What I Learned at School
Growing up in Haiti, I was exposed to the Bible and loved attending the Pentecostal church Sunday mornings and mid-weeks with my family. I knew and believed that Jesus Christ was the Son of God, that the Bible was God’s Word, and that – as I understood it then – in order for me to make God happy, I had to be good and continue to attend church services.
Eventually, my father arranged for us to move to the US. Around 1999, we visited a Lutheran church and liked it very much. After a while, the pastor asked my brother and me to join the catechism class, which we did. After the two years of catechism class were completed, we were both baptized. I remember the pastor’s telling me that after I was baptized I would become a child of God. The prospect pleased me. However, I also began considering my sins and how to have them forgiven. The pastor made it clear to me that that’s the reason why we go to church: to have our sins forgiven. I asked him, “Well, what if I die during the mid-week – before church?” He told me that God would understand. I found the answer to be weak and unsatisfying.
When I began the 11th grade, I met a teacher (Trudy Odom) in one of my classes. I remembered seeing her around the hallway. She was a white woman, had very long hair, and always dressed very modestly. Now I was face-to-face with her. In her classroom she had a Bible Study poster hanging on the wall. Seeing me reading the poster, she invited me to one of the sessions, which were held every Tuesday at 3:00 pm after school.
I decided to go and show off my Bible knowledge. However, it was there that I heard, for the first time in my life, a message which greatly troubled me – that in order to go heaven after death, we had to be born again. I told the man who was leading the Bible study (Don Draper) what my pastor told me, that one becomes a child of God through baptism. With courtesy, he showed me from the Bible that this was not so; rather, baptism was for those who were already saved. I read the Scriptures for myself and saw that he spoke the truth. However, I began to fight against the teaching that when one is saved, he has eternal life and can never lose it. Didn’t this mean that after a person became “saved,” he was free to do as he pleased? Don pointed to verses that spoke of “eternal life,” asking me how someone could have eternal life and at some point lose it again. I saw that he spoke the truth. If it can be lost, it would not be “eternal” life.
I continued to go to the Bible study. Soon the Spirit of God began to trouble me concerning my sins. I knew that at some point I would die, or Christ would come and take His people home; either way, I was in danger of being lost in hell. I realized what Don had said was from the Bible. But now the difficulty was, “How do I obtain this eternal life?” On November 30, on the way home from the Bible study, I sat in the back of the van, saying nothing to anyone. When we reached my home, I quickly went to the upstairs bedroom and fell on my knees, determined that before the night ended I would know for sure that I was saved. I knew that if I were to die that night the way that I was I would be in hell, because “it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Heb 9:27). I knew that the problem with me was that I was a sinner and that I was going to hell. I did not want to go there; but what was I to do? I knew many Scriptures that spoke of God’s love and desire to save men and women if they believe on what His Son did on the Cross. But I was perplexed. “Believe? Didn’t I believe already?” I thought I did. Yet, I also knew that I was not born again (John 3:3). After struggling for over an hour, trying to figure out how to be saved, I finally gave up. I felt that salvation was not for me. I had heard many people say how easy it was to be saved, but it seemed hard to me. Feeling defeated, I scanned through the Bible, reading many Scriptures. Yet I could see nothing. As I wallowed in self-pity, it came to me that God cannot lie (Titus 1:2), He is light (1 John 1). Since He can’t lie and He’s holy, if He made a promise, He will fulfill it. Jesus Christ, His Son, died for me; now all that I had to do was simply accept it! And I did. I could not believe it! At last, I knew that I was going to heaven. Now, I am saved, a child of God. I went to sleep that night filled with joy and assurance.