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Tuesday, August 22, 2000

Dean’s Testimony

I am glad to have the opportunity to write and share my story with you. I was born in 1951in Springfield, Massachusetts to second - generation Greek parents.

The Greek word for life is ‘ZOE’. Although I knew the word, I didn’t live a happy life.

I grew up on Long Island. After graduating W.Tresper Clarke HS in 1970, I enrolled at Hofstra University. In 1971 when I volunteered at the Long Island Council of Churches. I was a few months shy of age 20.

I had been at Hofstra University for a few months and was growing frustrated with my social service major. When I passed through the basement stores at Roosevelt Field I noticed the L.I. Council of Churches sign and walked in. Anne, the secretary, greeted me with a smile.

I volunteered to help and was asked to work on an Emergency Food project. We purchased and distributed non-perishable food to the poor of Hempstead, NY. I worked hard at helping but I felt frustrated at what was going on inside me. The anger and confusion and lack of purpose wasn’t really helped by helping others, it was only masked for a while. Helping made me feel better about life.

I remember one lady who came in from North Carolina. She was poor but happy. When I handed her the bag of groceries she said Praise the Lord! That seemed really strange and it angered me inside. I was helping her but she was thanking God! She should have been thanking ME!

Anne talked to me about knowing Christ personally. I grew up in the Greek Orthodox Church and I thought I knew God. Inside, though, I was miserable.

In place of the hole in my heart I put a ‘frozen smile on my face’. Few people knew how sad and angry and lost I was on the inside. Anne simply had said I needed to trust Christ and be born again.

She had given me a little booklet explaining the Four Spiritual Laws (God loves me, I am a sinner, Christ died for my sins, I need to repent and trust Christ). The first three I agreed with; I had never heard of the 4th one.

Attending church regularly didn’t change me inside. I was still the same on the inside no matter how I looked on the outside.

One evening in the fall of 1972 I went to a movie at the theatre at Roosevelt Field. It was a documentary called MARJOE., an expose of phony preachers. It really upset me. All this Christian stuff seemed to be a con job. But why did Anne seem so happy and at peace? I went home late and opened the Bible I had bought.

I turned to about the middle and read Psalm 121: I lift up my eyes to the hills -where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip. He who watches over you will not slumber. I had considered suicide. A pair of scissors was also on my desk. I read the little booklet again and thought I had nothing to lose by asking for God’s help. I prayed that simple prayer. I was so tired I fell asleep. It was about 1am.

The next day the clock radio went off playing a popular song that week by  Johnny Nash I Can See Clearly Now. I thought, I can see clearly now! For the first time I seemed unclouded.

What kept me from trusting Christ was my idea of who I was. I thought I wasn’t all that bad. I was wrong. (‘For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23)

I thought what I was doing was going to get me closer to God. I was wrong. (And all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment. Isaiah 64:6).

I thought I could earn favor with God. I was wrong. (For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God not by works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9)

I never realized how much God loved me, and how much He desired for me to know Him personally. Trusting Christ personally changed my whole life on the inside. Now I have that smile too and it isn’t phony.

The one of the first albums I purchased after trusting Christ was Jamie Owens ‘Laughter in My Soul’. Instead of a frozen smile on my face I now had laughter in my soul!

I met a wonderful woman and married in 1980. We adopted a child in 1986. The best is yet to come!

Thanks for listening. Let me know what you think. Check out our website (www.gateway.org) and our Blog (http://gatewayorg.blogspot.com/) at Gateway Pregnancy Center. You can also communicate with me on Face Book.