As a young boy, I did not have the privilege of growing up in a Christian home. I never heard the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. I never heard about John 3:16, or that I was a sinner before a holy God, and needed to be saved. I was a lost soul and didn’t know it.
Being Italian, I was raised from childhood in the Roman Catholic religion and partook in many Roman Catholic sacraments, from infant baptism all the way through to confirmation. My parents sent me to catechism classes on weekends because I was attending public elementary school. Roman Catholic priests and nuns taught me according to their religion and beliefs. They taught me that Christ was in the wafer when it was served at the mass, and that Mary was the mother of God along with other RC doctrines. I was encouraged also to go to confession on Friday evenings.
As time went by, however, I became less interested in religion and more interested in finishing up school and getting a job. I was wrapped up in my own little world, and I did not believe in God. He just wasn’t real to me.
At age twenty-two, the Lord began to intervene in my life with a desire to know if God really existed. I wanted to find truth and the origin of man, so I began my search by asking different people about their beliefs and opinions on the existence of God. Some said, “There is no God; there’s no proof of God.” Others told me, “Man evolved and came from apes,” and “It’s not important, so don’t worry.” But I was worried, and was determined to find the truth. I met a Christian who gave me some literature on being “born again” and he witnessed to me about Christ, but it still had little effect on me.
I shared my concerns with my girlfriend, Pina, who is now my wife. Both of us were looking to each other for answers to our questions. For two months, I kept feeling a compulsion to believe in God, but I refused to submit. As the power became stronger, I became more stubborn. I could not accept that God was real, but I became fearful because I realized I was being confronted by my Maker and I was fighting against Him. I was resisting His Spirit who was striving with me. I didn’t want God in my life, and I didn’t want to be holy. That settled it.
In retrospect, I realize how foolish I was to say “No” to God. He could have easily taken my breath away and cast me into hell in a moment, but I am so thankful He had other plans for me. In that state of rebellion one Sunday night in October 1982, I got into bed and felt very uncomfortable about my distance from God. I was convicted of my sin. At that moment, the Lord gave me the power to believe and I became aware of the sovereign power of God overcoming my own will.
The next morning, I knew I was a changed person. I began reading the New Testament, and for the first time, I understood it. It became real to me. God Himself had delivered me from unbelief. God had saved me. My eyes were open to the fact that Christ had died for me, rose again for me, and was alive forevermore for me. Heaven, hell, and sin became so real as I continued reading God’s Word. I realized that a supernatural change had taken place within me. I wanted the things I hated before, and I hated the sins I liked before. My speech changed; my attitude changed. I began to have a new out-look on life. I began to have a love for God and His Word, and a new love for God’s people. In other words, the apostle Paul’s words described me to a tee: “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17). God made me a new creature by saving my soul. My sin was under the blood of Christ and my heart was set on knowing and serving God.
Rev. Tony D’Addurno is minister of Barrie FPC, Ontario, Canada