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Mathew Backholer - My Testimony

I was born into a non-Christian home. My parents had been to Sunday school, but God was not REAL in their lives. My younger brother Paul had real bad asthma and was constantly having asthma attacks - he was in hospital on several occasions. The doctors said that there was a good chance that he would not live to be a teenager. Through some Christians, God came and touched Paul’s life as they prayed for healing in Jesus’ name and because of this the whole family gave their heart to Jesus and became Christians. I was ten at the time.

With my parents and brothers I started attending church. I was taught to read a portion of the Bible every day, to pray every day and to tithe ten percent of my pocket money which I faithfully did: after tithing and buying my comics every month I was left with four pence (seven cents). I was baptised in the Holy Spirit when I was twelve and spoke in a new prayer language, tongues. God was very real to me.

Every once in a while on Sunday afternoons our family used to go fishing on a lake, which was surrounded by beautiful woods. The fish were not edible but were good for stocking up our ponds at home. One day I was upset as all my brothers had caught a fish bar me. I heard God speak to me “Go over there” which was the other side of a bush “Cast your hook in and you will catch a big fish” I duly obeyed and to my excitement I caught a large fish!

As a teenager I had a friend who had a negative influence on me and eventually I was not allowed to socialise with him, because for many reasons including my chip shop job, my grades were falling. It was at this time that I first encountered church politics, when at a prayer meeting one member openly prayed against another brother - I never attended the prayer meeting again and within a few years the church had shut. After leaving school I started my four-year engineering apprenticeship and became a religious Christian, faithfully reading my Bible and praying every day, tithing weekly and attending church but my lifestyle did not glorify God. I had lost my first love but did not even realise it. I had become greedy for financial gain and had started to work extra hours.

My social life was great; well that’s what I thought. I was out most nights of the week with friends but inside I was empty and lonely. Sometimes I would come home at night and cry myself to sleep. I had it all - money, friends, relationships, a flash car, designer clothes and gym pass, yet I had nothing - nothing of eternal worth or value. Nothing that could satisfy. Then I saw man, a man who had no wealth or social life like me, but he was happy, truly happy and content, he lived and walked in the joy of the Lord. I knew that he had Jesus whereas Jesus was left behind in my life and that I had no real time for Him. The Lord was outside of the establishments crying; crying for me, and crying for the prodigals inside and those whom He wanted to come into His fold.

One day I was driving along a country lane and as I went round the corner there was a car overtaking - it was headed straight for me! It was like a movie scene when everything goes into slow motion and your life passes in front of you - then there's the deadly impact. The impact never came, but it shocked me to the core. I remember saying to my friends “Tonight I nearly died.”

I decided to get right with God as I knew that I had become lukewarm. Like the church of Laodicea (Revelations 3:14-22) I was rejecting God, claiming that I had it all while the reality was, I was wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked. I repented of my sins and truly asked for God's forgiveness. Tears of repentance were shed which soon turned into praise and adoration. For three years I had disobeyed God's call to be baptised in water and it was in those years of disobedience that my life went downhill.

I got baptised on the 21st July 1996, which for me was a major pivotal point in my life - as I had decided that God was either all or nothing. I had mocked God once and I knew that I could never do it again, knowing that my way did not work but His way would. Most of my friends came to my baptism, but I knew that God did not want me to socialise in the pubs and clubs anymore. As time passed I saw less and less of my friends, I cut down on my overtime and started to attend more of the church midweek meetings. I had more time for prayer and reading the Holy Bible. It was lonely adjusting to my lifestyle, but when I look back on it I would have it no other way as deep foundations were laid in my life based upon the word of God and the unmovable Rock called Jesus.

At a church Bible study God spoke to me from Hosea 4:6 ‘My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge.’ Within a minute it was confirmed when an old lady looked at me and said “Mathew, this Scripture is for you.” The reason why so many Christians stumble and fall in their daily life is because they are ignorant of the truth of God’s word as revealed in the Holy Bible. Naturally just knowing God's word is not enough - those truths have to be applied. ‘Do not merely listen to the word and so deceive yourself, do what it says’ James 1:22. ‘How can a young man keep his way pure? by living according to your word’ Psalm 119:9. ‘All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete thoroughly equipped for every good work’ 2 Timothy 3:16-17.