I grew up as a child in a fundamental “churchy” family. We went to church together, were always involved in church-related activities, and were usually present whenever a meeting was scheduled. Every year our fellowship would have a “Decision Day” on a Sunday in September. The Decision Day was when the gospel was preached, and an altar call was given to come forward to receive Christ as Savior.
At the age of 13, I remember clearly coming to the realization that my perfect attendance in Sunday School was not enough to get me to heaven. I responded to one of those altar calls and received Christ as my Savior. However, from age 13 to age 20, I lived a very hypocritical life. I knew that I was a Christian, but I did not know how to grow in my relationship with Christ. Because of that, I got away from the Lord. When I was at college, no one would have never known that I was a Christian, but when I was at home I was still very involved in our meeting.
At age 20, the Lord challenged me to walk more closely to Him. I asked Him if He was real to somehow show me. At that time, I was a student at Millersville University in Lancaster County, PA. I went to a friend’s dorm room to invite him to come home with me that weekend for a youth group retreat. As the Lord would have it, when I got there, my friend was having a Bible study with one of his friends. Out of politeness, I invited them both to come with me to this retreat. As it turned out, my friend did not come, but his friend did. It was ironic, but God was at work. When we got back to campus that weekend, this new friend named Dick shared the gospel with me and was surprised when I told him I was a Christian. After that, he and I were inseparable. He was instrumental in showing me how to grow as a Christian which is what I needed. We studied the Bible, got involved in evangelism, and spent time praying together. He could not have gotten away from me if he wanted to. I knew that I had found what I needed spiritually and did not turn back from that point on.
The first time we witnessed to someone in the dorm, that person trusted Christ as his Savior. What a thrill that was! Then I had an opportunity to witness to a young lady in one of my classes and when I asked her if she had ever trusted Christ as her Savior she said no. I said would you like to trust Him and she said “Yes.” The first question that came to my mind was “Now what?” My answer was “I know, we will go find Dick.” But he was not around. So, we talked further, and she prayed and trusted Christ as her Savior. I prayed and rejoiced with her in her new life in Christ. Then I found out later that night that she was a dorm counselor on a wing in one of the female dorms that was mostly occupied by Christians who had been praying for her salvation. To think that the Lord chose to use me in that situation was just amazing. She went on to marry a Christian man and together they served the Lord in Bonaire with Transworld Radio.
Later, I met a woman at Millersville by the name of Eleanor who would eventually become my wife, and through her was introduced to New Testament assemblies. The Lord has blessed us with 4 children, 11 grandchildren, and 45 years of serving Him together at Harrisburg Bible Chapel in Harrisburg, PA. To Him be all the honor and glory forever!
By Dennis Wagner