and our burden to bear it to those Jesus died to save.
God has told us that we are to speak up and warn the wicked to change their ways or we will be held accountable for their blood. How many will we condemn to eternal death because we refused to speak? What excuse will be sufficient when we are asked why we did not warn the lost of the coming judgment? There are innumerable faithful, committed Christians who are lost in the deceptions of Babylon. Unknowingly, they put their eternal salvation in peril by following the ways of the world. God has laid the burden on all Seventh-day Adventists, as "those who keep God’s commands and hold fast their testimony about Jesus" to call God's faithful followers out of Babylon before it is too late (NIV, Rev. 12:17).
OUR CALL TO HELP OTHERS CHOOSE THE RIGHT PATH
Our goal is not to make others feel comfortable on the road to perdition, but to turn them aside from the path to destruction and set them on the path to life. Brothers and sisters, we have been asleep too long. Behold, the bridegroom approaches! We must awaken from our slumber and trim our lamps. The enemy is at the gate and in the strength of the One who has conquered death we must warn all those who will listen of the danger. Ezekiel 33:7 says, "Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the people of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me." We are given the burden of calling the lost to repentance and redemption. Friends, it is a heavy burden and difficult to bear. But if we shrink from our duty, if we refuse to give the trumpet a certain sound, the blood of the lost will be required of us.
As earnestly as the shepherd searches for his lost sheep, we are to seek and save the lost, regardless of the cost to ourselves. As the father of lies tempts us, will we surrender to the sophistries of the world? Or will we hold fast to our testimony about Jesus? Will we proclaim with a mighty voice to those lost in Babylon, "Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues” (KJV, Rev 18:4).