I was raised in a Pentecostal home by parents who loved the Lord.

But that did not automatically make me a Christian.  I had to have my own “come to Jesus” meeting just as both of my parents before me did!  

I can remember the touch of the Lord on my life as young as 5 or 6 years old, and knowing His Presence.  I can recall conversations between the adults in my life about God,  and the work of the ministry, and life on the mission field as my grandmother was a missionary.   I can recall my mother’s beautiful piano playing and loving to sit beside her on the piano bench as she worshipped and praised the Lord.  I can remember wonderful times of fellowship, as my parents often entertained other Christians in our home.  And oh, those prayer meetings….

But all those things pale into comparison to what happened when I was 8 years old.  It was in Riverhead, Long Island, New York.  My grandmother had some friends who lived in a trailer in their backyard, and allowed their house facing the street  to be used for the work of the ministry.  I vaguely remember going there with my Mom and Dad from time to time for a prayer meeting.   The sweet faces of the servants of God who owned that property they dedicated to the Lord’s work are forever etched in my memory.  The wife was a very sturdy, robust woman with a commanding presence about her.  The husband exuded the joy of the Lord with one of the sunniest dispositions and friendly faces I have ever known.  For some time, my Dad worked part time doing roofing jobs with him.  Now that I think of it, that must have been quite a blessing to work with such a man of God!

Durng the summer of 1960, my grandmother hosted a VBS for the neighborhood children there in Riverhead, Long Island.  I don’t recall much at all about the activities we did.  I do recall her sharing the story of Jesus with us, and using a picture very similar to the one on the left as her illustration.  

She simply shared with us how that if we would come to Jesus, and ask Him to come into our hearts, He would make us “fishers of men”.   She made the possibility of such a thing sound like the most glorious vocation to which  anyone could ever aspire.  But as she shared, I also felt the weight of my sin, and I knew that I had to take her good advice to ask Jesus into my heart!  So, I was one of the children that raised my hand, and repeated the sinner’s prayer.  Yes, I repented of my sins, and asked Jesus to be my Saviour.  

When we sang, “I will make you fishers of men, if you follow me…”  I sang it with my whole heart.  Back in those days, we’d sing a song over and over and over and again until it “took”.  That was just the Pentecostal way.  

And since that day, in good times and bad, times of great consecration as well as times of teenage rebellion, times of living very close to God and experiencing Holy Ghost fires of enthusiasm, and then also times of darkness and confusion in the struggles of life, there has not been a day when Jesus has not been on my mind.

At times He was on my mind because I was very aware that I was walking afar off, and I could sense He was not very happy with me.  Then there were those wonderful times when I felt His favor and pleasure with me because I was making good choices.   In all times and through all things, I knew He loved me unconditionally….but God’s unconditional love is all about the way HE does things, not about the way we do things.  One of His ways of loving us unconditionally is to send conviction when we are going astray from His paths of righteousness.  God works very quickly to bring us back into relationship and fellowship with Him.

This is just a brief testimony of my salvation experience, and not the unfolding of God’s purposes in my life.

In 1963, at 11 years old, I was baptized in the Holy Ghost with the evidence of speaking in other tongues.

And while I love the Pentecostal blessing, the baptism in the Holy Ghost, I know that is just the “earnest of my inheritance”.   There is so much more….

In Him we live, and move and have our being!!!    

CJ DiPIlato

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