I was raised in the Roman Catholic church in an all catholic town in Northern Maine. My father was an alcoholic and my mother a devout catholic. I was also a devout catholic and even taught catechism in the local Catholic CCD program. I was married in the Catholic church to my high school sweetheart in 1974 and we moved to the Northern Virginia area a year later.
After six years, my marriage was failing and I was no longer in love with my husband. My eyes strayed and I was tempted to be unfaithful but just could not. I knew divorce was not an option because I saw how my sister had been forbidden the sacraments because of her marriage to a divorced man and how the Catholic church had abandoned her in her hour of need. I felt helpless and life seemed too much to bear! It was then I began thinking about suicide as my only option.
My dear friend from my home town called to ask me if she could come to Virginia during her vacation. She shared with me that she had been “born again.” I warned her not to “preach to me” during her stay.
On April Fool’s Day, I went into work leaving my friend at home. As soon as I arrived, I felt moved to ask for the day off so I could spend it with my friend. My boss allowed it and off I went back home. My friend and I went to the mall to do some shopping. The mall wasn’t open yet so we sat around waiting and talking about the end times. She seemed so knowledgeable and it impressed me. I asked her what the Bible had to say about the predictions that Nostradamus had made. The conversation just consumed us so much that when the mall finally opened, we didn’t care. We continued to talk.
Little did I know, the Holy Spirit had spoken to my friend’s heart when she was packing her suitcase to come to visit. He compelled her to bring along with her a tape by Hal Lindsey discussing the end times. He is the author of “The Late Great Planet Earth.” Ironically, my husband had been reading that very same book which was lent to him by a man he worked with. She told me about this tape that she “happened” to have with her back at my house so off we went. I wanted to listen to it right then and there.
I listened to Hal Lindsey discussing what Christ had to say about the end times in the Scriptures. The Bible verses he gave were amazing to me. I could not believe that God’s Word would contain such detail and I became more and more afraid of what was to come. Mr. Lindsey also spoke about the plan of salvation! He spoke of how I could not work my way to heaven as written in Ephesians 2:8-9. He said that no one on earth could claim he was not sinner as written in Romans 3:23. He said that because of my sin, I would have to pay the penalty, which is going to hell!
WHAT? Go to hell? Me? I had always been taught that if I did not die in mortal sin, I would go to purgatory until enough prayers and indulgences had been made on my behalf, then I would be released to heaven. Hal Lindsey’s response to this was if I could get to heaven because of my good works on earth or because someone prayed me out of purgatory, then WHY in the world would God send Jesus to die for our sins? This meant that Jesus’ death on the cross was not enough??!! What a cruel and horrible thing for God the Father to do to His only Son!
I must admit that all of this sounded so foreign to me. I had never heard such a thing in my entire life! Although I taught Catholic catechism, surely I would have heard something such as this from my priest or in my catechism book. Not once had I ever imagined that the things I was taught were according to the church’s traditions and doctrines rather than what the Bible, the Word of God, taught.
I remember thinking to myself that I could honestly stand before God and tell Him that He had to let me into heaven because I had never heard about this plan of salvation. It was not in any of my catechism books. This was never something that had been taught to me … not in church nor by my parents. Certainly God would understand this and let me into heaven! At the very moment that this thought entered my mind, Hal Lindsey said
And you can’t say that you never heard the plan of salvation because I just told you so!!
My friend, I can’t begin to tell you what this did to me. I now saw that I was accountable for my sins before God and I was on my way to hell. It was at that time I knew that I could not escape so great salvation.
I was born again by the Grace of God at noon on April 1st, 1980. Praise God for His unending mercy! Not only was I saved from eternal damnation but the Lord healed my broken marriage within just a few months!
I thank God that He used my dearest childhood friend as an instrument for my salvation. Now we are not only friends but sisters in Christ. This has been a source of great comfort and blessing to me throughout the years.