PRAISE THE LORD!!!!! I LOVE STORIES LIKE THIS!!!!! WE NEED MORE GOOD NEWS IN AMERICA!!! GOD IS STILL MOVING IN POWERFUL WAYS DESPITE US!!!
LOVE THE CHRISTIAN POST! WE ALL MUST SUPPORT CHRISTIAN MEDIA!
Actor and musician Chester Hanks, better known as Chet and the son of Academy Award-winning actor Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson, described his conversion from atheism after being touched by the hand of God.
Hanks, who has starred in recurring roles on TV shows such as “Empire,” made an appearance on the “IMPAULSIVE Clips” podcast, where he opened up about a time in his teens that his famous parents sent him away to a wilderness camp because of his bad behavior.
When I am asked about my conversion to Christianity, I cannot help but think of which one, My childhood was not good
I asked David Waterman to share his Christian Testimony with us. God told me to do so. WOW! I have read it over and over……I will share this when I preach! It is one of the best sermons I have read in a long time! It is ‘real life’! I have known David for years. I love how he loves the LORD and his wife Patti! They have not had an easy life, but their faith in JESUS should inspire us all! I pray more Christians will share their testimony with us! Life is not a bed of roses….We need to share with the world how great our GOD is in not just good times, but VERY TOUGH times!
When I am asked about my conversion to Christianity, I cannot help but think of which one.
My childhood was not good. My father had been in the Navy Air Corp during WW II, and he had been pulled from active duty to work on the Manhattan project. All we really know for sure is that he had radiation poisoning, chemical poisoning, and PTSD from areal combat which all resulted in a very violent man at times. He was also very bitter about the fact that after he had contributed to the Manhattan project he was not allowed to fly anything more than coastal patrols close to the USA mainland where the chances of him being shot down and captured were very slim.
My siblings and I lived in daily fear that some wrong word, some mistake, an error in judgment would trigger one of his rages and we would feel the beating because of it. I often wondered what kind of father he would have been if he had not been exposed to the radiation and chemicals. My oldest aunt told me when I had moved out on my own that he had been full of fun and often a prankster and took a lot of pleasure in life with friends and family. But she said after he worked on the Manhattan project developing the atomic bomb he changes drastically and completely in behavior and temperament.
Because he was so violent and very abusive during my childhood, I often think that the greatest miracle is that four out of us six children are now Christians.
It is very hard for a child to visualize a loving heavenly Father when the father the child had on earth is so very opposite. Add to that, the memories of a mother being beaten, physically abused and verbally belittled and abused and well, you get the picture I am sure. Our mother was a strong woman. As our father, her husband spiraled out of control she set boundaries, and she made sure we were all cared for. Not an easy task for a woman in the ‘50s and ‘60s! My brother and I often joked we had a drug problem, because mom drug us to church just about every time the door was open. I found peace at church. Our church was a Lutheran affiliated with and in the Missouri Synod, which was probably the closest to Bible Baptist in doctrine of any of the various sects of Lutheran churches. So we heard a very good presentation of the gospel.
There was a huge spiritual conflict going on in our home. Mom being Lutheran at the time would often encounter very strong resistance from our father because he had been raised in either Methodist or Baptist churches when a child. My oldest sister and brother, never did warm to the gospel, but the rest of us did. We longed for that which we were told was possible, but had never really seen, a loving compassionate father who would give at least some praise or encouragement to balance all of the other stuff which was so destructive of mind soul and spirit in a child. But God won, and He won by showing himself in worship. Even when I was just six or seven years old, I sensed Him in church services. When the music was playing from the organ and piano and the choir and congregation were all singing, I felt Him and a deep peace and joy would rise inside. I found it the most wonderful thing I have ever felt, and it still is.
We were in farming country. Farmers live close to God and often are praying for His favor. Farming is one occupation where God’s Grace and favor are evident, and the lack is just as evident.
When I was eleven I was seriously seeking God, looking for whatever it was that gave me that incredible deep peace during song services and during those sermons our pastor preached. Mom taught us to pray nightly and she taught us that we could pray anytime, anywhere, This was a new thing, being able to talk to an invisible friend, but I still could not visualize Him as a loving heavenly Father. Before my twelfth birthday my mother took me to talk to the pastor, and explained to him that I was asking a lot of questions, and she thought I should have a Bible that I could easily understand. Our pastor was a rare man, one who truly did feel the call of God on his life as a pastor and he was very much an influence in my coming to Christ. Mom had one other conviction. In her own Bible studies, she began to see the tradition of baptizing babies when they were not able to make an informed decision wasn’t compatible with scripture. That period of time between my eleventh birthday and twelfth birthday, with my new Bible in hand I read it through from cover to cover twice. I didn’t understand a lot of it, but I knew it had answers and it had the road map to escape the hurting aching heart my siblings and I felt often in our home.
There was one other conflict of a spiritual and epic proportions raging in our home. My father was into the occult. He wouldn’t call it that, for he believed that ESP (extra sensory perception) wasn’t against God, but his teachers were books by Edgar Cayce, Jean Dixon and the like. The problem was that the majority of modern church members, and pastors and leaders are in denial about the spiritual warfare. Our pastor wasn’t, but that might have been because he was witness to what we saw at home. My father could sit at the breakfast table and declare that the ‘little voice’ had told him certain things would happen, sometimes predicting events even years in advance, and they would come true just as he said. So we feared him. If he left and told us boys to work on something or in the field and we decided to go fishing or take the canoe out for a ride, he would come home and tell us that while he was away he ‘saw’ us doing what we were doing, then proceed to tell us in detail very accurately what we had done and when. It was terrifying! Those experiences really made me uneasy when I would hear in Sunday School that God was everywhere and saw everything. I didn’t much like that thought!
I said our pastor was witness, and he was, for he would come out and visit. To this day I believe that he was a huge influence in us children comprehending God sending messengers of love, for Dale Young pastor of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church of Montevideo, probably was the primary reason I view the ministry with the love and respect I do.
It was one Sunday after church services were over, my mother visiting with other people in the front foyer of the church that I walked back into the auditorium, what we called the sanctuary and He was there. I felt the Spirit of God so strong I could almost feel like I could float in it. The area around the cross on the altar was in the dark with the lights off, but the brass cross gleamed and was clearly visible, and I didn’t hear Him, but I heard Him, and I more felt than thought, that I wanted Him with me like that always. And that was it. I felt so incredibly clean, so alive, and I walked out of the doors into the foyer and saw my mother talking to the pastor. They turned and looked at me as I stepped through the doors and he suddenly looked intently and then he smiled. He knew.
He was not surprised when mom brought I and my younger brother and sister to be baptized. My youngest sister was also seeking hard after God and we were all baptized on the say day early in my thirteenth year.
Some of the things I learned from Pastor Dale Young were that we should not deny reality. To say there were no demonic activities or miracles anymore was to deny scripture. Add to that as he pointed out to me one time, one has to be willfully ignorant to deny what my father was doing that he attributed to ESP and his little voice. God put that pastor there, and not some ridged denominational puppet for the very reason that God knew our congregation needed a man that would encourage everyone to seek God. Another thing Dale taught me was that the Bible was the first only and final authority in writing, but that God could by His Holy Spirit help us to understand what as mere carnal people we could never know. He also taught the teenagers in my group a course one year that gave us a clear understanding of all the different denominations and religions common in the USA and what each taught and believed. He would admonish us to compare church doctrines with scripture and to discard what was not scriptural.
I needed the fortifying of the Word, and the stability of God’s influence for just a summer and fall after being baptized, I was working with my younger brother, getting firewood in on a very cold winter evening after school (for we heated the large two story farmhouse we lived in with wood), and it was so bitterly cold we had to go in and warm up. Well, my brother did, for some reason during those few years he was always getting cold, and he had some other issues, different story for a different time. The wind was blowing between fifteen and twenty miles per hour and it was forty three degrees below zero. I was swinging a five pound double bit ax or using a sledgehammer and wedges to split wood our older brother had cut with the chainsaw, and my younger brother was supposed to be carrying the wood in and stacking it in the porch. He whimpered and cried, and finally I agreed it wouldn’t hurt to warm up, but I wanted to get done fast as I had a new book I wanted to read from school. We were warming ourselves at the wood burning stove in the kitchen when our father came in from his trapline. He asked why we didn’t have the wood in yet, and I answered that my brother was cold so we came in so he could warm up. He never said another word, just picked up a push broom we used to sweep the snow off the steps and walk outside and swung it connecting with the left side of my head and sending me sideways into the old wall mount cast iron sink. My brother jumped for the door and got through it before he got hit. I got myself somewhat oriented at that point and heard my father day, “Get the GD wood in, or I’ll beat you to an inch of your life.” I headed out the door. I saw colors, distortions and I couldn’t get my eyes to focus, but we managed to split the rest of the wood (we had to gather a cord to cord and half every night in the winter) and bring it in and stack it. Father had settled at his desk, and we scurried upstairs.
I had run near perfect grades in school. But after that night I struggled to remember things I had just read. I had been able to hunt, fish, run traplines, paddle a canoe, play ball and many other things with very little effort, but after that night I couldn’t seem to move my right arm or hand right in order to throw a ball. I had heard this kind of trickling noise inside my head after the hit with the broom, and did not know until I was nineteen and examined after a car accident that I had a aneurysm in the left side of my head where I was hit with the broom.
The following years between that night and when I was talking with a young man in Colorado in a small ranch community church were marked with failures to do just about anything I had been able to do before. I had won artist competitions as a younger child, but after that night I could not get my hand eye coordination to work and I quit doing art work for a long time.
After regaining some use of my hand and getting some function back in ly late teens, I had started to improve in my skills and my memory came back to close to what it was before that night. I might have recovered earlier but at age fifteen my father beat me with his fists so badly that I had concussions and he broke my cheek bone. Which has caused some sinus issues ever since. We were actually fortunate to be in the church, and some of the church members were our school teachers, as well as some of the local sheriffs deputies and police officers. There were two law enforcement officers who had made it a point to show up on the farm as often as possible. One was a city cop, who asked my father to teach him how to trap red fox. That kept him visible, and the other was deputy sheriff who later became sheriff. The deputy especially was able to let our father know he was being watched and there were high school teachers who would show up to touch base. I think our father realized that it wasn’t a secret that he was abusive.
Later in my teens when I could drive with my own driver’s license, I was befriended by a State Highway patrolman. Arnie would mentor I and the other high school age boys, and he would invite us to watch the Minnesota Vikings with he and his wife, bringing out snacks and soft drinks and treating us with some dignity and respect but not allowing foolishness. I still remember those afternoons watching the Vikings with Arnie and my friends.
But I was struggling in my faith. I wanted to know why God allowed the terrible abuse at home. And if it had not been for those Christian law enforcement officers, school teachers, and business men and women in our community, I might not have lived. In a little church on the front range in Colorado, Robert a former drug addict and alcoholic whom God had completely delivered and transformed witnessed to me and I felt that same wonderful feeling I had as a child in the sanctuary of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church. By then I was smoking, drinking a little to relax and I was bitter and offended, and in just a few moments God put the bridge back between He and I through Robert’s testimony, and I threw the cigarettes in the stove that the church had for heat and at 4:38 in the afternoon of December twenty third, nineteen eighty I surrendered my life to the Lord Jesus Christ to be His servant and not a free agent anymore.
In retrospect, I would not have understood the countless abused children and people I have ministered to, if I had not felt it myself, I would not recognize the demonic activity in the world as easily if I had not seen and heard a demon influenced father steer his life and family on the leading of spirits. And finally, I would not know the miracle working power of God to save and transform lives without witnessing the amazing transformation of our family as I led my youngest sister first, then my next oldest brother and finally my younger brother to all come to Christ completely. But that pales in comparison to seeing my father at age seventy one change from following demons and devils to accepting Christ and being baptized. He died just one and half years later. I also had the privilege of leading many of my father’s fifteen brothers and sisters into a closer walk with God and some to accept Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. If one cannot be used greatly by God until one is wounded deeply, then I and my siblings qualify. My youngest sister went on to play piano in some of the largest churches on the east coast, my next older brother was employed in situations where truly intricate advanced work was the norm and was a guitar player for years in one of the largest churches on the west coast, and my younger brother works in corporate business, but he and his wife have been stationed in foreign countries to consult on factory construction and manufacturing, and his wife has been a very effective missionary in the community while he was on the job as well as he led Sunday School classes on Sunday.
I think Satan saw us coming, I think he saw mom and he did everything he could to prevent her children from growing up and hurting his kingdom of darkness and pain, but he lost a large segment of our family including relatives, and now many are in ministry. He lost at the cross and he lost in our home because God has his people.
Those people are why I always show respect to Law Enforcement, teachers, and Christian businessmen. They are the reason I am alive and in Christ today. It’s something I emphasize when preaching or teaching Bible Studies. Your life is going to impact someone you don’t even know is watching if you are faithful to your calling in Christ.