Sometimes I feel like I don't have much of a testimony. I mean, i grew up in "the church" and i never really had a rebellious phase. I asked Jesus into my heart around 4 or 5 years of age, was baptized in water around 9 and just recently re-baptized in water about a year and half ago. Then I was baptized in the Holy Spirit about 12 years of age. You would think life would just be all fine and dandy after that, right? Man, I wish that was the case...
See, whenever you decided to get serious about your relationship with the Lord, literally all hell comes against you. For some, it's like Murphy's Law kicks into full effect. Because the target that is put on your back just keeps getting larger and larger.
I started out in private school, at a smaller Mennonite school in Lancaster, PA called Lititz Area Mennonite School. My family came out of the Mennonite church was I was about 18 months old (that's according to my mom). And we started going to a local charismatic church called DOVE Christian Fellowship. So, I remember growing up in church and being charismatic, you sometimes see interesting things happening. Nothing like snake handling or things like that, but the Holy Spirit moving and people's physical bodies hitting the ground or shaking or other things like that.
I can remember one meeting, it was the first time I had ever seen anyone 'slain in the spirit' or 'fall out', whatever you want to call it. I was just like "wow, that's... interesting." I was like "shouldn't someone help the person, i think they just fell over..." My parents informed me as to what was going on. And i accepted it because I didn't know to question my folks more about it.
But I can actually remember the night I asked Jesus into my heart. I don't remember the exact date, but I can remember what we were doing. At that time in my life, it was just my older sister Shalyn, me and my younger sister Amber. My younger brother Austin wasn't around yet. But my parents would tuck us into bed and pray with us. This night, my dad just said "if you want to, while i'm praying, you can just tone me out if you want to and ask Jesus into your heart." (Nowadays, i just tone them out without their permission at times.... but that's for another note...) So, I asked Jesus into my heart, to be my Lord and Savior... I wish I would've known better what I was getting myself into. But I was young and naive.
I can also remember the day I was baptized in the Holy Spirit and shortly there after, starting to pray in tongues. We were having a special children's church and they were speaking on the baptism of the Spirit. At the end, they asked for anyone who wants to come up and receive it, to do so. So, I thought "what do I got to loose?" So, I went up, got prayed for, felt really nothing and went back to my seat. They said to just start to pray. So I did. I tried to say a few things, which mainly sounded like gibberish. But at the end, the speaker said "ok, i'm going to close everything out here with a quick prayer." At the end of the prayer, when they said "and in Jesus name, Amen." That's when everything let loose on me. I started to pray in the Holy Spirit! I at first thought it was someone around me, but I quickly realized it wasn't! Later on, I was talking to my parents and they explained to me what happened.
It wasn't until a couple years later, me and my friends started to pray for revival. Now what exactly were we praying for... I'm still trying to figure that out and that was well over 10 years ago. But then we heard about this church in Pensacola, Florida that was experiencing revival. It was called the Brownsville Revival. So, we decided to go down to the youth conference called "Branded by Fire". They weren't kidding. There was a fire of the Holy Spirit there that just charged me. I can remember the first night there, they lined us up in lines to pray for us. This little older lady comes up to me and just puts her fingers to my forehead and says "Lord, Brand him with your fire." Next thing I know, i'm laying on my back looking up at the roof of the civic center we were in. I tried to get up but the Lord wasn't through dealing w/ me. I was glued to the floor and I couldn't move. So, i just laid there for a bit longer until I could move. At which time, my right leg would start twitching sporadically. It wasn't a medical condition at all. It was a manifestation of the Holy Spirit.
That night, the speaker spoke about the Unsanctified Slide. I think everyone left at this point in time and he was just talking to me... or at least that's how it felt. I wish I could fully explain at that happened at the youth conferences, but that would be a novel. Let's just say that the Lord shook the hell out of me... quite literally.
All the while, I was in public school. And I was pulling full time missionary status in the school. I was there to demonstrate Jesus. And despite myself, the Lord STILL used me. All this to say that all these years the Lord has been teaching me and training me how to demonstrate His love to a hurting and dying world. I entitled this the "The Hardest 18 inches" because that is the length between your heart and your brain. I knew all the right things to say and do growing up. But until it becomes a reality in your heart, it's just head knowledge. Now, the Lord can use the head knowledge. But more than anything, He wants your heart. Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. We don't invite the Lord into our minds, but into our hearts.
A part of the calling I feel I have is to awaken a sleeping church. I can do evangelism and reach out to the lost and dying, those who don't know Jesus. But my main concentration is dealing w/ those INSIDE the Body of Christ. If i had to loosely categorize my life, I would say that my giftings lie in the prophetic pastoring and teaching. Yes, the Lord still uses in me in all sorts of aspects. He can do that. But those are the areas that I feel the strongest in.