pastor John's House is the personal website of Pastor John D. Clark Sr., of Burlington, NC
pastor John's House is the personal website of Pastor John D. Clark Sr., of Burlington, NC

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Tony Ellis

"I Had Questions"

My name is Tony. I remember having questions once, just like you. Always wondering what was the right way to follow. Before Jesus touched me I lived pretty wildly. Always in trouble, and always thinking thoughts like, "I wish I were not doing these wrong things." I had been in and out of Christianity for many years. I would always get tired of doing wrong and would start thinking of God. Then I would find myself going to a church. I had a lot of experiences, such as being sprinkled in a Catholic church, or repeating a prayer after a man who told me if I accept Jesus in my heart, then I was saved. The last time I got under conviction was during one of those times when I would fall away and start living wildly again. I kept wondering in my thoughts to God, “What is real?" or "What is right?" and "What is truth?”

June 2001, I went to a Billy Graham crusade, and thought I would rededicate my life to Jesus. At least that is what they told me I was doing. All who were present at the crusade were invited to an altar call. At least 600 to 700 people were in a football field standing all around me, and each had a prayer partner with them. The prayer partners handed each one of us a prayer package, and they started explaining to each of us how to pray step by step. However, but I could hardly concentrate on what my prayer partner was saying to me. I started looking around at all these people, and I saw so many sincere hearts crying very hard. I know I will never forget what I saw that night on these faces. I saw real emotion, and all those prayer partners had to offer was a prayer kit and a “repeat after me” prayer.

From there, I started attending a Baptist church where they taught water baptism and being totally submersed under water. I remember the day the minister dunked me under and said "I baptize you in the name of the Father, Son, and holy Spirit." My heart was racing a hundred miles per hour. I thought, “All right! This is what I have been praying for.” I have been sprinkled, and I have said the sinner’s prayer, was told I am saved, and I even followed instruction from Billy Graham, but I never really changed. I always went back to what I hated more than anything -- SIN! So the minister dunked me, and when he brought me up, I remember thinking, “I’ll feel different, really alive for the first time.” But my heart broke when I didn’t feel anything.

Two months later after being baptized, I went through a very hurtful event. I went to one of the Sunday services at the Baptist church. I wanted to play a song for other people getting baptized. The minister asked if anyone wanted to share anything with the ones being baptized. I went up to him and whispered in his ear that God had put it on my heart to play a song. He politely whispered back, “Maybe next week.” It broke my heart for him to make me feel like he was in charge, and he decides who has something from God.

So, I left another church, but this time I didn’t want to go back to the world or my wild living ways. I remember getting a thought. A still small voice said, “Leave it all behind and seek me! Leave everything you thought was right about Me (God), and just seek Me.” The Bible says seek and you shall find, knock and it will be opened to you. God was telling me just seek Him, and He would show me His Truth. God had been convicting my heart of sin since I was 19, but man’s outward ceremonies were getting in the way. So when I listened to the still small voice, things changed. All those ceremonies never changed who I was, just a broken sinner who needed to know God.

In August 2001, I met gentleman and I remember him telling me about prayer meetings he used to go to. I heard him speak in tongues, and I had never heard such a sound before. One day I needed a job, so he told me about a man named Billy, and recommended that I should go see him for a job. That is what I did. I went to see Billy, filled out the application, had an interview, but didn’t get the job. As I was leaving, Billy followed me out to my car, and we started talking. Out of the blue Billy says, “I feel a lot of hurt from you.” I had never met this man before. I thought, “How did he know I am hurting inside?” He then said that God had something for me if I had a willing heart. After our conversation, we met somewhere to talk more. He told me about the same prayer meetings that the gentleman I met said he used to go to. The man I had met had left the ways of the Lord. God had used a backslidden brother to get me to a holy Ghost filled saint! We talked about the second chapter of Acts, where the men who followed Jesus received the holy Ghost baptism. Billy invited me to the next prayer meeting. Everything in me was coming alive!!!

It was now September 2001. I went to my first holiness prayer meeting, and it wasn’t long until they started singing, dancing, shouting, and speaking in tongues! I was so excited at what I was feeling!!! For so long, all I wanted was to know Jesus, but all those ceremonies were in the way, until now. On September 9th, 2001 I received the baptism of the holy Ghost and was born again. It was my third prayer meeting. I had gone up for prayer, and I fell back on the floor and laid there. I remember feeling more peace than I have ever felt in my life. It occurred to me that not one single person in the room told me come and get prayed for, and no one told me what to pray for. It seems that all I was doing was going by what I was feeling. So while I was still on the floor, I remember I heard a voice, just like the one before that told me to leave it all behind and seek Him. The voice said “Stand Up!” With no delay I stood up, and something hit me from my head all the way to my feet. It was a very warm feeling, and I started running all over that room, shouting and dancing, and I heard speaking in tongues. I suddenly stopped, my eyes popped open, and I froze. Someone said, “Don’t stop there! You show them you got the Holy Ghost!”

I said, “I got the what?” Then that same power from God hit me again, and it was even warmer and tingly than the first time. I didn’t realize the person I heard speaking in tongues was me! I spoke in tongues for a long time after the second touch from Jesus.

So you see, all of those other things I mentioned earlier never changed me. I always went back to doing sinful things. It took God’s Spirit on the inside to help me keep God’s commandments. Ephesians 4 talks about one body, one spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism. I followed many examples of baptism, but only one changed this broken-hearted sinner into a new creature in Christ. No man on earth can give you such a baptism.

With Love in Christ,

Bro Tony

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