Always Faithful

I don’t think I came from a Christian family.  I'm not sure.  Mom said she believed in God, but she didn't go to church.  As a young child, I wasn’t made to go to church.  When I was 12 years old, I was invited to go to Langley Baptist Church, by a neighbor who lived close to me.  From then on I attended every Sunday for Sunday School and worship service and every Wednesday for the Royal Ambassador program.  At age 14, I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior and was baptized at that church.  I really did not understand what I was doing, but the Lord has been faithful to me ever since during my life, even though I was not always faithful to Him.

Changes in my life kept drawing me away from the Lord, but I believe he actively kept his promise to be faithful.  In the first year of Junior High School, I stopped attending Langley Baptist after making new friends who didn’t believe as I did.  I was a child in the Lord but it was easier to go with the crowd.  During the second year of Junior High, while at a family reunion, I met a second cousin, Joan Cowley, for the first time.  She attended Fox Hill Road Baptist church and told me about a new youth ministry they were just starting.  She invited me to her church and again I was back in church.  At that time, I rededicated my life and stayed in church until my senior year of high school.

I joined the Army in 1979, went through basic and advanced training, and was assigned to my first duty station.  I was at Fort Benning for about six months, running around with the wrong people doing the wrong things, when God, in his faithfulness, sent another person to get me back in church.  The very first time I met Sergeant Gary Petette, he asked me “what church do you go to?” within two minutes of our meeting.  I said, “I’m not going to . . .” he interrupted and said he would pick me up Sunday.  He insisted, and that very Sunday, I started attending a local chapel with him.  Gary and I were good friends for a while, but he left for another assignment.  I stopped going to the Chapel and started running with the wrong people.

I got into some trouble but was fortunate enough to be given another chance.  I went to chapel on and off.  More off than on. After 18 months, I was reassigned to Korea.  When I got there, I went to chapel services for a while, but that didn’t last very long.  Once again, I was not faithful.  It seemed easier to sleep in on Sundays rather than to go to the chapel.  After my tour in Korea, I was reassigned to Fort Hood.  I was there for six months when I made my first trip to the main post area.  I was in the PX when I saw, none other than, Sergeant Gary Petette standing in the checkout line.  He was just assigned and had been there for less than a month when we met again.  The second word out of his mouth, the first being hello, was “what church are you going to”.  Sadly, I had to say none.  He told me he found a good church off post, and once again, I found myself where I belonged.

I reenlisted in the Army and the time came again to be reassigned.  The Army sent me to back to Korea and once again, I spent less time in church.  Within a few of months I was not attending at all.  I was in such a good position that I decided to extend my tour of duty.  I put a lot of time and effort in my job and no effort in seeking the Lord.  It was during this extension that I met Donna.  She wasn’t a Christian at the time, but that part of our lives was not on our minds.  We dated for about seven months and decided to get married.  It was in our first year of marriage that, one day, out of the blue, Donna said that we needed to go to church.  We started attending a chapel on post for a while, and then attended a chapel in the housing area that we were assigned.  After a while, we were invited to the Seoul International Baptist Church.  This is where Donna was saved and baptized!  We attended that church every Sunday until it came to the time that we would be reassigned to a new duty station.

After 6 years in Korea, the time came that we would be reassigned.  My new assignment was Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.  Now, even though God was faithful to me all throughout my life, I still was not faithful to Him.  The last thing on my mind when I got to Leonard Wood was to find a church for my family and me to attend.  Not realizing it at the time, I was discouraging Donna from pursuing a church also.  Now, this is the most amazing part of this story [testimony].  One of the rules for being assigned to Fort Leonard Wood was to attend a one-day housing maintenance seminar within 30 days of your assignment.  I dutifully attended the class at the first opportunity.  While I am sitting there, waiting for the class to begin, I felt a tap on my shoulder.  Sitting behind me was my old friend, Gary Petette! Almost 7 years after I last saw him!  Guess what he asked me?  The amazing part of this story is that he had been at Leonard Wood for 6 months, but it was on that particular day that he was finally decided to make it to that mandatory class.  If he had gone any other time, we may have never met.  Does not that show how faithful God can be?  That Sunday, My family and I met Gary at Westside Baptist Church.  And that same day we joined the church.  It was here that Donna came to understand the true meaning of salvation and came to know Christ as her savior, and this is where Heather was saved!

Ever since then, wherever Donna and I go, we actively search out a church that preaches the gospel.  I retired from the Army and we moved back to Hampton, we joined the church I attended as a teenager in high school.  After 2 years we moved to Chester so I could be closer to the office where I worked.  Donna searched for a church while I traveled around the country.  Once again, God was faithful and put Shirley Kogel, a member of Colonial Heights Baptist Church, in our lives.  Within a few days of our meeting, she invited us to her church.  On that first Sunday we knew this was where God wanted us!  We have been here ever since.  This is where Christina and Jeremy accepted Christ!

It is truly amazing how God has been faithful to me throughout my life from the time I accepted him as my Savior.  I must also admit that during the times I was away from the church and his will, I would become miserable and was filled with guilt.  I thank God for his faithfulness and people he put in my life, especially for my wife Donna.  She was truly a gift from God.  God is Faithful!


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