Testimony

THE SOCCER MIRACLE

soccer heart

by Debbie Huber

In 1983, in a small province in Algeria there were some tourists who were trying to set up their tents on a windy day. A group of Muslim locals watched as the wind blew over their tents so they offered their help. Expressing thanks to the locals the tourists asked if they would like to engage in a friendly soccer match. The locals were hesitant to play because their best player was very ill that day. The tourists, who were Christians, asked to see the sick young man so they could pray for him. This intrigued the Muslim locals as they did not know that God would be interested in a single individual.

Amazingly, the next morning the young man felt no signs of sickness and they played the game. This caused the Muslim locals to ask questions about this God who healed their friend. The visitors explained the gospel to the locals and then went on their way. Several of the men heard and believed in Christ that day. 

This one simple event, “the soccer miracle” changed Algeria and started a revival where many came to faith in Christ in that country. 

These tourists were not missionaries but men who loved God and sought to share the gospel with others. They were faithful with the opportunity God gave them and left not knowing how God would use their words and actions.

How are we using the seemingly small interactions in our day? Every interaction can be a gospel interaction.

Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, – Philippians 1:27a

Do we show grace when someone is rude to us? Are we pursuing being a servant? Are your hearts filled with gratitude for what Christ has done for you that you seek to share Him with others? Are you asking God daily to keep you aware of gospel opportunities?

We will not often see the fruit of our faithfulness but God can and will use our gospel interactions for His glory. 

May our prayer be saturated with the joy of this verse:

“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” – Galatians 2:20

THIS IS POWERFUL!

5 year old Levi has Down’s Syndrome. And that is the easiest of his physical difficulties. His adversities include four open heart surgeries (and counting).

This testimony by his dad, a student at Bethlehem Seminary, is powerful, perspective correcting, and encouraging!

“Drinking Deeply of the Tenderness of Christ” from Bethlehem College & Seminary on Vimeo.

TESTIMONY OF A CHANGED LIFE

On Easter, Mike Frampus who grew up in Greentree and then drifted far from church and God, gave this testimony of God’s grace to save him. Mike has a history of significant problems with anxiety – so just standing before everyone to share his story was a wonderful work of God!

Good morning,

Dana called me a few weeks ago and asked me to come up here and give my testimony. She had prepared me beforehand and let me know that she would do that one day, so of course I said yes.

After I hung up the phone, I began to search online out-of-state job sites, because now that someone had asked me to get up and speak in front of the church, obviously it was time to pack up my family and move as far away as possible to begin anew somewhere else.

You see, I have something that I’m sure some of you know a little about….fear of man. Not only that, but Satan desires for me to be ineffective for God’s kingdom, and so I wanted to give 10,000 reasons why I could not do this.

But then I thought of Moses and Jonah and all the other sinful men that God used for his glory, and the only thing I could say in my heart was: “Here am I. Send me!” So I’m here this morning to give you a very brief glimpse into the power of God.

I grew up attending Greentree Church as a child and being in Sunday school. I was even baptized as a teenager right here behind me, which by the way was the last time that I ever fit into a tub. It wasn’t long, however, until I decided that I wanted to take control of my life and do things my way.

I began at an early age to experiment with alcohol and marijuana, and these things helped me to become more comfortable in a world where I felt as if I didn’t really belong anywhere. I began to believe whole-heartedly that every moment of every day was meant to be lived for my pleasure. So I ran hard after sin towards death until God was no longer even an afterthought.

Initially I was convicted in my heart as I did whatever I thought might bring me joy, but as I graduated to harder drugs I was able to quiet that voice inside a little more effectively. The more I tried to run the more broken I became.

My partying lifestyle began to affect every area of my life, as I began high school getting straight A’s only to struggle just to pass my senior year. I couldn’t wait to get out and really start living…or dying as it turns out.

I used heroin for the very first time when I was 17 years old. Although it was not necessarily love at first sight, in just a couple of short years I would be sticking a needle into my veins, and experienced a rapid downhill decline. I began committing crimes to support my heroin addiction, and I began to steal from the only ones in my life that cared about me.

I have experienced overdose, been through treatments, been to jail, I’ve been robbed and pistol-whipped, and I even sailed across an interstate highway and off the shoulder of the road at more than 75 mph. There have been literally thousands of times in my life where I could have easily died one way or another, and at times in my life I even wished for death.

But God, in His great love and mercy looked upon my helpless state…and led me to the cross. By His amazing grace I have not used drugs and alcohol for over ten years. I am now married to an awesome wife and have three wonderful children.

It is God who sustained me and continues to do so each day. He opened my blind eyes to see that Jesus has already paid the penalty for my sins and for any who would trust in Him. Through the blood of our precious Savior Jesus I have been brought from death to life and I have been made a new creation.

If, this morning you have a loved one that you’ve been praying for who you know is enslaved by this or any other sin, or perhaps it is you that are caught in this vicious cycle….cry out to the only one that saves. He is faithful.

LIGHTS WORK BEST AT NIGHT

It is a plain and obvious fact, that lights have the greatest affect when it is dark.

This is a physical truth; that is echoed as a spiritual reality. Jesus said,

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16)

God’s Word refers to us as being light in a world that is dark with ignorance, evil and sorrow. We are not only meant to grow through hard times, we are meant to be lights for the gospel in them.

Some of the most powerful moments I have witnessed have been believers shining in the dark places of life. Anyone can be hopeful, joyous and content in smooth sailing; storms show if these qualities have depth.

It is easy for people to rationalize away our testimony when they see nothing but prosperity around us. But it is much harder for people to forget our testimony when our life is swirling with troubles.

People understand troubles; they understand fearful and hard circumstances. What they will not understand is how we can have peace, joy and hope in the midst of them

However, if all we do in our difficulties is complain with the same intensity as those who don’t know Christ, what reason do people have to pay attention to our testimony?

We don’t have to be on top of the world, to be a light on a hill. Darkness is when people want a flashlight; so let them see that you have one inside you.

NOW I SEE!

Sue Long, who has attended Greentree for several years, came by my study one day to share her testimony of coming to faith. It is an unusual story about the wonderful grace of God in pursuing us.

Amazing Grace – that wonderful line, “I once was blind, but now can see”, is my testimony.

Several years ago, I was diagnosed with Fuchs Dystrophy – a dystrophy that causes haziness, blistering and eventually deterioration of the corneas.  My vision has become so impaired it was looking through thick fog.  Cornea transplant surgery was the only option.

Around the same time of hearing this medical news, while in my home church on Sunday morning, you might say I was literally rattled.  There was restlessness in me while listening to that morning’s message.  Suddenly, it was as if someone placed their hands on my shoulders and started to shake me.  I looked over at a friend in the choir next to me, to see why she was doing this.  Well, it wasn’t her or anyone else around me.

As I left the sanctuary, I remember asking someone, “Did you notice anything different in church this morning?”  He didn’t know what I meant.  Something was happening inside me I just couldn’t explain.

Then, as my mother and I began to leave church that morning, my eyes completely cleared.  They stayed visually clear until the following Sunday.  Once we walked into church again, my eyes were totally hazed over until we left the building.  For three straight weeks, I had clear vision Sunday afternoon through Saturday. Come Sunday morning, I was unable to see.

I remember saying to my family that God is taking me through an incredible miracle.  What seemed impossible God was making possible.

In the weeks to follow as I was writing down these experiences, God continued to fill my heart with so many thoughts. Two words kept coming into my head, “just ask.”

One afternoon, I turned on the TV and got the last 30 seconds of Dr. Charles Stanley’s broadcast.  All I heard him say was even if you attended church your whole life and believed in God, just ask Jesus to fill you with His presence from head to toe.  I did.  A peace came over me such as I had never known.  For the first time, I was beginning to experience Jesus and knew what it meant to walk into God’s marvelous light. 

It was obvious that God wanted to uproot us from our church of nearly 50 years.  This move was quite challenging as you can imagine. Ever since I was a little girl, I lived going to church.  Most of all, I enjoyed music, playing the piano and singing.  I have come to realized, however, that being an active church member does not make you a Christian.

In the latter years of attending church, my mother, especially, felt a prompting in her heart to leave.  I didn’t, however, until this conversion.  There were many reasons why God called us to leave, but until He removed the blinders, we were not able to fully see or understand His ways.  If you asked me, I would have told you that I believed in Jesus.  What I had was “head” knowledge of Him and did not fully understand about my sin nature and my separation from Jesus.

I finally realized how liberating sincere repentance can be and how anxious God is to receive and forgive anyone who will just come to Him with a sincere heart.

God’s grace not only opened my eyes that morning, but changed my heart forever.

We are so thrilled to worship together as a family at Greentree and be taught the truths from God’s Word.  The love, fellowship and prayers we share with this wonderful church family have encouraged our walk with the Lord.

After three weeks of controlled vision by Jesus, my eyes hazed over again until the surgeries.  I am pleased to tell you that the cornea transplants to both eyes were successful.

One last personal touch from Jesus I need to mention:  There was a wonder hymn arrangement I was often asked to accompany the choir on the piano.  That hymn just happens to be called, “Be Thou My Vision.”  This conversion from the Lord has been life changing!  I am so thankful for my physical sight, but eternally grateful for my spiritual sight!

REBEKAH’S STORY

This testimony was given by Rebekah O’Brien at her recent baptism. Rebekah is a Senior in high school. I hope it encourages you with the gospel and the Great Commission!

At the young age of five I accepted Jesus as my Savior, but I never fully understood the meaning.  My life didn’t reflect my beliefs.  My whole life I’ve gone through the motions.  I had all the head knowledge of Jesus, buy my faith was weak. 

Before I was what I would call an authentic Christian, my life was becoming a downward spiral of sin.  I was obsessed with my image, parties, foul language, sports and relationships.  I tried to find fulfillment in anything BUT Jesus.  What I didn’t realize was that all the things of this world won’t do anything but let me down.

For the past three years I’ve gone to Word of Life summer camps. Each time, I gained a spiritual high that would quickly fade away as I went back to school, my friends, and a new relationship.  I was getting stuck in the same situations.  Even though I knew it was wrong, I chose to still entertain it.  I was relying on myself, and not using God and His word to defend myself from sin.  This past summer at camp completely changed my life.  God completely changed my life. 

At the rededication fire, God spoke to me.  This time it wasn’t just about the head knowledge I already learned through Sunday school, Atlantic Christian, Home Fellowship, Family Bible Studies, and even Camp.  No, this time it went from head knowledge to heart understanding.  I realized that God has been speaking to me my whole life; he has just been waiting for me to listen. 

I realized how selfish I am to live my life the way I want to, when the only reason I have to live is because of Jesus.  Nothing in this life will satisfy me, God has put people and situations I my life to help me understand that.  He’s had relationships not work, friendships fail, and desires unfulfilled to say, “Hey Rebekah, I’ve been here this whole time.  When will you realize that?  When will you start putting your trust in Me?” Well I heard God loud and clear, and ever since then my life has changed drastically.

Ever since I returned from camp I’ve been reading my devotions, and studying God’s word.  I’ve been witnessing to some friends, and ended some relationships so I could focus on what the Lord has planned for me.

Of course there are plenty of things I still need to work on, and I pray to God every day that He would help me.  The Lord has put many things on my heart.  One is attending the Bible Institute for a year.  The Bible Institute is an intensive study of God’s word, and also requires me to counsel young people at the Word of Life camps I’ve been attending the past three years. 

Ministry is something I want to do, and becoming a missionary is my ultimate goal.  If you had asked what I wanted to go to college for a year ago, I would have never guessed this is where God would lead me.  That’s the funny thing about God’s will – it’s not always what we expect. 

I’m done running away from what God has planned for my life.  I’m not making any more excuses for why I can’t because through him I can do all things.  I want to spend the rest of my life being amazed by God’s awesome works and power.  I want to have an authentic relationship with him.  Most importantly, I want to be a witness for Christ.  I want everyone to see Christ through me.

Beyond Her Years

I have one more testimony from our Thanksgiving Eve Service to share with you.  This time from 11 year old Kaylee Cooney.  The informed thoughtfulness of young Kaylee’s testimony should be a source of thankfulness and encouragement to our entire church family.  We may not be as proud of Kaylee as her parents Tracy and Bill, but it is pretty close!

One encouragement is a reminder that the presence of the Holy Spirit is real in those who place their faith in Christ.  Kaylee is a young believer, but the Spirit of God is clearly at work in her.  A second encouragement is to everyone who works in Children’s Ministry; your investment in these young people is WORTH IT!  

 Hi.  My name is Kaylee Grace Cooney.  I’m eleven years old and I’ve been coming to Greentree for five years.  My parents have been taking me to church and teaching me about God all my life.

 Even though I’ve been going to Sunday School and youth group, I’ve come to realize that I knew of Jesus, but I never had a personal relationship with Him as my Lord and Savior.  I would like to share a brief testimony about how I came to believe.

 Three years ago we had to move out to Las Vegas for my dad’s job.  Our family didn’t want to leave New Jersey.  I felt disappointed and afraid that I would miss my friends and family.  I can remember when we were on the plane I asked God to bring us back to New Jersey some day.

 While I was out there I felt God tugging on my heart to talk to Him more.  I started to pray and read the Bible on my own.

 It was during this time that I realized I was coming to Him for things that I wanted in my life, and I know I wanted to go to heaven.  I saw something about myself I had not seen before.  I saw my sin.  I realized selfishness was my sin.  Up until this time I wanted to go to Heaven, because I really didn’t want to go to Hell!  I didn’t really care about knowing God or giving Him worship.  I felt bad.  I knew this was wrong and wanted to change.  I thought about how Jesus died for me, how He took my sins on the cross to save me.  He lived a sinless, perfect life for me.  His love for me became more important than anything, so I asked for forgiveness and I asked Him to help me to follow him all my life.  I started reading my Bible every day and could hear God talking to my heart about my life. 

 I see things differently now.  I see His way, not my way.  I choose His way.  I love Him because He first loved me, and I want to be baptized today to show I want to live for Him.