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One Brother’s Story

On the day of my baptism, I was 40 years old.
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There are moments in our lives that stand out as pivotal, shaping the course of our existence. Walking across the stage, diploma in hand. Saying “I do” at the altar. Becoming a parent. These moments aren’t a flash of time but rather a culmination of many moments in gradual succession. Of course, some moments result in triumphs and some in setbacks.

Coming to know the Truth was no different for me. I took a gradual path from introduction to the Bible until I was fully immersed in water, surrounded by a crowd of brothers and sisters who all understood my joy. At that time, some of them may have even reflected on their own baptisms. On the day of my baptism, I was 40 years old.

I did not get there entirely on my own, however. By God’s grace, I was fortunate enough to meet someone at age 17 who became my friend and was willing to personally witness to me whether it seemed like a cool thing to do or not. I believe that personal witnesses can come in many forms. I have heard anecdotes expressing how God works in one’s life—diving into Scripture with someone to find answers and encountering people who lead by example. These influences were effective and had their place in my journey to the Truth.

Rewind about 22 years before the day of my baptism to find a typical teenager and senior in high school. High school is a time of exploration and self-discovery; for me, it became the starting point of a spiritual journey. A friend shared with me Bible teachings common in the Christadelphian community, which piqued my interest. Curiosity naturally led me to ask questions.

My friend’s father, a knowledgeable figure deeply rooted in Scripture, patiently and warmly answered some of these questions. My friend and his father provided two categories of answers over several years. The first type was in the form of personal accounts of how God has worked in their lives. The other type of answer was straight from Scripture. This interaction was a model for searching the Bible for answers to life questions.

A couple of years later, I went with my friend to a Tuesday night course on understanding how to read the Bible offered by the ecclesia he and his family attended. As I met some members and collected my course materials, I could not help but notice feeling a bit nervous. As the night began, the speaker said a prayer and then stated that the intention of the 4-week course was not necessarily to preach doctrine; rather, the intent was to provide an understanding of what the Bible was and how to study it.

There were members of the ecclesia who made themselves available to answer questions. I was very pleased with what all of them said in one part of our conversations or another. Their different approach was something that I had not heard from any of the churches I went to with my family in the past. They emphasized that we should read the Bible ourselves and not take anyone’s word on what to believe. They assisted me in looking up verses, not answering my questions with their words but rather with the Word of God.

Life has a way of testing our resolve, and for me, a particularly challenging period became the catalyst for a renewed spiritual exploration. The loss of both my uncle and grandmother within the same week to brain cancer shook the foundations of my emotional well-being. Simultaneously, the demanding nature of my role as a prison officer added a layer of stress, leaving me grappling with anxiety. As a new husband and father, the weight of responsibilities seemed insurmountable.

I found myself turning to prayer. I began by clutching a small KJV Bible that was a gift from my grandmother years before while I prayed to God in hopes of being heard. Pretty soon, I was opening the Bible in search of the comfort I somehow knew could only come from God. My first search? I searched out how I should pray. As I read Christ’s words repeatedly, I unintentionally memorized the Lord’s prayer.

Looking to increase my understanding of the Bible and refine my approach to prayer, I stumbled upon the Christadelphian “This is your Bible” online platform. It offered a structured program that promised a guide to understanding Scripture and a supportive community of believers. Enrolling in the program marked a turning point in my spiritual journey.

Correspondence with a dedicated Bible teacher clarified intricate passages and guided me in building a good foundation for further Bible study. While I corresponded with this Bible teacher, I felt supported and encouraged in my search for the Truth. I was also encouraged to attend the closest ecclesia. However, my work schedules at the time and for years before never offered the opportunity to attend regularly. I worked shifts and weekends for many years. This circumstance was a setback in my mind.

Enrolling in the program marked a turning point in my spiritual journey.

Years later, I moved back to the California Central Coast from out of state, where I moved with my family for employment and educational opportunities. I could finally have a regular work week. That meant I could attend meeting on Sundays and classes mid-week evenings. Rediscovering the San Luis Obispo ecclesia became a homecoming, where I found a physical community and a spiritual family that embraced me with open arms.

These ecclesial members personally witnessed to me by the example of their lives. While Christ is the prime example we should strive to follow, initially, we who are new to the Truth do not fully understand how to be Christlike. Members of the ecclesia exemplified how a follower of Christ should live and treat others. The ecclesia proved to be a welcoming and inviting community. Their emphasis on personal Bible study struck a chord with me, reinforcing that understanding comes through a genuine search for truth. No one seemed to impose their beliefs on me or my family; instead, the ethos was rooted in supporting individual journeys and offering guidance.

Gratitude fills my heart for the transformative power of Scripture, prayer, and the supportive community that embraced me during challenging times. Reflecting on this journey, I am compelled to encourage others to explore their spiritual paths, seek solace in the teachings that resonate with their hearts, and find comfort in communities that foster genuine connections.

My journey to truth is an ongoing narrative, a testament to the profound impact that faith, fellowship, and a true understanding of the gospel message can have on one’s life. It has been and continues to be lived in many moments, leading to the life-saving grace only found with God in our dear Lord, Jesus.

Larry Sherfield,
San Luis Obispo Ecclesia, CA

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