From Pentecostal to Baptist to Adventist

Being a Seventh Day Adventist is truly a wonderful privilege that God has bestowed on me.  I am convinced that the Three Angels Messages are of utmost import, especially as we near the close of time.  However, the many things that I understand to be Truth now were not the easiest things for me to digest, as someone coming out of the world. 

I was raised in a Baptist Pentecostal home.  We would go to church every Sunday and get to experience tongues with interpretations without the falling down and rolling on the floor which seems to be in vogue in many Pentecostal churches as of late.  I also went to a private Christian school.  

We lived out in the country and the day came when we could no longer afford Christian education.  We eventually moved to another small town in Ohio called Waynesville.  This was my introduction to public school and it had a dramatic effect on my faith in God and the Bible.

Drifting Away  

Evolution basically destroyed any belief I had in the Bible, and this happened gradually over a course of years.  My parents eventually divorced when I was an early teen.  This brought more work upon my mother as she was the one who had custody over me and my two siblings.  She would work two jobs, one during the week interpreting for the deaf, and on the weekends taking care of handicapped women in a group home where she would stay all weekend. 

This provided an opportunity for me to have friends over on the weekends.  By now, we were in a more affluent community called Centerville, Ohio.  I was bombarded by many worldly things that made me want to be more like the world.  I started getting into heavy metal music and watching scary movies, after all, that is what my friends were into.  I eventually started smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol.  These things opened the doors to more drugs and other types of entertainment.

I eventually got interested in occult-type things and started dabbling into talking with the dead, out of body experiences to find god, and tarot card reading.  I was living completely apart from Christ at this point in my life without even a second thought about it.  Selling and doing drugs was a big part of my life. 

All this was going on while I was working at Kroger.   I had a manager who happened to be a pastor, unbeknownst to me.  I would share issues I was dealing with to him and the anxiety I was feeling.  He would just sit and listen.  I later in life spoke with him and found out about him being a pastor and how he was praying for me knowing full well what I was into at that time in my life.  And I thought I was pulling a fast one on him!  I wasn't.

Empty Inside

In the midst of this lifestyle I felt empty.  I would lie down in bed at night and have no peace.  No rest day or night.  This was my experience day in and day out.  I would cover these feelings up with drugs, stealing from stores, entertainment or women, it didn’t matter.  I would however, sleep with my Bible next to my bed. feeling like as long as I had a copy of the Bible I would be ok in God's eyes.

Even though I was not interested in Scripture I still had a verse that haunted me regularly.  That verse was from Numbers 32:23 which says in the last half, “Be sure your sin will find you out.”  That thought bugged me a lot but I couldn’t do anything about it. 

I started reading my Bible but it wasn’t for the right reasons.  I wanted to read about killing, hurt, pain and death.  It is still God’s Word though, and as I read it I would stumble across scriptures like John 3:16 and others.  I wouldn’t give those verses a second thought, but they became planted in my mind.

As time went on I remember sitting in a bar with my friends.  I felt so empty inside.  I also noticed as I tried to participate in doing the different drugs that my friends and I were involved with I just lost the desire to do any of them.  It was one thing after another.  It wasn’t like I was trying to get away from any of it.  The desire was just gone. 

Eventually the first two things, cigarettes and alcohol, were out of my life.  I was still very much into heavy metal music.  I remember listening to a band called Living Sacrifice.  They were loud and boisterous.  I really liked them!  One day I was reading through their album material and I noticed that they said thanks to God.  I went through the lyrics and found out they were Christian.  I immediately threw their albums in the garbage. 

A small point here, people who say only the lyrics matter are just plain wrong.  I was listening to that “Christian band” up until I found out they were Christian.  If Christian heavy metal music is supposed to reach lost people it sure didn’t have an effect on me.  All I cared about was how it sounded until I knew they were Christian.  Their words had no influence for the better on me.

Reaching a Pivot Point 

A few years down the road I went to my Grandpa’s funeral.  This really woke me up, seeing him in his casket with his smile he always carried with him throughout his life really broke me down.   I also spoke to an old friend of his I knew nothing about.  He said to me “Is your name Isaiah?”  I said yes and he replied “Your Grandpa prayed for you every day at prayer breakfast.”  Well that really had a huge impact on me.  I started to think more about life and wanting something more.

I started reading my Bible to find out who God is.  I would also watch Billy Graham at night and pray the sinner’s prayer at the end of each one.  I wanted to really know who God was.  I was digging a lot. 

Bar hopping had been a big thing (in the past) for me so I decided to start church hopping.  I went to all different kinds of churches, Pentecostal, Lutheran, Baptist, non-denominational, the list goes on.  As I was big into weightlifting at the time, I would go in normal workout clothes to see how people would treat me.  I got the cold shoulder from some but others were very welcoming.

The Advent Movement

At some point during all of this I ran into an old friend that I used to party with.   He invited me to a Revelation Seminar at a Seventh-day Adventist church in Centerville.  Well I was definitely interested in finding out about Revelation so I went.  I did not go to every night but the ones I did go to were very beneficial to me. 

The first meeting I went to was about death and the occult.  I was so interested in this because I still had an infatuation with these things.  As the meeting went on, I was convicted of truths that I was hearing for the first time.  After the meeting, Pastor Baldwin, who was holding the meetings, stayed and I started asking him all sorts of questions. 

Looking back, he was so patient with me.  He would stay up to two hours past the meetings to help me understand the different things I had questions about along with me sharing things that I was battling personally in my life.  Righteousness by faith was a topic I was intrigued by as well as the whole of the Three Angels messages.   I have never heard such wonderful news. 

As I thought about these things at home, I had a battle raging inside.  I could just go on and live life to suit myself or submit to Christ and surrender to Him fully acknowledging these new Truths I have learned.  Outwardly I looked fine but in my mind this was absolutely a raging battle.  Night after night I heard new truths and night after night I made a more decided decision to allow Christ to reign in my heart and change me from the inside out. 

I started attending the Centerville Seventh Day Adventist church and continued to grow in my relationship with Christ.  One lady there noticed me and spoke with me early in my attendance there.  She informed me that she saw me at Kroger awhile back and God told her to start praying for me.  She was shocked to see me walk through the doors of her own church so she had to share this with me. 

There were many more wonderful things that happened as I grew in my relationship with Christ.  I eventually got baptized after a year of being in the church.  It has been a wonderful experience learning and knowing Christ more through His Word. 

Observations

One thing that I must say here is that I was not drawn to this church by the music, lights, entertainment, youth activities, or even the speakers.  It all boiled down to the Truth that this particular denomination was sharing.  Once I knew Christ I wanted to know more about Him. 

It is so sad to see many of our churches using entertainment to attract people, when the method they are using can be seen being used by those outside of our church as well as in the world.  Most of the time Bible Truth is brushed over and the liturgy is exalted instead.  The ones who come in through these methods may stay for a time but they can go find the same stuff anywhere else--as they often do.

The Two Become One

As time went on, I eventually desired a wife.  Not just any wife, but a woman who truly loved God.  I searched everywhere.  I talked to single women at the church, online and just out and about.  This was a never-ending search that I thought was in vain, and it was.  

One day in late October 2009 I got a text.  It said “Put others first, focus less on self and live like Christ did while He was on the earth."  It gave Scriptures from the end of Philippians 2.  I replied “Amen to that!  Who is this?”   

“This is Brenda, Roxi’s sister, I can’t believe you forgot about me” was the reply. 

“I don’t know you but I can tell that you have a relationship with God” is what I said back and we expounded on our relationship with Him.  I still didn't know this girl.  How did she get my number anyway?  Here's what happened.

Earlier that day I went to get a new mobile phone plan.  I contacted the company and they gave me a new phone number and gave another number to call to set it up.  Well, when I called it didn’t work so I called them back.  They told me that whoever set that number up, didn’t do it correctly so they gave me another phone number and told me to call the same number again and it should work, and it did.  Thirty minutes later is when I got that text from a girl I didn't know.

It doesn’t end there.  Brenda would send random Scripture texts to all her contacts on a regular basis.  Well, that morning she forgot to and saved it as a draft and sent it later in the day after work.  The second number that I was able to set up happened to be an old family friend’s phone number she already had in her phone, and she had no idea that he changed his number.  Clear as mud, eh?

If you go over all that again you will see that I would have never gotten that text if she sent it in the morning and I would have not received that text if the first phone number worked that the phone company tried to set up for me.  God’s hand was all in that. 

We continued to talk, and she eventually expressed to her mother that she was interested in me.  Brenda was living in Georgia and I was living in Ohio.  Her mom was in Newport Kentucky so she was closer to me.  Brenda’s mom told her that she could meet with me for her, so we ended up going out on a dinner date.  It was me, her mom and her youngest sister. 

As the night went on they went to the bathroom to call Brenda, and told her about me (I learned this later).  Brenda inquired "On a scale from one to ten what do you give him?"  Her mother's reply was "Eleven!  You’re going to marry him." 

Brenda was shocked for her mom to say something like that.  But as it turns out she was right.  A lot more happened in-between the time we first texted to the time we got married, which was about eight months later.  It was all God and I am thankful every day for what He is continuing to do in my life in working out His salvation in me and changing me more into His image.

 Isaiah and Brenda Stearns and their four children (their fifth is on the way!).

Isaiah and Brenda Stearns and their four children (their fifth is on the way!).

Jesus is Coming Soon

I’m sure all of us have wonderful things to proclaim that God has done, but there is a message I think we can and should proclaim together, the Three Angels Messages.  Soon and very soon we will be on the sea of glass and we will be able to hear of the many wonderful things God has done in millions of lives that were saved from a world gone wrong.

Amen!