MY TESTIMONY – WRITTEN BY BARRY WITCHER
I was raised in the “Church of Christ” religion. They are a good group of people, but they know nothing of heartfelt salvation. I attended services there three times weekly. I was baptized into that church at age 16. That was supposed to make me right with God and, if I lived a good enough life after I would make it to heaven.
A short time after my baptism, my life seemed to come apart in many ways. Approaching graduation and not knowing what direction to take in life, my problems were compounded by situations that alienated me from my family and home. Entering college, I started out by associating with the “wrong crowd”. To make a long storey short, for the next two years I walked down a very dark and troublesome path that led me far from God. I lost faith in my religious upbringing and began to wonder if there was even a God.
As days became darker and troubles increased, one evening it was almost as if someone had spoke and said “But what if there is a God?” I became aware of my need to do something.
I moved back home to Lafayette, got a job and began to “straighten up” my life. I began to study the Bible, by myself and with others. I wanted to be right with God. I went back and started attending the Church of Christ again. I went before the congregation to “confess my sins” and ask forgiveness on three separate occasions. According to the Church of Christ belief, that is supposed to “wipe the slate clean” and all past sins are forgiven. I didn’t feel better, I felt worse. I remember early one morning, just at sunrise, I went outside to think about my condition. There was a loud roar you could hear all over and I thought the Lord was coming back and I wasn’t ready! It turned out to be Columbia Gulf venting the natural gas lines for service, but the Lord used things like that to help me realize more that I was lost.
When I was still in high school, some of my friends carried me to Lafayette Missionary Baptist Church. On Wednesday nights they had singing practice for young people. I attended several revival services with them, but from what I was raised to believe, I thought what was preached was wrong. When I was at that church though, there was a feeling that would come over me that said there was something special there. After a couple of years of trying to “straighten up” and “confessing my sins” to the Church of Christ, I began to remember the feeling I had while attending the Missionary Baptist Church with my friends and I thought that’s where I needed to go.
I attended an afternoon singing with the “Tomes Four” doing the singing. I could feel the Lord “cutting me down to size.” I could remember feeling there was a lot of love among these people and that they had something I didn’t have. A revival was announced that was coming up and I decided I wanted to come. It was to be held the last week in May, 1975.
Many things, too numerous to mention, helped me in my search, but one thing helped me greatly. About this time, a wonderful Christian lady, Mrs. Vernell Taylor, the widow of a Missionary Baptist preacher, brought me a book written by Bill Russell, son of Bro. W.T.. Russell, titled The Plan of Salvation, God’s True Plan and Great Deceptions. It helped me see that throughout the scriptures God taught you must be born again. It helped me lay aside some hindrances and consider seeking the Lord.
I’m not sure what night I attended the revival. I think it was the last Sunday night. I had been pretty smart in school and thought myself to be educated. I had in mind that it would take a really “intellectual” sermon with lots of refined quoting of scripture to bring me down. What I got was really different,
Bro. Bobby Gann was preaching that night. His message was really plain, “Repent or you go to Hell!” At the invitation, I went to the altar and began calling on the Lord. I prayed and begged, and prayed some more. After about two hours, I was exhausted. I had been kneeling so long, I couldn’t stand. Someone from the church drove me home and someone else drove my car.
I went to bed and fell asleep praying. I’m not sure but I think it was around 2:00 a.m., it felt like someone was waking me up. It was the Lord. I had the feeling like what a wrestler must feel when he is “pinned down.”……I felt like I could struggle no further.
I began to pray again. I had been taught that you must lay aside things of the world and have nothing between you and God. One by one I began giving up things of the world in my heart to the Lord. After it seemed like there was nothing else to give, deep within myself I said, “I guess I can trust Him now.” And in an instant, He saved me!! My burden and trouble were gone! In their place I had indescribable joy, peace, happiness and love and everything I had hoped for. I was SAVED, it REALLY happened, I KNEW it, and I was overwhelmed by these wonderful feelings in my soul. No one had to tell me. Peace and satisfaction at last!
I laid in my bed for the rest of the night reveling in the greatness of being saved and enjoying the blessings of God’s spirit. I soon began to pray for my family to be saved and He gave me burdens for them. He has blessed me countless times and answered many, many prayers since then. The assurance and deep peace has never left me. My joy is as much now as when the Lord first touched my soul. My prayer is that everyone will find Him as I have, and will know and possess this great peace.
Barry Witcher – Deacon at Hartsville Missionary Baptist Church