"Glorifying God by Teaching the Church to Reach the World"
"Glorifying God by Teaching the Church to Reach the World"

Faith Stories

A number of neighbors, friends, and others who came to Christ when our paths crossed have been in touch with me, since I started PreVision Partnership. I am always very encouraged by what they share! Pray for these people and be encouraged, if you too are praying for someone! I have asked a few of them to share the stories of how they came to faith for your encouragement. Peter Grant

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"Everything About Me Is Jewish Except…Me." by Louise Propst

Louise & Ben Propst on their wedding day

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I recently got a text from Louise with a link to her blog post.

"Thought you'd enjoy this," she said. And I did!

She kindly gave me permission to repost... 

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This post started out as an attempt to begin writing about Ben’s and my wedding story. During a very one-sided Auburn game (#wareagle), I sensed that my Abba wanted me to write about Our Story – the story of how He pursued me and wooed me into His Forever Family. This is my Testimony. If it were not for this story, there would be no Ben and me. If it were not for this story, there would be no “me”. This is my Favourite Story.

 
Where do I begin? This love story began with another love story. I was pursued and wooed by a loving Heavenly Father, Who taught me that to receive love from another, I would first have to learn to receive love from Him. I could only truly trust a husband, when I learned to trust Him for my peace and my worth, and when I did, I found rest for my soul.

 

“I hate divorce”, says the LORD

I had failed. I had been married. My husband walked out in 2000, and, amidst contradicting advice from countless godly individuals, the Lord repeatedly reminded me that He hates divorce (Malachi 2:16). And so I stood for a dead marriage. How could I do what my God hates? I prayed that my husband would give his life to the Lord and come home to me and our two daughters, then aged 7 and 14. He didn’t.
 
For eight long and lonely years we prayed. In 2008, I was served papers. A year later, I was free. At least so I thought. (To be continued… (eventually (maybe.)))

 

But First, God…

The three of us had moved to America from England in Summer of 1991. We were all we had. Our first daughter was 6, our second didn’t arrive until a year after our transplant. I did not know Jesus. I wasn’t even sure I believed in God. We moved into a pleasant apartment complex just outside Atlanta. It seemed I was surrounded by Christians, and They Were Weird. I was being chased by the God Squad, and I wasn’t about to enlist.

 

But God…

I was lonely. I had no close friends. I was four thousand miles from family. My husband would go out with his work colleagues, and I was stuck at home with two littles. Without a Green Card, I was ineligible for work in the U.S. I was utterly miserable. There had to be more to life than this, right?
 
All of my new Christian neighbours were home-schooler types. They wore long denim dresses with big white embroidered collars and matching Keds. They said “Bless your heart” a lot. My heart was hard. I argued with them about religion. They all gave the same pat answers. They told me about their Jesus. I visited All The Churches. Baptist. Presbyterian. Catholic. Unitarian Universalist. UU? That was eye-opening. No mention of any god. I asked my daughter if they’d learned about Jesus, to which she replied, “No. Chinese New Year”. But it was there that I realised, after not hearing about God, that I wanted to hear about God. But which one?

 

Which God…?

My next door neighbour, Bhavani, was Hindu. I loved her. I was dead sure Hinduism was not my ‘path’. I mean, reincarnation? Who wants to come back again, anyway, and be a teenager all over? Nah.
My daughter’s best friend, Shir Snir, was Israeli. There was Mum, Dad, and four crazy wild kids. I loved them. Smadar, the Mum, would show me the separate cupboard for Passover dishes, and talk about what they believed, and one day I casually asked her, “Why don’t Jews believe in Jesus?”
 
“We don’t believe that all of God’s attributes can be manifest in a human being”. Well, that was enough for me; it made perfect sense. So I decided that if I was going to follow any god, it would have to be the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The God of the first half of the Bible.
 
I was going to be a Jew! Oy veh. How would I tell my husband? What? No more bacon?

 

How to Become a Jew

I just ‘happened’ to be reading a novel by Noah Gordon: The Rabbi is the story of a young Jewish rabbi who falls in love with the daughter of a Protestant minister. She then converts to Judaism. She meets with another rabbi and learns all she needs to know before being baptised as a Jewish proselyte. The End.
 
A sign! It must be a sign! Oh, yes. Shalom, Baby! I would convert. I just had to find me a rabbi… and a synagogue. And maybe some new dishes.

 

But God…

Bhavani moved on. Cathy moved in. One sunny afternoon we sat in the local playground and watched our daughters at play.
 
Me: I hate Christians
Cathy: Why do you hate Christians?
Me: They’re so weird. And stuffy. And the first question they ask when they meet you is, “What church do you go to?” Like everybody here goes to church?
Cathy: Louise… I’m a Christian.
Me: *gulp* (Cathy was normal. Cathy wore shorts for goodness’ sake. Cathy struggled in life. Cathy was real. (Cathy made Keds look cool.))
Me: What church do you go to?
Cathy: Buckhead Community Church.
 
One. More. Church. Oh, man. Noooooooo!! I am going to be a Jew! A Jewess, already! I’m getting new Passover dishes!
 
One Saturday evening, I found myself knocking on Cathy’s door, inviting myself to Buckhead Community Church. One. More. Church.
 
“What’s the dress code?” Apparently, there wasn’t a dress code. I wouldn’t have to buy any Keds.
 
So, I went to church. Not in a real church building. They met in a posh private school. The music was loud. The people friendly. The preacher Scottish. It felt right. But I was going to be Jewish. Now what? Why was I even here?

 

You Can’t Be Jewish and Go to Church

I can’t tell you that I struggled that week. I can’t tell you what I prayed. I just know that God and I were having some crazy conversation about what was true. All I know was that He had my attention. And He would continue to fight for that attention until He had me.
 
Saturday evening. Again, knocking on Cathy’s door. Church againThe music was loud. The people friendly. The preacher took a day off? WHAT??  But,I like the Scottish guy!  They sang a song I remembered from the previous week. It almost felt familiar here. Like I was meant to be here.
 
But, God! I want to be Jewish. I love my Israeli friends. I want a separate cupboard for Passover dishes. I can live without bacon. Can’t I just have You without Jesus?
 
The preacher introduced the guest speaker. An old guy sauntered on to the stage. A seventy-year-old, white-haired man with a story. I had only been to BCC one time, and already I hated the change. Who was this guy, anyway? I should be looking for a synagogue, not wasting my time here.

 

You Can’t Be Jewish and Believe in Jesus

 
February 6th, 1994. Buckhead Community Church.
 
The old man began his story. Twenty years prior, his daughter had come home from college for Spring Break with some serious news. She had come to believe in Jesus. She had become a Christian. So? Big deal. The old man was extremely upset. Devastated. As were his wife and their other daughter.
 
Why?
“You can’t believe in Jesus!” he pleaded with his first-born. “We don’t believe in Jesus! You cannot be a Jew and believe in Jesus!”
What?
 
The man, Stan Telchin, was Jewish! Second generation Russian Jew. Successful businessman. Respected by his peers and well loved in the Jewish community, and his daughter’s news had cut him to the quick. It was as though his beloved child had stabbed him through the heart. As far as Stan was concerned, she had pretty much turned her back on everything they were. She had joined the enemy. As a young boy, he had been spat at and bullied and called antisemitic names by “those Christians”, and his baby girl had fallen for their lies. Why had they hated him so much? Was it in their mothers’ milk? His job now was to prove his daughter wrong and to win her back.
 
He left his business in the capable hands of his assistant, and spent the next 9 months or so speaking to rabbis and priests and other Jews, and reading his Bible – not finding the answers he was seeking. Then he found a copy of the New Testament. Expecting an anti semitic book spewing that same kind of hatred he’d experienced as a boy, he was shocked to discover a Jewish book written by Jews for Jews about a Jew.
 
The Jew, Jesus.

 

Jesus Was a Jew!!!

Betrayed is the story of how this Jewish man found his Messiah in the Person of Jesus. Read it. Share it.
 
I cried and cried. Cathy patted my arm and probably said, “Bless your heart”.
 
My heart was blessed. My heart was full.
 
This God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, could bring me four thousand miles across the globe, to live next door to a woman who would go to a church where the preacher was British, and where an old Jewish man would tell me – me, who was heading straight into Judaism – that Jesus was the Jewish Messiah, and the fulfillment of everything that is Jewish! God must really want me to know this!

 

But, God…

Oh, but God. I have doubts. So many doubts.
 
Sunday, 13th February 1994. Peter Grant, the pastor of Buckhead Community Church, began a four week series entitled, Beyond a Reasonable Doubt. And for the next four Sundays (yes, I was hooked), all of my doubts; all of my fears; all of my thoughts of becoming a Jewish convert crumbled under the weight of God’s love and sovereignty over my life, and His relentless pursuit of me, and on that fourth Sunday, 6th March, 1994, I gave Him my whole life – heart and soul. And I have never, ever, looked back. And I have to tell people.
Behold, what manner of love the Father has given unto us, that we should be called the sons of God!
I John 3:1

 

You Can Be Jewish and Believe in Jesus…

…because if Jesus is the promised Messiah of the Old Testament – the Tenach – then believing in Him is the most Jewish thing a Jew can do.
 
I am not a Jew. Not even Jew-ish.
Everything about me is Jewish except… me.
I am a Gentile who loves Israel and the Jewish people, because I owe them everything I am in Jesus.
I am telling the truth in [Messiah], I am not lying, my conscience testifies with me in the Holy Spirit, that I have great sorrow and unceasing grief in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from [Messiah] for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh, who are Israelites, to whom belongs the adoption as sons, and the glory and the covenants and the giving of the Law and the temple service and the promises, whose are the fathers, and from whom is the Christ according to the flesh, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen.
Romans 9:1-5
And if I can point just one Jewish person to find their Messiah, Yeshua, then my life will have been made complete.
And, my middle name is Ruth. Who knew?
Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or turn back from following you; for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God.
Ruth 1:16
God knew.
 
Passover dishes
I never did get my Passover dishes. Well, maybe I did. They’re white and plastic with a silver rim; they come in packs of 50 from COSTCO and I use them every year at my Passover Table… where Jewish people have come and heard about their Messiah, as told in the Passover narrative. God’s Favourite Love Story.
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
Romans 1:16
 
This was supposed to be my Ben & Louise story, but this afternoon the Lord took me elsewhere. I guess He likes to remind me about Our Story. And I like hearing it again and again. I pray it speaks to you, too. God gives us stories because stories are for telling. He also gave us Shabbat, a ‘Stop Day’. Today, ‘stop’ and tell someone your story! Somebody needs to hear it… maybe you need to hear it again.
 
Shabbat Shalom, y’all.
 
(Louise lives in Atlanta with her husband, Ben. She describes herself as, "A Gentile believer in the Jewish Messiah, whose heart it is to take Jesus "to the Jew first" and to encourage all believers to take a full day to rest (Shabbat) in His grace". You can read her blog at https://therestofgrace.com/ and her full article at https://therestofgrace.com/2018/12/29/everything-about-me-is-jewish-except-me/)

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"I had an overwhelming sense of God speaking to me..." by Fiona Grant

"This amazing journey started when I was four years old. After talking with my parents, I prayed to put my faith in Jesus Christ. Although I was very young, I was fully aware of the decision I was making. As I’ve grown older, I’ve come to understand even more fully the depth of God’s love for me and how to grow in my walk with Christ. In middle school, while attending a youth summer camp, I began to realize that being a Christian didn’t mean just going to church or trying to be a good person; it was about having a true and deep relationship with God and realizing how much He loved me, despite my failures. My parents have also played a huge role in my Christian walk and seeing the way they center their lives around God, especially in ministry, has been a huge blessing.

 

Ever since I was a little girl I have always had a heart for missions and wanted to help people in need particularly in Africa and China. Yet, despite being raised in a pastors home by parents who both went to Christian colleges, I never saw Bible college in my future. However, at a church youth camp in the summer of 2011 I had an overwhelming sense of God speaking to me during a very passionate worship time. I felt like God was saying I should be open to attending Moody Bible Institute. In response to this, I started to learn more about the school and visited it in September 2011. During a student-led worship event, I experienced a great sense of Gods peace and then I knew that any worries about attending would be taken care of by Him...all I needed to do was trust His plan for me! After that amazing visit at Moody in September I spent the next few months praying about the decision. As I sought prayer and advice from family and friends they gave me lots of affirmation, support and encouragement to pursue studies at Moody. After applying in December 2011, I was accepted to begin studies in August 2012 for a four year degree as an Urban Ministries Major.

As of now, I truly believe His will for my life is to work with children. God has given me an incredible passion and heart for children who are socially deprived. Along with this, I also have a strong interest in Africa. These passions that God has laid on my heart can go hand in hand. The Urban Ministries Major is the major that best fits my passion and my mission studies will best prepare me for ministry in Africa and/or urban areas. Since I will be interacting with many different social and racial groups, it will be important to learn how to express the gospel to people of all backgrounds. While attending Moody I will also be a Missions Intern with PreVision Partnership. During my internship I will be involved in mission trips overseas during my college breaks. This internship will give me experience on the mission field in ministry while I’m also being prepared through my studies at Moody.
Two verses that have helped me in my decision were Proverbs 16:9 and 1 Peter 3:15. Proverbs 16:9 (“We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps”) is a great reminder that God's plan for me is the one I need to follow. Attending Moody is not an easy choice but I feel it is God’s plan for me and I need to trust His will for my life. 1 Peter 3:15, says, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect”. This verse helped me in preparing to share my testimony for my first mission trip to South Africa and Greece with my father in 2010. It stresses how important it is as Christians to always be ready to express to people the love God has for them. The education, training, spiritual growth and fellowship I will gain at Moody will prepare me in giving people the answer to the hope that I have as I share Gods unfailing love with them.

Ultimately I want to serve the Lord wherever I can and follow His will. Francis Chan once wrote, “True faith means holding nothing back; it bets everything on the hope of eternity”. This is my goal in preparing for missions at Moody Bible Institute and with PreVision Partnership. This summer I will be serving with PreVision in Africa (orphanages in South Africa and Mozambique) and Greece (Operation Joshua 5) before beginning studies at Moody in August. 

 

 

UPDATE: Fiona graduated from Moody in May 2015 with a B.A. in Urban Ministry. She lived and served for several years in inner-city Chicago with By The Hand, "Helping children who live in high-risk, inner-city neighborhoods have abundant life." She now does the same in Atlanta, teaching in the Atlanta public school system. She graduated from Georgia State University in May 2019 with a Masters in Urban Education.

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"I was a fiery atheist when I first heard you speaking..." by Michael Simpson

"Peter, thank you for showing me that a Christian can not only be intelligent and think for himself but can also make other people think and help them come to their own decisions and to their own life-changing faith.

I was a fiery atheist when I first walked into Buckhead Community Church and heard you speaking. I remember one day I was so convicted that what you were saying was true, but I was so conflicted within myself that I still wanted to rebel, but I couldn't come up with an argument to do it. So I waited until everyone left the church, and I walked down---you'll probably remember---and said, "I just wanted to tell you that I did NOT pray that prayer of salvation." It was one of the last moments of defiance that I had. You were so kind and said, "That's okay. You can do that when you're ready."

It was that type of attitude---of helping people face truth and bringing them to Jesus and allowing them to take that last step yet never pressuring them---that inspired me to not only come to Christ but to live that way and, since then, to help other people through teaching, life example, and writing two books on the subject of faith and sharing your faith.* Now I am a part of The Navigators organization, living in Saint Petersburg, Russia, married to the woman who first introduced me to Christ and encouraged me to visit your church in Atlanta.

Peter, on behalf of all the people here in Russia who are hearing the gospel and responding to the gospel, I want to thank you because God used you to reach them 7,000 miles away from Atlanta, Georgia. Your legacy is not just spanning the globe, but it is spanning generations. We are already three generations deep with people here not only coming to Christ but leading others to Christ and discipling them to help them do the same for yet others still. Your legacy and how God has used you in the lives of others will carry on long after you and I are no longer on this earth!

I want to thank you and tell you that you are much loved and much appreciated. God bless you!"

Michael Simpson is the author of several books including Permission Evangelism: When to Talk and When to Walk, a Gold Medallion Book Club Winner on the subject of sharing your faith, and I Believe, Now What?, a book designed for new and immature believers who have never been formally or properly discipled. He has also contributed to books on Knowledge Management (KM), Identity/Networking, and Customer Relationship Management (CRM). His work experience includes sixteen years of success in roles as a corporate strategist and marketing executive. He is also an executive advisor and coach with Trove, Inc . His other passions are writing, photography, cycling, backpacking, and designing the perfect truffle.

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"It started with a question..." by Mac Scheidegger

"In 1999, I met Peter Grant, and his family. They were looking to buy a home and I was showing them one of my listings. I asked him what he did for a living; he told me "I'm a pastor---but other than that I'm perfectly normal!" After a brief conversation, Peter asked me, "So Mac, do you go to church?" That question began a discussion that led to a process that developed into a friendship that continues to this day. At the time, the question seemed to come out of nowhere -- but I now know the question came from somewhere! A simple question, but for me a life-changing one. A question that would lead me to the most important decision of my life. A question I had been avoiding for twenty years.

For some reason, even though I had just met the man, I started to explain myself, perhaps even to defend myself. "Do I go to church? No; not since college" I answered, "Look, I grew up going to church. In fact, when I was in high school, I seriously thought about becoming a pastor, so I met with the pastor at my church. He actually discouraged me! Said it was stressful; not a lot of money. Then I went off to college and eventually stopped going to church." "Why?" Peter asked "Because I could no longer honestly, comfortably say that I believed in Jesus Christ as the Son of God." I continued explaining my uncertainty and ambivalence toward Jesus Christ. "Don't get me wrong; I'm not saying I don't believe in Jesus Christ, I'm just saying I don't know. What I do know is that I believe in God, and I try to be a good person." "So Mac, you believe in God?" Peter asked. "Absolutely, no doubts, Peter ---the sun and the moon and the stars, the rivers, the oceans, the birds and bees, the flowers, the trees. Absolutely there is a God." "Okay, Mac, I suggest that you to pray to God. And I want you to ask HIM to clear up any uncertainty about Jesus Christ for you."

Peter then explained that Jesus Christ is the issue and that everyone needs to answer the question, "Who is Jesus Christ?" He encouraged me to pray to God, read the Bible and a Christian book he gave me, attend church and talk to others. The next morning, I prayed, "Dear God, please help me with this Jesus Christ issue, please help me to come to some resolution, some comfort level. If Jesus Christ is your Son, your one and only Son, please help me to know that, please help me to be at peace with that. And if Jesus Christ is not your Son, please help me to know that and be at peace with that. And God, I'm not a Bible reader. I need a sign, please give me a sign."
I'm not so sure that asking God for a sign to prove Himself is the right thing to do, but it worked for me! Over the next few months, three signs encouraged me in my search. First, Peter invited me to the grand opening service of Cumberland Community Church's new facility, and I went. Peter did not know I was there but he did a Q&A at the end of the service and out of hundreds of written questions submitted, mine was the last one of ten to twelve answered! My question was, "Even if God exists and did create the world, how can I know Him?" Second, while meeting for coffee one morning I said, "Peter, you know, it would be helpful for someone like me, someone who is seeking, for you to teach on how other religions view Jesus Christ. Who do they say Jesus Christ is or was?" Peter said he would and he encouraged me to keep asking God Himself to show me the answer. A few hours later, I was home for lunch and I went out to our mailbox to find a Newsweek magazine. On the cover was a picture of Jesus Christ with a caption that basically said, "How Other Religions View Jesus Christ." During this time, it seemed as if every new person I met was a Christian! I would share with them how I was seeking and the prayer I was praying. They would say things like "God has a hold off your heart" or "The Holy Spirit is working within you." One lady told me about the Trinity, the three-in-one, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. She used the analogy of water which is one substance --- but can be in the form of solid (ice), liquid (water) and gas (steam). A few mornings later, I was in our backyard, standing by the birdbath, looking at the woods, talking to God, still trying to figure this all out. I looked at my hand -- my fingers were touching a thin layer of ice, which was floating in water, and there was steam coming off the water in the birdbath!
Several months later, I attended a Christmas service at Peter's church. He asked how my search was going. I told him, "I believe everything but the bit about Jesus being my Savior." Peter replied, "Great! Christmas is the best possible season to explore the Jesus bit!" We met several more times and Peter explained the Gospel again --- that knowing that God loves us, that we are sinners and His Son came to die for us and live within us---requires a response of repentance and faith, not just church-going or mental assent. Early in the following year, through a simple prayer of heartfelt trust, I put my faith totally in Jesus as my Lord and Savior!
Before coming to know Jesus Christ, I was basically a good person, but I wasn't fulfilled. I felt empty -- my life lacked purpose. Now that I have a personal relationship with Christ, I'm at peace, content, fulfilled. I live life more abundantly. I feel so loved -- I know God loves me so much. My eyes are more open to see opportunities to help others. That is why today, I am glad to serve on the Advisory Board of PreVision Partnership. As Christians, God wants us to help others to come to know His Son, Jesus Christ. How can we do that? By loving others, through our words, actions, and prayers. May I suggest that we follow Peter's example 1) Ask a simple question e.g. "Do you go to church?" 2) Direct them to Jesus Christ through something to read and invite them to church 3) Pray for them until they come to know Him. It worked with me!"

(Mac Scheidegger is a successful realtor in the Atlanta area and serves on the Board of Advisors of PreVision Partnership. He and his wife, Judi, and daughter, Laura, make their home in Mableton, GA). You can also view his story here

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"I Came to Hear About Greece But Heard About Christ!" by Costa Anasthasiou

"Coming to know Christ in February 2007 has had a profound effect on my life and on the lives of my wife and my two teenage daughters. We're now so much stronger as a family and I just know that there is an awesome power and love in the universe and He is working in our lives. I wouldn't change it for anything.
It wasn't always like that. We came to America from England as a family trying to make a new life for ourselves and we've been blessed. But there was anxiety and uncertainty that started to play on my mind for a while; I became very anxious and in the end I became depressed. I also became a very nasty person to live with; I know that my wife and daughters could only deal with the person I had become because they knew God's strength.
When they joined Lincroft Bible Church, I could see that they had strength and it was amazing. I wanted a part of that; I wanted to know what the secret was; but I couldn't make that step because there were a lot of things I couldn't believe. I had a lot of science and a lot of engineering in my background, and that mixed with a lifetime of skepticism made it impossible for me to have faith. But I really was intrigued by the peace of mind and the inner strength I saw in my wife and children, so God was at work even then. Eventually my wife persuaded me, in her own gentle way, to come to church and I met the pastor and some great people. My whole outlook on what faith was all about began to change. My eldest daughter began singing with the praise band; I came to see her every two weeks, which I wanted to do because I was a proud dad. At church I met many wonderful people and heard good teaching....during this time I went from being a nonbeliever to somebody who was willing to believe. I began to realize I had to have a childlike faith and perhaps I wasn't going to get answers to all of my questions.
One evening we were visiting friends to attend a reception about Greece and I got into conversation with a guest named Peter Grant. I got talking to him about religion and about why I wasn't a believer. The more I spoke to him the more I realized that my excuses were lame and it was time for me to give it up. He shared the main message of the Bible with me -- that Christ died for my sins so that I could receive the gift of eternal life through a relationship with Him. It came upon me like an avalanche; from walking into that house with no intention of accepting the Lord on that day, I just knew that I wanted to pray and wanted to pray so fast and so hard. We went into a room in the basement with a gymnasium in it and we sat down and I prayed to accept the Lord there and then. After praying, we went upstairs and I told my family and we hugged and prayed and cried together; it was wonderful --- I'll never ever, ever forget that. experience.
I'm a new creation and I feel that way! I'm learning all the time and there's still so much more to learn. It's so wonderful knowing that you're fighting for the winning side. I'm so humbled and so thankful for my wife and family and for all the people who prayed for me --- some who I didn't even know and hadn't even met but were friends fo my family! The power and love of Jesus Christ is just so so amazing; He can pour his love on us from any direction and from anywhere!"

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I came to the Lord through a D.W.I. in Buckhead! by Justin Cole

“The time must have been around 1994 in Atlanta. I was your typical single man in his late twenties. The job I had was good pay, the free time on my hands was exceptional, and most of my friends lived for the weekend activities, which consisted of bars, bands and dates! It seemed like a normal existence for most young single men at the time. But, the more I look back on it, the more it seems so trivial. When you’re caught up in immediate gratification, seeking pleasure, or selfish desires, you are truly in need of a compass of some kind. It's almost like you’re a "mouse on the tread wheel", "a frantic squirrel trying to cross a busy street", or in my case, "like Tiger Woods without a golf club". When you’re living just for yourself, you are eventually going to burn out, have a horrible experience, or never get the chance to develop into the potential God has in store for you. 


I came to the Lord through the means of a D.W.I. (Driving While Intoxicated) one night in Buckhead. How is this possible? Well, for my sentence, I needed to register about 40 hours of community service for the State. So what better plan, than to work with Buckhead Community Church, where I was a casual attender. I called the office and the task assigned to me was to arrange Peter's Library in alphabetical order, so he could locate his books faster for foot notes.* During this time, I had some interesting conversations in his office about my feelings towards God and my purposes in life. My personal faith at the time was based upon simple principles: "Hey I'm a nice guy. Religion is OK for some folks , but I'll make my way through this world on my own terms." This faith was coming to a end, thanks to a life altering conversation with Peter that day in his office. Peter explained the Gospel to me and took me through a prayer that helped free up my soul and open honestly to God. I prayed and a waterfall of emotion poured out of me...Suddenly, on my knees there was this "image" of Jesus that was behind me looking at both of us praying on the floor. It was as if, I was watching Jesus look at me from the backside.. In other words, I had a third person experience with Jesus...I was completely startled! This kind of thing only happens to other people or religious nuts...But on that day in Peter's office, I left in tears, and had seen the image of Jesus in his office " looking at me ". I tell you he was there! As if he was listening to my confession...

So, am I a perfect choir boy today in my life? No... but, on that day I took to a different direction in my life Journey. I took a path that was truly heading towards God. From that moment in time, my life was different...I'm convinced that the moment I spent with Jesus, was like someone handing me a compass for life. Now my journey continues, but I'm no longer so scared or intimidated of the challenges ahead! I look at it this way. If you’re on a Journey with God, what more can a Christian want! Just keep walkin....”

*Peter Grant's comment: About a year before this incident I had met Justin's father at a dinner in Charlotte, NC. He shared with me about his "prodigal son" who lived in Buckhead, Atlanta. I told him I just happened to be the Senior Pastor of Buckhead Community Church and gave him my card! That card ended up in Justin's possession...and he ended up at Buckhead Community Church!

(Justin Cole now serves on the Board of Advisors of PreVision Partnership and works for a family business in North Carolina, after spending many years in New Jersey. He makes his home with his wife, Michele, and children Lydia, Justin, and Amelia in Charlotte, N.C.

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