The gospel of Jesus Christ has the power to undeniably change a person’s life. In the Scripture, we find a dishonest, white-collar worker, Zacchaeus, who was changed the day he met the gospel in person, Jesus Christ. Rahab the harlot, in the Old Testament, was changed by the reports of the work that God did in Egypt. Today, the gospel has the same life-changing power as it did back then. The good news that we proclaim weekly from pulpits around the world is a gospel that can change every life, regardless of their depth of sin.
Below is a testimony I pray will inspire all regarding the life changing power of the gospel, and the next visitor on your pew!
By the age of 40, Rick had been arrested 44 times and faced a new sentence of 55 years. It was a lengthy history of serious drug abuse and violent crimes. The circuit court judge sitting at the bench declared Rick “a career criminal and a menace to society.”
“The judge was right,” Rick says in his testimony. “It was all about me and I didn’t care who I hurt.”
It was in 1997, while Rick waited in his dreary, gray concrete jail cell that he cried out to God. Rick had wasted his life and reflecting back he didn’t like what he saw. It was a life of addictions to cocaine, alcohol and partying with various illegal substances.
But God wasn’t absent all those years. At age 16, a friend hit Rick on the head with an aluminum baseball bat causing a fractured skull and brain damage. Rick’s right arm was paralyzed, and doctors had to use experimental surgery in attempt to save him. God guided the procedure and Rick survived. Rick knew the Lord was extending his hand of mercy.
In a few days, the odds were that the judge would soon be saying, “55 years, and you are to be transported to the Reception Diagnostic Center of the Indiana Department of Correction to commence your sentence.”
The judge sent the case file over to the community corrections director for a last minute review to see if Rick would be considered for an alternative sentence. Rick’s lengthy history of violence made him ineligible for work release or home detention. More or less, the response would be “throw away the key.”
The door of hope for another chance at freedom was slammed shut. Now Rick anticipated the judicial hammer to fall for him to be locked away until retirement age. Instead, the judge ordered six years. He would serve three, receiving credit for time already served.
In 2000 Rick was released from prison and was told by a friend that he should visit Knightridge Pentecostal Church. It was on a Wednesday night, and Rick found the church midway through service.
“I remember that night as the 6’ 7”, 300-pound giant walked through the back door of the church,” said Pastor Tom Rhodes. “My bible had just been opened for the night’s sermon.”
The pastor recognized Rick and was concerned for the church safety. Pastor Rhodes has a secular position as the county’s community corrections director. Rick quietly sat down and soaked in the words being preached by the minister.
There was something special at that little country church. Rick became a regular visitor, and one night decided to be truly born again. Pastor Rhodes, with the assistance of two other men, baptized Rick in the water of an old horse tank.
Brother Rick Anderson has been filled with the Holy Ghost, called to the ministry and is gainfully employed in the community. He has received his general ministerial license from the Assemblies of the Lord Jesus Christ, serves as a church trustee, and drives the church bus.
“I used to hate all authority figures like judges, guards, and police,” said Bro. Anderson. “I am now thankful for them as I realize they were just trying to help me.”
“I’m a new creation – I’m a brand new man,” Rev. Rick Anderson now sings at the home church and during his weekly visits to the inmates of the local jail.
Rev. Rick Anderson with Pastor Tom Rhodes of Knightridge Pentecostal Church, Bloomington, Indiana. www.knightridge.com.