A Bible from California, Dolphin Way Baptist Church in Alabama, The Cathedral of Tomorrow in Ohio, and my discussion with my wife in Florida all worked together at exactly the right time to convince me God was real. I know the skeptics reading this will use the word "coincidence" to deny God was involved, but those of you who have met the Lord know what it is to feel the presence of the Almighty. God replaced my atheism with faith, and my life has never been the same since. When I got up off of my knees, I knew three things that were certain: my sins were forgiven; the Bible was true; and I would become a minister. I knew just as Adam knew how to name the animals; God implanted the knowledge supernaturally. What I didn't know was that I was facing a long life of trials and disappointments. Being on "cloud nine" as I was, I wouldn't have believed it if someone told me.
My new birth took place on Sunday, January 31, 1971, and I made the mistake of telling a member of the Church of Christ at work the next day. He argued that I wasn't forgiven yet because I had not been baptized. After what seemed like hours, he asked me if I wanted to be baptized. When I said I did, he said, "Let's go." It was about midnight on the first day of February, and although we were in Florida, it was cold. He took me to his church and baptized me in what seemed like ice water. I remember thinking, "Now maybe he will leave me alone!" Months later, in the summer, I was baptized for the right reasons in Pensacola Bay, in the middle of the day, and in front of many witnesses, by the Pastor of West Pensacola Baptist Church. My baptism did not "save" me; it was a testimony to the world that I was already a Child of God by faith.
On the next day, I went to Navy Personnel to apply for Conscientious Objector Status. I believed it was wrong for a Christian to be in the military, and I believed I was to leave the service and enter Bible College. While there, Chief Hal Judd came into the large office, and I called him over to tell him I had accepted Christ. His reaction startled me, because he said, "What do you want?" with disgust in his voice. I told him what had happened, and he lit up like a child on Christmas morning! He was so excited and wanted to know all about it. I gave him the "short version" and he asked if I had found a church yet. I told him no, that it had only been two days. He asked if I would come to his church. I said, "Sure." He wrote down the address of the church on a piece of paper and I put it in my wallet. Since it was only Tuesday, I didn't really read it.
After I finished with the application, I went back to work. The following day, I had the duty watch and this time, I was reading only the Bible! I called a friend who was on duty upstairs, and asked if he had ever read the Bible. He said that at one time, he had been a seminary student studying for the Catholic priesthood. I took a "short" break and went up to see him. I had questions. What followed was more amazing to me than the "coincidence" that saved me. It is almost too much to believe, and I wouldn't believe it myself if it didn't happen to me. To be continued.