Following my visit to the Colonel's home, my silent friend and I went to the church to "debrief." After everyone but the pastor and I had left, I related to him how I came to know the Lord as my Savior. I also told him that my contacting him on the phone was actually a miracle in itself. He had figured that I called him because Hal had invited me, but when I told him the story of how my Catholic friend picked his out of about two hundred churches in the area, he was floored. He asked me if I would be willing to give my testimony at the evening service on Sunday. I asked him what a testimony was, and he said what you just told me. I agreed, wondering why Baptists attend church so often. First there was Wednesday night, and now Sunday night. Even though the Catholic Church celebrated Mass daily, the only time I ever went more than once a week was during Lent. I thought, "Baptists must really love the Lord!"
I was exactly one week old when I stepped behind a pulpit for the first time. Even though he had given me no guidance on what to say, I gave a perfect testimony. I told of what my life was life prior to accepting Jesus, the actual salvation experience, and about my life following salvation. Of course, the last part was only a week long, but being baptized Monday, making Hal Judd's day Tuesday, calling Bro. Shofner on Wednesday, and visitation on Thursday made for an exciting week. When I finished telling those present of my experience, Pastor came up, put his arm around my shoulders, and said something. I don't remember what, but I remember a man named Mike Sibley coming with tears streaming down his face. He knelt and Pastor knelt next to him. When they stood up, Pastor told us that Mike had realized from listening to me that he was not saved. He came forward to surrender to Christ because of something I said! Wow! I did not know it then, but found out later that Mike was a deacon. I had a lot to learn about the difference between going to church and having a relationship with the Living God. After forty years, I am still learning.
I began attending Hal Judd's church three times a week, and even found other opportunities to be there. I had choir practice, visitation, work on the new addition, and any other thing that allowed me to be with the brethren. Before long, I was teaching Sunday School, visitation chairman, and nominated for deacon. I knew little about the Bible, but having the job of teaching it gave me needed discipline in study. I turned down the offer to be a deacon, as even I knew I was not qualified. For two years, my family and I attended West Pensacola Baptist Church. And then something happened, and I knew I was supposed to leave. I would have to go to church somewhere else. I couldn't believe Christians would act like that. To be continued.