I was drawn to faith in Jesus Christ in 1976, partly through the radio ministry of Pacific Garden Mission in Chicago. When I wrote to thank them, they asked me to share my testimony. Here are some highlights.
In 2017 Bob’s story was heard on the Unshackled! radio program.
The New York Years
I grew up 20 miles north of midtown Manhattan in Irvington, NY. My family was loving and caring, yet little attention was given to God’s ways, word, or works. I grew up in the selfish 1960s when we foolishly felt that everything should revolve around us. I always vaguely knew the facts about Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and what He came to do. Yet I never saw the relevance of these truths for me.
A college classmate gave me a Living Bible (paraphrase) and in time I came to love it, especially the New Testament. The Scriptures spoke to me pointedly as I read them. Over several months, I read the entire Bible and felt like the Lord was writing to me personally, as if I were the only man on earth. God, through the Scriptures, was telling me the bad news about myself, but thankfully in His word God spoke the good news as well!
UNSHACKLED and McAuley Water Street Mission
In 1976, I stumbled upon the Christian radio program “UNSHACKLED!” They gave me the phone number of Chaplain Theodore Woodruff at the McCauley Mission (now New York City Rescue Mission). The mission brings Jesus’ good news to homeless people and ex-offenders,serving the least, the lost, and lonely, just like Jesus did. But I knew that before the Lord I was inwardly the same as those people, desperately needing God’s mercy. I knew that Christ the Savior was my only hope. I prayed with Chaplain Woodruff over the telephone, believing that God heard me. After the phone call, nothing was outwardly different, but I felt like a new man from the inside out–ransomed, healed, restored, and forgiven! Immediately, I sensed that I was accepted by God, because of Jesus’ obedience and atoning death, and at peace with Him. Now my zeal and ambition began to be re-directed, so that out of gratitude I now wanted to please and serve God, instead of just pleasing myself.
The Philadelphia Years
For several years, I served as a layman at the Old Dutch Church of Sleepy Hollow, under the steady and faithful shepherding of Rev. Gerald Vander Hart. The elders and members encouraged me to study for pastoral ministry at Westminister Seminary in Philadelphia. At Westminster, I learned how to interpret the whole Bible in a Christ-centered way and how to live all of life in gratitude to Christ. While still a student and after graduation, I served a mission church from 1980 to 1989. We were able to reach hundreds of people with solid biblical teaching, counseling, evangelism, diaconal work, and mentoring seminary students. However, an enduring church was not established. After that experience, I returned to a public accounting with a great firm near Philadelphia. This “tent-making” provided for my family’s economic needs and I served part-time with churches in the area.
The Houston Years
In 1995, God led me to a church in Houston, where I served happily until 2008 as pastor. In 2008, I re-started Words of Hope, building upon my prior training and experience. We bring Bible teaching and counseling to unloved, untaught, unsaved, and unchurched people who fall through the cracks and bring them Jesus’ hope through word and deed.
My Christian life has had ups and downs, failures and successes, but God has done and is continuing to do His transforming work in me. He has given me a new heart and a new way of life that flows from that. He has put His Holy Spirit in me who enables me more and more to put sin to death in myself and to be alive to practical righteousness—following Jesus. My lapses into wrong words, thoughts, and deeds grieve me more now than ever, but I keep on running back to Christ, by faith, for pardon, cleansing, and empowering. Like King David, I say: “I cling to you. Your strong right hand holds me securely.” (Psalm 63:8)
What about you, my friend? Will you repent of your sins and trust the Lord Jesus for eternal salvation and daily living? Will you also respond to His words?
Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light. (Mt. 11:28–30 NLT)
May God help you come to Christ and follow Him forever! Or at least help you learn more about Jesus and consider His claims and promises.