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He Is Real: My Encounter With Jesus Christ
Neil Armstrong B.A., M.Div.
My earliest experience of religion was born out of skepticism. One Sunday as I was walking home from the church, where my father was the Pastor, a realization suddenly hit me. There was something missing! Even though they had talked about God, sang to God and worshiped God, something was missing. I did not care enough to wonder what it was, I just had the impression something important was missing. From that point on I thought of religion as old traditions, passed down through the ages with wishful thinking about heaven thrown in to make it interesting. It probably wasn’t real, just half truths embellished to make them sound spiritual. I saw little use for religion or God.
When I was fifteen I tried to become a Christian. I went forward at an alter call and was baptized. Several weeks later I left it all behind. Nothing I had done had made a difference in my life. Something was missing and I became convinced there wasn’t anything there to begin with! At this point I become an atheist. This worked for a while but then I began to realize that I had made an irrational decision. I could no more prove there wasn’t a God than prove there was a God. I decided to become an agnostic, sit on the proverbial intellectual fence and forget about God.
This all began to change when I was eighteen and went to a Youth Convention. It was held on the campus of a university, which was a great place to meet other people, especially girls! In one session, the leader took on the role of the non-believer and wanted us to convince him to become a Christian. When he said something supporting Christianity I began to argue against what he was saying. After an exchange, a man across the room said to me, “Neil you are not ready yet.” I had no idea what he meant but his remark silenced my objections.
A year later I was back at the Youth Convention again. I did not realize what I was getting myself into. Little did I know that in the previous year the Jesus Movement had swept across North America. I had grown up going to Church, but these people were talking about the Christian faith in a way I had never heard before! Over the next few days one person after another shared how Jesus Christ had changed their life. Someone gave me a Gospel tract which really hit me hard. It was titled, “This Was Your Life”. As I read it I saw myself being just like the man who had excuses but no real belief in God. I began to realize that if there was any validity to Christian faith, whatsoever, I had better reconsider my lack of a belief.
The next day I decided to find out if there was a God. This was the last time. If I did not find God this time, there was no going back. During the last meeting of the convention, while everyone listened to the speaker, I looked down at the floor and I said to myself, “If there is a God I want you to come into my life or I going to tell everyone the Bible is a lie.” Suddenly the noise in the room disappeared and a shaft of light appeared before me. At the top of the light stood a man dressed in white with his arms reaching out. He spoke to me and said, “Are you willing to give up this?” He showed me an image of something which was a sin in my life. I replied, “Yes Lord, I am willing to give up anything, even to go to Siberia for you!” I had read about the prison camps in Siberia. All of a sudden a great weight lifted off my shoulders. I felt light. Then something red came down over me, beginning at my head. Everywhere it touched me became white and clean. The next instant a veil appeared before my eyes and tore down the middle. My mind became aware of God’s presence. Where previously God had not been part of my thoughts, now He was the center of my consciousness. Slowly I became aware that something invisible was approaching me from across the room. It was like an invisible person. It came up to me and entered me. I did not know what it was at the time but I now realize it was the Holy Spirit. Following this experience Jesus spoke to me and said, “I want you to go and tell everyone what has happened to you here today.” Then He was gone.
I looked up from the floor. The meeting was still going on around me but everything was different. The people were different, outside the trees were greener. Even my old car looked different, like it had been newly painted. My life was radically changed. I had found what was missing! Jesus Christ had come into my life and I was reborn. Galatians 2:20 “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”