Lessons Learned – Her Testimony

Please find below a guest author willing to share her testimony.  I hope you will read it with as much interest and intrigue as I have. Enjoy!

I grew up in Independent Baptist Churches. I went to five different IFB churches, in two different states, during a span of 22 years. When I was a child, I was taught that in order to go to Heaven, a person had to get saved. The way to get saved was, a person had to ask Jesus to come into their heart. So, at the age of 6, I did that with my 1st grade Sunday School teacher. I was taught the “once saved, always saved” doctrine. Since I had prayed that prayer and asked Jesus to come into my heart, I was told that I would always be saved. I could be assured that I would go to Heaven when I die.

As I got older, I was told that to prove to others that I was an obedient Christian, I needed to wear certain clothes, fix my hair a certain way, listen to a certain type of music, etc. Basically, if I didn’t follow the rules of the denomination, then my salvation was in question. They still taught “once saved, always saved” but the true Christian would want to be obedient to God and follow all of the rules. As I was growing up, I found out very quickly that the pastor set the guidelines for what was and was not approved by God.

I did everything that I was told to do. When I became a teenager, I worked in the church nursery. I started working in the Bus Ministry, teaching Sunday School classes once in a while, going to Thursday Night Soul-winning, and being at church every time the doors were open. I am very grateful for the experience that I received in working with children. It is largely due to that experience that I continue to work with Children today. I followed all of the rules that were set down for me (spoken and unspoken). No one who knew me as a teenager would argue with the fact that I was completely committed to the church and all of it’s activities.

When I was 15, I started having some doubts about whether or not I was truly saved. When I went to some of my church leaders about it, I was asked if there had ever been a time in my life that I had prayed and asked Jesus to come into my heart. I had! I prayed at the age of 6. After telling the leaders that, I was told that I just needed to remember saying my prayer. In their words, “If a person can not remember ever praying the prayer for salvation, then they probably never did.” Since I remembered praying at the age of 6, I was told that it was probably just the Devil confusing me. “God is not the author of confusion.” So, I went on my way, believing that I was saved because I had prayed that prayer and could remember doing it.

When I was 22, most of my family and I left the IFB denomination. We started going to a Southern Baptist church (SBC) about 30 minutes away from my house. The teaching there was so foreign to what I had heard all of my life. My new pastor talked about God’s love. I still wore only dresses, carried a KJV, listened to only the music sanctioned by the IFB, etc. People there did not care about what kind of clothes I wore, what type of music I listened to, or what Bible version I carried. For the most part, I went into a very loving environment. It was almost too loving. The pastor did not spend a lot of time preaching about sin and it’s consequences. When he did preach about sin, it was only in vague terms. He preached about God’s mercy and love. He gave sermons with an emphasis on practical applications for life today. I went to that church for almost 7 years.

In October of this past year, I left that church and started going to an SBC church that is right down the road from my house. I noticed a difference in the preaching right away. My new pastor preaches on sin and its consequences, but also preaches on God’s love for us in sending His Son to die on the Cross, so that we don’t have to face the consequences of our sin. As I was listening to the true Gospel message being proclaimed, I started having doubts about whether or not I was truly saved. I know all the Bible stories. I know that Jesus died on the Cross, yet I was still struggling. Now, in the past, I had been told that all I needed to do was think about when I prayed the prayer as a child. Instead of doing that this time, I began to read my Bible. I had never just sat down and read the Bible before. I started in the Old Testament. What I found there was a God who had to punish the Israelites for their sin, but who was also a God of love and mercy in taking care of His people whenever they realized their sin and called on Him. He also continued to work out world events to bring the Savior along at just the right time.

In February, a woman who I had known as a teenager and who was just a few years older than I am, suddenly got very sick. After a little over a week of being in the hospital, she died. That really shook me up. Not only was I struggling with how a relatively young wife and mother of four could just suddenly get sick and die, but I was also struggling with my own future and where I would go when I died. I still was not completely sure that I would go to Heaven. The funeral was held on a Saturday and was three hours from where I live. My mom, sister, 3 month old niece and I all made the trip for the visitation and funeral. For the trip there, I took only my Bible and study guide that I sometimes use if I read a passage of Scripture that I don’t understand. Except for talking to my family members every once in a while, I pretty much read the Bible for the whole three hours. The next morning, after we all got up and were getting ready for the funeral, we realized that we would need to go to the local Wal-mart for things that were needed. So, while my mom and sister were in the store, I sat in the backseat of the car with my niece. I was reading my Bible and crying. I prayed to the Lord in the Wal-mart parking lot and told Him I wanted to be sure that I would go to Heaven when I died. I knew the depravity of my sinful nature. I deserve to go to Hell. I knew that there was not a thing I could do on my own to get to Heaven. Jesus Christ is the only way.

I decided to not tell anyone of my salvation for a little while. I could have gone before my church the next day, but I wanted to make sure that I had truly accepted Christ as my Savior. I did not want it to turn out to be just an emotional decision because I had been to a funeral. Emotions were pretty high for all of us that weekend.

I have changed so much in the last six months. I know that I’m not the same person I once was. There are certain aspects of my life that I know only God could change. For one thing, my priorities are completely different. Now, I organize my day so that I can spend the majority of the afternoon in the Word everyday. I have started an in-depth study of the Gospels. I’m trying to find out exactly what Jesus taught. Some of the things I have learned have been mind-boggling. Things that I used to make time for and do, I just don’t have an interest in, if they take time away from studying the Scriptures.

Another way I can see definite changes is in the area of sin. I had a certain sin problem for many years. I tried and tried to get it to go away. I went through Bible studies that talked about breaking free from sin. Nothing worked. Now, I don’t even have the desire for that particular sin. Instead of figuring out the formula and doing the formula, my sins needed to be covered by the Blood. I’m not saying that I’m completely free from sin. I sin everyday. But now, I’m more aware of my sins and I know more about how much God hates it. Now, God shows me areas of sin in my life that I would not have thought were all that bad at this time last year.

I told my family members and my pastor about my salvation a few weeks ago. Now, I’m going to be getting baptized. I am so excited!!! In the last few weeks, I have told many people about the changes in my life as a result of my salvation. People have told me that I needed to tell my story more. I asked Steve about posting my testimony on this website because I feel compelled to spread the message of the Gospel through my testimony. I have never experienced anything like this before. When I used to go Soul-winning, I was never the one who did the talking. I used to always make sure I was with someone who would do all the talking. I did not feel comfortable talking to people about salvation and getting them to pray a prayer at their front door. I’m still not completely sure that that is the way to go about witnessing to people. I prefer to just live my life and share Christ with people as the opportunity comes up.

One of the many things I have learned, is that salvation is a work of God. A person cannot just decide to pray a prayer on their own. Romans 3:10-12 says, “As it is written: ‘There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one’.” (NIV)

No man is righteous enough to make it to Heaven. No man even seeks God. No man understands God or spiritual matters. All men have turned away from God and become worthless. No man does any good. Only God can draw a person to Himself, because all men are spiritually dead until they are awakened by God. So, when I was struggling as a teenager and again at the beginning of this year, God was waking me up. In this case, God WAS the author of my confusion. He was using it to draw me to Himself. My salvation did not come because I prayed a prayer. It came because I finally understood why I needed a Savior. If a person does not understand their sinfulness, they won’t understand why a Savior was needed in the first place.

God is not Someone who sits in Heaven waiting on me to “prove” my commitment to Him by keeping a list of arbitrary rules. He also is not sitting in Heaven loving me and overlooking my sin. God is complex, just as humans are. We all have certain things we hate and certain things we love at the same time. God hates sin. He can’t dwell with it. Because of His love, He provided a substitutionary sacrifice to take away the penalty of sin for those who believe in what His Son did on the Cross and why He did it.

The Christianity I experience now is one that has set God free. Previously, my understanding only allowed a God that could be understood by the human mind. I no longer want to be a “God in a box” follower. I seek to learn and I know that my learning will never end. The more I grow, the more I want to study and learn.

I can remember growing up and hearing testimonies of people’s conversions. Sometimes, it seemed like the pastor would call on the worst sinners in the church to give their testimony. Because of this, often a testimony would be exploited to gain special recognition. Power and prestige would come to these people, for bringing up a background of their story of forgiveness, to push themselves (and the pastor)  to the forefront. I’m not doing that. I truly want people to know and understand who God truly is. I truly want people to experience authentic freedom in Christ. I’m just a girl who grew up in church. My story really is not all that special, but it’s mine, and I want to share it.


  1. “We have to be careful not to view salvation as a ticket, so to speak.”

    Laura, I couldn’t agree with you more. I don’t agree with the door-to-door soul winning either. It is too much like being a door-to-door salesman. My own personal opinion is that it is best (for me) to get to know someone and develop something of a relationship with them before I start talking to them, instead of talking to someone who I’ve never met, at their front door, and probably won’t see again. That seems too cold to me. I have witnessed many people who didn’t care about the person they were talking to. They just viewed soul winning as a way to add another “soul” to their number of conversions.

  2. Jamey, I really enjoyed your story. I have heard so many different ways to describe the exact moment of salvation. I would be interested in hearing from people on this site regarding their beliefs. It is a once saved always saved doctrine. I have found myself being a bit cynical when I hear of hundreds of conversions at one event, or even one on one, door to door soul-winning. I understand some people get scared into reciting a prayer. No one wants to spend eternity in misery, but we have to be careful not to view salvation as a ticket, so to speak. I was raised Catholic and when it was time to make the sacrament of confirmation I learned exactly what that was all about. All the teens in my class were led through various expectations. Included were repentance and acceptance of Jesus’ dying for us and rising again. we were taught that when we believed that, then the Holy Spirit would live in us and we would be able to have the fruits of the Spirit. Many insincerely went through the motions. I took it all very seriously, believe I was truly saved at that time, and have continued to grow in my walk with the Lord. I continued to participate in catholic mass weekly and was sometimes moved to tears as I felt the Spirit working in me. I soon realized something wasn’t right for me in Catholicism, but it took a long time to realize just what it was. I’ve spent years in various churches, I’m 46 now. I learned most of what I understand about the Bible from expository preaching at an evangelical free church for 10 years. Since my IFB boyfriend recently broke up with me, I have been trying to learn more about the difference between the expected weekly soul-winning, simply telling those in your life about Christ and how He has affected our lives, and just lifestyle evangelism. What do you all think? My IFB boyfriend faithfully goes door knocking every week, but prefers not to do the speaking. He is generally a quiet person anyway, but reading the above, I am wondering what, if any, role God’s grace and mercy and love play in his life. I would love to hear a man’s testimony like Jamey’s, as I may print it and share it with my ex-boyfriend. We have discussed grace and mercy, but that sends up red flags for him as people sometimes use that as a license, excuse, to sin. I see the balance between consequences of sin, wanting to please God, and resting in his comforting arms of grace and mercy. thank you.

  3. What a wonderful testimony! I am thrilled that you’ve entered into a true relationship with Christ! As a pastor of a church who holds the tag IFB, I would like to say that the sinner’s prayer (or sincerity of that prayer) as being the focal point of salvation has been one of my greatest problems with many churches within the denomination. Not all of them hold this, as the one I pastor’s does not, but it is true in many. I am glad that you saw your need for salvation and responded properly.

    For anyone reading this who goes back to a prayer for salvation, be very leery of the validity of your salvation. Our salvation was provided by the finished work of Christ, not by a sincere prayer that we can recite. And the test of true conversion is not whether or not you have adapted your life to a set of rules, but whether or not God has initiated a change of heart from the inside.

  4. Hi Shannon!

    I absolutely love this website!!! I come here at least once a day. I’m glad you enjoyed reading my testimony. I enjoyed writing it.

    I will pray for you and your family. I’m glad your children are learning basic Bible teaching. I’m glad that you are in the Word and are able to discern what is being taught incorrectly.

  5. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this testimony and all the comments. I agree with Jamey, sometimes the comments bring something out more clearly than the original posting!

    This website has been very informative to me in many ways. We are currently attending an IFB church, and have been questioning struggling with several issues. We are not truly happy there, but since we live overseas, we don’t have a lot of choices for English speaking churches. Since we do believe it is important to be faithful in attending worship and I do enjoy serving in the roles I have there, we continue to go.

    I am always wondering how many people in this church are not truly saved because they think that by following all these rules, they are good worthy Christians. It really upsets me. I am praying for them to have discernment on this. We have been going here for about a year now, and in all that time I have only heard it preached ONCE about reading the BIble for yourself. I find that shocking. I’ve also noticed many verses pulled out of context or twisted to mean something else that supports the current ‘rant’. The only thing I am thankful for here is that my children are young enough to not be indoctrinated in this. I always make sure to keep informed on what they are being taught. So far, it is basic Bible teaching.

    Anyway, when we first started going there and I started hearing all this stuff, I started to question myself. So it was good that it caused me study the Bible more for myself. Now I can be firmly grounded in the truth of God’s word, and not in doctrine.

  6. Ral,
    I’m sorry that you won’t be posting things anymore. I hope you will change your mind at some point. It’s the comments that people leave that have really stuck with me more than some of the articles (sorry Steve). 🙂 I like your viewpoint on different things. I will pray for you!!!

  7. Perhaps this will be my last entry on this site as I really don’t wish to continue as I’m not a blogger, not by a long shot. I feel however that I need to end my writing differently than I previously had. I don’t wish to keep bringing this up but the fact remains that when I was very young (early elementary school years), maybe 2nd or 3rd grade, I was afflicted with nephritis and in a hospital for nearly a year and the fact is that I nearly died from it and somehow it did something to degrade my thinking capabilities; well I can’t really say that either. Perhaps it’s most accurate to say that it ruined my IQ. If that’s not accurate, I don’t know how to accurately describe this issue. I do know however, that God saved me in July of 1952 at a summer Bible Camp in Northern Minnesota. I really did have quite a lot of things happen to me that I’d prefer to forget about, things that I could not help, just the way I was (am). I can say this for certain however, as Proverbs 3:34 in the NASB puts it: “Though He scoffs at the scoffers, Yet He gives grace to the afflicted”. It truly is as the song goes “He giveth more grace as the burdens grow greater . . .” (I’ve never heard that song sung in my IFB church and there are others that I love, that will most likely never be sung in any IFB church, from what I’ve read on this site). It is this song about grace that was on my heart this morning and I’m quite sure will continue throughout the day and possibly longer. I can truly sing whenever sung in church “There’s within my heart, a melody, Jesus whispers sweet and low . . .” I usually awake each morning with a song in my heart that expresses God’s wonderful love for me. I’d love to expound a bit on the grace God has given me during the very difficult times in my life but my IFB pastor apparently hates this and so I promised him that I would never ever again, tell these things to anyone who has ever been associated with any IFB church. It was very much accepted in other Baptist churches I have been in as it was openly discussed. I’m finding so many things that are very irritating to me that are apparently commonplace in an IFB church and many of them are mentioned various places on this site (certainly not only in my writings). I previously wrote why I remain in the local IFB church. What really matters in life is not so much how one gets through their physical life (in their shell – physical body) but what happens for all eternity. I’ve told several people that you can’t compare 80, 90 or 110 years to eternity (honestly though, what I said to them, I began with 70 but I’m more than that now). The truly foolish people are those who don’t believe what they can’t see. I’ve had a few tell me that when they die, that’s the end of everything for them “they die like a dog” they’ve said. That is so very foolish!!! At least one that I am thinking of right now, who had said that very thing, died within the past ten years if I recall correctly. He had lived a life of luxury in his shell (physical body) and he was a very nice guy. Being a “nice guy” however, doesn’t save one’s soul. I could expound on this too and I have done so in the past, before I ever heard of an IFB church and some of whom I’ve told of that experience to, seemed shocked that a Baptist could have such an experience but this also falls into the category of what I promised my IFB pastor. I had it on my web site (when I had a web site) and it was not at all accepted in IFB circles. It was however, something I saw with my own eyes and will never forget it even though it is apparently hated by IFBers. Well I did my best on this, I believe it’s fully accurate, I hope it doesn’t confuse anyone.

  8. @Ann
    Why is the IFB always preaching law? Man’s Law? If we are saved and have the Holy Spirit, we won’t need law preached to us. That’s what grace and mercy are about. Jesus came to fulfill the law. It seems the IFB is in a rut they made for themselves because there is no power in their preaching and no deliverance. No prophecy, no gifts of the spirit, just listen to the pastor who is the ‘oracle’ of God. I know many in my IFB church who hunger for more of the spirit and they listen to other ministries like Andrew Womack and Joseph Prince.

  9. Ral,
    You are NOT dumb!!! I’m not very good at this sort of thing either. When my testimony was posted last week, that was the first time I had ever attempted anything like this. I don’t think you should promise not to write anything. If you have something to say, then I think you should say/write it.

    According to my Webster’s Dictionary, legalism means “strict or too strict adherence to the law.” I lived my life by trying to follow other people’s rules. I used to be very much a people-pleaser. If following a bunch of rules would keep everybody happy with me, then that’s what I was going to do. I still don’t particularly like it if someone is cross with me, but I don’t worry as much about it. I do worry about the fact that you think you’re dumb. I think you made a great contribution to the discussion. Someone else might have been confused as to what I meant, but you’re the one who spoke up. I like that!!! 🙂

  10. @Jamey I don’t know why this is so mixed up. I was simply wondering what legalism means. I called myself “dumb” because my dad originally told me I am dumb. Many people after that, said I am dumb including my IFB pastor. I don’t recall anyone on this list calling me dumb. Hey, I’m really sorry for posting and getting people confused including myself. I admitted before that I’m not by any means, a blogger, so I really need to keep my fingers off the keyboard when reading things on this site. I hope you’re all clear on this, I’m not upset with anyone, just me. I’ll come back to read posts and I promise to try not to write anything.

  11. Oh, Ral No! I’m so sorry. I wasn’t referring to you. You have asked a legitimate question based on something I wrote. I don’t think you’re dumb.

    You wrote about how you went to God to get help for your sin. In my response to that, I wrote about how I went to God to get help with my sin as well. I used to try to get rid of my sin through legalism (following a certain formula, trying harder, etc). All I was saying was that I know that kind of thing does not work. I was agreeing with you that the only way to get rid of a specific sin problem is to let God take care of it.

    Again, I am VERY sorry that I wrote that in a way that would cause you to misunderstand. That was not my intention at all.

  12. I just looked up the term “legalism” and still cannot figure out what you Jamey, meant by it. I admit, rather than using my real name on this list, I actually should have used “Really Dumb Guy”. On another page of this site, I listed my life story and the Home Missionary I asked to go with me during NPE, told me to give it up because I’m not good enough. He told me to become an MVP on some sports team first and then go knocking on doors. After that, someone said he was a “legalist”. This Really Dumb Guy never could figure out the meaning of that terminology.

  13. @Jamey
    Jamey, did I describe a legalistic way that the sin bothered me? I really don’t know what you mean by that. That sin bothered me and I confessed it to God several times, so rather than desiring to keep confessing it, I asked God for help with it. He graciously gave me the kind of help I asked for. I too, want to sincerely live a Godly life.

  14. Ann-Indeed the KJV translation is God’s word, but I hope you realize that it is but one of MANY translations, some good, some not so good. For reasons we don’t know, God decided to INSPIRE His words in Hebrew, Greek and some bits of Aramaic. So not even one word in your KJV translation was INSPIRED by God! God allowed men to copy and translate His word into many languages. In fact the KJV translation, at least the NT, God allowed a faithful Catholic priest (Erasmus) to compile what later became known as the Textus Receptus, which later the good, baby-baptizing, KJV translators translated into the Queen’s English! (btw, Erasmus worked from less that a dozen manuscripts, today translators have over 5,000, and some much older than any that Erasmus had available to him)

    I would love for you to give us some of those verses that talk about the different styles of music so that we could discuss them, especially I would like to know where in the bible it says that evil spirts are attracted to certain types of music.

  15. Thank you Ral. Sin bothers me too, but not in the legalistic way. It bothers me because of the price that was paid for it. I was sincere about wanting to get rid of my sins, but I was trying in my own power. It wasn’t until I cried out in repentance that God saved me and that particular sin problem was taken from me. Now, I just have other areas of sin that I am being convicted about. I’m sure it will be that way until I die because I still live in a fleshly body. But, I sincerely want to live a Godly life.

  16. Ann,
    I’m not completely sure what you’re talking about. I was with you up to this point:

    “I am an Independent Fundamental Baptist and I enjoy my church. I am not trying to put down your beliefs– because I do understand that at one time you had attended an IFB church. You know what the beliefs are and how things are done.”

    As for the rest, I’m not sure what you’re getting at. I know Jesus is the only way to Heaven. I believe I made it clear in my testimony that I followed all of the IFB rules. I even continued to follow them after I left the IFB.

  17. @Ann

    Ann, I am glad you like your church. You should, but your post seems like you are reciting facts about God like a “recording.” I could guess what the last few sermons were about…

    The Bible is a story about God and His glory in saving a people for Himself, not a book of rules and facts to be recited. Don’t miss God’s glory in everything else.

  18. I thoroughly enjoyed reading Jamey’s story. When I was a young husband, I was battling a certain sin and it really bothered me. While talking to God about it, I asked Him to please give me a nudge when I would soon sin like that again, so I wouldn’t need to confess that sin again (I would look at women in a lustful manner). He answered that prayer real good and I no longer had to confess that sin again. Whenever I talked to a person about salvation, I always stressed the importance of being sincere. If a person is not sincere when they ask Jesus into their heart, nothing will happen. If they are sincere, God will save them and change their life.

  19. I am an Independent Fundamental Baptist and I enjoy my church. I am not trying to put down your beliefs– because I do understand that at one time you had attended an IFB church. You know what the beliefs are and how things are done. “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” – John 14:6 (KJV). If we don’t accept Jesus, than we DON’T find our way to God. God sent Jesus to this earth as Himself in the flesh. I don’t know how your IFB church did things, but I know that mine is correct. The KJV Bible is the true Word of God. The KJV has survived all this time through many troubles and criticisms. In the KJV you can find many verses about clothing and music. Recently, we had sermons on a “Biblical Worldview” and there are verses describing the different types of music. Some music is Godly and some attracts evil spirits. It’s not necessary the words of the song, but it’s the music itself. There are verses concerning women dressing modestly. A women is to look like a woman and a man is to look like a man. You don’t earn your way into Heaven. An unsaved individual is not heard by God until they pray for their salvation and call out to Him. I pray that God blesses you all.

    1. Bruce L. Scheffler

      Apparently ‘grace’ does not exist in your church. I am grateful I never attended it. I am pretty sure you would have kicked me out. I think Ann did a brave thing in her testimony. She told it like it is.

      1. Bruce L. Scheffler

        I gave the wrong name, it should be Jamey not Ann.

  20. Thank you Mike. Praying the prayer is not a guarantee to true salvation. When God gets a hold of a person, their life and even their personality changes radically. I didn’t completely understand the changes a person went through until I experienced it for myself. I’m still changing. I know that I am not the same person I was even 9 months ago.

    1. I like your use of the word “guarantee”. That helps put this issue in perspective. The IFB would like to think that the “prayer” is a guarantee of salvation when it really isn’t. It’s not a guarantee because we aren’t told in scripture that we need to pray a prayer for salvation. That’s a key to this issue for sure!!!

  21. My brother has the SAME story, we were raised in IFB and he “prayed the prayer” and then lived like the devil. God got a hold of him and he is a changed man. I am so glad.

    God bless you!

  22. Thank you Greg! I guess I should have phrased that better. When I was growing up, only those who had been “bad” before their conversion, were called upon to give their testimony. The pastor never called on someone who had been in church all their life or someone who hadn’t been all that bad (as far as lifestyle) before their conversion. When I said my story is really not all that special, it was in reference to the way testimonies are sometimes perceived. My story is special to me because it’s my story. Does that make sense?

  23. I enjoyed your story/testimony and have to disagree, it was very special!

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