By: Jim Elam
True riches is having a love for God and His Word and the advancement of His Kingdom in the lives of others that no amount of money can buy. These riches stretch into eternity. Here is my brief testimony of how God has truly made me to become one of the wealthiest people in the world.
For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich. ' 2 Corinthians 8:9
I'll start in my early childhood. At the age of seven, I joined some of my friends and we went to the Salvation Army for services and youth group. I remember them being very organized and teaching us about Jesus. My parents were not very religious, so after we moved away I soon forgot about Jesus.
I was sexually molested in the fourth grade by my teacher, and many other times throughout my teenage years by others.
I was 13 years old when my dad died. My mother and I had to move to Dayton, Ohio and live with my eldest brother, because we didn't have any money. Social Security from my dad hadn't started yet. For the first year we had to stay with my brother because there was a one year waiting time before we could get into low income housing. My brother and his family were nudists. They had a lot of nude pictures and movies in their home. My nephew knew exactly where they were hidden and was only too happy to show them to me.
At age 17 I ran away from my brother's house because he was about to whip me yet again with a large razor strap for something my nephew (who was three years older than I) had done. I just couldn't take it anymore. I climbed a tree and hid until my brother went to work, and then went home, which was on the other side of Dayton. When I got there my mom and I went down to the Navy recruiter's office and I signed up.
My formative years were not what they should have been. I saw and received a lot of verbal and physical abuse, and was introduce to way too much sexual situations and abuse. I didn't know how to cope with all this, and I believe now that God used the Navy to get me away from the abuse. God uses even bad situations to His advantage. He has a master plan for all of us. Jeremiah 29:11-13 says: 'I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.' 'You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.' I believe this was the beginning of His work in me.
When I got to boot camp in Great Lakes, Illinois, they were naturally verbally abusive, and I rebelled. I got into some minor trouble while there.
At 18 I was sent to Viet Nam. I had to grow up quick or die. This wasn't an easy task, but I made it by the grace of God. I still didn't know that God was with me though. I didn't know God at all. But I would! I will never forget all the killing and the dead bodies, or the mortars going over my head landing nearby. I could have easily been killed in combat. But God had other plans for me. I kept thinking of all the times of abuse both verbal and physical and sexual even in a war zone. I vowed to never do that to my children or allow it to happen to them if I ever had any. I wasn't sure if I even wanted any at that time. I was afraid of what could happen.
I stayed away from sex until I was 19. Even then I only had sex once and that was with a woman who I met at the USO in Hollywood, California right before I left for Viet Nam that time. She wrote me a letter and told me that she was pregnant and upon my return I married her.
I was very insecure at this time in my life, and she, like my father and eldest brother, was very abusive verbally. As a child I witnessed a lot of verbal and physical fighting between my sister and her husband. I always told myself that I would never hit a woman and I haven't. Even with my ex-wife's abuse I never hit her. We got divorced after seven years. I blame myself just as much as her because I was so insecure at that time. I was never taught how to treat a woman or even how to act around women. The only thing I was taught through witnessing it was abusive behavior. But God still had plans for me.
When I met my present wife, Mary, she was going to a church named ABC church. I went with her for about a year until my ex-wife started coming and it got awkward with her and us both there so we left. We didn't start going to church again until after we were married. I had two children with my first wife and loved them dearly. They were the reason I stayed with my first wife so long. Every time I left I would come back because I missed them.
My two eldest children were visiting me on weekends and were going to a church in the neighborhood with some of their friends. They asked us to go with them one day and we did. We liked the church and later became members. It was just a little country church in a great big city (Los Angles). I got very involved with the church and after a few years was voted in as the Pastor Parish Committee Chairman, and a member of the Administrative Board (in some churches this would be an elder. In this church the pastors were the elders). But I still wasn't saved. However, God was working in me. He has great patience, but He won't wait forever for you to accept Him.
In 1991 we moved to Michigan and after settling down, started looking for a church in the neighborhood. We found one just a couple of miles away. My two eldest children were adults now and stayed in California. My wife and I now had three children of our own and wanted a church with a good children's program. I believe God led us to the church and to our home. I also got very involved with this church and eventually became the Chairman of the Administrative Board (the same a s chief elder in other churches). I remember feeling very spiritual every time I came to church and even sometimes at home. I was coming closer to God. This is when Satan came at me the hardest. I didn't even realize that it was Satan. The seed he planted in me in my formative years was now coming to fruit. While I was in church, or on church activities my new found faith was strong enough to resist him. But outside of church or its activities I was very weak. It's like I had two sides of me. One was Christian and the other was evil. I had demons. In my alter ego I was acting out all the things that happened in my youth. I became sexually immoral. I thought of only myself and molested my daughter. Not just once either. I did it over a period of about three years.
I felt really bad about this. I really didn't know what to do about it. I was a manipulative, self-center control freak. I feel into the same trap that I promised myself I never would. I was lost. This is no excuse for what I did though. I knew what I was doing and still I did it. I thought I was a Christian. But Christians don't molest their daughters. Satan had a good hold on me.
I contemplated suicide many times. One time even taking my car up to 90 MPH and was going to let go of the wheel. But God had different plans for me. He stopped me cold. It seemed like I could hear the voice of God say, 'Do as I say.' I was scared. I had never actually heard His voice before. It scared me so much that I finally listened to what He had to say. He said, 'Go home and call a psychologist and make an appointment.' I had thought about doing this before but was afraid that he would turn me in. But I did want help. Thank God I listened to Him. He said, 'Don't worry about prison; leave that to Me.'
Had I not come to prison when I did, I would more than likely be dead. I would have taken my own life. I couldn't go on doing the same things; I just couldn't. God pulled me out of the mire and put me in a place where He could teach me and mold me into His likeness; His child. Thank you Jesus! He loved me even though I was deep into sin and couldn't find my way out. He has taken a broken man who had done some horrible things and saved him from a sure death and brought him into His fold. He put His loving arms around me and told me He loved me.
When I got home from my experience with God my wife told me that my daughter had told a pastor what I had done, and she was now at the Pastor's house. I left and went to my brother's house along with my middle son who I think was afraid that I might commit suicide. God immediately got me into His Word and led me to psalm 51. After reading that scripture I was on my way. My sin was preeminently against God. I confessed my sins that night and my son and I prayed. God gave me peace that night and I was able to sleep for a change. Although I knew from reading that scripture that God had forgiven me for my sins, I knew I needed more. I just didn't know what. During that eight days while I was waiting to be arrested my son and I continued to pray and read the bible.
After I was arrested and put in county jail I continued to pray and do five different bible studies. I was searching for the truth but didn't really know how to do it.
After coming to prison I continued with the Bible studies. While in quarantine I was reading about 100 chapters in the Bible a day. The problem was I was just reading words. I had no understanding of the words. I still didn't understand just what it was God was trying to teach me.
In October of 2004, God sent me to prison. There is where I got my real start in my walk with Christ. I had real problems. I couldn't get over what I had done. I just couldn't understand how I could molest my precious daughter. How could I hurt the ones I love so much? How could I let Satan take me to this place in my life? I was a child molester. How did I let this happen to me? Worse ' how could I let this happen to my daughter and to my family? It was there that God started showing me the WHY and the HOW answers. That prison was full of loving Christian brothers and a Chaplain who cared about my lost soul.
After being there awhile I asked about being baptized with John's baptism (water baptism). I had seen a few other brothers baptized and how they changed, and I wanted this too. I wanted Jesus' love. Little did I know that I already had it. I thought that no one could ever love me again after all the horrible things I had done. I was wrong. Not only did Jesus love me, but so did my brothers in Christ.
When I was baptized and came up out of the water it was such a great feeling of happiness that I will never forget it. I was happier at that moment than at any other time in my life. Up until that time, the happiest moments in my life were when my eldest two children were born. After that it was my marriage to my wonderful wife Mary. Then it was the birth of my three children with Mary with whom I was able to be present at their birth. But this beat all of those. I didn't think I could be happier than this.
Two of my brothers in Christ in that prison were talking with me and helping me in my walk with Jesus, and told me of another baptism ' the baptism of the Holy Spirit. After some discussion and some counseling, we met out in the back 40 of the prison property and they used a cloth anointed with olive oil and placed it on my forehead and began to pray. Soon their prayer turned to praying in tongues. Soon after that I felt a great surge of power and felt something coming up out of my body, and then like a heavy burden was lifted from me. Then I felt really light, almost like I could float in air and an extremely happy feeling throughout my person. It was the filling of the Holy Spirit. I began praying in tongues although it was softly at first. They told me to just let it go and I did. I was filled with joy that I couldn't stop crying. The tears continued to flow and still do every time I am praying in tongues. It is such a joy to know that the Spirit is praying for the things that I don't know to pray for.
I had many health problems before that day. One of which was angina attacks. I had been to the hospital many times of with this problem and with very high blood pressure. Since the filling of the Holy Spirit I haven't had one attack and my blood pressure has been normal.
Since that day I have grown tremendously in my walk with Christ. I have learned that I must forgive everyone who has hurt me in the past. This was no easy task. There were a lot of people who had hurt me. I had real problems obeying this command that the Holy Spirit had given me. However, I finally did, and this has really helped me to understand how my family feels about me; how they must be struggling with forgiving me. But you must if you want His inner peace.
He has shown me many truths about sin in His word. My knowledge, my understanding and most importantly wisdom to apply what He is teaching me to my life and to share with others has greatly increased. Thank you Jesus!
I have had to more healings since then. I am a diabetic and have neuropathy in my legs. One day I could barely walk to service, and just barely made it to the door. Some brothers helped me inside and to a chair. During the service they called me up front and laid hands on me and prayed over me. The pain left and I walked back to my chair with no help and no pain.
This happened one more time only this time it was my back, my hip and my legs were hurting bad. I receive the healing once again. Isaiah 53:5 says, 'But He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed.' This can happen for you too. Jesus died for all our sins, past, present and future. If you just ask and believe, He will heal you too. Not just the pains in your body, but also the pain in your heart.
Ask Jesus to take from you everything that is not according to His will. He will do it if you only ask and keep trusting; and be specific about what you want Him to take (ie; cursing, lying, etc). Joel 2:12-13 says: ' ' return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.' Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and compassionate, and he relents form sending calamity.
Each morning I get down on my knees and praise Him and thank Him for all He has done for me. I place everything at His feet. All my troubles, cares, worries about my family and my friends, even my very life. He has promised to take these things, if I only ask. I no longer worry about anything. I also pray for my family and friends and Christian brothers and ask God to put a protective hedge around them. I really give Him everything that bothers me or that might tear me down, and in return, He gives me His peace. I am at peace with the world and with myself and most importantly with Him. I love Jesus more than life itself. I would gladly go to be with Him any time He calls me home. I know that when my earthly body dies my spirit will go to be with God. I no longer have to worry about my sins. When I confessed and repented of them, he cast them out and promised to remember them no more. I am a child of God.
I recently graduated form Spiritual Warfare class where we learned about putting on the full armor of God (See Ephesians 6:10-18). In this class I learned about the power we have over Satan. He has no power over me except for the power I give him, which I had been doing most of my adult life. But no more. As long as I put on the full armor of God everyday, I can stand my ground against Satan. It seems the closer I get to God and the more I learn about his ways, the stronger Satan's attacks are against me. But armed with the full armor of God, I can chase him away.
I just say, 'Look Satan, I am a child of God and He takes care of His own. I order you out of my thoughts and out of my life right now!' Guess what? It works! Try this yourself. You will see John 6:29 tells us to 'believe' in the One He has sent (Jesus). I believe in Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior! I also plead the precious blood of Jesus over my family and friends and Christian brothers when I pray.
On the day I was baptized in the Holy Spirit I was delivered from sin. I'm not saying I no longer sin, just that I no longer want to sin. I hate sin because my Father in heaven hates sin. When I do sin, I ask forgiveness and I repent. Unlike before when my guilt overwhelmed me and was too heavy to bear (See: Palms 38:4). My guilt has been taken away and my sins atoned for (See: Isaiah 6:7). I am finally free. Maybe not from the prison walls yet, but from the prison of my sins.
In Hebrew 10:22 it says, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our heart sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. I am finally saved! Praise God! I now wake up singing praises to God in my mind. I pray in the Spirit on all occasions. I really love to pray for others. Intercessory prayer is very important.
I have really come along way. It's true: I did what they accused me of. However, I am no longer that man. Jesus is transforming me into His likeness. I am now writing Bible studies using many other commentaries that the Holy Spirit has led me to, along with scriptures. If someone would have told me that I would be doing this only a short two years ago I would have laughed at them. I am truly a child of God and co-heir to His throne. You can have the peace I now have. It's yours for the asking. Just believe!
While trying to write and now type this study, Satan didn't want me to do it. He came at me from all sides. He made it almost impossible for me to get the unit word processor. I prayed for God to rectify this problem and He had my children send me this one I'm using. It is a wonderful word processor. I really like it, and it is easy to use. I prayed, knowing that God would provide. God will not give you a work to do without giving you the tools to do it with.
God has been very good to me. He blessed me with a wonderful family, and then I messed that up. However, I know He will give me another chance with them. And when He does I want to be ready to be the Husband my wife deserves and the father my children deserve. I know I can do this with the help of God. All I have to do is keep myself in His Word and pray and be who He wants me to be, and put self out of the way. I know this time I will get it right because God is by my side now.
I have seen all the deep pain I have caused. I have hurt my family deeply and could never hurt them again. I am a new man in Christ and the old man has been put away. In March of 2007 I saw the parole board, and they gave me a 12 month continuance, but that didn't even bother me. I'm going home to my family to get a fresh start when God decides it is time and He is through with me here in prison, and not a day before or a day after. He is in control of everything. I have complete faith in God with all things.
Shalom my friends and fellows Christians and those who do not know Christ. May his peace be with you always.
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"And this gospel of the
died for sinners] shall be preached in all the world for a witness
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(Quote from Jesus Himself: Matthew 24:14).
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