The public schools in our small city in California were terribly overcrowded. That’s about all I was ever told when I would ask people what they thought of them. There was a very expensive private school in the area but even if we had been able to swing the tuition, the waiting list was literally years long. I knew of few options for my oldest son as his entrance into kindergarten approached and the problem consumed me. The preschool he was attending was small, caring and safe and that’s exactly what I wanted for him for, well forever.
While at work one day, one of my salesmen asked if I could help him close a deal on an advertisement. I was the owner and this was not a normal course of action. I never talked with the clients. But this salesman was struggling to sell his first ad and so I said yes in order to “show him how it’s done.”
I walked into the cubicle and there sat a gentleman who was introduced to me as the principal of a small Christian elementary school in the area. The timing could not have been more perfect and so I began to discuss his school with him. I asked questions, loved his answers and finally made an appointment to visit him at his school the next day.
That night I thought about how “lucky” I had been to have this school brought to my attention. I would not have thought of placing Niko in a Christian school otherwise.
I considered myself Christian having been raised in a Catholic family. When I was young I attended a Catholic church every week and even Catholic school for a few years. I had been taught about Jesus, Noah and hmmm, that’s about all I could remember. I wasn’t into the whole religion thing but if it meant that Niko would get a good education and be shown individual attention, I was willing to consider sending him there.
I walked into the school the next day and was immediately struck by a sense of peace. The teachers were all so gentle, everyone was smiling and seemed genuinely sweet and caring. It was the strangest thing, I didn’t know why but I knew right away that I had to put Niko in this school no matter what the obstacles.
While talking with the principal he asked me if I was Christian. He explained that in order to register Niko, one of his parents had to be born-again. I told him I was raised Catholic and considered myself Christian but had only heard of the term born-again and really didn’t know what it meant exactly.
Julian’s parents were Christians, he had been raised in the church and yet this was not a subject that he and I even broached. Well, other then the time he told me he knew if he died right then he would go to hell. I was raised to believe that if I was a good person and treated people as I wished to be treated, if I didn’t commit anymortal sins like murder then when I died if my good deeds out-weighed my bad acts I was good to go. If there were any discrepancies I could always work them off in purgatory. To go through life knowing you’re going to hell because you refuse to do what you’ve been taught to do to go to heaven, which is accept Jesus, well that just sounded weird to me. How could anyone live even one day believing that they were going to hell when they die and not do something about it? I was much more comfortable with the thought of earning my way into heaven.
Doug, (we were now on a first name basis) clarified what it meant to be a Christian. He patiently explained to me that getting baptized as a baby into the Catholic religion did not make me a Christian. He told me the Bible taught that I had to accept Jesus as my Savior, on my own. I had to fully believe and rely on the fact that His death was payment in full for my sins, that by His resurrection He conquered death so that I could live forever with God. I could never, ever earn my way to heaven for it was a free gift to those who believe and accept Jesus as their Lord. I had to repent, turn from my sin. He explained that reading the Bible would help me to fully understand but that I could accept Jesus right then if I wanted to, and I wanted to because I wanted Niko to be accepted to that school.
I’m going to be honest, I prayed with him for that one reason. He said that we should be attending a church from now on and we were more than welcome to attend the church affiliated with the school. Our family showed up the very next Sunday, I didn’t want anything to hinder Niko’s registration.
I know now that I was not born-again in that office that day. After months of attending church, being surrounded by people at the school that loved and accepted me because they thought I was part of their family already and because I really wanted to understand why these people were so different than most people I knew, I decided to read the Bible and see what made them tick.
At the same time that I was reading the truth about who God really was, what he expected from us and how much He loved us, I was going through some very difficult things. Business was horrible, Julian and I had just found out that because of an accountant’s ghastly error we now owed tens of thousands of dollars in back taxes and worst of all… after coming to grips with a surprise third pregnancy, I miscarried one of my precious twins. It was too much to bear on my own. I was feeling hopeless and I finally just cried out to the God I had been hearing so much about. I prayed that he would take my life, I seriously wanted to die. I was just miserable.
On the floor of my closet, when I thought I was completely alone, God made it known to me that I wasn’t. He miraculously lifted me from the muck and mire of this life. After crying for hours, begging and pleading with Him to show me that He was real, I walked out of my closet with the full knowledge that I was a different person. I found out later the Bible said I was a new creation in Christ. At the time I only knew that I was now a child of the living God. A God that was very real to me now and One I could trust to take care of me. I knew He loved me and that was all I needed to know for the rest of my eternal life.
That was the day I truly became born-again, the day I turned from my sin to God; the day I was forgiven and saved from an eternity in hell. I accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior of my life and have followed hard after Him ever since with no regrets.