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Tuesday, 01 January 2002 00:12

Jeanne McGrath's Testimony

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My family and I had been going to church off and on after we left our home in Illinois, where both my husband's and my family lives.It was much different going to church where nobody knew you. It seemed as if no one cared if you were there or not. Nothing about the service kept us wanting to go back, just the guilt of committing "mortal sin." When I would go after being away for awhile, and would kneel to pray before the service started,I would feel it's where I belonged and felt very close to God and sorry I neglected Him so. But as soon as the service started, that feeling would leave and I would be bored and daydream the time away. This went on for about 7 or 8 years.

About 3 1/2 years ago, one of my sons asked if we could go to his friend's church because he had been involved in their mid-week Bible study and was getting to know the kids. I was excited he wanted to go to church and I had been curious since a child what other churches did. I found the service and building to be very strange. They had no statues or stained glass and the preacher was dressed like everybody else. I wondered to myself "they call this a church?" But I kept going because my son wanted to be with his friends. After I got over the shock of the way the inside of the building looked, I started listening to the preacher. His love for God's Word really came through. For the first time in my life I had a respect for the Bible. I was amazed at all the interesting teachings that were in there. At some point either shortly before or after I started going to this church, I had questioned God if He was real and wanted to know if my life was worth anything at all. I can remember being in my van and driving at the time. He sure has been faithful in letting me know the truth. A few months after going to this church my son started encouraging me to read the Bible. I had been meaning to because it sounded so interesting, but I didn't make it a priority. The preacher kept encouraging everyone to bring their Bibles to church, but that was a bit over the top for me! I hadn't carried one in public before. After much daily persistence from my son to read it,I gave it a try. I started in Genesis and was having difficulty staying focused. One day he showed me two verses, Matt. 23:9 and 1 Tim. 4:3. We both wondered if that was directed at the Catholic church. It scared me enough that I began pouring into the Bible to see what else I didn't know. Some days I spent all day reading,just stopping for breaks to eat and do a few chores around the house. Things I was taught as a child were finally making sense to me. About 4 months after going to that church,my son decided to be baptized. I thought he might because I had seen others being baptized at church, but I was surprised their parents hadn't had them baptized as infants. I asked my son if his infant baptism and confirmation didn't seem enough to him. He replied that if he did he would't be doing this. That alarmed me and I knew I'd have to take a look at my own decision then. After going through verses in the NT on baptism, I realized I hadn't been obedient to Jesus in the way He specified. This scared me. I believed He was God's Son for so long, but had not confessed my belief before others. Of course I still had a Catholic viewpoint of needing to be baptized or you don't go to heaven. I was worried I might die during the week and not make it to my baptism on Sunday. I wanted to be baptized in my tub at home right away, but my son thought God would honor my good intention, and I waited. My son baptized me two weeks after his own. Then two months later, he baptized my youngest son. My boys were 17 and 12 at the time.

I now know that we are born-again first and then we obey in baptism. But for the first time in my life I put God first knowing that my family could be very upset and reject me. It was a chance I was willing to take because being with God was more important to me than anyone or anything else. I have since thrown away statues of Jesus on the cross, Mary, and the rosaries that I used to treasure. Some of the rosaries had been my grandma's. That was difficult because of my fond memories of her, but God comes first now, and those things were designed to pray to someone other than God. The Bible is now my most valued treasure. Thank God for His Word so that we may have His truth!

I have found so many errors in Roman Catholicism these past few years that makes me so angry. But I need to keep in mind that the priests teaching these errors must be just as blind as I once was. But part of me wonders if pride keeps these men from telling the truth. I don't know, but God surely does. I'm also amazed at how convicting God's Word is. It seemed everytime I would sit and read or listen to a sermon, I found out about another sin I had committed! So much for thinking I was "basically good". God has sure cleaned house for me and continues to do so. I'm thankful for that because now I understand why Jesus went to the cross. To save a sinner like me.

Jeanne McGrath

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