Thursday, January 1, 2009
My Testimony by Dean Gavaris
I’m glad to have the opportunity to write and share my testimony with you.
I was born in 1951in Springfield, Massachusetts to second - generation Greek parents. I grew up on Long Island. 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.
It seemed we learned a great deal about helping people but only within the specific guidelines of the rules of the Nassau County Welfare Department. I wanted to help more.
When I passed through the basement stores at Roosevelt Field I noticed the Council of Churches sign and walked in. Anne Lawther 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.
After the contract with Nassau County expire, I stopped going to Hofstra and took a job in bill collection with a large bank. At Franklin National Bank I met a 7th Day Adventist who told me I should be worshipping on Saturdays.
Anne simply had said I needed to trust Christ and be born again. She had given me a little booklet explaining the ‘4 Spiritual Laws’ (God loves me, I’m 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”.
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 – Johnny Nash’s “I Can See Clearly Now”. I thought, ‘yes – I can see clearly now!’ I for the first time seemed unclouded.
I felt God had really changed me. It was Sunday so I walked from Westbury to Hempstead to a small Baptist church near the Emergency Food Store on Jackson Street.
I arrived late and the preacher already was talking. He pointed to the back door as I was coming in. He said that if we come to Christ we need to have the old torn down and the new would replace it. I listened intently.
A few months later, Anne invited me to Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in Malverne, NY. It was there that I met Lorena and seven years later I asked her out.
In 1978 enrolled at Nassau Community College and graduated in 1980 (at age 29) with a business degree. Lorena and I married in 1980. Jeremy was adopted in 1986.
In 1980 as we prepared to marry, Lorena had asked me what I thought God wanted me to do for the rest of my life. I thought of Bible School and so we traveled to NJ. After three years at Northeastern Bible College I still had a desire to help the poor, but this time not so I could feel better but so they could know the peace and purpose I had.
I got involved in what is called Christian ‘prolife’ work and have been at it since the mid-1980’s. I was ordained in 1993.
Christian pregnancy ministry is just that – an opportunity to share the need to trust Christ with those in need, and to bring them the truth about the life within them.
So, that’s my story. I hope you too have trusted Christ not only for eternal life but for the abundant life He promised to His followers. (John 10:10)
What kept me from trusting Christ was my idea of who I was.
§ I thought I wasn’t all that bad. (“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 (“And all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment..” Isaiah 64:6).
§ I thought I could earn favor with God (“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.
May I share a message
of hope with you?
God loves you and cares for you very much
Amidst a world of fear and anger, self and rebellion, joy and sorrow -you can have
the joy and peace of knowing Christ in a personal way, and being assured of heaven.
First, know that the God who made YOU, loves you very much.
"I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore I have drawn you with loving
kindness. Jeremiah 31:3
The Bible says, "God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that
whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life" John 3:16
God showed His love for us at the Cross: ‘But God demonstrates His own love
toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.’ Romans 5:8
So, everyone is good and seeks after God? No. That’s why we need to personally
trust Christ to take away our sins and to allow us into heaven.
THE SCRIPTURES SAY: "There is not a single man who is righteous , there is not
one who understands, or who seeks for God. All men have turned away from God,
they have all gone wrong. No one is good, not even one." (Romans 3:10-12)
But can't good works assure me of eternal life?
We may give to a charitable cause... or
volunteer to help others..
These are important and good;
yet they can't get us into heaven...
they are no solution to our problem of sin.
They in no way give us the abundant life Jesus Christ wants us to have.
WE ARE ALL SINNERS BEFORE GOD: Romans 3:23 tells us
"All men have sinned and are far away from God's saving
THE CONSEQUENCES OF SIN IS SPIRITUAL DEATH: "For the wages of sin is
death (spiritual death), but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ
Jesus our Lord." (Rom. 6:23)
WE CANNOT SAVE OURSELVES: "For by grace have you been saved
(from eternal death) through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift
of God,not as a result of works, that no one should boast." (Eph. 2:8-9)
No one can climb his or her way to heaven. None of us are worthy of
obtaining eternal life.
In John 3:3, we read about a very, very religious person named Nicodemus.
Yet, Jesus said to him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he can not
see the kingdom of God."
Do you know how to be "born again"? By going to a particular church? Being baptized?
Good works? The Golden Rule? Just feeling sorry? NO!
By acknowledging your sin and rebellion to God, trusting in His finished work on the
cross, and asking Him personally to take over the control of your life, you can be
assured that your sins are forgiven.. and that you have eternal life!
The Bible tells us.. "For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust,
in order that He might bring us to God..." (I Peter 3:18)
The purpose of Christ's coming to earth was to give us the way to obtain eternal life,
through trust in Him.
"If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we say
that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar." (I John 1:8-10) "He that believeth
(trusts) not the Son (as personal Savior) shall not see life; but the wrath of God
abides on him." (John 3:36)
Christ, the Good shepherd, also came "..in order that they (you and I) might have
life, life in all its fullness." (John 10:10)
IF YOU WERE TO DIE TONIGHT, WHERE WOULD
YOU SPEND ETERNITY?
If you are unsure that you have eternal life, pray a prayer similar
to this, and be sure!
You personally can know the peace and comfort of a personal
relationship with Jesus Christ. You no longer need to fear death
and an eternity separated form a loving God.
“Lord, I confess I am a sinner. I recognize that I can do nothing to save
myself form an eternity in hell. Thank you for dying on the cross for my
sins. I now trust in you (Jesus Christ) to be my personal Savior and Lord
of my life, and hereby commit my life to you for all eternity.”
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
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
“Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God.” John 1:12-13
"I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life. John 5:24
“I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand.” John 10:28-29
“And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession—to the praise of his glory.” Ephesians 1:13-14
Posted by Dean Gavaris at 12:01 AM