I’m A Witness
Sometimes I hear Christians say I’d like to be a better witness. To be a better witness you must first be a witness. Nobody will call you to the stand if you have no knowledge about the event in question. If you have first hand knowledge somebody is going to be interested! A witness is someone who has, who claims to have, or is thought by someone with authority to compel testimony to have, knowledge relevant to an event or other matter of interest. You are stopped at a stop light when a car comes barreling past you and into the intersection. You see an oncoming car smashing into the car that has run the light. You are a witness to this horrible crash. You stay around and are questioned by the police. Since both cars drivers and passengers are in no condition to talk it is you they want to hear from. What did you see? It is not hard to explain to the officer exactly what happened. You saw it first hand and your testimony is taken as fact, you were there.
A more recent Brown City Camp picture below. Some things don’t change!
The year was 1973. It was a hot summer similar to a usual August in Michigan. I was 16 years old and played on the church softball team which meant I had to attend church. However I never gave my life to Christ. I had heard the plea numerous times and usually the altar remained empty. It was the preacher at the time making a plea at the end of a service for a public display of walking up to the altar at the conclusion of a church service. Yet as in the poem “What Will People Think?”, I sat there over and over even though I felt enormous guilt. There was a guy named Greg, the youth director, who was putting pressure on me to go to a summer camp. It was the annual church camp in Brown City, Michigan and he was trying to get all of the youth in the church to go. Well to make a long story short he wore me down and I told him OK. This was just a few days before the big departure. Since I didn’t know the other youth very well I called my best friend Keith and talked him into going too! The camp lasted 10 days and it was in a farm town out away from everyone it seemed (about a 3 hour drive) When we arrived I was starting to feel right at home! They had a ball field and a basketball court! Sports were emphasized there and better yet if the girls were not participating they were watching! There was a huge attendance as youth from all over Michigan were there! Wow I was thinking! This is going to be a lot of fun!
Brown City Camp
The sports and camp atmosphere was a lot of fun! However there was a continuous activity I was not very fond of. We had to attend a church service 3 times a day. There were two that were directed at the youth. After breakfast and after lunch which were less formal. At night they had the big service where adults at the camp joined the youth in the big tabernacle. After a day of this I came to the conclusion that I couldn’t reject the message anymore. Every time I’d hear it I was feeling enormous guilt. I felt like the weight of the world was on my shoulders. I felt like something was desperately missing in my life. I felt like the Lord was telling me that this was the last time he was going to give me the opportunity to accept him. After one of the services I told Keith that I was considering going up there. I asked him if he would go up there if I did. Keith being the friend that he was said he would. It was August 19, 1973 and we were in the big tabernacle. There were probably 2,000 people there. It was a hot night and as the ending of the service came as usual the altar call was given. As people were making their way down the aisle I found myself walking down the aisle too. At that point it didn’t matter to me if Keith was behind me or not. I had to take care of this enormous guilt that was overshadowing me. I knelt in front of the big tabernacle altar with many people on each side of me. As I started to pray I felt the hand of the youth director Greg on me. Suddenly I started crying uncontrollably. I don’t really remember the words that I said but I’m sure I told God I was sorry. I was sorry for the fact that I had rejected him so many times. As the tears flowed I felt this incredible peace come over me. All of the guilt I had been carrying for so long was now replaced by a feeling of love I can’t describe. I learned that it was the Holy Spirit that had entered my being! I might have been down at that altar for 15 or 30 minutes! The time just flew by and there was a lot of crying around me. The feeling that I felt before and when I got to my feet was the most peaceful, wonderful, (I’m sorry, but I cannot find the words to describe), feeling I have ever felt before or since! Most of the youth in our group either made a first time decision or rededicated their life to Christ that summer at camp. The rest of the week flew by as I was basking in my new found relationship with God! My whole attitude changed! I was happy and looking forward to all of the church services. The sports that were so much a part of my life up to then became an after thought. They were fun, but it was God’s peace indwelling in me that made me happy!
The Big Tabernacle…Where I found God!
When I came home my family noticed right away the change in me. I didn’t really know how to tell them, so I just told them straight out what happened. A few days later my mom asked me to pray with her. She noticed such a change in my life that she wanted that change in hers too! So that was the beginning of my Christian walk. In the years since have I been a perfect Christian? NO…Have I yielded to temptation? YES..But just as God forgave me the first time by his grace I can ask and have asked for forgiveness again! The Bible says that If we confess our sins he is faithful and just to forgive our sins and cleanse us of all unrighteousness! I can truly tell you that the light that came on inside me that day has kept burning to this day and my decision to become a Christian is the best decision I have ever made! That original walk of faith is the reason you are reading this today!
If you want to become a better witness be natural. Get to know people and show the love of Jesus that is inside of you! Show them with your kindness that you really care! Look for opportunities to show God’s love in your every day life. As you get to know people ask them if they are a Christian. Tell them your story similar to how I told my story above. People are interested in honesty and real things. Your experience with God will be very interesting to someone searching for answers. You cannot make people believe anything, but you can show by a life of caring, helping, and telling your story that you are the witness with the answers they are looking for!