It’s a faint, dream-like memory. I was 6. I can hear the sound of my siblings laughing, playing outside. I remember tapping my foot, staring out the porch window, anxious to finish my
school and join them, but I had to finish my phonics. My phonics book had a verse in it and my mom read the verse aloud. She asked me if I wanted to ask Jesus into my heart and live in heaven. Her warm, brown eyes looked right into mine. “Yes!” I answered, thinking about the gold streets in heaven I’d heard about in my Sunday school class. Mom led me in a simple prayer, confessing my sins and asking Jesus for forgiveness…
When I heard about Jesus, his love and what he could do for me, I was eager to know him and belong to him. His offer was attractive … come to him, believe and receive abundant life. He could give me rest … and I was so weary. He could make me good … and I was tired of trying to be good on my own. He would make me feel safe … and conquer my fears. He would give me purpose in living … I needed a reason to go on. I would not be lonely again because he would never leave me nor forsake me.
I heard this gospel preached at our local church and responded to the invitation given by the pastor, to come down front and kneel at the altar to pray; confess sin, profess belief in Jesus and be saved. I recall that others prayed with me and for me. There was bright sunlight and peace surrounding me when I opened my eyes after praying. Jesus is the light of the world. I was eleven.
I began to read my Bible and pray every day and attend church three times a week, go to church camp in summer and attend every revival we had. Because of my involvement in church activities and Youth for Christ meetings at school, I believe God protected me from typical teen troubles which I could have encountered in my high school years.
In college, I was shocked to be accused of sinning … this by a friend in Nurses Christian Fellowship. I said it was impossible because I was a Christian, saved and sanctified. (I had been taught that I could not sin … if I did, I would lose my salvation.) This was my introduction to reformed doctrine, Calvinism and the Reformed Presbyterian church.
As I struggled to reconcile my former teaching with this new view, I began to experience spiritual growth and joy that I had never had before. Bible study was new to me and very exciting. I thought I was “gifted” in Bible study. And truly I was because it was the gift of the Holy Spirit who enlightened me with truths of Scripture!
God has been faithful to keep me near him through the years since my conversion. I am weak but he proves his strength on my behalf repeatedly. He blessed me with a husband, children, a rewarding career and Christian fellowship in church and Bible studies.
I have not always agreed with God in the moment, but He has proven right in every disagreement. Truly he knows what is best for me even when it does not fit with my own or other’s expectations. I am grateful that he has called me to himself and keeps me close to him in spite of the challenges of living in a fallen body in a fallen world.
God’s blessing and grace have been evident in my life since my earliest days. I was born into a family with parents who loved God and shared a desire to raise their children in the fear and knowledge of God. My sisters and I grew up in an environment where we were daily taught about Jesus Christ and His work of redemption on the cross, and my childhood days hold sweet memories of learning what it means to love and obey Him. God worked in my heart and opened my eyes to see my need for a Savior at a young age, and I placed my faith in Christ when I was around seven years old…
I had never really thought of the idea of Christianity as a child. I didn’t grow up in a Christian home, so the lifestyle of a non-believer was foreign to me. My grandmother was the only believer in our immediate family who still tried to influence those close to her. She had tried with her children, and subsequently wanted to teach her grandchildren in the best way that she knew how.
It was also through the Indiana School for the Blind, the school I attended for all of my primary and secondary years, and the friends and mentors that I had there, that also helped to influence me spiritually. I had one dorm parent who taught me so much just by being a Christ-like example. I had even professed Christ at one point when I was about 14, with one of my friends witnessing over it…
Pastor James Faris
The Lord has given me the great privilege of serving as a pastor in this congregation that he has purchased with his own blood. I love this calling, challenging as it is!
One aspect of this congregation that means so much to me is the love the people here have for my family. God’s grace is evident as other young people, children, and adults take a personal interest in Elizabeth and our children. Perhaps I especially appreciate that personal touch because I experienced the same love in my growing up experiences in other congregations. My early years were much like those of Timothy, the disciple of the Apostle Paul. Paul encouraged Timothy: “But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:14-15). …
God is good. Our family has known His goodness. We became keenly aware of this while living on the 2nd RP Church property during the early years of our marriage. The houses next to the church building are pleasant places to live. Living close to the congregation knit our hearts together with saints who loved us and were interested in helping our family grow spiritually. This was an extraordinary blessing!
I grew up in Indianapolis in a traditional family. My parents promoted good habits in our lives.
— We went to church each week
— My father prayed with us before bed at night
— We learned the Lord’s Prayer.
In high school I found three little booklets that explained how to have eternal life. One verse, Roman 3:23, explained that I had sinned and come short of God’s desires. Against God’s standard of holiness, I was falling short.
My name is Randy Martin Snyder. I was named Randy because my mother liked the television cowboy Randolph Scott, and my middle name is a family name passed down from my mother’s side of the family. I was raised in a very loving family. My mother and dad were excellent parents and always affirming and accepting. They were considered the cool parents of the neighborhood. My mom was always involved with whatever the kids did and my dad likewise. My dad was also a race car driver and an all-around sports guy.
I grew up going fishing, hunting, or attending sporting events on Saturday and to the Drag Race Track on Sundays instead of church. I only knew of one or possibly two families in my neighborhood that actually went to church nominally. I did think about God growing up, but I had very little knowledge about God.