I was not born into the church. In fact, for much of my life, church visits were essentially for weddings or funerals. In my late 40’s I started seeking out churches, mainly while on trips, to remember my deceased younger brother and to say rudimentary prayers seeking peace of mind. My first exposure to a Pentecostal church was 10 years ago together with my wife Li. That experience in a very large church overwhelmed my senses. However, as we found a smaller church and time progressed, Sunday service became more and more meaningful and an integral part of my life. Nonetheless, I still felt as much spectator as participant. Out of the blue around 6-7 years ago, I received the Holy Spirit. However it took several more years for me to appreciate the true significance and how blessed I was by God’s grace, given that I had not yet truly repented and certainly not been baptized.
It took God speaking through Pastor Elliott last year for me to realize that repentance is more than just asking forgiveness but rather a complete re-orientation and turn towards God. Since that time, I can’t wait each Sunday to approach the altar and be re-filled with the Holy Spirit. However, there was still some hesitation about baptism, mainly because I felt unworthy. Pastor Elliott reached out to me one Sunday, and we met in his office a week later. All my hesitation melted away in the face of his faith and his words, both the scriptures and his own. My baptism a few weeks later was a glorious day. My only earthly thought was whether I had been fully immersed long enough to wash away a lifetime of sins. Re-joining the congregation after the baptism, I felt a renewed energy and life force in the whole building. I still feel that five months later. My thanks go to Pastor Elliott for opening up a new kingdom for this lost sheep.
By: Jim Halpert