My Testimony – My Story

At a recent men’s Bible study we talked about our testimonies – our stories.  As an exercise, we took turns sharing our stories of how we came to faith.  I believe it is important for us to think through our testimonies and be able to readily share them.  They are powerful and oftentimes, through the sharing of our stories, God does His work in the lives of others. Each story, then, becomes God’s story.  Therefore, I thought that this blog would be a good platform to celebrate the goodness of God through the telling of His story through mine (the shortened version).

Sixth Grade
Sixth Grade

I was born and raised in a Christian home.  From a young age I was taken to church, taught to pray, and encouraged to read the Bible.  I never knew a time in my life when I didn’t know God.  It was something that was deeply woven into the fabric of my life, even, as it were, before my birth.   I simply can’t recall living apart from faith.  As I think about it, it would be impossible for me to point to a date and time of my conversion to Christianity.  I honestly do not know when I was converted.  It always seemed to be a part of who I was.

I was raised in a United Methodist Church. At the age of 12 I made a public confession of my faith and was water baptized.  Naturally, I became active in my youth group, and church life became something that was important to me.  At around 16, I read the Bible from cover to cover for the first time.

Although I never fell into any deep sin or rebellion, I didn’t always walk closely with God.  As a teenager, I had a lot of other interests, which often became my focus.  Therefore, my spiritual growth had very long periods of lag time in which very little progress (if any) was made.  But, I believe that God always had His hand on me.  He was not content to let me become stale. He had a plan.

When I was around 21 years old I went with my youth group to another church to hear two musicians. I was impressed with these guys and since I also was a musician, had a nice talk with them after the service. I had no idea how God was about to change my life through them.

A few days later I stopped at a local McDonald’s for a late night Big Mac.  It would become the most profound trip to a McDonald’s that I had ever made – a divine appointment.  As I was walking across the parking lot, I happened to see Jim, one of the musicians I had just met.  We stopped to chat and he soon invited me to come out and “jam.”  I was always eager to play and so I took him up on his offer.

These two men were about my age.  They were Christians, but it quickly became obvious that they were on a different plane than me.  I had never encountered anyone my age who loved Jesus – really loved Jesus – like they did.  Their faith was alive in a way that mine was not.

When we got together to jam we ended in prayer. However, they didn’t offer standard sentence prayers.  They prayed.  They really prayed.  Our dismissal prayers would sometimes last up to half an hour.  They mixed their worship with their prayers in a way that I simply hadn’t been familiar.

My time with these two men stirred my faith.  I began to hunger for what they had.  I began to desire more of God, and I really began seeking Him at a new level.  Yes, I had already met God, but now I really wanted to know Him.  I was baptized into the Holy Spirit and my life was changed completely.  I became filled with a zeal for the Lord, and an excitement to share who He was was born within me.

At the age of 22 I preached my first sermon.  I soon learned that I had a gift for speaking – as well as the desire to preach.  Over the next decade I preached at many local churches to fill in for pastors who were away.  Then, in 1996 I began to pastor three, small, United Methodist churches in southern Somerset County.  I remained there for eleven good years, but eventually felt called away to do some missionary work with my wife.  A few years later, as I was seeking new opportunities to serve my Lord, a door at the county jail became open to me. I had already been involved in prison ministry for years and so I jumped at the chance to share God’s crazy love with people who seemed to need to hear the message.

My life has not been without testings and heartbreaks.  There have been times when I could not feel the presence of God, and when I questioned who He really was.  However, I would later discover that it was during those difficult times that I learned about the goodness and grace of God in a way that I could not otherwise learn.

My story is still being defined and shaped.  I expect to undergo additional testings, trials,dane and heartaches.  God has not left me and I could not imagine a scenario in which I would walk away from Him.  Rather, I anticipate being continually drawn to Him, and discovering more about this God who was not satisfied with my stale Christian walk.

I want to challenge Christian readers to consider their own testimonies.  Write them out.  Post them.  Share them below.  Even if you think that you don’t have a powerful testimony, I believe that God is able to use them to touch others.  So, what’s your story?

Dane Cramer is a backpacker, Christian blogger, jail chaplain, and author of two books: Romancing the Trail and The Nephilim: A Monster Among Us.



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