Lisa Archer

"I hardly remember my life before Christ. I was saved at age 12. I was raised in a close family with very loving parents, 3 younger sisters, and a grandmother who prayed for all of us daily. She held backyard Bible school for us and our cousins when we were little. So I've known about Jesus since I was very young. But at age 12, I attended a youth retreat in Kentucky with our church youth group. It was there that I learned what a "personal relationship" meant. I remember slipping away from the crowd to talk to my Pastor at the time, letting him know that I wanted a life with Jesus. I was baptized shortly after that and began serving in my church youth group. I don't have a traumatic testimony with drugs, alcohol, abuse, wayward living, etc. And I truly believe it's because of God's grace that I don't. I used to think that I couldn't witness to anyone because I didn't have a "testimony" worth sharing. But my whole life has been filled with God leading me to places where He opened doors for me to share my faith. I've been blessed to work an atmosphere where I can share my faith, and do that freely. As a nurse, God has allowed me to pray with patients and co-workers, and now with medical students. I've come to love daily texts, emails, and personal visits in my office or lab from co-workers and students needing encouragement and that often ends in prayer. I truly believe God has me right where He wants me and I'm so honored to serve Him there."

Connie Charles

"I knew Jesus loved me as a young toddler, sitting at the feet of wonderful Sunday School teachers telling me so with scripture, songs, and those beautiful pictures of Jesus with children at his feet. At the age of ten I asked Jesus to be my savior and became a baptized believer, at First Baptist Church, in Kirksville, in 1968. Yes, I grew up knowing Jesus loved me, and I loved Him; blessed with a church family and a mother making sure I grew in knowledge of His love and Word. The world also played a huge impact on my growing up and it wasn’t a Christian impact either. I tried to merge the way of the secular world and my Christian walk for many years and the sinful choices didn’t work well with God’s plan, so I stopped attending church. Maybe I should say I ran away from the conviction. The consequences from choices I made were not as enticing as the sin from which they came. I began to fear the consequences of these choices enough to start praying about it. The stir within began. It took several years to arrive back on the narrow path and to walk in the full light with Jesus again. You see, He never left me, I never denied knowing Him; I just didn’t follow Him. I tried to do it my way, and that didn’t work. With brokenness, I returned to church, starting to attend on Sunday mornings again. I was welcomed back into the arms of those same people who loved me as a child and teenager. Who embraced me and began to mentor me. I learned to not only know, but to love and follow the Bible with a hunger and to serve with a joy for His glory. “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:24-25. Don’t let fear and pride of your actions and heart keep you away from walking with Jesus. Come to Jesus."

Carolyn Chrismans

Since the age of four, I have been attending First Baptist, and mainly Sunday School. I started out as a van kid, but then had my parents drop me off and pick me up. I never missed a Sunday, can remember all my Sunday School teachers names, and loved church. After my brother went to Children's camp for the first time, where he accepted Jesus, the pastor and our Sunday school teacher came to our home to talk with my parents about his decision. I heard about following Jesus, and accepted Jesus at our kitchen table. I too attended church camp, attended youth group when I could and followed after the Lord--my faith was my own as my parents never went to church. At age 16, I felt God calling me to be baptized. When others in the church had asked my parents about baptism for me before, they just stated, she needs to wait till she is older. So at age 16, when I was driving myself to church and attending morning and evening services, I went forward and was baptized. No one from my family was there. My brother at this time had pretty much left the church as well. I had great mentors and teachers though--some who have passed like Vivian Coleman--and others who are still there--like Connie Charles and Tony Swain. I was taught how to study the Bible and live it out. I have served as a Youth Minister, Sunday School teacher, VBS volunteer, and more. I love the Lord, His church, and ministry. I love having my kids in church with me, that my husband is a Godly man, and that I still serve. I want my kids to have a strong, vibrant, and alive faith in Jesus--and that will only be helped by seeing it in their parents.

Travis Curtman

"I grew up in Springfield Missouri in a non-Christian home. My dad started teaching me how to play the guitar when I was five years old. By age ten, every Friday and Saturday night I was playing in my dad’s band, mostly in bars and nightclubs. I remember watching a local pastor on tv when I was 17. I knew the words he spoke were true and I even repeated a salvation prayer at the end of his message. Looking back, I did not completely surrender myself and all that I loved to follow the Lord. This caused me to stray from Him. I met my wife Savanna in 2005. We got married a year and a half later. Seeking to find my purpose in life, I joined the Army National Guard. I served 10 years and deployed overseas twice. After my second deployment Savanna and I were struggling. Most nights we would fight and argue. I was only concerned with what I wanted and was never content. At the advice of my wife, I went to see a Pastor friend of mine. He helped me see that I had never made Jesus Lord of my life. On my drive back home, I pulled my car over to the side of the road and cried out to God. I fully surrendered my life to the Lord that day and I finally understood my purpose, to serve Him with everything that I do. That day my whole outlook on life has changed, and God has continued to work and open doors, giving me opportunities to serve Him and others. Soon after my surrender to Him I knew without a doubt He was calling me into full time ministry as a worship Pastor. He has graciously surrounded me with men to disciple and mentor me and I am excited to see God’s plan unfold. Without His love and grace, I know I would not be where I am today. After my complete surrender to God, His love, salvation, and grace gave me the desire to serve Him with everything I had. After my salvation I had a love for people that was not there before. Several men in the church encouraged me, mentored, and discipled me and I was confident in His desire for my life. I had no doubt that God was calling me into full time ministry."

Carol Harris

"I was blessed to be raised in a Christian family. We attended Church every Sunday morning and evening. I grew up believing in God, Heaven, and Hell. We'd watch Billy Graham on TV. I really enjoyed listening to him and the worship music also. Our Church had all sorts of youth activities. I sang in the choir from 3rd grade through high school. As a teenager, I went to Old Mexico and Colorado to teach Bible School. When I was 11 years old, I accepted Christ as my personal Savior. I felt like a different person! I was baptized on April 14, 1957. It wa on an Easter Sunday, my mom's birthday! I left home and moved to Iowa a year after high school. I met my future husband David. He was a Christian. We attended church but only sometimes. When David passed away with cancer in 2002, I came to finish Baptist. I wanted to get back to walking and talking with God. I am so very grateful for God's patience with me for all of those years. I am grateful that I found God. I am grateful that I found First Bapist and my church family."

Joyce Hettinger

"I grew up in church, it has always been a part of my life. When I was around ten years old I realized that it took more than just going to church, I needed a personal relationship with Jesus. I asked Jesus into my heart and was baptized. Then I became a teenager and although I always claimed to be a christian my relationship wasn't what it should be. I've made that walk to the alter more than once recommitting my life. I was married and had my first child. I was very involved with church; teaching children's church and leadership in the women's group. At a weekend women's retreat, God really started speaking to me about the resentment I had toward one of the pastor's wives in our women's group. That resentment was hurting me not her. I knew that to have the relationship with God that I wanted and needed, I needed to apologize to her for the way I felt about her and forgive her for what she had done, even though she had no idea! I went to the alter and asked God for forgiveness and for strength to do what he was asking me to do. I told God I didn't even know where she was sitting in the large group of women, how was I going to find her? When I stood up and turned around the first person I saw was that woman! I've realized that when God asks me to do something, it doesn't matter if I feel that it's important or not. It's all about obedience, and God requires it! I can call myself a christian and work in church but to have the relationship with God that he desires for me to have I must be obedient to whatever he asks. I wish I could say it's the only time that God has needed to correct me but that would be a lie! I'm thankful for that correction because as long as he's correcting me I know that he still loves me and he hasn't given up on me!"

Charles Hunsaker

589BD3A5-BD13-4389-84D4-65802ACB069C.PNG"As a preacher’s kid, I grew up hearing and learning about Jesus and salvation. In my teenage years I knew I was a sinner and needed a Savior. After hearing a gospel presentation with clear focus on the eternity of hell, I prayed for God to save me. I didn’t want to go to hell, but the truth is that I also didn’t want to lose control of my life. So, I lived for many years with the false assurance that God would save me without my full surrender to him. In 2009, I reached a breaking point. I had no joy in life and was living recklessly and sinfully. I remember standing in a bookstore and was desperate for help. I was so aware that I had nothing to offer God but a broken and sinful life, but silently cried out to him with “if you will have me, I will surrender my life to you.” I walked out changed – saved by grace. In the days that followed, I found I had lost my taste for the sinful addictions and desires that had once held me captive. Those desires were replaced by desires to know God, to share about Him and follow Him. It is true...I once was dead, but now I live!"

Deanna Hunsaker

"I grew up in a loving supportive home with parents who made sure I was at church every Sunday. My parent’s sought out a church with a very active children's and youth ministry. I grew up surrounded by a church full of members who invested in me and were always encouraging. A close friend's mother led our children's ministry and I remember sleepovers at her house that always ended with a bedtime Bible story and prayer. I cherish those memories and appreciate how much she poured into me. While attending a summer church camp at age 10 I remember a strong feeling of God calling me to accept him as my personal savior during one of the worship services and I went forward and prayed with a camp counselor. It was my first year of college before I followed in obedience with baptism. It is difficult to describe my life before Christ because I did accept him at a young age but I can confidently say I’ve always had a sense of peace that can only come from a personal relationship with Jesus. I know that I’ve been extremely blessed in all aspects of my life and that I’ve done nothing to deserve these blessings. I’m thankful for the many blessings, the things I enjoy, and too often I need to be reminded about all the intangible blessings that God has given me, like forgiveness, mercy, grace, peace, hope, and eternal life. “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”-John 16:33"

Ken Lundstrom

496ECFA0-2EA0-4602-8058-155AEE22FAC1.PNG"My journey began when I was about twelve. That is when the understanding of the penalty of sin began to work on me. My family attended church regularly so I was exposed to the penalty of sin on a regular basis. I held back for about 2 years and attended a Vacation Bible School in July of 1958. A visiting evangelist spoke each day of how to come to a relationship with the Lord and to have my sins forgiven. He made it understandable. The last day of the VBS in July 1958 at 14, I accepted the forgiveness that God offers that is the only way to salvation. The 2 year struggle was over or so I thought. That is the first time I felt clean. The realization that the journey was only beginning was not apparent to me. We did not have a very good training/discipling program so I drifted a long way away. About 8 years later Joyce and I met and I started attending Pure Air Baptist church with her and her family. Her dad, Vernie, lived the life of a Christian man so I started to follow the example he lived before Christ. After Joyce and I were married at that church we attended regularly in the meetings at Pure Air and that opened the life I knew would be much different. That is the reason that the story of the Prodigal son in Luke 15 means so much to me! We moved to Cedar Rapids, Iowa a few months later and attended a good church there and then, a few short months later, we were moving again to Iowa City, IA. In Iowa City we became members in a mission church and met the pastor that came to mean so much to me. His name is John Vaughn and he discipled 3 young men there. He awoke in us the necessity of study and building your relationship with God through His Son. He also taught us evangelism and its necessity for our Christian lives. We later moved to Carbondale, IL for 30+ years and in July 2007 came here. In looking back at all the ways God has molded us, which we are still praying for that process daily, I find it hard to believe that God could change me from what I was to the life I now live."

William Lutz

"My name is William. Growing up my family was very involved in the church, especially since my dad is a pastor. In 2008 my dad went active in the Army which changed our lives. Growing up I really just went through the motions with going to church. I thought it was a life everyone lived. As I went into high school, I drifted away from being around Christians and really made cars and trucks into an idol. In the middle of my high school years, I decided I wanted to be a technician to work on tractors. When I graduated and went to tech school my mind kinda drifted even more. I had gotten addicted to pornography and kept it hidden. As time went on, I became aggravated and never satisfied with life.

3 years later, and a lot of jumping around, I had moved to Green Castle, Mo to live with my dad. Things didn't work out, and I went through a time of depression. Shortly after that I moved out to live on my own. However, during this time, I began attending church services at First Baptist - Kirksville. The Sunday my life changed, I remember my heart being super heavy before I came to church. That morning my truck didn’t start and I remember fixing it just enough to get to church. That Sunday Jason preached on Joshua 8 and in verse one it said “Don’t be discouraged.” And I tell you what, I broke down in tears because I was so discouraged and knew that I needed to repent of my sins and give my life to God. That morning, I made the best decision ever - I gave my life to Christ and was saved from my sin.

Ever since I was saved, God has been helping me to recover from the sinful addictions I had, and my love for God has sky-rocketed through the roof. Now I strive to live for God everyday, and hope to bring others closer to God."

Rachel Malen

"I don’t really remember a time in my life before Christ, as I was saved as a very young child during Bible School and then I rededicated my life to Christ when I was 13. I’ve always known and loved the Lord, but I didn’t actually start growing in my walk with Him, until I was faced with some really dark times in my life, as an adult. When my life hit rock bottom is when I finally fully surrendered to the Lord. I remember saying to God, “I can’t do this by myself anymore. I need you to help me.” God met me there. He pulled me out of a black hole, by rescuing and redeeming me. Since that time, God has continued to mold me into who He wants me to be, by strengthening me and maturing me in my walk with Him. Although I am far from perfect and I fail God every single day, my life is better because of God’s goodness, faithfulness, mercy and love. He has never left me or forsaken me and He continues to strengthen me as I try my best to live a life that glorifies Him."

Jason Marlin

"Church was always a part of my life. My parents showed the importance of church by being involved in many areas. I remember going to AWANAS programs, singing in children's choir, and going to VBS in the summer. However it was not at church that I accepted Jesus as my Savior and Lord. I was saved at the age of 9. I was on my living room floor. I was watching a television program for children. A man dressed as a pirate was explaining about a person who was a good guy but never knew Jesus. He used shoes to walk through this man's life and at each stage he had an opportunity to know Jesus but refused. Then the man died never knowing Jesus. He went to Hell. Then the plan of salvation was given. It was at that time the Holy Spirit gripped my heart and convicted me of my sin. I realized I needed a Savior. I asked Jesus to forgive me and accepted Him as my Lord and Savior. Shortly after I was baptized by immersion at Liberty Baptist Church in Dublin, GA. Even as a young child I knew God was working in my life and have always looked back on that morning in my living room floor as the moment I met Jesus. I attended church regularly and learned about the basic Bible stories. It was not until I was in the youth group at First Baptist Dublin that I began to really grow as a Christian. I had a youth minister, Jeff Sanders who took me under his wing and invested into my life. He taught me about relationships and began to disciple me. He taught me about reading the Word and Scripture memorization. I began to walk with Jesus in a more real an intimate way. Jeff left and without that accountability I lost my zeal. It was not until I was a freshman in college that it returned. I was 5 hours away from home and anyone I knew, completely on my own. It was then that the roots that Jeff had placed in me started to bear fruit. I had a roommate who was not a believer and he would question what and why I believed. I went back to the disciplines I had learned. I read my Bible and began to journal. This is a discipline I still use today. I read daily His Word and journal about the insights and lessons He is teaching me. I get up early and meet with God through His Word and through prayer. This time is so important to me. My roommate could see something in me and began reading as well. We would stay up at night and talk about the Scriptures. God was using the lessons I learned and I could once again feel His presence walking with me. It was during this time that the Lord called me to the ministry. I thought everyone called in the ministry was a preacher. So that is what I went to do. I have a group of people around me that help me keep Christ first. Sarah is such a great partner and strong believer. In my later college years, I roomed with Troy, who also had surrendered to the ministry, and we still talk and hold each other accountable. That relationship started in college and I consider it a blessing to have such people in my life. "

Sarah Marlin

"I was so fortunate to be raised in a Christian home.  Attending church was a priority for our family.  We never wondered where we would be on a Sunday or Wednesday.  My parents instilled that in us from a very early age. 

I was part of many groups, classes, and activities throughout my childhood at church.  But one of my fondest memories was Vacation Bible School.  When I was eight years old, our church hosted a ventriloquist as a guest speaker.  I listened intently while she told of our need of a Savior for the sins we had committed.  While I was only a child, I knew that this included me.  I had sin in my life that was separating me from Christ.  I remember telling my mama that I knew it was a decision I needed to make and after talking with the pastor, I gave my life to Christ. 

While that was the moment I decided to follow Christ, it is not the end of my story.   Salvation is only the starting point of our walk with Christ.  My life has included many mountain-top moments, as well as many valley moments.  In each, I have learned to trust God more.  Years of infertility, adoptions, surprise pregnancies, calls to foreign missions, living in India for three years, the loss of a parent… all of these are life moments that God used to strengthen my faith and draw me closer to him.  The sanctification process is one of the greatest gifts I have been given.  I am thankful that the eight-year-old girl was obedient to a child-like faith, but I’m equally grateful that my faith has grown deeper over the last 30+ years.   

For many years, I thought my testimony was dull.  I thought it lacked a tragic story that would compel others to Christ.  I know that the Lord has rescued many people from the depths of dark sin.  But my salvation experience was a rescue story as well.  He died for all of us, no matter what we’ve done, because all sin separates us from Christ.   My prayer is that I live my life in a way that draws others to Christ, while I continue to strengthen my walk with Christ each day!"

Adam Mercer

"I grew up going to church every Sunday, often Sunday evenings and Wednesday nights too. I believed in God at a young age. My father even preached for a while until my parents got divorced when I was 9 or 10. I knew my parents argued a lot but back then divorce was not a common thing. I remember praying every night before bed for a very long time that my parents would get back together. This is what I thought I wanted more than anything. This never happened and I was angry inside. I felt like God didn’t listen to me or didn’t care. As I got older, I was still unhappy and started to use drugs and alcohol. I still believed in God. I had seen God save me from situations many times that I shouldn’t have put myself in. My wife Heather is responsible for helping turn my life around. I was happy and going to church, but it wasn’t until August 19th, 2018, when my son, Gavin and I were baptized together that I started to give God my whole heart. I still and will have struggles but now I don’t have to worry and am not searching for to fill a void."

Dennis Miller

"I did not grow up in a Christian home. I had aunts and uncles who were Christians but they were viewed as “religious” and I was always uncomfortable being around them. When I was about seven or eight years old my great aunt Cleta Miller started taking me to Sunday school. I was in Amy Hubbard’s Sunday school class and remember enjoying it. Once I graduated out of her class I stopped going to Sunday school. I really don’t remember why. My teenage years were difficult ones. I was not happy, there was not a lot of joy in my life. I spent most of my time alone and built up a lot of anger and frustration. My college years were even worse, I hated college and everything about it. I was lost, alone, and confused. During my junior year of college my best friend and first love died a very slow and agonizing death. I was convinced she was the only one who understood me. I was filled with rage which I directed at God. I vividly remember screaming at Him to please get out of my life. I didn’t need or want Him. I pretty much became agnostic after that point. When saying the Pledge Of Allegiance I would refuse to say the words “under God”. Over the next ten years or so I went through life not caring much about anything. I was just living. I was very self-destructive and didn’t care much about anyone especially myself. This all finally led to early 2006, I was broke in more ways than one. Most of all I was broken spiritually. For reasons that only God knows I started reading a book Called The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren. This book had a humongous impact on my life and changed my view of just about everything in my little isolated world. I realized I needed to make a massive change in my life. I was tired of being dead, it was time to live! On Easter Sunday of 2006 I professed Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior and have never looked back. Today, I barely recognize the person I was 20 years ago. It’s like I’m talking about someone I once knew but don’t know anymore. On May 1, I will celebrate ten years as a member of FBC. I have found two of the greatest loves I will ever know; the love of God and the love of my church family. I thank God every day for His love and His patience. I also thank Him for my church family and for all the amazing people He has brought into my life. Most of all, I thank Him for a second chance at life. I know that the life I was living before had no future. The end result of the life I was living was hell. The end result of the life I am living now is eternity with my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ."

Janene Moak

"I wasn’t raised in a Christian home. Church and faith weren’t a part of my family life growing up. I believed in God, but that belief had no bearing on how I lived my life. As an adult there was an emptiness inside of me. I tried to fill the emptiness with things that never satisfied. I started thinking about going to church, but I didn’t know where to go and by that point had made choices and mistakes that I was ashamed of. I thought I wasn’t good enough to go to church, I needed to get my act together before I did go. A friend invited me to church on Easter Sunday in 1998. For the first time in my life, I heard the true Gospel message taught. I finally understood that there wasn’t anything I could do to make myself good enough for God. It was never about my worthiness; it was about Jesus and what He did on the cross. I accepted Christ that day! My life changed, the focus and center of my life shifted. I began living for Him and not myself. I still fall short, I am a sinner and will always be until God calls me home. But I have a blessed assurance, Jesus is mine! It was His mercy and love that changed me and finally filled the emptiness inside."

Rod Sadler

"I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior in March of 1984 and was baptized April 1, 1984 at First Baptist Church in Chester, Illinois. I was 24 years old. I was raised in a non-Christian home, and the few people in my family who were Christians had very little contact with me. I never attended a church until after my wife and I had been married for over 4 years. We were thinking about starting a family and we decided that we wanted our child to be raised differently than we were. We responded to an invitation by some friends at my work and started attending FBC in Chester, Illinois regularly. After about 6 months, on a Sunday in March, I heard the pastor's message of salvation. I thought about it overnight and the next morning went to visit Pastor Brookman in his office. We talked and he explained the gospel and I accepted the gift of salvation. My wife and I attended regularly for a couple of years and then slowly stopped attending. We experienced the flood of 1993 where we lost our home and suffered other work related hardships. My wife and I realized that we needed to return to the Lord. After that, we began attending church more regularly. Church slowly became a vital part of our lives. We have moved a few times and have been blessed enough to always find a loving church in which to serve our Lord."

Tammy Sadler

"I was not raised in a Christian home as a child. My dad would take me to Sunday School, drop me off, and pick me up when it was over every Sunday. This happened from the time I was in first grade until I finished sixth grade. I decided at that time if my parents did not go, then I would not either. My older sister and her family attended periodically, and over the next year I went with them several times. My thirty-eight year old uncle died shortly after that. He was not a Christian and lived a life that included lots of alcohol and living for the day. Soon after his death, I found a gospel track that had been left in a business. I read it over and over, and it affected me deeply. I couldn’t seem to stop thinking about my uncle’s death and that he had not known the Lord. I had been taught from past Sunday School teachers that God wanted to give me the gift of salvation. A few weeks later, my sister’s family attended a revival. I went along. On the second night we attended, the words of the pastor deeply convicted me. When the altar call came, I could not remain in my seat. I knew I wanted salvation, and I received it that night at the age of thirteen. I did not have anyone in my life to encourage me in my faith, so I fell away in high school. I met Rod at seventeen, and we married when we were both twenty. He was not a Christian, and I wasn’t living like one. We both decided at age twenty-four that we wanted more from life. We wanted a family, and we did not want to raise a child like we were raised in a home without Christ. We started attending a Baptist church and Rod was saved. About a month later, we were both baptized together. We were blessed with a son, and we did raise him in the faith, and Christ has become so important to us as the years go by. We have moved a few times and attended different churches, but we have always had Christian friends to come alongside us to encourage us in our faith and love for Christ."

David Vanlaningham

"Romans 3:23 says for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. As a young boy what bad could I really do? At the age of 5 my parents were divorced and we moved from Des Moines, Iowa to Kirksville, Missouri. From day one people were there inviting us to church, giving us rides to church and other events. They taught me that I was a sinner and I needed to enter into a relationship with Jesus. I responded, "you expect me to believe that?" The answer was YES!! And through their guidance I accepted Christ at the age of 8. John 3:16 tells about Gods gift to us all, His son Jesus. As I grew older I admit I fell away from that relationship. But the people God put in my life just never seem to go away. God gave me a second gift, my wife Tina and eventually a little girl named Vanessa. Through the events of having a child we got back in church and rededicated our lives to Christ. And guess who was there? The same people who had been sharing Christ with me all along the way. Philippians 4:13 says, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." How did life change? Serving God and others became important. By teaching and preaching worldwide missions, God has allowed me to do things I would have said impossible. But life is different with Him. God is good. Be willing to serve and He’ll bless you through it. "

Alicia Wollmering

"While my 5 siblings and I were attending catholic grade school for 8 years, my mom became a born again Christian. We started attending other church events where the gospel was shared. I was 12 years old when I responded to an altar call at a children's concert. With my 5 year old sister in hand, I went forward and asked Jesus into my heart. I don’t think I understood everything that meant at the time but I did understand that spending eternity with God was something that happened because of God’s grace and my personal relationship with him, not through reciting prayers, going to church on certain days, or participating in man made traditions. I felt like I had a secret, for I knew I had encountered something most of my other classmates had not…Christ! He knew me and wanted me to know Him! I am thankful for coming to Christ at a young age. Having Him and His word to guide me through my teen and young adult years has been a blessing I do not deserve. Because of His goodness, I stepped out in obedience and made the decision to be baptized when I was 23 years old. In the summer of 2020, not being able to control all of the moving parts in my life and in the lives of my family, I came to God one afternoon worn out and frustrated. God laid on my heart that day that I needed to start with myself. Sins like pride, doubt, idolatry, selfish ambition, a critical spirit and much, much more were weighing me down and permeating into my family. Psalm 51 became my prayer that day “Create in me a clean heart O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” God did just that! He returned my joy, set me on a firm foundation once again, and gave me the desire to walk closely with Him. We often think that we need to get our act together, but what I realized that day was that He wanted me to come to Him broken, with my heart and hands empty. Only then was He able to move in my life in a way that He knew best. How freeing to know that I do not have to follow rules, laws, or traditions to spend ETERNITY with Christ. I can just rest in Him, that gives me peace "

Jerry Wollmering

"My life before Christ: I was an ordinary person living a comfortable life.  I grew up in a family that went to church every week and my parents were very supportive of me.  I loved my high school years and was recruited by some colleges to run cross country and track.  I left small town Iowa in 1983 for Drake University and was ready to do some great things.  I had great plans for myself!

In college, my goal was to get a good business education that would land me a great job, wearing nice suits, living in the big city, and I would live happily ever after.   

Then my junior year I met Alicia, I could tell there was something special about her right from the start. Alicia and I dated a few times and started to develop a relationship.  Alicia would invite me to Bible studies and noticed she had a daily time in the Word.   I never really paid much attention to this as I knew I believed there was a God and thought I was a good person and that’s all I really needed to do for my faith.  

In 1987, I graduated from college, got a great job, passed the CPA exam and everything was going as planned. I was making more money than my dad ever made in 30+ years in the factory.  I bought a new 1987 Pontiac Grand Am and was ready to go have a good time with life. About a year later, Alicia could see right through me.  I still didn’t have a heart for God and she basically told me I wasn’t in her long range plans. I was devastated but my pride got in the way and I thought, well I still am living comfortably with nice things and a good job so it will all work out somehow.  That’s when God started to work on me.

My job was getting old, and I didn’t like it anymore.  Alicia had graduated and moved back to Minnesota, and I figured any chance of our relationship was gone.  I went through a time of constantly asking myself, “What am I going to do with my life?”  I now had money and nice things but didn’t feel fulfilled with life.  The things I thought would make me happy were not working. 

I thought back to my relationship with Alicia and her walk with God.  I started talking to God, reading the Bible, and finally one night I told God that I was going to surrender my life to him.  I got down on my knees at my place on Douglas Avenue in Urbandale, IA and gave my life to Christ in 1991 at the age of 25.

My life after Christ: Wow – did things happen!  In matter of weeks, I was strongly considering quitting my job to go to graduate school.  In April 1991, I got the call from Kent State University in Ohio for a graduate assistant position in Athletics.  I remember thinking this is God opening up a new door for me.  Alicia was coming to Des Moines that weekend for the Drake Relays.  We somehow ended up talking about it all one night. She told me I seemed different. I told her about how God was showing me what to do and by the end of the night we were talking about our relationship being lifelong!  Never did I expect anything close to that!!  Miracles were happening all around me and I knew it was God telling me He had been waiting for me to come to Him.  It was crazy, I was planning to go to Ohio and Alicia was heading to Colorado in the near future, but God brought us together.  We were married in 1992.

I got baptized in Cape Girardeau in 1994 at the Holiday Inn pool by Pastor Fred Burgard, and God has been my Lord and Savior ever since."