"To God be the glory, great things He hath done!"
The Martin family
My name is Sheldon Martin and my story begins as so. I was born in 1984 into a Christian home. We attended a local New Testament church. At the age of 8, I was at the cemetery when I saw the words born again on a headstone and I asked my mother what it meant. From what I can remember she explained it to me as asking Jesus to come into my heart and save my soul. Seemed simple enough so I did just that. After that, I prayed regularly and rather enjoyed church but I did not read my Bible and I did not attend Sunday school. So, ultimately I had no idea what it really meant to be saved nor did I have anything more than just basic knowledge of the Bible. I didn't know more than most of the world. I was, as many often are, still under the impression that my good had to outweigh my bad to go to heaven. I had troubled teen years with drinking and drugs included. I met my wife, Michelle, and she, along with my parents got me settled down a bit. But, the several years that passed after, I still made poor decisions. We had children and I had a steady job but I was still unhappy and I knew it. There came a point when I was about 29 years of age, that I had decided to stop making those poor choices and "empty my cup" so to speak. So here I was looking for something but not knowing what. I was just living my life the right way by the world's standards. A friend of mine introduced me to Pastor Earl Beal. I had talked to him before, in passing, but on this day we ate breakfast with him and I got to know him. It was probably a few more breakfasts together that when we were alone Pastor Beal explained what it really meant to be saved and that it was a "know so" salvation. He also asked me to attend his church. I went home that night and just before bed prayed the sinner's prayer just as Pastor had told me. I meant it and I slept like a baby. I started attending Joy on a Wednesday night and was intrigued by every word as it seemed that so many were meant for me. Shortly after that my 2 children and I started attending regularly. My wife, at that time, was still not saved but after seeing the change in me and what blessings God was giving me, was soon convinced that God did exist and that Jesus died for our sins. As bad as it might be, I can't remember the exact date of my salvation but I do remember hers as I was so happy and it was the day before my son was born, January 26, 2015. The Lord chose to give him to us through adoption just as we were adopted by the Lord. My wife's sister had gotten pregnant and was contemplating an abortion. Well, Michelle and I couldn't stand for that and as hard as it was, Michelle told her sister if she went through with it then she would never hear from us again. Long story short, God went to work and He changed my sister-in-law's mind but she felt that she still wasn't fit to be a mother and wanted to put the baby up for adoption. Michelle and I knew what we should do and I asked God for a sign, just a simple nod, to show me we were doing the right thing in asking to adopt the child ourselves. Well, they came one after another. First, an almost $4/hr raise at work and then I helped a lost child find their mother. Finally, my sister-in-law had chosen the name Landon for the baby. Landon! The same name we had chosen almost 9 years earlier for our oldest daughter, Mariah, if she had been born a boy. Now we never discussed this name with my sister-in-law so she could not have known. God knew and God spoke. Bam! We took Landon home from the hospital and he was our God-given son. Some time later our youngest, Layna, was born. Now we are a family of 6. Sheldon, Michelle, Mariah, Macy, Landon and Layna. God has carried me through a major illness and a major injury as of late. Who knows where I'd be if Jesus hadn't saved me but my life has been proof of His very existence. You ask me how I know He lives, He lives within my heart!
I was truly saved in my mid 40's. I had gone to another church and thought I was saved & had been baptized. I got away from church for about 15 years. I became neighbors with Pastor Beal & his wife Kathy in 2002. Kathy would invite me to church but I never went until January 2012. I was hesitant about salvation because I thought I was already saved and then in August 2012 we had a special speaker Joe Mark. His message spoke to my heart. I raisedmy hand that I was unsure if I was saved but I still didn't go forward that Sunday. On Tuesday, Kathy and I spent some time together doing some work at the church. We went to get something to eat after we finished, then we went to Riverview Park to eat and I got saved in her van at the park. Ever since that day my life has been changed. I was baptized a couple weeks later and have since joined the church. Pastor Beal's preaching is the Word of God. He makes it easy to understand the Bible. Joy Baptist is a loving family and I have always felt right at home. I read and study my Bible daily, learning more all the time. It's not just about being saved it's about having a close personal relationship with Jesus Christ. I am truly thankful for my salvation, Pastor Beal & Kathy, & Joy Baptist everyday. My life verse is Romans 5:8-"But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."
I always knew that man didn't make the earth or trees - couldn't put a baby together, but I did not know the One responsible. I did not know the Lord. I knew I was looking for something to fill the void in my life, to give it meaning and purpose.
My son and his family bugged me to go to church with them, and I did go. There I was introduced to Jesus Christ and to His Word, the Bible. I was told that I needed to be saved, born again, if I was to go to Heaven, and I learned that the alternative was hell.
I felt I needed God and wanted nothing to do with the lake of fire, hell. I went to the front of the church one Sunday; I gave my heart and my life to the Savior. I knew I was a sinner, so I repented and asked forgiveness of my sins and accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Savior. Then, the best of my life began. I have become a different person.
I came to Joy Baptist Church, was baptized, was given a Bible and have learned to love the Lord. The people at Joy Baptist Church are a loving family; the preaching is the Word of God. The ”get togethers” for fellowship and food are just a bonus.
I was saved at 68 years of age - I have been changed. He, the Lord, has given me love of people and a joy in life that I never had before.
I was reborn later in life, however I did not grow in the Lord until the last four years. When I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior, I knew that He was real and I had a personal relationship with the Lord. I purchased a Bible and began to read and bought more Bibles and gave them out to family and friends. I shared my experience with a priest and I was told that I should not read the Bible because I was not inspired by God. I didn't agree with him because I knew in my heart that if I went to God in prayer before reading the Bible that He would give me understanding. I had read various verses in the Bible concerning this, one example is Job 32:8 "But there is a spirit in man: and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding." I tried various churches in the area but they never seemed to coincide with what I read in the Bible so I tried to do it on my own. I soon withered like a sapling and fell back into the world.
In 2001, I was invited to Joy Baptist Church by two of my clients and my son Jared. I accepted the invitation and on the first visit I knew this was where the Lord wanted me. They not only preached the Bible but they encouraged you to bring your Bible, study it and obey it. I will always remember what Pastor Beal said, "Hey, don't believe me, I am human, read it for yourselves." Since then I've been baptized and have joined the church. I have grown in the Lord and am learning to die daily to self. My whole life has changed and I am beginning to understand what it means to pick up your cross and walk daily.
God does not call us because we are good enough, because, nobody is good enough. God tells us, "All have sinned and come short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). No one can get to heaven by church membership, baptism or "good works". If we could, there would have been no need for Jesus to come and die on the cross. I used to think that because I was baptized as a baby, I was a child of God. After I started reading the Bible I realized I had to accept Jesus for myself. My parents could not do it for me. That is what being reborn/saved is all about, accepting Jesus Christ as your Personal Savior.
I see now that the no's in the Bible are for our good and see them as positive. Before I would try and bend the no's to say okay at times and brought confusion in my life. Now I lean on Jesus to help me change, because on my own, I cannot change anything.
I am truly thankful for my salvation and looking forward to serving the Lord in the future along with my husband Robert. I realize it's not only about being saved but striving to keep a close fellowship with Jesus, so we can be a better testimony each day. What a great God we serve!
A brother in Christ said, he didn't want to be like a sapling, sprout and die quickly but he wanted to be like an oak and grow slow and strong. This is my prayer to God.