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The Difference A Church Makes


My Testimony – by Kristi Dobbins

When I was a child, my parents always took my sisters and brother and I to church. We attended
Sunday and Wednesday services at the Baptist church. Therefore, I felt that I had a really good
background in Christianity…except I could not really talk about the Bible or exactly what it
meant to me. As I look back, I believe that what I really got from church was a lesson on “good” morals—which, when I didn’t practice them, gave me a strong case of guilt. I was “saved” at a young age, but I could not really tell you about the experience. Sad, huh?
I always knew I wanted to marry a man who went to church, even though that was not the kind of guys I dated. During my college years, I made some bad mistakes and paid for them, but—always—in the back of my mind, I knew I was looking for something and someone more.
I met Michael in 1991 and found out real quick that he was different from the other guys I had dated. The first time Michael and I went out—not together, but with a group—we stayed up all night talking, and he left the next morning to go to church. I thought, “Wow! A guy that goes to church.” Anyway, the conclusion to this story is that we got married.
The UPC church accepted Michael and me just like we were family and treated us even better. I would often go away from there and say to Michael, “Why are they so nice to us? We don’t even participate in activities or try to be involved, and we don’t really even believe exactly like they do.” There was no way I would ever get the Holy Ghost, because I was way too shy, and neither one of us wanted to have all those people surrounding us and our being the center of attention. And, if I truly believed you had to have the Holy Ghost to go to heaven, then I was definitely not going. At that point, we talked about changing churches to where we might fit in better.
Sometime in the middle of all this deciding, I hired a lady from this church—Robin Newton--to be my secretary. She was different than I had imagined…a Pentecostal woman who was actually a person having feelings and frustrations just like I had. She talked me through a lot of things, but would always have an answer about why we shouldn’t change churches, about why I shouldn’t be mad at Michael, about why it is OK to get angry at your children. Therefore, I gained a respect for her and the church that I might not have had otherwise.
Now, the good stuff. The church was in the midst of a revival that went on and on and on. Of course, we didn’t attend every service, because it was in the middle of tax season; but I would get the update on each service daily from Robin. I didn’t really know why I took such a great interest in the services, because—if the truth be known—I didn’t really care for the evangelist. I thought he was arrogant and a bit abrupt and really loud. However, I cried nearly every day during this revival and knew I had to have the Holy Ghost because it was such a great gift to receive and could give me confidence that the Lord knew I loved Him and that He loved me.
I thought and thought and thought about all this, and knew that—on Sunday morning—I was going to seek the Holy Ghost. I didn’t tell anyone, not even Michael. So finally the moment arrived. It had to be the longest sermon ever preached, but it was finally over. Up to that time, my little daughter Alayna had never gone to sleep in church, allowing me to lay her on the pew; but, on this particular day, she did.  I nearly pushed Michael down trying to get to the altar. Then the praying began. Michael came down in the meantime, and he started praying, too.
Well, I prayed and prayed and prayed, and you know what happened? Michael got the Holy Ghost! I was very happy for him, but also disappointed, because I was the one that wanted to receive the Holy Ghost. I went back to my seat, and the entire church followed (or at least it seemed that way). And Alayna slept on. I didn’t get the Holy Ghost that morning, and felt disappointed, but still I could not think about anything else that Sunday. So we went to Sunday evening service, and finally it was my turn. What a wonderful peace I had found. I had always wondered if I would go to heaven when I died, and now I had the answer I had wanted for a very long time. What a joy was in my heart!
Now this story has to go on, because I had not been baptized in Jesus’ name. It is against my nature to be the center of attention, but Robin had her mind made up to help me let God finish my spiritual new birth by my being baptized in Jesus’ name instead of “in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.” Therefore, every Bible study we had, she focused on this very subject. Finally I told her that I believed what the Bible said, and that I did feel it was a very little thing for the Lord to ask from me.
And the night I was to be baptized, the Lord again got Alayna asleep on the pew, and I was baptized.
I know this is just the beginning of my testimony, and that I have a lot of praying and learning left to do. But what a wonderful beginning…to be a part of a church that loves people for who they are and helps them grow into what the Lord wants them to be.