Steve McMurray ~ Clyde, Ohio

            I learned about poverty and prejudice while working as a volunteer in a third world country. Because of my race and nationality, people ridiculed me and spat on me. I had come to help these people and it made me wonder about life when they rejected me.

            I am an adopted child, raised by loving, good living parents. I thought sincerity and compassion for others would win God’s favor. My baptism, confirmation, confession and service in the church made me feel I was better than many. I did not know that, "By grace are ye saved through faith and that NOT OF YOURSELVES, it is the gift of God, NOT OF WORKS, lest any should boas." (Ephesians 2:8-9).

            At that time, I began to use drugs and alcohol. I lived more and more for ‘the good life’ with rum and parties. This ‘good life’ was suddenly interrupted when my father was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Watching my dad’s pain and death, made me wonder, “If I died, where would my soul go?”

            Several months after my father’s death, I returned to my work and party life, only this time with a Bible. One night, I was impressed with Romans 7:1, "For I know that in me, (that is, in my flesh) dwells no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good, I find not."

            I circled the passage and wrote in the margin, “That’s me!” No sooner had I done this than a friend knocked on my door and asked me to go to the rum shops. I closed my Bible and went. We ended up, as usual, in “The Graveyard Disco." It sat on the side of hill above a small cemetery containing several unused and open grave vaults.

            Soon, I was drunk and very tired, so I went out for some fresh air. Passing down a long flight of stairs with graves on either side of me, I reached the bottom and stopped to catch my balance. I found myself staring into the darkness of an open grave and at dimly lit grave markers. I wondered to myself, "What would happen if I fell in? Would anybody find me?" Then it hit me again, "If I died, where would my soul be?"

            The following day, I felt hopeless. Realizing I was alone and without God, I got down on my knees and asked Him what I should do and where I should go. Just then, the name of another volunteer came to mind. I had heard he had “gotten religion.”

            The next day, I met him downtown. We had several visits in which he told me about his new ASSURANCE OF SALVATION. I was skeptical but could see the change in his life.

            He invited me to some gospel meetings. The preachers had never met me yet they seemed to know my thoughts and my sin. On the night of October 7, 1982 I walked out of gospel meeting knowing I was hearing the truth. I was convinced God was speaking to me through these men. Right then I thought, “I have always believed that Jesus had died for the sin of the world, but if God is speaking to me personally, then it must be true...Jesus really did die for ME!” It WAS true! "Not by works of righteousness that I have done, but according to His mercy He saved ME” (Titus 3:5).

            I did not get religion, I got the Lord Jesus Christ!