I've given my testimony a dozen times or more. It changes just a little each time depending on what the reason is for giving it. My first reason for giving it this time is simple, without Jesus as your Lord and master, you cannot be saved. The second reason is as simple, without Jesus as your Lord and master, you will never heal from your internal wounds and pain, be they from the war or any other reason.
So as you look at the picture of me all those years ago in Cua Viet around June of 1968 you are looking at a young man as lost as he can be. If I would have been killed in Viet Nam I would have gone to hell. About a month before I went to the Nam I was in Oceanside, Ca. I went into the Servicemen's Center which was located above some old store of some kind. They gave me some cookies and a drink. We talked and I mentioned that I was under orders. The man asked me if I was a Christian, I said, "No!" He reached under the counter and handed me a 3x5 card. It had writing on it. He said, "Pray this prayer, and if you get killed in VN you will go to heaven instead of hell."
Well, I gotta tell you I thought that was a pretty good deal and I went with him to pray the prayer in another room. I left and within a couple of weeks I was in-country and actually spent some time at one occasion or another telling people about Jesus. Unfortunately I soon was drinking, smoking and my language grew worse than it ever was.
I won't go into any detail about Viet Nam. It was no picnic, but I had it better than some. I admit I did think about Jesus once in awhile and thought if I was killed I would go to heaven.
After arriving home I went into a long period of nightmares, small flashbacks, etc. The normal stuff. Again I admit, I had it better, even in these areas of my life than did others. As the years went on I grew more and more sullen over Viet Nam. I saw the faces of the dead, ours and theirs. I did not like a fellow Marine and he was killed. It ate at me for 25 years. Slowly at first, more as time went on.
My brother Al, had been saved for many years. He would try to talk to me about Jesus after I returned from Viet Nam and I would get violent. But for 18 or more years he kept it up. Just kept telling me about Jesus and letting the Holy Spirit work on me. All this time I was drinking, smoking, swearing and using Pornography. I would have told you how great I had it, but I would have been a liar.
February 23, 1993 I woke up in the morning. I called my brother and asked him if he would come over after church for dinner. He and his wife Bessie arrived. After we ate I said I wanted to pray and I started talking to God. I told him I was a filthy sinner and asked forgiveness for my sins. I asked him to save me from hell. PRAISE GOD! HE DID JUST THAT, RIGHT THEN!
At first I didn't realize it, but the reason I was able to pray that prayer and be saved was because Jesus wanted me in heaven. Can You imagine it?, I couldn't. Jesus actually wanted me to be saved! I'm worth nothing to Jesus, not then and not now, why would he die for me?
I can never thank God and Jesus Christ enough for what they did for me at that moment. I am still flesh and blood, still trapped in this sin filled world, but with the indwelling Holy Spirit I am able to overcome, but only because of Jesus.
I have thought a lot about it over the last few years. What was the difference between May 1968 and February 23, 1993? Why did one time save me and one time did not? The Bible tells us, "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." Romans 10:17. So the well meaning man at the lunch counter at the Servicemen's Center in Oceanside, Ca. failed to help me "see" Jesus as the way because he did not tell me about Jesus using The Word. I had what is commonly referred to as "a religious experience". Lots of people have them and feel good for a long time, but die unsaved. I admit that I felt "saved" for a long time in 1968.
I would not want anyone out there to believe I am saying I have never had troubles since I was saved. I certainly have and I have sinned too. The difference is, Jesus is ever present to help me trough the trouble and to forgive my sins when I ask. The world never loved me so much as He does.
"So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." Romans 10:17. I believe this completely. God gave us the Word and God IS the Word. John 1:1
God bless you, Ben