THE PERSONAL TESTIMONY OF RAY ARMSTRONG
This testimony is written for the glory of God, who by His grace lifted me up from out of the pit and into His Kingdom, as one of His chosen children on 15th May 2002.
I was, at best, an agnostic bordering on atheistic. I had no time for any God and believed that all Christians were weak and used God as a crutch because they were unable to cope with life by their own abilities. “Oh boy was I ever wrong!!!” I was 57 years old and was sure that I had everything in my life under control. My wife, Dianne of 27 years has been a born again Christian for over 20 years. I love her dearly and we had a good marriage throughout this time. I should have known by that fact alone that my theory about Christians must have been flawed because she has never been weak although I thought she was overly optimistic in her approach to life and out of touch with reality because she saw the good in people rather than what they really were, however it never occurred to me at all. We have a daughter and now three lovely grandchildren and I had worked for the same company in New Zealand for 30 years. I had everything I ever wanted in life, a secure job, our own freehold home and a reliable car. In March 1998, I had even achieved my ultimate goal in life, which was for my Dianne and I to move to the Gold Coast. Dianne informed me that God had wanted us to move to the Gold Coast. (Yeah Right) Our daughter and our grandchildren remain in New Zealand, which we accepted because she must be free to live her own life with her husband and children and make her own choices.
Yet despite all this so-called success, I was never totally satisfied with life but didn’t know what was missing. Dianne had many times told me how Jesus was the answer and had been praying for my salvation for years, but I was too proud and stubborn to listen to that sort of talk. Anyway that wasn’t logical was it? And I was a totally logical sort of man because of my technical training background and you can’t prove to me that God exists can you? (Not in any form that I was ready to listen to, let alone accept). I was a good person with high moral standards, I had not really sinned, not the “BIG” sins anyway. So I didn’t need to be forgiven when I hadn’t really sinned.
At this time last year I now “KNOW” that God again wanted to invite me into his glorious Kingdom even though I had neither accepted nor rejected Him totally on many previous occasions. Even a Billy Graham crusade, many years ago, had little effect on my stubborn character. God knew my faults and my strengths and put both to work to teach me about Himself. Dianne had always said that I was overly pessimistic, but I didn’t agree saying that if I expected things to go wrong, then when they did I would not be surprised, but if they went right (occasionally that would happen) then I would be amazed and it was usually Dianne who came to my rescue after I was desperate and out of control from throwing yet another hissy fit. Very rarely did I ask or want Dianne to help but she would just appear and quietly sort out the problem after calming me down. Dianne had been working most of the time since my redundancy twelve years earlier yet I had no luck in finding paid employment and my confidence had slowly been eroded over time. Dianne was made redundant in 2001 leaving both of us out of work. My confidence had been shattered from the constant rejection of employers as I hopelessly sought work over the years. My pride was torn to pieces because I had to accept government handouts to live on. My negative attitude to life in general had its finale’ when I threw my usual hissy fit about some minor matter, but it was the last straw for Dianne who had been so patient with me all these years. She came to me and said she couldn’t take any more of my negative and intolerant attitude, that she wouldn’t leave or divorce me but we would have to live more separate lives from this point onwards as spending so much time together was starting to make her feel negative also.
She wanted to return to Church, which she had put on hold because of my attitude although her faith was still strong, and I could do whatever I wanted, as she was not responsible for my happiness or lack of it. I was totally devastated because I had tried to overcome these problems with training courses and books etc but nothing had any long-term effects because I never had problems in the first place. It was always everyone else that was unreasonable not me.
“No problem” God had a plan of action. The doorbell rang and I answered it. It was an Angel of The Lord who came in the form of a leader from the Church at the end of our street. He said ” Hi! My name is Stuart and I have come from the Church down the road and we are offering a free course for people who would like to know more about Christianity. It’s called The Alpha course, would you be interested in attending? ” I said “No” sorry, I don’t have any interest in that at all, I have problems of my own. He wasn’t pushy at all but said it could help me and gave me a brochure. I took it because I didn’t want to offend him and gave it to Dianne to look at. She read it and said she was going to attend as a way of an introduction back into Church life and left it deliberately on the coffee table. Something or maybe someone caused me to pick it up and read it about a week later.
I said to Dianne “Would you mind if I came too just for interest’s sake” (“Sucking up” she knew it and I knew it without saying anything). I didn’t believe there was any chance of changing my mind but it might be quite tolerable because they have a meal together each time and I may even meet some friends. Didn’t have many of those surprisingly. She said “OK” (grinning inwardly as I now know) she could handle that. After attending the first session I made a commitment to complete the course as these people appeared to be nice and almost normal people. Not even a Halo in sight.
By the end of the second week, I was prepared to agree that there could well be something in this after all. We came home and jumped into the spa pool, it was a very cold night as I remember it and I began to think (with an open mind) about what I had heard. At that moment I had a ”Damascus Road” experience that I will Never Ever forget. I saw in my mind a great white waterfall of light descending from heaven and totally enveloping me when suddenly a voice said, “I am the way, the truth and the light.” I poured my heart out to God, confessed all my sins and problems and asked Him to forgive me, to come into and takeover my life.
From that moment on my whole life changed instantly, Dianne was stunned to say the least. I never had any desire to swear again, my negativity ceased and was replaced with a positive attitude. I was hungry for the Lord’s Word every day and needed to attend Church. I have since been baptised in the Holy Spirit, baptised in water, and Dianne and I have renewed our marriage vows before God and my brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus. Many wonderful things have happened in my life ever since which are just too numerous to tell you about here but I am now a new person totally happy, our marriage is in unity as never before. We are now truly one, and seek to fulfil the Lord’s purpose for us together.
I was changed completely from atheist to God chaser to God catcher in less than a year and I can promise you that God can and will do the same for you. All you have to do is truly believe in Him, His forgiveness and acceptance of you as you are and ask Him to come into your life, then watch the miracles flow before your very eyes. Does this mean that life, as a Christian has been a bed of roses? No way. I have been tested and taught by our Lord Jesus Christ that problems and bad experiences are the exams in life that teach us how to walk in a personal relationship with Him. They prove our spiritual growth and that trusting in the Lord for all things is the only way to a happy, Joy filled and secure everlasting life. I have finally found the missing link and the peace that I have searched for all my life.
May God bless you as He has me.