Every believer should take time regularly to recall the good works of God in their own life and in the lives of others. Chief among these grace-filled blessings we get the privilege of remembering is our own testimony of how God bestowed to each of us the free gift of faith in Christ.

Our testimony should be precious to us because it demarcates in our history the period when God was pleased to open up the eyes of our heart, taking us from spiritual death and hopeless darkness, to eternal life and guaranteed hope through faith in His Son.

Since recounting our testimony can be greatly encouraging, I was pleased to learn that each blogger’s first post on Reformed Margins is sharing their story of God’s work of salvation in their life, and, subsequently, how we came to embrace reformed theology. My prayer is that my testimony causes you to give thanks to God as it has done for me whenever I pause to remember it.

Spiritual with a Christian Twist

I describe my faith as a young boy as “spiritual with a Christian twist.” Growing up, my family always believed in God, and my mother told me cliché, spiritual sayings like, “Put God first” and “Cleanliness is next to godliness.” We even made an effort to go to church every other Sunday or so – but the denomination we were in was a cult that mixed New Age spirituality with Christian themes.

As a result, I had heard of Jesus, but I did not truly understand who he really was. I was spiritual, but I was not saved. This was my view of God until I approached my late teen years. Little did I know a traumatizing experience would occur that would change the trajectory of my life forever, and lead me to the cross.

A Date with Fear

It was 2004. My senior year of H.S was a few months from being completed, and I was thinking seriously about what college I would choose to attend. One weekend, my brother and I decided to go to the movies. We saw two films: one we paid for, and the other we snuck in to watch when the coast was clear.

Although we didn’t get caught, I would surely pay for my crime later that night. One movie was a war film and the other a Gothic horror movie of sorts; the films were filled with imagery that deeply disturbed my mind. I had seen films like this before, but for some reason I could not stop myself from thinking about these scenes.

As the night went on, I tried to sleep but to no avail. I just found myself becoming more and more disturbed by the images. I decided to go upstairs to my mother’s room and tell her what was happening. When I told her, she started to teach me about Deepak Chopra’s “insights” on how to control the mind. However, my paranoia only grew. And as the fear inside of me grew, I became more fearful of what was happening to me until the anxiety had reached a tipping point, and I was convinced I was in danger.

Then it happened: I felt like I lost control of my body, and I dropped to the ground in a panic. It looked like I was having seizure on the ground. It felt as if electricity was flowing through my brain, and all I remember thinking was that I was going crazy. I was convinced that I was going to end up in a mental asylum.

But God

It is often when we are in a perilous plight that we recognize our need for God. While I was on the ground shaking in fear from this extreme anxiety attack, I screamed for God to help me. As soon as I called on Him, the anxiety began to subside. Finally, the worst night of my life was over. Yet, life for me was just beginning. I didn’t get saved then, but I could not help but believe that God heard my cry and helped me that night.

Fast forward a few months, and I begin my college career as a freshman at Howard University. The trauma from the major panic attack produced in me continual fear that the same thing was going to happen to me again, so I began to have chronic, minor anxiety attacks. However, I believed God helped me during the night of my first attack, so I began to explore religion a little more in order to cope with the attacks.

My first week on campus, I attend a university sponsored religious event. At this event, a fellow student, who is a member of the Baha’i faith, is allowed time to promote his religion. His presentation of Baha’i doctrine intrigued me. So, when I saw him later on campus, I told him I was interested in studying the Baha’i faith; we exchanged information, and shortly after that I spent the next few weeks with him studying the Baha’i religion with an interest to convert.

Jesus, The Son of God

Baha’i dogma is at its root religious pluralism. This led my new Baha’i friend to believe that all religions came from God. He, therefore, believed that Christianity has some truth in it, but needed to be updated by the founding prophet of Bahaism — Bahá’u’lláh. One day, he saw a flier for a Christian organization on campus that was promoting a Christian perspective on relationships.

He was interested in attending, and he invited me as well. When I went to the meeting, I was floored. I saw people who looked like me worshiping Christ, and the people there had spoken with a wisdom that I had never heard before. I decided that I was going to keep going back to their weekly meetings.

After one meeting, a brother invited me to his church. I accepted his invitation. After church, I told him about my own view of spirituality at the time, and how I was studying the Baha’i religion. He then proceeds to share the gospel with me. And I don’t even remember much of the conversation, but one point he made stuck with me.

He asked me if Baha’i’s believe that Jesus is the Son of God, and I told him no. He then explained that the religion could not be true if they did not worship Jesus in this way. I believed him. It was at that moment Jesus became everything to me. I was determined to follow him. The next day, I called my Baha’i friend and told him that I could not study the Baha’i faith with him anymore because he didn’t believe that Jesus is the Son of God.

My Journey into Reformed Doctrine

The years go by, and I’m growing in my faith. Three years after my conversion, I was delivered from my anxiety attacks. During this time, I discover preachers like John Piper, John MacArthur and others that espoused “Big God” theology.

Developing a worldview that recognized the sovereignty of God helped me overcome my anxiety attacks. The world did not seem chaotic and random anymore. Rather, God controlled all things, and he was for me—working all things out for my good!! Why then should I be afraid?

I became self-consciously reformed after taking a class on Romans while I finished my undergrad at Nyack College. Our class was working through Romans 9, and Paul’s words hit me: “So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy” (16).

I felt all of my free will loving, desire for self autonomy begin to melt under the weight of those words. Also, during this time, I was listening to John Piper preach through the Gospel of John. When he had finished preaching through John 6, I had fully embraced reformed theology.

I thank God for my journey thus far. I’ve had my share of trials, but God has always shown Himself to be faithful and merciful to me. It is from a place of deep gratitude that I wish to share my posts on Reformed Margins with you all.

To God be all the Glory!!

Posted by Bryant Parsons

Bryant Parsons is a proud New Yorker. He is a Christian Union Ministry Fellow at Columbia University. Bryant holds an M.Div from Westminster Theological Seminary. His topics of interest are issues involving systematic theology, apologetics, and Christian engagement with culture. His desire is to see the church in the American context be well-informed, winsome advocates of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

One Comment

  1. I never knew this about you, Bryant. Thanks so much for sharing it because it was encouraging to read.

    Reply

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