HOW GODLY PARENTS & HOME CREATE A LEGACY
My journey with Jesus started at a very young age. I was born into a Christ center family. In my early years my dad helped set up evangelical tent meetings with sawdust trails. We went to church every Sunday and Sunday night. We had family devotions every Saturday morning. I was led to the Lord by my mother when she asked me if I wanted to go to heaven. I said “Yes” and accepted Jesus into my heart. From that time on, with guidance from my parents, I followed the Lord and experienced all His blessings. My dad was my Sunday School Teacher. Through the Sky Pilots Organization (a Boys Scout type program), we built model planes and flew them at parks and schools on the weekends to attract people who we could share the gospel with. I crashed almost all of the planes but it was one of many special connections that I had with my dad.
My story isn’t dramatic; it is just the opposite and somewhat anticlimax. The reason for writing it is to share how the Lord has blessed me through my godly parents/home. My parents not only shared with me their beliefs but modeled them as well. Their walk matched their talk. What they did, convinced me that this is how Christian parents should raise their children. My dad spent time (quality and quantity) with me in scripture memorization, witnessing, Bible reading, going to Mount Hermon, and attending Gideon and Christian Business Men (CBMC) meetings as well as many work and fun activities.
As I grew up I learned to trust the Lord for helping me in school. Studying wasn’t my favorite thing to do and I really disliked homework. But somehow with the Lord’s help I got through school. My mom and dad wanted me to go to college and encouraged me to attend BIOLA rather than other colleges. Attending BIOLA was one of the best experiences of my life. I matured from a shy introvert child to a young man who became Sophomore Class President, Student Body Athletic Director (I got to choose the cheerleaders), play basketball and run track. By attending BIOLA, I received a solid understanding of the scriptures (25 semester credits of Bible classes).
On one basketball trip from BIOLA to the bay area to play another college, two of my teammates stayed at my home for a couple of nights. On the team bus trip back to BIOLA, the coach asked each member of the team what was their favorite part of the trip. To my surprise, the two teammates that had stayed at my house indicated staying at my house and meeting my parents was their favorite part. At this, I began to understand how special my parents were and how unique my home and upbringing were.
My Aunt and cousins, plus my sister had worked on the summer staff at Mount Hermon. I applied and was accepted on staff and I spent the next 4 summers working as the baker. During these summers I attended many of the conferences and listen to some of the leading Christian speakers. My third summer working there I met my future wife. During our dating we ran into some rough patches. I wrote a letter to my folks seeking advice as to what to do. A couple of days later, to my surprise, they came up to Mount Hermon. I asked them what they were doing there and my dad said that you asked for some advice and we wanted to come to pray with you in person seeking His guidance.
Although the marriage was unsuccessful after 14 years in which we had 2 daughters and ended in divorce, it provided me with the opportunity to grow closer to the Lord. When you go through a trauma and have everything taken away from you, that is when you hold on tight to that which will give you some stability. The Lord was faithful and provided supportive friends and family that helped me though this turbulent time. After moving out from my family, I continued coming to church at Neighborhood (3Crosses) and eventually joined the Singles Class. By being where the Lord wanted me, I met my future wife, Linda, who was widowed. We have a daughter who grew up in the church and continues to be a Christ-follower. We’ve been married now for 37 years and the Lord couldn’t have provided a better partner and companion.
My dad died when I was 24 and in my last year of graduate school. The night I left his hospital bed, I knew I might never see him again but although I would lose him, I would never lose the precious memories that he had created for me.
It was easy to see how God the Father is a God of love because I had an earthly Father that constantly showed me how much he loved me. Two years later my mother married a man (George Clooney look-alike) from their church as godly as my father and just as loving. I was blessed by having three loving fathers (the Lord, my dad, and my step-dad).
My parents gave me a legacy. This legacy of following Christ and enjoying his fellowship is what has sustained me through these past 76 years. He has blessed me more than I can ever imagine and I am looking forward to spending eternity with Him.
The morning I wrote this testimony, having been convicted during the night that I should write something about my Christian family upbringing, I read this passage in the Billy Graham devotional “Unto the Hills”:
I want to suggest Ten Commandments for a solid happy God-honoring home:
- Establish God’s chain of command. The Bible teaches that for the Christian, Jesus Christ is to head the home, with the wife under the authority of a Christ-like husband and the children responsible to their parents.
- Obey the commandments to love one another.
- Show acceptance and appreciation for each family member.
- Family members should respect God’s authority over them and the authority God has delegated down the chain of command.
- It is important to have training and discipline in the home and not just for the family dog.
- Enjoy one another and take time to enjoy family life together. Quality time is not a substitute for quantity time. Quantity time is quality time.
- Do not commit adultery. Adultery destroys a marriage and is a sin against God and against your mate.
- Everyone in a family should work for the mutual benefit of the family. No child should be without chores or without the knowledge that work brings fulfillment.
- Pray together and read the Bible together. Nothing strengthens a marriage and family more. Nothing is a better defense against Satan.
- Every family member should be concerned about whether every other member of the family is truly saved. This extends after the immediate family to grandparents, uncles, and aunts, cousins and in-laws.
Proverbs 3:1-6: “My son, do not forget my teaching, but keeps my commands in your heart, for they will prolong your life many years and bring you peace and prosperity. Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man. Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”
I was born in Maud, Oklahoma, June 5, 1933. My father, Joseph, had moved there from Texas and my mother Florence (Ritchie) Morrow had come from Arkansas. My father was a poor (but honest) carpenter/farmer, as were so many Americans who were struggling to survive at that time of the Great Depression. To make matters worse, in the 1930’s the State of Oklahoma, which had held out so much promise to homesteading settlers, was plagued by huge dust storms, which became increasingly severe each year. Devastation of the land was followed by bankruptcies, which swept across the land. You would find it interesting to learn more about that phenomenon. My father took Mother and me to the beckoning land of California to find work when I was four. The climate and air agreed so much more with Mother that we soon migrated to the Central Valley of California. John Steinbeck wrote a famous book called “The Grapes of Wrath” which describes the great migration of poor people like our family to California.
We settled in Turlock. In time Dad was able to buy twenty acres with a small, one bedroom house. He acquired a small bunkhouse from the neighbor across the road and pulled it onto our property. Although it had no water or heat, it provided sleeping quarters for my brother, Don, and me until I went away to college.
I was always busy as a boy. We had cows to milk, eggs to collect, and wood to chop. About a quarter of our twenty acres were planted in eucalyptus trees, and Dad, Don, and I spent much of our “spare” time chopping down the trees (to clear the land) and cutting up the wood to sell.
A neighbor who lived beyond us stopped by and gave me a ride to school with his sons. Another nearby neighbor family invited me to ride with their family to attend Vacation Bible School, and it was at this time that I was introduced to Christ and accepted Him as my Savior. The VBS was run by the American Sunday School Union, an organization that I am grateful for and have continued to support to this day, as it was through their ministry that I found Christ. Finding Christ was the most significant event of my life. I began attending the little country church with these neighbors, and in time my parents began attending and accepted Christ also.
At Modesto Junior College I joined Intervarsity Christian Fellowship, an excellent organization which contributed greatly to my Christian growth. I became president of the group. When they went on a two week camping trip to a remote part of Catalina Island during the summer, I could only go for one week, as I had to work to save money for my next semester.
I completed my undergraduate education at Fresno State College (now California State University at Fresno), where I majored in Social Science, which consisted of Economics, History, and Sociology. Again I was involved with Intervarsity, and it was there that I met Beverly Camp. Bev played piano for Intervarsity and somehow I found myself leading the singing! Before I left for graduate school Bev and I were engaged.
I was fortunate to obtain a full scholarship through the Ford Foundation to attend the one year graduate program at San Francisco State College (now University) to become a teacher. Through my church I was put in touch with a family near the College who rented me a room inexpensively, and because of my scholarship and all of my summer jobs (picking peaches, grading them, working in the cannery, and going door to door selling Watkins products) I graduated debt free (but flat broke!) Bev and I were married July 6, 1956, after I graduated. One month later I was drafted into the Army and had to leave for basic training at Fort Lewis, Washington. Bev was able to join me after six months, and my military assignment kept me at Fort Lewis the entire duration of my active duty. Our first child, Francine, was born in Washington.
After my tour of duty ended I was hired as a high school history teacher in Ceres, where I became head of the department. While in Ceres our family attended Mountain View church seven to eight miles west of Turlock. There I assisted in the leadership of the church as Chairman of the Board of Deacons.
Tragedy struck our family while we were there when our first born son, Stephen, died of sudden infant death syndrome at approximately the age of two weeks. Stephen is buried in the children’s area of the Ceres Cemetery, near my parents. Bev is also buried there, as I will be.
In Ceres we had a team teaching approach, and when I applied for a teaching job in the Bay Area, my experience in team teaching (and also as department head) were the two factors which resulted in my getting a job. After a year at the old Foothill High School in Hayward I was transferred to the brand new Marina High School in San Leandro. I was there from the day it opened until it closed, eighteen years later.
During my time at Marina I continued my education, obtaining two masters’ degrees: one in Education and the other in Counseling. Subsequent teaching at Arroyo High School in San Lorenzo and at the San Leandro Adult School rounded out my working years.
Our family attended First American Baptist Church in Hayward, where I was Moderator of the Board of Deacons. Beverly was in charge of Christian Education. To facilitate spiritual depth and provide an opportunity for interaction and support among the members, Bev and I began a small group Bible study in our home, which we led for many years. In 1977 we realized the programs of the church were inadequate for our children, and we began attending the Neighborhood Church (now 3 Crosses Church) in Castro Valley. They had a many-faceted, robust youth program, which we felt would be a better fit for our family. I continue to attend that church to this day.
Almost incomprehensibly, our second son, Tim, died in his sleep at the age of 50. Now I had lost two sons. The grief I experienced from this loss, and continue to experience, would be unbearable without the assurance from the Lord that I will see my sons again.
Then, a year later, after a very fulfilling marriage of 57 years my dear wife, Beverly, succumbed to Alzheimer’s, a condition which had plagued her for ten years. My widowed brother, Don, moved in with me. I was grateful that I still had my daughter Francine, son Brian, and daughter-in-law Jane and their families.
Even though my life seemed over, much to my amazement, God brought Jean Braine into my life. Bev and I and Jean and Ray had been friends for many years, having met at Neighborhood Church in the late 70s. Ray died the year following Bev’s death, and somehow God orchestrated that Jean and I spend some time together, as I had briefly helped care for Ray in his last months and Jean and I had some business dealings together. We were both members of the Gideons, as well as the Challengers adult Sunday School class. Everyone was surprised – including us – when we were married in May of 2015. Our marriage has been such a blessing for both of us!
Serving God in any way I can has always been important to me. One of the prominent values I have had throughout life has been to cherish the friends and family God has given me. A manifestation of this value has been the fact that, along with my wife, I have kept in touch with many people that we met along the way – going all the way back to grade school. For many years Bev and I attended the annual Ritchie family reunion in Oklahoma. It has only been a few years now since those ended. I still have friends whom I made in grade school all the way through high school. Our annual Turlock High School class reunion is a highlight of my year when I see some of these dear friends. Each church we attended added a wealth of new friends whom I still treasure and try to maintain contact with. Friends and family are among my most valuable possessions.
God never promised that life would be easy. In fact, Christ told us to expect that life would be hard. But He did promise never to leave us. And He has been true to His Word. I can say with the Psalmist “The Lord is my strength and song, and He has become my salvation.” (Psalm 118:14).
A passage that has been so meaningful to me throughout my life is Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” Looking back over my long life of trusting in the Lord, I can attest to His faithfulness to me.
To those who come after me I would say receive Christ early In life, as soon as you learn about Him. Then follow Him where He leads you. Look for His direction, and He will not just lead you but be right with you all along life’s difficult journey. With Him, you can handle whatever comes your way.
I went to Neighborhood Church, Castro Valley as a child. I attended Children's church, where Ed Hubbard was the church director. I had a medical emergency at 6 years old, where I had a fast-acting staff germ and infection, where I stopped breathing. My dad found me in my bed, all blue in the face, and not breathing. He called the Fire Department, for the paramedics to come and resuscitate me. The Fire Chief rushed me to St. Rose hospital in Hayward, CA. The doctors said that they had to operate on me. They said it wasn't quite an emergency surgery, but it was close! The doctors gave me a tracheostomy to open up my airways. I then had an out of body experience! I was totally knocked out for the surgery, not to mention not being able to breathe! However, I felt myself floating above the operating table, and I was floating up towards the bright lights. I looked down and saw the surgeon and nurses working on me, operating on me. I was embarrassed, because all I had on were some blue shorts! They Then resuscitated me! Then the next thing that I remember, was that I woke up in an oxygen tent in the hospital. As soon as I woke up, a beautiful blonde nurse came over and told me, "Happy Halloween!" She gave me a yellow plastic kitty cat, and told me that my brothers and sisters were trick or treating for me, that night, and they were going to save a big orange pumpkin full of candy for me!
So, then I thought about that experience for several years. Then one night, when I was 8 years old, while I was trying to pray to God, I started crying. I felt like my prayers were hitting the bedroom ceiling, and coming back down again! Then my mom came in and asked me; "Debbie, why are you crying?" Then I told her how I was feeling. She gave me some Bible verses, such as John 3:16, and then asked me if I wanted to invite Jesus Christ in my heart? I said, “yes", and then, right there, my mom prayed with me to receive Christ as my Savior! I kept going to church, and church camps. At my senior high school church camp meeting at Mt. Hermon, I committed my life to follow God wherever he wanted to lead me. Ron Story, the youth pastor, gave the altar call. The altar call was, "Here I am, Lord, send me." Then I attended San Diego Christian College in El Cajon, CA, where I met my husband, Peter. I majored in Education, and taught at Redwood Christian Schools, Fremont Christian School, and now I am a Public School 5th grade teacher. I love to share with others what the Lord has done for me! Since I received Jesus, I have never had that feeling of my prayers being blocked again. Now, I know that Romans 3:23 is true: for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God. However, I John 1:9 says; If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
I was one of six children brought up with religion, right & wrong, by godly parents. We even prayed together every night. But I never realized Jesus had died on the cross for me. I felt that I never fit in with others. I prayed to God often. After marriage and two children and then going through a divorce, I really felt insecure. A friend invited me to go to a “prayer circle” with her. Their prayers were what I felt for my life and I asked Jesus into my life.
Life brought more good and hard times; marriage- death-cancer, but with the Lord’s help I claimed Proverbs 3:5-6: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” God cares.
Trust Him in all you do. Stay with God’s word.
Diane was going to First Presbyterian Church in Berkeley. Her pastor was Robert Boyd Munger who was the author that wrote the pamphlet; "My Heart Christ's Home". She thought she was a Christian. As a child she went to first Christian Church in Oakland. It was Labor Day weekend at Mt. Hermon. There was a Youth Group Retreat that everyone at her church was going to for the weekend. Diane decided not to go. She had something else going on that weekend. Her girlfriend got everyone to call her to go. There was something else she wanted to do. She finally said OK., and decided to go to the retreat. There was a Christian speaker there, who was a surgeon and spoke about being a Christian, and relating it to medical things, which my mom related to, since she worked at Merritt hospital in Oakland as a hospital admittance clerk.
She went forward and accepted the Lord right there at the retreat! The surgeon's wife was ready to have a baby, so everyone was sitting on eggshells for the doctor at the retreat! The surgeon gave several messages. Diane accepted the Lord on that Saturday night, and the surgeon left on Sunday morning, because his wife finally then had her baby! It was a nice conference and Diane said she enjoyed it.
Diane then went to serve in the Port O' Call at Neighborhood Church in Oakland as a hostess. She met Bob there, who was a Navy Sailor. They fell in love, and were married at 3Crosses, and raised their 6 kids in the church! Diane has gone on to become a nurse LVN, and worked at St. Rose hospital, as well as Kaiser Hospital for over 35 years! Diane (and Bob) had 6 kids, who are all Christians. She served in the Children's Sunday School at Neighborhood Church for over 60 years! Diane and Bob now attend the Challenger's Class, which is now called the Legacy Class.
I think the Lord has always been after me but I’ve taken a varied path in my faith walk. While growing up in a Christian home in Augsburg, Germany, Hitler’s rise to power was the first to sidetrack my walk. My father was a pastor at our Methodist church, so our family regularly attended Sunday service and school. When I was about 10, I became involved with the “Hitler Youth.” Their activities not only conflicted with Sunday worship and study, but also it brainwashed us into the Nazi system. In the beginning, I liked it because of the sports-oriented activities, such as running, hiking and wrestling. I remember that if you did well in your studies, your reward was a picture of a German general from the frontlines. We were told that our “V-1” and V-2” rockets (leading technology at the time) would win the war for us. Of course, that didn’t happen. After the war, at age 14, I had to go to work and so landed a job as a confectioner’s apprentice. Soon I was entrenched in the restaurant field where the long hours and pursuit of my trade took me on a path away from faithful worship. At this time one of my childhood Bible memory verses gave me some comfort: Matthew 11:28 - Come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.
My trail led me to work first in Germany, then Switzerland, and then Holland where I took a job on a cruise ship that circled the world. By my mid-twenties, with many travels behind me and more to come, I immigrated to the United States in New York. While there for just 18 months, I was drafted into the U.S. Army and was soon stationed in Okinawa, Japan. While there, I had Sundays off so I again went to church, joined the choir, and met a girl, but that’s another story.
After military service, like many immigrants, my path took me in pursuit of the “American Dream.” Now in my 30s, I was working Sundays again at country clubs or hotel restaurants in the SF Bay Area. I bought a house, got married, had two kids, moved to Half Moon Bay and pursued what I thought was success. Looking back at those 12 years, I see that my idols were career and money and providing for my family, but not spending the time with them that I should. Before long my life collapsed when my wife began a divorce process. I wanted to quit it all, take a camper and hit the road on a new path. Worried about my state of mind, my sister in Germany recommended I talk to Robert Wattles, a friend of hers she had befriended while he was working with the Navigators organization in Germany after the war and, who now lived in the Bay Area. This I did and he shared the Lord with me, giving me Bible verses such as Revelations 3:20: “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.” I realized that the meal Revelations spoke about was like none I’d ever prepared, but rather, with the Lord, it would entail mercy, grace, and forgiveness - just what I needed. Bob and I have remained friends to this day.
On April 13, 1979, I was camping alone on Mount Diablo and struggling with making the commitment to give my life to the Lord. With God’s grace, I opened my heart and when I came off the mountain, I met with Robert and told him of my new commitment. He welcomed me and, because I had nowhere else to go, he let me stay with him. He then set me up working as a chef at a Navigators’ conference center in Colorado. While working there, I participated in a discipleship program offered to the workers. I stayed with the Navigators for 3 years and shortly after the program ended, I enrolled in Multnomah Bible School in Portland, OR, where I graduated after 3 years. During that time, I was living off of savings and investments and working summers with my son, Eric, at a beautiful resort on the Oregon coast. At this time I felt the Lord leading me to serve Him in China, so I accepted an opportunity to join the Board of Directors at Educational Resources and Referrals China, a mission organization in Berkeley, CA. I was with them for 5 years. This is where I met my wife, Marty, who was Assistant Director in charge of recruiting and training Christians to go to China to teach English. In 1991 they arranged for me to visit many parts of China as a chef consultant/teacher and visit ERRC teachers to see how I could help out. This was just after the Tiananmen square incident so the hotel/tourist business was down. Nothing long-term developed for me, so I ended up going around the world again, this time by plane and train, consulting and working along the way.
After I returned from my travels, Marty and I began our courtship and in October 1993 we were married. I still had to work many Sundays but I regularly attended weekly Bible studies. In 2007, we found ourselves at 3Crosses, taking the 101 class and that’s where I learned about, and started the very rewarding discipline of a daily quiet time. This habit has really helped me grow spiritually along with the great spiritual influence Marty has had on me. Our life together is an adventure in which we challenge each other, pray and do devotions together. While at 3Crosses, we have been involved in International Student Fellowship, which has met our desire to reach internationals for Christ without going overseas. I have also been involved in CrossStreets ministry, primarily an outreach to local people in need.
Given my path through life so far, I have learned that everything is vanity if not connected to Christ. All the striving, if not God centered, is a waste. I learned through experience that even being a world-known successful chef, I was not able to share Jesus with the people I was closest to because I wasn’t doing things for the right reason. It’s so important for us to be an example of the Lord, to make connections with others by reflecting the Lord’s love, and by being a bridge to help them meet the Lord. In other words, we need to glorify Him, not ourselves. The only way to do that is to keep Christ as the center. He’s the only bridge builder between sinful man and our Holy God, and taking that bridge enables us to rest in Him.
All of this leads me to a couple of my favorite scriptures, because they speak to my journey and provide me peace:
- Psalm 119:105 "Your word is a lamp to my feet, and a light for my path."
- Psalm 16:8 "I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken."
Born into a Christian family, my parents and all four grandparents were born again believers in Jesus Christ as their Savior. My grandparents all came to the Lord in their 30’s. My grandmother, Geraldine Doyle attended Neighborhood Church at the original Oakland location with my Dad and his younger brother and my namesake Duane. The tragic death of Duane in 1938 brought my grandpa Doyle to faith in Jesus. The church rallied around the young Doyle family in its most difficult trial and Pastor Earl Sexour said this was the catalyst for much growth at Neighborhood Church at that time. My Grandparents Peterson started attending the new Church at 8411 MacArthur Blvd. in Oakland. Both my Grandfathers served on the board and as ushers for most of the rest of their lives. I remember alternating Sunday’s sitting with them in their usher seats at the back of the center section, Doyle on the left side and Peterson on the right and continuing this practice at the new Church in Castro Valley. My grandparents were great examples to me of living Christian values. I observed my grandparent’s devotion to reading God’s word every day.
I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior on November 28th, 1963 at Neighborhood Church in Oakland. Millie Story was the leader of “children’s Church”, held in the Crimson Chapel and she prayed with me that day along with several other kids to accept Jesus as Lord. Growing up in a Christian home and accepting the Lord at age 7 does not make for a dramatic testimony but I am very blessed. I have always wondered if pride would have been an obstacle at an older age, but my Lord spared me that challenge. I played saxophone in the Church Orchestra every Sunday night from 7th grade through college, attended camp every summer and did advanced Bible studies mid-week taught by “Big Ed” Harris. In college, Paul Travis challenged me and several of my friends to consider going into the ministry. I had spent much of my young life working as a mechanic at Peterson Tractor. I loved the heavy machinery and was focusing on a career at Peterson. The challenge to go into ministry really bothered me because of the conflict between my dreams and the possibility the Lord wanted me to go into ministry. I finally got to the point where I said, “Lord if you want me in the ministry, I will do it”. The Lord’s answer came crystal clear. He said, ‘I just wanted you to be willing to do my will, you don’t need to go into ministry”. What a huge burden was lifted from my soul by being willing to obey my Lord Jesus!
The example of daily Bible reading from my Grandparents is a practice I cherish every day of my life. Some day’s God’s word speaks to me more than others, but I know that being consistent in reading which I equate to “Listening” and prayer which I equate to “conversing” are the most essential components of my life.
I have been on NC/3Crosses board for over 30 years and appreciate the responsibility the Lord has entrusted. I would however consider leading a small group of men my greatest joy in service to my Lord. Our group comes from all walks of life and several started as seekers but now have Jesus as their savior too.
I am blessed with a wonderful, talented and patiently supporting wife of 44 years. Two believing children and their wonderful spouses and six super grandkids. I could go on and on about all of God’s blessings, but the greatest is the blessed assurance of our salvation and Christ’s coming victory overall.
My testimony begins before the earth was created when God graciously chose me to be His object of saving love (Ephesians 1:4, John 15:16). Jesus lived my perfect life, obeying all of God’s commands, and resisting all temptation. He then absorbed God’s fierce wrath against the sins of all Believers, died in my place, arose from the dead, and returned to Heaven, where He currently reigns (Psalm 97:1).
God regenerated me (John 1:12-13) as a young child nearly 70 years ago, called me (Romans 8:30), justified me (Romans 8:30), redeemed me (Romans 3:24), and adopted me (Ephesians1:5). I realized that I was a sinner and alienated from God. A guest evangelist was speaking in our church when I felt the prompting of the Holy Spirit to ask my father for permission to get out of my seat and walk the long aisle to the platform to receive spiritual guidance. I remember the evangelist saying, “Here is the first child to come to the Lord this week.” In the prayer room, I wept over my sins (Matthew 5:3), repented, and believed in the Gospel (Mark 1:15).
My testimony continues today. I am on an adventure like no other — the adventure of sanctification: becoming what I am in Christ (Colossians 3:10). Continually changing. Continually conforming. Some days two steps forward and three steps backward. Never perfection, but maintaining the direction. As C.S. Lewis said, “I know that I am made for another world because nothing in this world can ever satisfy my longings.”
SOMETHING TO PASS ALONG
- Be 100% certain that you are a Believer. Know what you believe and why you believe it. How do I know that I am redeemed? The Book of 1 John gives several tests of the genuineness of our faith. The primary one is love (1 John 4:8). We know that God is love, but do I love God? (Do I love God enough to regularly talk to Him in prayer? Do I love God enough to enjoy listening to Him by reading and studying His Word? Do I love God enough to want to please Him in all of my thoughts and actions?) Do I love others? (1 John 4:20-21). Am I abiding in love (1 John 4:16)?
- Know and embrace every attribute of God.
- Know and embrace every precept and principle and promise found in God’s Word.
- Do not even try to synthesize scientism or the latest cultural “morality” with the Bible. View all of life through the lens of the Bible. /li>
- Do not add to or subtract from biblical truth. Do you want to hear God talking to you? Read the Bible. Do you want to hear God audibly talking to you? Read the Bible aloud.
- Expect God to use you wherever you are and whatever you are doing in His name.
When I left my home and my home church to attend university, I knew I was saved and I believed the Bible, but my faith was sorely tested. I wished I had known then what I know now — but some things just take time.
"Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever." - Psalm 23:6 NASB
Since “the days of my life” began at my conception, I have always enjoyed God’s blessings and protection. Since “forever” means forever, I am saved forever (which, of course, is the definition of eternal life.) travels with Bill as much as she is able, assisting in evangelism, discipleship, and counseling.
I was born May 25 at 9:30 am. Yes! I kept my mother out of church that Sunday morning. I was taught about Jesus as a young child and taken to Sunday school all my life. One Sunday morning, Pastor gave an altar call and I went forward to dedicate my life to the Lord. I have had the most beautiful life following the Lord Jesus and asking Him to lead, guide, and direct my life. As a middle child of seven siblings, we were a very close-knit family too. My mother played piano and we would all gather around the piano singing beautiful hymns. Dad had a beautiful voice and could really sing the hymns! This is why I love 39ers class so much; I was raised on hymns and they are taken from the Scriptures. All my life I was guided by Jesus, the Scriptures, and hymns. Every Sunday night at 9 pm we would gather around the radio and listen to the preacher, his sermons, and his wife-“Honey”. Honey would read letters from the congregation that were beautiful and were very blessed. At the same time, every Sunday night in California there was a young man listening to the same preacher. To this day we both feel that the Lord planned in our lives for us to meet. When I graduated from high school in 1947, my family and I left the farm and moved to California. My oldest brother was captain of the “President Johnson”, Merchant Marine vessel, and his first mate was the brother of the young man who had been listening to the same Sunday night preacher. God planned my life, and my husband’s, and we had 63 wonderful years together serving the Lord. He was raised at Melrose Baptist church in Oakland while I was raised at a Baptist church 30 miles north of Branson, Missouri. Can you believe it? We were 3,000 miles apart and God used my brother, The Sea Captain, and his brother, the First Mate, to introduce me to my husband, Duke Carvin.
For the next generation: Young people, you must put Christ first in your life! Next, find a good Bible-teaching church and “Lean on the Lord and He will direct your life.” He has given us so many promises. “I will never leave or forsake you”. Read your Bible- it is your guide to living a life for Christ.
“I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me.” Galatians 2:20
My favorite hymn is: "What a day, Glorious day, When my Jesus I shall See".
Christian fellowship is so important. We have had so many friends at 3 Crosses who have gone on to be with the Lord. God said we will know each other and have a new spiritual body. I am looking forward to seeing Duke and my friends again. Thank you Lord for my 3 Crosses church, Sunday school class, hymns, prayer-chain, Pastor Randy (my Sunday school teacher), the church board (godly people with wisdom), godly women for Women’s Fellowship, and Butch Monk and Eric Halverson (for our testimony request).
I was born in Toronto Canada in 1952, but my parents moved to California when I was a baby and I was raised primarily in the SF Bay Area. My parents were Christians and my brother and sister and I were brought up attending church. It was while living in San Lorenzo and attending San Lorenzo Community Church, however, that the family became very active in church. I attended Sunday school regularly, participated in the youth group, and enjoyed a family life in which the church played a large role. In 1965, at the age of 13, I completed my “confirmation” classes and was accepted as a believing member of the United Church of Christ.
However, the following year my parents moved the family from San Lorenzo to Castro Valley and we effectively stopped attending church and the faith-based activities we had been involved in. So I started high school in 1966, and my teenage years, in a new location attending Hayward High. Being in high school in the Bay Area in the late 60’s (68’ Summer of Love, Woodstock, “Drugs, Sex, Rock n Roll”, political assassinations, Viet Nam War) was a challenging time and by my 3rd year of high school I had left my Christian faith and was a confirmed atheist, choosing science and intellect over religious superstition, as I viewed it. Although I was a good student, it wasn’t long before my focus was on playing guitar/singing, chasing girls, and partying, (drinking, smoking, getting high).
Between 1968 and 1970, the war in Viet Nam had escalated to its greatest severity, hundreds of thousands of young soldiers were being sent to fight overseas, tens of thousands of them were coming home dead (including two older high school friends). The need for soldiers was so great that a non-volunteer draft lottery had been instituted (selection by birthdate) and young men were being drafted to fight in Viet Nam. The war that had once been popularly supported was now dividing the country. In my last year of high school, the draft was hanging over my head. I didn’t want to think about it…but I knew it was coming.
I had entered high school in 1966 as a Christian believer and as a supporter of the military but by my graduation in June of 1970 I was a confirmed atheist and strongly anti-Viet Nam war. And now I was confronted with the draft. Shortly after my graduation, that year’s lottery was held. My birthday was the 21st number drawn; I was going to be drafted and sent to Viet Nam.
But God, who had never let go of me, though I had let go of Him, began to slowly draw me back to Himself.
Because of the draft, I was now forced to think very seriously about the meaning of life...if it had meaning. Was I willing to go to war and kill? If not, why not? If Darwin was right, survival of the fittest was the rule for life. What value then was there in life? If it was OK to kill an animal in certain circumstances, wouldn’t that same rule apply to man? Is man any different than the animals? Why? And if man is just another animal, and survival of the fittest (natural selection) is how the universe works, then killing not only should be OK, but expected. And what about morality? Natural Darwinism would reject the concept of any objective“ morality”; everything is relative.
But I was conflicted. Being confronted with Viet Nam pitted what I had embraced intellectually (Darwinism, natural selection) against an internal witness that I had begun to recognize and just couldn’t talk myself out of. Somehow I knew that man was special, different than the animals. And somehow I knew that there exists a universal morality that all cultures share and are obligated to. Murder is wrong, lying is wrong, oppressing the weak and helpless is wrong. Everywhere. All cultures. The answers provided by my secular humanism and Darwanism, the “intellectual scientific” theories and conclusions I had embraced, contradicted what I knew in my heart, in my soul. I knew that man was special. I knew that life mattered. I knew universal morality was real. But why? I couldn’t reconcile the contradiction between what my heart was telling me and what my mind was. I wrestled with this for weeks without understanding as I waited for my official draft notification.
Then one day, while meditating on these things and asking myself “What value is there in man that makes him special, above the animals?” I heard, not audibly, but somehow I heard in my mind, somehow within my consciousness, “Because man is valuable to Me. I have assigned man a special place. ” Wait! What was happening?! I had not reasoned this out, I had not come up with this answer on my own. If I had, I would have heard “Because man is valuable to God (3rd person)”. But somehow, in a way I had never experienced before in my life, in a way difficult to explain, I heard “Because man is valuable to Me,” in the first person!!
I was dumbstruck! Did that really happen?! But it was THE ANSWER I had been seeking; the only answer that made sense. God had given man his special place, his special significance over the rest of the animals. God had embedded within man an objective morality that was universal. God was the answer to the questions I was wrestling with. God! God reconciled the truth my heart insisted on with my mind’s reason.
I now knew and believed... God was real !!! He was the Creator and he had created man as a special being for Himself. And dare I believe it? God had spoken to me!
And God, who had never let go of me, though I had let go of Him, continued to draw me back to Himself.
But now that I believed again in God, which God? My search was not over. I reasoned that there are many “gods”, and many religions in the world, I needed to find the real one. But how?
I decided that I would not go to Viet Nam and kill, so I filed for “conscientious objector (CO)” status with my draft board and while awaiting their decision, enrolled at Chabot Jr College. As luck (?) would have it, there was a philosophy class on “World Religions” being offered so I signed up for the class so I could continue my search for the “real” God.
The format of the class was that we would study each major religion by reading significant portions from each religion’s “holy books”. We read from the Koran (Islam), then the Bhagavad Gita (Hindu), and then Zen (Buddhist). Then we read the book of Genesis for the Jewish religion. Finally, we were assigned to read the Gospel of John for the Christian religion.
I was at home alone, one rainy December morning, doing homework and preparing for my afternoon classes at Chabot. I picked up where I had been reading in the book of John; John chapter 8. As I began to read, the words began to affect me in a way that none of the other religious readings had.
“I am the light of the world, he who follows me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life”.
Reading the words began to have a physical affect on me. My stomach tightened, and I began to tremble. I stopped reading, composed myself, laughed at myself for this weird reaction, and started reading again.
- “if you knew me, you would know My Father also”
- “He who sent me is true, and the things I heard from Him, these I speak to the world.”
Again, I had to stop reading. Why was this book affecting me so? The other religious books had been easy to read. Now I was unable to get through more than a paragraph at a time without beginning to shake and without my eyes beginning to fill with tears.
- “Truly, truly I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin. “
- “If therefore the Son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed.”
Reading was difficult but I had to finish the chapter before class so I continued to read -
- “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day, and he saw it and was glad. The Jews therefore said to him - You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham? Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.”
When I read this it was as if I heard Jesus say “I AM” directly to me. The power of His words “I AM” overwhelmed me. And I knew. I fell to my knees and wept. I knew then that Jesus was the Son of God and my search was over. I prayed simply “ Jesus, I want to know you. Please forgive me. Please reveal yourself to me and lead me into Your truth.”
And God, who had never let go of me, though I had let go of Him, in great patience and faithfulness, had brought me back to Himself.
And the draft? Miracle #1- the draft board approved my CO status (almost never happens!). Miracle #2- the draft board asked me if I preferred to have a student deferment instead so I could continue with my college studies. (They had already announced publicly that they would not be giving out any more student deferments.) So I continued my studies and began my Christian walk. The active draft was discontinued in 1973. I graduated in 1974 with a BA in Philosophy. The war in Viet Nam ended in 1975.
To the Next Generation:
The Christian walk, our journey, the “race” as Paul framed it, is not a sprint. It is a long-distance marathon…and that requires a different frame of mind. It requires endurance, steadfastness, patience, and a lot of trust that the One who called us to start the race, is also the One who is able to get us across the finish line. Realize that there will be both good and bad times; both easy and tough times. The tough times may be harder than you ever thought possible; illnesses, deaths, broken relationships, career setbacks are but a few of life’s tragedies that befall believer and non -believer alike. There may be times when you hurt so bad you want to stop. But don’t stop walking. Never give up. This too shall pass. Jesus will see you through. He who promised is He who is faithful, and He will do it. He has given you His Spirit as a pledge, a guarantee. You are His, and He will not forsake you.
- “The Lord will accomplish what concerns me; Thy lovingkindness, O Lord, is everlasting.” Ps 138:8
- “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. -1Jn 1:9
- “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus”- Rom 8:1
The three scriptures quoted above are special to me because I am a sinner. When I first accepted Christ as my Lord, as a baby Christian I gave in to sin regularly, but these scriptures convinced me not to give up. 47 years later, the Spirit has thankfully worked in my life, but I am still just a forgiven sinner that finds comfort in these verses.