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A Living Testimony
by Michael Stevenson

 

I grew up in Philadelphia, Pa. during the turbulent 60's. Wasn't it something to watch. Thousands of doctrines and messages were being preached from many groups as Major events occurred in our nation and world.

After experiencing many of them on high school\college campuses and in the street, I was left with an empty feeling. I had brushed with many false doctrines (not religious but political). Being without God, that was bound to happen in that time period.

One night, a summer night, I rode down on a motorcycle to the Philadelphia Museum of Art. I was probably 17. I was just hanging out there watching the lights, the city and the people when two young (what look like students) approached me on the steps of the Art Museum. They appeared very clean cut for the times as they were wearing white shirts and ties, neat haircuts, etc. They had at least one Bible with them. I was wearing tall horseback riding boots, one in which a scarf hung, jeans (LEE) long hair and a denim jacket. It was unusual for two people from such an obviously different world to just approach like that. They said they wanted to talk to me about God. I said, "Sure."

I can't remember the exact words of the conversation. They said they were from a local bible college. I'm certain they preached salvation in Jesus Christ to me. That is the message that I remember. When they concluded, they asked me right away, did I want to pray with them? Slightly off balance, I said, "OK." They looked at each other for a moment, then lead me in a prayer.

After the prayer, *they* were overjoyed! *Completely* overjoyed- and I was very surprised. I was surprised because *they* were so happy. They told me that I was saved. They were so very happy and obviously fulfilled as they started packing up and leaving. I was really astounded at *their* joy. 'What had happened?', I asked myself.

They were walking away with great satisfaction. I shouted to them, "Hey, how will I know I got saved?" One looked back (they were crossing a big street) and said, "Don't worry, you'll find out." I never saw them again.

I told my family and my neighbors what happened in a joking kind of way, not ridicule, but just as it happened. *Their* joy and quick departure really struck me. Those guys had come through the Philadelphia Art Museum like a whirlwind!


I continued to live in sin, as the world lead me in it's fleshy goals, through high school and a year of college. I was tossed about as I came in contact with many of the world's doctrines. After one year in college, I couldn't take anymore non-reality. America was at war with itself in the streets concerning Vietnam and I was in a classroom studying the periodic table of elements.

I went to register again in college in the fall of 1973, to become a sophomore I suppose, but did not. I left...still living in sin. I went a lot of places and worked several jobs for short periods of time and finally ended up of all places in Reading, Pa. I had a sister there. This was kind of emotionally shocking for me because I was really "away from home" and out of the "security" of school at this point, feeling somewhat "Like a Rolling Stone." I remember one late afternoon looking at the sunset, thinking of God and saying to Him how much I really wanted Him.

Within the next two weeks I was walking down a street in Reading when a group of people greeted me and invited me to come to their house, for one reason, to study the bible. In the middle of the living room floor I listened as one simply read from the scriptures......

"Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool."

" If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land:" "But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it."

" Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:"

" For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. "


As each verse was read, the truth about salvation in Christ cut into me deeper. It was as though the bible was speaking to me. I just nodded my head at the completion of a scripture because I was trying to control myself... I didn't want to cry in public. ...there were some girls there.

"The same was in the beginning with God."
"That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh"
"He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not."
"But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:"
"Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.'
" And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth."


I said something in a soft voice like "OK, that's plenty" or something. I told them, "If you read any more I'll cry." One of them said, "Well let's just save him, then!." They lead me in a prayer of salvation. *This* time I knew exactly what I was praying for and exactly who I was praying to. When I finished I knew exactly what had happened. I was saved... *by* Jesus Christ. I was *not* going to the Lake of Fire (Rev. 20:15) I was now going to Heaven, forever. That was November 13, 1973.


I returned to Philadelphia preaching this gospel to everyone I knew. I pretty much went wild for Christ. I still wore denim jackets then and had a knitted patch on the back that read, "Jesus; The Way". When I returned to Philadelphia I had this idea in my head of who I was going to share the gospel with and how they would respond to this great news! The opposite was true. The people I had in mind would have nothing to do with what I had to say, period. I was shocked. Almost consistently, those I had in mind *flat out* rejected this gospel... one of those situations where they did not even want it to fall on their ears and would not stand for a *moment* to listen. There were others who did listen. The exact ones I didn't consider. I shook my head over that many times.

Sometime during the month of February 1974 I had returned home very late. I had been with the family of this girl that I knew. We talked of Christ for hours. Her parents were very receptive. It had been a pleasure to share like that. I was exhausted. I was so tired that I was;

1) thinking about my bed while driving home, you know, picturing it in my mind

2) was planning to *dive* into the bed when I got there, a literal crash. I was absolutely exhausted.

When I got to my room it was somewhere between 11:30pm and 12:00 midnight. I opened door and finally laid eyes on that bed I had pictured, longingly.

I thought to myself, it had been so wonderful to spend that time with Claudia's family, that I simply could not "crash" without saying a short prayer. There was something in/on my conscious that I was pondering and wasn't sure about and wanted to get it straight with the Lord. So I knelt down at my bedroom window and uttered a short but sincere prayer. As I began to stand up, as I was looking up, through my peripheral vision for a *fraction* of a second... a white light.... at incredible speed.. ... coming down at me... then wham!

Before I could stand completely upright, I was struck with the Baptism of the Holy Ghost and *instantly* filled and surrounded by the presence of God to overflowing. It was a moment of ecstasy. It lasted the entire night. I never went to sleep. I stood at the window the entire evening in praise. Praises flowing! There are no words that could describe the feeling of the presence of His Spirit. I will never forget. I was lost in praise and it was easy to do. My joy was full. I began to notice that the sun was beginning to come up. Things began to subside. I was beyond physical exhaustion but in my spirit.... I had received power from on high. Then I went to sleep. Everything was different the next day...has been ever since.

Later I spent 7 years on active duty (USN) and traveled to many countries in Europe and South America. I traveled a good deal in the U.S., too. Many experiences through which Jesus brought me all. During this time I was virtually out of fellowship and began to "backslide." I make no excuses. I was sharing the gospel but not in power. I don't believe my lifestyle reflected new birth in Christ during some of those years.

"Washington was the last place I was stationed." A lot of people make this famous quote. It was here that I heard preaching on a radio broadcast by Warren Wiersbe called "The High cost of Sin." It really struck home and through it the Lord delivered me from having one foot in the world and has blessed me abundantly since. Also, here in Washington after returning to fellowship, I heard some *awesome*, *dynamic* preaching in the power of the Holy Ghost about repentance. By faith and the Lord's grace it was applied to my life. So, I'm here serving the Lord until his coming.

Sometimes I still sit and wonder at the faith of those two guys at the Art Museum. I'm still astounded at those two. I didn't get saved then but I sure did later. I guess their faith was the substance of things unseen.


Be sure to visit Michael's web site:
SALVATION STATION; Christ Jesus, Messiah Yeshua

 

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