For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which is lost. (Luke 19:10)
My name is Colin.
It’s good to be part of the masterpiece. This testimony isn’t going to be my life story, but a description of what the Lord has done in my life. God became a man. He is really happy to just be one with us and live our life with us wherever we are. The Lord is writing His own history in our history.
I was a young person in the church life. That was really a blessing to me. I was just happy to show up and be with my friends. I think the Lord was okay with, even really happy, to have me in the church life with my companions and, one way or another, just pursuing Him together with them.
My baptism story was similar. My Junior High friends were getting baptized and I was attracted by that. “Everyone is getting baptized! Man! I wanna get baptized too!” This was how my pursuit was in high school; I was together with my companions and had a very sweet time supporting one another, praying for one another, and of course, goofing off together.
The Lord’s Arranging
As I advanced in my school years, I didn’t really like school that much. Looking back, I realize that the Lord doesn’t only use the good things in life to touch us, but He sometimes uses the bad things also. When I was in junior high I started getting bullied by all the cool kids. That was really a rough time. But it worked out for the Lord’s sake. My family lived really far away from any of the saints and from the meeting hall. It was because of this messy situation in junior high that my family decided to move into the city for a new start at a new school. That’s how I moved from a small town to Brooklyn Park, Minnesota.
Eventually I entered high school, and I didn’t like that either. But the state of Minnesota offered a program in which I could begin taking college courses while still in high school. So I started taking college courses and my grades were sent to my high school. I really treasured my time in college. While I was there I enjoyed Christ with the college-aged brothers in a simple way.
During those years I was really challenged regarding my faith. The professors and instructors were very good in their presentations, which made me question where God was. I remember sitting at a bus stop once and being bewildered. I was going to have to go to another class bashing the faith. I just asked the Lord, “Are You even real?” Praise the Lord, right away I had this sense of an overwhelming “Yes!” I began to realize I needed the Lord for a lot of things, even for my faith in Him. He had to supply me with my faith in Him.
From ROTC to Iraq
At one point I was looking for some cool elective classes, which were all free for me at the time. I was flipping through this huge catalog of all the classes the university offered and I came across a class called Introduction to Military Leadership. I thought that class sounded really cool and signed up for it. It turned out that I inadvertently joined ROTC to become an officer. I think I was the youngest cadet of all time. It was super to a 15 year old. With the gun and uniform they gave me, I ran around in the woods and thought it was really awesome. I began to consider enlisting since my free education would run out upon my graduation from high school. I considered joining the National Guard to obtain money for college and to gain experience to help me advance in the program. So, I convinced my parents to allow me to join. But, the day I signed up I felt so terrible, thinking I had made a big mistake. Later I realized that there are no mistakes in God’s economy. The Lord is able to take a mess and make a masterpiece.
So what happened – I joined the Army at the age of 17 and went overseas to Iraq at the age of 19. I was the youngest one in my basic training class. Going to Iraq was really hard. I’ve never been away from home for that long – about two years. I felt so isolated, especially from the brothers and sisters. Prior to this time, I had failed to cultivate a solid love for the Bible and never practiced feeding on the Word in a real, solid way before. Previously I had just relied on the church meetings, where I loved to sing, in order to touch the Lord. I became very dry and was surrounded by many unclean and vulgar people. I didn’t initially know what to do, but I became desperate. Several of the brothers and sisters tried to take care of me from home by faithfully sending me things to read. I began to realize that there were other of my fellow soldiers who were also struggling, and the Lord gave me opportunity to witness to them. Some received the Lord and were even willing to be baptized out in the sandy desert. Through these times the Lord was sweet to preserve me.
The time in Iraq was very stressful. We would go on combat patrols for days, and I would come back so wound up and so stressed out and sick of people. I had to take long runs for about two hours until my sickness and stress went away. At the end of all this I found the Lord and began to be moved to consecrate myself to Him. No one ever told me to do that, but I just found myself running at midnight, in the dark and saying, “Lord I don’t know what You have for me and my future, but I just give it to You.”
I wasn’t married and didn’t have a family, but I was moved to pray, “Lord, I give my wife to You and my family, and also my career.” The Lord was a real and living Person to me and I began to enjoy Him in my situations. He was leading me.
A Time for Healing
Eventually I came home, but my body was broken, my mind wasn’t so good, and spiritually I was still somewhat a mess. I soon realized that for my sanity I needed to go back to school right away. What was great was that on the campus there are other brothers who will take care of you. I landed in the hands of two faithful brothers who didn’t tell me I was wrong or bad, or that I needed to improve. They just asked me to dive with them into the book of Genesis with the footnotes.
So every week, we just opened the Bible, and I began to find out how to enjoy the Lord. Praise the Lord! I began to realize how enjoyable the Bible was! I also started to listen on my commute to this radio program of the Life Study of the Bible, because I could not get enough and wanted to redeem the time.
The Lord needed to take a couple months to work on me. I found that He was the best medicine and Physician for me. He was taking care of my inward case. He also was taking care of my outward environment. I began to have a stirring to return to the church meetings, but my heart was still split.
At the time, I didn’t really like science. It seems unusual that I would eventually be directed into a physician assistant program, because at the time I hated science. However, I needed a class to fulfill my science prerequisite, so I took a horticulture class. This class took me to China to see some particular gardens and plants. The Lord sovereignly arranged for me to have my own room, the only student to have this privilege. It was there that the Lord finally got me alone – away from everybody and everything distracting me in my environment. During those nights I began to pour out and unload, confessing everything to the Lord. This was not just telling Him all the bad things I’d done, but it also provided me a time alone to ask Him to shine on me. It took a little while, but eventually He led me to many matters in which I began to agree with Him. The issue of this time of confession was a consecration with tears. Through this unloading, I began to be released from all the garbage of my past. The Lord took it away and I was freed! This gave me liberty in my heart to enter into the church life in a solid way.
Further Divine Arranging
The Lord led me to a special companion in the church life who eventually became my wife. The Lord used all the things in our relationship, education, job seeking, and getting married to gain our hearts for Him.
The Lord began to lead us to open our home and participate in other church gatherings. It affected our lives. We began to make life decisions with Christ and the church life in view. The Lord caused us to begin to consider participating in a full time Bible training, a place to give ourselves to the Lord and to the brothers to learn a lot about the Lord, the Bible, and ourselves. Initially I had told others I would “absolutely not” participate. But, in time we gave up jobs, sold our cars and moved to the training. We never regretted it.
Learning to Follow Jesus
In summary, all I can say is that God is merciful! I don’t deserve to be here, but the Lord had mercy on me. Now I depend on Him, even for my faith in Him. I’m not a superstar, I’m not anything. The Lord just appeared to me. I can’t help but love this One who is so attractive. I realize now that He is the One arranging all things. Even my getting beat up in junior high was for Christ and the church. I cannot say that I have arrived, but I have begun to follow the Lord and His leading for His purpose.