Testimonies of Grace - Chris Faro
[One of the new categories we are creating for our church blog is "Testimonies of Grace" where we share the stories of God's triumphant work of salvation in the lives of Grace members. To get us started, I am posting the testimony of Chris Faro, a recently converted brother who was baptized this past January.]
Testimony of Grace - Chris Faro
I was born into a Christian family and have been in Baptist churches my entire life. I prayed a prayer to receive Christ when I was 4 at VBS, mostly because I didn’t want to go to Hell. I struggled with doubts a lot as a child, teenager, and on into my adult years. I was scared of death and of going to Hell. I prayed “the prayer” a few more times by the time I was 11 or 12, and then stopped doing that at that time. I went to a Christian school from 8 years old until I graduated High School, and I am a graduate of both Word of Life Bible Institute as well as Liberty University.
I continued to struggle with doubts throughout my life, and the main reason for that was that my life did not match up with what I claimed to be, even though I did not realize that at the time. Sure, I was in church every Sunday, and although I was around the things of God throughout the week, I can honestly say that there was not a personal relationship with Jesus Christ in any way. I did not read my Bible nor did I have a hunger for the Word. I did not pray except when in groups or at family meals. I lived in sin much of the week when I was not doing “church” type things.
So, I would go on in a cyclical pattern of living in sin for a time, and then I would be “broken” at a church service of some sort. Following that, I would “rededicate” my life to Christ, determining to try harder. That would normally last anywhere from 24 hours up to a few months or so, only to return back to the same old game. I am sure that I didn’t break the world record for rededications during my lifetime, but I probably gave a good run at it.
In March of last year, we had a conference at our previous church with the gentlemen from the Way of The Master, Ray Comfort, etc. By God’s working, I reluctantly went to the conference even though I didn’t have any desire to attend. For the first time in my life, I heard about the concept of True and False Conversions from the pages of Scripture and the idea that someone could have prayed a prayer to ask Jesus in their heart with the possibility that nothing at all happened. I heard about how true converts displayed the changes that come with being regenerated and how they will not willingly continue to live in sin before God.
As if that was not enough, they explained how we should evangelize by using the Ten Commandments as a guide, going through each of the Ten Commandments one explaining what they mean. I had heard all of that hundreds of times before, but this was different. I think my jaw dropped open as I suddenly felt the weight of my sin before God. I had thought that I was a Christian guy who just struggled with lust, but suddenly I was confronted with the fact that I was breaking every single one of the Ten Commandments on a regular basis. All of a sudden, my entire life began to make sense. All of the sin, the doubts, the lack of desire, and then it finally clicked. I had never repented of my sin. My life had never changed.
I went home that night and I prayed to God and for the first time ever truly repented of my sin and had a desire to never go back that way again. I did not know what to make of it at first because my theology and doctrine were all messed up from years in “cultural Christianity” without sound Biblical teaching. God gave me a desire for His Word, and for the first time it was alive to me. My wife and I spent many hours studying Scripture and listening to sermons on the Internet, and as a result, God also began to change my theology and doctrine. If there were false converts, we wanted to know why, which lead us into finally seeing in Scripture the sovereignty of God in everything, including salvation.
The puzzle pieces came together for me then. I looked back over the few months after March and realized that my life had changed. My thoughts and language had changed. The things I used to watch and listen to, I didn’t want to watch and listen to any more. God took some sins away, and then revealed many more that I never knew were even there. This change had not come because of anything I had done either. I had not put some 12-step plan into place to change myself. God had just done it in me. I realized that the only way to explain that was true regeneration.
This was tough to explain at first to others. I had been so religiously educated in my lifetime that I could talk the talk and even walk the walk around anyone. In my pride, I think I had even tricked myself into believing I was something I was not. Many people want to debate me still on whether that was the moment of my conversion. I had worked at a Christian camp for 8 summers, went to Bible school, sung in churches, have preached in churches, and was an assistant Sunday School teacher at the time that all of this happened.
I do not waste a lot of time debating whether or not last March was the moment of my actual regeneration or not, even though I believe that it was. What is more important to me is that I know what is true today in my life. I am continuing to repent of my sin, and I am putting my trust in Jesus Christ alone every day. God showed me my need of the Gospel back in March of 2008, and has continued to show me how I am in need of the Gospel and of God’s grace every day of my life. As Pastor Tom says, we are repenters and believers.
Through all of our studying of the Scriptures and listening to Biblical preaching, God revealed to us that we were not going to be fed in the way we needed to be at the church we were currently attending. We had decided, at first, to stick it out because I was teaching Sunday School and was finally teaching truth from God’s Word; moreover, we thought that most of the churches in the area would be the same as ours, just in a slightly different package. We didn’t think we could find anything around here that would match up with our newly Reformed beliefs.
One night, a friend of mine, with whom we were learning these things together, called me and said that he had found a church in North Fort Myers on the internet that matched up with our beliefs. I told him that it was a lot easier for me when I didn’t know there was anything else in the area because then I did not have to make an extremely difficult decision. Then he made it worse. He called me back ten minutes later and said that he had found another church called Grace Baptist Church in Cape Coral on the IX Marks website. I looked at the GBC Website and the map of the location. I thought there must be a mistake. You see, my wife and I live just across Pine Island Road between Skyline and Chiquita. I thought there was no way that there was a church back in here. My wife and I got into the car and drove over here that evening and sure enough, here was this building.
We only had to visit a few times before we knew that God had directed our steps to this place according to His divine purposes. It was not difficult for me to believe in the sovereignty of God in salvation and in all things in life because He was not only teaching me these truths from His Word, but He was also displaying it all to me in my life at the same time. God is so good!! We are grateful to God for directing us to be part of this body of believers and we are grateful to all of you for welcoming us into this family with open arms. We look forward to laboring and growing together with you for the Glory of our Heavenly Father and of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.