Jesus prayed in John 17:21, “That they all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us; that the world may believe that You have sent Me.”
For the first 21 years of my life I lived in darkness and separation from God because I was ignorant of His love and salvation. Although my parents did their best to raise me with a Christian perspective, I did not have faith in God or see any real value in going to church. While still a teenager I gave up on religion and began to pursue living my own life. I finished school, but still did not know the purpose of my life and feared living a boring, mundane life. Something in me protested against that notion and I found myself getting into the wrong things.
One Friday evening a friend stopped by my house to share how he had met the Lord Jesus. For some reason, what he said touched me within, and I found myself willing to go with him to a gospel meeting that Sunday at a non-denominational church. As the preacher began to speak, the Holy Spirit began to convict me of sin. The Word of God penetrated my heart and I saw myself in need of Christ. Many tears of repentance flowed from me during the message because I knew that God was speaking directly to my heart. At the close of the message the preacher invited us all to come to the front and pray, and suddenly I began to experience a struggle within. It seemed unreasonable for me to give up everything and I reasoned that I should first get a Bible and read it before making a decision (I had never read the Bible before). However, the Lord spoke to me in my heart that He would show me what I needed to know and what I needed to give up. So I went to the front to pray to receive the Lord, and what a happy day that was for me! That day marked the beginning of my life in Christ.
A few days later I purchased a pocket New Testament and began to read from the book of Matthew. Every day I read my Bible. By the end of the week I had planned to share my testimony to my coworkers, but just as I got up enough courage to say something, one of them said that he had a joke to tell about a preacher so I shrunk back from saying anything! That day as I left work, I felt defeated and confessed my failure to the Lord. As I fellowshipped with God, I suddenly remembered how I had stolen some shop tools in the past. I immediately confessed my sin to God and promised that I would return everything the next day. To my surprise, after returning the tools, I became bold to share the gospel with my coworkers, and from that day on, I began to tell everyone about Jesus.
I became very active in a denomination participating in Bible studies, gospel witnessing, and fellowshipping with other believers. However, eventually the Lord led me to leave that denomination because they did not receive all true believers. The Lord then led me to a small group of believers from different denominations, who met together on Friday nights to testify for the Lord and sing together. One of the leaders was a friend from my past, a mature Christian that I received much help and encouragement in the Lord from. However, my previous denomination had condemned this group as false Christians because they believed the teaching of eternal security. Although initially it was a time of confusion, the more I read the Bible and prayed, the more I heard the Lord’s voice (John 10:27) and became clear that God was leading me out of that group.
The Holy Spirit confirmed my actions by filling me with peace and joy. The Bible was open to me as never before and my witnessing for the Lord became more positive. I began to meet in a community Bible church. The pastor was a good man, full of the Lord and the knowledge of the Bible; the people loved the Lord, the Bible, and one another fervently. A desire to serve the Lord began to take root in me, and every day a burden for the lost pressed upon me. I often asked God how He was going to lead me to serve Him. Through my study of the Bible the Lord also impressed me about the function of the members in the Body of Christ. One night, I spent a long time in prayer before the Lord about the oneness of the Lord’s people according to the Lord’s prayer in John 17. I began to read books by A.W. Tozer, and others on the inner life and the cross. Even though I was very active in gospel outreach, I knew there was still a lack in my spiritual life.
About that time I met some Christian believers who gathered as the church in Washington, DC. My first impression was that they were fundamental in the faith and that they cared for the oneness of the Lord’s people, but I was bothered by the outward form of their meeting. I prayed and asked the Lord concerning it, and He responded to me from 1 Samuel 16:7, “Man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart.” I was convicted about judging according to appearance, and after confessing my sin to the Lord, the Spirit opened my eyes to see the functioning of the members of the Lord’s Body. In that meeting, everyone shared something, and they were filled with the Spirit and spoke the Word of God with boldness. My spirit was stirred up and that night was the beginning of a new revival for me. I stayed awake most of the night filled with the burden of prayer and thanksgiving that filled my heart.
A few weeks later I went to a prayer meeting, and was deeply impressed that nearly everyone prayed for over an hour. Soon I attended a meeting on the Lord’s Day morning and was nourished by the Word of God. After that meeting I purchased a book by Watchman Nee, The Orthodoxy of the Church, and two booklets by Witness Lee, Satan’s Strategy Against the Church and Pray-Reading the Word. These books were full of spiritual life and light! As I read The Orthodoxy of the Church, the Lord continually spoke to me to take the way of the church in localities, on the ground of oneness in the Lord. I had known about Christ being the one foundation for the church, but it was through that book that the Lord began to show me not only the spiritual reality of oneness, but also the practicality of it. After much prayer, I followed the leading of the Lord to begin to practice the oneness of the Body of Christ meeting in the church locally. Since that time the Lord has continually confirmed His leading by opening the Bible to me and filling me with the Spirit. The Lord has also given me a wonderful wife and children who love the Lord. Glory to God!