Well, praise God. I finally found a group of former SDAs who can know true freedom in Jesus Christ. I'm afraid time, as usual, is at a premium for me so this story may be shorter than most. My story is somewhat different from that most of the former SDA's on this website. I was introduced to Adventism by my mother in 1973 when I was about eight years old. She had converted to Adventism from a Reformed Christian background. From that point, I remember the practice of watching Saturday morning cartoons being outlawed. No homework on Saturdays either. However, at the time I saw the SDA church as being more Bible based than my father's Lutheran church, so I started to identify with Adventism. However, at about the same time, I also became interested in other minstries and actually got saved at a Christian coffeehouse in my hometown of Alexandria, Minnesota. Back then, when I was 18 years old, I really didn't see much of a difference between real, evangelical Christianity and the SDA church, other than a few "distinctive doctrines". So I joined the denomination in 1983. I still followed a few other ministries, namely the Christian coffeehouse I was saved in and Last Days Ministries.
My mother passed away in 1985, leaving me the only SDA in my family. Since I was graduating from a technical institute that same year and was planning to leave home anyway, being the only SDA didn't bother me. I moved to Dallas, Texas in September, 1985. As a young SDA, I was kind of excited about getting involved in the SDA church there. I thought there would be a lot of young people like me to associate with who were Christian and Adventist. I also thought there would be a lot of big SDA churches in Dallas. After all, this was the "Bible Belt". I was sorely disappointed. Most of the "young people" were at Southwestern Adventist College in Keene, Texas, 60 miles away. The few I did meet didn't seem to have the spiritual prowess or character I had expected. And, I got involved in an SDA church that turned out to be stagnant by any standards.
A major turning point in my life came in 1987. From all outward standards, I was doing allright. I had money and success, but emotionally I was falling apart. Since I was twelve, though either years of pent up inner pain or demonic activity, I was suicidal. I dreamed of having the courage to take my own life. It was obvious to me even back then the SDA church could not deal with things like this. I had noticed that minstry to families and people with serious problem was not real high on the listed of priorities for Adventism in Texas.
At that time, the SDA leadership was urging all SDAs to do "Revelation Seminars" and didn't seem to have much emphasis on keeping people fed in their own churches. Finally, in September of that year, I wrote a suicide note one night and planned to buy a .38 pistol the next morning to do the neccesary job. Obviously, I didn't. However, a few weeks previous, I had heard on a Christian radio station about a Christian counseling ministry. I wrote the phone number down on a little 1"X 1" piece of scrap paper. I never gave much thought for that little piece of paper, but it kept turning up. It was strange. It really was God. I kept seeing the number so much I dialed it from memory after my suicide note writing episode. I went and got help. It turned out to be a "Spirit filled" minstry. It took a few months, but after much prayer and counseling, the desire to take my own life was completely gone and still is! Praise God! I also wholly believe that the demonic power that goaded me for all those years was also cast far away.
But something else happened. After a while, I realized that I really was not filled with the Holy Spirit. One day my counselor explained the real truth about the Spirit and ask if I wanted to be filled with Him. I did. I prayed. And I was! Shortly thereafter, I started seeing the truth about the SDA church. It was as if all this time, how come I didn't see obvious errors before? I asked my counselor about it and he reminded me that I was now filled with the Spirit and that this sort of thing was going to be happening. But this was 1988 and I was still part of Adventism.
Another eye opening experience happened that same year. I had always wondered about the SDA church's stand on abortion. Back then it's position was "no position". This always bothered me. I was very much pro-life (and still am). I actually got involved with a small grass roots SDA pro-life group that year and realized the true extent of how pro-choice SDAs typically were. There was also a bigotry against the pro-life cause amongst SDAs because of it's supposed link to the "Christain Right", which they seemed to regard as the "Image to the Beast". Others seemed to want to know what E.G. White said about abortion rather than what the clear Word of God said. I got angry. I would think, "How can you outlaw drinking coffee and CoCa Cola and then turn around and justify child murder?" You know, there never was a good answer to this, except one that I finally realized the next year: Once you get that far into legalism and denominational pride, you become so preoccupied with straining at gnats that you swallow big camels.
The year 1989 was my Liberation year. My best friend had introduced my to a interdenominational Spirit filled church in north Dallas called Sojourn Church. It was life to me. I felt like I was breathing clean air. One Sunday, the youth of the church came back from a retreat. I saw kids getting saved from drugs and suicide. I sat in a quiet rage. I kept thinking, "You know, in the SDA church, these kids would probably be allowed to spiritually and physically die and no one would really care". I kept going to Sojourn, but also kept going to my SDA church in Irving, Texas as well. I had life at Sojourn. That was true. But the doubts remained. Was it God's leading for my to leave the SDA church completely?
Finally one night, with tears I cried out to God, asking "Which way?" At 11 p.m. that same night came the answer. A friend of mine from Sojourn called and told me that a group of Spirit filled SDA's was meeting at a Dallas hotel. It turned out it was led by David Castro, a former SDA minister from Minneapolis that I had first met 6 years before and who had come to my little SDA church in Irving the previous year as a "revivalist". This man of God testified how God had saved and healed him after his experiences in the Vietnam War when he came to my old SDA church. Needless to say, it was glorious reunion. Sojourn Church was providing the praise and worship. About halfway through the meeting I knew what my direction was. I "officially" left the SDA church 3 months later.
Wrapping this up, for a while after I left, I was mad at Adventists and Adventism for making me believe lies for so long. But now, I feel sorry for them, literally. I'm married to my wife, Sheri, now with one little son, Benjamin, and another baby on the way. We moved to another suburb of Dallas three years ago and are now part of a local Assembly of God fellowship. I would just like to say the following in closing, from Galatians, "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery." Galatians 5:1. Praise the Lord!!
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