September 1983 I was attending the University of Missouri School of Veterinary medicine. I was way over my head and struggling in my classes. I was dating a young lady and not being the guy God had called me to be. One night an Engineering major (Marc Sullivan) knocked on my door and invited me to a Bible Study. He set a goal of 100 doors and I was the last one he knocked.
This day, October 24—1983, on a Monday night, I was baptized into Jesus.
I’m thankful for Marc’s persistence and love for me. I argued with him and he was loving.
When I got baptized by Marc I turned my back on what many in this world push young men to be. It was a decision I felt I had to make, because Jesus was Lord and I believed I had to do something about that. The verse that bothered me the most still pushes me.
“If anyone wishes to come with me they must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. Whoever wants to save their life will lose it but whoever loses their life for me will save it.”
These were hard words. I knew when I made the decision I was doing more than getting wet.
The next few months were hard.
I finally had to break off my relationship with the woman I was dating. I had to start hanging out with different people. I had to study harder and focus on school. I had to go to church and start focusing on my relationship with God. Yes—I know I used the word “had” repeatedly here. It’s how I felt. It’s all I knew. I knew what I wanted to do and decided what I had to do.
I did this willingly but it was hard. Actually—it hurt.
I realized later that this prepared me for the next test. I flunked out of Vet School. I was devastated because this was all I wanted to be. My dad was an atheist and blamed my “conversion” for this. He told me I let this religious stuff blow my future.
I returned to my previous school (Central Missouri State University) and baptized my three friends. I led a dorm Bible study that was always full of people. I became active in the local church which started a college group and we taught the High School kids.
The first few years were hard. I struggled to be who God called me to be.
It got better. It became easier. I grew stronger—but sometimes it was hard.
Now, 33 years later I look back and am thankful for the many people who stayed in the race, who struggled with me, who didn’t quit, and who reminded me that Luke is the only Gospel to tell us to carry the cross “daily.” They were men, women, and sometimes kids who were on the same journey as me. If you are one of the ones reading this—“Thank You For Being a Model for Me!”
Everyone’s journey is unique. However, we need to surround ourselves with people who not only wish to die daily to this world’s view of truth, but those who are moving forward. The journey gets easier and God’s grace gives us the strength to move forward, and gather together with others who like us do what we had to do because we love Jesus.
I have also found that JESUS is faithful. He never abandoned me, even though I felt alone at times. In looking back he is always there and maybe that is why I always wanted to be there for him. If you follow him he will always be with you. As a minister those days seem so long ago, and sometimes a little simpler, but it’s still what we had to do each day of our lives.