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How Personal Witnessing Touched Two Families in California

By PATTY CHELIUS AND TOVI SPENCER
Read Time: 6 minutes
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ONE SISTER’S STORY

I need to preface this story with a little background. I went to a variety of churches as a child with different friends from school. My family did not attend. As a little girl, I somehow became convinced the Bible was the Word of God. I have no idea how that conviction came about. But it was an unshakeable belief I had. In later years, I referred to it as an uneducated, blind faith. 

Fifty-two years ago, I walked into an insurance agent’s office for a job interview. Little did I know how life-changing that moment would be for me or that I would work there for the better part of forty-eight years.  

As a young twenty-two-year-old, I went to work for Bro. Bob Lloyd and his partner, Bro. Ken Sommerville. At first, they were hesitant to hire me as they were not certain I had the type of experience they were looking for. I am very thankful they took a chance on me.  

I remember being amazed by this.

Bob Lloyd always had a Bible open on a cabinet behind his desk. When I would go into his office to discuss the work we were doing, he had a knack for bringing a Biblical concept to apply to what we were talking about. He would then turn around, pick up his Bible, and show me exactly where in Scripture the concept was presented.

I remember being amazed by this. I would then go home and tell my husband what he had said. My husband had never opened the Bible in his life, although he did attend Catholic schools as a child. He didn’t have an interest in God’s Word but had respect for Bob Lloyd, which caused him to listen to what Bob told me.

At the same time, Ken Sommerville was also mentioning to me that God had a plan for salvation, and I might want to be part of that plan. These conversations were easy to be part of because I didn’t feel like I was being lectured to. I felt like very caring people loved God so much that they had a loving desire to share that with anyone who would listen.  

A few years after I started working for Bob and Ken, I became pregnant with my first child. I told my husband I wanted to start returning to church because I wanted my children to have that experience. He was fine with it but didn’t seem interested in going with me. I was fine with that.

I went to work the next day and told Bob I would start going to a church near where I lived. He said he thought that was a great idea. He then asked me if I would like to start reading the Bible with him and Sis. Peggy, one evening a week. I told him I would think about it. I went home and told my husband, who said he would also like to attend. I was so happy to hear him say that. I went to work the next day, and we set it up to meet the following week. 

The very next day, my husband came home from work and said his company had offered him an amazing promotion at their location in Montreal. We discussed it and decided it was the right thing to do. I went to work the next day and gave my notice, and those classes we would have had with Bob and Peggy did not happen. Within one month, we had relocated to Canada. We lived in Canada for three years. While in Canada, Bob and Ken would write letters to me. I remember a letter Ken wrote to me. He again reminded me that God has a plan and a timetable.  

When we moved back to California three years later, my husband and I watched a TV miniseries called Jesus of Nazareth. That miniseries touched my husband, and he asked me to call Bob and tell him that he wanted to start studying the Bible with him. I did. We studied with Bob one night a week, and we studied with Ken another evening. I remember my husband telling Bob the first evening that he would not go to his church but just wanted to know what the Bible was about.

Bob replied that was fine. Within about three weeks, my husband and I told Bob he needed to baptize us. Bob told us he would be very happy to baptize us, but there was a little more information we needed to understand. We studied every free minute we had. We were so hungry with a desire to understand God’s plan for salvation. Eight weeks after we started studying with Bob and Ken, we were baptized. 

During those early years of my relationship with Bob and Ken, I never felt pressure. Only a sincere love for me. I honestly believe that had I rejected what God had to offer, Bob and Ken would have loved me anyway. I don’t think they would have ever given up on me. I think I would have remained in their prayers.

Patty Chelius,
Simi Hills Ecclesia, CA 

 

ANOTHER FAMILY’S STORY

As a child, my family and I always attended Sunday School and church services. We lived in New York, Florida, Hawaii, North Carolina, and Mexico City. We moved around a lot because my dad was in the US Air Force, and we followed him wherever he was stationed. When I was younger, we went to church, and I enjoyed the youth group and being in the choir. I remembered in Sunday School the stories in the Bible, such as Noah’s Ark, how God created man, the birth of Jesus, and the spreading of the Gospel. 

We were brought up as Protestants, and I have always believed in God. But I may have been distant from God at times. After high school, I felt I was searching for something. I did not know what that was, but I knew something was missing in my life and heart, and there was an emptiness in my spirit. I would go to different churches searching for what was missing. There were times when I did not go to church due to different distractions in my life, and I felt apart from God. Something was missing, but I did not know exactly what it was.

When I met Raul, my now husband, we were away from God and not going to Church. I believed in God, and so did he. At some point, we began going to different churches, searching for what was missing in our lives. It was interesting because he also had been looking for that something. One day, Raul went to the supermarket, which was not close to our home, and there he ran into a former coworker whom he had not seen in years.

They had previously talked about life, the universe, faith, philosophy, and God. She had recently attended a Learn to Read the Bible Effectively seminar. She had the seminar flyer for the upcoming seminar in her purse, which she handed over to Raul. She said it was excellent, informative, and helped explain the Bible. She learned about the Gospel and how to read her Bible. She told Raul that he should give it a try. She was basically just looking to study the Bible, and unfortunately, she never became a member of the ecclesia. We do not know why she did not continue with the seminars or come into the truth. 

My husband decided to check out the seminar at the Reseda Christadelphian Ecclesia. At first, he was both very interested and skeptical about the seminar. But he saw how they were studying the Bible and how they explained it. I joined him the following week and felt the same way. They were reading and showing us the echoes throughout the Bible and the connections between the Old and New Testaments. 

We continued and finished the beginning seminar. We felt good about learning about reading the bible better, and then we enrolled in the intermediate and finally the advanced seminar. It was like putting pieces of a puzzle together. It was becoming clearer to us. We decided to continue studying in one of the members’ homes since we were the only ones at the end of the advanced seminar.

We attended the Sunday memorial services as guests a couple of times. They told us that if we decided to get baptized and become members of the ecclesia, we would be signing up for a new life in Christ. The seminar was very informative and answered many, if not most, of our questions, and we are continually learning. The most important thing was that we discovered what was missing—the connection with our Heavenly Father.

The members have always been very friendly and welcoming and have shown their love and faith in God. They seemed very committed to the gospel message, reading and understanding the Bible. 

My husband and I felt very ready to be baptized.

At some point, marriage was discussed as addressed in the Bible. After much praying, marriage felt right to me. I had been struggling with the idea of marriage due to my parents having been divorced. Another big subject was baptism: full immersion, repentance, forgiveness of sins, and commitment to the truth. My husband and I felt very ready to be baptized. We were baptized and given the right hand of fellowship and became members of the Reseda Christadelphian Ecclesia.

The ecclesia welcomed us. Now, we feel part of the family through fellowship, going out to lunch with our brethren, the monthly sister class for me, spending time with members at ecclesial events, or sharing a meal. After the seminars, we began reading Christadelphian books, such as The Ecclesia Guide, and The New Life.

We read with a couple of the members and continued by reading Christendom Astray, and now we are reading A Life of Jesus. I finally feel like I have a permanent home at the ecclesia. We are truly blessed to be saved and brought to the Truth. We are dedicated to serving God, following his commandments, reading and understanding the Bible, and trying to follow the example of our Lord Jesus Christ. 

Tovi Spencer,
Reseda Ecclesia, CA

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