Straight from Chungju, South Korea – we asked American Millennial Jeremy Brown to share his testimony. He moved to South Korea years ago to teach English and has a unique perspective “from the outside in” on faith in America and among American Millennials. Here is his testimony of faith – but look forward to hearing more from him soon!
My Testimony In Theology – Jeremy Brown
November 19, 1995 was the day; a Sunday at church that forever changed my life. It was a short part of an otherwise forgettable day of church routine for my 8-year-old self.
Included in the service on this day was a dramatic depiction of “Hell” from the theater department at the church. It may have been an excerpt from the annual drama production that concluded only a few weeks earlier in October, but I don’t remember.
Actually, what I remember about the scene content is very faint, but with the notion of the consequences dramatically presented before me, I began to come to an understanding that my refusal of salvation in Jesus Christ would lead to my ultimate destruction. What I do vividly recall, upon watching the dramatic scene, is the distinct feeling of the Holy Spirit calling me to repent, surrender, and accept Jesus Christ as my Savior.
That afternoon in the living room of my family’s home, I remember talking with my parents. Unsure of what words I ought to pray to God to receive Salvation, I simply read the words printed in the bulletin for the “Sinner’s Prayer.” Again, I couldn’t tell you the specific words I read or what my prayer sounded like. The only thing I can say is that it was the genuine faith of an 8-year-old boy responding to the prompting of the Holy Spirit.
I have experienced both blessings and difficulties in becoming a Christian at such a young age. One of the difficulties is not having any true idea beforehand of what all becoming a Christian may entail. However, I never questioned whether my salvation was genuine until I was about 20 years old.
At that time, someone challenged me to examine my testimony of salvation at 8 years old in light of some choices I had been justifying in my life. So, I went off alone and urgently prayed to God. I prayed that God would reveal to me any aspect of my testimony that was not authentic. Furthermore, I prayed if it was not authentic, that I wanted to make it so. I heard the voice of the Holy Spirit respond to my receptive heart with: “Don’t worry. You are saved. However, you must be discipled.”
I have learned much in my 21 years as a Christian about God and his Word. I have much more to learn. When I was 8 years old, I could hardly articulate my faith in Jesus Christ that led to my salvation. I just knew I was a sinner in need of salvation from my own nature and Hell, and that Jesus was the only way salvation was possible. In years since, I have come to understand what actually happened on that November day:
I repented and surrendered to accept Jesus Christ as Savior because that is what I understood. Since, I have come to understand that a Christian, through discipleship, comes to learn repentance and daily surrender to accept Jesus Christ as Lord also. They learn that this is the process of sanctification and is painfully ongoing this side of eternity.
I have met many folks in recent years that grew up in a denomination of church tradition who once believed in God but have since grown disillusioned with Christianity and churches. Some are less confrontational about it than others, but through these meetings the Lord has gradually confirmed to my heart the authenticity of my experience that November day. I can’t speak to what these folks I have met believed in, but I can speak to what I’ve believed since I was 8 years old:
Though I can be defiant in my daily choices, I never once have doubted that I repented and surrendered to Jesus Christ as the only possible path to salvation. Furthermore, I surrendered to the Holy Bible as God’s Word. I know many others claim these things also. Perhaps they grow up being taught the same things in church or family that I was taught and they give the same mental assent to these notions I give. However, I have come to understand another major aspect of my testimony important to share.
I didn’t become a Christian by choosing. I don’t mean I was forced against my will. I consciously made a decision. What I mean is my decision was not to want God’s salvation, which he would freely give; getting something for nothing never occurred to me. God’s salvation didn’t come from mentally agreeing with Jesus or the Bible. It didn’t even come just because I was repentant that I was a sinner. I came to understand God provided the way for salvation solely and wholly through the death, burial and resurrection of His only Son Jesus Christ, and I was rejecting that salvation by choosing not to surrender to Him. I didn’t become a Christian by choosing – I became one by surrendering.
So when I say at the age of 8 I repented and surrendered to God in Jesus Christ, I truly meant it. I didn’t merely agree that Jesus was Savior of humanity and the Bible was God’s Word. To do that only would subject Jesus and God’s Word to my own understanding, “putting God into a box” of my creation so I could believe what I wanted about him. Rather, I surrendered even my understanding of Jesus, God, and his Word to God. God, Jesus, salvation, heaven, blessings, etc. have never been means to my own glory or my own ends. They weren’t things I wanted – they were a place, a relationship, I wanted to be in. They were the end, not the means – and I had to surrender to get there.
Pictured: Jeremy with the crew, bowling in 2011 – hard to believe we’ve know each other so long! Proud of you, brother!