Claud’s Salvation Testimony
Many Christians have a tremendous salvation story about how the Lord saved them out of a broken and sin-ruined life. My Papa has one of those stories. He was raised in a Christian home, his dad being a Primitive Baptist pastor, but he didn't trust Jesus for salvation until he was in the middle of his 20's. His life was completely changed when he met Christ. Alcohol was poured down the sink. Tobacco was thrown in the trash. His vocabulary was cut in half, no longer using swear words. His story, and countless others like it, are incredible and are a wonderful testimony of the mercy of God. My testimony is different. Rather than being saved out of that lifestyle, I was saved from that lifestyle. By God's grace, I was raised in a Christian home where I was protected from such heartache. My mom and dad have been in full-time ministry for as long as I can remember. I thank God often for the sheltered and protected home in which I was raised.
I was saved 8 days before my 9th birthday. Though my sin may have been small in the world's eyes, it was pretty big in God's eyes. I disobeyed and lied to my parents (don't tell them that, lol). I aggravated my sisters. I stole small pieces of candy from the grocery store. I was selfish, only wanting things for me. I was covetous, always wanting bigger and better toys. It was for these sins that Jesus did on the cross. Even if I had committed only one of these sins, it was enough for me to be punished and eternally separated from the God who created me. I realized that I was a sinner, and I needed a Saviour.
One Wednesday night, in Alamogordo, NM, I went to church with my family. It was December 10, 1987, at Alamogordo Baptist Temple where my dad was Pastor. I always sat beside my mom while Dad was preaching. For some reason, Mom always wanted to keep a close eye on me. My best friend at that time, Billy Ray Stone, would sit with me, and we would draw trucks and cowboys during the preaching. At this particular service, I wasn't drawing anything. I was listening to the preacher. I don't remember exactly what my dad was preaching about that night, but I do remember specifically being convicted of my sin. I realized that night that I needed to make things right with God. Acknowledging and confessing my sin against Him, I trusted Jesus Christ to be my Saviour. It is only by His shed blood, His death on the cross, and His resurrection from the grave that I could be saved.
I didn't fully understand salvation at that time, and I'll admit I still don't fully understand it now. But by faith I believe it! I came to Jesus with the faith of a child, literally and figuratively. How great is our salvation! We may never fully comprehend the depth of God's love and grace. We may never be able to wrap our finite mind around His infinite wisdom and eternal plan. In fact, there are still many questions that I have. But like the blind man who was healed, I now can see! John 9:25 He answered and said, Whether he be a sinner or no, I know not: one thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see. I was a lost sinner without Christ destined for a place the Bible calls Hell. By faith, I trusted that Jesus could and would forgive me for my sins. I asked Jesus to be my Saviour, and I know He said yes! It's as real in my life as anything can be. Now I'm a saved sinner destined for Heaven.
Since that wonderful day, I have tried to live the kind of life that would be pleasing to my God. I want to follow in obedience to Him. The following Wednesday night at church I was baptized. That was an outward picture of the salvation that happened inside my heart. Each day as a Christian I should try to obey His commands. I obviously fail often and still sin every day. As good as I try to be, I'm still wrapped in this robe of flesh. The day I was saved, I was saved from the punishment of sin, no longer destined for Hell. Now in my Christian life, with the help of the Holy Spirit, I can be saved from the power of sin in my daily living. Someday, when I die or when the rapture happens, I will be in Heaven and will be saved from the presence of sin. Oh, glorious day that will be!
When I was about nine years old, I came to a point in my life where I knew there was something missing. My parents had raised me in church all my life. I was a pretty good kid in my mind. At 9 years old, I knew that something wasn’t right. At the age of 12, I knew exactly what it was that wasn’t right. I knew I had a void that needed to be filled that I couldn’t fill. I argued with myself about this void that I struggled to fill in my life. This went on for about 4 years. As a 16 year old girl, as I would like back on my life, I would see all the good things that I had done. I thought to myself, there is no way that God would send a person like me to hell. I thought I was a good kid. I didn’t do all of the “big sins.” I just really didn’t think that God would do something like that to me. I would try to read my. I would try to pray. There was just this emptiness. I couldn’t get ahold of God. I felt like I couldn’t talk to Him, and I was just talking to the air. When I would read God’s Word, it just wouldn’t open up to me. I didn’t understand what I was reading. It was a bunch of words that made no sense to me. For years I would go to bed wondering why I felt this way. I was scared to admit what I knew I needed. Finally, one night at the age of 16, I asked God, “Why can’t I talk to you? Why can’t I read your Word and understand it?” Today, I think about the verse in Isaiah that says, “Behold, the LORD'S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: 2 But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.” (Isaiah 59:1-2)
As a 16 year old girl, I realized the reason that I could not seem to be able to get ahold of God was because I hadn’t talked to him about the very thing that was keeping me from Him. It was my sin that was keeping me from having a relationship with Him. I had to get the idea out of my head that I was a perfect little girl, raised in a godly home. I was just like everyone else in the world, a sinner lost without Christ. When I got to the point that I saw myself as a sinner, undeserving of His grace, I knew I had one thing left to do. Psalm 51:17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise. At age 16, these verses were not popping up in my head, but they certainly mean a lot to me now. The Holy Spirit was convicting me and showing me that a broken heart about my sin is what God was looking for in my life. I truly was broken about my sin. It was my sin that Jesus died for on the cross. I had always thought of Jesus dying on the cross for the sins of the world. Well this night, I was thinking about how He died on the cross for my sins. I knew I would be separated from God for eternity if I did not let go of myself and my sin and give it completely to God. I asked for His forgiveness so that He could dwell in me and be my personal Saviour. That night, I gave my heart and life to Christ! I let go of my sin, and gave it to Him. From that point on, I could talk to God. I could read my Bible, and God would open it up to me and help me to understand it.
I was at a turning point in my life. I was so tired of my sin keeping me from God. It wasn’t God staying away from me. It was my sin keeping me from Him. I am very thankful for my upbringing. I am thankful for the home in which He placed me. It was there that I was taught God’s Word. God used the teaching that I received as child to pull me in to Him. If you are reading this testimony now, and if you do not know the Lord as your personal Saviour, do not let pride stand in the way. Nobody is perfect, and God wants to save you from your sin. He wants to have a relationship with you. I love Him so much, and I am thankful for the relationship that I have with Him!
Our Wedding Testimony
I grew up in a large family with 12 kids. I was #8 of that bunch. In our home, my parents were very much against dating. It just wasn’t an option. My parents witnessed first-hand the trouble and heartache that usually accompanied the dating lifestyle. During most of my childhood and teenage years, I was under the pastoral leadership of Pastor S.M. Davis, who pastored Park Meadows Baptist Church in Lincoln, IL. We enjoyed attending church there for many years. Bro. Davis preached very strongly against dating. I knew no different than what I had been taught all my life about this subject, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I praise the Lord regularly for sparing me from the hurt and consequences of dating.
Soon after graduating from high school, God moved my family to another church. We started attending LaMarsh Baptist Church in Mapleton, IL. At that time, Bro. Claud Slate Sr. was the pastor. It was very difficult for us all going through that transition, but God had a perfect plan that we kids didn’t see at the time. The first time we visited LaMarsh was the day I met the man I would one day marry. It took a while for me to allow God to open my eyes to His will. But He did, and I’m so happy for that. My husband said he noticed me the first time I visited, and said that he knew I was the one for him. He was leading the singing as we walked in, late as usual. ☺ He says he will never forget that moment when I walked through those doors.
We started visiting there in July of 2001, and his dad approached my dad in September of that year. The Slate’s weren’t very familiar with the way we did things, and Pastor Slate wanted to know how his son should go about beginning a relationship with me. It was about two weeks after their conversation that Claud, my husband, approached my dad himself. My dad told him to continue being friends with me and to try to be careful about letting his feelings be made known to me. My dad didn’t want me to start liking Claud just because he liked me first. He wanted God to open the door to my heart. In December of that same year I felt that the Lord was telling me that one day I was going to marry Claud, and I couldn’t understand it. I had never even felt the least bit interested in him at that point. Of course Claud will joking tell the story about how it was love at first sight on my part, but that just wasn’t the case.
I didn’t know what to do. I felt like God couldn’t be more clear about it, but I still struggled believing it. So I did a few things different than the way my family usually went about it. Instead of going to my dad to let him know about what was going on in my mind and about the emotions I was feeling, I decided I would let him come to me. I still had no idea that Claud had already spoken with my dad about this. Usually, my dad would wait to talk to one of his daughters until after they first came and told him that they had an interest in a young man. I was going to be different. So I began to pray that if Claud was really the one for me that my dad would come to me first about it before a certain time. See, Claud was about to move to New Mexico to serve in a church as their Children’s Pastor. He was planning to move at the end of May, 2002, as soon as he graduated from Bible College. I had already decided that if my dad hadn’t come to me and said anything to me about Claud by that point that I was going to just forget about it and move on. Thank the Lord, that’s not what I had to do. One week before Claud left for New Mexico, my dad came to me and asked if I had ever felt any type of interest in Claud. That’s all it took! At that moment, I was convinced that God was very serious about Claud and I being together. Whew! That was a close one. I was getting a little nervous. Of course Claud is sure that there was no way that I could ever forget about him. ☺
From December, 2001, to May, 2002, I had really become a close friend to Claud, and had begun setting my heart on him being the one for me. So it really was a relief to find out that Claud felt the same way about me. God answered a direct prayer of mine, in that my dad approached me first about the subject, and that was definitely not the normal in our home. Claud moved to New Mexico just as planned at the end of May, 2002, and that’s when we began courting. We were allowed to only send letters to each other in the mail in the beginning of our courtship. He was in New Mexico, and I was in Illinois.
In July of 2002, my dad told Claud that he could start calling me on the phone. We had twenty minutes to talk per phone call. Our letters and calls were monitored by my parents at all times. At the end of July, he was able to come to Illinois to visit for twelve days. During that time, Claud’s dad had a surgery and was in the hospital with complications. Most of our dates where down in the hospital cafeteria, not exactly the most romantic of places, but we sure did enjoy being together! At the end of that visit, Claud told me that he loved me. That was very romantic! We were walking along the river front after supper, looking across Peoria Lake at downtown Peoria. The letters and phone calls continued throughout the summer, and in September, 2002, my parents and I made a trip to see him in New Mexico. That’s the week he asked me to marry him. He proposed to me in a very unique way that was loving and sentimental to both of us. Needless to say, I said yes! We were married on January 4, 2003.
During the time of our courtship, we were never allowed to touch each other in any way. We never held hands, never kissed and never hugged. Our wedding day was the very first time that we got to lay hands on each other, and that was when my dad placed my hand into Claud’s hand. How special that was! I thank God for giving me godly parents that helped spare me from making huge mistakes that I would have later regretted. I now have a wonderful, godly husband who loves the Lord and is doing his best to raise his family for God. We have three precious little girls and one baby boy. I’m so blessed to have a godly heritage, and I pray that my kids can say the same one day when they are older. I will never regret the way Claud and I courted. It has given us a closer relationship than what most couples can say about their marriage today, and we praise the Lord for that. We have been blessed!!!