Stories of Life Change

My Journey Back into the City

I’m originally from Philadelphia and spent my earliest years in a Philadelphia housing project. My dad was a prison guard for the city prison system and I was usually on the wrong side of the law. My brother John became a Christian in 1970 and for three years hounded me about “getting saved.”

In December 1973, God won the battle going on in my life and I surrendered. After my conversion I left the city for Chicago to get away from the drug culture, the police, and from anyone looking for me to settle scores. In 1982, much to my surprise, the Lord returned me to Philadelphia (after graduating from seminary) to start a church in Roxborough in Northwest Philadelphia.

After that church was established, I left the city again with my family—this time for France and then Romania—before returning to the United States in 1998. My wife Kathy and I are now back in the city of Philadelphia planting a church with my brother John and his wife Dawn and with three other committed families in our leadership team. We are in an area of West Philadelphia called University City. Among other schools Drexel University and the University of Pennsylvania are located there.

We did not choose to return to Philadelphia because it would be the most fun place to live, the safest place to live, or the least expensive place to live—nor was it the place where we would find the most square footage for our money. We believe God has led us back to the city of my roots to witness to His great works and point others to Jesus. We are blessed to have families working with us who have counted the cost and have committed themselves to church planting in Philadelphia.

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Getting to Know You, Part 4

Adam Blumer, Managing Editor

Confessions of a Classic Performer

I grew up on a farm without animals—domesticated animals, that is. Wild cats came and went like vagrants seeking shelter for a few months before setting off in search of something better. Those cats especially liked our classic circa 1900 red barn. As a boy, I remember sitting in the barn’s hayloft while dust motes danced in shafts of sunlight at my feet. Peering up at the cavernous ceiling, I imagined that I was inside a massive cathedral until the flutter of wings drew my attention to a four-paned window inset into the peak. Birds that had been trapped inside the barn fluttered against the glass panes in search of a way out. (Photo, clockwise: Adam, Kim, Laura, and Julia)

In many ways, aren’t we all like those birds before we meet Christ—trapped in the “barn” of self? No, I’ve never been trapped in a physical sense. In fact, I experienced a Christian background many might envy: godly parents and siblings; fundamental, Bible-preaching churches; and a quality Christian school education. But like everyone at birth, I was trapped in my sin as much as any drug addict. Though God spared me from the more obvious pitfalls of a life without Christ, He gave me just as much saving grace as He extends to anyone who calls upon Him. For that I am indeed thankful.

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Getting to Know You, Part 2

Susan Raber, Accounts Manager & Ladies’ Forum Director

I have been thinking about how to include my story of how I came to know Jesus Christ as my personal Savior in this blog since I began writing it back in October 2007. I wasn’t sure if I could do a good job of it without writing a novel, but I am going to attempt to cover the important elements that I believe brought me to the place I needed to be for God to shine the light of truth on my heart and reveal to me how much I needed Him.

My parents became Christians when I was about four years old. They have a backstory that makes most soap operas look boring, so their conversion to a life dedicated to holiness was truly miraculous. Their conversion means that I was raised in a Christian home and in church with most of my close friends being church kids and from missionary families. I loved the life—listening to preaching, memorizing Scripture, and having a loving and stable home life. I went forward during a service when I was six years old, probably because my older brother went forward. Anything he could do I could do better.

Looking back on our lives, we see all of these pivotal moments, and my first was when my father died of a heart attack on Thanksgiving Day, one month before my thirteenth birthday. I was standing beside him while he was looking at my report card—and I swear it was all A’s, really. He slumped over, and he was gone. Of course, his death broke my heart.

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Getting to Know You, Part 1

Jim Peet, Forums Director

I was asked to provide my testimony for SharperIron. I am trusting that God might use this to bless a reader. I was saved in November 1969 through the ministry of Hebrew Christians at the University of Cincinnati and the ministry of Westwood Baptist Church in Cheviot, Ohio (Metro Cincinnati).

I was baptized (infant sprinkled) and I was a member of the United Methodist Church. Sadly, although I was “in their system” for years (baptism, Sunday school, VBS, confirmation, serving as an acolyte, participating in Methodist Youth Fellowship, etc.), I was never really taught the Bible, nor did I ever hear the gospel preached and explained.

In 1967, I enrolled in the business program of the University of Cincinnati and basically just stopped going to church. I joined a fraternity, dated, partied, drank, worked, and went to school. My basic concentrations in life were pleasure, women, work, and school. I excelled in most of these arenas.

From the “after I was saved” perspective, the “before I was saved” or “how I was saved” is always interesting to ponder. I know that in the deadness of my trespasses and sins I did not desire to know or seek God. But God used events and persons in my life to bring me to Him.

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The Testimony of Casey Foster

Note: This year at SI, we’d like to feature stories of life change. If you are aware of a story that is current and shows the power of Christ in the life, please email it to jasonjanz@sharperiron.org. The stories should be 1,500 to 2,000 words long and should include a photo. Also, we’d like to have a pastor’s recommendation sent along with the testimony. We trust these stories will be a blessing to you and will help us all to be reminded why we are here.

When you feel as though you have no right to live, or nothing to live for, you begin to act on the belief that nothing around you has that right either. There was a time in my life when I had no feeling, not even for myself. I was constantly creating and destroying life.

I had no understanding of how to live, and God refused to let me die. Fortunately, I had the opportunity to hear an angel speak, to feel my heart pierced, and to see my life forever changed.

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