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You, Lord, keep my lamp burning;
my God turns my darkness into light. (Psalm 18:28)

February 2019 Newsletter

WWW.GOSPELMUSICFESTIVALS.COM

This Month's Featured Writer

Steve Patterson

MY TESTIMONY by Steve Patterson

A person can attend Sunday School and church all of their lives and still not learn who God is.

That has been my experience in the world; the religious world; the usual "Christian" life.

Watchman Nee, a teacher and evangelist from China, wrote a book entitled THE NORMAL CHRISTIAN LIFE. The theme of the normal Christian life, according to Scripture, is Galations 2:20-" I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless, I live, yet, not I, but Christ lives in me and the life that I now live, I live by the faith of the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me."

That Scripture is the foundational truth of the Christian life found in the Holy Bible. It is not always found though. Depending on the church you attend, it may not even be mentioned!

I was brought up in a denominational church from infancy. I was baptized as an infant and had attended Sunday School until I was of age to be confirmed.

You may have thought by having been raised in the church, as they say, you would have" known the basics". I did not. I was quite perplexed when I was given a brochure on the basics of Christianity in order to be confirmed and become a member of the church.

I had always pretty much enjoyed attending Sunday School. I think I may have sensed the presence of God without realizing what it was. It was "special".

As I recall, my first "religious experience" came when, as a preteen, I heard my name being called in a " soft, whisper". Like the boy Samuel, I thought it was a person calling me, perhaps as they slept. It was early morning and there were other people in the room asleep. I got up and looked around to see if it was someone calling me. It was not. I concluded that it was the Lord, though I was not aware that He did that sort of thing anymore. I determined later that it was "that still, small voice of God" that He uses to call people to Himself.

A couple of years later, I went with my friends, two brothers, with their youth group to see KING OF KINGS at the local movie theater. (Now I am showing my age. I think it was 1962. I would have been about 13 years old.)

After the movie, they actually had an altar call. It was my first experience of such a thing. I went forward with my two friends, Frank, who was my age, and his younger brother, Doug.

Another time when I felt the conviction of God was during a church service when we read The Ten Commandments in unison. The Lord was working on me throughout.

A few years later, maybe three or four, I was in my room playing my guitar and singing along with Johnny Cash and maybe Buddy Holly. As I sat down for a break, I heard something inside.

It came more as a thought, than an actual voice, like when my name was being called. I "heard/thought": You should be a minister. What a shock THAT was! Me, Steve Patterson, a minister. Reverend Patterson? I didn't think so.

Our pastor was a dapper Englishman. He was a bachelor. He wasn't my idea of a role model, not for any wrong reasons, just not how I saw myself. I dared not tell my parents for fear they would laugh at me or think I was crazy. We really were not THAT religious as to believe God would speak to me. Some Christians, eh?

Being a " non-committed believer", I lived like the world and looked or acted no different than a non-believer. Then, the Lord sent a man into the barroom where I was drinking, underage. He started talking about God and invited me to a meeting that his wife attended. Again, I "accepted Christ" and considered myself "born again" still with very little knowledge of what it was all about.

I married at the age of 23, against the pastor of this church's advice. My fiancé said she believed in Jesus and that was enough for me. After siring two children, twenty-nine years later, the marriage ended in divorce. Still not being a fine example of a Christian, I met and married a woman whom I met at a VFW karaoke spot. She was an agnostic. I was regressing. That relationship only lasted about ten years, four years of cohabitation and six of legal marriage.

Right before the end of this relationship, in 2012, I had a massive heart attack nicknamed, "the widow-maker" because 90% of men die from it. My artery was 100% blocked. I did die. The Lord revived me. He had a ministry lined up that I still didn't know about.

After the divorce, I made my mind up to get serious about my faith and Christian walk. I began by giving to an orphan ministry in Haiti. I also attended a ministry service from the last church I mentioned where I "got saved". It was a Monday night gathering called The Journey. Little did I know this would truly be the beginning of my journey to my ministry.

I met a guy whose sister I knew from school. He was a good, Bible teacher and had Friday fellowship at his home. I also met the woman who would become my wife about four years later.

At the Friday fellowship, I met a woman who shared her thoughts on God on Facebook. She helped me get on and I started ministering the gospel on Facebook. One thing led to another and I met an interesting and devoted young woman from Uganda, East Africa, named Evangelist Kemigisa Dinah. She founded a ministry there for orphans and widows called GOD'S GRACE MINISTRIES UGANDA. We became friends and I began to support her ministry.

About six months into our friendship, Dinah and her pastor invited me there to witness the work of the ministry and preach a sermon.

Up to this point, I had only preached on Facebook. I had never spoken before people in a church, but I believed this was a call from the Lord! It would be my initiation into ministry.

After much deliberation, I texted my pastor friend and told him about it. He advised, "Don't worry. God will give you a message." So, with that, I continued in prayer and accepted the invitation to travel to Uganda.

I had never left the continent of North America before this. I had no interest in travel. But, as I said, it was my call to ministry.

After fifteen hours in the air, I arrived at Entebbe Airport in Kampala, Uganda, the capitol city.

Dinah and her pastor met me and took me to Fort Portal where the ministry was located.

After some sightseeing for a few days, the time came for me to give a sermon. I sat in the pastor's office, a primitive structure with a desk and chairs. Dinah handed me m my notebook and Bible. I perused them for a brief time, then, closed them. "God would give me a message".

I was then called to the sanctuary where between one and two hundred were waiting to hear the " American pastor".

As I was handed the microphone, I said, "When I think of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross, I feel..." That is all I remember. Words proceeded from within me that In had no knowledge of.

I spoke, then waited for the interpreter. When he turned to me, I opened my mouth and more words came. I have no idea how long I spoke or what I said after my introductory sentence. It was" not I, but Christ" via His holy Spirit who gave the message!

I left the sanctuary quickly to use the facility. When I returned, about 30 souls were lined up across the front of the altar. Dinah said, "They accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord!"

Then, I heard within me, "If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature.."

Pastor Moses, microphone in hand, asked, "Do you have anything else to say, Patterson?"

I took the phone and repeated to the newly converted souls what the Spirit told me. They were new creatures in Christ.

I learned from this experience that I could trust the Lord to give me a message whenever I was called upon. I also learned that anyone can be a minister when God calls them to do so. You don't need a formal, biblical education or title.

You only need an interest in the Word of God and a trust in the God of the Word.


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