I’m gonna start with my testimony then speak on my journey through IFB the last few years. I grew up in a Christian home. My dad was led to Christ by a very prominent IFB preacher that travelled the country. I grew up going to one of the largest IFB churches in Michigan. Went to the Christian school from K4 until graduating in 2007. I was in K4 when my teacher taught about salvation in Bible class and then asked if anyone wanted to get saved. I remember raising my hand but don’t remember anything after that. I was baptized and have the certificate to prove that but looking back I know I did not receive Christ. We had all the IFB traditions and rules growing up. No theaters, girls couldn’t wear pants. No mixed swimming. Suit and tie for every service. Sunday school. I grew up through my high school years a hidden rebel. When I was in church or around people that thought I was saved, I appeared to be a Christian. I knew what to say, what to wear, and how to act. But when I was with my friends that knew the real me, I said what I wanted and lived how I wanted. I graduated high school and did the only thing I knew to do; go to Bible college. I went to a IFB school that my brother was already at and chose a youth ministry major. Cause it was the fun major to choose and you didn’t have to learn Greek. lol The Christian beliefs I had were not my beliefs; they were my parents. I went to college still not saved; still living the part and tricking everyone. My parents moved with me so I did not have to pay for room and board and my mom had always wanted to live in that part of the country. I was in my sophomore year now and I should’ve gotten kicked out a couple times but I didn’t. The Vice President was preaching on a Wednesday night about having the joy of being a Christian and through different circumstances the Lord grabbed my heart. I went forward that night and received Christ in my heart. I know that is the moment I put my trust in Him. The issue was I did not get rid of the old habits I had created growing up. I was saved but still not living my life fully Christ. I graduated from college, got married, and moved to a small town in Illinois to begin ministry work. It was part time helping with youth and kids and it was great, but I still had the besetting sins that held me down. Our marriage started of bad and never really was what it should’ve been. We moved to Texas where I took a full time youth position. I was there a year when I was caught in sin and had to resign and resulted in getting divorced a year later. This was the wake up call for me. The Sunday after I resigned I had to go to church somewhere because that’s all I knew. I wound up in this little church that was full of older people and was dying physically and spiritually. They were looking for a pastor and a couple weeks later, a family came and eventually was voted in. The church was in a mess. They had lots of ministries but they were doing them for all the wrong reasons. “We have always done this”, or “We have to keep doing this even though its not working”. He stopped all ministries and we lost about 40 people after that. His sermons were challenging me to establish my own beliefs. I knew I had to fully separate from what my parents believed and establish my own; whether they lined up or not. Because I grew up in the IFB realm, I thought that being divorced ruined my opportunity to serve in a church ever again. I came to the realization and was satisfied with being a lay person and supporting the church but just being faithful. Over time, the pastor asked me to be involved in different ministries. I started leading music, and yes it was still the IFB ways; waving your arms, singing the great hymns of the faith. Over time, the pastor had talked about us taking our music to a more balanced worship. We began introducing the church to new songs and even singing our hymns in a different way. Theres a lot more I could get into, having two separate times where we had huge groups of people leave because of the direction my pastor chose to take our church. I’ve been here for almost 5 years now and I love it. We’re not huge, but we are reaching and growing people. We are following the Biblical mandate of growing fully committed disciples and I love the spirit of our church. We have Baptist in our name but we call ourselves New Testament Baptist. I’m so glad that the Lord has helped me establish beliefs that I can take back to Scripture and not a sermon that someone preached years ago. I’m thankful for you and for the podcast you are putting out there. Each episode is great and it continues to challenge and encourage me. I know my journey with Christ is just starting and I can’t wait to spend my life for Him.
God bless you guys.