What could change the faith of a Catholic from birth (and former altar boy) in his 38th year? The answer is the grace and power of God and His Word, the Holy Scriptures! Once a fiercely independent electrical engineer, successful businessman, married fifteen years with two children, I had gotten myself into financial and marital trouble. I had always prided myself in having my life in control. I was the “middle child” of five boys, and I felt I was the most secure in life. I had always tried to balance life’s priorities, including religion, but things slowly got away from me. I never truly drifted from going to Mass, or practicing my Catholic faith, but I did go through periods where other things became more important.
Shirking My Home Responsibilities
We always tried to go to Saturday evening Mass so we would not “mess up” our Sundays. This left me free to do whatever I desired on that day—which was often devoted to “me.” With the pressures of our second child, lots of business travel, and a slowly building line of credit card debt, I would often retreat to my hobbies on the weekend. This was my way of escaping my responsibilities of child rearing and the load was being unfairly dumped on my wife. This probably went on for a few years. However, it finally reached the “melting point” and she erupted. After having my wife give me an ultimatum, I agreed to go to marriage counseling.
This went on for a few months. Since I agreed to go to marriage counseling and drop my hobbies, things were going a lot better between my wife and me. She told me that an upcoming “Christian Women’s Conference” was being held and she wanted to go with a friend from her work place. I said, “Sure, go and have a good time, you deserve a night away,” and then seriously added, “but don’t you come back a Jesus freak or anything like that. OK?” My wife came back from the conference, and she never spoke a word about it other than she had enjoyed the time away. However, I did notice a change in her behavior, and it was for the better. She began to be more pleasant and agreeable, and I certainly was not going to argue about that. She also began bringing children’s Bible stories into the home and started reading them to the kids at night. She changed the radio from playing my “heavy metal” station to a “Christian” station with songs about Jesus. The whole home atmosphere began to change to a more serene and calm one, which was much different than the previous cold silence and quiet anger that had been hanging so heavily there. This just convicted me even more. It was as if my wife was getting her life in order, but I was still lagging behind. She gave me a six cassette tape series entitled “The Man Who Would Be Christ” from a Christian pastor and teacher by the name of John MacArthur. I was fascinated by this series, as I had never before heard someone actually “teach” Bible passages. The topic was about the antichrist; I had never known what the Bible had to say about this fellow. What I knew about him was from Hollywood and movies like “The Omen.” Daily, my wife had been going to Mass, and after we returned from Church one Sunday, she confessed that she just was not “getting anything out of it.” I countered with, “Well, that’s because we probably haven’t been putting enough into it.”
My wife was actually becoming the spiritual leader of our family and I knew that was not right; that was supposed to be my role! And with that, I endeavored to become as spiritual as I could be. In typical “engineer” fashion, I dove headfirst into being as devout a Catholic as I knew how, even to the point of copying my mother and saying a rosary before bedtime each night. I then figured that the best way would be to follow the example of my godfather. He had just recently become a deacon in a Catholic church in my hometown, New Orleans. I sought out my local priest and a deacon and inquired of them as to what was required for me to become a Catholic deacon. However, I was gently persuaded by the deacon to, “Wait until your two boys get a little older.” I can honestly say that I was disappointed, but I went to a local bookstore anyway and bought several books on Catholic Church history along with the Catholic Catechism. I then began to study Catholic Church history and Catholic teachings while seriously reading the Bible. To my amazement, I finally began to understand the New Testament, as the Lord’s word urges us, “Seek the Lord, and his strength: seek his face evermore. Remember his marvellous works that he hath done; his wonders, and the judgments of his mouth.” Now, I had read portions of the New Testament and liked them. While in Catholic high school religion classes all had been dry and hard, not making much sense to me at the time.
A New Understanding
I found myself really enjoying this picture of Jesus that I had not “seen” before. Every time the self-righteous religious leaders of His day tried to pin Him down, He came back with amazing answers and replies. I did not realize it at the time, but I was slowly starting to love this biblical Jesus. Moreover, this I would have to attribute to God’s work in my heart. For John said, “We love him, because he first loved us. He spoke with compassion to sinners like me, and He had a very simple message. He was telling people that He had come to save sinners, and they needed to repent and believe in Him, otherwise, they were going to suffer eternal punishment. I was amazed that the message was twofold and straightforward. He did not leave any room for other choices. It was either Jesus Christ or nothing! Why had I never seen that message before?
I also saw the Apostles in a new light. The Catholic Church taught me that they were ‘godlike’ saints, and I had always prayed to marble statues of them as I grew up. However, in the New Testament, I saw simple men, bumbling and blundering along as they followed Jesus. They were actually funny, and I would often catch myself yelling at the pages of Scripture, “Hey guys, don’t you see what Jesus meant by that? How come you guys don’t get it? Yet, I see what He is saying—so clearly!
Meanwhile, as I continued reading Catholic Church history and the New Testament at the same time, I began to grow very uneasy. I did not see certain Catholic teachings in the New Testament, i.e., a continuing Levitical priesthood, worshiping Mary, purgatory, saying the Rosary, praying to the saints, etc., and my uneasiness began to increase. What was going on here? I did not expect my feelings to be going in this direction. I was just trying to find Jesus and get my life straightened out; I was not looking for problems with my religious background. My continued reading of the Bible showed me that an individual is made right before God by the grace of God through faith alone in His Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus said He was the only way that a person could ever get into heaven. I could not find any mention of being a Catholic, Evangelical, or any other faith anywhere in the New Testament. I simply saw that the first believers were called “Christians” and they believed what Jesus Christ taught them.
The Catholic Church against the Bible
I began to seriously pray and call out to God to help me sort out what was happening here. Continued prayer and study showed me that the Catholic Church taught a different way to be saved than what Scripture boldly declared. The Catholic Church taught that it started at baptism, which made you “clean” from original sin, and then you continued to cooperate with God by continuously receiving the Sacraments for the rest of your life. At no time in your life could you ever be certain of going to heaven, as that was called the “sin of presumption.” Committing a mortal sin at any time put you in grave danger of directly going to hell when you died—unless you hurried to the confessional and received the sacramental absolution from a priest. Missing Mass or a Holy Day of Obligation was a mortal sin, and I could not even tell you what the Holy Days of Obligation during the year were, even if my life depended on it. The Bible, on the other hand, stated that we are saved as soon as we repent of our sins and believe in Jesus Christ. It was an immediate thing, and once the transaction occurred, it was irreversible.
The Bible states that you can absolutely know you have eternal life, no doubt whatsoever! How could the Catholic Church’s teachings be completely opposite of what the Bible taught? Of these two, one had to be wrong, because they both could not be right. They are diametrically opposed to one another. I finally began to share these things with my wife and she confessed that she had always felt something “wasn’t quite right with the Catholic teachings” with which she had been raised. I was shocked! I had never questioned Rome and her teachings. She was the Church, the only one true Church. She taught that there was no salvation outside of her. If you were not a Catholic, you were going to hell; it was just that simple. Did we dare to keep talking about these things? We had both been raised Catholic in New Orleans. All of our extended family was Catholic. We had two priests at our wedding; our sons were both baptized at the church where she and I had attended while growing up. We were actually questioning the Church we had loved, respected, and believed since childhood. Could all those Sisters, Brothers, and priests that had taught us been wrong? Did they see what we were seeing? Did they even read their Bibles? Surely, they had taken the time to compare what the teachings of the Church were as compared to the Holy Scripture, or had they?
Then my wife told me the details of her night at the Christian Women’s Conference. She had heard the Gospel message for the first time, and she had repented of her sins and believed in the promises Jesus stated in the Bible. She was “saved!” She had done exactly what I had just been reading in the Book of Romans. She called upon the Lord and the transaction had occurred! I thought, “Good grief!” What in the world was happening? I thrust myself even deeper into reading the Scripture and the Catholic Church’s teachings. I had to be sure. I had to be absolutely certain. After a few days, I finally realized that as the spiritual leader of my family, I had a decision to make. Would I lead my family based on Rome’s teachings, and traditions, or would I stand on God’s Word alone? Whom would I trust? With their eternal destiny at stake, I could not afford to be wrong. In the home we were living in at that time, my bathroom faced east. Early in the morning, it would be flooded with a beautiful yellow sunlight so that I did not have to switch on the electric light. This specific morning, I talked to God in a way I had never done before. I begged forgiveness for my sins that had caused Him to send Jesus Christ to die in my place on the cross of Calvary. I told Him that I was going to totally trust Him and the promises that I had read in His Word. He would be my Lord and Savior, and I would forever be His servant from that time forward. My whole trust for this life, the next life, and my family’s would be in His hands. I promised I would never fall for the teachings of men ever again, only what His Word, the Scriptures taught. I rejected Roman Catholicism forever. I felt my sins and guilt being washed away.
I know that my testimony is not the norm. All of what I described above happened over about an eight-week period. God healed our marriage. We horrified the marriage counselor by telling her that God had intervened, He had forgiven us, we had both forgiven each other, and our sessions were going to be abruptly ending. She was not a happy camper about that! She was convinced that I had found a new “scam” and was worried I would hide behind the Bible instead of facing my “real” problems. We recovered unscathed from the financial problems; having learned from those painful lessons, we have remained practically debt-free since then. In the years following, our two children have professed Christ as their Savior. We began immediately fellowshipping at a small Baptist church in July 1993; we were both baptized the following month. I became a deacon in 1994. I realized that God had answered my prayer to become a deacon, but it was in the time and place He had planned for me all along.
What an awesome God! I would later be astounded to read in First Peter 3:1-2 what had happened to me. It states, “Wives, likewise be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the Word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives, when they observe your chaste conduct accompanied by fear (reverence for the Lord).” That is exactly what happened!My wife was saved first, and then through her chaste conduct and her newfound reverence for Jesus Christ, I was won over to the Lord. Amazing! We would go on to assist in the planting of a new church in October of 1998. My wife was the church secretary, and I became a teaching elder, where I presently teach the Scripture and preach whenever the pastor is on vacation. My wife and I belong to a group called “Ex-Catholics for Christ.” Our love and concern for those still unknowingly “trapped” in the false gospel of Roman Catholicism is great. My seventy-year-old parents, once lifelong Catholics, left the Catholic Church in 1995, and now attend a Bible teaching/preaching church in New Orleans.
My oldest brother and his wife also left the Catholic Church, only leaving my three remaining brothers to be saved by the Lord at the appointed time. That is our prayer. I now know, firsthand, how the Apostle Paul must have felt. After many years in Judaism, with its rules and rituals and becoming a Pharisee, the Lord instantly “saved” him while traveling on the road to Damascus. After learning the truth, his greatest burden was to share what the Lord had revealed to him with his lost, Jewish kinsmen. Just as those Jews who were zealous for the traditions of men rejected Paul, so have those who follow the Roman Catholic traditions of men rejected me at times. However, that does not stop me from following the direct command of the Lord found in the book of Matthew. We are to witness to all that will listen; my heart especially beats stronger for my former fellow Roman Catholics. I now know God was calling me to Himself; all the while I thought “I” was calling out to Him. Praise His Holy name; He is so faithful—just as He promises. “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.” I ask that this testimony of God’s amazing grace be used for His glory and honor.
Autumn 2014 Update: My father went home to be with the Lord in December 2003 at age 80, and my mother followed him into Heaven at age 88 in 2011. They both remained believers to the end. Praise God! One of my three remaining brothers accepted Christ, left the Roman Catholic Church, and is now obediently serving God outside of Houston, Texas. That leaves two remaining brothers, whom we pray for continuously.
One thing that I left out of my testimony details was that, when my Dad and Mom were at the “asking questions” stage, they reached a point that they REALLY wanted to know the answers. So, I offered to fly to New Orleans, LA from Denver, CO to join them for a joint meeting with their local priest – a meeting where they could ask him all the questions they now had. They agreed, but were too afraid to ask the priest themselves, so they wanted me to do all the talking. I did, and it turned out to be a pivotal point for the two of them! When the priest asked my dad, “Has this discussion affected your faith?” he responded, “Yes, it has. For every question Stan asked you, you began with ‘the Catholic Church teaches…’ whereas he was able to show us the answers directly from the Bible. So yes indeed, it has!” I was never so proud of my dad in my entire life! For seventy-plus-year-old “lifelong” Catholics to interact with a priest in that manner was nothing short of miraculous.
I pray that my dad and mom’s willingness to seek the Lord, to overcome their fear of asking the priest about their faith, what the Church teaches, and where it is found in the Bible, will give you, the reader who is questioning these things, a God-given confidence to do the same.
Over the past 20 years, as people have read my testimony and felt compelled to email me, their responses fall into two distinct categories:
- First are those who are argumentative and combative—saying such things as, “You don’t know what the Roman Catholic Church teaches,” or “I was born a Catholic and I will die a Catholic.” When I feel prompted by the Holy Spirit to engage those folks — showing them the CLEAR teachings of the Roman Catholic Church in the Catholic Catechism — they almost always refuse to accept that the teachings are DIFFERENT from what the Bible teaches. While this breaks my heart, the Bible also tells me that this is spiritual blindness, and no amount of coaxing on my part will make any headway. I must totally turn this over to the Lord, although my heart cries out for them to stop looking to man-made religious rules and traditions, but instead put their faith and trust in Jesus Christ alone.
- But, second, there are those who read my testimony and who email me with encouraging words such as, “I, too, have been thinking about these things. The Roman Catholic Church just isn’t satisfying my desire to seek the Lord”, or “I thought I was alone in thinking these things! I am so glad that I came across your website, as you have articulated what I was feeling.”
In October 1998, my wife and I were privileged to help plant a new church in the Denver area. From October 1998 through October 2012 I was privileged to serve there as a teaching elder (Adult Sunday school) and my wife led women’s ministry. But, in October 2012, due to an unexpected resignation of our senior pastor, the church leaders prayed for an interim pastor and they contacted me and requested that I serve in this capacity, in spite of the responsibilities associated with my executive management consulting firm. Feeling God’s clear call on my heart, I placed my consulting practice on hold and stepped into full time ministry, became ordained by the Rocky Mountain Conservative Baptist Association, and took on the day-to-day duties of the interim senior pastorate at Castle Pines Community Church. After serving nearly one year, and being asked to seriously consider staying on permanently in the position—something I did not feel called to do—our pastoral search committee hired a gifted and experienced new senior pastor, and I was blessed to “hand the baton” over to him.
In October of 2013, my wife and I sold our home in Colorado after nearly 28 years and moved outside of Houston, TX. Crossroads Baptist Church of The Woodlands has become our new church home, and we are serving in various capacities as God has given us opportunity.
Our God is an awesome God, and He is so faithful! Praise His holy name, forever and ever.
An obedient servant of Jesus Christ,
Please feel free to email me at: email@example.com