- a formal written or spoken statement, especially one given in a court of law. Similar: evidence sworn
- evidence or proof provided by the existence or appearance of something.”his blackened finger was testimony to the fact that he had played in pain”
- a public recounting of a religious conversion or experience.
For our purposes today, I’m recounting a religious conversion experience. I will add that I grew up religious. So, I will correct this definition and call this a Spiritual conversion experience.
I grew up in church. Most of that time was First Baptist Church in Dallas. Then in my 30s, I struggled for about three years. As I look back, I am asking, “What is Christianity? What is it to be a Christian?” I had substituted Bible study and church activities rather than have a relationship with Jesus Christ. I was reading Charles Sheldon’s In His Steps. I went to bed at the point where the Bishop had come to town to see for himself what was going on with this concept of not doing anything without first asking, “What Would Jesus Do?” He was looking out of the window over the rectangle and heard a night watchman making his rounds and singing, “Must Jesus Bear the Cross Alone and All the World go free?” I went to bed at this point. The following day was Sunday. I went to church. Pastor George Dodson was preaching on Paul’s thorn in the flesh. The sermon seemed aimed at my very soul. We stood up to sing the closing, invitational hymn. I did not hear or read it announced. I stood up, and I was holding the pew in front of me with white knuckles. The song started, “Must Jesus Bear the Cross Alone….” I heard in my deepest Spirit, “Paul, yield now, or I will forever leave you alone.” I yielded with tears and great emotions. I mark this as the date I was born again as a child of God.
I attended a New Year’s Eve watch night service at First Baptist Church, Dallas, Texas. I was 17. We were watching a film about Martin Luther. During the invitation, I went forward to yield to Christian service. When I was very young, my mother dedicated me to the Lord. But, I lived life and went my own way. I was always a member of a church. I preached from the time I was about 18. I received the God & Country Award in Scouting. I produced programs, including The Baptist Hour for the Radio-TV Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. My academic pursuits have been because I know I am to teach and serve others. All of this was interrupted by my conversion experience. I could have said, “Lord, I did all these things in your name.” He would have said, “Depart from Me, I never knew you.” I knew about Him. Until that time, I had not yielded my life to Him. Now my life is to live for Him.
For me, to live is Christ. And my calling is to share His good news of salvation. I know this is very brief, and each point of development in the Lord could be explained more fully.
No, I have never doubted this call. It is deep in my Spirit.