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November 2016 Baptism Testimonies

Stories

November Baptism

November 2016 Baptism Testimonies

Samantha Hawkins -

Throughout the stages of my early life, I’ve always believed in Jesus, just as I was taught.  I grew up in church.  I grew up in a Christian home.  I knew every Sundayschool story, I could find a Bible verse quickly, and I was very comfortable with my knowledge of who God is.  Throughout my teenage years and my time in college, I tried my best to do right, to check off the boxes I felt like I needed to in order to be a “good person”.    I sought after affirmation/acceptance through my own accomplishments and through other people.  I was eager to please and thought I was doing a pretty good job.

It wasn’t until my life was shaken apart with a troubled marriage and eventually a decision to divorce, that I grasped what the gospel story is truly about.  I couldn’t believe I was in the place I was in, struggling with the thought of divorce.  There was so much pain and helplessness during this time.  I felt so alone, like God just wasn’t there.  My life was not supposed to be like this.

I kept trying to gain affirmation from the Church, from those around me (my friends/family), instead of God and I started making selfish choices that I thought temporarily relieved my pain but that truly reflected my unbelief in God’s power and His character.

My comfortable, controlled life felt just the opposite.  Nothing I was doing was making it better.  Thankfully, our God works in brokenness and helplessness!  After some time, there was a constant battle going on in my heart and my thoughts about who I was as God’s child and what that really meant.  God began to help me understand that my dependence on my own strength was so broken and ultimately left me empty.  It wasn’t until I fell on my face and said, God, YOU are my only hope.  I can’t do this.  I am so broken.  I can do nothing without YOU.  I began to understand what it meant to give up my feeble attempts and lean COMPLETELY on God and his perfect, holy grace.

I felt loved by God, which changed my heart.  My failures were not what defined me, my self-worth was not based on anything I did or anyone’s opinions of me, rather, my guilt and shame were washed away by what Christ did on the cross for me, because he is a merciful God who loves me and had chosen me as his own.

He allowed me to fall so that I could understand what dependence on Him, rather than my own abilities, really meant and I am so grateful for this time in my life.  I used to be so critical of people who preached constantly about grace and love because I thought; these people just use that as an excuse to do whatever they want because God forgives!   God turned this way of thinking completely around.  I truly believe that grace comes first for it’s because of His grace, that I am made holy, his beloved child, in spite of my sinfulness, because he loves me that much!

 I am still in awe of his love and grace towards me, a person who sins every day.  The more I learn about him, the more I desire him as my true hope, the more I want to show others that in spite of my brokenness, in spite of my past choices, he loves unconditionally.  That we’re all broken people, in need of Christ.  It’s a freedom like no other.

This is a journey for me as it is for every Christ follower.  I still struggle with unbelief and distrust; I still struggle with pain and guilt; I still struggle with trying to be in control of my life; but God works, he fights for my heart and thoughts and he reminds me constantly of just how big He is.

God uses EVERY mistake, failure, and blessing to teach me more about Him and what he has done for me.  When I dig in the Word, I see new blessings and promises, I see a God who understands our pain and struggle, but offers us hope.  I pray that I will never stop learning about his unfathomable love and that He can use me and my story to be a witness for those around me.

Jack Carmer -

My road to Jesus has been one littered with “God substitutes,” otherwise known as idols. My idolatry was two-fold: (1) self-indulgence/instant gratification; and (2) winning the approval of people through various and sundry achievements. The self-indulgence aspect of my idolatry ranged from the innocuous, such as video games as a child and FanDuel as an adult, to the insidious, such as alcohol and drugs. The approval-seeking aspect of my idolatry was both myopic and selfish as I focused on physical appearance, professional success and material possessions in lieu of focusing on those around me, including my own family. 

         In early August 2016, at age 37 (soon to be 38), I recalled something my pastor at Highlands Presbyterian, Joseph Wheat, said during a sermon about religion. He said, and paraphrasing, “that even atheists and agnostics have religion; they just put their faith in things other than God.” Did this statement apply to me? Had I put my faith in everything but God? The answer to this question was “yes,” as I had eschewed faith in God, and elevated money, alcohol and personal achievement to the status of “God substitutes.” 

         Since these questions were answered in the affirmative, the next question amounted to an accounting as to how these “God substitutes” had worked out for me. The answer was clear – any joy or satisfaction gleaned from the same was temporary, followed by a reversion to emptiness. Then, I made a decision to turn away from idolatry, and turn to Jesus after repenting for my past transgressions. 

         Contrary to what secular society may believe, turning away from earthly endeavors has not curtailed my freedom in any way whatsoever. In fact, turning to Jesus, putting my faith in Jesus and making a commitment to live my live in accordance with God’s Word has given me emotional freedom and satisfaction, knowing that the earthly pleasures in this life, which are finite in nature, pale in comparison to the endless and perpetual joy to be experienced in the next.

Caroline Hopkins -

The reason that I want to be baptized is because I know Jesus is my Savior and I want other people to know that too. At the beginning of the school year, all my teachers gave us their testimonies and my math teacher’s stood out to me. So I talked to her about it and she told me how we all need Jesus and how we cannot do it on our own. I know that this is true. So for those reasons, I want to be baptized. And to sum this all up, I just really LOVE Jesus!!!

Kristi Clayton (Caroline’s mom) -

There are no words to describe my PURE JOY as I am about to watch our daughter publicly declare her love of Jesus!  She has such a compassionate, caring heart. She amazes me every day. To see her mature in her faith to this point, to the place where she wants the world to know that she believes Jesus to be her one and only Savior, that a life without Him is not a life she intends to live, fills my heart with love and my eyes with tears. Since she was a baby, I often ended my prayers with these words, “May Jesus always be in your thoughts, in your words, and in your heart” while touching her sweet little head, mouth, and heart. This continues to be my prayer for her. May His light always shine through her, during good times and struggles, so that when others see the steadfastness of her faith, they too will yearn to seek a relationship with our Lord and Savior!

Anita Kellerhouse -

I was 7 years old the first time that I was baptized, and I know that I did it for the right reasons as a 7 year old child.   I knew that Jesus was knocking on the door to my heart & soul and I opened the door and let His Holy Spirit in.  He has always been with me, in my heart the inner voice, that I didn’t always choose to listen to, but I began to grow a closer,  more personal relationship as a wife and mother.I know that Jesus is the son of God and loves me  unconditionally, it’s a gift.  I am feeling led to read the Bible from beginning to end like a book.  Over the years I have probably read most all of the scriptures, but I am realizing that it is important for me to read it in sequence, starting with the New Testament, then the Old Testament.

What I took away from a recent retreat is that my life is my ministry and that I really need to meditate on and document all of the ways God has carried me through this life and placed such extraordinary people and circumstances in my life for me!