I first met John Boring at our first week of 24/7 prayer, about 2 1/2 years ago. He seemed so genuinely touched by the experience. Although he and I have not spent much time together in the "real" world, I have gotten to know his wonderful spirit and heart through a web community we are both part of. I asked him to share some of his journey with the Lord with us here, and this is the first of more posts from this amazing, godly man.
I had given up on church years ago. All that I visited over the years preached a God that was vengeful and disappointed. The messages all seemed to say the same thing; that I was doomed unless I changed my style of life in drastic ways. And, even then, it was suspect that I would ever enjoy God’s Kingdom. I was not a bad man, I did not commit crimes and I tried my best to not be a sinner. But, the message each Sunday was the same thing. Hell’s fire and damnation. I knew, deep in my heart, that was not the God I wanted to worship, and if I could not find him in church, I would look elsewhere. I simply quit going to church altogether, even though my wife was devout and regularly attended and supported her church.
My life began to change on a day in 2000, when our son, Dan, was diagnosed with a serious cancer. He would fight it for five years, losing his right leg below the knee and ending up with a prosthetic shoulder in the process. By the time he died in 2005, he was riddled with cancers and in constant pain. During all of his illness I watched my wife, Suzi, as she coped with the idea that we would eventually lose our only son. While she comforted Dan and kept a brave face, in private she prayed for his recovery and wept at the frustration of seeing our prayers going unanswered. We did all we could do to make Dan comfortable but in the end, all we could do was watch as he slowly slipped away. When that happened, we were all by his bedside, holding his hand and talking to him, preparing him for his journey. The hardest thing Suzi and I ever had to do.
Suzi’s faith did not diminish after losing Dan, as I thought it might. God had not answered her prayers, after all, and surely she resented that. Instead, she joined the choir and steadily supported her church. I decided one day that I needed to help her in that area, so I vowed to start attending church with her, even though I did not like her church or her pastor. So, I went back to church but Jesus was not yet in my heart and I had not yet accepted God.
Knowing how I felt about her church, Suzi looked around for another one for us to attend. A friend recommended Open Door Fellowship and we decided to check it out. The day we arrived at ODF was bright and sunny and hot. As we approached the front door of the auditorium the first two people we saw were the two hospice nurses who had been such angels to Dan. Nancy Nicolls and Beth Parks. Seeing these two angels here was a very good sign.
We walked inside and sat in the middle section, back towards the wall. I looked around the walls and saw the words written there. “All of my sins were washed away.” And, “Here I am to bow down, here I am to say that you’re my God.” Those words suddenly meant so much to me. Emotion started to stir in my heart that was not connected to grief. I watched people enter the room, greeting each other, hugging one another. When men and women sat, they leaned into each other and often the man put his arm around her. I could feel the love in the room. Then, the band began to play and I had never heard music like this at any church before. I was in awe and becoming an emotional wreck. I had no idea what was happening to me.
Then, John Lynch began to speak and it seemed to me his words were directed straight at me and to my heart. I suddenly broke down in body wracking sobs, crying not in grief, but a feeling that I had come home. I, right then, could feel God’s presence around me and I sensed He was comforting me. I sobbed and sobbed, and no one around me paid me the slightest heed. Evidently, people did that quite often in that church. I all of a sudden felt such peace and contentment and I knew then that God was with me and that Jesus Christ had entered my heart. They are both with me now and will be forever. On Easter Sunday, 2006, John Lynch and Jason Ellis baptized me at the church. I was 75 years old at the time. -- John Boring