My Story – How I Met Jesus

.My Personal Testimony

          I don’t know about you, but I grew up in a family environment that had a strong focus on attending church service or Sunday school every week. My mother wasn’t very happy attending a Lutheran church and my dad didn’t really think one “Christian” church was much different from the next; so, we began attending a Christian Science church when I was about 5 years old. I grew up as a good person in the eyes of most people, in a church-going family, but it was not enough: It only really provided a secular hope of a better life now. But it was shallow, hollow, empty, unfulfilling, misleading: The problem with Christian Science is, it’s like grape nuts: There’s nothing in its teachings supporting it as “Christian” or “Science”! I didn’t see Christian Science as “whacko,” and I would have defended it to the best of my ability if you had challenged me about it, until I was 20 years old. Perhaps you might defend your religon, or a belief in evolution, atheism or agnosticism, with that same determination – even though it makes very little sense to you. You believe it because that’s what you were taught to believe, right? I know the feeling…

Thank God that He had a better plan for my life than I knew to expect!

          Perhaps you grew up with a parent(s) that never saw the value of bringing you to church. My dad used to try to diffuse my frustration with Christian Science, when I stopped attending, by saying something like: “Well, we felt it was important that you learned about God and the Bible, and we feel that we did that.” Yeah, okay; but… Christian Science teachings distort every aspect of what God intends for us all to understand by a simple reading of His Word – the Bible is God’s Word to us, and He designed it to be understandable without somebody else attempting to interpret it for you! Have you truly ever tried to read it? Don’t let a public school education deprive you of a relationship with God that you were always intended to enjoy! Let’s say God did create the world; if that’s true, and He always intended to have a personal relationship with you, wouldn’t you think He would make Himself known to you? Or, at minimum, knowable? He has made His existence evident through His creation of the Universe. His primary method, though, for us to get to know Him is through the book He left for us to read, that He wrote through supernatural means: Read the Bible. I can’t urge you enough to do so. The Bible says:

The Lord is with you when you are with Him; and
if you seek Him, He will let you find Him; but

if you forsake Him, He will forsake you” (2 Chronicles 15:2).

          When I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior while attending college at C.S.U.N. (California State University, Northridge), the Bible made sense to me for the very first time – a completely new experience! People once called me “Mr. Dictionary,” “Smarty Pants,” among others. Back in the day, it was okay to ask questions from teachers in any class you attended: they believed that for every one student that asked a question, there were another 7-10 too shy to ask the very same question. I tell you this because I asked questions of all my teachers all the time, including my Sunday school teachers. When I was in high school, I came to this conclusion: If I have a 3.9 GPA, I’m not stupid. If I’m not stupid, then I should have been able to make sense out of Christian Science teachings by now; but, of all the questions I’ve asked for 12 years (since I was 5 years old) if I’ve only received a satisfactory answer 1 out of every 10 questions asked, that’s not a very good average! Therefore, there must be something wrong with Christian Science or I would have been able to make sense out of it by now! That was the beginning of the end. Your only choice at age 18 is to go to their church service; but, their standardized format is ridiculous… So, I stopped attending church altogether for a couple years. But I never really gave up on a pursuit of knowing God, and of knowing God’s Word; and I always believed the Bible was “special.” It is special, it is unique, and it is powerful – but it became even more special after I took this verse to heart… Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman, who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15).

My Turning Point:

          God had His eye on me, even in the moment when I thought my life was over. Hiking in Yosemite, I found myself in a perilous spot, seemingly no way out; but God showed me the way – and by faith, I did what I felt led to do, reaching for a hand-hold off a fissure above a 4000 foot drop with the slightest mistake and was somehow pulled up to safety on a ledge above me that was seemingly unreachable. As I sat there, doubting that I could do it, I saw my life flash before my eyes. I was in terror. And I cried out: “God, if you get me out of this jam, I’ll do whatever You ask me to do.” Of course, I attempted to forget I made such a promise to Him, to God. College life provides numerous choices to escape reality: I chose alcohol, to try to help forget. God didn’t forget; and he stayed after me – constantly. He kept sending Christian people into my life, over and over again. I couldn’t stand it. But I finally caved: “What, God? What do you want from me?”

I loved running. But I could no longer run without slowing down in total pain. I was in a “Running Conditioning” class with Dr. Barry Devine, who happened to be the father of a good friend of mine at the time, Pete Devine. He suggested I take some time off and get checked out in a Physical Therapy class. That class was led by “Christian” men (Sam Britten, Nick Breit), and so were most of their student staff. One of those students invited me to attend a Protestant church service after challenging my Christian Science “beliefs.” Simply put, she asked: “If Christian Science teaches that sin, sickness and death are unreal, then how do you explain your pain?” Of course, I didn’t really “believe” that stuff anymore; I’m not sure I ever did. How could I? It didn’t make any sense. So, I accepted the challenge to attend a church service at Grace Community Church where John MacArthur has become a well-known, highly-respected leader in the modern day era. The funny part is: she didn’t show up! She didn’t think I would come, and ended up going to church at a different time or something (I don’t really remember the “excuse.”). But I was there, and I was intrigued by the shear size of the building (I love all things architecture). I had waited for a while to meet up with this person who invited me to go to church at The Information Center, not knowing 3,500 people would come out the doors of the church flooding the patio area in a matter of minutes. I felt trapped, claustrophobic – which I am… It was weird. Christian Science churches rarely have more than 120 people in attendance. So, I was totally unprepared for that. But then a strange thing happened: another 3,500 people entered the church for a 2nd service! I waited. Nobody came to meet me. So, I took it upon myself to go in as they were closing the doors for the service to begin. I sat way in the back corner, thinking: “There is no way this preacher will ever be able to meet my needs.” And then God did His work: He had this guy, Frank, come in, sit down next to me, and… one thing led to another (I asked to borrow his pen to fill out the Visitor Information Card, which I wanted to do for “proof” I was there in case I was challenged whether I went or not).

          Frank led me to a smaller group after it was over, The College Department, trying to show me how God works through people in more personal ways than I first expected to experience at this church. And then he invited me to meet with him again. which was easy to do, because he was the leader of Fellowship of Christian Athlete’s on the campus at C.S.U.N.!!!

Yes, God works in mysterious ways. Believe it. Small world? Just God, and the way He chooses to do things:

through relationship, by coincidence, with irony.

          When I met with Frank Friedmann, two days later, at an FCA function, he shared the Gospel with me, the “good news” of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior, and I understood what he was telling me to be true. The Holy Spirit affirmed in my heart and my mind that what he was telling me was true. The Bible came alive! I knew instantly that what Frank was sharing with me was what God means to communicate through the Bible with each and every person. But I balked. I felt the need to challenge my mother and her Christian Science belief system one last time. And that didn’t happen until the next day, Wednesday. When she couldn’t refute what I related to her from The Bible, I told her what I was going to do, and I went upstairs and knelt beside my bed and prayed to God, asking Him to accept me as a lost and lonely sinner, in need of salvation I knew in that moment I had found peace with God by receiving Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, which is available to you today too. And that’s it. You are no less special, unique, significant, than I am. You are not more of a sinner, or less of a sinner, in God’s eyes, than I am. If it is your desire to go to heaven when you die, God will do that for you – “if you seek Him, He will let you find Him” (remember?) Not quite a story in “a nutshell.” Sorry about that. But if you read this far, you are probably ready to consider Christ as the right choice for your life this very day.

          Praise God from whom all blessings flow! May you find His grace to be sufficient for you. It’s 2008, and I am recalling events above that occurred 25 years ago! God’s done some amazing things in my life since that time. I have battled “Valley Fever” since 1984, and if that’s what it took for my mother to come to faith in God then so be it. I’m living on “borrowed time.” I didn’t expect to see my 30th birthday in 1990. I willingly live today with the difficulties I have had to endure from Valley Fever if that’s what it took for my mother to understand that “sin, sickness and death” are real, not unreal like Christian Science teaches. Christian Science teaches “Jesus was not the Christ” (Miscellaneous Writings, p.84, line 12), and that puts Mrs. Eddy and her religion in jeopardy because of the warning in 1 John 2:22 that those who do are of the antichrist. My younger sister, who never listened to my advice growing up, came to Christ a year after I did – at one point saying, “If all you are asking me to do is read the Bible for myself, then I will; just stop talking to me about it.” So, I stopped talking with her about it. I reasoned, “God will do a better job of saving her than I could ever do.” And eventually she came to newness of life because of the love of the people she met when she began to attend a local Friday Night, College Department, Bible Study. God reveals Himself to each of us in a different way, and usually through the storm in our life we are battling with at the time. Is God trying to get your attention?

If I can be an encouragement to you, let me know. Good luck to you in your journey, as you seek an everlasting relationship with God. May God’s grace be with you, Ron Runsvold. That was my concise, short testimony! The long version is also available.

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