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We’re pleased to report the baptism of Imdad who came to us from the internet, but being in a difficult domestic situation as the family are strongly Moslem, chose to baptize herself. Please pray for her.

Here is the personal witness to God’s grace of Bro Miles:

“My name is Miles and this is not a testimonial, it’s just my story. The only reason it is special is because it happened to me.

Everyone has their own special story and you decide to either tell it or not. A friend asked me to tell my tale so I have decided to share a bit of it because I respect my friend’s wishes a good deal. I am a seventy year old retired art teacher, living with my wife of near forty years, on the coast of California. I have two advanced university degrees, a milieu of bohemian and social activist friends who think Christianity is at best an interesting myth. On July 5 of 2016 I walked into the local high school public pool and baptized myself, by immersion, in the name of The Lord Jesus Christ and for the forgiveness of my sins. My friends say I’m nuts behind my back, my wife isn’t sure but seems to love me anyway, and my cat doesn’t care as long as I feed her. But I feel so wonderful I don’t care. There is a very new sense of grace and possibility in my life. I accepted Christ’s gift of eternal life and I’ve been rebooted, if not reborn. I am in a new covenant and it is personal.

“Redemption is not a moment, it’s a process”

Now this is where I have to be honest and tell you I don’t like testimonials. I don't mean that in a nasty or spiteful way but I have never understood how all the incredible things that lead you to Christ and God could help me in my own journey. That probably sounds worse than I mean it. But how Grace made you move, swim, or crawl to God is such a specific and personal story they are hard for me to relate too. The problem is I don’t want to talk about all the possible dots that God connected leading me to that high school pool on a cold and foggy morning in July. I can tell you now I don’t understand anything about all the moments that somehow seamlessly made it possible for me to accept Christ’s gift of Grace. My wife has always said I don’t receive gifts well, and here I am trembling like a newly-wed and running to accept a vow from God’s Son to love and save me and give me an eternal life on a “heaven on earth” after the Last Judgement. That’s too much to believe in for any of my friends and family. I can’t explain to anyone how I know this. I can tell you what is in the Bible (which many have read in their lives), but I cannot tell you how to come to that realization. I think that that belief is actually the real gift- that is how Grace shines in a heart, like a storm or wind rushing in, and that is how a life begins to change. Redemption is not a moment, it’s a process. I will be repenting and being redeemed until I go to sleep in the Lord and am called to the Judgement however far away that is. But I have accepted God’s Son’s promise to me and I have asked him to come into my life and guide me forever. Forever is a long time and knowing me I could screw up. That is why I now ask Jesus often for guidance and some bit of wisdom to keep me going on His path, and since the Bible is what we have of God’s word I have begun reading it often. I was raised a Christian and had years within both the Presbyterian Church (of my youth) and The Eastern Orthodox Church. I was excommunicated from the Orthodox Church for taking Communion at a non-Orthodox church. I lost my friends and was supposedly cut off from the saints, etc. I have taken classes in both the Old and New Testament at a small Presbyterian college in North Carolina, and studied scriptures informally under my Orthodox priest.

All that being said, I have a brain like a sieve. I can’t remember verse and scripture but I get the ‘Big Picture’. I learn in sweeps of understanding. I can’t quote chapter and verse but I can tell you in my own words the wonder and awe that each verse unveils. I can tell you Grace shimmers in time and space. I can tell you that Grace shimmers though history. After leaving ‘The Church’, I still prayed but it was usually asking either for something to happen or not to happen. It was like putting letters in bottles and throwing them out to sea. I basically became resolved to God’s indifference or maybe my own. I was in the end responsible for giving up on God. It’s a hard thing to say but I think it is true, I gave up on God. It’s a frightening thing to realize but I never really trusted God to answer my prayers. I always wanted to, even in Orthodoxy but I never felt a sense of trusting God. Jesus and God to me were always a kind of ‘good cop’/ ‘bad cop’ routine. God scared mealways did. Wrathful, jealous, vengeful sounded like a God you shouldn’t mess with. Jesus was different. He was loving and kind and you went to him. That’s the way I felt for years. In the Trinitarian tradition the persons really meant a separate ‘person’ - so you could deal with Jesus and avoid God. That’s pretty much what I did. Jesus and The Holy Spirit were approachable, and cool, and trust worthy but God was like an abusive father who ruled by whim for a vast array of unknowable reasons. I asked my priest several times how come we were always begging for mercy. It seems in a loving home that kids don’t fall to their knees and ask for mercy every time their daddy comes in the door. It wasn’t until my Baptism on July 5th that I made a little head way in loving and trusting God. It was through saying ‘yes’ to Jesus that a new possibility of love and trust began. I have no idea why- it just made sense now.

For years I have read religious theologies and philosophy. A month or so back I started reading about the Adventist Movements in the mid 19th century. I had covered the Millerites and Second Adventists when the word Christadelphians was mentioned. I had never heard the word before nor of the movement so I began my research. I wasn’t interested in finding anything to believe in, I just love history and the social history of the mid 19th century in the U.S was a time ripe with new ideas, prophecies, and Biblical interpretations. New religions and sects were springing up across America and The Christadelphians was one I had never heard of before. The more I read the more intrigued I became. The non-Trinitarianism, the idea of a finite soul, the concept of Jesus as the human Son of God, all were ideas I had pondered in both my Presbyterian and Orthodox studies.

I can tell you exactly when everything begin to change. On June 18th I found a YouTube video by Duncan Heaster on The Christadelphian movement and its history. It was really interesting and I continued watching other videos. I wrote and asked for a NEV Bible and a copy of Bible Basics. I had watched several videos by Duncan and I just couldn’t get interested in anything else, I wanted to know more. So I started watching Bible Basics. It took three days but I watched all of them. I was so excited by seeing Christ through different eyes, newly, freshly and with a more open heart, I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t find my Bible so I just prayed. As my heart began to open God seemed to slip in with His Son. I had felt Christ’s calling before but this time it wasn’t filtered through a Church or a whole body of expectations from priests, bishops or parishioners. This time Christ and I decided no one else needed to be involved. It was a very private and personal matter (one of the reasons a testimonial is difficult for me). The lectures and way Duncan Heaster presented the Bible made something in me reawaken to Christ’s promise in a new and personal way. I knew that I wanted to be Baptized into Christ, not into ‘the Church body’ but into the Body of Christ. I had never thought much about The End Times and Last Judgement but began to consider them seriously.

I felt an urgency about the Baptism and shocked my wife when I told her I was going to Baptize myself on my 70th birthday not many days away. Duncan and I corresponded and arranged for a phone on July 5th, and through the Grace of God, talked both before and after my Baptism. What happened in the swimming pool is just between me and God. I couldn’t really express the terrible wonder of death and resurrection anyway. How still the heart becomes, the beating stopped in a moment of love. The gasp for life when emerging into Christ- the subtle knowing ‘It’s going to be ok from here on, Christ has your back’. So here I am shimmering in Grace waiting for The Last Days, praying I don’t screw up, and so happy my toes are curling.”

Bro Miles meeting for a breaking of bread with Bro Norm and Sis Sylvia Duke

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