Testimony of Conversion

“I was brought to the knowledge of Christ at the cost of $0.25” is a line I have used to get a person’s attention. I grew up a strong Roman Catholic. I attended a Catholic school, and in grade 5, I was expelled for being very rowdy and not paying attention. In addition, my mother had significant financial challenges at the time with paying the fees. This was during the period when my parents were going through a divorce, and I suppose that was a part of my whole rebellion. I attended the Goodwill Academy for the last year of my primary education. The school had a used book sale, and as part of my support, I bought a book for $0.25 without actually investigating what book it was. I just bought the book for $0.25 as a means of support. When I got home, I realized it was a Bible, and a few pages were missing. Several pages were missing, but I remember very clearly reading Exodus 20. It was written in relatively modern language, and for the first time in my life, I read that you should not make any graven image of things in heaven, things on the earth, or things beneath the earth. In other words, don’t make statues of anything to be used in worship. Being a Roman Catholic, a conflict developed in my mind. I was also an acolyte (an altar boy) and very devoted to attending mass every morning at 6:00 AM; I asked the priest what that meant. I can’t recall him giving me a satisfactory answer, and at the same time, I began attending confirmation classes as a Roman Catholic. I went through the process, which required me to confess. At confession, I found myself in confession telling lies. I didn’t want the priest to know what mischief I was up to; after all, I was a very dedicated altar boy. But then it dawned on me that I was sinning while going through the process designed/intended for me to seek forgiveness of my sins. Both that and the inadequate answer given to me about the statues in the church being breaking points. It would seem that for these reasons, I just developed a very rebellious attitude towards the Roman Catholic Church and began skipping church, eventually stopping, then returning for about six months to continue being an acolyte and stopping again because I could not fathom what was going on.

From 1973-1974 my mother had a hard time with employment and moved to a small house. I took on a part-time job. I was 14 years old at the time. I remember coming home from this part-time job one evening, and as I passed my neighbor’s house, she called out to me. I realized that she knew me from a long time ago or knew my family from a long time and that she would talk to me and invite me to church. I went to church with her, that’s the Central Baptist Church, and then she invited me to the visitors’ night at a Christian camp, and there for the first time in my life, somebody witnessed to me about Christ and gave me a gospel tract. My mother noticed that I was retaking an interest in church and decided that she’d buy me a new pair of pants because I was growing taller. I went to church on Good Friday, and the Saturday morning, she told me to prepare to go to the men’s and boys’ store with her. While waiting to go to the store with her, I sat in my living room and began reading the tract, and I knew then that the Lord overwhelmed me, and I came to a saving knowledge of Him that Saturday morning.

Of course, the following Sunday, I went to church, and in those days, they had an altar call at the end of the service, the church was not Reformed at the time, and I walked the aisle and thought that was the day that I got saved. I can’t tell you what the preacher preached about because I knew I did not hear him, but one thing I did know was that I had to declare that I was saved based on what I read in the tract the day before. As it was said in those days, I accepted Christ, but of course, having matured in Christ and having given my attention to belief in the doctrines of grace, I realize that walking the aisle did not save me. I know it was on that Saturday morning when the Lord overwhelmed me that I repented of my sins and placed my faith in Jesus Christ in April 1975. I got baptized and became a member of the Central Baptist Church. Over the years, there were episodes in my life where I did not walk closely with the Lord as I should have, but the Lord, in His providence, always ordained situations to bring me back to him, even as a prodigal son. Thank God, He never allowed me to get to the point where I brought shame and tremendous embarrassment to myself or the church. But indeed, my sins were great, but His grace was more remarkable. The Lord has been consistent with me, whereas I have not been consistent, but certainly, I have experienced His mercy and grace in my life, and I’ve seen the radical change in my life and the growth for which I’m incredibly grateful. The Lord kept me all those years, even to bring me into his ministry so that I may be helpful to the Kingdom of God as a minister of the gospel.

Testimony of Conversion

My call to the ministry can be described as a challenge to enter the ministry. As a teenager, I had a desire to preach, and I was encouraged by a few people. My activity in Sunday School played a key role, for as a young Christian, I was assigned to teach my peers, and from what was said to me, I was somewhat adept at it. I had the opportunity to preach on several occasions, having expressed my desire and inclination to preach to the pastor at the time. Whereas I was given a few opportunities, I look back and cannot recall being given directions or guidance at the time. I went on with my life, and when the occasions presented themselves, I joined with any activity that permitted me to teach or to preach and to be involved in what we then call revival meetings or crusades. I completed high school and signed up in the military when an opportunity was given, intending to stay only three years, which ended up being a career of 35 years. I suppose it may be considered a successful career. Upon his return to Antigua, our current presiding elder, Dr. Jonas, became the pastor of Central Baptist Church. Having been given a more comfortable post in the military, which allowed me to be in church more often, I was encouraged to get involved in the church’s leadership. I was ordained as a deacon and continued in that role.

It so happened that I also continued in a teaching role, taking on more teaching and study responsibilities in the church. Then, the presiding elder challenged me and reminded me about my calling as a teenager. I could not deny that call; I felt no objection in my heart. My only challenge was my doubt about being the right man for the task. I was also concerned about having the required and adequate passion and desire for this call/task. As it happened, my discipline did not allow me to refuse because I always believed that if God challenged me or there was a challenge in ministry, I could rise to the task. I certainly did not want to be a ‘Jonah.’ Well, this challenge proved to be a well-thought-of challenge. I was licensed to preach by the church and subsequently ordained as a gospel minister in 1991. I’ve since had the personal desire and obligation to see things go according to the Word of God and to support the ministry in whatever way I can, especially in teaching and preaching.

Over the years, I’ve continued in that role, and from my observation, I see that the Lord is using me in the ministry. I would admit that there are times that I have become reluctant to push forward. Still, at the same time, there is always a strong desire to accept any challenge in the ministry that is presented to me, and to that end, I ended up being the Resident Elder at Tyrells Baptist Church. As it stands, it would seem foolish to resist the challenge or to advance in the ministry.

It has always been in the back of my mind that I will be more heavily involved in the church upon retirement from the military. I would admit that even though I was not a full-time minister of the gospel in the years prior, it might as well have been because my time was always concentrated on the work of the ministry. I am willing to trust God and his direction; from that perspective, I cannot see that God has ever failed me. Every opportunity that has given me to advance in the ministry or to take on new challenges in the ministry, He has always provided the means, the knowledge, the passion, the desire, and to that end, I can see that indeed He does not give you anything that He has not prepared you for and with that in mind, I look forward to the next challenge in ministry, even given myself full time to the work of the Lord.